I like smells. I sniff my wife when she is not looking. (It really annoys her.) I came home from work late tonight and went in to look at my sleeping son. I bent down and kissed his brow and drank in the wonderful smell of a clean and sleeping little boy. For me smell is the most powerful trigger of memory. In short, I think that our noses are under appreciated organs and that smell is a big deal. So what does God smell like?
If you read the scriptures you will notice that they are full of imagery describing what God looks like or sounds like. There is the voice thundering over Mt. Horeb, the sight of the Father and the Son appearing to Joseph in the Sacred Grove, and even Jesus insisting that his disciples feel the wounds in his hands and in his feet. Joseph Smith even said that “the truth tastes good.” In short, all of our senses seem to get into the act in the encounter with the divine (Ok taste is a bit of a stretch), except for smell.
We do know that there was incense in the tabernacle as well as at the temple. I have always assumed that it was to cover the stench of the sacrifice. (Remember the Temple of Herod killed as many cows each day as a large slaughter house.) And there is the symbolism of smoke ascending to heaven. Other Christian denominations have gotten into the sacred smell game as well. There is a wonderful, heavy smell to Greek Orthodox churches or Catholic churches that follow a traditional liturgy. And of course, the wise men brought fankencense and myrrh.
Sterling McMurrin reported that an old-time Mormon farmer in Arizona once informed him that the devil smelled like an old wet dog. McMurrin thought that this was superstitious nonsense, but it always has struck me as an important and useful fact to know. Still, none of this gets to the issue of what God smells like.
So here is my request for the next prophet who has a theophany: please report to me on the scent. In the mean time, I welcome speculation about the smell of God.