Houa Lor
8 supporters
Scents Of Memories

Scents Of Memories

Nov 20, 2023

My house smells of incense from the renewal of the xwm kab that we do yearly. The smell reminds me I am protected, safe and that if I need anything, I have someone to ask for help. I grew up with that smell because my father’s shaman hands were healing ones that did rituals all the time. I was so used to that smell and when it was absent, I felt lonely at times. When I married my husband, although still traditional, my father-in-law wasn’t a shaman healer, so it came only once a year. It wasn’t until I became a shaman myself and accepted my calling, that the smell once again circulated through my home. I especially love it when my husband khib paj hmoo to my altar. The smell just makes me smile and my entire being is at peace. If I am working upstairs, my guides will remind me to stop and smell. And when I do, my whole body begins to shake already from it.


There are certain smells that still remind me of things in my life. Like the smell of fresh cut honeydew and cantaloupe…these two will forever remind me of my mother. She had a sweet tooth and every time I went to visit her, and I brought her to the store, the first things she would go buy were these two. The incense reminds me of my father and how he would sit with his red veil over his head with the kuam neeb in his hands, chanting and flipping it over and over until he got what he needed to hear. And of course, Pampers diapers…these remind me of when my babies were newly born in a hospital, me in a gown still in pain and bleeding, and how small they were.


There are things I grew up with that have me spinning wildly to capture smells because I just want to hold them into my memory and lock it forever. But I know, as with all things, time takes it away and it becomes only a memory where I have to dig deep and hard to find where it is. When my mother died, she rested her head on a pillow and the pillowcase smelled of her, through to the pillow itself. I took the case off and kept it while I gave the pillow to my younger sister. I put it into a Ziploc to contain the smell and when I really miss her, I open it a tad to smell. The aroma brings tears to my eyes as if she’s truly there, right in my reach, and is ready to embrace me. Many people tell me that I’m very lucky to see my parents when I trance to the other side, and yeah, that part I am grateful for. But it doesn’t make it any easier because when I return, I have to remind myself to heal all over again. I am just like everyone else…I can’t pick up the phone to converse with them over something and when I am sick, they can’t come over bringing healing trinkets. I believe that is what makes it so hard for all of us when we are in a vulnerable moment and the person who we always looked to isn’t there.


As with time, things become older and we learn to adjust…even with death itself. It still hurts but we can smile just a tad more and laughing isn’t as difficult. When we think of someone, it brings us a smile instead of tears that wants to shut us down. Everyone’s method of healing is different and there’s no wrong or right way. It’s only the way we know and sometimes that’s the only peace we can seek when the world around us becomes a blur.

Enjoy this post?

Buy Houa Lor a coffee

More from Houa Lor