“Scent of a Witch: The Power of Perfume” by Melusine Draco (ARCANUM)

"Scent of a Witch: The Power of Perfume" by Melusine Draco (ARCANUM)

"Magic and scent were conceptually linked in antiquity. Ancient authors sometimes treated magic as a type of smell; at other times odors were treated as a medium through which magic worked. Some authors compare the effect of smells to magic; others described scent and magic as different things but impossible to distinguish. Magicians used incenses and perfumes liberally to set the scene for their rituals and please the gods, as demonstrated by the corpus of spell books that survive from Greco-Roman Egypt; meanwhile, ancient deities signaled their presence by their divine fragrance.’ So writes Britta Ager in her academic paper for Penn State University, Magic Perfumes and Deadly Herbs: The Scent of Witches’ Magic in Classical Literature.

The Classical authors that Professor Ager cites in her paper were, of course, more contemporary with the regular users of those fragranced preparations. While most modern scents are produced from synthetic materials, the original fragrances were a combination of plant or animal products and rich oils. Today, archaeologists continue to find evidence of perfume’s use throughout the Ancient World, often in the form of contents in intricate perfume vessels. In witches’ spell books, known as grimoires, herbs, flowers, roots and resins were called upon to facilitate the workings of the magical practitioners who recorded the use of olfaction as a very powerful tool in spell-casting. Essences and aromatic smoke have also been linked with spirits and gods in ancient cultures, and the earliest of spell books…"