If you were alive during the sixties, you most likely know the scent of patchouli, even if you don't know that's what it's called. You probably even have an opinion on it, whether positive or negative. Patchouli was a very popular scent among the counterculture, featured in both perfume oils and incense, often burned to disguise other burning odors.
But did you know patchouli is a plant? The familiar fragrance is derived from a distillation of the leaves of the patchouli plant into an essential oil, which is often used today in modern perfumery. The scent is rich and earthy, combining a floral sweetness - even though it is made from leaves - with a musky scent reminiscent of fresh-turned soil. Some people loathe the scent and say it smells like dirt, while others adore its vivid and powerful fragrance.
Originally grown in the East Indies, patchouli was a popular fragrance for centuries and even used as a flavoring herb in foods. Because patchouli was believed to repel moths, Asian silk and cashmere manufacturers would sprinkle it in the shipping containers they sent to markets in Europe. The cloth was imbued with the exotic scent, which became associated in Western minds with the romance of far-away places. Patchouli is now grown commercially in hot southern climates.
Metaphysically and magically, patchouli is associated with both love and money, an unusual combination, and is therefore often used to attract a rich mate. You can make your own richness enhancing perfume oil by adding 10 to 15 drops of patchouli oil, some cinnamon oil and vetiver to a 15 milliliter bottle, then filling the bottle with a scentless blending oil such as grapeseed or apricot kernel oil. Don't apply essential oils directly to your skin, as some of them are quite strong and can burn. To make a light perfume spray, let handfuls of the dried herb steep in vodka for several weeks, then strain the alcohol off the herb. This scented alcohol, called a patchouli tincture, can be diluted with water to make a cologne spray and blended with other tinctures to create your own personalized scent.