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…

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…

A Holiday Gift Guide For Difficult People

Let’s face it, I’m difficult, you’re difficult, Aunt Kathy is difficult, everyone is a pain in the ass to buy for. No matter what you celebrate this time of year, you may find yourself with a difficult person on your list. It’s not that they are rude or mean about your gift, its just that…

Scented Prayers: Copal & the Day of the Dead

With the success of movies like Coco and The Book of Life, along with the popularity of children’s books like The Dead Family Diaz, it is clear that the English speaking world is more familiar than ever with Día de Muertos (aka Day of the Dead). Overall I think this is a good thing. Latin American…

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…

An Apple of Whale Poop a Day Keeps The Black Death at Bay

If you are a lover of perfumes, you have many joys, one of them is getting to explain the mystical substance known as Ambergris to the unsuspecting. Aged ambergris (literally grey amber) has an earthy mildly marine sweetness. Think of warm, sea-salted skin after a day of sailing.