How did you find your magic?
I have conversations with my son, Leif, to be the detective of his own life. When one plays this cosmic game, you attentively discover your own mysteries and early whisperings that will lead you on the pathless path to where you want to be.
Listening to my early whisperings, my being is imprinted by pin-drops of moments that create a collage of confluence in present time.
There once was a girl with a wild look in her eye and a smile that reached to the tip of her cheek. She cleaned up nice, yet her dress was often a mess with pockets full of acorns and findings from the forest, and there was always a curl that longed to unfurl. One day she sat—hands in lap—at the dining room table tuning in and out of the murmuring grown-up din. The raspberries gathered earlier that day had stained the fingers of her imagination. With a rosy glow she gazed out the window and saw friends of branches and birds sway, beckoning her foray. So without a sound, she slipped off her shoes, and her little feet whisked her away to the woods to play. Entranced by the galaxy in a patch of grass, she started to daydream and wondered if every flower was a flask of fun? If petals were spoons for pouring forth perfume? If there is a great pantry filled with ladles of moonbeams and goblets of sun? If bark is the bottle of a tree that holds the secret sap for a scraped knee? And so she asked on into infinity.
My childhood traipses in the forest, wanderings with wildflowers, lively lake dips and long days of summer imprinted their elemental magic on my being and set me a path of perfumed presence.
While out of the forest and back at school, I was trying to decide what to create for a science fair project, I found a book in the library on cosmetics making. The chapter on perfume included formulations and was fascinating. I was enthralled to read more about perfume’s true roots in nature and that these substances were available in present time, as something called essential oils. Now everything was connecting to the aroma artifacts at the museum; now I could gather my own substances, rather than mixing from bottled perfume. I determined that I would re-create Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps for the school science fair. My mom, always encouraging creativity, drove us to the health food store in Toronto. Here I inhaled my first oils of ylang, jasmine, neroli, lemon, and orange and I was hooked. It was a whole new world of fragrance; the aromas had a depth and a regale reality that I had not known in the 1980s aromascape of saccharine fruity fantasies of watermelon and strawberry bubblegum, powdery florals, fluffy candy-floss fragrances, and musky men’s colognes. I didn’t quite understand the discernment between natural and synthetics at this stage, yet these new plant aromas awoke an olfactory light bulb of possibilities in my mind.
By the time I was eighteen years old, aromatic essences brought a new dimension of delight to my life. I was bewildered by essences, by the sweet sweat of the elements. Essential oils drew me to their aromatic attention. It was an elation to be in the ambience of their aura, to create with the micro-world of a drop and transform it into a topical revelry or medicinal muse, and to paint perfumes from this palette of perfection. I was in earthly heaven. I searched and I divined for any ancient recipe I could find. In my university years, I collected every essential oil book and every rare copy of eighteenth-century perfume and alchemical-preparation books I could unearth. I had relatives in Europe comb through antique bookstores searching for treasures. When I read about rare oils, such as honey-scented immortelle, I had to find it to inhale. I was compelled to gather and to smell after reading about ancient unguents: Rhodium made of roses, Narcissinium made from narcissus, and balsamic Kyphi, which would “allay anxiety and brighten dreams.” I had to re-create these ancient opulent ointments to catch a whiff of what life was like. I was impelled to feel the fragrant textures that were plump with pigments and dripping with dense aromatics.
What was it about Kyphi that mystified a whole culture? What was it about these plant gems that carved new socioeconomic paths? What was the charm about combining aromatics with honey and wine?
So I gathered goods from far and wide. I melted and poured. I distilled and decanted. I mortared and pestled resins of frankincense and myrrh with galbanum’s green notes and Douglas fir complete with Arabic gum to roll incense. I concocted honeyed perfumes and practical potions. I made aqua oleums and brewed medicinal balms of bergamot and ointments of osmanthus. If a plant was extinct, I searched for the modern equivalent, which led me to in-depth studies of botanical-constituent chemistry. The intimations of my spirit were stirred as I played with the poetry of plants past and present, and the ethers of my mind prayed to be infused with the scented stories written on the walls of the universe. I imagined the incensed hieroglyphs that have infused interstellar heavens, the lore and liniments of love wines, the tales of aromatic chrisms that have been consecrated, and the molecular mantras that mesmerized and tantalized the inner recesses of our minds.
And, that’s how I came brew and imbue my magic.
What inspires you and pushes you forward?
Sunrises, sunsets, springs and summers. The ever widening spirals of being. To taste yet another juicy moment of being in alignment with my mind, heart and soul. To once again and again feel my relation to all creation.
How do you stay connected to your creative power?
To breathe, to be alive is creative power. Creativity is the alchemy of one’s relationship with their thoughts.
Reflecting on my childhood, sensitivity was one of my superhero-strengths. Luckily, I listened to an inner knowing, I focused on my strengths, I focused on what I loved. I was tuned into what made me feel good, and would not dwell on what did not feel good, through this I was led to what inspires me each step of the way. The day to day play of decisions and inner-detective work are the constant creative fine-tuning of what life is offering.
Be the connoisseur of your life.
- Nadine Artemis, Author of Renegade Beauty