It started with my grandmother. Her scent told a thousand stories, each contradicting another: expensive perfume, dry book dust, menthol cigarettes, incense, fine leather goods, newsprint from her real estate listings, her Tarot deck. Underneath it all, I could feel her struggles, sacrifices, and rebirths. But the line blurs – what do we smell, and what do we know when we smell it? Where does it take you? What do you find when you get there? How does that inform your life now?
That’s what moves me.
As a qualified aromatherapist and educator, I love talking about beta-caryophyllene, phototoxicity, or the value of functional group theory. I get a weird kind of joy from dissecting a formulation or product brief and finding ways to make it better. I love moving information around, and it sets my heart alight when my knowledge makes your natural products business shine.
But the stories these molecules tell… oh, the stories. The magic they make! We don’t even understand it fully.
Humans are like this, too: we can have lab work done, and we can pray. There is no either/or. We are science and spirit, chemistry and alchemy.
I work at that intersection. Plants hold stories, and I let them guide me in the telling. I’m a trained perfumer and aromatherapist, but those are labels that don’t describe the magic that happens when your personal story arises to be told in scent. My hope is that it opens up places in you that you had forgotten about… transports you… helps you reclaim missing pieces you had forgotten you’d lost.
I’m a chemist, an alchemist, a storyteller, a teacher, a business coach. I owned a successful aromatherapy bath and body company for a decade. I’m also a musician, shameless Anglophile, urbanite, David Bowie devotee, cat lady, and coffee aficionado. I’m almost conversational in American Sign Language. I have a background in health care and shamanic coaching – these, along with undergrad and graduate studies in psychology, influence my work. I use my grandmother’s Tarot deck, and when I do, I smell her memory.
I’m still looking for my signature scent. I hope I never find it.
Michelle Gilbert, CA, APAIA, R.SPE.P. is a qualified holistic aromatherapist based in Cleveland, Ohio. Her background and approach is broad, ranging from the clinical to the esoteric. She is fascinated by the meeting point of science and spirit, of modern and ancient, of inner nature and outer expression.
Michelle is an instructor at the internationally renowned Aromahead Institute, School of Essential Oil Studies. She is a contributing writer for Aroma Culture magazine, and has appeared in Health Magazine and other publications. She also serves on the Education Committee for the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.
She is one of very few people worldwide to be a Registered Practitioner of Spiritual PhytoEssencing, an approach to aromatherapy that invites deep personal soul-level healing.
Michelle believes in the resiliency and wisdom of the natural world as a mirror for our well-being and personal evolution. She takes a balanced approach to exploring all realms of nature, with all realms of our own selves, for healing and wholeness.
Michelle’s work is influenced by her formal studies in many wisdom traditions. She interweaves evidence-based essential oil data with concepts from perfumery, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, east-west psychology, indigenous traditions, homeopathy, and subtle energy modalities.
She has studied with the world’s leading aromatherapists and perfumers, including Andrea Butje, Mark Webb, Robert Tisserand, David Crow, Peter Holmes, Roxana Villa, Anya McCoy, Jennifer Jefferies, Marc Gian, and Dr. Bruce Berkowsky.
She knows her stuff. Her study of aromatherapy is deep, practical and wide-ranging, from the intellectual to the profoundly spiritual, from the intensively scientific to the broadly holistic.
Michelle is considerate, engaging, well prepared. And, most importantly, I have found her aromatherapy blends to be very supportive and helpful to my healing process in the several areas we have worked on together. I will certainly work with her again as needed, and I am happy to recommend her to friend and client alike.