Sunday, June 28, 2009

Middle Earth

Our journey to Middle Earth began early Friday morning by heading East across the US to Miami where we transferred to another plane heading South. We arrived to Quito in the evening, where the aromas were very similar to those of my homeland Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The host and guide of this magical mystery tour is, Eduardo Villacis, who was awaiting our arrival at the airport with his wife Maria. Eduardo invited Greg, referred on this blog as Maestro Gregorio, to give a week-long workshop at the University of San Francisco in Quito. The week-long workshop is Greg’s premiere of his class titled Artist as Brand.

Artist as Brand is a concept Greg has been developing for years facilitated by his own transformation as an artist and yearly visits to the Comic Convention (Comic Con) in San Diego, California. The workshop begins Monday evening with Greg showcasing his evolution as a creative spirit. The journey begins as an eldest brother of a family of six, much like the Brady Bunch, to where he has arrived now as an award winning illustrator and film production artist.

Quito, the capital city of Ecuador straddles the equator, placing it right at the middle of this planet earth we inhabit. The day and evening is equal in length and the weather remains constant year round. A small country, rich in history, along the Pacific coast which shares a border with Colombia and Peru. Although the primary residents are the exquisite faced Incas and indigenous tribes, a variety of people from all parts of the world now make this rich, fertile land their home.

The light of the Sun gently stirred me awake this morning as I arose to a glorious view of the verdant green, tropical mountains. I gasped at the site, for when we arrived at the hotel from the airport it was dark out and I had no idea of the spectacular scene that patiently awaited my gaze.

The central square of Quito is at 9,350 feet above sea level. The city is located at zero latitude. The word Ecuador translates to equator in Spanish. The name for the city comes from the pre-Columbian tribe, Quitu.

Our first day was spent organizing ourselves in the morning with a splendid tour of downtown in the afternoon with our extra ordinary guide, Eduardo. I must say that experiencing a country with someone like our host, who is very well educated in the history of Ecuador, is quite a treat.

Here are a few visuals of the afternoon excursion with some commentary.

In downtown Quito there is a church at just about every corner, each with beautiful architecture and masterful hand worked wood doors and statues in the interior.

This photo is a shot of the exterior of The Church of the Society of Jesus, aka The Company referring to the Jesuits. There were so many splendid aspects of this church both on exterior facade and within the interior. Upon first seeing the baroque church I immediately thought of Antoni Gaudi structures in Barcelona. I was particularly taken by how the use of the shell and leaf images adorning the Saint. The interior features glorious golf leaf covered engraved motifs, finely painted portraits of and intricate Moorish designs. This church is really glorious. it's breath taking to think of all the beauty that artists have created over time because of the Catholic church. The energetic blueprint of all the craftsman that imbued this church with their creative spirit is apparent to the naked eye as well as those who can "feel" energy.

Eduardo explained how there was a Guild for each of the hand crafts and each one is looked over by a specific saint. According to, Nicholas of Myra is the Patron Saint of Perfume. Since botanical perfume is tied into sustainability than Francis of Assisi, as the Patron Saint of ecology and merchants, is probably a better fit.

Eduardo and his wife Maria both worked on the restoration of a historic Hospital in the city center that is connected to a church via an arch. The hospital has been renovated into a Museum. We had the pleasure of a very in depth tour of the ancient structure.

The Hospital was constructed in Mediterranean style with two interior courtyards.
The first featured a fountain.

The second courtyard featured a a variety of plants.

Hospital tower view from one of the Courtyards.

As we exited the Museum to get some tea, we were greeted by another
glorious display of Quito’s sheltering sky above some of the colonial architecture.

More pictures and adventures are in store.
In the meantime, we are preparing our presentation
for Monday evenings opening of the workshop.

Images: The opening image was found via Google images thanks to Eve. The image of the Church of San Francisco was taken by Eve and all the other photos were taken by me.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peace Perfume: Part One

"Nothing can bring you peace but yourself."
~ Ralph Waldo EmersonLink

Steve Robertson the Founder of Project-Peace on Earth, along with Director Marc Scarpa are in Israel, and Palestine working out the logistics of the September 19th concert in Manger Square, Bethlehem. Robertson and Scarpa are meeting a host of dignitaries and officials who are helping shape this historic, globally telecast musical event.

Greg and I first met Steve Robertson and his beautiful wife Teresita back in 2005 at a "Heart Virtue Focus Group" with Greg Mooers. It was at this profound workshop that we learned of the vision Steve had in his heart about creating a concert focused on Peace. This initial vision has now expanded into a Six Hour Globally Telecast Musical Prayer for Peace with the intention to create these event yearly.

When Greg and I heard Steve proclaim his mission back in 2005 we knew we wanted to help out with our talent as artists. Greg began by brain storming with Steve and his other advisory board members on how to promote the event. It was at a fundraiser on Valentines Day last year, with the Tibetan artist Romio Shrestra, that Greg and I saw and felt exactly how we could get involved to facilitate Steves heart felt mission.

Greg began his process by meeting with Romio to create an image that fuses the consciousness of East and West. Within a month, in the middle of March, the Project-Peace on Earth signature image was debuted.

A small version of the "Peace Has Begun" print has been making the rounds with Steve and Marc. It's exciting to watch this image become an iconic emissary for peace. The Mayor of Bethlehem. Dr. Victor Batarseh holds one up in his office with Robertson, Scarpa, and Jihan Anastas Director of the Bethlehem Peace Center. Other pic's show the art with Dr. Abu Dayyeh, Minister of Tourism Palestine, and in Manger Square.

A limited edition of only twenty five, 32"x48" giclee prints of this collaborative artwork created by Greg with Tibetan master Romio Shrestha are being sold to benefit the production of this concert. This is truly an opportunity to invest in a moment of peace history, for the children of the middle east, for the world.

In the meantime I have been diligently working on the Perfume for Project-Peace on Earth which will debut on September 22nd, 2009. The intention is that the perfume will be an emissary for peace as Greg's image has become. More to be revealed in the Peace Perfume: Part Two journal post.

(Edited September 2009)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Aromatherapy Clay Winner!

The winner for the MamaK's Aromatherapy Clay Giveaway has been chosen. I devised a new format for choosing a winner. I went through and tallied up each entry, some folks had many due to their tweets, follows and friending. I went into the closet where we keep all our games and choose two complete decks of cards. Then I assigned one card to each entry, shuffled the decks several times and had Maestro Gregorio choose one with his eyes closed.

The winner is.....the Nine of Clubs from the Red deck. Will the Nine of Clubs please step forward! Oh, that's right, I need to reveal who the Nine of Clubs is don't I? The winner is Shandra, congratulations! Everyone else wins as well because Kari is graciously offering to give each of the other commentators a 10% discount for their very own aromatherapy clay at her Etsy. The password for the discount is PERFUME, so head on over and get your very own Aromatherapy clay. Claim the discount by entering the keyword PERFUME into the message section during your checkout through Etsy. Once your order has been put through, Kari will refund you 10% through Paypal. If you have any question, send her a convo on Etsy.

If you missed this giveaway but are curious about it, follow this link to find it. Next month we will feature another magnificent Artist from the realm of Etsy. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

the SUN

Today we honor Fathers and Summer Solstice. Rather auspiciously one of the symbolic aspects of the Sun is the Male, the father. Where as the Moon is associated with the Feminine, the mother.

Known as Midsummer and Lilith, Summer Solstice marks the official first day of summer, an extended day of light for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. Where as in the Southern hemisphere, like in Argentina where my father is, they will be celebrating the Winter Solstice, albeit in a different manner than how we celebrate it in the North. If you are in the South and celebrate Solstice, please share with us how you celebrate, we'd love to hear!

The Sun, the largest star in our solar system, has been personified in many myths including Helios by the Greeks and Sol by the Romans. Since all is revealed in the light on the Sun, we find Truth as one of the iconic aspects associated with this ball of fire traveling through our heavens. According to Biblical stories the Sun was manifested on the fourth day of creation. I guess God was working in the dark on the previous days. The Sun also plays a role in Dogon, Hebrew, Japanese, several Native American and South and Central American creation myths.

In Germanic traditions the Sun is the embodiment of the feminine where the moon is masculine. This is a great illustration of how the people of the earth will create their own mythologies to suit their needs.

Some of the symbols that have been utilized in creating mythologies associated with the Sun are include the fact that it is a huge orange ball in the heavens that provide us with light and warmth, resulting in the growing of our food. The rising in the East and the setting in the West is another key aspect that is focused upon, like the god Helios and his firey chariot pulled by four horses.

What symbolic aspects do you associate with the Sun and the Solstice? In botanical perfume, as mentioned in previous journal entries, Sunflower oil as a base for an "solar" infusion of "solar" plant material. Solar plant material includes:
  • Amber
  • Benzoin
  • Broom
  • Calendula
  • Everlasting
  • Frankincense
  • Labdanum
  • Saffron
  • Rose
  • Spices (relaxing)
  • Citrus
The ancients derived these associations by observing several factors: the color and shape of a plant, how it makes you feel, plants that show signs of being affected by the sun (Sunflowers), plants associated the circulatory system and where the plant grows. Today being SUNday makes it an even more potent day for honoring the sun and beginning or creating a vital aromatic Solstice elixir.

More posts at this journal which focus on Summer Solstice are these:
A Summer Solstice Perfume
Summer Solstice

Art Heart image ©Greg Spalenka, The second image is a detail from the Art heart. The third image has been created by me, Roxana, utilizing layers of imagery in photoshop. See the photos of how Greg created this image here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Scent of the Day: Cimbalom

The weather has shifted dramatically here in the City of Angels. For the last two weeks we had a rather intense period of June gloom. Normally June gloom here in Southern California means morning fog which burns off to a beautiful day by noon. This new alternate universe June gloom featured cold and clouds 24/7. I was wearing a sweater most of the day and even leg warmers and fingerless gloves in the morning.

Then yesterday, swoosh, we are back from the alternate universe but now with hot weather. Woolies get put away and out come the dresses and tank tops. What I find most interesting is that my olfactory sense has shifted dramatically with the climate. Chaparral Solid seems to be my number one fav fragrance to wear when the weather is cold and gloomy. However, when the heat arrives I am attracted to earthy florals, specifically Cimbalom. Yesterday I slathered myself in Cimbalom and found myself in such a glorious reverly of indolic, floral bliss.

Thus, the fragrance for the day is Cimbalom, in her all lusty Jasmine glory. Interesting to note that the Jasmine sambac plants in my garden are all about to burst open. Cheers to Jasmine and the upcoming Summer Solstice this Sunday! Have you made a Summer Solstice fragrance for yourself?

Here are a few comments about Cimbalom for you:

"Roxana, your "Birthday Balm" is exquisite. When I closed my eyes I was transported to a blossom and incense scented harem. I felt as though I had entered a hidden world of women-- where sensuous secrets are revealed. It is delicate, potent, sexy-- irresistible."
~ D. Alexander

"Hypnotically addicting...can NOT get enough. Wish I could bathe, drink and surround myself w these scents 24/7. More than just winners ; a way of life for those who appreciate themselves."
~ E. Warshavsky

Angel illustration titled "Ignite Thy Passion" ©Greg Spalenka

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Artist Feature and Giveaway: MamaK's

Here we find ourselves, once again, at the Etsy Artist once a month feature. On this seventeenth day of June I bring you an individual I discovered rather auspiciously. One day on the front page of Etsy I saw an image of some brightly colored balls, I clicked on them because I thought the image might work nicely in a treasury. To my delight, I discovered that those colorful round objects were gluten free aromatherapy clay balls!! The creatrix of these enchanting and soothing clay balls is Kari Erickson of Seattle, Washington.

Rather auspiciously my aromatherapy teacher and very dear friend Jade Shutes lived and taught aromatherapy in Seattle. Jade currently lives in back east in North Carolina with her sweet little son Soren and partner Matt.

The three of us, Greg, Eve and myself had the pleasure of experiencing all of Kari's scent charming aromatherapy balls. We each seem to have our own favorite. Eve, my teen age daughter, adores the bright magenta colored ball scented with geranium essential oil. As she plays with it she remarked, "Nice texture, almost like its not there. It's as if your playing with air. The ball feels so nice in your hands, it's the perfect size and makes my hands smell great. I'd like to be able to take the geranium scented one to school and whip it out during stressful classes."

Greg, who we refer to as the critic, was very impressed though and through. He loves the presentation, the materials and the graphics. His favorite ball is the Cardamom with Lemongrass and Lavender coming in second and third. As he played he remarked, "I like the consistency, it's very soothing to squeeze it in between my fingers."

As I type this post I have just been kneading the Bergamot scented ball while drinking my Earl Grey tea. Wafts of bergamot float up from my typing fingers, how grand. These balls work on so many exquisite levels, I am so enchanted! First off they are vegan, made by hand and support a mother with two young children. Next, they are made with pure, essential oils so while you experience the tactile aspect of the ball and the joy of play the power of aromatherapy comes in as well. Once you are done the packaging suggests washing your hands, however if you are off to the office I suggest allowing the aromatherapeutic aspects of the essential oils to continue their work.

We noticed that some of the balls are more fragrant than others. Although the Bergamot seemed light upon whiffing from the container, once I began handling it the aroma was much more prominent.

These are probably the best kept secret on Etsy, I highly recommend getting at least one of these and experiencing them for yourself. I can see therapists utilizing these with their patients as way of unwinding and getting individuals to get out of their heads. perfect for taking along car or airplane trips. This Christmas they will make fantastic gifts for all ages, stock up now!

See Kari's shop on Etsy here:

Now...time for the interview, let's get to know Kari shall we...

1.) What is the one thing you find most inspiring to feed your creative spirit?

Everything in my life is in a huge state of flux at the moment. I'm in the midst of what I'd call 'intensive mothering'. Both of my kids are under 4 so things that I may have done just a few short years ago (singing from a rooftop at 4 am, bottle of wine in hand, for example) are out of the question. So now I play a little music when I can, play with my little growing ladies, get my hands dirty in the garden, and cook a lot. I think that growing our own food is hugely inspiring. Eating something fresh from the garden almost always makes me feel alive. And cooking
and being in the kitchen have always brought me a sense of peace, a release from frustration, and a creative boost as well. And there's nothing like eating your creation when you're through! If only we could do that with other things we make.

2.) What is your favorite scent from the natural world?

It's funny you ask that again, because I was reading one the giveaway with Xenotees on April 15th and her answer was the smell of tomato plants. I have to say that I agree with her wholeheartedly. My husband built me a greenhouse for Mother's day this year (romantic, no?) and it is full to the gills with tomato plants. There is something so intoxicating about walking in there. Magical. I have also just discovered Moroccan Chamomile. Oh wow. Of the clays that I make it is the most soothing to me. I keep one in my bag and get it out in the car or at random moments and just breathe it in. It's amazing how well it works.

3.) If you were Queen of a village what would you wish for your kingdom?

Since I AM the queen of a village, albeit a village of four, plus the occasional straggler, that should be an easy one! but alas, it's not.... I suppose I would like a village of easygoing, smart creative spicy people that still had the ability to work hard! So, a well fed, well rested, smart, zesty, fulfilled village. We'll get there some day, I hope.

4.) How did you find yourself creating clay aromatherapy balls?

The evolution started really with the growth of my 1st daughter, Olimpia. As I said before I like to be in the kitchen, so it's natural that our activities are sometimes centered around it. I started by just making the plain ol' play dough recipes you can find on the internet and in activity books. Of course as time went by I started refining the recipe and just for fun started adding essential oils. We would experiment with what felt the best and smelled the best. Olimpia (she's 3 1/2 now) is a great tester. I started giving it to friends and some of it ended up in the hands of a therapist here in Seattle. She suggested that it would be better for her clients were it gluten-free. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a recipe that is totally my own invention. And then, I must confess, the real push came when I read a horoscope by Rob Brezny that said that if I wanted to end up like Darwin and not like Alfred Russell Wallace that I had better hurry up. And 'Mama K's Aromatic Play Clay' was born.

5) As a work at home mom what tips can you give other work at home moms?

I've got a lot of learning to do as far as that's concerned. One thing I'm trying to be conscientious about is not dividing my time and attention in a scattered way. I'm generally a fluid person, so it can be hard for me to set boundaries and stick with them. Work time is work time, play time is for play. Also it can be hard to feel like you're ever going to get anything done. But there's a lesson in Aesop's Fables that has been with me my whole life and that I think everyone should always remember: slow and steady wins the race.

Thank you so much Kari for sharing a bit of yourself with all of us!
I feel so blessed and grateful to have met you.

The Giveaway!
For the giveaway today Kari has generously selected her Aromatic Play Clay Tube of Five. This set of clay includes one a 4 ounce tub of each of the following: lavender/soothe, sweet orange/uplift, bergamot/ ease the anxious, lemongrass/inspire, geranium/balance and chamomile/relaxation. This is very generous of her, the containers are much larger than they appear in the photo above.

Here's how to enter:
Begin by leaving a comment on this post mentioning your favorite item from Kari's etsy shop. She would also appreciate any suggestions you have for her regarding her current products or suggestions for new items. You may only enter once and you must include your first name -and- etsy username or email address with each entry or it will not be included.

For additional entries, you can do the following and post in the comments to let me know:
(2 extra) Twitter this Giveaway and supply your twitter name
(3 extra) Follow my blog (if you already follow, just let me know)
(3 extra) Become a fan of Mama K's Aromatic Play Clay on Facebook, (if you already are a fan of Mama K's on Facebook, just let me know)
If you do any of these you must let me know for your additional entries to be included. You got the "let me know part" right?

More fine print, learned along the way
1. If we cannot contact you we will give your prize away to someone else.
2. The featured seller will do their very best to mail the winners package in a timely manner, please contact them directly if you have any questions.
3. Each entry is printed and cut out, I then place the entries into a hat, basket or bowl and have someone handy pick a name from all the entries. We now choose a runner up.
4. If you have won the Artist Feature and Giveaway in the past you may enter again.

The giveaway ends Sunday, June 21st (The Summer Solstice) at 1opm PST with the winner announced on Monday, June 22nd. Please get the word out, these are really fabulous and the whole world kneads them.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soul Food

"Food nourishes the Body,
but Flowers nourish the Soul."

~ Ancient Proverb

In the botanical perfumers palette the most expensive and valuable essences are those that come from the heavenly domain of the flowers. Floral notes give body and heart to a perfume. The essences most often used to add a sensuous bouquet include:

Orange blossom
Ylang Ylang

Besides the glorious fragrance these precious essences possess many also contain aromatherapeutic attributes. This is a unique feature to that of a pure, botanical perfume.

"The rose distils a healing balm
The beating pulse of pain to calm."

~ Thomas Moore

Rose, from the Rosaceae family, is a small deciduous shrub with Persian origins. In aromatherapy we use this essence for skin care, for challenges of the respiratory system, as a tonic to the uterus as well as a variety of nervous and stress related conditions. Sappho, the ancient Greek poet referred to Roses as the queen of flowers for their grace on earth.

For more on Roses here at this journal, including recipes and formulas follow this link: The Name of the Rose.

Thus, our scent for this day shall be floral...Lyra, Aurora, Vespertina or Rosa? How about Rosa since we have touched on a few of the healing attributes of the Rose.

"What is understood by essence,
in the pure sense as used by the mediaeval alchemists, for example,
is the actual energy, the 'soul' of the plant."
~ Marguerite Maury

Image above titled "Blessings" ©Greg Spalenka, original painting available as limited edition Giclee prints and greeting cards. Contact Greg at for details. Blessings was created as an illustration for "Project Open Hand" in San Francisco.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Celtic Lunar Month: OAK

"With foot beat of the swift Oak,
Heaven and Earth rung,
Stout guardian of the door,
His name on every tongue."
~ Gwion

The circular door opens into the mighty realm of the Oak today, with the seventh moon cycle of the Celtic Tree Alphabet. From now until July 7th the steadfast OAK, the most sacred of all the Druidic trees, empowers us with strong roots as we become who we are meant to be. The Celtic word for oak Duir, derived from the sanskrit for door, is the Ogham in this new cyclic phase. This enduring ancient tree stands guardian to the door of self knowledge, tall and steadfast, the wise verdant entity provides courage as we overcome our trials.

Just as the Oaks of England are struck by lightening and born anew, so our native oaks display their resistance to our yearly California wild fires. New, fresh leaves sprout triumphantly from the blacken trunks. The oak teaches us to send our roots deep into the sustaining earth where stability reigns supreme. From that place of connection to this sacred moment we then reach out wide and far. The Oak is part of the central creation myth for the Celtic people. From the acorns, embedded in the Earth, the God Dagda and Goddess Brighid are born.

Today, on this blessed and auspicious occasion, I bring you the solid botanical version of Q, our perfume devoted to Quercus agrifolia the Coastal Live Oak of California. I have hand infused leaves from one of the mighty Oaks that encircles our property. The intention weaved with the infusion and throughout the formulation of the fragrance is for greater awareness of these splendid native trees.

"Every majestic oak tree was once a nut who stood his ground."

I have written quite a bit here on this journal about my history with the native oaks and much of the symbology of this Oak Celtic lunar phase. Instead of repeating myself, I invite you to travel to Greece. Helg, the authoress of Perfume Shrine, will enchant you with her new Mythology series launched today. Rich in philosophy and beauty, like her Greek ancestors, Helg weaves marvelous tales to delight all our senses, specifically focused on olfaction.

The Q solid is now available in the antique finished compact and as a solid mini at our boutique on Etsy. Eventually the entire solid perfume collection will be added to the Illuminated Perfume website. I'm working on manifesting this as you read these words.

Illuminated Perfume
Illuminated Perfume at Etsy
Perfume Shrine
California Oak Foundation

Links to reviews of the botanical perfume Q

Images: The opening painting is by John Millais titled The Proscribed Royalist, 1651 (1853), it is owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber and was utilized by Heather Ettlinger to illustrate her blog post her thoughts about the botanical perfume Sierra. Celtic Tree Wheel engraving has been modified in photoshop and placed on parchment. Other two images are photos I took of Q solid in the compact and as the mini solid.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the Shadow

We watched the film Interview with the Vampire last night based on the 1976 best selling novel by Anne Rice. I had been hesitant in viewing this film, like most horror-like themed stories, it's just not my cup of tea. I prefer Earl Grey to blood. However, swayed by the prospect of gazing upon Brad Pitt, I conceded knowing that if I got too uncomfortable I'd retreat to the studio.

Indeed, the blood is a bit much, however the story of the archetypal hero battling his demons is always good food for the soul. The film is gorgeous cinematically, with exquisitely crafted scenes, glorious costumes and beautiful people. The underlying skeleton of a good story has been very well transcribed into a film by Neil Jordon. As mentioned, I haven't read the book or any of the authors works, despite numerous accolades from friends.

Carl Jung speaks of the embracing our shadow side, our unconscious, basic instincts which drive the animal aspect of our nature. At a gathering almost a year ago a dear and very wise friend mentioned that America may finally be embracing their shadow side. Well, we'll see about that. From the point of view of personal growth and empowerment I rather like the idea of it, yet wonder if it is possible. Perhaps this earthly manifestation is meant for the polarity of the struggle, as we see with the Brad Pitt character, Louis. The play of night and day, light and dark, male and female, birth and death may in fact be our constant. All we can do is take a deep breath and embrace it.

While taking that deep breath one might as well add a few essences into the field of inhalation that will assist self awareness. Valerie Ann Worwood, authoress of several aromatherapy books. In The Fragrant Mind, on she suggests the following essential oils for self awareness:

Clary Sage
Ormenis flower (Maroc Chamomile)
Pimento Berry
Ylang Ylang
Angelica Seed

Now, as a perfumer, I look at this list and ponder if a botanical perfume could be made here. There are several avenues that present themselves, one of which would be a perfume in the fragrance family of leather. A leather fragrance would indeed be appropriate for a vampire, especially one like the nemesis in the story, Lestat. However, I'm more interested in the sensitive character of Louis. We will however build upon the dry, woody character of a leather fragrance. Let's begin by looking at potential base notes that we will build our structure upon. I'd begin with Sandalwood and Cistus, with Cypress as a fixative and Pine absolute. The fruity notes of the Pine absolute will work nicely with those of the Chamomile. The herbaceous aspect of the Chamomile then opens the terrain for Bay, Sage and Myrtle and Angelica Seed. I then would dip a scent strip into each of these essences and experience the aromas together to inhale the potential in this formula. From what I can "see" we would need to bring in more heart notes. The Jasmine, Ylang Ylang or Geranium probably would be a bit off in this schematic, those would work in a more sweet leather formula. Orange blossom or Rose might be a nice addition if you wanted to add florals to the heart note. Mandarin, Pimento Berry and Coriander could be nice accents for this rather woody, herbaceous melange for becoming more self aware with every breath we take.

I'm choosing Chaparral Solid as my scent of the day. The fragrance contains many of the notes mentioned above and I am feeling a strong attraction to it's dry, woody character.

Ah, and along the theme of death you may be interested in visiting the Corpse flower at the Huntington Library. It is about to bloom and offers up the decadent Scent of Death for your olfactory delights.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Personally I am not a devotee of immortal perfume. Fragrances that cling and have no ability to decay are rather frightening to me. This is a good example of how an individuals heaven is another's hell. Within the main stream of the modern perfume world the idea of "permanence" in a fragrance is equated with a "good" perfume. A rather antiquated notion, in my humble opinion.

Let's de-construct this notion a bit, shall we? Before man synthesized aroma chemicals the main fixatives (notes that prolong a scent) were that of the animal kingdom such as musk, civet, castoreum and ambergris. In the late 19th century many man made chemicals were introduced to the perfumers palette. This new chemical cocktail horizon eventually brought synthetic components that gave perfumers the ability to create enduring fragrances without animal products. One of those ingredients includes formaldehyde, a carcinogenic that acts to preserve and prolong perfume. Perhaps you remember formaldehyde from the preserved specimens in high school biology class? Is this something you want to be applying to your skin? How about the newly devised chemicals that have been frankinsteined to emulate the animal ingredients mentioned above such as musk ketone? A noted environmental aquatic hazard and human toxin due to it's ability to remain in fat cells and be passed onto infants through breast milk.

A fixation with permanence seems to manifest itself in the mind. The "need" to have a fragrance endure is a notion that has been spoon fed to the public without much rationale. If Roald Dahl was still writing he could probably illustrate this idea in a brilliant children's book like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The idea that a perfume deserves merit based on it's longevity is an outdated belief system that does not fit into an evolving culture.

This weekend at a family function two of the attendees were drenched in a synthetic chemical haze that made one sensitive to scent retreat to the outdoors. To my extreme displeasure the noxious fumes followed us all the way home and still remain in my husband's sweater.

I've become so distraught by these Cling-on perfumes that I am very hesitant to hug or even get too close to those who insist on fumigating themselves. Add to this the scent of chlorinated water and dryer sheets in clothing and one becomes a walking bulldozer of scent molecules.

Salvation has presented itself in the form of botanical perfume which is not made with animal ingredients or man made chemicals. Botanical perfume has the advantage of staying close to the skin whilst avoiding invasion of an individuals odoriferous terrain.

The botanical perfumer has a set of essences deemed fixative notes which on their own or combined into a base accord can last for days. Take Choya, Indian distilled sea shells, when applied to a scent strip the molecules of this essential oil will remain for months on the paper. Patchouli, Vetiver, Cypress, Muhuhu are just a few other essential oils with the ability to linger. By mindfully orchestrating a fragrant concert of top, middle and base note accords a botanical perfume can last on the skin for several hours depending on skin chemistry. The beauty of botanicals is that they are from life, just as we prefer to adorn a home with fresh flowers instead of plastic or silk imitations. When the flowers are spent we put them in our compost heap and go out to the garden where we can refresh our interior with the vitality of nature.

Image at top detail from a painting by Greg Spalenka

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Spirit of Nature

Thursday is named after Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. This dense gaseous mass in astrology is associated with luck and expansion. At the hearing Thursday evening Jupiter along with his 63 moons must have come out to bless us with some luck. The developer was NOT granted the right to remove the oak trees or build on the lot.
We feel extremely relieved, to say the least. This story will definitely have more chapters. For now, the four large oaks, several small ones and the land remain whole with Sovereignty, all the deities, Gods and Goddesses ensuring the beauty of nature.

Scent of the day continues to be Q, for Quercus agrifolia the Coastal Live Oak of California. I am intending to release the solid botanical perfume of Q on June 10th, the first day of the Celtic lunar calendar month of the Oak. Stay tuned for details and a giveaway!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Medicine Wheel

Greg and I have been diligently working on preparing for tonight's meeting in Van Nuys to protect these glorious native oaks and the land. We've gathered the neighbors, we have all the facts in order, we've got the photos, abundant amounts of passion and heart...what else???

Last night as I soaked in the bath with the scent of the conifers, juniper and grapefruit I asked, "What else can I do for the Oaks? How can I harness some powerful energies to be at this evening hearing?" Well, this blog post came to mind.

With an intention of gathering strong magic for this evenings meeting I call upon YOU and....


We call upon the Spirit-Keepers of the East, elemental AIR, home of our mental abilities and consciousness, ruled by the STARS and the color white…The throat chakra, the place of self expression, creativity and breath. Home of the Newborn, Dawn, New Beginnings, vision and inspiration of newness and fresh starts. The spirit medicine of Eagle dwells here with the ability to see far and wide. I call upon the guardians of the East. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the East.

(Scent: Chaparral and Sierra Botanical Liquid Perfume)


We call in the Spirit-Keepers of the South, elemental FIRE, home of our beating
heart, ruled by the SUN and the color yellow…The heart and the constant rhythm within, the place of our passion, warmth, and direct knowing. Home of the Child, youthful abundant energy, and motivation. The spirit medicine of Lion dwells here with courage. I call upon the guardians of the South. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the South.

(Scent: Cimbalom Botanical Solid Perfume, Aurora Solid & Liquid Botanical Perfume)


We call upon the Spirit-Keepers of the West, elemental WATER, home of our intuition and the dream time, ruled by the MOON and the color white…The belly, the place of emotion, desires and the ability to circulate. Home of the Feminine, the Mother and flow. The spirit medicine of Dolphin dwells here, in keen inner awareness, flowing in harmony. I call upon the guardians of the West. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the West.

(Scent: Lyra Botanical Liquid Perfume)


We call upon the Spirit-Keepers of the North, elemental EARTH, home of our connection to the here & now, ruled by the EARTH and the color black…The base chakra, the place of manifestation, control & restraint and grounded in experience. Home of the Male, strength and ability to create magic. The spirit medicine of Snake dwells here with the ability to move swiftly, above and below the ground, to shed what no longer serves and be born anew. I call upon the guardians of the North. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the North.

(Scent: Terrestre and Sierra Botanical Solid Perfume)


We call on the Center, the Womb of all Creation, the Void, the Black Hole. We call in our own Essence, feeling into our cores, feeling the part of the universe that is only and totally filled with us, connecting to the energies of our own uniqueness, our special medicine, our song, our gifts. Uniting with our own authentic essential nature and the ability to touch others with the unique beauty of this expression. When we are filled with our own personal energetic energies, we walk on, taking within us the four directions and the fulfillment of all that we are. Welcome Spirit-Keepers of the Center.

(Scent: Q Liquid Botanical Perfume)

My deepest gratitude to my facilitator Kaitryne and to Gary Stamper of the blog "Beyond Integral" who had already typed out the basic "Calling of the Four Directions" which I utilized in this post as well as borrowed some of his beauty filled ideas and words.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Doors of Perception

Last Saturday was quite a full day with the Museum and Project Peace on Earth Event transpiring back to back. The day began, under a mist of June gloom, at the California Folk Art Museum. The Global Bazaar took place in the outdoor courtyard of the Museum with over fifteen local vendors and artisans offering a wealth of handmade beauty.

The bazaar coinsided with LACMA's annual event, LACMA MUSE ART WALK.

Having attended art school at Otis while it was in downtown Los Angeles, this event felt very appropriate for myself as an artist. A variety of beautiful and gifted art spirits were there exhibiting as well as attending.

Greg took this photo of the me at the table just after we had set up. This was early in the day before the attendees had started appearing, I was still quite chilled from the gloom.

The biggest highlight of the day was meeting many of YOU who came and said hello, this was the sunniest part of the day as each of you are so dear and precious. It's difficult to say what the favorite was at this show. Sometimes it is quite evident, yet on Saturday, each scent seems to have equal appreciate. When I'd speak to individuals and ask them what there favorite fragrance family was the most common answer was Citrus. This was the answer I'd most often hear when I did Aromatherapy trade shows back in the nineties. It is fascinating how individual scent is and how varied the responses are. The men were definitely smitten with Chaparral and Q, so keep these two botanical perfumes in mind for Father's Day, they are perfect for Dad.

Although I had visited this museum quite often while attending art school, I was totally unaware of the large space on two floors above. To my delight there were two fantastic exhibits to expand your mind and alter consciousness. The first was titled Ancient Gods and Modern Politics: Mithila Painting. This show featured intricately drawn and painted imagery from India. These made me want to get my sketchbook and start drawing right then and there! Upstairs, in the larger gallery, was Celestial Ash: Assemblages From Los Angeles which began with an original Joseph Cornell on display. I am a huge fan of Cornell's work, so I was hooked immediately. Artist's displaying their work included Matjames and Gail Greenfield Randall, who for me had the most beautiful and compelling assemblages, besides the small Cornell. This image at left title Castle, by Matjames, was my absolute favorite piece in the show. With doors opening up and revealing yet more doors within doors. I was mesmerized looking at it. CAFAM will be conducting a special Studio Visits with Matjames and Gail Greenfield Randall on Saturday, June 27th. For those who appreciate this art form this will probably be quite an inspiration.

We quickly packed up our wears at 6pm when the exhibit ended to make our way to Westwood for the Project Peace on Earth event that was to follow. I'm intending to get some photos to illustrate that journal post for you. Keep your fingers and toes crossed, journal posts are so much more lively with pictures, don't'cha think?


We have moved into the Astrological phase of Gemini. With this a fellow Etsy seller, Morgen of InkySpider and Kootsac, has featured our botanical perfume, Vera, in her blog post titled Gift Giving through the Zodiac - Gemini. Her blog is titled "What does the Golden Mean?", pretty clever.

Christiane Goncalves, one of the many perfume bloggers to emerge from Brazil, has done a series titled "My Spring with Artisan Perfumers" over at the Fragrantica website. You may recall I asked you to head on over to Fragrantica last year when our blog was submitted as one of the best fragrance blogs of 2009.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


At this past Saturn day and night events I was once again reminded about how much we have to be grateful for, especially those of us that have the opportunity to live in America. Yes, I know, things are rather challenging in the "land of the free" at the moment. However, there are still many things to be grateful the gleeful chirping of the birds, the camphoraceous, earthy aroma of the white sage in the garden or out on the hillside. Even the ever present nemesis, for they keep us alert and on our toes.

Greg and I have been organizing all the papers for the hearing on Thursday evening in Van Nuys, California. We along with a fair amount of the neighbors will "speak for the trees" and for the earth. When one assesses how small the lot that this developer wants to build his monstrosity on and the beauty of the large oak trees the situation looks so clear. Yet, the developer and the City of LA will be seeing a different scenario. The silver strand here is meeting the neighbors and aligning for a cause.

The sweet little felt heart above was created for me by My, one of the winners of the Handmade Tag on this blog. A beautiful, simple gesture of the heart. Thank you so very much to each of you.