Using Scent to Time-Travel


Have you ever wished you could travel back in time?

After being so deeply connected to my dear departed Great-Aunt yesterday through the fragrance of roses, it got me thinking about the number of times a smell or an odour has transported me to another time or place.

Scent can be a powerful memory trigger. No need for a fancy device to take you places.

Sense of smell is a tool I often use in my creative writing to help make my imagined world more real and three-dimensional.

The smell of the ocean – that good, clean briny smell – always relaxes me and makes me happy. It reminds me of my grandfather, who often took us sailing. The smell of spicy rum reminds me of him too.

Lavender reminds me of my Nana.  When I was little and couldn’t sleep she would sprinkle a little lavender water on my pillow, and give me some on a hanky as well.

Even now, when I have trouble sleeping, I reach for the lavender oil and am reminded of my Nana’s love and kindness.

Lavender also reminds me of fairies!


I once kicked over a clod of damp earth in a horse paddock and was transported back to my childhood, and the memory of a man called Bob Bone, who had a team of Clydesdales. I had forgotten all about this man, and his magnificent team of horses, but thirty years later, here I am again as a wide-eyed child, mesmerised by these huge animals and the skill with which Mr Bone worked them.

Now I use smell intentionally as well.  I light incense when I meditate and the association between the fragrance and the act of meditating helps me move into that relaxed and focused state much more quickly. Lighting a stick of incense when I am stressed helps calm me and put me into a meditative space, even when I am not actually meditating.

I use aromatherapy oils in a burner to promote or enhance certain moods or mental states. For writing I usually choose this oil blend to enhance concentration and mental clarity.  It’s also a great blend for studying so that you remember what you’re reading!

  • 1 drop Basil
  • 2 drops Rosemary
  • 2 drops Cypress

I also use essential oils in bath products and cleaning aids for the same benefits.  (Here’s a great website with free recipes and information if you want to try this yourself)

What smells trigger good memories and associations for you? Favourites for me are baking bread, fresh coffee, rain, jasmine and smoke from the wood stove. Wishing you a day of fragrance and memories. ♥

Hi! I'm Nicole Cody. I am a writer, psychic, metaphysical teacher and organic farmer. I love to read, cook, walk on the beach, dance in the rain and grow things. Sometimes, to entertain my cows, I dance in my gumboots. Gumboot dancing is very under-rated.
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19 thoughts on “Using Scent to Time-Travel

  1. I haven’t read your blog for a couple of weeks, Nicole, but I just want to say that it is so lovely when I come back here. Your blog is like a peaceful sanctuary. It’s so peaceful and beautiful, and the visuals are always amazing. You and your blog are such a wonderful gift to the world. Thank you. Much love, Joanna xxx

  2. Lovely Nicole! I have a very strong memory of green rexona soap! My lovely grandad always smelled of this soap which was just very clean and fresh – I don,t think it smelled of anything particular . Even now I will sometimes pass people in the street early in the day when they are recently showered and I am reminded of that lovely smell! It is a bit like when it rains on freshly mown grass.

  3. Wow we must be smoking from the same pipe. That’s exactly what I’m talking about young lady! 🙂 I’m so glad you felt some encouragement yesterday when you needed it. Thanks for the recipe, I’ll have to try it sometime. I bought a book two years ago about Aromatherepy, but that was when our forth darling came along and I’ve never finished it. She packs the book with recipes and methods, I’ll have to get the Title and post it sometime, if anyone is interested.

  4. oh a good chai tea, the cinamon, ginger, cardamon pods, basil, nutmeg, a pinch of chilli, etc – yum yum!! when i took six months off work, i spent the first 4 weeks playing with chai tea recipes until i found one that i was happy with – time spent most productively…. (hah yellow brain!!) :o)

  5. I’ve always thought that smell is an underappreciated sense. This happens to me all the time.

    As much as I hate the smell of cigarette smoke in America, whenever I smell it now, it reminds my time in Europe. Suddenly, opening the mundane glass door I pass through every day at school is like walking into a sidewalk café or brasserie.

    Sometimes, the musty smell of an old book or antique shop instantly takes me to my grandmother’s house all the way across the country.

    I have realised recently that I often begin my scenes with some kind of sensory detail, more often than not, a smell. Now, I’m off to go burn some incense!

    1. Hi Ed,
      Musty books and antique shops are some of my favourite smells, and like you, I too have come to link cigarette smoke to Europe. Sensory detail really does it for me as a reader, helping to anchor and create that world in my mind.
      Thanks for dropping by and sharing with us!
      🙂 Nicole xx

  6. Beautiful Nicole. I know when I smell cigarette smoke and I am in a space where there is no one smoking it is my Dad coming through just to remind me that he is paying me a visit. I love when Rick comes home after a day sailing and he smells of the ocean – as you say that fresh briny fragrance of the ocean – beautiful. The smell of the rain transports me to rainforests heavy with moisture and the smell of the damp earth rising up after absorbing the rain. the fragrance of newly mown lawn -again invokes wonderful memories of being in the country riding the mower and taking in the country and animals I have afriend who uses camphor in her linen, it reminds me of my Grandmother who always smelt of camphor.. I love fragrances, whether it be a perfume, coffee beans, flowers,herbs, a roast in the oven – whatever they be they invoke wonderful memories and can transport you to magical places.xx

  7. What a lovely post. Your picture of the flower fairy brought back memories of my childhood. Roses are a powerful scent for me too, reminding me of a little jar of handcream the elderly lady nextdoor gave me when I was a child. I was quite young and felt very grown-up with my own glass jar of beautifully scented handcream. Freshly cut grass reminds me of my childhood too, as does the smell of the sea, pine forest and bonfire smoke. In addition to these I love the smell of freshly squeezed lemons, marmalade cooking, the earth on a warm day after rain, Creosote and tar.

    1. I love the image of you as a little girl with your precious pot of handcream! I had a bottle of Avon roll-on perfume my Nana gave to me. It was in the shape of a little castle, with the turret as a lid. I felt so grown-up using it, and I STILL have that bottle. Aren’t we a sentimental pair! 🙂

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