The power of smells to trigger vivid memories is well known. In his famous literary work ‘A La Recherche du Temps Perdu’, the French writer Marcel Proust highlighted the aromatic combination of a cup of herbal tea and a little cake called a ‘madeleine’ as a trigger, releasing an entire ‘stream of consciousness’ of memories of his childhood.
Part of the mystery of the sense of smell is its instant link to emotions and feelings which can be very powerful, somehow by-passing the conscious mind and diving into its deeper layers. Only the other day I had such an experience with Lavender, which is an essential oil that has been part of my smell tapestry for years and years. I opened a new bottle and just smelled it as I have done so many times before, and suddenly I remembered being little and walking with my grandmother. Suddenly she put a hand into the pocket of her coat and drew out a handful of dried lavender flowers. She held them out to me to smell… she put them in her coats to keep moths away, it was an old fashioned thing to do for clothes and linen. That was probably my first contact with lavender as a child… little did I know how important it would become later. It was lovely to remember this, and my grandmother’s gentle energy, her sky blue eyes and her laugh. The smell brought her back to me.