Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Blessed Unrest

Blessed Unrest tells the story of a worldwide movement that is largely unseen by politicians or the media. Hawken, an environmentalist and author, has spent more than a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From billion-dollar nonprofit organizations to single-person causes, these organizations collectively comprise the largest movement on earth. This is a movement that has no name, leader, or location, but it is in every city, town, and culture. It is organizing from the bottom up and is emerging as an extraordinary and creative expression of people's needs worldwide.

Blessed Unrest Video

Paul says, "It is up to us to decide how will we be, who will we be?" What will you do?

Illuminated Perfume
The painting above was originally created for "The World of Aromatherapy" Conference, since then it has been re-used for magazine covers, articles and Journals. Lotus ©RoxanaVilla.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Romio, Oh Romio!

On the evening devoted to LOVE Greg and I had the pleasure to meet the renown T’angka painter Romio Shrestha. His paintings are found world wide, both in museum and private collections.

When Romio was a wee lad of five years two Buddhist monks came to visit him at his home in Katmandu. He was informed that he was the reincarnation of Arniko, the master Tibetan T’angka painter and that he would open a school of painting. Before departing the monks left him with the art materials needed to begin his lifelong devotional work.

In person Romio is an extremely centered, loving soul who greets one with a strong bear hug. At the evening event many of his original T’angka paintings, some which had been at the residence of the Dalai Lama, were on display. He paints in the old tradition of illuminators, utilizing ground precious pigments and gold. Each stroke of these paintings in filled with intention.

The Valentine festivities began with the arrival of many cherished and beloved friends followed by a fantastic dinner facilitated by the Goddess of the house, Teresita. Tables had been arranged through out the open kitchen, dining and family areas to accommodate all the guests. I sat at a table with Teresitas father, who on discovering I was a botanical perfumer, went and unearthed a stash of Damiana Orange Liquor from Mexico. Damiana is a shrub native to California and Mexico with fragrant yellow flowers. It has gained recognition mostly due to its aphrodisiac properties.

After dinner, we assembled in the grand living room for a talk and presentation by Romio. He began by speaking of the Divine God and Goddess that lies within each of us. With the help of two assistants from the audience large paintings on linen were unrolled and shared with us. These illuminated works are truly divine. The piece titled "One Thousand Buddhas" was particularly splendid and sold a few days ago to a very fortunate recipient.

When Romio had fully enchanted us all with his stunning visual display the singer songwriter from the 60’s, Donovan, performed three songs for us with his dandy friend Kelly, a bright green colored guitar.

Thus, with our hearts open, our bellies full and our visual and auditory senses satiated we made our way back to our abode.

Currently Greg and Romio are collaborating on a piece together. It’s been terrific to witness the process and I promise to bring you more details, including visuals soon.

Romio Shrestha
The Dalai Lama
Damiana Liquor
Damiana Liquor 2
Damiana info

The image above is from the book cover featuring Romios work, The Goddesses of the Celestial Gallery.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Art is Food

During a holiday party on a chilly Topanga night in December, we heard a fantastic story. Steven told us about a car trip he took to visit Santa Claus with his two young daughters. The youngest had asked "Daddy, does Santa really exist?" Steven answered, "Of course he does, he lives in the Northeast Kingdom." Steven is a sculptor, in his younger days he had worked with the artist Peter Schumann, founder of Bread and Puppet. He drove his wife and two daughters across country, up to Canada and down to Vermont to visit Peter. The car trip was filled with anticipation, compounded by the scenery which became more and more fairy tale like as they approached the predetermined destination. They traversed lush green hills and eventually arrived. Spotting a large barn, the family decided to explore. They entered and encountered an enormous, magical space filled with giant puppets. The girls were enchanted. This was followed by meeting several of the colorful apprentices that worked with Peter. Eventually Peter appeared, complete with a long white beard, suspenders and big rubber boots. He greeted the family with rosy cheeks, a twinkle in his eyes and invited them to stay and work. Work meaning...make bread and puppets.

Peters puppets were seen most recently in "Across the Universe" by the Visionary Director Julie Taymor. While Julie was in her teens she worked at Bread and Puppet.

Bread and Puppet
Image above from the Bread and Puppet Museum in Vermont.

Julie on Charlie's Greenroom
Across the Universe website

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Red, Red Rose

"O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That's sweetly pla'd in tune.-"
~ A snippet from "A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns

As with just about every holiday the roots of Valentines day go very deep into the earth where you find a pagan festival at the core. It began with Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility celebration, in honor of the goddess Juno. This two day long feast included Roman ladies writing "billets" and placing them in large urns to be chosen by a man. He then would pursue the author of his note.

Our modern interpretation of this holiday might include handwritten love notes, fresh bulbs of tulips and daffodils or a botanically scented bath followed by a foot massage. These are all simple, yet, heart warming deeds apropos for this sweet day devoted to love.

The most widely used aromatic associated with love is the heart/base note of Rose. She comes to the botanical perfumer in many guises: Bulgarian, Turkish, Indian or French, Attar of Roses, Rose de Mai, Rose Maroc or Musk Rose or damascena, centifolia or alba. When in the form of a concrete the essence is solid, as an absolute it is thick, where as the distilled essential oil is thin when at room temperature. The essence of the Queen of the Flowers can be a deep red or a pale light yellow in color.

If you exchange tokens of affection with a beloved today, consider creating a botanically scented item such as a solid perfume, body oil, salt scrub or some chocolate lip balm!

Here are some links from my blog with recipes:
Find more by typing Recipe of the Day into the search box located in the top left corner of the blog. A red colored tincture or infusion can be made by utilizing alkanet root.

My sweet heart proposed to me on a bended knee on Valentines night, after he had prepared a home made dinner. He is my heart throb, my love, lover and beloved. I adore and cherish him!

The botanical print above is from the website www.botanical.com, a terrific resource for more recipes and info on all things botanical.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ode to the Wordsmiths

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
~William Wordsworth

I came across the little story below in my e-mail inbox and thought I'd share. I am so grateful to the storytellers and their courage to put down on paper the breathings of their heart. Cheers to the writers and their recent success with the strike.

A writer dies and goes to Purgatory. St. Peter can't decide
if he's been good or bad, so decides to give him a choice.

The writer goes to Hell and his skin is burned by the flames.
He watches as dark demons whip a group of men sitting
in front of typewriters, leaving open wounds on their backs.

St. Peter then takes the writer to Heaven, where--like Hell--his skin
is burned by the flames, and he watches dark demons whipping a group
of men sitting in front of typewriters, leaving open wounds on their backs.

"My God!" the writer exclaims. "This looks just like Hell!"

"Oh, no," says St. Peter. "Here your work gets published."

Writers Guild of America

Illustrations ©Greg Spalenka
who is having a special right now on his limited edition giclee prints. Get them now before their all gone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

All About Leaves

Let us praise “Leaves” today, for they are a crucial component of our survival on Spaceship Planet Earth. Daily we exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide with these lateral outgrowths which come in all shapes and colors.

Leaves are one of the categories used to classify the essences included in the Botanical Perfumers palette. A myriad of systems can be utilized to organize our volatile plant materials. This list is by plant part:
  • Aerial Tops
  • Bark
  • Berries
  • Buds
  • Grasses
  • Fruit/Zest
  • Leaves
  • Needles/Twigs
  • Petals
  • Rhizomes/Roots
  • Resin
  • Seeds
  • Wood

Essential Oils are stored in the internal or external secretary structures of the plant, referred to as glands. In leaves the presence of essential oil is usually a survival tactic to prevent insects from eating them. This differs from essential oil rich flowers whose fragrance invites pollinators.

This Saturday, under a brilliant blue sky and warm sunshine, Greg, Eve and I attended a class titled “All About Leaves” at the Theodore Payne Foundation. This important organization is located on twenty two acres in the foothills of Sun Valley. Our teacher Lisa Novack took us on a multidimensional journey. We closely observed the leaves of eight different native plants within the Chaparral, Coastal Sage Scrub, Riparian and Woodland Habitats of the Los Angeles Basin. We learned the various adaptations of California native plant leaves and conducted three scientific experiments.

Native plants in California are mostly found in the park lands. Unfortunately Los Angelenos have created water hungry gardens throughout the city utilizing nonnative plants. This ignorance has created a host of challenges, most obvious the huge amounts of H20 needed from the Colorado River Delta to water thirsty lawns. The current ideal garden in the minds of City of Angel inhabitants is one appropriate for rain rich climates like England. One can hardly blame them since plant nurseries rarely stock many natives. The palm tree, now the emblematic symbol for Los Angeles isn’t even a native tree! We now have the regular removal of native Oak trees for construction of Mediterranean mini mansions that landscape using palm trees instead of our large canopy and rich leaf laden Coastal Live Oaks. Worse of all the LA Department of Building and Safety and the Urban Forestry Division ignore our protected tree ordinance. Can you tell I am angry?

The good news is that there is some awareness beginning to take place. As water prices rise, homeowners will look for other options. California Native Plant gardens are quite beautiful, require little to no water once established and are essential to our local, community ecosystem. Did you know that only 7% of our native insects can eat nonnative plants? Insects are a crucial part of the cycle of life, providing the most important food source for our bird population.

I am currently enrolled in a California Native Plant Design Class at the Theodore Payne Foundation. The intention for our garden is that it will inspire others to Go Native!

Theodore Payne Foundation
California Native Plant Society
California Oak Foundation
The California Chaparral Institute

The images are all old engravings which I placed on pieces of parchment in Photoshop.

Friday, February 8, 2008

{{{ LOVE }}} Nirvana Day!

Happy Nirvana Day!

"To cease blowing" is a close translation for this Sanskrit word Nirvana, used in the Buddhist and Jain philosophical/spiritual traditions. Nirvana, also referred to as Nibanna, is defined a bliss filled state of consciousness devoid of suffering. Buddha transcended the earthly plain on this day, which is why it has been deemed a Holy day festival.

"Matter is the most spiritual in the perfume of the plant."
- Rudolf Steiner

Celebrate this day with sacred essences from the botanical perfumers palette. These include:
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Benzoin (possibly the "Gold" in the gifts from the Magi)
  • Sandalwood (Vanuatu or Australian)
  • Cedarwood (Sacred in the Native American traditions)
Euphoric essences such as:The image above is titled "Expand Your Vision" © Greg Spalenka. He originally created it for The Laguna College of Art and Design. Posters are available at his website. The tiny image of the angel is a detail of the larger piece.

Nirvana Day info

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

{{{ LOVE }}} Bliss

"When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else."
~ Joseph Campbell

A few years ago Greg (my partner) and I were asked to be part of a creative team for Greg Mooers of LifeCamp. We had the opportunity to experience the scope of Mr. Mooers profound work.

What does your soul yearn for?

The answer to that question is what we learned from the time spent with Greg Mooers. It’s like going to a modern day Oracle at Delphi. I gained crystal clear clarity on my life purpose and highly recommend attending a live lecture or listening to the Heart Virtue CD set.

I am committed to authentic self expression. This manifests itself in a pursuit of beauty. Creating botanical perfume from a palette of organic and sustainable ingredients is an authentic expression of nature. Aromatherapists often refer to essential oils as the soul of the plant, thus, botanical perfume is the soul expression of Mother Earth.

Joseph Campbell encouraged us to follow our bliss, are you?

Greg Mooers - LifeCamp
The Oracle at Delphi

The image above was created from an original painting for "The Four Agreements" card deck published by Hay House. "Express Your Love" ©Roxana Villa

Monday, February 4, 2008

{{{ LOVE }}} Across the Universe

“The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
~ The Beatles

This month we celebrate LOVE, in all it's manifestations.

On February 14th, a name will be chosen from the database for a 1/4 oz perfume of your choice.
In order for you to be in the drawing you need to have joined the newsletter with your real name and a mailing address, or make sure I have it. Manage your subscription here

NASA beamed The Beatles' song "Across the Universe" into space today. What is most interesting is John's story of how the song came through.

John Lennon on 'Across The Universe' (1980):
The words stand, luckily, by themselves. They were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don't own it, you know; it came through like that. I don't know where it came from, what meter it's in, and I've sat down and looked at it and said, "Can I write another one with this meter?" It's so interesting: (sings) "Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe."
Such an extraordinary meter... and I can never repeat it!
It's not a matter of craftsmanship; it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn't want to write it, I was just slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper, and then I went to sleep. It's like being possessed; like a psychic or a medium.


Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life are ringing through my open ears
Exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai guru deva

Read the full story here.
NASA on Across the Universe

The image above is "Art Heart" © Greg Spalenka, you can see how the he created this award winning illustration at this link.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


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

Today is Imbolc, also referred to as Candlemas or Oimealg, the Earth Festival associated with Brighid, patroness to poets, healers and smiths. In modern times this day is referred to as Groundhog Day. The festival is devoted to Brighid, the fire kindled at Yule now burns bright in the bellies of the herd animals. The word Imbolc comes from old Irish meaning "in the belly" and is a time to honor the Celtic goddess of fire.

The imagery associated with Imbolc includes: milk, cows, the plough, straw or wheat, corn dolls and crosses woven of wheat. The herbs associated with Imbolc that are also found in the palette of the botanical perfumer include: Angelica, Basil, Bay, Benzoin, Iris, Tansy, Myrrh, Wheat absolute and Violet. This combination would actually make a rather interesting start to a botanical perfume devoted to Brighid and Imbolc.