Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The scent of Hellenismos

Yesterday night, I made my Deipnon offerings to Hekate, and I had to smile at not only the familiarity of the actions, but also the familiarity of the scents that came with the offerings. I burn pretty much all my offerings, and most of them have a very specific smell that I have come to associate with Hellenismos.

In my previous practice, I really only associated the smells of incense, burning paper, and candle wax with religion. Now, the most religious of smells is the scent of wine as the water is boiled out of it. It's the scent of incense, still, but at the Deipnon, it's the smell of sweet lavender added to the scent of burning wood, wine and wax. On the Noumenia, it's the scent of sweet cakes burning on the fire, and the scent of the honey that is poured over it.

I go to bed with the scent of wine in my nostrils every night, and every morning, I get to smell it again. It's almost like a security blanket, a reference point for the day. The scent of it grounds me and makes me feel connected to the Theoi and my faith.

I often underestimate the importance of scent in rituals. It's the acts that matter; the prayers, the offerings. Yet, it's the scent that lingers, like a personification of the Theoi. Each offering has a unique smell, be it wine, honey, lavender, foodstuffs, wax, milk, or olive oil. They have become triggers for me that ground me and pull me into the experience.

Even if I would stop practicing tomorrow, I know these scents would always remind me of the Theoi: they have become engraved in my mind, in my nose. They bring forth images of countless libations, or pious sacrifice, of clearly voiced praise and prayer. Triggers. Wonderful triggers, that will always remind me of the beauty of religion.


Daphne Lykeion said...

scent and memory is strongly connected. I think that is why I strongly associate certain smells not only with a particular ritual or even the religion in general, but also particular incenses that I may use for the gods. More than anything for me Hellenismos smells like home, it is the wonderful smells of the oikos.

UltravioletAngel said...

loved this post, scent is a very powerful memory booster coz a lot of smells are related to memories past and present. thanks for sharing this with us .

Elani Temperance said...

@Daphne Lykeion: You are absolutely right: those scents smell like my home, like my oikos. Thank you for this addition.

Elani Temperance said...

@UltravioletAngel: Thank you for your kind words :) You are absolutely correct, scent brings wonderful triggers.

ladyimbriumsholocron said...

I just found your blog recently (actually, I found your videos first and followed them back here) and I have really appreciated the amount of work you're doing to keep up with this site.
I agree completely with the assertion that scent is a powerful trigger for memory. The smell of saddle soap and old leather puts me immediately back in the barns at home.

Elani Temperance said...

@ladyimbriumsholocron: Welcome to the blog, and thank you for letting me know you are a reader. It's nice to know who is reading my writings, and very motivating as well.
I think everyone has those scents that transport them back to another time and place instantly. I love establishing them in my practice.