It’s been a little while since I reviewed a book on here, let alone a metaphysically related book. Spiritual Scents: Creative Use of Scent and Fire in Ritual by Shauna Aura Knight is a good place to start anew. A somewhat short and easy to read ebook put out by Jupiter Gardens Press, Spiritual Scents is a must read for ritualists and ritual facilitators. I don’t say that lightly.
I’ve known Shauna for a few years and have been reading her blog posts on her own page, Pagan Activist (her most recent posting) and sometimes over on Global Goddess as often as I can. She’s a rather outspoken individual who is not afraid to voice her opinion. She’s also a sometimes-podcaster. She used to be a host on Pagans Tonight and has been a frequent guest on the Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel, most recently on Pagan Weekly News to talk about this very book.
Shauna Aura Knight is a priestess, teacher, ritualist (and ritual facilitator), artist, blogger and author from the Chicago area. Along with this first release from her, she is working on a longer ritual text and a series of paranormal romance. I’m looking forward to reading all of her forth coming publications.
Spiritual Scents, like I said, is a short read. But it is full of useful information. A lot of things I had thought about. The first focus of the book is on the use of scent in ritual. Shauna, like many people, is sensitive to heavy scents. She uses the example of a ritual she intended where they used a smoldering sage stick to smudge everyone (60 or more people) and had a heavy perfumed incense burning on the central altar for the entire ritual. One can well imagine, allergy/sensitivity or not, that would be a powerfully strong odor in an enclosed space. What alternatives could the ritual facilitator used in that ritual? That’s one of the questions that Shauna answers in her book.
Without giving too much of the book away, I’ll give you a partial answer to that question. 1. The facilitator could have used sound or water to purify the participants. 2. The facilitator could have used a simmer pot with a light scent on the altar. 3. The facilitator could have encouraged the participants to smudge out doors as they entered the site of the ritual. 4. (And most importantly.) The facilitator should have been aware of the impact of such a strong scent in an enclosed space and been prepared for any sensitivities or allergies.
The second focus of Shauna’s book is on the use of fire in ritual. Along with common sense fire safety, she discusses alternatives to the use of bonfires, contained indoor fires (“cauldron fire”), and candles. Many of us are fans of fire. It attracts the attention, helps to put us into a trance state, warms the body and the soul, and reminds of good things. But what about those that it does not hold fond memories for? What about those that are sensitive to the source material for the fire (certain woods, charcoal, etc)? As you wold imagine with the scent topic of the book, she also discusses scented candles in this portion of the book.
I don’t want to reveal it all. I’d rather you go and get a copy of the book for yourself. You can purchase directly through Jupiter Gardens Press as well as find the Kindle edition at Amazon.com.
Just remember, one should always be aware of the proximity of their flowing robes to the source of the flame.