New Moon, New Focus

New Moon, New Focus

I am struggling with how to structure this blog. Initially, when I started it just 42 days ago, the idea was to post a new blend every day. I wanted to give myself this assignment so I could learn more about the oils I had in my case - especially the ones that I hadn't even cracked open, but only read about. I posted a blend a day for about a month and then within the last week or two, I posted individual oils. This is because 1) the blend I had been working on was specifically developed for a client and I didn't want to post that proprietary blend and 2) I had done so much research on new essential oils that I didn't have the time and energy to post a blend. One of my requirements was that any new blend I post would be something I tried myself. So, instead of rushing through and trying to meet my self-imposed deadline, I decided to write about the single oil.


I also find myself wanting to get back to basics - not really "back" but getting to the basics. My aromatherapy course for my NAHA Level 1 certification was solid and my teacher, Shanti Dechen, extremely experienced. I got a lot out of her program, and when I decide to take on more formal training, I will go back to her. I learned about aromatherapy, meaning the body systems and how essential oils and carrier oils affect these system. I learned about chemistry, botany, and how all these come into play in treating the body, What I find myself wanting to learn more of right now is the odor landscape. Like, I know colors, I learned about them in school, like primary, secondary, tertiary colors (hues), the color wheel, etc. Color basics. I know my taste basics (sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami - or in Ayurveda, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent, and astringent). But I don't know my odor basics.


So today I started to go down the rabbit hole of odor profiles and discovered a few things worth noting at this point:

  • I trust my intuition and when I experiment and land on a blend, I know when it feels right;
  • but, fragrance is highly subjective (what I like, you may not and vice versa. My super chill husband has literally forbade me from diffusing patchouli in the house);
  • fragrance is highly elusive (for me, right now, and I think for most humans, it is hard to pinpoint and describe what we are smelling - all I know is what I like); and
  • different people have categorized aroma differently.


Right now, I am interested in the last point and learning how to describe fragrances better. There's a lot of varying information out there, so I need to settle on a place to begin. For example, these researchers have categorized odor into 14 categories:


  1. Fragrant
  2. Fruity
  3. Citrus
  4. Woody and resinous
  5. Chemical
  6. Sweet
  7. Minty and peppermint
  8. Toasted and nutty
  9. Pungent
  10. Decayed


This aromatherapist has categorized essential oil aromas into these broad groups:


  1. Floral
  2. Woody
  3. Earthy
  4. Herbaceous
  5. Minty
  6. Medicinal/Camphorous
  7. Spicy
  8. Citrus


She has also categorized 100 essential oils into 18 aromatic categories:


  1. Anisic
  2. Balsamic
  3. Camphorous
  4. Cineolic
  5. Citrus
  6. Coniferous
  7. Earthy / Rooty
  8. Floral
  9. Fruity
  10. Green
  11. Herbaceous
  12. Medicinal
  13. Minty
  14. Mossy
  15. Peppery
  16. Resinous
  17. Spicy
  18. Woody


In categorizing these essential oils, she references the book Listening to Scent: An Olfactory Journey with Aromatic Plants and Their Extracts by Jennifer Peace Rhind. The author categorizes aromas into these families:


  1. Balsamic
  2. Wood
  3. Spicy
  4. Coniferous
  5. Herbaceous
  6. Medicated
  7. Green
  8. Agrestic
  9. Floral
  10. Fruity
  11. Citrus (Hesperidic)


And then there are the various aromatic wheels, like the Aftelier Natural Perfume Wheel by master natural perfumer Mandy Aftel that categorizes scents into 12 categories:


  1. Floral
  2. Spicy
  3. Resinous
  4. Earthy
  5. Woody
  6. Citrus
  7. Agrestic
  8. Green
  9. Freshy
  10. Smoky
  11. Animalic
  12. Gourmand


I could go on and on. So where to begin? More specifically, who do I follow first? I decided to go with Jennifer Peace Rhind and her book Listening to Scent. (It arrives Sunday.) I thought about perhaps Mandy Aftel's Level 1 Perfumery Class, but $350 is a bit pricey considering I may be able to achieve what I want with the Rhind's book. We shall see...


I remain committed to posting every day, but I think I will be posting about what I am learning, and if that means it doesn't end with a blend, so be it. So today, I am going to diffuse Peppermint (Mentha piperita) because I've read that it promotes confidence, new ideas, and creativity. I figure today is a new moon, and I have a new focus, so let's start it fresh! According Rhind, Peppermint is part of the Medicated family, Menthol sub-family. OK, yes, I recognize that for sure. Once I get my book, I will know more!

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