Eau De Bougie

For ten days I’ve held this post in abeyance. In denial, if I’m being honest (my theme for 2021). I wanted to write an article about scent as a wellness practice. On New Year’s Day I discovered a scent which activates all my magical powers and after spending several days of honeymoon with it, I wanted to write about the science. The brain. The olfactory factory. The nervous system. All the stuff you’ll respect because it isn’t woo woo.

I wanted to have a firm grasp of the biological how and why before I mixed in magic theory and committed my thoughts to a post. As is my pre-post ritual for such things, I dove into research. I found good stuff. Really good stuff. Too good, I guess, because every time I tried to write the post I had to admit someone else had already written it so well I honestly couldn’t write it any better. The biology part, that is; why scent is emotional before it is anything else. I can’t say it any better or any more succinctly than it has already been said. And even if I could, I simply like how well it is said and feel no need to embellish.

So here’s the link to the article I wish I’d written so you’ll understand why this magical scent tuned me up like a piano. Please read it. I promise it is engaging and easy to understand. The link opens in a new window so you can easily pop back here when you’re finished. Since I have opted not to improve upon the nuts and bolts, I’ll just share my part of the story (the woo woo). Go ahead — click over now — and I will continue below.

In the style of New Age-y wellness workshop-py exercises we often receive prompts to visualize how the fulfillment of our desires will look when we get there. We are coaxed to imagine how a given success will feel when we meet our goals, achieve something, etc. How will other people will respond? How will our lives be different? Details are conjured and articulated. We put ourselves in the space and time and set the scene, the conditions, and then the feelings. It’s part of a process of helping our brains believe. We make it real in our minds by engaging the senses — see it, hold it, taste it, hear it, etc. — and describe it out loud or in writing to bring it alive with energy. Then we describe how we feel as we are doing it, having it, being it, etc. If we can evoke an emotional response while imagining it, our brains will buy in and we will more easily manifest our desires.

All good stuff. I know it works. I do it all the time. And in the more routine day-to-day rituals I already know the power of scent to augment practices. Lavender soap, burning firewood, bergamot tea, citrus, cinnamon, sweaty skin, fresh laundry, all the rest; already onboard. Not new news. But when working with manifestation practices, if you asked me how I would smell, or how it would smell when I am creating soulful healing luminous magic, I doubt I could have described it until now. In fact, I’m glad no one ever asked because I never had to admit I dunno. How does magic smell? I dunno.

As of ten days also, now I know. I know now the scent of magic. I can now describe it in exquisite detail. However, let me pause here to acknowledge it probably wasn’t ever important to know. Or rather, it was never critical to the process. I wasn’t doing it wrong and neither are you. Knowing this now serves as an enrichment or supplement, not a prerequisite, so don’t get stressed out over this. I didn’t know magic (or my magic) had a scent, so how could I imagine it, or even think to imagine it? I didn’t. I did what came naturally and imagined the scent of surroundings. Don’t project any kind of failure into this, y’all. It’s a magical discovery; that’s all. Back to the story.

New Year’s Day. I was a paying guest in a rented dwelling for a weekend getaway. You’ll read more about it at the end of the month in the highlight reel. There were multiple bedrooms and bathrooms. I glided from room to room taking the full tour before I picked my bedroom. I found it easily enough; the one with a lake view, twig tree nightlight, and no television. But my companion and I agreed we would both make use of the en suite spa attached to the master. On the counter in said spa sat a glittering selection of designer perfume bottles for our pleasure. Far too expensive for my taste but since they were an offering to guests and I was an honored guest, I gave them some honored sniffs. You know what’s coming next, right? Am I going to say the sniff that changed my life? Am I really?

No. But the sniff that started it all (can’t help it) lead to the spritz that changed my life (there it is). Like last month’s diamond ring finding me, so it was with this scent. It found me. It was waiting for me. And I spent three days in a trance. Under a spell. The rapture of kismet. Pick your magical metaphor. Because for all the reasons outlined in the article linked above, something deep within recognized the scent of that particular chemical formula and responded. Scientifically and spiritually (because there is no separation or distinction between science and spirituality), my soul-scent and I were reunited. The result of that reunion is/was the reignition of a conduit directly to the source of my creativity and magic. To borrow yet another metaphor, it turned me on. It turned me up. My essence was illuminated the way yogis describe the release of kundalini. Shazzam. Boomshakalaka. Presto chango.

I must also confess that I’m not particularly fond of the fact that it was not something more … ahem … clean, green, and wellness-y like an essential oil or an herbal concoction or even a witch’s potion. Why did it have to be an expensive designer perfume (sigh)? It’s a fancy parfum; an eau de bougie status symbol. Why did it have to be a fragrance commercial cliché? But it was. It is. However, all cringing aside, I cannot deny it changed the way my body moves when I smell it. It changed the way I walked through a room. It changed the pace of my thoughts when explaining something. My appetite. My curiosity. My lens to other realms and realities. And yes, my dreams. For me, to me, with me, it is the scent of magic. I spritzed liberally all weekend. I could not shut up about it.

On the final day of our getaway the weather was cold AF and blustery and drizzly yet my companion and I went for a walk without coats or umbrellas as if in a bubble of enchantment. Our walk was a quest to revisit one of my favorite small businesses in that town. I always stop in whenever I’m in town. They know me there. Year after year my time and money are always well-spent. I look forward to it every time I’m near enough to make the trek. I hyped it up to my companion and reserved spending money specifically for this designated last stop on our adventure. We walked, wet and wintry, only to find my beloved oasis closed and out of business. Gone for good. No relocation. Empty storefront. Grey and gloomy.

For a moment I was bereft but as we turned away in resignation to march back to our starting point the wind picked up again. The scent of the perfume freshly applied earlier that morning lifted on the breeze like a prayer and swirled around us. Without hesitation we both agreed this must be a sign I was supposed to spend that saved money on the perfume instead. An internet check confirmed there was a retailer on our way home. I pulled the trigger and bought it and ten days later the magic glow-up has not waned. Wellness coaches often tell us to consecrate time set aside for creativity with rituals such as lighting a candle, saying a prayer, setting an intention, creating sacred space, banishing distractions; you know the drill. I now add to that drill apply magic fragrance.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the perfume because your own magic fragrance should find you, providing you have one. I’m not sure it’s a universal thing though, so don’t fret over it. Some folks have magical spatulas while I don’t, so it stands to reason we might not all be geared for the same magical tools or resources. I have a friend who thinks her car is magical. Nonetheless, all of our wellness systems are hardwired to be affected by fragrance, as the linked article explains. The therapeutic effect happens involuntarily. We all respond to scent emotionally whether we consider it magic or not. This makes the concept of functional fragrance a viable wellness practice with or without the woo woo. Re-read the article if needed. I’ve read it several times, going deeper with the woo woo, but also because this is a form of ayurveda, about which we can never know too much.

In any other circumstance I would have squawked that the price I paid was too high. Without the magic, this bottle of chemicals amounts to a frivolous non-essential luxury item. As the linked article states, science supports aromatherapy as a legit “biohack” to live and perform better and enjoy more robust wellness. That’s a step toward rationalizing the purchase as worth it even if the magic wasn’t enough. Wellness, wellbeing, prosperity, and fulfillment are not frivolous. Said another way, if this fragrance stimulates the part of my brain which makes me a more creative writer, a more effective healer (or makes me believe I am those things and more), and I thereby thrive with greater ease, I’m fortunate I can afford the price. In that respect it is an investment in another wellness resource, right up there with essential oils, organic produce, and hybrid vehicles, so I have no buyer remorse.

So there you have it, my first confessional post for the Year of Honesty. All the license. My privilege. My bandwagon woo woo. My fast and loose liberties taken. Whatever the incriminations, I’ll own them in exchange for the magic I feel. If I can find a way to recreate this fragrance naturally and less expensively than buying it retail, I surely will. Until then I’ll just be over here bouging on like a ridiculously DJ-sampled commercial full of diaphanous dresses and starvation collarbones blowing off the back of yachts where shirtless people glower at the horizon and nuzzle each others necks before running away barefoot after somehow teleporting off the open seas into a mountain range free of apex predators but full of pomegranates and airborne glitter.

I mean, I told you it was magical.

— Mercy

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