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An Aromatic Wheel of the Year

By Sandra Kynes

While to some people the use of essential oils may seem more New Age or pop culture than Pagan, oils come from plants—and down through the ages Witches and Pagans have used plants for magic and ritual. Using essential oils is a way to hold tradition while extending our practices and giving them new depth. I like to refer to the blending of oils for magic and ritual as “aromatic alchemy,” because we transform the power of plant aromas into magical messengers for our purposes. I usually avoid the term “aromatherapy” when using oils for ritual or magic because the word “therapy” implies that something is broken and needs to be fixed. We are not providing therapy to our magic, rituals, or divination when we use essential oils. Instead, we are using the oils to aid us in transforming our practices and breathing life into our intentions.

Through the alchemy of scent, aromas can retrieve a total experience of feelings, imagery, and sounds. Essential oils provide immediate access to a rich storehouse of memory and emotion, which are the deeper parts of the self that reach into the soul. Just as scent can trigger memory, using specific fragrances for ritual and magic helps us to return to a certain level of consciousness where we can pick up where we left off. It can help us build on our ritual experiences and deepen divination, psychic, or shamanic work. While the ancients may not have understood the mechanics of the olfactory system, they understood how to work with it. The use of scent in ritual and religious practices cuts across cultures, traditions, beliefs, and time. The purpose of incense in the earliest of rituals was to communicate with deities as well as the spirit world.

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