Nothing, pure imagination.
Some frags seem to me to be clearly "spiritual". Roses and violets, for example, are very uplifting, and some traditions say that rose is the "scent of God". Saints and mystics were sometimes said to emanate scents of roses or violets. Also, of course, resins such as myrrh and frankincense have been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies.
I believe the word for Rose and Spirit are similar or identical in Arabic - "wird". And a Sufi sheikh once advised me to meditate on the rose as a symbol of heaven.
High Mass in Catholic and Orthodox churches is scented with rich, gorgeous incense, sometimes with rose added, and is both sensual and spiritual, to me.
And yet, some rose scents are extremely sensual - Ormonde Jayne Ta'if, for example, and Lyric Woman, where the blend of rose and myrrh is rich and earthy. Incense frags worn on the skin can be very alluring, not spiritual at all!
Do you experience frags in this way?
If so, what would you class as spiritual, what as sensual? And what makes the difference? Is there a perfume note (or notes) that gives spiritual or sensual effects?
Or is the difference due to the setting and/or the person who wears them?
Nothing, pure imagination.
My top 16:
1. Joop! - Homme 2. Puredistance - M
3. Tom Ford - Tobacco vanille 4. Tom Ford - Neroli portofino
5. Tauer - L'air de desert marocaine 6. Armani Privé - Ambre orient
7. Bond - Harrod's oud 8. Amouage - Jubilation XXV
9. Parf. Brückner - Aoud 1 10. Clive Christian - X
11.Xerjoff - Regio 12. Lush - Breath of God
13. M.Micaleff - Art collec. 102 14. Armani Privé - Figuier eden
15. Nasomatto - Pardon 16. Heeley - Oranges and lemons ...
Well, redrose, I definitely see your point with Lyric Woman - so very beautiful and all this! However, I usually have troubles with the 'spiritual' aspect you are describing. It has to be well woven into a 'sensual accord', so I can enjoy it.
Opoponax is VERY sensual (also powdery) and warm. Styrax (liquid amber) is hauntingly beautiful and sensual, too.
Just my thoughts...
While I enjoyed your take on this, redrose, with the possible exception of incense, I think most fragrances are connected to the sensual/spiritual by personal association. Even with the pictures of the saints in the gardens holding roses, etc, I can't always buy the rose/spiritual thing. And maybe some of them didn't either. They may have just loved the flowers as gifts from God and were happy experiencing them.
I don't experience fragrances that way, but think it's interesting how others do.
I like to associate different thoughts with odors, and - yes - some are more spiritual, some more sensual, and every other type of thought or emotion. For me, it's an integral part of the enjoyment. For this reason, I will take all the hints and cues that the perfumers and the marketers can give me. When I know that the perfumer, by virtue of the brief, has tried to pass along his or her thoughts and feelings in the fragrance, I can experience this more deeply when pointed in the right direction by the name, the bottle, the ad copy, and the backstory. And that experience - that is what I pay for - gladly!
Interesting conversation! As I thought about this, it occurred to me that density might be the key for me. The transparent style seems more spiritual (think Timbuktu or En Passant), and the fragrances that feel heavier or more compact (for example, Manoumalia and Habanita) seem more sensual.
Glad some others think this way, too - and interesting to know differently we can experience the very same notes in frags. I take your point, Haunani, about density, and wonder whether this is the key, as you suggest. Incense wafts to the - often very high, gothic - roofs of a church or temple, and is diluted by the air. Roses smelled fresh in the garden, which is the image I associate with saints, have their scent diluted by the garden air, too. And refreshing, transparent rose scents, in which I include Caron Rose and Jo Malone Red Roses, do allow a different, lighter experience. Thanks to everyone who responded, lots to think about here.
l find it difficult to separate the two. lf a perfume appeals to my senses, then that can make me feel spiritually uplifted at the same time, just because it feels so good. And one perfume can do both but at different times, depending on my mood & the situation. For example, many people find L'Heure Bleue to be a very "soulful" perfume, & so do l, but at other times l can find it deeply sensual & comforting. lncense is thought to be spiritual too, but l also find it intensely soothing to my senses. And l guess individual associations & memories have a lot to do with that. Perhaps the ideal perfume, for each of us, is one that can do both?
"What is this secret connection between the soul, and sea, clouds and perfumes? The soul itself appears to be sea, cloud and perfume..." - from Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis.
I'm a bit lost in the abstractions, but I agree with the poster above: why would these things be thought of as separate?
But let me ask you, how come priests don't do 'it' and heathens and pagans do it... all the time; they can't stop??
Also, if sex isn't somehow deeply dirty, and if Godliness is not fullest expression of 'cleanliness', then how come, I ask you, are those notions so naturally polarized in rural, American, Anglo, society?
I wasn't coming at this from such a considered angle as political correctness. I just live my life a certain way, and I don't really have deep insight into why others live theirs another way. I would challenge a couple things about your premises though:
* Do priests really not do it? And when they abstain, is that even a healthy or useful state? Has that worked out very well historically?
* Do heathens and pagans (whoever they are--I guess I'm a heathen) do it as much as people think they do? (Answer: no)
* Why would we start with the premise that it is natural for rural Americans to feel that sex is dirty and shameful? The United States was colonized by persecuted religious sects, and American society evolved from that foundation; I don't think it has anything to do with an instrinsic, natural understanding of the world as dualistic. People grow up in other societies without that world view, which I think is proof enough that it is not natural.
Sorry Brian. Nice to meet you. I'm Gabi. If you haven't
been warned (since you haven't been warned), I have a taste for satire of 'unconscious', intolerant extremes.
For the record I am a non-Anglo, heathen from Germany.
I just never grew out of my Python phase.
Occasionally though, even my snottier "fake" posts get taken seriously.
I assume I am leaving enough bits of absurdity here and there to tip folks off, but sometimes
I am wrong. And then I feel terrible!
So, all in good fun?
PS The nice effect of all this is that I laughed so hard reading your lovely and measured reply, I nearly bust one!
Last edited by Hillaire; 26th February 2012 at 10:25 PM.
Interesting turn of conversation! I wasn't even thinking of sensual as meaning sex (but that's just me – ha ha). I define the word as "having to do with senses." How about using the words concrete and abstract to have the same conversation? Some fragrances appeal more to my mind, and some more to a basic/bodily level of appreciation. And yes – some fragrances do both, and some of this depends on my mood and needs at the time of wearing.
Another thing – I don't go to church, so incense does not necessarily equal spiritual, for me. For example, I think of L'Air du Desert Marocain as a dense, sensual fragrance. And I think of the more airy Timbuktu as very spiritual (and cerebral).
What an interesting exchange! When I posted this thread, I didn't mean "sexual" for sensual, I meant, yes, appealing to the senses, bringing us in deeper touch with the body and the material world, appealing physically as a gorgeous scent. Whereas, to me, the more "spiritual" scents seem to raise my attention more towards intuitions and emotions, and towards the metaphysical, as opposed to the physical, world.
Hope this makes sense. I do think there is a difference, but obviously lots of people don't agree. Which is fine. Nice that we can all express our feelings in such a respectful, intelligent forum!
For me, different scents evoke various responses in different parts of the body. Some touch your heart, some play with your head and some evoke a baser sensuality. Which I don't define as sexual, either, but could certainly lead to that quickly. Musk and civet certainly have physical attraction components by design. I have worn pheromones and definitely noticed a response, although none of it was overtly sexual. It was more of a heightened interest, men noticed and talked to me more. I am sure that was the point that my now husband realized that our years of friendship had turned to love for him. It had been going that direction for a long time, but I think the pheromones gave it a big push forward.
Incense could make me associate head shop or church, both of which I have been deeply drawn to and attended at different points of my life. Rose is associated primarily with Mary, but I don't think of her when her I smell it. Some of the spiritual response, I suppose would be conditioned. But, both churches and pagans use it for purification, and the Old Testament refers to it often. I have been told that it became part of the Catholic ritual at least partly because they had crypts within the church building and it helped with the smell!
I think notes that ressemble corporal effluents or the scent of skin or especially certain parts of the body have a potential to add a sensual quality to a scent. in the right dose of course. Just think of Eau d'Hermes and of how many basenoters think of it as the scent of sex. Some flowers naturally contain indoles, which are also contained in certain human byproducts. These flowers are considered as specifically sensual such as jasmine, tuberose and white flowers in general. Animalic odours similar to human ones can be taken as sensual, also leathery notes. Somewhere I read that vanilla has a proven effect on the productivity of male sexual glands. anyway...
And then, there's the saintliness of some scents, especially roses, violets and lilies. I don't mean that saints have been pictured with these flowers, or associated in other ways with them - I mean that some saints, while alive, seem to have emanated beautiful, floral scents, to the point that many people noticed it. And then, after death, some have continued to give off these scents. I don't know how or why. In the early 20th century, people exhuming the coffin of St Therese in Lisieux noticed these scents very strongly. And it's been experienced down the ages. I don't think all these phenomena were hallucinatory.
Yet, roses (and jasmine, too) are amongst the most aphrodisiac of scents, according to aromatherapists! So, sensuality and mysticism are linked in these smells, somehow. I think if scientists discovered how, and where in the brain these effects are experienced, we would understand a lot more about sex, sensuality and scent!
In my strictly personal opinion: one of the main parts simply belongs to subjective associations that one considers either spiritual or sensual.