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Posts Tagged ‘brain’

FYI:  We’ll be at the Paranormal Expo at Fort William Henry in Lake George on July 2 and 3, 2011.  Come and meet us!  There are lots of novelty scents specially made for this event to check out.  We’ll also have some of our newest summer scents.  So, look for the Country Wickhouse Candles table!

Chances are that at least once in our lives, as children, teenagers, or adults, many of us have been involved in some kind of magical or paranormal experience.  And guess what?  Chances are just as high that a candle played a role in one way or another—in the room, on the table or floor, in the clearing or basement.  I’d bet a dollar there was a candle somewhere in the vicinity (if you were doing it right, that is).  Whether it be a pair of high school students in front of the mirror in the upstairs bathroom with the lights out and a candle burning, trying to summon Bloody Mary, or a dozen grown men and women in Madame Zustra’s den trying to call forth the spirits of dead relatives in the throes of a séance, candles are necessary for paranormal activity.  Why?  Believe me, I’m no expert, but as our candle shop grows and we come into contact with many different types of people and personalities, I continue to learn how relevant and ingrained the human connection to candles is, both historically and presently.  There are seriously a million uses for these things!  And we’re not just talking about having a resource to help light our world when the power goes out and leaves us in the dark.  No, candles provide much more meaning to our existence than many of us even know.  

The use of candles in magical ritual or paranormal play, no matter how dangerous, dates back farther than anyone cares to remember.  It seems only logical that candles were initially used in the absence of electricity and the light bulb, but as time moved forward, people continued to use candles despite the technological advances of the day.  You see, candles offer a certain degree of simplicity and warmth that you can’t get by using your iPod to light up a séance table.  Moreover, the candle’s inherent connection to the earth and her elements is universal and timeless.  Besides, candles are just so much spookier than flashlights and laser beams.  

Candle magic is becoming more and more popular as ghost hunting and the fascination with all things paranormal skyrockets.  (Even I’m obsessed with SyFy’s Ghost Hunters!)  The truth is, candles enhance the overall effect of any paranormal activity, primarily because the flame serves as a point of focus or meditation, whereas the actual color of the wax has meaning and can stimulate certain areas of the subconscious mind.  The same applies to scent, which we already know has the power to affect moods, recall memories, and put us in touch with the most ancient part of the brain (see “Man, That Smells…Good!” below).  It is also believed that by adding certain crushed herbs to candles, one might invoke specific feelings or powers.  For more information on the significance of colors and scents in candle magic or other paranormal ventures (like séances, 100 candles, and the like) do what I did:  Look it up on the Internet.  You wouldn’t believe how much knowledge related to this stuff is out there!  

From a purely commercial point of view, we experience our best soy candle sales during the Halloween season and then again in early summer.  Tapping into my extensive knowledge of mythology and ancient religions, I know why this is and am thankful for things like solstices and pagan holidays, especially as a candle maker.  And we take great pains to offer the colors and scents that might be of use to many practitioners of magic or seekers of the paranormal, as well as to regular customers who just want to experience a great scent.  

(Note:  Soy candles, all-natural to the core, seem to be better “spirit batteries” than paraffin candles.  We’re just sayin’…in case you were wondering.)

And by the way, all of our candles are blessed for protection…Call it a mark of the double lives we at the little candle shop known as Country Wickhouse Candles live.  After all, we want to reach everyone, dead or alive!

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With the great amount of research that has been conducted on the subject, there’s no doubt that fragrances, or pleasant scents, can dramatically influence the human mind and emotions.  This reality has been known for literally thousands of years.  Greek physicians and philosophers mused over and wrote about the phenomenon as far back as 500 BCE, noting the emotional and mental effects of certain combinations of leaves and flowers worn as garlands.

What is immeasurable, however, is the influence different scents will have on each of us personally since we all experience our environment in unique ways.  For some of us, the smell of lilac may have a calming effect, while the scent of cotton candy may inspire memories of a childhood adventure at the county fair.  I know that the memory-sparking effect of some fragrances is true in my life every time I put one of my wife’s handmade orange creamsicle soy candles to my nose.  The recollections come easily as I remember my Uncle Whit’s tiny store at the north end of Ford Street in the city of Ogdensburg, New York. 

There was never much of anything on the dusty shelves save the bare necessities—cans of vegetable beef soup, singly wrapped rolls of toilet paper, bread, matches.  I’m not sure why I remember these particular images, but they are forever woven with the picture of that ice cooler at the back of the store, the one holding the loose orange cream popsicles (in an era when you could still buy many items individually and not gathered or lumped together in a case, box, or bag for mass consumption).  My little brother favored the rocket pops—rocket-shaped flavored ice on a stick colored red, white, and blue.  But not me…

“What’ll it be, Doe-head?” Uncle Whit, snowy-headed and the size of giant, would ask loudly, even though I was already at the old cash register with nickels and an orange cream popsicle…which, of course, always leads me to the memory of the Red Man we got from the same store and the afternoon my brother and I spent vomiting behind Dad’s garage…but that’s for another day.  Anyway, I love the smell of that orange creamsicle candle my wife makes, and everyday I take a good, long sniff of the one that I keep in my office, that I’m unwilling to burn lest I destroy the memory.

The point is simply this:  Good or bad, scent affects our moods, jogs our memories of people, places, things, and experiences, and causes us to connect to a very ancient part of the brain that has already associated the fragrance to our personal existence before we’ve even identified the particular scent wafting into our nostrils.  This is because our sense of smell is something like 10,000 times more powerful than our sense of taste.  How?  Our “olfactory receptors,” or smell receivers, are directly connected to the limbic system, which is not only the oldest part of the brain, but also the center of emotion.  Only after the deepest parts of the brain are activated does the smell sensation travel to the cortex to be recognized as a familiar (or unfamiliar) fragrance.  Consequently, our process of “smelling” is fascinating and the most intimately wired and powerful sense we possess as human beings.

Cheri VanWinkle, on her Colorado Adoption Consultants website, goes even further by relating scent identification and effect to children.  Under her link to Country Wickhouse Candles she states:

Recent studies suggest that a newborn infant can recognize his mother’s milk from that of other women based on his sense of smell.  In adoption, it is very important for your smell to be imprinted on his brain as his new parents.  Pick a scent and stay with it so your child will associate that scent with the safety of being in your care.  Candles are one of many ways you can do that! 

What an amazing thought.  Each and every one of us, from infant to grandparent, really should “stop and smell the roses” just to see how it makes us feel, what memories it inspires, and most importantly, what part of our personal existence it will reveal or to which it will forever link us. 

So, keep smelling!

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