It’s pretty well known that scents and fragrances can often transport us into the heady world of memory and throw us back to a certain time when we’ve smelt that particular scent before. This can lead to happy, comforting memories as you smell something that once made you very happy, or to deep sadness as you remember the smell of a lover or someone who since has been lost. The world of scent is a complicated and can be the source of varied emotions. The idea that smells can evoke a memory has been mentioned by writers and poets alike such as this extract from Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode to her scent’:
“Tender love of mine, what does your smell invoke?
What fruit, what star, what leaf?
Close to you I lean in, I place my nose in your hair,
and my smile searches for that scent…”
“ODE TO HER SCENT” BY PABLO NERUDA
Many, many, many others have written about the way scent effects them and their memories. There is a sadly less romantic basis for this phenomena that’s been discovered by science – put simply, the parts of the brain that identify and remember different scents is in the same area of the brain – known colloquially as the emotional centre of the brain – as the part associated with long term memory. When you smell a strong scent that affects you, particularly as a child, that scent is always associated within your mind to that specific memory. The explanation isn’t as beautiful as Pablo Neruda’s poem, but the effect itself is a wonderful thing and can have all of us plunging into the realms of nostalgia from just smelling a single fragrance.
Most of these connections in your brain are made during childhood, and so often childhood scents – which are of course personal to each of us – can evoke the strongest and most beautiful memories. Another time when the strongest connections are made between memories and scents are when we’re in love – the brain at this point is constantly converting more and more short term memories to long term memories and within this the olfactory bulb – the part of your brain that works with scents – is particularly sensitive. This in itself is a beautiful thing; simply by being in love you’re creating more connections in your brain between scents and your memories.
If you can think of a certain scent or fragrance from your childhood which might bring you back (and the wonderful thing is, if you can remember the scent then it will – the two are connected!), why not try searching to see if we have it in a scented candle? We have an enormous variety of different fragrances to choose from and we’re certain you’ll find what you’re looking for without too much trouble. If you’re not sure about what scent may evoke some memories in you, we have a few tests to work out what might work!
Often, thinking back to some of your earliest childhood memories is a really good way of working out what scents are linked to your memory – even if you can’t remember the fragrances themselves, simply by thinking back visually and considering what was around you is a great way to work out what scents you may be susceptible to. For example, if you’re picturing a boat on the lake then you can expect the smell of lots of freshwater and the wood of the boat to have a profound effect on you. Of course, it’s up to you to work out what works and what doesn’t – we wish we could but we can’t guess everyone’s scents! One thing to remember is that this affects everyone who has any kind of scent to begin with, and so there will be a scent that sends you back, even if you don’t remember it! Just keep thinking and it’ll come to you.
Being transported back in time to a certain memory is a wonderful way to revisit the past from a new light, and whether expected or unexpected can have profound consequences on our mood and attitude towards a place or object. We are – to some extent – built from our memories, and having them called up out of the blue by a simple scent can be a disconcerting process, but is almost always a warming and wonderful thing. The body tends to remember the good more than the bad naturally (which is a great fact of nature in and of itself) and so certain scents that recall memories will more often than not cause a happy, warming memory. We find the way the brain works – remembering the good more than the bad, making sure than a brain in love works in overdrive, and tying scents and fragrances together with saved and often treasured moments – is a wonderful thing and is one of the truly magical things about being human.
So, whether it’s the scent of a lover that triggers a memory in you, or the smell of something from long ago in your childhood that plunges you into recognition, nostalgia and far down memory lane; we’re thrilled that such a phenomena exists – simply remembering a happy moment is a good thing, but when you’re pushed back into that moment by no will on your part, it makes both the memory and the moment a truly special one. Whilst we’re certain our candles won’t – on their own at least – create a perfect moment, we very much hope they may be able to help you revisit yours. Please have a browse through our selection and let us know what you think.
Photography by Seyed Mostafa Zamani