In the mid 70’s, like all good hippies, I went on a 6-week road-trip with my Mom in a VW microbus camper to California and back. I found the first scent shop I had ever seen in Dallas, TX. That shop changed my life! The smells were wonderful; the colored oils in glass decanters with pipettes for dispensing were a sight to behold! I bought at least six samples including patchouli, and so-called rose and jasmine (synthetic, as I discovered later). I mixed various scents together, patchouli and rose one day, patchouli and jasmine the next; and I observed how people reacted. This helped me define my own trademark scent that I still wear to this day.
I gave scents to my friends and family. I remember my brother D began first by scenting his fiddle case with patchouli, then it became his scent that he wore for the next 40 years. Another friend had been given a blend of vetiver/patchouli and I became obsessed with that too. I made perfumes, and perfected my famous personal scent. My own scent left a trail where I went; people would say I knew you went to the library on campus when I smelled you on the door after I opened it. Once at a party someone said I was at the airport on a particular day as they had smelled me in the elevator. At first I didn’t know what they were talking about. Later though, I remembered I had taken my Mom to the airport to fly home after a visit; sure enough I had been in the elevator at Tampa Airport that day in October. My scent followed me wherever I went and became a signature for who I was and who I would become.
Once I had my massage license (1979), I began adding oil blends to treatments and I saw that more intensely deep relaxation and occasionally psychological miracles occurred. I really thought I was onto something, wondering why anyone hasn’t anyone done this before?. “Surely this could be something big,” I thought. I understood a new potential and began an earnest quest for more information and more oils.
I ordered patchouli and “musk”- at the time really popular scent from Kiel’s pharmacy in NY, and begin to locate oils at the local food co-op, early health food stores and “head” shops.
I found advertisements for essential oils in the herbal magazines, as aromatherapy slowly entered the US through the door of herbalism, and the natural health movement. Many of the first teachers were herblists such as Jeanne Rose and Mindy Green and of course Colleen Dodt.
Odd that today, many aromatherapists are moving back into herbalism, wishing for a deeper understanding of the traditional medicine, and wanting more info on the plants these oils come from. With that in mind I have asked another well known herbalist to help create a course for our students, so watch this space!