Reading Response 2

The article “The Breath of God Sacred histories of scent by Classen” touches upon odor of sancity with the notion of holy Christians and how tradition fragrance was associated with spirits (guardian angel, vision/dreams). It explains the connection of smell and relates it to God, virginity, knowledge (couldn’t believe it till she smelled it) and power. It compares both hell and heaven with given examples “according to popular belief heaven, and everything associated with it, was pervaded by fragrance” (46) and hell was like “a filthy mud which reeked of pestilential odours” (39). The devil was portrayed as a “foul-smelling: reeking of sulfur or excrement, and was a struggle for sancity” (48). It was said that the stink surrounding the devil smell was of sins so people can turn away from their own. With many of my religious beliefs this is exactly what I was though from a very young age. This article goes on about the odors of sancity both male and female stating that the vast majority are women. Nun Benotie had a difficult childhood, but at the age of sixteen she began to have visions of Virgin Mary. Eventually she was so close to the angels that they were basically her brother and sisters. Together the scents of Benoite, the angels, Mary and Jesus make up the local tradition named “perfume of Laus”. Lukardis, said to have been fed by the breath of god and couldn’t eat up to three days. Lydwine; daughter of noble parents was said to have odor so beautiful you could actually taste it. Although, she didn’t eat or sleep her body even injured (broke her rib spending the next 38 years in bed) still smelled of sweet odor. Even after her accident she was known for her patience, and even after her death her body still had an amazing smell just like Teresa. Saint Teresa was known for a fragrance so powerful that it scented everything she touched (40). However, unlike Lydwine when her coffin was taken out she was found to be rotten but her body didn’t decay. The reason was simply because “her virginity helped keep her body from decaying after death” (51) and virginity was considered to be sweet-scent. Pain and illness helped preserve the scents of virginity. Christ is referred as a “divine odours, fragrance, grace and beauty, and said that he attracts each other until they unite in a spiritual marriage” (53). Overall, each of these ladies had little to no sleep, and hardly any appetite but still managed to be very pure hearted.
In the next article “On Rocks, walks, and Talks in West Africa” Kathryn Geurts examines the moral codes of the Anlo-Ewe people of Southern Ghana; when she drove her car over a rock that stimulated her whole body , this experience was later related to “legba’’. In other words, this incident lead her to further explore the Anlo-Ewe people way of live by comparing and contrasting theoretical perspective of that in the western culture to their social realities. However, this observation was conducted through the study of the adapted five senses model, which explores embodied consciousness or experiences such as (sight, touch, taste, hearing, and smell); defined as seselelame “feel-feel-at-flesh-inside”, feeling of the body or bodily experience. This unpacking is designed to explore the implications of cultural variation in sensory orders and sensory experience. Nevertheless, external senses such as hearing, touch, taste, smell, sight etc, can reduce internal feelings that arise from balance, kinesthesia and proprioception #p.183). Thus, this article was an analysis of understanding one’s own experiences while defining cultural category and seselelame and how such emotions, feelings, senses, constitutes or interferers with day to day practices and believes.


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