Saturday, February 22, 2020

Green

Green
Every month, I join a group of ten other women, for a Friday of unusual fun. We are led by our two sages, who choose a surprise spot for us outdoors, where we will spend a the day soaking up beauty. Being outside in a natural environment and discovering beauty in unexpected places (not always so wide and wild, as those areas are fast vanishing from the horizon). We start the day alone for about an hour of solitude, meditating, contemplating, or just staring at our surroundings in quiet time along. Some of the day is dedicated to photography exercises, using simply our smartphones and learning how to take better ones, with very little focus on technique and more focus on a specific topic that is seasonal and we tackle it from the twelve different angles that each of us provide. We mostly lavish in the luxury of having time for ourselves away from family, home and work responsibilities. And just with ourselves and sharing time, space and love for nature with one another. We share a meal and sometimes also our thoughts and feelings. It's very simple yet so hard to come by these days.

Yesterday, I drove through a wide gravel road leading to some of the country's last wheat fields of Yizrael Valley, behind Bethlehem of Galilee (possibly and logically, where Jesus was truly born, but not traditionally considered his birthplace). And from the midst of the fields, we were lead through two gates to a naked oak grove amidst the green.

The theme for this month is "Green". The colour of life, renewal and the heart chakra (along with pink). Yet in contrast to all of that, I have to admit I was not particularly excited to tackle this topic aesthetically. It seemed too easy. Too lovable. I felt strangely uninspired.

Moss Green
On the artist's palette, as well as in nature, there are more shades of green than any other colour. Forget about fifty shades of grey. We're talking about 295 shades of green! Can you name any of them? There are precious gems like emerald, jade and peridot; There's sea green and forest green, and then there are myriads of plants and foods with distinguished greens, such as sage green and olive green, pistachio, avocado, lime and many more; The beloved mushroom green (which is the shade I use for my logo), fern and moss green (both dark and light), and of course grass green. The names alone make me feel rejuvenated and recharged.
Sea Green
And rejuvenated I did return from this week's outing, because despite my reservations I did go. I didn't find any earth-shuddering shots or any other ground-breaking revelation. And that is totally okay. I marvelled at the fields of green wheat, and the green pastors among the naked oak trees. Cyclamens galore with their heart-shaped leaves of green snake-like patterns, and plenty of mandrakes just going into fruit, Jerusalem sage, mullein, watercress and stinging nettles  are just a few of the more distinguished plants among a sea of green grass, mostly. I placed a little wicker mat among the white anemones and cyclamens and realized what a ridiculously simple luxury it is to just sit or lie down on the grass facing the sky and the trees like this. And how precious it is to just be in my body in this place. I took in the green, stretched my limbs and spine in the pleasantly caressing rays of the winter sun, and when I looked around I also so moss on the rocks, so bright and vivid. I wondered why I do this lying down and doing nothing only at the beach and promised myself to do it anywhere else I can lay my body on and feel like doing so.

Reseda Green
Reseda odorata, AKA Mignonette (pictured above) is just one of a few typically "Green" notes on the perfumer's palette. But it is not the only one. And it is also rarely available now as an absolute, so I would love to try my hand at extracting it using the enfleurage method. The leaves themselves smell pungent and more than a tad repulsive - almost like rotten tomato leaves or goosefoot leaves (a stinky relative of quinoa). But the delicate cluster of tiny white flowers smell surprisingly amazing! Reminiscent of tuberose dipped in a field of green, it is heady and heavenly with hints of orange blossoms. This note can be found in the stunning Private Collection by Estee Lauder, and is what gives it its unique personality above all other components. When I smell reseda, I find it really hard not to think of this perfume.

Green Grass
For the perfumer, "Green" is not just a colour, but a whole category of aromas that bring to mind imagery of leaves other than aromatic herbs (rosemary, sage and eucalyptus don't count as "green" even if their colour is). The smell of fresh cut grass, one of the most beloved among the thousands of people I interviewed throughout the years, is a universally loved scent. The molecules (Z)-3-hexenol and (Z)-3-hexenyl acetate are what give the distinct fragrance of fresh cut grass. They develop once the grass blades are crushed. These are not extractable into essential oils, perhaps because their concentration is very low. However, they have a high odour intensity which gives off a scent that is associated with relaxation, summer lawns and poolside giggling. They are now synthetically produced to create a very realistic impression of something fleeting that can't be captured otherwise. When trying to bottle an impression of the grassy lawn of Harbour Green park in Coal Harbour perfume, I've used a combination of galbanum oil, tart pine absolute and linden blossom.
Green Mask
Another synthetic molecule that is very frequently used to create a green character or nuance in a perfume is spirogalbanone. This is a manmade molecule is intensely green and powerful, sharp and persistent, and not at all found in nature, but that takes its inspiration if you will from the natural essential oil of galbanum. The resin from this Persian native of the Apiaceae family gives off a most characteristic bright and GREEN personality that is like intensely heady and sharp parsley with hints of balsam, grass blades and freshly squeezed lemon rind, dripping with green juiciness. Galbanum can be found in many classic perfume compositions, the key one being Vent Vert, the Godmother of all green perfumes. Then there are Miss Dior, Ma Griffe, Chamade, Crystalle, Ivoire, No. 19 and more. Galbanum is THE natural perfumer's key green resource, and you'll find it in Ayalitta, Rainforest, Lost Lagoon and Grin.
Edamame
There are other green notes in natural perfumery: violet leaf absolute (which appears in quite a few of the perfumes discussed today), hay absolute and even oakmoss has an inherent green quality to it. And there are a few categories as well - Floral Green or Chypre Green. Perhaps there is a green nuance in a perfume you love that belongs to a completely different category - for example, the legendary Vol de Nuit, which also contains galbanum, oakmoss and sage but is walking the tightrope between Oriental and a Chypre and manages to smell both mysterious and natural.

For now I will just let you meditate on green wherever you are - be it a green garment, a mundane object such as a garbage bin, or the lovely and nutritious food you eat. Notice the colour and the exact shade of green. Do you see other colours in it and other associations? Does the green you meet have a scent? Do you like it? What does being meeting the green make you feel?

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Friday, February 07, 2020

Oriental Perfumery and Incense Masterclass & Incense Route Odyssey in the Desert

An unforgettable learning & travelling experience - sign up now to ensure your spot! Only 2 left. 
We're starting the decade with launching a new and exciting format for the Oriental course - combining it with a trip along the Incense Route in the desert, and with a longer course that allows for deeper learning of this most ancient and elusive of all fragrance families. 

We're starting the decade with a new format for learning the Oriental Masterclass, going back in time to the spice caravans a trip to the ancient Nabatean cities along the legendary Incense Route, a full day of immersion in the world of incense,

The Spring 2020 Perfumery Course (March 10-19) brings together the best of all worlds: History, Art, Culture, Nature, Incense and Perfumery Studies. Prior to the original format of 5-day perfumery masterclass, students will spend two days touring the Incense Route in the desert, enjoy a full day of incense masterclass at Ayala Moriel's studio in Clil, followed by a visit to a monumental piece of art that is tucked away just a stone throw from the Lebanese border. 


The Incense Route is an UNESCO World Heritage Site that runs through the Negev Desert. A place that every perfumery student should visit for insights and inspiration regarding the very origins of perfume and incense. Students participating in this unusual Oriental Masterclass will also learn how to make incense based on an ancient formula, in a traditional method using natural botanical aromatics that were used for millennia, and then delve deep into incorporating this tangible, aromatic knowledge and experience into composing perfume, which will enable to have a richer and fuller understanding of the art of perfumery, both contemporary and traditional.

This spring, Ayala Moriel has teamed up with the exceptional local tour guide Yoav Avneyon who specializes in its culture and heritage, and will lead you through the most significant Nabatean cities along this route. Yoav is especially passionate about bringing back to life the times of the spice caravans that brought aromatic treasures from India, China through Arabia, Israel and eventually via sea to Europe and North Africa.

DATES & ITINERARY
March 10-11:
Trip to the Incense Route, lead by Yoav Avneyon. Yoav will pick you up from Tel Aviv and drive you through the desert landscapes of Southern Israel for an immersive experience in the ancient Nabatean cities. The cost for this trip is $525 per person, and is factored into the final price of the course. This price includes the guidance, travel in a special car to the desert and back to Tel Aviv, accommodation in a boutique hotel in gorgeous location - Mitzpeh Ramon (in a room that sleeps 2), as well as breakfast. All other meals are not included. 
March 12:
Incense Masterclass with Ayala Moriel (In her studio in Clil)
The morning will included in-depth study of ancient incense raw materials, incense ceremony, and a practical incense making workshop in the afternoon. 
March 13:
Visit to the Painted House in Shlomi

March 15-19:
Five Day Oriental Perfumery Masterclass with world-renown Master Perfumer Ayala Moriel, at her state-of-the art perfume studio, lab and fragrant garden located at the foothills of breathtaking village of Clil, overseeing the Mediterranean. A rare opportunity to learn from a master and world-leader of modern Natural Perfumery and truly immerse yourself in the perfume plants both wild and cultivated, and explore the region where perfume and incense originate. 
Designed for students who want to excel in their studies of natural perfumery. This portion of the program is an intensive Masterclass which will run Sun-Thu from 8:30am-3:30pm, and offers theoretical and practical guidance alongside hands-on lab exercises and experiments.

This session covers studying the raw materials, perfume structure, how to blend a formula, how to write a formula, building accords and creating simple solid perfumes, and basic Oriental formulation in an alcohol base. We will make Oriental Amber, Oriental Spicy, and Gourmand fragrances. 
 
The mornings (8:30am-12pm) are dedicated to theory and studying olfaction (discerning between notes). The afternoons (1pm-3:30pm) are a lab session which is dedicated to the practical implementations of what was studied in the morning, i.e. weighing, measuring, recording, formulation, composition and compounding.
 
The fee includes all materials and supplies used during the course, as well as a homemade vegetarian/vegan lunch, and fragrant refreshments served throughout the day. It does not include the book for the program, which should be purchased in advance and is the textbook for all of the other perfumery courses I teach. 

Prerequisites: This is a beginner/intermadiate course. Ideally, all students should have read the book and have taken the the Citrus & Colognes correspondence course prior to joining this masterclass.  

LOCATION 
Our new and improved Ayala Moriel's School of Perfumery & Aromatic Arts is located in a wonderful region full of creative artisans and I've already collaborated with a few - some of which have been featured guests at the perfume courses and workshops I've held, such as artisan distiller, bio-dynamic vintner, leather craftsman and a tobacco shack.     

The Middle East is one of the most exciting places for perfumeryfrom both botanical, cultural and historic points of view. You'll be able to "meet in person" many of the original, natural raw materials of perfumery in their natural habitat, as well as follow the Incense Route and explore some of the ancient souks still operating in the region. Naturally, I incorporate field trips to these locations as part of the course, to enrich the students and provide a well-rounded, inspiring perspective on the topic of the course. 

Additionally, I've built here a state-of-the-art studio space that is dedicated to the art of perfumery, and can comfortably accommodate up to 8 students and can function as a perfume school - either hours-long classes and workshops to full-week courses.

The unique program I've built showcases a marvellous perfume collection of natural, niche and vintage fragrances that every perfumer should know about; hundreds of raw materials - and most special of all: being surrounded by many living plants that are actually used in perfumery - both as raw materials and as livinig and breathing references. Some of these plants grow wild, and others I've planted in what is slowly becoming a unique botanical garden of perfume plants. 

As always, I'm happy to help make my students' stay in my "neighbourhood" as memorable, comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Because our new settings are so special and a little off-the-beaten track, I've teamed up with local businesses to offer you delicious lunches (complementary with your tuition), and have connections here that will help you find affordable and suitable accommodations within the village limits and the best services for all your needs (I've also prepared a special guide for you, which each student will receive upon registering to help you plan your trip). 

We'll also include some exciting fragrant field trips and feature workshop in each of the courses - experiences, smells and locations that were not possible in the previous settings and surroundings. 

COURSE/PRODUCT REVIEWS
Whether if you studied with me in person recently or long ago, have taken the correspondence courses, read my book - I would really appreciate you taking a moment to add a review and/or feedback of my program so that future students can also benefit from it! Adding your review is simple and easy, and would help me a great deal in continuing this program and getting more students interested and engaged. Simply click on the relevant course listed on my Perfume School Courses page, and click on the "write a review" button near the customers reviews at the bottom of the page. 

REGISTEATION 
Registration ends January 31st, so please ensure you reserve your spot prior to that date. This can be done either by paying the registration fee online, or for the course in full. If you require a payment plan or another arrangement please contact me directly. 
 

Looking forward to seeing you at my studio this spring!

Warm regards,

Ayala
 
*Images from the desert courtesy of Yoav AvneyonYoaview  

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Pallas Athena

I've always admired the Greek Goddess Pallas Athena, since I first read about her as a young child in the Argonautica. Her wisdom, strength and poise impressed upon me that women can also be heroes. She always appears in warrior regalia: helmet and a spear. Her other symbols are the owl, the snake and she is often depicted with a symbol of the snake-haired Gorgon Medusa's head, either held in her hands, or placed upon her sash or shield. Pallas Athena is the one who have sent Perseus to bring Medusa's her to her, with full instructions on how to do so without turning into stone, which is the fate of anyone who gazes upon her terrible face. 

If one looks deeper into the mythology, it is told that Medusa is who she is (meaning: so terrifying that whomever gazes upon her becomes frozen or dead-like) because of a curse Pallas Athena herself cast on her, after Poseidon have raped Medusa in Pallas Athena's temple. So Pallas Athena is not only a warrior but also associated with rage and revenge. 

At the same time this makes one wonder “on which side” was Pallas Athena? Was she siding with the Patriarchal rapist god, or the woman who was raped? Was she commemorating her rage in response to the rape, and giving her the means to protect herself? Or was she enraged that a woman would allow such a thing to happen in the holy temple to the Goddess? Or is the temple actually symbolic of the woman's body - her personal intimate temple? I have a few reasons to believe this is all of the above. Medusa has become a part of Pallas Athena, either because she represents her more innocent side that was betrayed and raped; or because she was Pallas Athena's victim. And victims and their perpetrators are forever connected in an embrace that is at the same time a curse, and at the same time the key to their respective healing and redemption. 


Is Pallas Athena in a sense is a very Patriarchal female-goddess, a female goddess who is trying to navigate through the new realms of Patriarchy, using masculine tools such as weapons and revenge? Or is she giving women the tools to redeem their frozen, traumatized selves and transform them into powerful magical beings such as Pegasus (the winged-horse that was born out of Medusa after she was beheaded)?

The story echoes an ancient story: The Descend of Innana to the Underworld, a Sumerian myth that is the most ancient written myth we ever found, written in cuneiform on clay slates some 6,000 years ago. In this myth we can peek into the Sacred Feminine and its power before it was tainted with fear, hatred and oppression. Inanna was the Goddess of Fertility and War, just like Pallas Athena reconciles within her Wisdom and War. Some say that Venus or Aphrodite was Innana's later form, being the tame goddess of love, beauty and fertility. But I think that Innana held within her all Sacred Feminine -  Pallas Athena and Aphrodite. She was both powerful, just and wise, as well as sensual, sexual and seductive. She is portrayed in that ancient myth as the master of her own self, body, soul, mind, spirit. She has conquered the world on all of its layers - the heavenly and spiritual (the sky or heaven), the earthy and sensual (earth), and lastly the underworld which is the shadow aspect of the world, the unseen, and hidden, the ugly. She is no frozen Medusa when she chooses on her own terms  to bring her own death upon her, because a lifeless body and yet she has a plan and she is able to come back to life, buy her way out of the underworld and even seek revenge at those too weak to support her sacred journey. Innana exemplifies a deity that is both dark and light, sensuous and clever, enjoys her body, smart and cunning, and can face her own death and conceive her own rebirth and redemption. She shows us how to be authentic and connected to our entire being on all its levels: light and dark, shadow and self, passive and active, spiritual and earthy and even beyond and underneath this world. And to me this is what I peel away when I look at the myths of Pallas Athena as well. 

In her own way, Pallas Athena integrates Medusa, her frozen and frightened self, her lower existence in the shadows, by wearing her as a brooch or perhaps even a trophy on her regalia. But this integration is symbolic and not internalized. Medusa is seen as an enemy; while Innana's descend into the underworld is considered her greatest achievement, after which her lower self and higher self become one and whole; and her decaying carcass, her shadow is embraced and returned back to life and back into the land of the living, to continue leading a life, making mistakes and continuing to learn and evolve. Pallas Athena, without knowing, is forever frozen just as much as her trophy, for not embracing her fully. For not allowing her weaker aspects the space they need to be felt and there for to heal and become whole. 

Palas Atena perfume is one of my first creations (2001) and is an Oriental-Spicy perfume with champaca flowers, lavender, neroli and cinnamon over a base of amber, patchouli and sandalwood. It brings me a bit of synenthetic response, seeing the colours of crimson and gold which I imagine the goddess to be wearing. I hope wearing this will enable you to reconcile all those aspects of yourself. When I wear it I feel powerful and smart and sensual. I hope it will do the same to you, and maybe even other things that I can't even imagine.

The image is of Pallas Athena Attic red-figure kylix painting from c. 480-470 BC showing Athena observing as the Colchian dragon disgorges the hero Jason



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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!