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xxiv. Signs and Wonders - Perfume


1530s, "fumes from a burning substance," from Middle French parfum (16c.), from parfumer "to scent," from Old Provençal perfumar or cognate words in dialectal Italian (perfumare) or Spanish (perfumar), from Latin per "through" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "through") + fumare "to smoke" (see fume (n.)). Meaning "fluid containing agreeable essences of flowers, etc.," is attested from 1540s.

The Shape of Their Love

after the perfume ‘Evening in Paris’


and every year

of their long

and happy marriage

my father

always bought

for my mother

from Woolworths

on their

wedding anniversary

chocolate scorched almonds

for the movies

and perfume

in a small glass vial

shaped like

the Eiffel Tower.

Jeff Guess

Soir de Paris (Evening in Paris) is the most known fragrance by Bourjois, which was created by Ernest Beaux in 1928. It was discontinued in 1969 and relaunched in 1992. Its new creators are Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge. The top notes are fruity fresh, featured with bergamot, apricot and peach, green notes and violet. The floral heart is composed of rose Damascena, jasmine, heliotrope, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and orris. The base includes amber, musk, sandalwood and vanilla.


Certain oils have a long history of association with meditation and spiritual practices. Frankincense, sandalwood, and myrhh have long been recognized by many religious traditions for their ability to tranquilize and clarify, and in general to bring us back to ourselves. Benzoin’s sweet, resinous odor steadies and focuses the mind for meditation and contemplation. Cedarwood is a grounding oil that mobilizes the transformative powers of the will. Clary sage is an aid to inspiration and insight. Lavender absolute calms the spirit, while bergamot helps one to let go.

Aromatics can be used to purify the place where you meditate, and to create an atmosphere conducive to peaceful reflection. The consistent use of a blend that you have set aside expressly for the purpose of meditation will give it the power to transport you into the desired state of consciousness. You can use it to anoint parts of your body or an object to hold.

You can meditate on scent itself, an excellent way of setting aside the concerns of the day, calming the mind, and deepening and slowing the breathing. Use a rich, multi-layered, full-bodied essence rubbed on your hands or wrist.

An extract from Essence and Alchemy: A Natural History of Perfume

by Mandy Aftel (Gibbs Smith, 2001)

3 Facts about perfume

1. It takes 4 tonnes of roses to create just 1kg of rose oil.

2. The most expensive perfume in the world is Clive Christian’s Imperial Majesty, priced at $215,000 for 16.9 ounces. It’s served in a Baccarat crystal bottle with an 18-carat gold collar and five-carat diamond.

3. Ambergris is one of the most valuable raw materials in perfumery, used as an ingredient with a smell that’s described as after the ocean and sweet. It also happens to be produced in the intestines of sperm whales. Nowadays, perfumes like Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue Escape to Panarea include synthetic versions of this rare ingredient.


Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the young women love you! Song of Solomon 1:3 NIV

Then Mary took about a pint of expensive perfume, made of pure nard, and anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3 BSB


Spirited. Adventurous. Intuitive. A fragrance beyond words. POEME is a scent of contrasts: the icy transparent notes of Blue Himalayan Poppy embrace the intoxicating Desert Datura Flower and warm Vanilla creating something vibrant, sensual and long-lasting.

Top Notes: Blue Himalayan Poppy, Lychee Blossom

Heart Notes: Orange Blossom, Mimosa, Jasmine

Base Notes: Vanilla, Desert Datura Flower


'Our prayers are given upwards, much like the rising of smoke. Historically, many cultures have believed that smoke carries prayers upwards to the realm where the ancestors, angels and the divine reside. This includes smoke in all forms: incense smoke, smoke from herbs or smoke from a pipe. The burning of fragrant herbs, barks, resins, woods and flowers was part of the religious and spiritual practice of many ancient cultures and still is. The word perfume is derived from the Latin per fumum, meaning “through smoke.” “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice” (Psalm 141:3). As a child I went to an all-girls monastery/boarding school. The Abbot granted me special permission to fill the role of altar boy. So I was an altar girl, and it was an important job to me, which I took very seriously. I was fascinated with incense. My favorite task was to prepare the incense censer (burner) with pieces of frankincense, and to see the clouds of sweet, fragrant smoke go upwards in the cathedral towards heaven. It was mysterious and special to me. Since that time, the use of incense with my prayers has been a daily routine. I use incense for purifying the mind and the energy field as well as for creating a sacred space in which to commune with the divine. I have always had a great love for, and personal relationship to, both incense and prayer. I feel that prayer should carry the feeling tone of one talking with God as a friend. The Sufi poet Rumi often spoke about God as a companion and friend and his love and devotion have always touched me deeply. Incense is a helpful tool for me in accessing this devotional state of prayer. It is as if the incense passes through any veils and delivers my prayer and devotion to God. It is also noteworthy that certain scents have an immediate effect on brain chemistry and brainwave states, and one actually does enter another state of being. I have traveled all over the world studying incense and plants, and I have visited many temples and sacred sites in Asia, India and the Orient. I have often watched in awe as people of every race and age lit candles and burned incense in total devotion and prayer to the divine.'

Christa Obuchowski

©Jeff Guess 2017

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