• Aromatic Ritual

    I practice a very simple aromatic intention ritual every morning that helps to shift my awareness, bring me into the present moment, and connect me to my intention for the day, the week, the month, moon cycle, or the season.
    In this blog post, you’ll learn about:
    • the science behind this aromatic ritual - and why it really works
    • ideas for setting an intention and pairing it with an essential oil
    • the aromatic ritual itself, which includes a simple and transformational aromatic meditation


    The practice of using scent to shift your awareness is not something new. Humans have used aromatic substances to evoke particular reactions or responses for thousands of years (Rhind, 2011). The use of incense and fragrant herbs is still integral to many cultures and spiritual traditions today. 

    When you smell your favourite essential oil, the aromatic molecules travel up your nostrils where they arrive at the olfactory epithelium –a pair of dime-sized mucus-covered patches containing olfactory receptors. When aromatic molecules interact with a receptor, it fires a signal to the brain’s olfactory bulb which communicates smell information from the nose to the limbic system, our most ancient and primitive part of the brain.

    The limbic system is regarded by scientists as playing a major role in controlling mood, memory, behavior, and emotion.

    So the smell of your favourite essential oil will produce an emotional feeling and/or physical response that is determined by your experience associated with the essential oil and also by the chemical constituents present in the essential oil (Keim & Bull 2008).

    When an essential oil is used with a positive, transformational intention, a connection is made and stored in your limbic system.  The intention can be re-experienced when the aroma is inhaled again, and the more often the essential oil  is used with the intention, the stronger the connection (Keim & Bull 2008).

    After a while, you will be able to smell the essential oil during the day (outside of the context of the ritual), and it will bring you back to your intention. That is the science, beauty, and magic  of aromatherapy.


    Before you do this ritual for the first time, you’ll want to set your intention. This will be the intention that you want to aromatically anchor to the essential oil. When creating your intention:

    • Connect your intention to your own life - your values, thoughts and desires. What matters most to you right now?
    • Keep your intention statement in the present tense: I speak my truth vs. I will speak my truth.
    • Instead of a full sentence, you may also wish to use a simple word or phrase.
    • Use positive language: I am filled with ease vs. I am not stressed out.

    Some examples of intentions are:

    • I am grounded.
    • I am filled with ease.
    • I am radiant


    You’ll want to thoughtfully select an essential oil that is in alignment with your intention. There are so many beautiful essential oils to choose from.  You may know immediately which essential oil you would like to pair with your intention. Or you may need time to explore a few essential oils in order to make a selection.

    If you are new to aromatherapy, do some research into the properties of your chosen essential oil to ensure that it is a good fit with your intention. And of course you should select an essential oil that smells good to you!

    These two aromatherapy classics may be of assistance to you:

    • The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood, and Emotion by Valerie Ann Worwood
    • Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: A guide to restoring emotional and mental balance through essential oils by Gabriel Mojay

    There might be several essential oils that connect to your intention. If so, choose the essential oil that most resonates with you. Here are a few intention-essential oil pairings to get you started:

    • I am grounded: vetiver or cedarwood or patchouli
    • I am filled with ease: lavender or neroli or sweet orange
    • I am radiant: lemon or Scots pine or bergamot 

    Once you’ve selected your essential oil, decide on the method of application you will use for the ritual:

    • One drop of essential oil on a scent strip, cotton ball, or tissue paper
    • 6 drops of essential oil mixed with Himalayan sea salt in a small one ounce glass jar. You may even want to add a small amount of the actual plant to the sea salt mixture as an added visual element. 


    Time: approximately 5 - 10 minutes

    A sensory tip: You may experience olfactory overload when you do this ritual, i.e. you cannot smell the scent anymore. If this happens, simply take the scent away from your nose and inhale and exhale to refresh the olfactory palate.

    You may want to sit in the same place every day, but this is entirely up to you. If you have a personal altar or sacred space in your home, you may want to do this ritual there.


    • Sit in a comfortable, quiet place
    • To open the ritual, light a candle or simply state the words “open”
    • Take a few deep centering breaths
    • Close your eyes and breathe in the aroma of the essential oil. Bring a mindful focus to the scent
    • Appreciate the scent as something alive, vibrant and full of life. Let go of any mental distractions that arise and keep returning to the scent
    • Imagine you are stepping into the scent. Feel as though you can touch it, merge with it, flow into it……and connect it with your intention
    • Now state your intention quietly to yourself or aloud
    • As you inhale the scent, repeat your intention quietly in your mind or aloud, and visualize your intention filling your entire being
    • As you exhale your breath, repeat the intention, and visualize your intention illuminating your being
    • Continue to inhale and exhale in this way for several minutes
    • Close your ritual by placing your hands on your heart and thank your deeper self for taking the time to practice this ritual

    A part of this meditation has been adapted from Aftel, M. (2001) Essence and Alchemy: a book of perfume London: Bloomsbury

    Try to practice this simple ritual every day. The more that you practice this ritual, the more anchored your selected essential oil will be with your intention.  You may wish to create a new aromatic intention ritual every new moon, at the start of every week, month or season….whatever works for you.


    • Aftel, M. (2001) Essence and Alchemy: a book of perfume. London: Bloomsbury
    • Keim, J. & Bull, R. (2008). Daily Aromatherapy: Transforming the Seasons of Your Life with Essential Oils. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
    • Rhind, J. P. (2011). Meditations on Scent. Retrieved from https://www.sensorystudies.org/sensorial-investigations/meditations-on-scent/


    This blog post is an excerpt from a book on Aromatic Rituals of Self-Care that Shelagh, Canadian-based founder of 1912 Aromatherapy is currently writing. 
    You can follow Shelagh/1912 Aromatherapy on instagram HERE. 
    Copyright 1912 Aromatherapy, 2019.

  • Comments on this post (1 comment)

    • Thom says...

      Great blog, smell is an important part of everyday life and to read about the connection between scent and emotion makes great sense!

      November 25, 2019

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