Arabesque’s Handmade Botanical Incense

rose petal incense

As summer blooms and the Northern California flowers unfurl their fragrant petals all around me, I just could not resist the urge to create something! So — I’ve made two delicious batches of my annual handmade incense! Now available:

Kyphi – Most well-known as an ancient Egyptian incense though there are also ancient Greek and Syrian variations. The ingredients remain fundamentally the same in all of the recipes. My incense is my own adaptation of the 2nd century Syrian recipe and features honey, red wine, sultanas, galangal, organic cinnamon bark, frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, rose petals, orris, lemongrass, sandalwood powder. The precious resins and botanicals are powdered and then, bound together with the wine and the honey, form a fragrant brick that is left to dry slowly in the sun.

Rose Petal – made in the Elizabethan fashion. (A recipe that, I suspect, came straight from the goddess Venus, herself!) Powdered Rose Petals with a pinch of powdered lavender blossoms and fragrant Iris, melded together with rosewater, formed into earthy lozenges and left to dry in the sun.

Do note – this is not incense that is well-suited for use on traditional charcoal tablets. To truly appreciate the delicacy of the flower petals and aromatics, the nuance of the melting honey, resins, spices, herbs, roots and the floral waters, this incense requires a more delicate and refined source of heat…

But I will say that they are worth the trouble. As one very old, loyal client and dear friend says “They are infused with ancient magic!”

perfume sampler

The incense is also available in a small Incense Sampler for the curious! The Rose Petal incense, save for the samplers, is already sold out but is available for pre-order in my Etsy shop with a two-week shipping window. (Usually my annual incense goes quickly so best to get it while you can!) To enjoy this incense, and the Kyphi, crumble and burn on a censer, or in your electric incense burner… warm on low in a cast iron pan, or enjoy in the Elizabethan way – warm in a very hot pan and walk through your home, perfuming the rooms as you go.

Also don’t miss my unisex botanical perfume, Kyphi, inspired by the incense…

In closing, I was accepted to graduate school and will begin a MA degree in Humanities this Fall 2015. I’m extremely excited to begin my focus on women and plant folklore in mythology and I just know my academic explorations will cycle back into my creative work in wonderful new ways. My sincere thanks to all who have participated in the ongoing “Pay What You Will Sale” to support Arabesque’s exciting and ongoing expansion!

Well, I think this catches me up on all of the Arabesque news for now so – until my late-Summer perfume inspired by One Thousand and One Nights launches, take care and have a wonderful summer! And if you want to keep further tabs on my work, or merely enjoy my gratuitous horse and kitten pictures from the ranch, like my facebook page, here.



Virelai~ A troubadour-inspired botanical perfume


Each day I am a better man, and purer,
for I serve the noblest lady in the world,
and I worship her, I tell you this in the open.

-Arnaut Daniel, 1180-1200


Virelai, a troubadour-inspired botanical perfume, is named for a particular rhyming style verse that is found in French medieval poetry and song.

Virelai is my Autumn 2014 fragrance and features the pure essential oils of Ambergris, Rose, Frankincense, Cedar, Cinnamon and Cistus. It is a sultry, spicy, warm, sensuous perfume, best enjoyed while reading the poetry or stories of courtly love…

The perfume is available in September 2014 but 1 ml samples are available now. Samples ship First Class Mail within seven days of receipt of payment.

The image of the lovers was taken from the early 14th century Codex Manesse, a German book in the public domain written by several well-known troubadours about courtly love and romantic music.


The Sainted Scents of Midwinter 2013

The Sainted Scents of Midwinter 2013 have been inspired by the wealth of myth, magic, whimsy and symbolism that I have long enjoyed within the stories of the saints.


Saint Bega of Bees botanical perfume

St. Bega was a 9th century Irish virgin saint. She was said to have sailed away across the sea to British shores, standing upon a piece of sod wearing only a holy bracelet, when her chastity was threatened by a Northern king!

(What a beautiful visual!)

She is credited with later establishing a convent in Bees, Northumberland.
A pilgrim’s path called St. Bega’s Way can be walked in her honor, today.

The botanical perfume Saint Bega of Bees was blended with the essential oils of Frankincense, Scotch Pine, Agarwood, Black Currant, and Cistus.


Saint Christina the Astonishing

The story of the life of St. Christina the Astonishing, a flying saint who lived in Liège in the 12th century, reflects, in my opinion, the wild woman archetype, as written about extensively by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes. So it will probably come as no surprise to say her contemporaries did not treat her, nor did they write about her, very kindly.

It was said of her that she once died and came back to life. That she spent a great deal of time perched in trees, that she liked to swim in icy rivers and fly around on windmills, and that she found her fellow humans to be — stinky.

( Eeks! I do hope this scent meets with her approval!)

Christina’s life was documented in the 13th century in a book “The Life of Saint Christina the Astonishing” by Thomas de Cantimpré who writes “Her body was so sensitive and light that she walked on dizzy heights and, like a sparrow, hung suspended from the topmost branches of the loftiest trees” though Christina’s story is far more enjoyable when sung by Nick Cave in the eponymous song, Christina the Astonishing.

The unisex botanical perfume, Christina the Astonishing was created with the essential oils of Ambergris, Clove, Neroli, Liquidambar, Black Cumin and Cedar.

Both of the Sainted Scents come in a bejeweled, gold painted 6ml bottle, as pictured above.

And I have blended both of my Sainted Scents to contain at least one aromatic ingredient that was deemed sacred/ holy in the Saint’s own lifetime. I consciously created them both to evoke churchy, musty, old, and mysterious. But — in a sexy way! And I hope you will like them.

mary1 (2)












The Sainted Scents will also come with my handmade print, “Mary Magdalen Cutting off Her Hair” inspired by a French medieval monastic text c. 11-12th century. The lino print is on plain brown paper, in burgundy ink, and will be included with Sainted Scent perfume orders while supplies last. The print can also be purchased separately, here.

For further reading on the lives of the virgin saints, pick up Giselle Potter’s delightful book, “Lucy’s Eyes and Margaret’s Dragon.”



A Year of Perfume

Enjoy a year of botanical perfume in 2014.

Subscribe to Arabesque Aroma’s 2014-2015 Perfume Subscription and automatically receive a perfume sample each time a new Arabesque Aromas scent debuts. Since 2009, Arabesque Aromas has traditionally launched one to three new oil-based scents each Spring, Summer, Indian Summer/Fall, Winter and Midwinter.

Note that the perfume subscription rotates into 2015, so regardless of what season subscribers purchase their subscription, they will receive one full year of perfume. The first 2014 perfume samples to ship to subscribers will be Arabesque’s Spring 2014 scents,  shipping in March 2014.Samples will ship to subscribers via First Class Mail.  The subscription covers a minimum of six 1ml perfume samples per year, plus prepaid shipping, within the US and Canada.


Arabesque Aromas Summer 2012 botanical perfume “The Awakening”

“She reminded him of some beautiful, sleek animal waking up in the sun.”

― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“The Awakening” is a fresh, complex, green, blooming scent inspired by the also-blooming main character, Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin’s novel “The Awakening” published in 1899.

Its main ingredient is the deliciously complex and deliciously green Boronia.
Boronia is a precious ingredient, and difficult to obtain, therefore this perfume is a limited edition. There are a total of 12 bottles of the Summer 2012 batch, remaining.

Each bottle contains a small piece of seaweed, harvested myself from California beaches.

I thought seaweed was an appropriate visual symbol for Edna’s oceanic, feminine, unfolding inner life.

The Awakening can be sampled or purchased, here.


“Drann” botanical perfume, named for the old Irish word for a whispered magical chant, charm or spell

Drann was designed specifically for a group that I feel so honored and excited to be a part of: The Primordial Perfume Project of 2012.

Drann, made mostly of essential oils from Sacred trees, is a smooth, subtle, resinous, warm, unisex, meditative scent, featuring Oud, Peru Balsam, Frankincense, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Cistus, Lavender and Rosewood, with botanical inclusions of Birch and Ash wood from the British Isles, and pieces of Oak Moss.

The word ‘drann’ has its linguistic roots in early Northern European languages and the root of the word speaks of turning, twisting, weaving, and influencing via magic. (The same root is found in the old Irish word for Druid, Drai, wizard, Draoi, the Gaelic word for enchantment, Draoidheacht.) The Celtic spiral is a visual representation, a symbol, of this same magical meaning. (Celtic Knotwork and interlace is probably the most famous example of this.)

I visited the Neolithic Burial Chamber “Newgrange” on my first visit to Ireland in 2002.

Ash in the Irish Ogham ties in nicely with this symbolism. Ash is also the tree associated with the Celtic Tree of Life. And the Ash rune, As, in the Runic alphabet “…invokes the Divine force. As is the divine breath, ond, which powers existence… ” from Rune Magic by Nigel Pennick.

Sample of “Drann” botanical perfume with birch and ash wood.

Samples and the botanical perfume “Drann” are available on Etsy.

The Primordial Perfume Project proves to be a potent and amazing collaboration with over 60 artists, writers and perfumers. Each participant has been asked to create a separate Facebook page for their Primordial entry.

If you’d like to keep abreast of my project entry, and the project as a whole, you can visit my Primordial Perfume project page here.