Vetiver Hydrosol, A Cinnamon Infusion, & Literary Perfumes

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Well, library work in Archives and in Special Collections is highly enjoyable and, I confess, there are several literary perfumes (and one very big, ever-growing reading list) swirling around in my mind as I write this! So stay tuned for summer. I’m also excited to say I have been accepted to Library School, where I will begin studying for my MLIS, Masters in Library Science, in the fall.

Pictured above is a glimpse of my very favorite shelf in the Tsakoupolos Hellenic Special Collection at CSUS. When I walk by I always pause, admiring the rows and rows of 1001 Nights & The Arabian Nights. They are so beautiful and rich, displayed together in English, French, Italian, German, and Arabic languages and in all of their illustrated volumes, ages, and editions. I’d absolutely feel inspired to make a perfume from this collection except — I’ve already designed a scent inspired by Scheherazade and her storytelling powers, (and the sheer power of storytelling!) almost two years ago. You can find a sample here!

In other news, my good friend and mentor Suzanne Catty has opened her own Etsy shop so I wanted to share the link. She sells the finest in hand-crafted botanical infusions, and for you sun-worshipers, Californians, or especially, those of you who are both, her Golden Brown (food for sun-kissed skin) is a particular delight. Also included in her shop is her cookbook centered around tea. So – do take a look!

alambiccus

In other news, my Spring 2017 Rose Geranium hydrosol is already sold out (Scent Subscribers had first dibs!) but my Spring/Summer 2017 Madagascar Vetiver hydrosol, which Suzanne taught me how to make several years ago, is now available.

Please note that it comes in a spray-top bottle unless otherwise specified upon checkout.
Hydrosol is distilled in the Alambiccus Gaggia upon receipt of order.
Shipping turnaround is 7-14 days.

alexandria

Lastly, Alexandria is back!
I haven’t been happy with the quality of cinnamon oils I’d been finding so I stopped making Alexandria for awhile. Fans of my Alexandria botanical perfume may find it slightly different as I’ve swapped essential oil for a botanical infusion made by me, from the spice itself! Hopefully, you’ll find it to be better than ever. Samples and the perfume are now available in the Etsy shop. Each perfume is handmade to order; shipping window is 7-14 days.

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Arabesque’s 2016 Botanical Scent Subscription

Queen of Hungary water clear pic

Arabesque’s 2016 Botanical Scent Subscription:
Featuring 6 seasonal parcels to delight your senses!

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

Happy New Year!

With all 2015 Arabesque orders shipped, and all 2015 homework long since submitted, I have been musing over the New Year with a cat on my lap as life slows to a softer, sweeter pace. I have been enjoying the parcels of treats and goodies that have been arriving in my post office box, too! These festive trips to and from the post office make me think, invariably, of my business, and what my clients might like to find in their mailboxes from Arabesque Aromas in the coming year.

So, for 2016, I have designed what I hope you will think is a sumptuous subscription, indeed!

Here is the 2016 Botanical Subscriber’s Shipping Schedule:

 

Late Spring:
(1) 2-oz fresh-distilled Vetiver Root hydrosol

MidSummer:
(1) parcel of sacred, handmade Rose Petal botanical incense

Early Autumn:
(1) 2-oz organic handmade Moroccan-inspired spice blend for cooking
(1) 2-oz organic handmade herbal salt blend for cooking

Early Winter:
(1) 2-oz botanical, seasonal, handmade Rosehip and orange peel potpourri

PLUS three perfumed ingredients:
Two samples of my new, yet-to-be-born botanical perfumes of 2016
and (1) 3-ml bottle of an Arabesque botanical perfume of your choosing whenever you request it during 2016.

Arabesque’s Botanical Scent Subscription includes Priority postage, insured, within the US. $125.00/year

 

Become a Subscriber here.

calendula petals

above: organic, edible Calendula petals, harvested from my garden, 2015.

And top photo, 2004, from a maceration of the wonderous 14th century Queen of Hungary Water, made with fresh, personally-harvested, fragrant botanical ingredients. I used Rosemary Gladstar’s variation.

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Midwinter Tidings!

trier

 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ARABESQUE! 

December News:

~Two bars of Rebecca’s delicious, handmade soap in The Holly, Moss, and Ivy scent remain. And fresh, complimentary batches of The Holly, Moss, and Ivy, The Awakening, and The Thousand and One Nights botanical perfume await you.

~My themed Scent Samplers make pretty nifty gifties, and can be sent directly to the recipient. I hand-write gift cards upon request and am always delighted to play the role of Secret Santa whenever required!

~Several hardbound copies of my cookbook remain.

~I am feeling excited to make my end-of-year donation to my non-profit of choice for 2015, Bird Note. Here is a link to their Bird-themed Christmas Carol, from last year. (My cats are huge fans of this song. Usually they prefer that I play it with the windows open, at least five times in a row, while they gaze outside, and drool, and dream… )

~In the above photo, from May 2011, I am lighting a candle at the 12th century St. Peter’s Dom in Trier, Germany with my dear pal Brandi. School is finished for 2015, and now I am just intent in keeping my own metaphorical candles lit in my small corner of the world. Despite the news outlets and social media, I am keeping an eye on what is dear, and sacred in my life…. and am wishing the same for you!

ks trier

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The Holly, Moss, and Ivy…

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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.)

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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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A Succulent September

Natural Botanical Perfumes by Arabesque Aromas

 

chopin

 

The Awakening botanical perfume

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

― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

Now ready to ship! My favorite Arabesque Aromas perfume ever returns as my Fall 2015 scent.
“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. A tragic yet beautiful story very much ahead of its time.

The main perfume ingredient in “The Awakening” botanical perfume is the deliciously complex and deliciously green Tasmanian flower, Boronia. Though initially created as a Summer perfume in 2012, I discovered that “The Awakening” is spicy and deep enough to carry it’s wearer into Autumn and Winter quite nicely. It is also a unisex scent.

The blend contains the essential oils of Peru Balsam, Patchouli, Black Pepper, and Boronia. Each bottle contains a small piece of seaweed, harvested myself in Malibu, CA. Seaweed seemed an appropriate symbol for Edna’s oceanic, feminine, inner life…

The perfume is available in 1 ml sample sizes, 3 ml bottles, or 1/3 oz. in my signature minaret-style bottle.

A wonderful website devoted to the work of Kate Chopin can be found here.

 

k and s and a

 

Sasha of Astral Boutique came for a visit. She brought me a fragrant armful of peaches from her tree, snapped some cute photos of us, and we cooked a fantastic dinner together. Pictured on my lap is the ranch darling, overall star of the show (AND Winnifred Kitten’s best friend) Amelia.

Where would we be without our friends?!

soap!

Available while supplies last… 

And speaking of friends… This handmade soap, made by my friend Rebecca, was specifically formulated for use in concert with Arabesque’s “Alexandria” botanical perfume. A customer favorite, “Alexandria” is a fiery, sensuous botanical scent featuring pure Rose and Cinnamon essential oil; two precious perfume ingredients that were highly regarded by the ancient Egyptians. The combination will strengthen, layer and extend the lasting power of the “Alexandria” scent on your skin. This soap can also be used in concert with my Fall 2014 scent, “Virelai.” Soap designed and created exclusively for Arabesque Aromas by the exquisite Ballerina Farmer Artisan Aromatherapy.

figgylicious

My Black Jack Fig Tree — fig season is one of many reasons that September is my most favorite time of year! 

D ackerman post and medieval pic.

And introducing

The Circle of Melissae:
A Virtual Circle and Online Community for
Kitchen Witches, Cat Ladies, and Other Like-minded Souls, we are…

 

 Inspired by the magical turnings, cycles, and rhythms of the year.
In love with honeybees and their ancient symbolism of divinity and divine messages.
Intrigued by bats, birds, and the animal kingdom.
Smitten equally with the celestial, and the terrestrial.
With plants, flowers, minerals.
With the elements. The seasons.
With trees and their folklore…
Concerned with the artisanal. The creative. The handmade life.
And always aspiring to purity, beauty, love, kinship, community,
and the heartfelt path.

***
Annual Membership Subscription is $60.00
Inquire further at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com.

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Getting to Know Your Botanical Perfumer…

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Recently, at The Phoenix Rose boutique in Nevada City, CA, a young customer asked me about my collection of botanical perfumes that are displayed at the counter. As she smelled each perfume, she looked up the ingredients in the little burgundy book that accompanies my collection, written out very lovingly and carefully, in my own hand. She wasn’t at all ashamed to say, out loud, that she she had no need to buy my perfumes. She felt she could just recreate the scents she liked for herself. And probably, she said, thinking aloud, she would start selling her own perfumes, too. She slipped one of my business cards in her purse. “How hard can it be?” she said. She looked at the price tag on my 1/2 oz minaret bottle of The Green Mantle. “Seventy Dollars?!?!” she said. “Oh my god. That’s a fortune. I am definitely going to start selling my own perfumes.”

She proceeded to describe a blend of her own that she also had in mind. I pointed out that, should she proceed in making this perfume, she would probably give herself or her clients a severe case of sunburn due to the high level of photosensitive oils in the recipe. I wasn’t surprised to hear that she had absolutely no idea what I was talking about… But I was, indeed, alarmed!

Our encounter, as irritating and insulting as it was, brought up several key points for me. First and foremost, it served as a potent reminder to know who you are buying your natural products from. Essential oils are beautiful, precious and romantic things. They are sensuous, exotic, seductive and extremely tantalizing! But they are also extremely powerful, and need to be used wisely. Safely. And respectfully.

This young, green girl also inspired me to muse upon the value and substance of my own background and experience. And what lies behind my $70.00-80.00 price tag. (A sum which I feel to be quite modest, as I intentionally price my creations for accessibility.) I found myself musing over what, exactly, made me the botanical perfumer I am today.

Behind a carefully-cultivated nose, and my arabesque aesthetic, is quite a practical education. And about fifteen years of hard won experience! For those of you not familiar with my background, here is a brief recap…

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In a nutshell, I’ve studied with Mandy Aftel, Jeanne Rose and Kurt Schnaubelt. And I’ve mentored with Suzanne Catty for many years. (If you do not know these people by name, you can search for the considerable list of books they have published, between them!) I managed a wholesale essential oil company for seven years. I’ve been a botanical volunteer in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena, for three years, mentoring with the Head Gardeners there, while also studying herbalism via Rosemary Gladstar’s excellent program The Art & Science of Herbalism. I have an academic background in art history and plant folklore, am well-traveled and have studied the contents, the history, the recipes, and even viewed original pages of medieval herbals. Then there is my very own tabletop still, The Alambiccus Gaggia. And my intensive year of study in the art of making spagyric tinctures under the tutelage of a master teacher (This was one of the most rigorous and demanding things I have ever done!)

I have also taught seasonal classes on plant folklore, been invited to lecture to large groups of people, and have appeared on two nationwide television shows. And all of these experiences have become, magically, intellectually, and alchemically, a part of my work today…

(Yes, how hard can it be, really!? Hmm.)

You can visit my web site for a brief clip from my 2007 television appearance on Noelle Katai’s aromatherapy-inspired show “Everybody Nose” where I discuss candle making with beeswax, herbs, spices and essential oils. The full episode still airs on Veria tv, as well. Email me for details.
(But – no laughing at my funny green apron, please!:)

And if you are searching for some other skilled botanical artisans, I am happy to make some recommendations. I know many talented, qualified artists who create beautiful, professional, plant-based products that are works of purity, integrity and value.

My aromatic cookbook The Fragrant Kitchen: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer also has a substantial Resources section at the back. It includes: a book list, helpful organizations, reputable sources for purchasing tools and ingredients, and a list of skilled artisans who I know, trust and love.

My thank-you coupon, 10% off of orders for Arabesque customers and subscribers, continues in my Etsy shop. Coupon code is *arabesquearomas* upon checkout.

With love, and gratitude.
~Kirsten

Pictured above:

Me, in the Huntington Botanical Gardens, Pasadena CA 2008-9. Photo by Mara West.

My arabesque insignia, hand-colored by me.

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The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer

Peasants_breaking_bread public domain

I am pleased to announce that The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Culinary Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer is finally here!

The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook features a beautiful introduction by my friend and mentor, Suzanne Catty. It is a labor of love that I have been writing in both my heart and my head for several years now. The black and white cookbook with color front page illustration (pictured) is approximately 70 pages in length, 8 1/2″ x 11″ spiral-bound, soft-cover, with 48 or so recipes to suit vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

My recipes have a simple, earthy, Mediterranean emphasis to them and the cookbook features aromatic tips and recipes that are a meaningful part of my own daily life and seasonal cycles.

The book is illustrated by beautiful and charming 14th century images taken from a medieval herbal on health and well-being, The Tacuinum Sanitatis. And at the back of the book is a rich Resources section with information on where to get aromatic supplies and ingredients, a list of my favorite cookbooks and aromatic research books, helpful organizations of interest, shopping tips for avoiding GMO’s in your cooking, etc.

There are two ways to purchase the cookbook:
1. You can email me from your Paypal address at arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com and I can send you a Paypal invoice.
2. You can purchase it from my Etsy shop.

The cookbook is $28.50 plus $5.50 Priority insured shipping within the US = $34.00 total.
(If you are outside of the US, or wish to order multiple copies, please let me know and I can get you a shipping quote, make you a customized Etsy listing, etc.)

Inscriptions and gift cards are available upon request, and please note that the Etsy coupon code is not valid for cookbook purchases. The first copies of the Fragrant Kitchen cookbook ship Priority Mail on December 10th.

With excitement! And thanks!
And a warm, happy, fragrant and cozy holiday season to you all.
~Kirsten

Cover art: “Peasants breaking bread.” Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Ratio, 14th century. Collection: Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

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November News…

Peasants_breaking_bread public domain

I am excitedly expecting a beautiful, fragrant shipment of hand made, custom made, beautifully made soaps from my favorite soap maker, Rebecca Silence of Ballerina Farmer Aromatherapy. She is making the soaps to layer with my botanical perfume, Alexandria. The rose and cinnamon-scented soap can also double up to be used with my new and, so far, very well-received Fall 2014 scent, Virelai.

I have also just started re-stocking my Etsy shop with 3 ml perfumes. A new shipment of bottles has just arrived so if there is something you want but do not see, please email me! arabesquebotanicals@gmail.com

Finally, my forthcoming project, The Fragrant Kitchen Cookbook: Aromatic Recipes from a Botanical Perfumer will be available for purchase just after Thanksgiving. Please email me if you are interested in purchasing a limited edition hard copy. A PDF will be available on Etsy for purchase, and, for a limited time and a few dollars more, the hard copies as well…

The cookbook features fragrant recipes for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, from Breakfast, Libations, Salads, to Side Dishes/Grains, Stir Fry, Quick Fixes and of course, Desserts. It is illustrated with medieval images from the 14th century.

The image above, from my forthcoming cookbook, is called “Peasants Breaking Bread” from the Livre du Roi Modus et de la Reine Ratio, 14th century, currently housed in the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

I look forward to sharing more about my book with you in a few weeks’ time and in the meantime, I wish you all a very happy, warm, fragrant and delicious Thanksgiving holiday.

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The Sainted Scents of Spring

 

 

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The Sainted Scents of Spring
My Sainted Scents Collection was inspired by the elements of myth, symbolism, and magical realism that I enjoy within the stories of saints. The early Christian virgin saints, and the famous flying saints, are among my favorites.
I have created my collection with at least one ingredient per perfume that was relevant in each Saint’s own lifetime. Below are my final two in this collection.
Melangell of the Hares
The patron saint of small animals and wild creatures (calling to mind the goddess Diana) Melangell once protected a hare being pursued by a hunter and his dogs, allowing the poor creature to take refuge beneath her skirts.
When designing the perfume, I imagined the folds, the movements of her cloak, to smell of Springtime, of fresh rain, new fruit, blooming flowers…
The botanical perfume Melangell of the Hares was blended with Sandalwood, Frankincense, Osmanthus, Jasmine, Bergamot, and Lemon. https://www.etsy.com/listing/184121596/melangell-of-the-hares-medieval-inspired?ref=shop_home_active_4
Another note on St. Melangell…
I am so delighted to share the work of a talented fellow Etsian, Kay Leverton, with you!
Above is her beautiful depiction of St. Melangell and the Hare in a print from an original scraperboard called “Safe in Her Arms.”
Kay’s print, along with many other stunning works, can be found in her Etsy shop. https://www.etsy.com/listing/99724217/st-melangell-safe-in-her-arms-fine-art?ref=favs_view_7
Joan of Arc
When I read about St. Joan, I cannot help but compare her virginity/warrior/intellect with the goddess Athena…
A Christian martyr, burned at the stake in 1456, beatified in 1894, Joan of Arc is still loved today for her passion, her devotion, her vision and her courage. It was said that, upon her death, the crowd was horrified, realizing that they had just burned a saint.
“Immediately after the execution, it was affirmed that, not withstanding the oil, sulphur, and charcoal that he had applied to Joan’s entrails and heart, he had not found it possible to burn them to ashes.”
from “Joan of Arc: The Image of Female Heroism” by Marina Warner.
I was thinking of Joan’s indomitable heart and spirit when creating this perfume. And I was thinking, too, of her beloved France. (As I blended the formula, I recalled the sensory experience of walking through the medieval flower garden at the Musee du Cluny one May.)
A heart-centered perfume, the base of the botanical perfume “Joan of Arc” is a rich deep Rose Morocco, with subtle hints of Myrtle, Scotch Pine, Lavender, and Ambergris tincture.
Subscription
Samples of my two Spring scents ship to my subscribers on Monday.
The anticipated Summer scents will ship to my subscribers in June.
Sale
A final reminder that the sale in my Etsy shop continues until Tuesday, April 1st. Receive 28% off of 3 ml perfumes with coupon code ‘Tuxedokitty’ (In honor of my super-special cat, Cricket, who is celebrating his third birthday this Spring!)
Happy Spring!!!
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The Golden Bough

Medieval Pilgrim's Path, Kaiserslautern, Germany, 2011.

Inspired by the labyrinth walk to reach the gold at the center, and the medieval pilgrim’s sojourn, this floral and sweet botanical perfume was made to assist one in going ever higher and ever farther.

The Golden Bough botanical perfume. Photograph by Louie Martinesse.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/93800559/the-golden-bough-botanical-perfume-oil-a?listing_id=93800559&listing_slug=the-golden-bough-botanical-perfume-oil-a

The Golden Bough is the fourth perfume in the Arabesque Aromas emotional well-being collection.

“The deeper significance of the pilgrimage through a labyrinth – which is equally true for any pilgrimage – is that it symbolizes the inner pilgrimage we make to the center of our Being.”

~ Jean Hani, “The Enigma of the Labyrinth,” from A Chartres Cathedral Publication.

A sample of The Golden Bough can be ordered here.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/48799681/one-natural-perfume-oil-sample-by?listing_id=48799681&listing_slug=one-natural-perfume-oil-sample-by

Walking a replica of the 12th century labyrinth in Chartres cathedral,
Forest Lawn, Glendale, California. 2012.

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