One area is the New Age, holistic health movement that’s essentially based on attitudes and values born in that magical decade, and one of those elements of the system of faith is aromatherapy. As with so many of these components, aromatherapy – the belief that a scent can change human consciousness – had its birth in the 1960s with the boom in popularity of incense.
A small History
When the counter culture first blossomed on the west coast in the mid-1960s, incense was a little-known oddity used by a few independent religious groups and by some advanced people. It wasn’t a frequent thing to see available at any major department store or other business outlet, and it wasn’t easy to locate period. What brought it to its first stage of premature detect was the significant number of travelers to the east. Religions and philosophies from India, Japan, Tibet and China had become all the rage in the new motion, and it was a rite of passage for many to make a trip to the east, bum around, and bring back some crucial items. One of these new necessities was incense made in these exotic lands.
Bringing it all Back Home
As it became well-known, incense began popping up for sale as an import in head shops and clothing stores in regions which had large hippie populations. It was prized for its scent, the pleasure given by the smoke when one was in an altered state, but above all for a property it was used for since time immemorial – to cover other undesirable smells. These unwanted scents had in times past been the scents of human beings within their unwashed, mass forms. This is one reason churches used the sweet-smelling resins that put out voluminous clouds of smoke – of course there were other reasons also. But at the 60s, people that had begun smoking marijuana had a problem – the smoke in the bud was pungent and tell-tale, and it was something that you had to be cautious about. One method to care for the problem was with the powerful incense which was being imported from abroad. Soon small brass incense burners and incense cones were a part of the required equipment in any self-respecting doper’s abode. And in this manner, incense acquired an undeserved and inaccurate image that it’s never quite shaken.
What’s that odor?
In the decade we call the 60s, which actually lasted into the first part of this 70s; you could walk right into a head shop, imported clothing shop, a comic book store, and various mixtures of them, and revel in the rich, strongly sweet odor of incense. In the popular mind, it became associated with the use of prohibited drugs, so much so that there are still people who aren’t quite sure that smell is not illegal itself when they smell incense. Fortunately, since the 70s wore on, using incense began spreading into more mainstream homes and community spaces, so that it lost a lot of the stigma. It has rather become correlated with the New Age movement and its many permutations. The expansion of aromatherapy allowed the marketplace for incense to grow, and soon you could get the product everywhere – even in favorite candle and furniture shops.
Some of their favorite scents made accessible in that first decade of fame were sandalwood, patchouli, jasmine, and lavender. These were the scents that wafted from stores, flats, and porches where a group of counter culture followers were discovered – call them hippies, freaks, or adventurers. At first these were simple recipes, but in the process of expanding their traces, such manufacturers of incense as Nag Champ and Gonesh brought out more and more mixes and made them accessible cones and as joss sticks.
What’s it for?
As said, among the earliest uses of incense was as a cover-up for other scents. In churches and gathering areas where pilgrims and travelers came together after long periods of no access to basic hygiene, it was a helpful thing to have the ability to light up a brazier of odoriferous resins and push away the odors. Other uses of incense were symbolic – the smoke rising to the skies reminded believers of their soul’s eventual ascent to its manufacturer at death – and medicinal and psychological. Fragrances had been noticed to have an influence on the human mind, and this effect was heightened from the 60s by the use of certain psychotropic substances. All of those uses for hens were intensified and increased to another level during the first years of its resurgence and use at the 60s.
What it’s come to?
These days, incense has largely outgrown its link to the drug culture of the 60s, though there are still some lower socioeconomic groups that maintain that institution in mind. Rather, it’s become connected to the notion of holistic healing, of higher consciousness through the senses, and of absolute pleasure. The quality and variety of the imported incenses and those made in the united states is truly unbelievable. Along with the rise of internet existence and communication technologies, there has come a rise in a subculture of incense aficionados who collect rare and costly products from all around the world, and review those combined with their less expensive examples for the many who love to read about them. The result of the efforts of a few travelers and members of the counter culture in the 60s to popularize these delights for the sense of smell is that they’re not hard to find, are of high quality, and that they’ve become divorced from many negative connotations.