Ritual thinking

Our latest blog post is by Kasia Dudys, who looks at the meaning behind fragrance and how olfactory rituals can benefit the mind and body...

'Where does the tradition of scented candles come from? How can we put age old rituals into modern life to increase wellbeing?'

'Most of the time it feels like scent is secondary sensory element for us- as long as it is not unpleasant or on the contrary – very delightful, we tend not to pay much attention to it. Our noses have lost the ability they once had, as we don’t need the skill of detecting danger through smell in our modern world for survival.

'And yet, when a fragrance is an intense experience – it opens up a whole new level of perceptibility for us.'

'Primarily, scents were used historically to cover bad smells- for example during the mummification process in Egypt, or burning candles that were made out of animal fat in China or India, for cleansing religious rituals. Fine fragrance took humanity and its everyday stink and elevated it into godliness.   Aromatic oils weren’t available for everyone at first so naturally they were connected with wealth and luxury and the unattainable heights of spirituality. With time however, they became more common, and started to be used for purposes like cleansing the air inside households and then body wellness in bathhouses, first perfumes, and aromatherapy. The Greeks for example adored using scented oils everywhere they could and further developed the art of fragrances.

'Aromatherapy is a derivative of herbal medicine that developed throughout the centuries. Known for its benefits traditionally for a long time, more recently, modern science has confirmed how valuable it actually is. When a smell gets into our nose, and the information is transferred to the brain, two centres reacts to it – the cortex and limbic system. This in short means that our whole body can be affected, and the smell interacts with memory, emotions, and learning capabilities. There is a huge power to it and we can use that knowledge to our advantage.

'Different scents captured in a form of essential oils can help us with various problems, most commonly – stress, indigestion or sleep disorders. They can also enhance our mood. But apart from healthy aspects, fragrances can also trigger strong feelings. Scents have long-term emotional memory, they can bring back places, people, and whole stories back to us instantly. Which at the same time means that they can soothe us in pain or recall unpleasant memories too. No other sense has such a power as smell.

'Knowing all this, we can surround ourselves with fragrances that can help us in everyday struggles or simply bring us joy. Essential oils can be used in various ways, one of them is being a significant ingredient of many candles, just like Ubiety. Nowadays, scented candles are a signature of wellbeing rituals – spa therapies, long bath sessions, or simply a help in creating a blissful atmosphere for the cosy evening at home.

'Choosing a candle, is choosing the atmosphere we want to ‘dip’ ourselves in or recognise a condition our mind or body is in. We can turn it into a mindful moment even before lighting up the wick.'

'Burning candles from the very beginning had characteristic smells thanks to the substance they were made of – whether it was a thick beeswax in Roman Empire, woody tree nuts in Japan, or already mentioned animal fat. Incense, used for thousands of years, was combined with wax to produce light and fragrance. Naturally, the role of candles has changed after the introduction of a light bulb in 1879. Since then they have become more colourful, changed shapes, and smells. Nowadays, we can pick from thousands of fragrances – classic ones like rose or lavender to more extraordinary like grass after rain, Christmas tree, or chocolate. Not to mention the variety of wax types themselves – paraffin (understandably going out of fashion), soya oil, rape seed oil coconut oil, beeswax etc.

'Candles regained their glory in the second half of the 20th century when companies dedicated to production of scented lights have been founded. From the prohibitively expensive like French Cire Trudon to the popular American Yankee Candle. Right now we’re obsessed with the importance of how our interiors smell.

'A candle became not only a soothing way into relax but also a symbol of a natural environment that is an important subject in modern times. It is also the easiest way to implement aromatherapy to our lifestyle and good starting point for a calming mindfulness practise, or giving ourselves a moment of ‘not-doing’ - introduced by eastern philosopher Lao Tzu.'

'There is plenty of fragrances that can help with depression, stress, and anxiety; lavender, pine, jasmine, or lemon being just a few of them. Our candle range is designed, to Uplift, Balance or Calm, depending on what you feel youneed in that moment- with cedar present in all of them, a natural serotonin booster. Coriander, peppermint or rosemary to encourage a tired mind and help with memory. Orange or a mix of citrus scents have energising and invigorating effect. Eucalyptus is good for the sinuses. With a plethora of scents to choose from, whether it’s purely for pleasure or for medicinal reasons, sometimes it’s worth trying simple and natural solutions as they’re more gentle to our body and mind. What fragrance will you choose for your next positive ritual?’

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published