Kodama

Kodama solid perfume

Today I’ll be talking about the first scent blend I conceived. I had been studying and using essential oils for several years already at the time, but hadn’t really strayed beyond mixing two or three oils at a time. Which is nice, as far as it will take you. Sometimes what you have to say can’t be compressed into a tidy little soundbite however. Spending time in nature has always been an important source of inspiration for me, right from early childhood when my parents would take me on camping trips along the Oregon coast in our musty wall tent. The sights, sounds and smells of those excursions are with me still, the dazzling sunlight glinting off the waves on a rare sunny day, the silken mist wrapping itself around me on a more common foggy day, the crash of the surf, the cascading song of the wood thrush, the luxurious cushion of moss covering nearly every surface of the forest floor.

The wonderfully wild Oregon coast

After moving away from my beloved coastal forests, I was filled with longing for those craggy, misty wild places I had wandered through. I wanted to create an immersive experience, a scent picture that I could dive into whenever I wished, regardless of whether or not I had the time to go on a long, lazy hike through the woods. To do this I would have to think in a new way, and pull out all the stops, reaching into some new corners of my repertoire.

Guidepost tree

Guidepost tree

I started with one of my favorite aspects of the woods, moss, which was represented by lichenous oakmoss. The absolute is incredibly potent, deep, and dark. To represent the fragrant moist soil, patchouli makes a fine base. I was once repulsed by the smell of patchouli, until I smelled a bottle of beautifully aged high quality oil. It was a far cry from the rough edgy stuff that many people associate with the hippie era. Or perhaps it was me,and not the oil that had changed, and matured somehow. Powdery, earthy, soft, and bitter in a pleasant way. Next the trees themselves would need to be taken into account. For this I chose brightly scented black spruce and rosemary. To bring out the scent of sun warmed tree bark, I used warm scented vetiver. Often when you are in the woods, you will smell intriguing scents which are impossible to pinpoint. Perhaps a hidden wildflower is in bloom, or a tree is seeping with resinous sap where a woodpecker has been prospecting. To bring these into the picture, I turned to clary sage and some cheerful citrus oils.

Kodama scent roller

For my recent reformulation, in a base of jojoba and almond oil, I have added the complex and difficult to classify oil of spikenard. It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine primarily for its sedative properties, and is mentioned in the Bible in the Song of Solomon. I also added the clean, herbal tea tree oil. The oil base has the advantage of showing its top notes with more ease than the solid perfume, which seems a bit more persistent but also heavier.

Shimenawa

The name of this blend is from Shinto folklore, the ancient native religion of Japan. The Kodama are tree spirits, similar to the Dryads of Greek mythology. They are said to inhabit certain trees, and to be able to wander though out the mountains at will. Cutting down such a tree is thought to be a cause of misfortune, and thus these trees are marked with a rope known as shimenawa.

Advertisements

Year of the Horse

il_570xN.566147618_f67j I was never the kind of little girl to play house, with Barbies, or baby dolls so much. Rather I was most definitely a “horse girl.” You know the type, going all starry eyed at the thought of a nice long trail ride off to destinations unknown, just me and my cayuse. Gazing longingly at all the pretty horses scattered in the fields on a country drive. Unable to walk by one who may be standing with their head leaned over a rickety fence, without pausing to offer it a handful of grass from “the greener side”, and stroke its velvety coat.  Please forgive my nostalgic tendencies!

I have very fond memories of the wise, bombproof old mare named Hollywood who took me by the hand through some very difficult times. She was a chestnut quarter horse mare who in her day had been quite the star in the ring.  By the time I met her she had mellowed considerably, but retained a canniness and a confidence that was very reassuring to an insecure preteen whose home life was in fragments due to family illness.  Lifting myself onto her impossibly high back as she waited patiently, and breathing in her smell was a high point in the day. Yes, manure of course, but also oats, hay, musk, leather,and molasses. I love how a scent, like the fresh cut hay smell of the tonka beans I am working with now, has the ability to speak in the language of memory with such ease. Hollywood deserves her own scent blend, I do believe. This seems to be the perfect time to begin blending, with the recent arrival of the Chinese Year of the Horse. According to the tradition, the Year of the Horse brings with it an impetuous, adventurous, and lively energy. It is a time for decisive action.  Hold on to your hats, folks! Yeehaw! This blend brings together notes of fresh cut hay, herbal sagebrush, and animalic botanical musks. For the musk note, I relied primarily on labdanum, amyris, and patchouli.  Carrot seed  surprised me by how well it contributed to the picture, as I am more accustomed to utilizing it for it’s amazing skincare properties rather than its scent.   Clary sage can have a euphoric effect on some people, and has a sun-warmed dry grass fragrance to my nose.  I added a touch of cheerful clementine and sprightly peppermint to give the blend some “wings.”horse skull Two more ingredients which I was very excited to get a chance to use were my handmade tinctures of tonka bean and cleveland sage. I can’t tell you how much I love both of these totally unique scents! Tonka reminds me of many things: hay, and also notes of fine quality lavender and almond extract, or tart cherries. I used just a touch, so as to make this blend not too sweet and still accessible to the cowboys out there! Salvia clevelandii is native to California, a place I called home for many years. Its scent does bear some resemblance to the garden sage to which it is distantly related, but it is very much it’s own thing.  More resinous, less harsh, fuller and with some the edges rounded off…my favorite of the sage scents, or perhaps tied with salvia apiana, the white ceremonial sage variety.  Oh, and maybe pineapple sage too! Isn’t the salvia family wonderful? I really had a blast in the creation of this blend, and hope you will enjoy it.  It is a fairly masculine fragrance blend, but one I have really enjoyed wearing regardless!  I think anyone who has a thing for wide open spaces, sagebrush, and trusty steeds will as well.  Visit my Etsy shop to check it out!