Creating a Sense of Hygge through Scent

In recent years, the Danish concept of hygge has gained widespread momentum in countries far beyond the borders of Denmark.

Its approach – to create comfort, coziness and contentment through mindful acts and ways of arranging our homes – holds universal appeal and is as welcome as a crisp autumn night to many of us in our exceedingly overworked, overstressed, and even over-stimulated 21st century world.

Creating a Sense of Hygge through Scent | The Witch of Lupine Hollow, by Autumn Zenith

At hygge’s core lies an aim to feel snug and warm, safe and at (inner) peace. It’s a beautiful and important approach to life, and one that is especially inclined to appeal to witches and Pagans, as these are concepts we often work mindfully towards to begin with.

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) holds within its being a desire to foster a greater sense of security and happiness, to make self-care and love both priorities, and to put the breaks on the frenetic, draining pace of so many aspects of how we live nowadays.

One of the most effective – and easiest – ways to channel hygge is through the intentional use of the scents that we welcome into our environment.

The links between our olfactory senses, emotions and state of well-being are long established. Who amongst us hasn’t caught a whiff of a certain aroma, perhaps for the first time in many years, and been whisked back, as though traveling in a time machine, to an earlier chapter in our lives?

When it comes to hygge and scent, we’re aiming for comfort and serenity – think smells that make you breath in deeply and exhale with a smile on your lips.

There are certain scents that hold widespread appeal and can convey, to many of us, a sense of calm contentment, but it’s important, too, that we look within our own lives and personal histories and examine what types of smells help us to feel safe, at peace, and cozily happy.

Once you’ve established some of the smells that help to invoke a greater sense of serenity in your life, there are numerous ways to work with those appealing aromas.

You may already have some, or all, of these options to hand in your witchy arsenal, but if not, don’t fret – thankfully they can be obtained quite easily in many parts of the world, as well as online.

  • Light some scented candles: A true mainstay of the hygge filled household, candles cast a soft, soothing light and give off a small amount of heat that is inherently cozy. They also remind us, if only subconsciously at times, of an earlier era in human history, when we relied on nature coupled with things like candles, rushlights, and oil lamps to give light to our daily lives.

Consider investing in (or making your own, if you have the skillset and means needed to do so) a few good quality, gorgeously perfumed candles in scents that are simultaneously relaxing and uplifting.

Broadly speaking, some of the most beloved aromas that trigger such feelings for many of us include warm spices (cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, anise, etc), vanilla, gingerbread, chai, maple syrup, brown sugar, caramel, toffee, honey, bay leaves, sage, woodsy notes, warm sugar, mint, chocolate, coconut, banana bread, warm milk and custard, cranberries, apples, aged wood, fall leaves, honeysuckle, air-dried linens, old paper, sandalwood, damp earth, and campfires.

Much as you might do when creating essential oil, incense or potpourri blends, have fun and play around with combining two or more different scented candles in order to create custom aroma blends within your home. Pine + gingerbread, rose + vanilla, anise + orange or bergamot, tobacco + cinnamon, and thyme + apple, are some of my personal favourite pairings.

  • Use essential oils. As with candles, essential oils come in a fabulously wide array of different scents and can be utilized to help you feel grounded, safe, happy, and snug as a bug in a rug. Whether you opt to mix your own blends from single notes (and possibly, especially if you’ll be applying them directly to your skin, a carrier oil) or purchase pre-made essential oil mixtures, there’s no limit to the number of ways you can utilize these awesome oils.

Some of the best options for working with essential oils include:

  • Using an essential oil burner
  • Applying essential oils to candles (either unscented ones or candles whose scent matches or harmonizes with the oils you’re using)
  • Mixing skin safe oils into beauty products that you use such as creams and lotions
  • Applying essential oils directly to your skin as a form of personal daily scent
  • Dabbing hints of them in various places around your house (test first in a hidden or inconspicuous spot to make sure that the oil won’t damage or stain whatever you’re applying it to)
  • Rubbing an essential oil onto crystals that you’re working with
  • Placing some oil on scraps of cotton and using it to scent your drawers and/or closets
  • Simply unscrewing the cap on a bottle and inhaling a heady hit of a beloved scent
  • Imbue your home with hygge-approved scent by way of the foods that you prepare, cook, and bake. Not only does this smell fantastic in the moment, but it has the added hygge-y benefit of providing appealing, delicious nourishment to your body via healthy and/or comforting edible treats.

Fall and winter dishes offer up many excellent choices here – think cocoa with marshmallows, hot toddies, mulled wine, pumpkin or sweet potato pie, spice cookies, mashed potatoes, bread pudding, homemade cranberry sauce with orange zest, sage and onion stuffing, chocolate cake, or fresh-from-the-oven shortbread, to name but a few options.

These are certainly not the only foods that can invoke hygge through their alluring aromas though. Reflect on what foods were most comforting to you as a child. How did catching a big whiff of them make you feel? Who do they remind you of?

Case in point, while it might not do the same for most people, when I was little, my paternal grandma often made big dishes of stemmed broccoli with a luxuriously rich cheddar cheese sauce. As such, I associate the smell of broccoli stemming or cooking with the warm, homey atmosphere of her loving kitchen and so for me, it falls under the hygge scent header.

Another love of mine, and many other people, too, is warm chocolate chip cookies. Yum-yum!

  • Draw yourself a hygge worthy bath and use products that are serene, cozy, and pretty at the same time. Notes of vanilla, warm spices, pine and balsam, apples and pears, coffee, chocolate, and chai tea are all especially lovely options.
  • Utilize appealing-scented cleaning products. While housework may not be amongst the most glamorous sides of hygge, a tidy, spic-and-span home can go a long way towards helping you feel grounded, potentially less anxious, and happier about your surroundings. Whether store-bought or homemade, look for (or make) cleaning products that include scents that make you feel serene and comfortable. These could include things such as citrus fruit, pine, vanilla, lilacs, lavender, coconut, rosemary, or green apples.
  • Open a door or window. So often in this day and age, we’ve all but forgotten about the wonderous scents that can emanate from nature itself (e.g., crisp or wet leaves, snow, a rain storm, freshly cut grass, spring flowers), as well as the intoxicatingly beautiful aroma of chimney smoke. If it’s safe (aka, bugs and vermin can’t easy get in, or conversely, pets and small children can’t quickly wander out) to do so, and the weather permits, let nature’s own timeless scents weave their calming perfume through your home.

Hygge reminds us that it’s okay to live mindfully and to not feel like we must rush at break neck speed through every moment of our existence. We can deepen that sense by the smells that we chose to bring into our homes, utilize in our magickal workings, and make a part of our self-care routines.

Now, if that isn’t worth lighting some beautifully scented candles and toasting steaming mugs of hot apple cider over, I don’t know what is!

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