Come with me down a long steep path past craning bleeding hearts and ethereal fairy bells, past the fritillary meadow rue and pungent prehistoric skunk cabbage underneath a canopy of lemon scented fir and drippy cedar to the banks of the ancient river. There we will make our elixir, our rich aromatic perfume of the land. There we will bring the copper still and light the beacon fire. There we will pull in the deep cool waters of the quick stream and watch it flow deep into the alembic. A few of us will bring back the treasures of the land, like pollinating bees, gathering the forest into our hands. We will think carefully, pruning from a recently felled conifer here, gathering a sprig, a sliver there, careful not to disturb the delicate balance, the intricate dance of biota.
And into the retort we will lay the green down, and yes we will send our ancient sorrows, hopes and joys as well. We will gather the prayers of the land, the heartbreak for the dying ones for yes this world is ending, and yes another is being born- we are at the crux time friends, we are at the grieving time yes but we can also dance and sing, we can offer our sad and joyous cries to the balsamic moon. And we will listen to the call of the ancient peoples and the forest creatures who have entwined their hearts around Cedar and Oplopanax long before us- who have bathed in the healing hot sulfurous waters just down stream from us.
And we will play these ancient notes of sulfur, limonene, pinene, terpinolene, myrcene, esters and aldehydes, blended like notes from a fantastical symphony. For the still sings her deep song best when we are in sync, listening deeply, watchful, open hearted. And oh what comes forth. The fire heats the river water and bends those volatile notes to the sky, steaming up through copper neck and coil, reappearing as if by magic as the copper coil touches the ice cold water, reappearing as lush silvery liquid jewels gathered with deep love and appreciation by our family of perfumers.
And these notes, these deep and luscious forest notes draw us back to ourselves, remind us of our precious simple ancient hearts, connected to families of perfumers, singers and tenders of the woods and land. We gather here not to make something to buy and sell- but to commune, to remember, to honor with great reverence the song of the land, the song of this unquiet and magical Earth.
As maidenhair fern wraps us in her gentle embrace, as grand fir dips its aromatic branches to us, we gather for the sacred rite, the alchemical process of transforming and exalting, remembering and opening…becoming. We anoint each other with that precious oil and water that emerges from the cauldron, that perfume of the land, that elixir of this one very precious moment.
Perfume often has a bad name- perhaps a scent derived from synthetics that assaults people’s senses with its cloying plastic quality. Or perhaps perfume- even natural non-synthetic perfume- is seen as an unnecessary supplement to enrich our ego, make us sexier, more attractive, to draw attention. But the true heart of perfume is the act of communion. These are plants we are playing with- rich scents derived from flowers, resins and leaves of the land. We have become jaded, disconnected, modern peoples who live in tall buildings with streets, smart phones and the latest from Netflix. But the land beckons, the flora and their ancient scents call us in, sings to us. When we adorn and anoint ourselves with true beautiful perfume, we are communing with the ancient songs and notes of the rich scented land. We are truly bringing the forest into our bodies via inhalation. The forest exhales and we breathe in the scent. We are one with each other. And when we play with these scent notes, wear them on our hearts, temples and hands, something happens. We remember. We remember who we are. We commune. We return to the forest, to the meadows, to the swooping hills and luscious fern and fen, our tender hearts full of sorrow, joy, hope and wonder. We become ourselves again.
Follow me on Instagram