I have adored aromatherapy for 16 years.  When I was a teenager I bought several amazing tomes on aromatherapy and devoured them.  In later years I did less compulsive reading but by then I had already established a set of habits and routines and even when I was an impoverished student I always had essential oils in my life (from Birthday and Christmas presents mostly).

I use them for:

Magick, Chakra work, Mediation
Stress-management and relief
Concentration and Focus
Anti-bacterial purposes
Various ailments

There are probably a million and one other ways I could be using them on top of those.

But I wanted to write a quick introductory post because I will likely be coming back to this theme again and again.  Scent can be a vital and deeply pleasurable part of ritual work and essential oils can induce a far larger range of moods and associations than other options such as incense.  They can also be a discreet way of practising low-key magick in the workplace or other areas of life where you do not want or need to draw a huge amount of attention to your practise.

A few words of warning which are oft repeated in the various books:

1. Check the contraindications before you use the oils - some should be avoided by pregnant women, people with allergies or will irritate the skin if applied directly.
2. Don't use them internally.
3. Always check you are buying "pure essential oil" (a good way to tell is price - if they seem so cheap it is too good to be true - they are probably not pure). 

My top aromatherapy books for inspiration and information are:

The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless
Culpeper's Herbal

So dive right in to a wonderful, scented second half of the year!
This is a blog by people who believe that magick is real.  Many excellent people have written about what magick is and one day I may mention them and posit my own little theories but at the moment I am more interested into exploring the *how* of Magick rather than the *what*.

My view is that effective magic has two broad components.  Technique and Trappings.  There are a variety of Techniques which work regardless of tradition, paradigm or genre.  I'll refer to them again and again in this blog and other writings - probably as the basics.  These are the elements that I always put in my rituals where all else is flexible.  The Techniques have an element of the personal as what I find an easy Technique may seem hard to someone else, what I find impossible someone else may find easy.  For example although I often meditate I find I need an active meditation, focussing on a series of steps or an intent or a journey.  If I try a more zen approach of the empty mind it just never works for me.  So meditation is one of a number of Techniques which are practised in many different ways.

Trappings are the traditions, myths, legends, paradigms or genres that are attached to the techniques.  A simple example for me would be the many and manifold lists of correspondences that you find on pagan websites.  I'll never write any such comprehensive list (although my personal correspondences will pop up in rituals I post) because to me they are Trappings and Trappings are personal. Broader Trappings are traditions such as Wicca (Wicca is also a religion but I am using it here in the context only of a magical path), Thelema, Norse mythology.  These are equally as important as the techniques.  For me Trappings are the missing link between me and the magickal undertow of the universe - in the same way computer code is the language that gets from me typing these words (technique) to sending them out into the universe for people to read. No amount of Technique is going to get me magickal results without the Trappings to lift my mind into the ritual headspace where I can actually interact with the universe.  That would be like typing on a keyboard when the computer is not switched on. Likewise no amount of Trappings will get me magickal results without the Techniques behind it - i.e. all the computer code in the world won't make this blog appear if I don't tap these keys.

This view obviously owes much to Chaos Theory but I believe that Chaos Theory often forgets about a very important aspect of the Trappings - and that is joy and delight.  It may be *enough* to convince yourself to believe in your paradigm to make it work - but it won't make my spirit sing and my heart swell in my chest.  I happen to think I do my best work when I am spiritually inspired by the Gods and Goddess I choose to work with, or when I use myths and legends dear to my heart and bound up closely with my own psychology.

Of course the line between Technique and Trappings is gleefully blurred and I suspect there is a lot of bleed over between the two on that line.  But this is only the first of several posts I plan to make in the future exploring this idea - which is still in its infancy.