The sound of autumn rain is evocative, bring to the surface many memories. Our aural environment is a powerful source of recollection, although, given the sound pollution we live with on a daily basis, we may not notice this. Consider the authority music has in our emotional lives; think for a moment about the ability of pop music to transport us back in time and place, to awaken memory.
Taste and smell are also powerful sources of emotion, as Proust so famously noted. Dogs live aroma driven lives. Generally, amongst us humans, women are more fragrance conscious than men; men respond to smell, yet are often unconscious of doing so. The same may be true of taste, in part due to the neurological link between smell and taste.
Experiences that engage all of our bodily senses are often profoundly moving. Black Elk’s description of his great, life shaping vision is replete with kinesthetic, aural, and visual imagery. The most healing moments in hypnosis or journey work often arise from deeply engaged multisensory experiencing. Frequently, these moments are grounded in Nature.
In ceremony we engage sound, smell, visual perception, kinesthetic experience, and often, taste. The feast that follows ceremony is a fundamental aspect of ceremony, honoring the Creator, spirits, and participants, building an extended community based on shared experience. My South American teachers said the spirits join the feast by “eating” the aroma of the food. They also love the colors of the flowers and cloth, the smell of he incense, the play of fire. While the spirits may be disembodied, they lead a rich sensory life.
Here in the northeastern U.S., Autumn brings a delicious palate of sensory stimuli. The foliage turns bright colors, the aroma of decaying apples and wood smoke drifts across the valley, and the air takes on a chill. Even the sound of rain striking leaf and roof changes. It is a good time to be present to the world.