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I started reading The Scent of Empires by Karl Schögel and, as someone with smell cognition in human design, I felt suddenly inspired to write about engaging your (smell) super sense! 

I’m starting with smell because (of course) it’s mine. I’m most familiar with it; however, I may write future posts for the other senses as well. Let’s dive in!


What is cognition in human design?

Let’s get through the basics:

  • It’s one of the colors.
  • There are six tones for each color, so there are six types of cognition. 
  • It goes gate (topmost layer) → line → color → tone → base (bottom layer, or “base” layer). Each one represented by a number in human design (e.g. tone 1 is smell) and each layer provides a more nuanced understanding.

Cognition is a way of taking in information about the world. I like to think of it as the sense through which you receive heightened intuitive information. Wendy Louise says, “It is the sense through which you’ll discover your highest potential.” 

It is, perhaps, the key to unlocking the potential of your intuition/intuitive abilities.

The six types of cognition in human design, along with the number they’re associated with, are (with links to each post in this series, as they’re published):

    1. Smell (⬅️ You are here!)
    2. Taste
    3. Inner vision
    4. Outer vision
    5. Feeling
    6. Touch

Smell cognition is often described like being a detective – you “pick up the scent” of something and follow the clues (or maybe sniffer doggo is a better comparison?). Either way, it’s a metaphor for being able to “smell” frequencies. Whether there is a discernible scent associated with a frequency or not (on the conscious level), you can just tell when something is off – or really, really on.

It’s also literal. Noticing how something smells to you in the moment can help you make decisions about it, like whether it’s something you want to engage with or not.

Engaging with your super sense, whether it’s smell or not, helps to strengthen it and amps up your awareness. Cognition is just like any other muscle or skill – practice!

Another thing with cognition in human design – following your strategy and authority and living in the environment that’s right for you, and even eating and taking in information according to your determination all help to strengthen your super sense. If you notice your super sense amping up – for example – becoming more and more aware of all the smells around you – could be a sign that you’re strengthening your intuition and “living in alignment.”** 

(**I use the phrase, “living in alignment” with caution, especially when talking about any sort of system that categorizes us. My own early experience with human design led to me over-identifying with my chart and using it as a “rule book” vs simply living intuitively.)

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How do I find my super sense?

The easiest way to find your super sense is to go to myhumandesign.com, enter your birth information, and voilá!

Here’s what it looks like on My Human Design:

Screenshot of my HD chart and cognition from myhumandesign.com

Genetic Matrix provides a lot of information but can be visually overwhelming if you’re new to human design. The chart defaults to the “Quantum” view (the third dropdown menu available). Switch to “Design” to see your cognition (typically you’ll only look at the Quantum view). 

Here’s what it looks like on Genetic Matrix:

Screenshot of my HD chart and cognition from Genetic Matrix

If you prefer your true sidereal (or cosmic) human design chart, here’s what it looks like on Cosmic Human Design:

Screenshot of my true sidereal HD chart and cognition from cosmichumandesign.com


Inspire your smell super sense

In addition to actually smelling things, I’ve felt really inspired by reading and watching smell and scent-related books, shows, and videos. 

Here’s a very non-exclusive list of media to expand your human design smell super sense I’ll add more to this list as I come across things (affiliate links below).

    • Scent of Empires, Karl Schögel (Book)
      • I love the idea that “Every age has its own scentscape” (p.32)
      • “The rhythm of the seasons materializes not only in shades of lightness and darkness, but in shades of smell…” (P.32-33)
    • Perfume, Patrick Süskind (Book, English translation)
      • The (totally fictional) story of a murderer
    • Perfume, (Netflix show, based on the book, German-language with dubs and subs available)
    • The Foul and the Fragrant, Alain Corbin (Book)
      • The meaning of scents in 18th and 19th century France
    • Have you heard of #PerfumeTok?

Practice using your super sense + Questions for personal reflection

Strengthening your smell super sense is pretty simple – just smell things! And consider what thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc. come up for you.

    • Does water have a smell?
    • What smells do you associate with your childhood?
    • Take a few moments right now and identify the smells around you.
    • Take yourself on a smell date with no plan – simply follow your nose.
    • What does smell really mean to you?
    • How do you personally engage with it?
    • How often do you pause and breathe in the scent of your food before taking a bite?
    • How do certain smells make you feel?
    • What language do you use to describe various scents/smells/odors?
    • What smells do you like having around you?

P.S. Click here to read more of my popular human design posts.