Back from lunch, seated in our rows, the aromacology lecture was soon to begin again.  Two charming and intelligent French medical doctors were in their positions at the head of the class.  A striking, dark haired, French pharmacist in a pink Chanel suit stood by, dipping handfuls of scent strips in a large vial.

Noticing the mischievous looks in the two men’s eyes, it somehow seemed in keeping with their slight but persistent attitude of chauvinism that had insinuated itself into their previous lectures.

We, a large class of predominantly women, had all been dutifully and politely quiet through the previous day and a half of classes.  Now, we sat pensively attentive, waiting for the latest round of smelling strips to find their way down the twenty-five rows of seats that stretched down the long, narrow conference room.

As the strips flowed into the rows, one by one, the translator began telling us that the essential oil to be discussed was Sage.

Sitting near the front, I soon received my sample and quickly fell under its power.  Familiar.  A flood of Thanksgiving memories flooded in.  Nourishing and filling without the meal. Herbal and gourmand. 

I mentally compared the quality of the essential oil to my scent-memory of burning Sage.   I confirmed the opinion I held that the oil had as much or more volume and power than the burning dried herb. 

Sage is rather loud and strong in pure form.  A powerful oil for sure.  Sweet but not too sweet and earthy-raw, yet fuzzy soft in my nose. Wait a minute.  Loud and soft?  Interesting.

It made its way down my body, landing its energetic seat deep in my abdomen.  Lost in reverie I inhaled the air, laden with the deliciousness and wisdom, noticing the remarkable ‘presence’ or ‘demeanor’ of the herb.  Small wonder that it is used in small amounts in perfume.  Note to self: “a really small amount”.

About then, a distraction was building.  Chattering in the seats around me soon spread into a wave of swelling voices, rolling down the room toward the back.  Just as the last rows were receiving their scent strips, and with the decibels rising, I glanced up from my aromatic pursuit to see the two gentlemen in front, grinning with a little smirk in the corners of their smiles.

With the scent strips almost delivered the lecture began.  Everyone did their best to quiet down.  Within a few sentences, one of the doctors dropped a small but pointed chauvinistic remark.

All demure and proper pupillary silence seemed to give way, first one voice in the audience and then another.  Chaffing against his “remark”, the women began to chide the men and point out their objections in a friendly way.  It went like a sound wave from the front of the class to the back, as if keeping pace with the exposure-time to the Sage-scented strips.

By now, the doctors were looking positively smug.  They seemed to be enjoying every minute of the clamor, as if their bait had caught the fish! Then, with a measured degree of glee, they resumed their lecture . . . “This is a woman’s oil.  It brings out the power of woman.” . . .

They went on to describe the chemical properties of Sage (Salvia officinalis), its pharmacology or effects on biological pathways, the disease states and symptoms it is useful for, at what dose for which route, its psycho-emotional impact, its classic uses, the personality of the oil, its fragrance, what other oils are best with it, and of course, somewhat mirthful now, they added more teasing.

Somehow, we all found them likeable and forgivable, as there was a clear lack of any real misogyny on their part, mixed with kindness and patience.  Certainly, any argument about their subject matter did not arise.  I for one, caught a glimmer of the world through their eyes and an insight into female nature.  Loud and soft for one.

It also added to my growing understanding that a considerable part of what we think of as “ourselves” or “under our own control” is actually the changes and chances of our surroundings and bodies.   We are a thread in the weave of the fabric of the universe.  We feel the pulls and tensions that have been proven to influence our chemistry.  Things in our environment, what we eat, see, smell, hear, and feel change our internal state.   All of it, including the microbes so prevalent within our bodies, as well as the energy of others can change our thoughts and behavior.  We are not as much ‘ourselves’ as it seems.  It takes a lot for the watcher behind our eyes to keep mastery.


Looking back, prior to this day, I had experienced Native American people and their customs around burning Sage.  (However, the Native women do not “chatter”.  More like, “Think deeply and speak their minds”.)  Also, in previous study and experience in using the essential oil in medical, spa, and beauty settings, its effects had become familiar to me before the class. 

Yet all previous experience had been intimate and personal, or intimately interpersonal.  This mass-effect was enlightening.  Palpable, correlated, and pronounced!

Years later I watched the movie, “Perfume; A Story of a Murder”.  The final scene in the movie made me smirk a bit myself.  (No spoiler here.  If you haven’t seen the movie, you must.) 

Today, because of so many experiences like this one, I have imagined offering an experiential adventure into other more exotic oils in the layers of our perfumes.  Their ingredients and energies, an exploration of the intricacies of their effects and the feeling of their beauty.  It has been a curiosity to me if anyone out there would love it as much as I do, or if I am too far down the fragrance rabbit hole, and had best keep it mostly to myself.

It’s also crossed my mind, wondering if I too would be a bit smug when the waves of fragrant effects begin around me.  If so, I trust you’ll understand.  When you inhale the heady and empowering beauty of nature’s perfume, I’ll be right there with you, just as transported and in love.