For too long has the field of aromatherapy been relegated to spiritualists and practitioners of the New Age Movement. The truth is aromatherapy has been a part of God's design for worship since the beginning of worship.
The Enlightenment robbed us of something important in worship: the unity of all our senses. The elevation of the mind over sight, touch, taste, and smell made our ability to worship anaemic. But the reality is God created us as holsitic beings on purpose. Our sense of smell was designed to connect to our worship. Let me explain. In your nose is an organ called the Olfactory Bulb. It receives the particles of whatever it is that you are smelling, translates it into electrical impulses that fire out the back straight into the middle of your brain. The Limbic system found there is the center of emotions and memories. That means the feelings associated with worship and a heart turned toward God, yep, they sit right there. Exdous 30 has ancient aromatherapists (perfumers) making specific blends to be used in the tablernacle, and later the temple. They also made blends for transition rights like weddings and funerals. Why? Because smell was a part of connecting creation with the Creator. Let me give you an example. The woman who anointed Jesus' feet with fragrant oil, brought something that was not only monetarily valuable, but showed tagibly and aromatically that this person, Jesus, was set apart (holy). Anyone that smelled the scent (and I'm sure everyone did since she used all the oil), would have recognized that something special was happening here. Jesus must be a pretty special person. Jesus interpreted the smell to those who were around: this smell is symbolic of her hearts posture of repentence and worship and points to her love of God. What if we, today, treated the scents around us this way? When we smell flowers, let it remind us of God's provision for us because he dresses the flowers of the fields. When we smell food cooking, let it remind us of Jesus as the Bread of life. When we smell certain essential oils, let its emotional work in our brains connect us to the Creator of both the scent and the brain that interprets it! Romans 12:1 reminds us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, and this is worship. Our entire bodies, including our sense of smell. Christians need to restore the right place of aromatherapy in our view of who God is and how we connect with him.
Interested in hearing more? Shoot me an email and let's have a conversation. If you live in London, ON I would love to come teach on this at your church.
Dr. Kenny Wallace, Doctor of Worship Studies