The Sketchy History of Four Thieves Oil

The internet has a thing about salacious history. Give the crowd a good old-timey murder, and they will produce 150,000 blog posts and eight true crime podcasts devoted to telling you the real story. While I give them points for enthusiasm, these works often employ some very doggy research methods. Copy and paste is in pretty heavy rotation. Researched…

Introducing Our New Newsletter!

I am so excited to announce I will be publishing a monthly newsletter, Aromatica de Profundis, starting August 1st, 2021, with enrollment opening July 1st! Why a newsletter? Well, I have multiple areas of interest and research.  I’ve found that some people know me from one aspect of what I do but have no idea…

The Redolent Plague Doctor?

We’ve all seen him. A dark figure, robed in black, carrying his long examining stick like a scythe. A pale beak glimpsing out from beyond his broad-brimmed hat. A carrion crow turned man. Such nightmare fuel could only spring forth from the fever dreams of a Dark Age mind, right? His beak stuffed with aromatic…

The Scented History of the Plague: A Primer

Hello my beloveds, over the next few posts we will be discussing the history of the plague, miasma, and their impact on olfactive culture. This turned into a gigantic undertaking so instead of dropping a 10,000-word brick in your inboxes I’ll be breaking up our tale over several posts. Before we get into the super…

Books I’m Excited to Read This Year

A new year is upon us and with it, a fresh start to crush my Goodreads Reading Challenge, or at least that is how I would have approached it in past years. I’m an intensely competitive person, and I would read 60-90 books a year mostly just to prove I could. I always had a…

The Putrid and the Divine Book Club 2019

A few years back, after receiving several requests for more information on topics covered in the blog, I made a lengthy list of over 50 books to indulge our olfactive bookworms. In retrospect, that list was a bit daunting. At first, I was planning to just do an updated tighter edit of that list but instead,…

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Started My PhD

So I rarely go off on tangents here, but given the number of questions I’ve received about my PhD since starting the blog, I thought it might be a good idea to have a little sideline chat. Don’t worry, more smelly death stuff to come shortly, but here are a few words of advice from someone at…

The Death/Scent Reading List

Over the last year I have had several requests for more information and deeper reads on subjects brought up on the blog. So after banging around my shelves a bit, here is the Death/Scent reading list. Some of them are staples of both olfactive and death literature, others are weird and wonderful deep cuts.  This…

Turning the Bones Part II: Endangered Customs

This is Part II of our two-part look at Famadihana. Read Part I here While forces have been at work for some time trying to kill the lively and joyous practice of Famadihana, they have done little to dampen the practice in the highlands; what may prove the death nail, however, is the pneumonic plague.

Turning the Bones Part I: Dance with the Perfumed Dead

Places have souls; you experience them through their scents. What does Madagascar’s soul smell like? Mango and lemon chutney, recently plucked limes and papaya, fresh green coffee pods, and newly ground cocoa powder. It’s in homemade cinnamon-infused rum mixed with coconut milk (a Punch Coco), carved Rosewood figures rubbed with nutty Baobab oil, wild ylang-ylang…