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Feb 142014
 

"Why do bulls and horses turn up their nostrils when excited by love?" Darwin ponderedWhere_is_the_love deep in one of his unpublished notebooks.  Scientists long ago documented a rich array of animal pheromones, everything from seal, fox and civet, various rodents, boars, beavers, musk deer . . . even the effluence discharged by whales.  Discovering biochemical bouquets for attracting mates as well as marking territory and used for defense, as is the case with the noble skunk.  And, we took them as our own for exotic and sought after perfumes, not putting much thought into human scent, assuming our unique evolution and poor sense of smell lends to the idea that unique olfactory-challenged, sight-oriented hairless bipeds would be the species that conquers the Earth.  Hah! 

I don’t doubt that many of my readers here, like myself, dismiss the notion that we humans are bereft of scent-driven socializing.  That just because early scientists in autopsy couldn’t find the same hardware in humans, those two little pits, the VNO (vomeronasal organ) in each nostril, we had been left out of the savory realm of scent.  So, our olfactory prowess was dismissed and discarded, those early analysts  nodding their heads in agreement that humans simply did not rely on scent to any appreciable degree . . . and even physiologists declaring in the 1930’s that humans lacked the brain apparatus necessary to process VNO signals.  So, even if we had a VNO, the thinking was our brains wouldn’t be able to interpret its signals.

So it goes, the scientific dogma for most of the previous century that humans do not rely on scent to any appreciable degree.  I’m here to report that reports of our olfactory devolution have been greatly exaggerated!  And, it will come as no surprise to readers here that physiologists did discover a functioning vomeronasal organ inside the human nose. Using microscopes unavailable to early nasal explorers, discovering pits lined with receptor cells that fire like mad when presented with certain substances.  And probably less surprising that the discovery was prompted by a venture capitalist searching to cash in on manufactured human pheromones.  Tom Tykwer’s 2006 movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, featuring Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s dark quest for the ultimate perfume ingredient and its exquisite period sets could have us fantasizing a clever 17th century feminine entrepreneur doing a brisk business selling handkerchiefs scented with her body odor.  Or, who knows, perhaps it is the next olfactory market evolution yet to come.

Getting back to smelling each other and our pleasure therein, it appears we are also profoundly equipped with attraction-beckoning pleasant odor-producing capability . . . human sweat, urine, saliva, breast milk, skin oils, breath and sexual secretions all contain scent-communicating chemical compounds.  Zoologist Michael Stoddart, author of The Scented Ape, points out that humans possessThe Lovers denser skin concentrations of scent glands than almost any other mammal.  We have long believed that humans don’t pay much attention to the fragrant or the rancid in their day-to-day lives.  Part of the confusion resides in the fact that not all smells register in our conscious minds and that they are rejected when we don’t want to think about them anymore.  In studying aromatherapy, we learn that our conscious mind can refuse to acknowledge the presence of odor, especially after prolonged periods of smelling it.  We are, therefore, advised to  diffuse in time periods according to other protocols and parameters not related to actively and consciously detecting the aromatic blend being diffused.

As we study and learn more about DNA, there is a segment called the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), codes which function as the immune system’s eyes for recognition.  This recognition triggers the immune system’s teeth – the killer T cells – who then swarm the intruders. Studies in mice have proven that females choose by evaluating males’ MHC profiles and choose those most dissimilar to their own to avoid inbreeding.  It was during early studies involving humans that we discovered we were capable of discerning small differences in the immune systems of mice. This led to further tests in which women rated men’s body odor and sexiness . . . exactly like mice do.  We much prefer men with scents that vary the most from our own. 

Although, even that is complicated in that there are still anomalies to the general rule of choice yet to be definitely ascertained. Doctors have known since the mid-1980s that couples suffering repeated spontaneous abortions tend to share more MHC similarities than couples who carry to term. And, if we don’t also know and accept same sex attraction by now, we might remain in those dark, dank ages.  Those who might be offended by the notion that animal senses play a role in their attraction to a partner need not worry. As the role of smell in human affairs yields to understanding, we see not that we are less human but that our tastes and emotions are far more complex and sophisticated than anyone ever imagined.

Perfume_Bottle_AntiqueWhile this ramble may give you something interesting you may not previously know, on this Valentines Day, you’re probably more interested in a simple bottle of perfume, rose-scented tea and the ever-beloved chocolate delight.  Just remember, if you haven’t developed an awareness yet, while you are nibbling on that lover’s ear, to sniff a bit . . . and judge for yourself whether he/she is the one. 

Love and Smelly Kisses,
Marcia

Jan 152010
 

I put my arms around him yes
and drew him down to me so he could
feel my breasts all perfume yes
and his heart was going like mad
and yes I said yes I will Yes.
James Joyce

According to the New Advent Encyclopedia Section, there were at least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs. One is described as a priest, another as a bishop and the third suffered in Africa with a number of companions, although nothing further is known. The popular, and now modern, customs associated with Saint Valentine’s Day have their origins in conventional belief in the geographical regions of England and France during the Middle Ages. This belief stems from the observation that half way through the second month of the year, the birds began to pair.
Thus, in Chaucer’s Parliment of Foules,
For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s Day
Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

For this reason, the day was looked upon as specially consecrated to lovers and the proper occasion for writing love letters and sending tokens to one’s object of affection. The French and English literatures are rife with allusions to the practice in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Those who chose each other under these circumstances called each other their Valentines.

One romantic legend, according to History.com contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II believed that single men made better soldiers and outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius after realizing the injustice of the decree and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

The oldest valentine in existence is thought to be a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the tower of London in 1415. Valentine greetings and tokens of affection were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, although written valentines didn’t appear until after 1400. The first commercial valentine in the United States is attributed to Esther A. Howland who made elaborate creations with lace, ribbons and colorful pictures, known as ‘scrap’.  The scanned image at right is one of several elaborate, lacy valentines belonging to my long deceased great grandmother.
A typical verse:
I send you this, with hope and fear
With hope that you will tender be;
Yet all the while, I tremble dear,
Lest you should not be fancy-free
I could not bear the hopeless fate
To hear the cruel words – too late.

Would that we could have such tender Romeos today to bare these fragile inner feelings and show such deep emotional love. Certainly not in this age of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Resident Evil 4.

In Roman mythology, Cupid (meaning ‘desire’) is the god of erotic love and beauty, aka Amor, and son of goddess Venus and god Mercury. We have exploited this young deity in art, literature, confection, adornment and perfume at this time of year, some would say to excess. And, while we moderns are probably not going to participate in the elaborate ancient celebration of Lupercalia, which occurred in ancient Rome on February 15, and when some of the weirdest customs were indulged, it is perhaps another precursor to our modern celebratory immersion in romance and fertility.

Those of us who garden in the northern climes can’t ignore the fact that February 14 is also the approximate time for the beginning of the Spring thaw, another significant allusion to fertility.

While we may never know all of the facts of the history that lies behind Valentines Day; most of us are smitten with the idea of heartfelt expression and indulgence to bestow favor and admiration on those we care deeply about or wish to have a romantic relationship with.

Any expression of universal love in light of the overwhelming humanitarian disaster in Haiti must include our commitment to the brave and beautiful people of that impoverished country.  During the first quarter of 2010, Samara Botane will donate 10% of all all sales (not just web sales) to Partners in Health.  PIH works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in nine countries around the world. Their work has three goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. Partners in Health has been in Haiti for over 20 years and its hospitals are untouched by the recent earthquake. They have been the first medical response to the disaster and their doctors and medical personnel are primarily Haitian citizens. Based in Boston, PIH employs more than 11,000 people worldwide, including doctors, nurses and community health workers. The vast majority of PIH staff are local nationals based in the communities we serve.

Valentine Gift Suggestions

Amoretto™ Parfum Mist, 7.5 ml in brushed silver atomizer

Soft florals of Rose Otto and Ylang Ylang with hints of zesty Citrus, grounded with Vetiver & Sandalwood and a mere whisper of Black Pepper, Clary Sage and Juniper make this a lovely fragrant poem of innocent love. This fine perfume is a 30% perfume composition in certified organic perfumers alcohol, with moderate silage and a uniquely soft, sweet scent for young and old alike. Festively packaged in chic acetate pillow with sizzle fill.

Relax in the tub and treat your skin to nourishment and renewal

Renew Milk & Honey Bath Ensemble

The additive dissolves in your bath to create a beautiful skin softening therapy – a few drops of the essential oil blend make it aromatically restful while adding additional skin healing, and the aromatherapy body lotion completes the experience of skin rejuvenation and renewal. Packaged in a charming little reuseable suitcase. Delightful luxury for the love of your life.

Please explore our website for lovely naturally fragrant gifts and indulgences for your loved ones. If you have difficulty finding what you are looking for, or need some ideas or explanations, or want to put together a custom gift, you can always email or call me.

Free shipping to you or your recipient on orders placed before February 8th, with an additional bonus gift for the purchaser of one of our recipe booklets for refreshing skin, hair and body treatments and aromatherapy ideas for health and beauty.

Sending fragrant thoughts your way for this beautiful Valentine’s Day! Share your love abundantly with all you touch.

Marcia and the Samara Botane crew

 Posted by at 6:56 pm