Identifying seven aromatic plants with specific psychoactive properties, the author describes the different states of consciousness that are achieved, manipulated, and transformed by the people and cultures that use them in specialized ways, both in the past and in the contemporary world.
Focusing on the role that scent plays in healing and spiritual experience, the author explores the use of the fragrant tulsi plant both in Hindu women's ritual and to treat mental and physical ailments. She analyses the appearance of the lotus in sacred Egyptian customs, and as a model of the process of psychological change through metaphorical journeys, as witnessed in shamanic practice and its relation to the Biblical book of Job. Making a significant contribution to the understanding of the healing state, the book is stimulating reading for all those who work with and are interested in aromatics, the sense of smell, or the nature of spiritual experience.
Dorothy Abram, Ed.D., is Professor of Psychology and Sociology at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, USA. Her interest in the therapeutic and psychoactive potencies of aromatic plants includes a Certificate in Integrative Aromatherapy from the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy.
Acknowledgements. Introduction. 1. Besmeared with Sandalwood: Context, Culture, and Consciousness of Aromatic Healing in the Life of a 19th Century Hindu Saint. 2. Shamanic Aspects in the Journey of Job: The Healer as Hero. 3. To Neem or Not: On the Benefits of Ambivalence and the Worship of the Hindu Smallpox Goddess Sitala Mata. 4. Fragrant Terebinth: A Fresh Look at the Ancient Akedah. 5. Creating Presence: Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Hindu Devotional Performance. 6. "In Memory of Her": Healing with Spikenard in Biblical Times. 7. The Scent of Jasmine: Spanning the Divide Between Epilepsy as a Disability or as Extraordinary Experience through Cultural Context. Conclusion. Appendix: Sources for Scents.