Monday, December 30, 2019

Light in Perfume

Chanukah 2019 Pooja Lamp
Chanukah has flown by: a week-long celebration and opportunity for meditation on light. In recent years, I would have have been writing about olive oil or other kinds of oils to commemorate the holiday on SmellyBlog. This year I meant to talk about light the whole holiday, and am only getting around it now that it's just about gone.

The concept of light in perfume is an abstract and obscure one, which I find extremely fascinating yet not so much spoken of. You'll mostly see the word Light in perfume pertaining to weight, as in the French Légère, and not to any kind of illumination. There is a "Light" or "Lite" version of many fragrances, typically introduced for the summer  months as limited editions. After screening out all these types of weightless fragrances, and perfumes with the word "Delight" in them, about a dozen surround the phrase "Moonlight", some relating to "Dawn", others to "Sunset" (including my own Sunset Beach), several to "Twilight" and ones pertaining to the very particular natural phenomenon of Northern LightsAurora Borealis - we are left with a few interesting names that actually include light in them as a concept. Among them stand out perfume names such as Bolt of Lightning (JAR), Twilight Shimmer (Michael Kors), Twilight Woods (Bath & Body Works), Light My Fire (Killian),  The Night the Lights Went Out (Southern Comforts) Love's True Bluish Light (Ava Luxe) and Ray of Light (April Aromatics), as a few of the interesting ones name-wise. And lately I was fortunate enough to smell Anna Zworykina's Shiny Amber. And then there is Moonshine, whose name perhaps originated from the state of mind created by methanol-laced homemade alcohol distillates, and in any case is only technically related to perfume via their shared medium, spirit.

When aldehydes first became popular with the, and were still considered "modern" (that was almost 100 years ago, when No. 5 by Chanel just came out), they were described as adding a "sparkle" to a perfume, which is a decidedly light-related word. It alluded to their abstract and modern quality, and an effect that was so new and different at the time. But it is really "sparkle" that they add, or is it diffusiveness? Is it a certain light-like quality, or it is more of a texture? Surely now there are other aroma chemicals that create a far more "sparkling" quality than those fatty, skin-like aldehydes ever did.

Otherwise, the concept of light is generally quite foreign to perfume jargon. Recent ad copies for perfume have been different though, often mentioning the obscure term "solar" to describe a range of quite different notes, from musk to amber to flowers. This trend began with Narciso Rodriguez For Her, touted as sporting a "solar musk note". Mind you, their much later fragrance NARCISO is far more sunny-smelling to me, but this time its theme is amber rather than musk. Very little explanation was provided at the time but the term stuck and can now be found in dozens of ad copies for millennial fragrances. I suppose in the same way we can say that sunflowers are "solar" in their shape, colour and behaviour - these notes add a quality of warm light, which is diffuse and soft - rather than the sharp and bright, broad-daylight sunniness of, say, an orange or a mandarin. When I think of analogues from my own natural palette, Roman chamomile essential oil comes to mind - a floral note that is warm, honeyed, fruity, sunny, yet soft and very diffuse. Using it definitely creates a solar energy so to speak in a perfume, and indeed, I have used this ingredient in both my Leo Zodiac Perfume Oil, and in the Sun Incense Pastilles. I am quite certain that nobody in the mainstream perfume industry thinks of chamomile, sunflowers or calendula when they are talking about "Solar Flowers" though. It is definitely something that is achieved by manmade synthetics, ones that I know next to nothing about.

Komorebi

The quest for very specific light-related terms has been occupying my mind for a few years now, since around the same time when I created Komorebi and learned of this unique Japanese term for the light filtering through the leaves, or more accurately, the interplay of light and foliage. Another interesting optical phenomenon pertaining to trees that garnered an English word of its own, is Sylvanshine: light retroreflected beams of lights (such as car headlights) from waxy leaves covered in dew-drops, which creates an illusion of snow in a midsummer night. 

Lightree/Komorebi

Foliage is not the only medium providing playing grounds for light. And light, although travels at a very constant speed, has many qualities in which it reveals itself. I've been in search for words to describe several light dispersing and other light-related phenomenon, and just in general, words that pertain to light, wether to describe it, qualify or quantify it. In this sense, writers are in much more luck than the film vocabulary designated to fragrance. We have words such as: Refraction, Illumination, Radiance, Brilliance... Light may Glow, Flash, Gleam, Sparkle, Twinkle, Dazzle, Glitter, Glisten, Glister, Glint, Glare, Flicker and may be Blinding, Bright or Dim. It may show up in columns, Shafts of Light, such as Beams or Rays; and in more technical terms, these rays may be Crepuscular or Anticrepuscular AKA Antisolar; or it may be Dappled such as the golden sunlight on the forest floor.

Sun is kissing the Isle of Love #isleoflove #sunset #bananabeach
We have many light-words which are related to a time fo the day, beginning with the mundane and very useful "Day", "Night", "Morning" and "Afternoon". And since each of those happen daily - most people know what kind of light-quality is discussed, when light-related words such as dawn, sunrise, high-noon, sunset, twilight and dusk are mentioned. Similarly universal, yet perhaps less commonly discussed by lay-people are the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice, the Vernal Equinox and the Autumnal Equinox. Both have more to do with quantity of light (lengths of day and night). Other phenomenon may be relevant only to a particular part of the world, such as the Aurora Borealis is in the Arctic Circle; and the Midnight Sun in both poles.

Adjective pertaining to light may refer also to its colour as well, such as Iridescent or Opalescent and also pointing at its source of energy. For example - Fluorescent light which is transferred through gas,  Phosphorescent, which emits the glow in delay, re-releasing light after its source has been turned off or removed; or Incandecant, which emits light though extreme heat, which happens when we overheat metal or glass, same thing that happens in old-fashioned light-bulbs. In essence, this is thermal energy (heat) which transforms into light energy.

Feather & Beach & Sunset Medicine

But I am looking for very particular and poetic descriptions of light! Light refracting in quiet water, creating myriads of coruscating, dancing veins, for instance. This phenomenon should have a name, but it doesn't as far as I know. The crepuscular light that shine down from the surface of the water when I swim westwards during the sunset time are nothing but awe-inspiring. It has a different mood and appearance than the rays of light you see at sunset dispersing to all directions from behind a cloud. Light simply behaves differently in water versus air. For those kinds of terms, we may turn to other languages, just as we did to Japanese for the term Komorebi. In Swedish, there is a word for the gleaming, road-like reflection of moonlight on the water: Mångata. Isn't it a fantastic word? 

Back to the world of perfume: we do borrow vocabulary from other realms, such as light, to describe fragrances. So we may say a fragrance is radiant, iridescent, shimmering, luminous, sparkling, shiny, bright, light or dark. But which specific fragrances have those light-related qualities? Can we really relate to fragrances with such visual yet abstract terms without spilling over to the topic of synesthesia? How much is it marketing and associations, and how much is it that we really see and feel the colour purple when we small champaca; And is it really synesthesia or we just associated "chocolate" with "brown", "roses" with "red" and "smoky notes" with "black"?

At the beginning of this year I have collaborated with a visual artist Sanaz Mazinanai,  for her solo exhibit “Light Times” that explored the technical history of photography and its implication on this art form.when I created an ambient (environmental) fragrance named ILLUME for her art show dedicated to the history of photography. This was a conceptual art show, not truly a historical one, which explored the relationship of photography and memory, technology and the personal. Scent was not the only memory-related aspect of this abstract show. There was also music, composed by Mani Mazinani. The idea was how when we record something, for example through photographing it, as well as when we later associate a life event or a memory with scent or sound, its original meaning changes and perhaps even gets lost and is being replaced by these visual, fragrant or acoustic representations.

ILLUME sheds light on the concept through the sense of smell, which is subconsciously influential in our formation and retrieval of deeply rooted and emotionally charged memories. Being an environmental fragrance and part of an art show makes it public, perhaps even invasive, unlike the intimate and personal memories often elicited by perfume. Therefore, it was important to keep the scent simultaneously vague and familiar. It is immediately noticeable upon entering the space, yet not easily recognizable and identifiable. 

Wherever there is light, there is also shadow. ILLUME explores this interplay of light with the shadows it casts, both in our collective memories and personal ones. The scent is agreeable yet abstract, with disturbing elements hidden in the background. Its design draws on chemical and technical themes such as minerals and acids, to create a reference to the dark room. These dominant acidic and mineral notes are light and sharp, but are only a mask to conceal the dark secrets and hidden memories - embodied with wet, mushroomy woods and smokey notes. Taken outside of their context, these familiar, mundane smells loose their meaning, or perhaps take on a new shape and identity. 

The concept of light is something I intend to continue exploring in the coming year 2020. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. And if there is any special light-related perfume that I missed, and must smell - please leave a comment. 

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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

New: Aqua Mirabillis Collection

Aqua Mirabillis Series
I wasn't planning on releasing any new perfumes this year. But this kinda just happened, as a result of the wonderful and inspiring collaboration with Jullius Craft Distillery. Some of these fragrances were created a long time ago but were never added to the online store, such as the Agua de Florida (Florida Water) I made way back in 2013, and the Aqua Pistachia (mastic lentsik waters), which I created in 2018, after the inspiring Mastic Magic workshop I held here at the studio with Dan Riegler of Apothecary's Garden.

So without further adieu, I present to you an Aqua Mirabillis Collection of fragrant eaux: Cleansing and purifying waters, inspired by Aqua Mirabillis formulations from the time before perfumery separated from medicine, and the pharmacy was fragrant and redolent of healing herbs.  

These Medieval "Miracle Waters" were the first alcohol-based perfumes in Medieval Europe. Citrus peels, along with astringent herbs, were tinctured into what was called then “Aqua Mirabillis” AKA Miracle Water – were used both internally as medicine, and externally as disinfectant, for relieving sore muscles or simply as a substitute for bathing. Inspired by these ancient concoctions, and the abundance of healing plants in the Mediterranean wilderness surrounding the new studio in Clil, our collection of Aqua Mirabillis was born. These are perfumes for external use only, featuring ingredients rarely found in perfumery, which I grow, harvest, forage and tincture all by hand in the traditional old ways. Ingredients such as mastica, varthemia, vitex, wild oregano, thyme, sage, mint and more find their way into these fine fragrances that create a sense of well-being and connection to the Earth. 


Agua de Florida

Spanish fro Florida Waters, these mean "Flower Water", due to the higher proportion of lavender relative to the European-style Eau de Cologne, as well as some rosewater. Other New World botanicals include lime zest, cinnamon bark and clove buds. And to give it a local, Galilee twist: Mediterranean lavender, AKA Spanish Lavender (Lavandula stoechas) tincture from my herb garden, Grapefruit blossoms from my own orchard lend their sensuous allure. And a hint of tobacco for its sacred and protective properties. Use these Agua Florida to freshen up during the hot summer months, and in ceremony for purification at the end of a healing ceremony which involved release of pain, grieving, tension and general heaviness. 

Aqua Pistachia 

Mastic resin is the original chewing gum, and is used to flavour Middle Eastern ice creams and desserts; the leaves also are beneficial for oral hygiene but also prevent ulcers and have myriad of health benefits and medicinal uses, including uterine health. But most of all they are the most refreshing fragrance around. They smell forest-like without having a single pine needle in them. What I tried to recreate with this scent is the icy, brisk scent of hail on a cold winter morning in the Galilee. There are no words to describe the smell of the mastic bushes when they clash with these icy forms of precipitation. So I will let Aqua Pistachia speak for itself. 

Aqua Akka

Cleansing and purifying waters, inspired by Jullius Distillery's Akko Gin - a wild gin that is made entirely of local botanicals indigenous to the Western Galilee. To translate it into a fragrance, have combined several green, leafy botanicals that I find while roaming the Western Galilee and Mount Meron. Some traditional to gin, such as juniper berries; and others completely out-of-the-box, such as vitex berry and myrtle leaves. Cedar from the Morocco is here to replace Cedar of Lebanon, one of my favourite trees and destination while hiking on Mount Meron. Finally, a floral element, without which a perfume can hardly exist: handcrafted grapefruit blossom tincture from my own organic orchard, giving it body as well as a certain earthy sensuality. 

May Meron (Mt. Meron Waters) 

Mt Meron is a holy mountain in the Western Galilee, the second highest peak in all of Israel. Oak forests and regal Cedars of Lebanon grace its evergreen slopes, and its peak is usually shrouded in clouds, fog and mystery. It is home to unique vegetation, some plants that are found nowhere else in the country, which grow on a bed of quartz crystals, nonetheless. 
May Meron are cleansing and purifying waters, made in the tradition of Aqua Mirabillis - the miracle waters of Medieval Europe, in the early days after the discover of alcohol distillation. This fragrance is inspired by an autumn pilgrimage to Mt. Meron, which is abundant with wild medicinal herbs, Medronho berries, and saffron crocuses. These healing waters were born out of a collaboration with Jullius Craft Distillery and are the perfume interpretation of the magical and healing Jullius Bitters, which are redolent of wild herbs such as white mint (Micromeria fruticosa), sage, myrtle and mastic. 
Apply these Mt. Meron Waters just as you would any perfume, as well as in rituals for their protective, grounding, warming qualities, or for purification at the beginning or end of a healing ceremony. 

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Triple Goddess Incense

Triple Goddess Incense

This week I've been burning the Triple Goddess incense. The Triple Goddess is representative of the three main phases of the moon: waxing, full and waning; of the women's menstrual cycle from the start of lining of the womb, through ovulation and followed by shedding layers of the womb and bleeding; and finally it is representative of a woman's circle of life: Maiden-Mother-Crone. Our culture celebrates the maiden, the woman at its sexual peak, yet also naive and most vulnerable, alluring and raw/fresh state. It pretty much ignores and diminishes the woman at the times when she is most in need of support, when she is dedicating herself to raising the young ones - Motherhood; and the time when she is wise and no longer fertile or "of use" to the patriarchal culture - as she is no longer a desirable sex-object, and can no longer bear children. At this stage, however, the Crone is most precious for its polished and refined state of being, it is most beautiful from within, having gained much wisdom and life experiences. She can teach both men and women how to live and how to be in tune with nature's cycles. She's seen many dark nights turn into daylight. She is the woman who knows

This post, as well as the incense, is in memory of my brother's sister-in-law. She passed away a week ago, on Monday night, surrounded by her closest family and loved ones, after a year and half of battle with breast cancer. Her courage and her suffering serves as an urgent call to us women: to live our lives truly and fully, and to reach out and ask for support from our sisters, mothers, aunties and grandmothers. In good times and especially in bad times, we always have one another. Even if it seems like they won't understand us or support us. Maybe in our darkest moments we don't even think we are loved. But this is not true. We always have other women to turn to and trust. Find those women and keep them close to you. Don't let anything come between you - but keep leaning on each other through motherhood, marriage, relationship, hardships, careers, and also take them along with you when things are just fun and light and happy. So that you have those sweet and fond memories to feed on in times of famine. 

And since you are dying to know: the incense has three colours in it, and three incense materials, representative of the red, white and black of the woman's psyche. White of purity and light and fullness, represented by White Copal, which smells just as bright and fresh when burnt. Of course the white can also be associated with the Crone's wisdom, as well as with snow, winter and death (being the colour of bones and of the white cloth used to wrap the dead with). The red is the colour of bleeding, of giving life, of her wounds, represented by Dragon's Blood, not only because it is blood red, but also because of its flaming, aggressive aroma, purifying and protective properties and perfume. And lastly, the Black of earth,  of a decaying yet fertile soil, of the Crone's wisdom.  I chose to use Black Copal for this stage, which is suitable not just because of its colour but also because of its musty and mysterious scent. Of course the meanings and associations of these colours could be different. This is simply one layer of a deeper wisdom. 


This post as well as the incense is dedicated to all womanity so that we accept, no - embrace! - both our waxing, waning and darkest hours. May we never resort to artificially and superficially inflating our light to cover up sorrow, grief, emptiness and flaws. Bleed, cry, dance, swim, laugh, weave, play, create, destroy, sing, listen and heal when it's the right time. You are enough! 


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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Solstice & Light

Solstice Smilax light
It is lovely how this year, the Winter Solstice and the 1st Night of Chanuka coincide. Yesterday afternoon, in the last hours of the night, my daughter and I set for a lovely hike on the mountain just behind our home. As expected, we found some unexpected surprises - botanical treasures and new paths we've never took before. And even if we did take those path or part of them, it felt new and strange and exciting. That is what I love about nature: NO matter how long you'll live in a place, the seasonal changes will always bring new surprises. And even with familiar plants, you'll always discover something new. The first surprise was to find those little "ponds" in the rock crevices on the mountain. It totally makes sense that they will exist. It's just that I've never seen them. Even though I have visited this mountain a lot growing up. This is a particularly beautiful area covered in rocks with interesting formations. They were probably once the bottom of the sea!

Satureja montana "Bonsai"
Mountain savoury (Satureja montana) "Bonsai" in the rocks

Satureja colony
An entire rocky mound covered in a Satureja colony

And we even got to munch of on some berries:
Buckthorn berries
Buckthorn berries

Arbutus berries
Arbutus berries (AKA Strawberry tree)

Arbutus
The tree itself already developed a new, red skin! They shed the outer bark every fall to allow for new growth, a very impressive sight.

Narcisse de Montagne (Narcissus gazette)
And last but not least: Narcisse de Montagne galore! While the narcissi in the valleys are already done blooming for the most part, the ones in the mountain seem to have just reached their peak. And so we get to enjoy a second season of wild narcissus heavenly scent, after I already thought it was over.

Sunset on the Abaya
May you will alway find the light in every situation, and always find new things to enjoy even within the familiar, the mundane and your immediate surroundings. It's those little simple things that matter the most. This is what our life is made of day in and day out. So make each moment like this count.
Happy Winter Solstice! Happy Chanuka! 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Botanical Alchemy Course

Botanical Alchemy Course
"Can you lead the way on a path you've never travelled?"
That was the questions asked of me before diving head-on into teaching the Botanical Alchemy course for the first time. Despite many hesitations, fears and doubts, I went on with the plan.
Botanical Alchemy Course
Since returning to my village, I've been called time and time again into the world of healing plants. It has become apparent to me that I must answer this call and go deep into learning from what the First Nations of North America consider to be "The Teachers". I am learning their language, even though I have always known it existed, and heard them whisper in my ears since my early childhood. The flowers speak to me in geometrical shapes, numbers and colours. The aromatic plants speak the language of perfume. And now that I am intentionally listening, not just intuitively but also with purpose and commitment, I hear so much more and become gradually fluent in it.
Botanical Alchemy Course
Plant speak a language of many dialects - sound, colour, scent, taste and even tactile and kinetic. The plants are in tune with Mother Earth and all her cycles, the moon and the stars. I knew I wanted to spend a year listening to these plants in all the phases and all the season, and watch them go from seed to seedling, to sapling, and all the way to flowering fruity and spreading their seeds again. And I wanted companions. So I am fortunate to have found four curious souls to take this journey with me, one season at a time. Together we will spend two days a month truly listening to the plant, listening to each other and sharing what we've learned about the local plants, and the elements. Starting with: Earth in the Winter. 
Botanical Alchemy Course

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Nose-to-Nose

Nose-to-Nose
I don't usually mix alcohol and work (well, that's a lie! I alway mix alcohol in my work, I just don't drink it!). And last night was no exception, even though I had a the pleasure and the honour to entertain a very special guest at the studio: my dear colleague Yuval (Joov) Har-Gil, the master distiller of Julius Craft Distillery. We met several times at his distillery in Hanita, and every time I go there I end up high on just a few drops of his pure and delightful distillates from local fruit, honey and grape pomace. These he also infuses with wild botanicals that are indigenous to the region, and some other which are cultivated in the region, such as his many unusual fruit Eaux de Vie - alongside the more traditional spirits from apple, peach and apricot you'll find others that will blow your mind away, such as yuzu, carrots, cactus pear and even wild berries that few even know they are edible.

Although he is not formally a "Nose", every time we meet it is like meeting a colleague from the exact same field. And a master at that. Which is, needless to say - pure and sheer delight. Perhaps it is even more enriching because his knowledge complements mine. All the things I do not know - he does: Distillation process, history of alcohol and a lot of additional knowledge about the local plants and distilling the very fleeting esters of fruits into his Eaux de Vie. I have taken my students there for a class on distillation of citrus alcohol and even those who've visited countless distilleries as part of their profession, were blown away by his talent and craftsmanship.

Nose-to-Nose
That night I think was the first time we met and actually had tea. Yerbamate, because I already know of his love for strong flavours such as tobacco. And as far as tea goes that's the next best thing.

We go through all the extracts I've ever made, which includes anything from wild plants from the Canadian rainforest, to Asian teas and spices (milky oolong and pandan leaf, anyone?), ambrette seed (a shared passion of ours), to the local treasures - oh so familiar and beloved: white mint, wormwood, varthemia, vitex... We both swoon.

We are meeting because we're scheming an event together for the Western Galilee Winter Festival: A regional celebration of our very own local culture, art cuisine, agriculture - it all comes together in a long weekend (Thursday through Saturday, sometime between Christmas and Chanukah - this year it will take place December 19-21, 2019). Our event will take place Thursday, December 19th, at Jullius Craft Distillery in Hanita.

We will return to the defining moment in history when the world of alchemy, magic and herbalism split into two different worlds and industries – the distillation of alcohol for the production of potable alcohol-based beverages; and the distillation of essential oils for concocting   perfumes and toiletries.
Lab Session for Aqua Mirabillis Workshop with Jullius Craft Distillery
The evening will be dedicated to discussing and showcasing our unique craftsmanship and demonstrate the connections and similarities between the craft of Eau de Cologne (lightcitrus-and-herb based perfumes) and the craft of Eau de Vie (alcoholic beverage). We will also discover unusual aromatic plants, and delve into the process of perfumes and alcoholic beverages. One-of-a-kind and unique bitters and "Aqua Mirabillis" will be made for the event – and those you will of course take home with you.

And for that of course I had to get into the lab and concoct something special... So this morning, I've been working on creating an Eau de Cologne type of fragrance that is largely inspired by Jullius' fine and subtle Akko Gin. It deserves a post on its own because truly, how it is designed and crafted is no different than making perfume!

I will only say here that it is akin to shaking a branch of Cedar of Lebanon tree after it rained on Mount Meron, and savouring the aroma of mountain air, fresh rain, leaves and forest. It's dewy and spectacular. To turn this into a perfume and use only local and natural botanicals will be a great accomplishment and I can't say I have managed to do this today... I have used a very similar structure of my Aqua Pistachia, with added juniper berries to give it the characteristic gin fragrance, as well as angelica root and tinctures of a few local wild herbs. And I have also created another concoction, which is unique to what we'll taste that night: we have decided to use mostly local herbs, and focus on six: Mastic, vitex, micromeria fruticosa (white mint), tobacco and the last ingredient the idea was that I will be using varthemia and Joov will be using arbutus berries (called Medronho in Spanish), that he picked from Hanita forest, fermented and distilled into a spirit. They have a unique aroma which Joov noticed is similar to varthemia's unusual perfume!
Lab Session for Aqua Mirabillis Workshop with Jullius Craft Distillery
I agonized over the Aqua Akko for a while, and then feel brave enough to tackle our brief: Make a perfume version of Joov's bitters, which I adore. They are delicately minty from Micromeria fruticosa, earthy from the local "Three-lobed" sage AKA Greek Sage (Salvia fruticosa) and slightly resinous-skunky from Elecampagne (Inula viscosa). I feel worried that it won't be a crowd pleaser (not even knowing what the "crowd" for our event will even be. Which is why I started with concocting the gin-like cologne to begin with. Some things just require time and patience. And right now I seem to have neither!

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Sunday, December 08, 2019

Weaving Incense

Incense Wands Harvest, August 12th, 2019
What happens when my passion for incense and weaving come together? Smudge wands!

This summer I've started preparing incense wands from the many medicinal herbs from my garden on the mountain, bound with botanical fibres from magical leaves. I've prepared several types from practically all the aromatic medicinal plants I grow. Each is bound with a long leaf that resonates with its properties, and creates a more sustainable wand than you'd get from binding them with cotton, for example (cotton takes up a lot of water to grow, and is mostly grown in desert-like areas where water is very much needed, such as Israel and Egypt). 

There is a reason for preparing these wands from local plants, rather than using the traditional First Nations plants such as sagebrush, cedar leaves or white sage. It actually aligns much more authentically with the First Nation philosophy of using the local plants that are available to us in our environs. These are the medicine we need for this time and place. Here are a few words about the smudging properties of each:

Biblical Hyssop AKA Za'atar (Origanum Syriacum)
The most incredible cleansing medicinal herb we have around. Ezov (the Hebrew name for the plant) was mentioned in the bible as a cleansing and protective herb more than once.  When burnt it produces an incredibly clean aroma and balanced that is one of the most pleasant-smelling smudging I've experienced. It is clean burning also because it burns thoroughly. You will actually need to put this out if you don't want the whole wand to go on fire in one sitting. 
Three-Lobed Sage (Salvia fruticosa) 
The local variety of sage burns like many sages - with a lot of smoke and an earthy, somewhat pungent smoke. It is definitely the answer for whenever white sage (Salvia apiana) is called for. Although the scent is less delicate than za'atar, it is invaluable for whenever a space needs to be cleared and protected, and also provide grounding for the people in its presence. 
Sharp Varthemia (Chiliadenus iphionoides)
Resinous and earthy, sharp varthemia is an incense on and of its own. Musky, earthy, ambery-sweet, and, well, incense-like! It is a medicine for the heart, both literally and metaphorically. Use it as a soothing balm in that sense.  
Satureja
Similar aromatic and healing properties to Za'atar, but sharper and earthier. Satureja also contains large amounts of thymol, and is an anti-fungal and anti-microbial herb. It also burns a little slower than za'atar.
Rosemary 
Creates a reassuring, warm-herbaceous and slightly animal note when burnt. Rosemary is known as a powerful aid for memory and a clarity of mind. Its lesser known property is assisting in dealing with painful emotions from the past, and supporting the process of embodiment, which is key in healing traumas associated with the body or emotional trauma that has gotten stuck in the body.

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Also cleaning and clean-smelling, in the same genus as the common oregano and the za'atar (Biblical Hyssop), but also shares properties with that of tea tree of all things. It is simultaneously a fungicidal, anti-microbial and anti-viral. The scent is a bit more floral than tea tree, and also goes well with lavender (so you could burn the two simultaneously). 
Lavender
More refined and floral than the other herbs. Lavender has a clean, woody-floral aroma that transfers surprisingly well even into this primitive form of incense burning. Clears the mind and spirit and creates a calm, peaceful space.  
Wormwood (Artemisia arborescense)
Very pungent and produces a lot of smoke. This is the local answer to sagebrush, and just as potent. Use it mostly outdoors and it is extremely smokey (wormwood branches have a long history of use for firewood in the Mediterranean region), and when you need to ward off extremely unpleasant or aggressive energies.  
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Also known as Motherwort, mugwort (Artemisia vulgarisms) is related to wormwood but is much milder and less smoky and pungent. Strongly associated with the moon and with feminine energies. 



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