The Holly, Moss, and Ivy…

hollymossandivy6

The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume

Always excited by the evergreen symbolism that accompanies Winter, I have decided to mix up a seasonal batch of my botanical perfume “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” this year.

I first created “The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” in 2012 when I moved from Los Angeles to Northern California. The kitties and I took a cozy 19th century log cabin in the woods two miles outside of downtown Grass Valley. A very large, wonderful old Holly tree, cut into a traditional topiary-style, stood at the entrance-way of my front yard, which was bordered by an equally large and wonderful Ivy hedge. (This hedge was full of buzzing honeybees that summer, and I loved to stand nearby and just listen to them.)

Winnifred Kitten, in our new back yard.

My new surroundings were constantly inspiring to my perfumer’s nose – and eyes – each of the three seasons I lived there. And this scent was born from that enthusiasm.

“The Holly, Moss, and Ivy” botanical perfume is a sweet, earthy, warm, resinous, yet slightly powdery scent, composed mainly of Peru Balsam, Patchouli, and Lavender with a touch of Clary Sage and Vanilla. The scent is also available to sample and via Rebecca’s beautiful handmade botanical soaps which are available in the “Holly, Moss, and Ivy” scent throughout the season. They are harmoniously-blended to perfectly match and strengthen this green, unisex botanical scent in the fougère style. (This soap also has similar notes to The Awakening, and The Man of the Woods, and can be layered with all three botanical perfumes.) Arabesque soap-and-perfume gift sets will also be seasonally available.

(Note: Orders containing the Holly, Moss, and Ivy soap will ship the first week in December. To ensure availability, pre-orders are not only welcome but encouraged.)

hawthornesoap1

 

My first Winter in Grass Valley was also the first Winter in a long, long while, that I could go outside and gather all of the Christmas greens I wanted from my own front yard! Quite a luxury for me!

I look forward to doing the same this year in Nevada County, and can already see and smell the fresh Cedar boughs, tied together with a red ribbon, adorning my front door!

 

kings n queens

I will leave you with a traditional English song on plant folklore and how beautifully it is intertwined with the seasons, taken from a book that I always keep on hand this time of year: John Matthew’s The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas. 

O, the holly bears a berry as white as pure silk,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
When the ewes give their milk.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our first hope for to be,
And the first Prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree,
Birch tree, birch tree,
And the first prince of the springtime
It was the birch tree.

O, the birch he bears a leaf-o
As green as the moss,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To dance in the grass,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
That merry we might be.

And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young hawthorn tree.
Hawthorn tree, Hawthorn tree,
Hawthorn tree, hawthorn tree.
And the Princess of the Maytime
Is the young Hawthorn tree.

O, the Hawthorn bears a prickle
As keen as the sun,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
To die in the corn,
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our harvest for to be,
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.
Apple-tree, apple-tree.
And the first Queen of the autumn
Is the old apple tree.

O, the apple bears a fruit-o, as blood as it is red.
And the Lady bore the Green Man
Our last hope for to be,
And the first King of the winter
He was the holly,
Holly holly,
And the first King of the winter,
He was the Holly. 

robin at chalice well gardens

May your winter months be merry and bright!

~Kirsten

Photographs:
-During a visit to the Chalice Well Gardens in Somerset, UK, the day after Christmas, this little Robin seemed to follow me everywhere. England, 2008.
-Departed Kings and Queens taken from a Winter trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England. 2008.
-Hawthorn berries harvested from a tree just outside my home at the base of the Ivy tree, with Rebecca’s soap, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.
-Miss Winnifred Iselda Kitten, bird-watching in the backyard of our Grass Valley home. CA. 2012.
-The Holly, Moss, and Ivy botanical perfume nestled in the crevices of my Italian Plum tree, Grass Valley, CA. 2012.

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Natural botanical perfumes inspired by the art of beauty.

Winter 2013 Arthurian Perfume Collection

Inspired by the Myths & Legends of King Arthur

She cast the juniper on the fire, and as the smoke rose, bound the branch of hazel to her forehead. She laid fruit and flowers before the fire, then touched salt and oil to her breast, took a bite of the bread and a sip of the wine, then, trembling, laid the silver mirror where the firelight shone on it and, from the barrel which was kept for washing the women’s hair, poured clear rainwater across the silver surface of the mirror. She whispered “By common things and by uncommon, by water and fire, salt and oil and wine, by fruit and flowers together, I beg you, Goddess, let me see my sister Viviane.”

-from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1984.

When life gets to be too much, I threaten the world with a fist shake and a stern warning that the cats and I are going to pack up, flee to Leeds, England, and enter their graduate program in medieval studies. The Arthurian myths and legends are one of several aspects of Celtic-medieval history that truly call me! (I really want to learn to read medieval French!) For now, however, I have decided to channel my passions into this botanical perfume project.  And I hope it pleases you!

The Four Arthurian Perfumes

I designed each Arthurian perfume to resonate with one of four elements.

Like many of my botanical perfumes, my Winter Collection can also be used as an anointing oil for meditating, journeying, or other personal, sacred work.

merlin

Merlin the Bard  

“It was magic — magic as black as Merlin could make it.

And the whole sea was green fire and white foam with singing mermaids in it… “

from The Book of Merlin by TH White.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/159463596/merlin-the-bard-botanical-perfume-from?ref=shop_home_active

faeries

Morgaine of the Faeries 

“They were seldom seen, even here in the far hills, anywhere in village and field; they lived their own life secretly in deserted hills and forests where they had fled when the Romans came. But I knew they were there, that the little folk who had never lost sight of Her watched over me… I knew better than to look for them directly, but they were there and I knew they would be there if I needed them. It was not for nothing that I had been given that old name, Morgaine of the Faeries… And now they acknowledged me as their priestess and their queen.”

from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

https://www.etsy.com/listing/159460118/morgaine-of-the-faeries-botanical?ref=related-5

 lady

The Lady of the Lake

“The Goddess knows, child, I love you as I have never loved any other human being on earth,” Viviane said steadily, through the knifing pain in her heart. “But when I brought you here, I told you: A time may come when you might hate me as much as you loved me then. I am Lady of Avalon; I do not give reasons for what I do. I do what I must, no more and no less, and so will you when the day comes.”

from The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

https://www.etsy.com/listing/159461428/the-lady-of-the-lake-botanical-perfume?ref=related-4

king

King Arthur

“Here lies Arthur,

King once and King to be.”

from Le Morte D’Arthur, Thomas Mallory

https://www.etsy.com/listing/159464988/king-arthur-botanical-perfume-from-the?ref=listing-shop-header-3

A note re: Arthur, The Once and Future King

I think we have all heard this term, many times, but halfway through my research it occurred to me that I did not fully understand what it meant. Not truly. I must say, in this current climate of political injustice and war-mongering, I was grateful to discover the essence of this phrase. To me, King Arthur represents the suite of Cups in the tarot. He consulted his heart, intuition, as well as his intellect, and embodies the wisdom of balanced justice and tempered action. Moreso, in his balancing of the masculine and feminine, of pagan and Christian, of head with heart, he brings to mind the Temperance card in the Tarot, the arcanum version of the suite of cups. His title, the Once and Future King, outlines the hope that heart-centered justice will return to the world, someday.

A note re: the female Arthurian characters

The original roles of the women in the Arthurian legends were not evil. Their characters once evoked true mystery, respect, dignity and power as representational aspects of the Goddess. It is only when these myths passed through the filters of dualization and medieval Christianity that we see the magical female characters of the Arthurian legend turn into warped, twisted, and evil/manipulative personas. Foregoing what Celtic scholar Jean Markale calls the “distinctly masculine and patriarchal attitude on the lines that men are the unfortunate victims of wicked women who must be punished…” I have chosen to quote from Bradley’s Mists of Avalon when referring to Morgaine of the Faeries and The Lady of the Lake, out of respect for the feminine.

I recommend Jean Markale’s book Women of the Celts for more on this important subject.

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Recommended Reading from my Bibliography and Research

I have thoroughly enjoyed researching Arthurian myth, symbol and folklore for the development of this collection and I thought I would share my bibliography with you.

I hope you will find the perfumes as appealing and endearing as the personas, symbolism and archetypes upon which they are based.

Lady of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1997.

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, 1982.

Four Arthurian Romances by Chretien DeTroyes c. 1170’s

A Life of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1150’s

The White Goddess by Robert Graves, 1948.

Morte D’Arthur: King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table by Thomas Mallory, c. 1450-1470.

Women of the Celts by Jean Markale, 1986.

King Arthur and the Grail Quest: Myth and Vision from Celtic Times to the Present by John Matthews, 1994.

The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck, 1976.

Merlin and The Gleam by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1889.

The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1842.

The Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1859.

Morte D’Arthur by Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833.

Merlin the Bard: A Ballad from Brittany in Four Languages by Theodore de la Villamarque, 2010.

The Book of Merlin by T.H. White, 1987.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White, 1938-1958.

The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkein, edited by Christopher Tolkein, 2013.

The Lancelot-Grail c. 1210-30. (Vulgate Cycle, author unattributed)

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On Holy Wells & Sacred Water

“Lakes and rivers were seen as ways in which prayers could be carried to the deities. The waters were sacred messengers. Whereas lakes and rivers pour your supplications away and therefore calmed the gods or goddesses, or alerted them to your problem, the benefits of wells are usually depicted as being given freely to all.”

~from The Spiritual Traveler by Palmer & Palmer

Kirsten at the Christian Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland. 2002.

To me, holy wells represent unconditional purity and sanctity, renewal, blessing and recovery. From illness. From the past…  From whatever. I’m a big believer in ‘the fresh start’ and the ‘new beginning.’

I think this is because the symbolism of the goddess – and Saint – Brigid is sacred and beautiful to me, and I take it very personally. An ancient Celtic fire goddess, later turned saint by the early Irish Catholic church, both goddess and Saint Brigid are patrons of light, fire, poetry, brides, purification, renewal and holy wells.

Brigid’s time of year is early February, when snowdrops, the first flowers of spring, begin to appear, pushing their heads through the snow and the dark of late winter. There are many celebrations that exist in different guises, yet similar in essence, with which to honor Her. For instance, the medieval holiday of Candlemas, celebrated February 2nd, first inspired me to create the Brigid’s candle in 2001.

For roughly the past ten years, I’ve made candles in my kitchen during this holiday, honoring light and renewal, and creating this tool for others to do the same. I add drops of the holy well water to the wax as it is melting for an extra ‘benediction.’

Arabesque Aroma's Brigid's Candle

The word Candlemas comes from the Latin word festa candelarum, the festival of candles, and it isn’t at all a coincidence that it falls on the Celtic fire celebration of Brigid, celebrated sundown February 1st to sundown February 2 and the feast day of Brigid the saint, February 1st.

The ancient, pre-Christian Brigid's Well, Kildare, Ireland 2006

Both the Goddess and the Saint Brigid also have a connection with smithcraft.

Which sounds rather random and odd, if one does not know that smithcraft and metalwork was a highly revered and honorable craft in the North and Hiberno-Saxon (ancient Irish) art movement of the 6th – 9th centuries, akin to magic. (When our goddess became Saint Brigit, the patron saint of smithcraft, brides, poetry and purification, she was said to have lived in Kildare, Ireland in the 5th century. And the first Vitae Brigitae, or Life of Brigid, was written c. 650 AD.)

In the Hiberno-Saxon art movement metalwork, particularly where the use of gold is concerned, revealed the concern with the transmutation of the soul into something higher, better, illuminated and purified. For the above reasons, I find it difficult to entirely separate Brigid’s array of symbolism from the ancient art of alchemy.

courtesy of Chantal Simon

Roman Baths, Bath, England, 2008. Photograph courtesy of Chantal Simon.

Holy Wells such as the ones in Kildare, Ireland, the Roman ones in Bath, or the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, are visited by thousands of pilgrims each year who bring with them their hopes and prayers of transmutation, purity and renewal.

Pilgrim's prayers and offerings, tied to a Blackthorn just outside the Chalice Well at Glastonbury, Somerset, England. December, 2008.

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