Indigenous cultures and modern minds alike swear to the sacred nature of the mysterious agarwood tree. Oud wood and oil have a place in the homes of laymen and business tycoons alike, whether as carved agarwood beads, aloeswood miniatures of religious symbols, or bottles of fragrant oud oil.
We might have dismissed it as mere superstition, had it not been for our own experience with this precious wood and its oil:
'We've lost our minds, and our sense of time,' Ensar said, shaking his head. Sunrise was minutes away, yet we felt like it was still midnight!
We'd just spent the best part of the night engulfed in the smoke of burning agarwood chips, talking about how spacey our minds had become.
'Boy, the mental ... incredible,' Ensar muttered to himself as the burner was sizzling up the last oud chip for the night.
As for relieving stress, there's no doubt. But all those anecdotes about meditating monks and samurai warriors swearing by the 'power' of agarwood suddenly became more than just ancient references to something most of us never really take too seriously.
It was clear that these bubbling agarwood nuggets on the burner had everything to do with a certain mood we found ourselves in; making you more receptive to certain thoughts and emotions. We were fascinated by how the peculiar frame of mind made us appreciate, as if for the first time, the part agarwood plays in meditation rituals.
From applying a swipe to save face on an nerve-wrecking plane-ride through thunder clouds, to chewing a bite-sized piece to help clear away an aching throat, we've encountered our fair share of strange moments with agarwood – moments where the mystery associated with this fragrant wood have not seemed that far-fetched.
Ancient wisdom taught of the profound unity of the corporal, spiritual, and experiential dimensions of mankind. From Tibetan monks to Japanese Shamans, from agnostic new-age Spirituality to orthodox Sufism, agarwood possesses a salient mystery honoured by traditional cultures wherever it was found.
Being an earthly element, agarwood has a quality that grounds our primordial being, with its medicinal and therapeutic properties well recognized by all who have spent some time exploring its intricacies. Yet, oud oil is recognized for more than just its healing qualities. It has a very real spiritual pull, no doubt. But it also just smells incredible.
In times where humanity has been all but completely severed from the pristine splendour of its native soil, the blessed agarwood tree and its sacred juice (artisanal oud oil) remind us of a place now so remote, yet so dear to us.