Laya’s Reflections on Olfaction and Terroir
In my self-reflections of initial olfactory memories, they all bring me back to my experience of my mother. How about you?
I can re-experience my delight in her soft floral skin as well as to my repulsion of my most unfavorite foods being cooked by her on the stove.
I can also remember the lush yet bitter smell of chocolate that was presented to me as a reward for bravery and to this day I LOVE chocolate!
Smell infused my creative childhood imagination too. I still remember the anticipatory delight I recorded in a Grade 2 composition, where I believed I WAS a bottle of perfume, a gift to my mother under the Christmas tree.
To me, as healer and massage therapist, the nature of conscious emotional response is of utmost importance. I consider myself a “visceral sensationalist”, bent on physically embodying the light of awareness. The skill of consciously embodying the light of visceral sensations is very old yet new. It gifts awareness of feeling and opportunity to create meaningful and permeable boundary. Wearing sacred botanical perfume is a sacred talisman, an initiatory entrance into the larger world of plants.
What repulses you? What delights you? These are your entrance cues, clues into the riches of our precious plant world. Gut instincts ultimately orient and lead to decision-making. We always have choices to smell what brings us pleasure, embodiment and empowerment and to take action based upon this.
Conscious smelling is a bridge to embodiment and empowerment.
Here is a new yet ancient concept around which my dedication to creating and sharing botanical perfume blends constellates.
Terroir is a French word originating from the word “La terre” meaning “The land”. Terroir, (pronounced terr wahr) refers to the plant’s residence: its climate, its animal companions, its soil and its air.
• Historically, culturally and scientifically, identifying a plant with a specific terroir imbues meaning and credibility presently throughout the EU. The mineral composition of the earth that the plant embeds itself in is of utmost and distinct importance and is technically measured. The flow and mineral composition of the air that surrounds the plant is scientifically analyzed. The water that nourishes the plant, the sun and moon light that bath it, the seasonal variables that contain it, the animals that eat, pollinate or are repelled by it, all these contributing conditions are studied. This is exciting, fascinating and stimulates the imagination. The healthy food community in North America is also beginning to appreciate plant terroir in this light.
• Botanically, the study of terroir imparts an appreciation of the marvelous adaptation and communication techniques of plants. Plant aroma is both articulate, highly evolved and indispensable in the moment-to-moment of experienced plant life. This is beyond human comprehension! We resonate with(consciously or not) these elegant, inherent adaptation and communication abilities that plants have developed for themselves over the millennia. We emulate these skills, consciously or not. Plant aroma invites us to savor our aromatic participation with them so that we can biologically translate that aroma into a somatic pattern which biologically enhances our human body system, especially our immune system. It also encourages us to develop new language, a new lexicon to share our multi-dimensional experience of them.
• Poetically, the multi-layered and aromatic story of plants connects us to a subtle way of relating to our own living environment. Our awareness alights upon the delicate interconnection we have with our parents, especially our mother, with nature in general, with our place on planet Earth, in the Milky Way Galaxy and ultimately in the multi-universe beyond. Plants transmit their unity-consciousness to us, through the ancient, sophisticated complex pattern of their volatile oil structures and its interface with our own bio-chemical pathways.
• Embodiment-wise, plant aromas encourage us to develop a new language with which to describe their effects upon us. What evolves is a rich, poetic, sensuous and luxuriant language based upon inclusion, memory, experience and participation.
• Empowerment-wise, we are invited to re-learn synesthesia, the ability to cross-perceive through all our senses. (eg. seeing aromas, smelling colors.)
• Politically, as Gaia-lovers and protectors, the aroma of plants bond us to Her and help to politically awaken us to protect the earth in this rapid, important time of climate change. It encourages us to re-shape our world view where we are celebrating our participation and inclusion in nature, and are not a separate dominator of it. An advocate for re-connection with nature through the aromas of plants.
Essential oil distilling as well as cultivation of the plants must be done in an ethical and sustainable way and I strive to connect only with suppliers who are dedicated to this.
We are in alliance with nature, its plants and therefore their aromas. If we have plant aromas on our persons, they will remind us that we are part of Mother Gaia.