Tristan & Iseult

Tristan and Isolde 15th c

Introducing Arabesque Aroma’s
Spring 2016 Scent~

Tristan & Iseult

Apart the lovers could neither live nor die, for it was life and death together.
-Joseph Bedier, The Romance of Tristan & Iseult

A soft, dreamy, calming, velvety unisex scent made primarily of Sandalwood, Roman Chamomile, Moroccan Rose, and a precious, smooth vintage Lavender, “Tristan & Iseult” is available to sample, purchase in 3 ml, or my 10 ml minaret-capped bottles.

A story of courtly love, the romance of Tristan & Iseult gained popularity within Arthurian literature and is a subject that many writers, artists, and musicians from the medieval era onward have explored, depicted, and interpreted. There are many versions of the story, and its evolution over time can be read about here.

I’ve also included a link to a PDF of the full story via Project Gutenberg’s version by M. Joseph Bedier as quoted above; The Romance of Tristan & Iseult is available, here.

In particular, and for obvious reasons, Tristan and Iseult was a greatly-favored topic among the troubadours. Here is a link to one of my personal favorite songs from this era, circa 13th century, The Lament of Tristan, from the cd “Trouveres & Troubadours” by Jehan de Cheney. (I’ve shared this before but it is so good I think it bears repeating!)

Arabesque’s “Tristan & Iseult” botanical perfumes will ship within 1-2 weeks of purchase.
And my esteemed and greatly valued Arabesque Subscribers will automatically receive their samples, along with Vetiver hydrosols, in the first shipment by the end of March.

Have a wonderful, romantic, and magical Spring, everyone!
~Kirsten

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Featured Image: Tristan and Iseult Drink the Love Potion, “Tristan de Leonois” c.1470. Bibliotheque Nationale de France.

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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 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.

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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.

http://www.langside.f2s.com/sbw/

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

https://www.etsy.com/listing/172770887/st-bega-of-bees-medieval-inspired?ref=shop_home_active

 

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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KygSpvCd_o

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

https://www.etsy.com/listing/172760864/st-christina-the-astonishing-medieval?ref=shop_home_active

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.

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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.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/172178366/mary-magdalen-cutting-off-her-hair-a?ref=shop_home_active

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

http://www.amazon.com/Lucys-Eyes-Margarets-Dragon-Virgin/dp/0811815153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386968376&sr=8-1&keywords=lucys+eyes+and+margarets+dragon%27

 

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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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The Mary Garden

Madonna in the Rose Bower, 1448, by Stephan Lochner

A lovely, lingering afternoon spent at the Musee national du Moyen Age, Cluny, in Paris, 2006, originally piqued my interest in the medieval Mary gardens. The concept of the Virgin Mary as the Hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden, originated with the beautiful Song of Solomon 4:12, in Latin:

Hortus conclusus soror mea, sponsa, hortus conclusus, fons signatus.

A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up.

“The flowers planted in a Mary garden all have a symbolic meaning, representing the virtues of the Blessed Virgin. The rose, the most frequently shown, symbolizes the Virgin herself, the Queen of Heaven. It should be emphasized that the favor granted the rose for its beauty is a constant factor in Western European culture and the emblematic flower of Venus passed with no apparent difficulty from pagan Antiquity to the Christian Middle Ages. The chaplets, wreaths and garlands of roses which were attributes of Venus, Bacchus, Cupid and the Graces were associated with the worship of idols rejected by Christianity. However, like many ancient religious practices which would have been difficult to eradicate, the Church preferred to maintain the outward display of such traditions while giving them new meaning.” from The Medieval Garden written and published by the Musee national du Moyen Age, Thermes hotel de Cluny, Paris, France.

Visiting the Mary Garden inspired me to design a series of candles based on medieval gardens. The Mary Garden is one of three, that can be purchased individually or as a set, along with The Love and Pleasure Garden, and The Simplers Garden.

A gently scented beeswax candle for anyone who needs mothering and nurturing, the Mary Garden is a sacred candle. Gently perfumed with precious Rose and Jasmine essential oil, it contains botanicals that would traditionally be found in a Mary Garden. Rose and violet petals, handmade flower essences and herbaceous floral waters, and a sprinkling of holy well water from pre-Christian and Christian wells of Ireland, France and England.

Light to honor the feminine, or Mother Earth, Herself.

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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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Musings On Myth, Symbolism and the Creative Life

The pilgrim’s plaque in this photograph marks the medieval Way of Saint James as it meanders through a magical, historical forest in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

I have long been inspired by the quest, the sojourn, of the medieval pilgrim; striving to access the higher and more sacred places within themselves, ultimately transformed by their journeys…

Symbols of pilgrimage are also meaningful to me.

found outside of a 15th century castle, Germany

The scallop shell is the pilgrim’s symbol for a number of reasons, some of them practical (it served as a badge of protection while traversing the path. If needed, it could also function as a vessel for eating and drinking) others more spiritual and metaphorical.

The labyrinth is another ancient pilgrim’s symbol, of sorts, pre-dating Christianity but like many pagan concepts, later absorbed by Christianity. During medieval times, walking a labyrinth was thought to be a worthy substitute for those who were unable to afford, or physically withstand, the long, uncertain and often perilous journey.

The twelfth century labyrinth at Notre-Dame de Chartres, France, is the last surviving authentic medieval labyrinth. I was lucky enough to visit Chartres in 2006, but unlucky enough to do so on a Friday, when the labyrinth was covered with chairs and therefore not accessible to geeky, enthusiastic pilgrims from Los Angeles, California.

There is an exact replica of the Chartres labyrinth in Los Angeles, though, at the Forest Lawn Cemetery, that I have traversed several times. And I don’t think I’ve ever emerged from the labyrinth without at least a small morsel of new insight. As Jean Hani writes in Notre Dame de Chartres: Enigma of the Labyrinth, “The deeper significance of the pilgrimage through a labyrinth, which is equally true for any pilgrimage, is that it symbolises the inner pilgrimage we make to the centre of our Being.”

Kaiserslautern, Germany

I associate the labyrinth AND the spiral (another ancient, timeless pre-Christian symbol) with the rather beautiful Irish Ogham meaning attributed to the plant Ivy; a hearty, winding, evergreen plant that, to the pre-Christian Irish, represented fundamentally, the Spiral to the Self.

Holy wells, another common site of medieval pilgrimage, are a particular passion of mine. In one of my favorite books on pilgrimage and holy places, The Spiritual Traveler: The Guide to Sacred Sites and Pilgrim Routes in Britain, authors Nigel and Martin Palmer write “Water is one of the oldest symbols for the Other, for that which is opposed to order, and must therefore be propitiated or, at the very least, treated with respect.”

I use a few drops of holy well water in my aromatic creations, drawn myself from the pre-Christian well of the Goddess Brigid, later named a Saint, in Kildare, Ireland, where I made my own pilgrimage with my friend Sarah, in a rental car, in 2006.

Yes, we were pixie-led for two extra hours (the street signs were all switched around!) and I had a fever that day but — alas — it was all simply part of that particular and rather wonderful journey. I was also fortunate to visit the Roman waters at Bath, and draw some water from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England, in 2008.

An Arabesque Aromas natural perfume oil photo by Louie Martinesse

So I work in my aromatics home-studio with this symbolism constantly present in my mind, my heart, and in my toil, whether I am creating a new perfume or practicing cartomancy for clients or friends.

But rather than write all about me, I thought it would be far more interesting to interview other artists on this blog. I’ve come across many fascinating and talented artists this past year. And I’d like to know what symbols, stories, and ideals inspire their creative endeavors… what is their personal myth.

I will write a bit more about mine in the coming weeks, and this summer, I look forward to featuring guest writers and/or artist-interviews to further discuss the topic of myth, symbolism and the creative life.

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