Science and Scent-suality
Within our subconscious is the sacred and powerful energy of desire, articulated through our sensuality. Perfumes and natural scents play a fundamental role in how we communicate not only in the day to day (like animals, who can smell a friend, mate, or foe a mile away), but in our primal sexualities. Our olfactory system (quiet simply all the mechanics that our bodies use to smell and taste) relies on chemosignaling which enhances signals, like the iconic pheromone, to aid us in finding sexual partners for the night, or life, and everything in between. Aphrodisiacs, meaning “pertaining to Aphrodite,” the goddess of love, come in all forms of natural and synthetic experiences. The Earth provides for us an abundance of these sensual crops that have a reputation for boosting sexual pleasure and attainment. Lavender, cinnamon, ginger, sandalwood, and rose are all examples of natural aphrodisiacs in aromatic form. The perfume is a blessed communion between science and romanticism. Take aromatherapy and essential oils: although considered holistic, these oils have been treating psychological ailments such as anxiety and insomnia for thousands of years. The effectiveness of combining natural resources with medicinal healing is ancient practice due to its effectiveness in calming our various systems.
Cleopatra used cardamom, cinnamon and basil to seduce Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. It’s also said that she bathed in a mix of milk and saffron because the Egyptians believed it had aphrodisiac qualities. The effect of these aromatic aphrodisiacs were considered so powerful that in The Middle Ages spices like basil, mint, cinnamon, and vanilla were banned by religious leaders. But not much can get in the way of alchemy and human desire; our natural curiosity is more vitalising than arbitrary law.
Pheromone: a word we all know, but what do they actually do? They are similar to hormones but they work outside of the body, affecting those around us. It’s scent-communication in practice. Perfumers are well-versed in which scents enhance sexual signals from the subconscious and use their knowledge in crafting bespoke perfumes for all tastes whilst also enhancing natural aromas. They masterfully layer scents upon each other, exuding different notes throughout the day. Much like the multi-faceted senses in any given experience, perfume is able to paint a clearer yet more abstract picture of your mind and heart’s desire. When you smell a perfume, you are going on a journey through the scent’s narrative.
So in that brief moment you breathe in deeply and are enveloped in a gorgeous aroma, many natural and chemical components are at play, giving you brief euphoria as science tinkers on in the background. From the infinite universe we collect sensory experiences from is the finite mechanics within the chemosensory system. Although the nose is (quite literally) overlooked, it’s a complex and vital organ made up of delicate bones, hairs, and liquids all attuning our scent, taste, sound and psychology. Much like our bodies in relation to the earth, the olfactory system is a complex network of signals that are woven in with the rest of the body, making for the complete sensory experience that is life.
Back when simple body odour could fend off or attract a fellow human, smells were considered to have a simple communicative function. However, smells do more than stimulate the olfactory senses, they stimulate the emotions and our wider psycho-physiological systems. Our nose can detect more than one trillion individual odours. The thought of quantifying that amount of scents and experiences can make anyone heady with glee, furthering our potential with engaging with the world. The sense of smell is believed to be our oldest evolved sense, evoking memories and emotions before they are identified and causing subtle changes in mood. Take a moment some time and sit with your favourite perfume or head to your favourite bakery. What smells come to you? What does it remind you of? We all have the power to harness the capabilities of our senses and become time travellers! We can spend the evening in India under the sandalwood tree as we listen to our grandmothers travel stories from half a century ago, or take a trip to our wedding night on the beach, wrapped in a blend of wood sage and sea salt.
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