“Smell Is Our Most Ancient Sense”: The 14 Most Enchanting Perfumes of All Time

When I was in high school, I bought some “love” oil to use in a spell. (I considered myself a baby witch at the time.) With its pungent aroma of , witch and author of Sacred Sex, Inner Witch, Bewitching the Elements, and Embody Your Magick. “It is subtle, unseen, but completely evocative, working on the senses, transporting one through the invisible. This is the same as magick.” Herstik says that certain scents and fragrances can invoke specific energies or feelings that can in turn transform the one wearing said perfume or the one interacting with it.

“Through perfume, you can reorient how others perceive you, veiling yourself in a light of your own choosing. This is glamour and a very powerful part of magick,” says Herstick. She goes on to explain how witches work with “correspondences,” which link certain colors, scents, crystals, and herbs to specific archetypal energies like that of planets or gods. “In this way, wearing a certain perfume can help you attract certain energies based on its correspondences,” she explains.

As Herstik says, many scents have specific spiritual and magickal connotations, such as rose and myrrh for love, mint for abundance and money and luck, patchouli for grounding, lavender for healing, honey for sweetness and abundance, coffee for energy, smoke for passion or to remain veiled, citrus for creativity and warmth, jasmine for sensuality and intuition. (You might already notice familiar associations between some of those scents and their effects.) “There’s a lot, and you can use traditional herbal or plant correspondences to work out your own perfume associations,” she says.  

Keep scrolling for witchy fragrances to try, as recommended by some of our favorite witches.

“I work a lot with roses and rose medicine in my magick and spellwork, but as far as glamour and perfume, I love something smoky and sultry and have been wearing Black Opium by YSL for years,” says Herstik. “It makes me feel like a dark goddess.”

“This is a powerful, dark,  and deeply seductive scent that embodies the sensuality of a Sex Witch—certainly not for the faint, fresh, flowery folks,” explains Luna. “Nothing is dainty about this fragrance. It packs a powerful, heady essence that will make heads turn and command authority in a room like a dominatrix on her off day. This scent is leather and red lips, black velvet, and emeralds.”

Luna says this is one of her everyday go-to scents because it’s light enough to wear in any season, but it drifts and clings onto the skin “like a beautiful cloud of incense,” and the palo santo is not cheap or synthetic. “The inspiration behind this scent is honoring the spirits of the ancestors who have come before us, a celebration of life (Dia de Los Muertos),” she says. “It’s fresh and magical with clary sage but has such a nice body of iris root and some grounded earthiness. Understated, beautiful, and lingers like a ghost once you’ve removed your presence from a room.”

Tarot reader and witch Sarah Potter yearns for a perfume that captures the essence of a love spell, not just the aftermath of a love spell but the actual act of crafting a spell. “Love begins and ends for me with roses, the flower of romance, sweetness, lust, and desire,” she says. “I’m always on the quest for a rose-based scent that is alluring, mysterious, and seductive. Rose can veer towards granny and that’s lovely, but not the vibe I’m going for!” Her current fave is Regime des Fleurs Little Flower, a collaboration with Chloë Sevigny. “Rose is complemented by black tea and palo santo incense, two elements that enhance my personal rituals,” she says. 

With a name like that, this fragrance gets right to the point. But you can see it in its notes: thorny rose, nutmeg, cinnamon, black pepper, grounding patchouli, and frankincense. Also, every bottle contains a supercharged Herkimer diamond crystal energized by the brand’s healer. 

A collaboration with the poet M. Elizabeth Scott, this fragrance from Zappas’s line has been described as “witchy” by perfume fans. It has notes of night-blooming jasmine, peppercorn, and juniper as well as wormwood, sandalwood, patchouli, and musk. “I won’t work unless I feel inspired and I certainly won’t sell a perfume if the energy contained in it is off, so there’s something in each of them,” says Zappas. “I like my customers to gravitate naturally towards whichever one(s) speaks to them, without me outlining anything explicitly. After all, perfume is nonverbal communication.”

When Melinda Lee Holm, the tarot reader, witch, and creator of MLH Beauty, was creating her first fragrance, she chose to include frankincense. “It has been used to open spiritual connection for thousands of years and is still commonly used today in magick and ritual and even in Catholic mass,” she explains. “Palo Santo is a type of wood native to South America that is traditionally burned for spiritual cleansing and elevation. Like sage, it has gotten so popular that it is less and less available to the indigenous cultures it comes from, so I like to have it in the fragrance where we only use a tiny bit. Ginger, I added for activation of the fire element. This is a more modern take on a magickal ingredient and one I personally use a lot in ritual.”

“I love to make scents in honor of people who have passed, so in this way, a lot of it feels like necromancy,” says Zappas. “This is what I did in the Redamance Collection.” With notes of rose, cassis, oakmoss, and sandalwood, La Divina is inspired by a certain Roman courtesan. She fondly remembers her first perfume—an homage to Madame de Pompadour, who had a yearly perfume budget of 500 livres (the equivalent of 63,500 American dollars today). “I like to think she is blessing my business!” says Zappas.

Another of Potter’s favorites is this perfume, which smells like smoky, crushed rose deepened by burnt wood and cardamom. “It makes me think of the smoldering embers of a dozen roses set on fire which feels like an element of a truly powerful love spell,” she says.

Gabriela Rosales, a fashion stylist and witch, has been using this warm floral fragrance almost daily for the past three years because she feels that it embodies her personal flavor of witchiness. “Thierry Mugler was an iconic designer and was a proponent for the unconventional and embraced individuality and uniqueness which is also at the foundation of witchcraft,” explains Rosales. “I’ve always thought that Mugler as a brand has a very Saturnian flavor to it, but through the Aquarius lens of traditional astrology.”. Rosales’ astrological chart and placements have a lot of Saturnian energy in it, which is a big reason why she’s so drawn to the fragrance. “Normally, I don’t think Saturnian energy is what people think of when they think of perfume; probably more along the lines of Venus,” she says. “But if Saturnian energy is about anything it’s about legacy and perfume is all about signature scents which are legacies in themselves.”

The designers’ latest fragrance is magic in a bottle, and not just because it’s literally shaped like a crystal ball with an amethyst on the cap. It’s a warm, heavenly floral with jasmine and bourbon vanilla.

Veronica Varlow, a witch, burlesque dancer, and author of Bohemian Magick, adores this perfume oil, which has sweet scents of jasmine and black tea that mingle over a base of patchouli. “The vibe is sex witch,” explains Varlow. “Scent evokes memories stronger than any other sense we have and this scent reminds me of the wild mysteries of my first crush. She was a goth girl who adorned herself with exotic oils and smoked clove cigarettes.” Varlow says that when she performs her black feather fan dance during burlesque performances, she’ll rub the oil across my palms and pull each feather from her fans through my palms. “As I move the fans through the air as I dance and slowly take off my clothes behind the fans, the decadent and sensual scent of Salem moves through the audience,” she says.

With a name inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, this perfume is not only witchy, but it’s totally goth. It contains patchouli, peony, blond woods, and pink lotus.

This fragrance is perfect to wear during the next full moon, with its notes of bitter orange, neroli blossom, clary sage, verbena, and tonka bean.

Next: I Just Rebought This $65 Aughts-Era Perfume, and It Was the Best Decision of My Life

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