Embodying Heaven: Frankincense and Myrrh in the Christian Sensorial Mythos

This article originally appeared in Plantings: The Journal of the World Sensorium/Conservancy, Issue 18 In Matthew’s account of the Birth of Jesus, three wise men, drawn by a star, came from the east to find a newborn messiah. They brought gifts for the child befitting a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These exalted gifts have…

Introducing Alabastron: An Aromatic Journal

I’m so excited to announce I will be co-editing Alabastron, a new journal to be published by the Institute for Art & Olfaction, with Saskia Wilson-Brown. Alabastron is an interdisciplinary journal that bridges the gap between academia and the public to explore aromatic history and culture. Our aim is to create diverse and accessible learning…

Shezmu: The Demon-God of Egyptian Perfume

If you are a fan of fragrance history, you may be familiar with the Egyptian god Nefertem. He is the personification of the Cosmic Lotus in the Egyptian creation myth. Nefertem is the protector of dawn and patron of Egypt’s beloved blue lotuses. Nefertem rises from the river at daybreak each morning with his flowers…

Tappūtī-Bēlet-ekallim: The First Perfumer?

  If you Google Tappūtī-Bēlet-ekallim, you will find dozens of articles praising her as the first perfumer. Online, Tappūtī-Bēlet-ekallim is presented as a feminist, a scientist, and an entrepreneur. Yet, those concepts would have been utterly foreign to her lived experience. Images accompanying these stories feature Babylonian goddesses, Sumerian queens, and Urukian tablets. They’re a…

The Perfumed Lionheart

Richard I of England was blessed with a great head of hair and a great nickname, Cœur de Lion, Lionheart. He was also the great-great-grandson of William the Conqueror. Born into the Plantagenet-Angevin royal family, he inherited immense wealth and privilege even if his parents were the dysfunctional Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Richard…

The Sweet Smell of Plague Preservatives

This post is part of the Scented History of the Plague series. If you are not familiar with the history of the plague in Europe, you may want to pop over to our primer first or learn about why miasma was important to the Black Death. In today’s post, we will be discussing the deliciously…

The Rise of Miasma

This post is part of the Scented History of the Plague series. If you are not familiar with the history of the plague in Europe, you may want to pop over to our primer first. In this post, we’re discussing the rise of Miasma Theory during the Second Pandemic and how it impacted European olfactive…

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…

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,…