Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spiritus


My friend, mentor and aromatherapy teacher, Jade Shutes, has created a network of individuals who are beginning to distill. She has a semiformal name for the group called the Radicle Distillation Project.

Herbalist Cathy Skipper and Jade have been building links between aromatic and herbal medicine (and botanical perfumery too!). Out of a great love and respect for these fields, they have initiated the this project by providing distillation units to various individuals throughout the country. They believe that one of the most potent links between the these fields is distillation!

I am excited to share that a beautiful, cooper alembic has been sent to me as part of this project! You can see her in the opening photo of this post. She was on display at the perfumery for a few weeks. Now that the course is finished I have been getting my ducks in a row to dive into this very ancient and alchemical art. I have chosen the name Spiritus for my still since the word was one of the names given to the first distillates which were made with wine, herbs and citrus.

Auspiciously, my local friend Monika Peters began her own journey last Autumn, thus I have a "distillation" buddy! On Friday Monika and I decided to distill, thus Sunday I headed out to her home high up in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the Pacific ocean to do some with my still. We had planned to do a distillation and also "prepare"my still that day. Unfortunately Monikas hoses were too small for my still, so that task is set for another day...perhaps this week.


For the distillation I had Greg purchase some fresh picked, organic lavender from Fillmore at the Farmers Market on Saturday, which came with a few sprigs of mint and lemon verbena. During twilight I went out into my garden hunting for something to pair the lavender with, I was considering white sage, when the Artemesia californica caught my attention with her new shoots gently waving at me. I asked, "Oh, would you like to offer your new shoots to be converted to spirit?" I felt that the plant indeed wanted to be part of the endeavor. Thus, very early on Sunday morning, amidst the gentle song of the birds I harvested a bundle of the artemesia and gave the plant a small carnelian crystal in return for the new shoots. One thing that I find interesting about this particular plant on my front slope is that it came up on its own, most likely thanks to a bird or coyote droppings.

I then put the lavender bundles and artemesia into a bucket of filtered water while I loaded Spiritus into the car and all my other gear for the day. As I placed the bucket with the plant material into the car I decided to add a quartz crystal in with the plants to help maintain their vitality.

After determining that we would not be using my still we set up Monikas, which she named Grace. We then decided to gather some rosemary from her garden to pair with the lavender and artemesia. Thus we had a trinity of local plants from the Lamiaceae family.


We assembled all the apparatus and then weighed our plant material. Next we covered the plants with water, keeping track of how much water we used. Meanwhile Monika noted all these details and more on a paper in her notebook, including other items like the date, time, location, temperature of the day, if there was wind, etc. It was a perfect day, sunny, 79 degrees with light wind.


Next, at 1:58pm we fired up the stove! Although we could smell the beautiful aromatics as everything began to heat up it was at approximately 2:10pm we saw the first drip of our hydrosol. An incredibly exciting moment!



During the process we tested the ph and noted the aroma and taste of the water. At 3:11 we decided to turn off the heat and end the process, although later on we realized we could have let it go a bit longer.


Hydrosols, also referred to as floral or herbal waters, were originally called "hydro-lats" lat meaning milk, because of the whitish color of the water as it comes out of the still. The yellow colored liquid floating on top of the water is the essential oil.

The process gave us 16 ounces of a beautiful fragrant water with notes of pinene, camphor, lavender and lemon. Once the herbal water sets for a bit and we separate out the essential oil I will go on a little tasting/smelling journey with the hydrosol and see what she shares with me. Meanwhile, the quartz crystal that I added to the herbs ended up going into the distillation with the plants and seems to have disappeared.


All photos Roxana Villa.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sol and Luna


The silvery light of Luna is now bathing our woodland. Her fullness on the same day of the blessed Summer Solstice has not occurred in nearly 70 years. The energetics of Sol and Luna in balance is a powerful metaphor for the union of opposites.


Perfume for this powerful time is Vespertina! Her combination of rose, frankincense and precious woods is fitting for activating greater awareness and balance. Vespertina conjures images of a golden Byzantine crown with rubies, emeralds and opals accompanied with precious essences from Arabian deserts and lush ancient forests. This is a concept perfume, weaving in the different elements surrounding her story and character arc. Since the epic tale has a backstory of her romance with the young knight Dante, I added co-distilled essences and attars—representing a marriage of two separate parts. Sol and Luna.

Nine


Nine years ago I came out of my aromatic shell 🌱 and debuted the Roxana Illuminated Perfume line, website and blog with being a presenter at the Ojai Lavender Festival. In the photo below I am chatting with the aromatherapy legend Robert Tisserand. As you can see my beginnings were very humble.



"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud 
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
~ Anais Nin

It was my first step into what at the time was a very adversarial field of "Natural Perfume", which is why I used the quote above on my products. I was adamant about not including the historical animal ingredients that my peers were using, as well as synthetics or isolates. Nine years later I am still standing in my truth with supporting and promoting our connection to nature...and inspiring others to do the same.



On that blessed, grand day I released Vera, composed as a song to lavender and the regional farmers working with this healing herb. The handmade fragrance is an herbaceous bouquet of lavender and sage inspired by ingredients from the beautiful Ojai Valley in Southern California. The scent has been expertly woven with several types of lavender, notes of white sage, fresh mown hay, orange blossom and a salty ocean breeze. FYI, I am just about out of the current edition.

We are celebrating the ninth anniversary of Roxana Illuminated Perfume, the completion of my online course and the first day of the Summer with a 25% discount at my website on any orders over $50, enter the code "Lavender" upon checking out.

FYI, I'm sold out and close to be out of many fragrances including Vera, thus don't delay if you have a favorite.

Many thanks to each of you who have been part of this wonder filled adventure. You can read more about that day at the Ojai Lavender Festival at the second post I wrote here at this journal.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Artistry Video for the Art of Botanical Perfume


I've had an amazing team helping out with elements of the Art of Botanical Perfume online course. Greg being the principal, who acts as a art director for my brand but also my all around support person. Jeff: who helps out with graphics from time to time. I contracted him to create the pdf's, many of which ended up being pretty elaborate like the Essence slide show, the fragrance wheel and the timeline. He and Greg worked together on  the essence kit for the course. The videos for the course were shot by Brian Oh and were then edited by Brian, Greg and a little help by my daughter Eve.
As you can see many artists helping hands facilitated the artistry of this course.

Here's the video that accompanied the opening lesson of the Artistry Module from the course, filmed by Brian and then edited by Greg.


Sign up for the course here.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Big Burning Question



As many of you have already heard, I was introduced to essential oils via a little bottle of Juniperus virginiana, aka red cedar at a sweat lodge. What I haven't shared is that it was by way of a tiny aromatherapy/essential oil MLM (multi level marketing) company called EarthTribe. At the helm was a beautiful lady named Mary Lee who grew up on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Northern Minnesota, she was half Ojibwe Indian via her father with a mix of Northern European on her maternal side. 



It was a great introduction into essential oils which is where I met David Crow. Eventually as I delved further into essential oils and aromatherapy I was led to John Steele, the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy and ultimately Jade Shutes. I soon realized that my true tribe was amongst the professional industry, not a multi level marketing company.

Now that I have a somewhat "public space" in Agoura Hills I get quite a lot of people coming in asking what brand I use and or pitching me essential oils from the latest MLM company. It's always a bit tricky how to respond to these people, mostly because I was once a rep for an MLM company, so I know exactly where they are coming from and most of the tactics they try to use on me. Also, when one is devoted to a brand, its a bit like talking to someone devoted to a religion or presidential candidate, reason and reality are not part of the conversation.

Kristine Bauer, the gal behind the aromatherapy documentary Uncommon Scents, wrote a set of three educational blog posts on the topic. Thus, instead of me getting into the nitty gritty, here are her three posts:

The Big, Burning Question, Answered (Sort of)

Essential Oil Suppliers

Red Flags

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In the Garden: Gardenias


Despite watering and pulling weeds, the garden has pretty much been abandoned since February when I began putting the course together. (I really need to find a gardener to help out!) In the meantime the gardenias, both here and at my mothers, have started their bloom cycle which means a 2016 gardenia enfleurage is underway.


When I swap the big fragrant gardenia flowers out I put the spent ones in a bowl in the kitchen to infuse the air with their fragrance.  Its amazing how long the scent of those big, leathery flowers will last and change over time.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I'm back!



The last lesson for the Art of Botanical Perfume online course was uploaded on Friday. Thus, after fulfilling a few orders, Greg and I hopped in the car and drove up to Big Bear for a little getaway at a friends cabin over the weekend. It was really wonderful to be amongst the trees and crystal, clean fresh mountain air. Turns out our timing was impeccable, we missed super hot weather and a major fire just two miles from our house. Meanwhile, in Big Bear the lilacs were in bloom, heaven! Only major flaw was I forgot my extra camera battery and thus was only able to get a few shots with my Canon on Saturday at the start of our hike that day.

Now that the course is fairly complete with only a few things to tidy up, I'm back to working on perfume and product development, alignments and re-stocking sold out items. And of course, writing here instead of course lessons...although I do have a bunch of new class ideas.