Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Art of Making Perfume

This week my perfumer's organ came together into a more elegant arrangement as all of my essences are being assorted and placed in their proper categories; top notes, middle notes and base notes. 
I transplanted some of my oils into beautiful bottles that I recently purchased,  and it is exciting to see how the colors of the  shimmer against one another and the gold stripes of the bottles. Each oil has a rich and colorful history and story to tell. This week I fell in love with Cistus, as known as Labdanum. This oil comes from Spain and as I opened it to pour it into a new bottle I was overcome by the richness and beauty of the scent. It is sweet, dark, and like honey. I wondered if my Andalusian family from Spain used it and how they might have known this precious gift from nature. 
This resin comes from the shrubs of cistus ladanifer, it was historically collected from the beards of sheep and goats that grazed on this plant. Special combs were used by shepherds in the Mediterranean countries for removing the resin. Labdanum resin and oil also have many medicinal and cosmetic uses. 
When I am blending custom botanical perfumes, I often see in my mind's eye several  images and I  create a scent  that matches the story. There is a very specific process that takes place that is difficult to describe, its a bit of alchemy; a knowing of the materials and a connection with the person that I am blending for, all of it comes together with grace. One of my favorite parts of making scents for people is asking them what is happening in their lives, how scent may support them, and seeing how I can match the oils to the intentions set with my knowledge of the plants.
I am currently working on a custom solid perfume that is spicy, balsamic and earthy.  Cistus called to me with a whisper, so did Champa. I have built the perfume around these two scents and I am now allowing the melding process to take place before it is set into solid form. 

These images came together for me as I am making perfume. The hooked rose piece is a seat cover made by my grandmother Isabelle May. The round piece in the top center photograph is one of my violet glass containers for the solid perfumes. The far right watercolor I painted for my new perfume business card, the Camellia flower and bee picture was taken after the hurricane, my new gold stripped bottles are photographed on my grandmother's crocheted pieces and the print of roses on the green ground came from a quilt that my grandmother also gifted me. As for the roses, one can never have too many!
Below,  is my new card. 


I am now taking orders for custom solid perfumes. These perfumes are made with great care and are lovingly poured into their special violet glass containers that protect the integrity of the botanicals. Please feel free to contact me for more information and pricing. 

Wishing everyone a sparkly week!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bide a Wee

In the entryway of my grandmother's farm house hung a small embroidery piece that invited visitors to 
Bide a Wee. 
In Scotland this is a traditional phrase that is used to invite people to 'stay a while', maybe for a cup of tea or a visit. This piece now hangs on one of my walls.
Since I have recently painted the interior of my home a soft pink, the light shimmers and glows differently than it did before. When I brought the Bell flowers in last week, I realized that the embroidered piece by my grandmother, mirror the design of beautiful cut flowers!

I have since learned that they are also called a Campanula or Platycodon flowers and I learned that these flowers are actually part of a plant that is used in Chinese herbal medicine. While I know the root of the plant, I did not know the flowers until this week. The rhizome of the plant is called Jie Geng. This herb opens the lungs, and guides other herbs to the upper body. This is a very important herb in the Materia Medica! The tastes of this herb are Acrid, Bitter, and Neutral. It is in the category of herbs that warm and transform.

The meaning of this flower in 'the language of flowers' is 'unchanging love and obedience'.
It is also associated with Venus and referred to as the 'Looking Glass Flower'. 

It is my hope that over this holiday week that everyone has the opportunity to Bide a Wee with the people that they care about, maybe over a cup of tea or a Thanksgiving meal. 
Today was a beautiful day as it was warm and the air was still,  I felt incredibly grateful to sit in the sun and count my blessings and gifts of the past year. 

Wishing everyone a lovely Thanksgiving. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Camellia (Theaceae)

The storms have passed and now we are settling into a new energy. So much has been cleared away by the swirly winds. Old wood has fallen, dead leaves are falling like confetti to the ground and the Camellia flowers are blooming in the color of pink. The flowers are hardy and can withstand cooler temperatures. As I was photographing these beauties I was stunned by their delicate essence.  The petals are papery and soft. The leaves are glossy, dark green and strong. 
This shrub is cultivated and highly valued in China and Japan. They are symbolic of devotion between lovers.
These beautiful shrubs grow in woodland settings and the leaves are made into tea. The seeds are pressed into a juice that make an oil used as a seasoning and in cooking in Southern China.

Today I was impressed by the bee that came for a visit and collected pollen with such a soft touch. 
Since the storms have passed, I am observing everything in nature with a different perspective, I am seeing the delicate organization of everything with more grace. When the birds came back, I was so happy to wake up to their song and hear some visitors who are migrating to new seasonal destinations. Nature is coming back into a new balance after so much frenetic movement, something feels different, perhaps everything has been reorganized into a new geometry. I am seeing this in my private practice too,  new experiences are unfolding as we move into the Water Element of Winter.

In Chinese lore, the petals of the flower represent the female energy and the calyx represent the male energy. 

In Pin-yin the Camellia is known as shan-cha, it translates as 'mountain tea'. 

There is a belief that the Camellia flower aids in the attraction of the perfect partner or love into our lives. The energy of this flower helps us to be in the essence of who we truly are and express what we truly want to come into our Hearts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Nature of Wind

Wind is a very elusive Element. 
As I am writing this post we are in the throws of yet another storm, it is dancing with the canopy of my Oak trees,  branches are twirling in different directions and leaves are darting through the air. 
For the past week and a half I have been sitting with the potential energy of wind since it made its presence known here on the East end of Long Island in the form of a hurricane. The day before the storm arrived I went to the ocean and saw the spray of the waves fly through the air while the shore line slowly disappeared. 
I also heard the winds howl, trees crack, break and fall while a full moon appeared in a dry sky. 

This week I revisited the energy of wind and all of its layers from a Chinese medical perspective.
In the medicine, it is said that
"Wind is the chief of the hundred diseases."
Wind can find it's way into our body and disturb the natural flow of Qi.
It often permeates cracks and influences our Wei Qi, or surface Qi, this might manifest as flu like symptoms and headaches. It often attacks the upper body first, the eyes, the nose, the throat and lungs. It may create symptoms such as an aversion to wind, a floating pulse and feverish conditions.
 It is known to be violent, changeable, and unfixed.  In the medicine, tremors, shaking, dizziness are all considered general signs of wind. It can also manifest as  jerky movements, itching of the skin, and migratory aches and pains.
On an internal level, wind may appear as vertigo, strokes or seizures. An internal origin of wind may also come about from an unsettled Yang Qi that stirs and rises to the top of the body, or perhaps a condition of blood deficiency. "Extreme heat stirring wind" may come from heat in the Liver that rises deep from inside and quite quickly.
When we are diagnosing different types of wind, we need to consider if the origin is internal or external. The treatment protocol will vary according to the presentation. Sometimes wind carries other elements from nature such as dampness, heat, cold and dryness. Conditions such as wind stroke, wind numbness, wind papules, wind-fireye, and wind water are additional conditions that may arise from the pathogenic factor of wind.
We can protect ourselves from this element by wearing warm clothes, staying away from a drafty space, covering our spine and lower back and staying sheltered on a windy day or during stormy weather. Specific Chinese herbal formulas also help rid our systems of wind. 

The photograph of the Camellia flower below was taken the night of the hurricane, oddly enough, this flower was intact despite the high winds. 

The feature for 'Comments' has been changed on my blog, so now anyone can leave a note without having to create an account with Google. I welcome your comments, feedback and experiences.
Since the hurricane, I have found a deeper sense of gratitude for all of the blessings and gifts in my daily life, my family, my friends, every one who called or wrote to offer the their hospitality, the greatness of nature,  and the company and strength of community.