Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The Mark of Hands

Hands with Santa Fe lilacs ©RoxanaVilla

As our world continues to rotate more and more toward automation and tech, it is crucial to acknowledge and uphold the heritage of the mark of hand and fragrance making by respecting traditions, along with the linguistics that accompany those rich customs woven with wisdom. In doing so, we then acknowledge the cultures who birthed these ways of being in the world, which are inherently balanced with living at peace, in simple harmony with the Earth.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”

― Henry David Thoreau

Perfume, the story of a murderer film screen shot 

Enfleurage, a method of capturing scent from delicate flowers, likely invented by the Ancient Egyptians and then resurrected in Grasse, was highlighted at the recent Pitti Fragrance conference in Italy.

After some investigation, I see that although the highlighted process is being termed enfleurage, it is actually an oil infusion of flowers performed in India that the flavor and fragrance manufacturer have decided to refer to as enfleurage.

Once more, we have the re-invention of a traditional word attributed to a process, or term, of something other than what it is. I've seen this occur with the word Cologne, a city in Germany that has deep historical roots in creating a light and refreshing citrus and herb spritz. The term cologne is now being used to define a fragrance for men of a solid fragrance, instead of using the generic word perfume, that appears to have taken on a feminine connotation.

The challenge with ascribing new of different meaning to words is that then the true origin, historical context and, in these two cases, actual definition of a craft is diminished and under valued. 

This occurs within the corporate fragrance industry, as illustrated with this new attribution of the term enfleurage, but also in the indie maker community. At the root of this conjuring trick, like the shell game on the streets of New York City, this sleight of hand ripples out and undermines cultural legacies.

The cause of dismissing humanities lineage is most often rooted in greed and ignorance. Becoming more and more obvious, with each day, is the domination of corporate institutions who favor special interests and profits over the benefit of the planet and or human beings. Joel Bakan's book, which was made into a film, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power is an excellent example. If we observe the actions within a range of industries such as: pharmaceutical, oil, manufacturing and advertising, greed is the primary behavior at its core. When this occurs, the value of cultural legacy is significantly undervalued. One example that illustrates this concept quite vividly is the hunger for domination by the killing, removing or polluting indigenous people and their lands. Here in New Mexico, the mining and milling of Uranium being used for nuclear energy is a prime example. "This practice has caused problems, including on Navajo lands where more than half of small, abandoned uranium mines from the middle of the 20th century and their wastes remain."1

On the other end of the spectrum are the artisan makers who are not primarily motivated by greed, but sometimes possess a bit of ignorance and/or lack of education where they then ascribe a historical word to fit their needs. Like with the word cologne, as mentioned above, you can read more of my rant regarding the misuse of perfume words here.

Whether with a conglomerate, a perfume organization or an indie maker we observe a deficit of respect. Perhaps its due to our modern times, with so much greed running the world. Certainly our political leaders are not good role models. Gee, have you seen the documentary Planet of the Humans, produced by Michael Moore? That was eye opening and although enlightening, very depressing. Another film, causing a shift in awareness is Monopoly, which I will not link just in case the "sen sir", the big Orwellian eye, is watching. Does it bother you that the 1st amendment is no longer being adhered to?

The best role model I have found is Vandana Shiva, if you don't know about her check out The Seeds of Vandana Shiva. When we honor our roots and esteem those who came before us in tandem with deeply bowing to Mother Earth, then appropriating and redefining words for corporate and self interest will no longer surface as a prominent behavior amongst humans.

Related to the long tail of honoring words and their original definitions is supporting small, indie and handmade as a form of respect, preservation and spiritual path—a small act that does great good. As the world continues to shift, with more chaos and MAN dates, we gain more perspective on the critical need for each of us to become more fluid and aware.

If you’ve been following my work as an artist, whether visual or aromatic, than this may be repetitive. I bring it up again as a crucial reminder to our evolution. By focusing our attention on the arts, beauty, indie makers, those who work with nature and their hands, we contribute to the entire fabric of life. It is one of those very small acts that has great value, and undulates out, diminishing the power of the corporations and their ferocious need for greed.

It's crucial that we each take individual responsibility for what has happened to the world and begin to focus on small acts that contribute to the entire ecosystem and our personal role in the survival of humanity, nature and kindness

The mark of the hand, whether in a teacup, a journal, a bracelet, a small plant or food grown from traditional seed—each contains the subtle energy of a maker, each contains a vitality of incalculable worth.

1. EPA.gov website

Monday, September 13, 2021

Blue Tansy

Blue Tansy

We have Blue Tansy growing in front of our casita here in the high desert, just next to the lilac bush. I didn't realize what the plant was until a few weeks ago when it finally gave is one little bunch of flowers. As you can see in the photo, the little flowers are a bright, deep yellow hue and the foliage is similar to yarrow with its fern-like soft, green leaves.

I remember reading about it when I studied aromatherapy and the "blue" oils, but never delved into it much as a perfumer because I perceived the earthy scent was too medicinal. Fast forward from the mid nineties to this moment, when my blending skills have gotten much better, I can indeed imagine using it in a perfume.

The blue tansy flower, Tanacetum annuum, is part of the chamomile family, originating in the Mediterranean but now grown and cultivated in Morocco. The reason it goes by the name "blue" tansy is due to the compound chamazulene, which as the name implies, is blue. The essential oil is said to be calming to the skin and helps us feel grounded and relaxed. Very important attributes for these rather wild times we migrating.

During the steam distillation process the chamazulene compounds turns a beautiful deep blue hue.

As I work on bringing back the aromatherapy synergies I was making in the 90's, I look forward to working with this very special essence. Some of its attributes includes:

1. Assisting with inflammation due to these compounds:

  • Chamazulene
  • Sabinene
  • Camphor
  • Myrcene
  • Pinene

The word "inflammation" refers to an abundance of heat, usually revealing itself as redness and swelling of the skin as well as the emotions. Consider the words "in flame", referring to fire and the color red, now consider how this oil is blue, thus when applied swelling and redness may be diminished.

2. Emotional Support

Aromatherapy books refer to this oil as aiding in providing a sense of relaxation and grounding. 

3. Respiration

There is evidence that Blue Tansy is anti-bacterial and helpful with congestion and support of the respiratory system.

4. Moisture

As mentioned above, consider the heavenly blue hue of this mighty oil as a clue to how it can be used. Blue, like water, provides moisture, thus where there is dryness, bring in the water.

5. Antihistamine

Since evidence exists that blue tansy reduces nasal congestion, the oil has been used in blends as an antihistamine. Here in New Mexico, as the chamisa begins its flowering season, this will be one of my go to essences to diffuse and put a few drops into a bowl of warm water for a steam inhalations. Consider that when we do steam inhalations we get the affect of providing moisture to our lungs and the skin, while assisting our lungs and providing emotional support.

5. Insect Repellant

For those of you, who like me, prefer to keep insects away, there is evidence that blue tansy oil can aid in keeping some insects, like mosquitos, away.

I plan on ordering a kilo of this essential oil directly from the distiller, if you are interested in participating in the order be sure to send me a note to: roxana @ roxanavilla.com.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Smell like an Egyptian

Exploring the Olfactive History of Ancient Egyptian Culture
with Dora Goldsmith

The olfactory landscape of ancient Egypt is like no other, revealing aspects of a culture where no boundaries existed with perfume, medicine & food. By examining the written sources left by the ancient Egyptians, we are able to dive deep into various aspects of this olfactory rich civilization.


In these fascinating series of classes, we will embark on a practical and mystical journey into the very heart of a civilization based on scent.

Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith will decipher texts for us as we study Egypt through multiple dynasties, exploring a panorama of scents and rituals from sacred temples, personal gardens and the afterlife.

A wonderful sensorial journey through ancient Egypt

"If you are interested in the history of the ancient Egyptians, alchemy, aromatherapy, herbalism and science, or are just curious, then this experiential course is a must! Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith takes you on a sensory journey of everyday life in ancient Egypt where you will not only enhance your knowledge of the rituals and ceremonies of this historically significant time, but also experience the unique scents associated with it. I would highly recommend buying the scent kits to accompany the course modules, which Dora has meticulously researched and prepared, as they will enhance your learning. It was only through making the perfumes myself that I truly appreciated this magnificent civilisation."

~ Paula M on May 10, 2021

Read more & grab your spot

The SCENTS of EGYPT WORKSHOP SERIES is a comprehensive certificate program, taking place over seven weeks via LIVE* Zoom sessions with Egyptologist Dora Goldsmith.

Each class in this workshop series offers three hours, including live instruction with handouts and a dedicated hour for Q&A.

Aromatherapy practitioners receive: 3 NAHA CE credits per class.

Join us for individual classes or the entire series

Unguent Cones
Temple Smells
Garden Scents
Scents of Lovemaking
Scents of Mummification & the Afterlife
Hknw, Meaning JOY

BONUS Class: June 6th, 2021: Smellscapes



Still not sure is this is for you?

Join us for this FREE* class on
June 6th, 2021


In this two-hour lecture, we will go on a smellwalk in an ancient Egyptian city to uncover hidden realities unexperienced and unimagined.

The tour invites us to reorient our senses, so that visualization becomes passive and olfaction becomes active. Through focusing on the sense of smell we gain a new perspective on the ancient Egyptians’ interaction with their environment.

*Use coupon code: smellwalk06


Dora Goldsmith is an Egyptologist whose research focuses on the sense of smell in ancient Egypt. Based on the written sources, Dora investigates the ancient Egyptians' perception of the world through the sense of smell and recreates their smellscape. Her published works include the concept of stench in ancient Egypt (2019), the scents of mummification (2019) and the smellscape of ancient Egyptian cities (2020).

Dora gives lectures and workshops around the world accompanied by her scent reconstructions, where the long-lost world of the ancient Egyptians comes back to life through your nose. Two of her scent reconstructions, the Mendesian and the scent of mummification, have been exhibited in museums around the world.


Ancient Egypt Lives Again!

"If you've ever wanted to gain deep insight into the rich and complex culture of dynastic Egypt, this series of courses led by the brilliant, trail-blazing scholar, Dora Goldsmith, is an absolute must. Through seven, perfectly organized classes, the layered, and intertwining concepts surrounding scent in life, and in death, are fully explored. The creation and use of perfumes, incense, as well as flowers and food, are all illuminated via images, and beautiful ancient Egyptian texts. You also have the option of buying scent kits which are specialized for each class. (I ordered the Unguent and Aphrodisiac kits and I love them!) Do not miss this amazing opportunity!"

~ Kevin on April 25, 2021