Seasons of Aromatherapy

by Judith Fitzsimmons and Paula M. Bousquet

Published by Conari Press

1999, 250 pages

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A Book That Makes Scents

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards


Aromatherapy is a pursuit with an awful lot going for it. I mean, in the best case scenario, it will help you deal with everything from low energy to the common cold. In the worst case scenario (i.e.: if it's all new age baloney, and why waste your money on that?) your world is a better smelling place. It's tough to go wrong.

It also seems to be fairly contagious. That is, when I bought my first bottle of lavender oil several years ago, I had to do a bit of hunting to track it down. Now essential oils are available almost everywhere and even whole chains of stores have sprung up to vend them to us in polished and variously diluted styles. Making the world smell better is big business in this part of the decade.
Since aromatherapy is a growing field, it only made sense (scents?) that an ever-increasing crop of books on the subject would appear. And they are: ranging in coverage from huge tomes to tiny guides suitable to be stuffed into a pocket. Whatever the size, most books on the subject of aromatherapy tend to take on a somewhat encyclopedic tone. This is the oil. This is the ailment. This is the treatment. Like a book a doctor might read, without the synthetics. Some of them are useful, but they're about as exciting to read as a pharmaceutical company's annual report. In other words: not really.

Seasons of Aromatherapy has taken an entirely different approach. As the title suggests, the book is broken into seasons and further: each chapter is actually a month. Each month concerns itself with the aromatherapy challenges that might come up in that North American month. I say "North American" there somewhat pointedly because -- of course -- not everyone is celebrating spring in May or building warming fires in December. But since those who live in differently climated places (Australia springs naturally to mind) are often used to doing conversions from "American" anyway, this shouldn't be much of a problem.

More than anything else, Seasons of Aromatherapy is set up like a cookbook. Chapter one, "The Essentials of Aromatherapy" deals with some of the principles and some of the very basics. It also helps you equip yourself for the recipes to come in later chapters. And they are recipes: some are even meant to be ingested orally (like food!), though most are meant to be inhaled or infused, dropped into a bath or added to lotion. It's interesting stuff. For instance, from May comes a "Recipe for Razor Burn Relief" that contains chamomile, geranium, lavender and lemon. June includes a "Relaxing Bath" with cedar, chamomile, geranium, lemon and oil or milk.

Relaxing Bath

2 drops Cedar
2 drops Chamomile
2 drops Geranium
1 drop Lemon
2 ounces hazelnut oil or milk

Mix the essential oils into the oil or milk. Use the hazelnut oil if your skin is suffering from residual effects of a long, cold, windy winter. Use the milk for some soothing relief from your June activities.

Pour this into a tub of warm water and relax for 20 minutes.

While the approach is novel and the tone is light, accessible and friendly; and the book itself is beautifully produced and lovingly designed and illustrated, the book is -- of course -- incomplete. If you are serious about learning about aromatherapy and want an all-inclusive primer, this isn't the book for you. However, if you have some basic knowledge -- or even some basic interest -- Seasons of Aromatherapy will start you on your way to actually doing something with a lot of those oils. | April 1999


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.