Most dreams are like old serial movies. There may be auditory components—speech or the occasional sound effect—but mostly they are just grainy images. The dreamer is the only one in the theater, and the old projector clacks along at twenty-three frames a second, running through that single reel of film. Occasionally, there will be an insert—black background, white lettering—containing dialogue or an explanation of events. Very few dreamers invoke any of the other senses.
Many of my patients are surprised when they discover their sense of smell in their dreams, or some auditory event intrudes upon their psyche. Once, I did some work for a lonely man who wanted to understand why he couldn't find companionship. In his dreams, we discovered his sense of touch was over-sensitized. This hyperawareness informed his waking hours, albeit unconsciously, and women whom he met were continually put off by his subliminal resistance to physical contact. (And his psychologist, to her credit, realized that his issues of intimacy were so deeply rooted that no externalized systematic personality reconstruction would ever really take hold, which is why she sent him to me.)
My sense of smell is more acute in the Oneiroi. In the flesh, I tend to be a little dense when it comes to the olfactory, but when submerged in dreams, I overcompensate. It isn't a conscious decision—some affected augmentation of my diminished nose—but rather, it is an internalized reaction. I enjoy the sensory detail of scent, and in the Oneiroi, I am able to realize that want.
Why don't I make the same effort in the physical world? Why don't I investigate ways in which I could train my nose? I don't really know. It isn't lost on me that such a physical denial is an inadvertent reflection of my own personal idiosyncrasy: the Oneiroi is given more weight than my waking reality. It is a neurosis not uncommon to oneironauts; such denial is an integral aspect of the seduction of dreaming.
But, to stick with the discussion of scent. As a dream symbol, incense itself is just an object of atmosphere, but its presence is a reflection of an aspected virtue of the Oneiroi. Like mirrors that reflect an abstraction or a distorted vision of the dreamer, incense is an objective symbol. It is a smell untainted by the subjective filter of the dreamer.