The Magic of Hospitality

I experienced my first tarot reading a year or so after graduating from college. I was working at a small bookstore at the time and had never in my life experienced a reading with a real tarot card diviner.

I’d always had a fantasy about stumbling across a mysterious shop one day and receiving and a life changing message from a gypsy woman, but nothing like that had ever happened to me. Instead I heard tales from friends about “sham” readings they experienced and regretted paying for. Usually  the reader got their life story completely wrong or the reader gave them terrible advice.

One work day at the bookstore, however, a part-time co-worker approached me  and said that he was a student in tarot and astrology. In a non-creepy way he explained that his intuition had guided him to give me a reading. He even offered me a special discount!

Robert, the tarot reader and part-time bookstore employee, was a far cry from the gypsy tarot-woman I imagined would give me my first reading. Instead he was a just a well-mannered nice guy. For the discounted-rate he said he would charge me, I was happy to hear what he had to say!

Even though Robert was the furthest thing from scary, first tarot readings can be very intimidating. That day, as I walked up to his house I felt my adrenaline start to spike. I’m not really sure what I was afraid of…but the newness of the experience hit me all at once as I stood on his doorstep.

After a couple of knocks, Robert answered the door. Stepping inside his home. I was instantly surprised. The interior wasn’t at all what I had imagined from a tarot reader. There were no crystal balls or mysterious objects cluttering the tables and bookshelves. Instead, the little house was impeccably clean and tidy. Light poured down from a skylight in the kitchen, and the unvarnished wood furniture gave giving the place a feeling of warmth and purity.

I will never forget the smell that wafted from the kitchen as Robert pulled a tray of anise-seed cookies out of the oven. He arranged them on a blue plate and set them in the center of the wood table where my reading was to be held.

As I sat down to eat the delicious cookies, I realized how terrified I had been walking into this new experience. Now his hospitality had transformed my terror into pure gratitude. I felt safe and cared for. I still remember the anise-seed cookies as being some of the best I’ve ever eaten.

Without going into deep detail I will say that the reading was very powerful and moving for me. Perhaps more importantly, it sparked my interest in tarot and I would later go on to study the cards myself!

At the same time, I must admit that the reading wasn’t easy to get through. I asked Robert about things that I hardly spoke to anyone about: where was my birth mother, who I had never known? Was my current relationship as doomed as I feared it was? Robert answered my questions with patience and compassion, but the answers he gave were also honest and clear-cut.

Looking back at that experience I am grateful for what it brought to my life. As grateful as I am for the pearls of wisdom Robert offered me that day however, I am just as grateful for the spell he created with his hospitality.

Looking back I realized that Robert’s magic was not just about his tarot or astrology skills, but in the way he controlled the energy of his house, the way he kept it de-cluttered and clean, and the hospitality he showed me by baking those  amazing cookies! His magic spell took my nervous, adrenaline-fueled self and made it feel safe and peaceful.

This is a similar spell to the one cast by Cassie on the Hallmark series The Good Witch. When passersby enter her charming little bookshop the decor pulls them in and encourages them to let down their guard. Once their guard is down Cassie is able to determine what they are really seeking, and to help them find the remedy they need.

If you haven’t watched The Good Witch, I highly recommend it for hospitality inspiration.  It is available on Netflix and HERE on Amazon.

Have a magical day!

 

The Magical History of Perfume

A few years ago I read the e-book: Essence and Alchemy: A Book of Perfume by Mandy Aftel. What I loved most about this little book was how well-written and descriptive it was. Aftel writes about scent in such beautiful language, that the book itself begins to take on a magical quality.

This is fitting for the subject matter, which includes a catalog of the history of perfume, and describes the magical/spiritual significance scent has held for humans throughout time.

“From earliest times,” Aftel writes, “people have taken pleasure in rubbing fragrant substances into their skin. Timeless and universal, scent has been a force in ritual, medicine, myth and conquest. Perfume has helped people to pray, to heal to make love and war, to prepare for death, to create.” (1)

Aftel makes connections between perfumers and the traditions of alchemy, a magical practice which was both scientific and philosophical. Both processes aimed to transform “physical matter into divine essence.” (1)

My first experiences with perfume as a child were unexceptional, though the idea of perfume attracted me very much.  The curved glass bottles looked like jars of magic potion. Expensive perfumes were also one of the fancier presents my Dad would give mom at Christmas time. In my childhood mind perfume appeared to be a valuable, feminine possession.

Nevertheless, the kiddie perfume, and department store samples I came across as a girl failed to impress. I’d spritz them on imagining the powerful allure they would give me, only find myself coughing, or with a headache several minutes later.

Thus, my foray into the luxurious world of scent did not begin until years later, when I discovered essential oils quite by accident. My experience with the oils since that day, a few years ago when I took my first wiff, has been nothing short of magical. I will detail this experience in another post.

Aftel’s book mirrored my journey from cheep drug store perfumes to essential oils. In her historical analysis of perfume, Aftel describes the commercialization of perfume with the introduction of synthetics. These new chemicals changed the chemistry of the perfume significantly and, I believe, sucked the magic right out of them.

Fortunately, Aftel writes, “The popularity of aromatherapy has introduced a new generation to natural essences of excellent quality and has made these materials widely available for purchase” (2). Thank goodness for that!

All that is needed to unlock the magic of natural scents, Aftel asserts, is “an appreciation of the history and spirit of the essence themselves” (2). In future posts I hope to further explore the magical power of scent, and how it can be used to improve and beautiful daily life.

Have a magical day!

-Jess