s

SmellyBlog

Weaving Incense

Incense Wands Harvest, August 12th, 2019
What happens when my passion for incense and weaving come together? Smudge wands!

This summer I've started preparing incense wands from the many medicinal herbs from my garden on the mountain, bound with botanical fibres from magical leaves. I've prepared several types from practically all the aromatic medicinal plants I grow. Each is bound with a long leaf that resonates with its properties, and creates a more sustainable wand than you'd get from binding them with cotton, for example (cotton takes up a lot of water to grow, and is mostly grown in desert-like areas where water is very much needed, such as Israel and Egypt). 

There is a reason for preparing these wands from local plants, rather than using the traditional First Nations plants such as sagebrush, cedar leaves or white sage. It actually aligns much more authentically with the First Nation philosophy of using the local plants that are available to us in our environs. These are the medicine we need for this time and place. Here are a few words about the smudging properties of each:

Biblical Hyssop AKA Za'atar (Origanum Syriacum)
The most incredible cleansing medicinal herb we have around. Ezov (the Hebrew name for the plant) was mentioned in the bible as a cleansing and protective herb more than once.  When burnt it produces an incredibly clean aroma and balanced that is one of the most pleasant-smelling smudging I've experienced. It is clean burning also because it burns thoroughly. You will actually need to put this out if you don't want the whole wand to go on fire in one sitting. 
Three-Lobed Sage (Salvia fruticosa) 
The local variety of sage burns like many sages - with a lot of smoke and an earthy, somewhat pungent smoke. It is definitely the answer for whenever white sage (Salvia apiana) is called for. Although the scent is less delicate than za'atar, it is invaluable for whenever a space needs to be cleared and protected, and also provide grounding for the people in its presence. 
Sharp Varthemia (Chiliadenus iphionoides)
Resinous and earthy, sharp varthemia is an incense on and of its own. Musky, earthy, ambery-sweet, and, well, incense-like! It is a medicine for the heart, both literally and metaphorically. Use it as a soothing balm in that sense.  
Satureja
Similar aromatic and healing properties to Za'atar, but sharper and earthier. Satureja also contains large amounts of thymol, and is an anti-fungal and anti-microbial herb. It also burns a little slower than za'atar.
Rosemary 
Creates a reassuring, warm-herbaceous and slightly animal note when burnt. Rosemary is known as a powerful aid for memory and a clarity of mind. Its lesser known property is assisting in dealing with painful emotions from the past, and supporting the process of embodiment, which is key in healing traumas associated with the body or emotional trauma that has gotten stuck in the body.

Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
Also cleaning and clean-smelling, in the same genus as the common oregano and the za'atar (Biblical Hyssop), but also shares properties with that of tea tree of all things. It is simultaneously a fungicidal, anti-microbial and anti-viral. The scent is a bit more floral than tea tree, and also goes well with lavender (so you could burn the two simultaneously). 
Lavender
More refined and floral than the other herbs. Lavender has a clean, woody-floral aroma that transfers surprisingly well even into this primitive form of incense burning. Clears the mind and spirit and creates a calm, peaceful space.  
Wormwood (Artemisia arborescense)
Very pungent and produces a lot of smoke. This is the local answer to sagebrush, and just as potent. Use it mostly outdoors and it is extremely smokey (wormwood branches have a long history of use for firewood in the Mediterranean region), and when you need to ward off extremely unpleasant or aggressive energies.  
Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Also known as Motherwort, mugwort (Artemisia vulgarisms) is related to wormwood but is much milder and less smoky and pungent. Strongly associated with the moon and with feminine energies. 


Peace Incense

Incense for Peace












 

It is a long standing tradition to create at least one form of incense during the Oriental Perfumery courses. This fall (November 10-14, 2019), we created incense cones using a very unusual material fire tree resin AKA grass tree (Xanthorrhoaethat one of my students harvested herself and brought all the way from Australia. 

The incense blend was born out of the concept of marrying plants and resins from both Australia and the Middle East: bay leaves, eucalyptus leaves, fire tree resin, Australian sandalwood, and an array of Middle Eastern resins. On the leaves we've written prayers before causing them into pieces and grinding them. Prayers that will go up in smoke and come true. 

As we were writing on the leaves it, I recalled a dream I had about teaching perfume and incense to youth with the vision of harnessing the alchemy of it to sawing seeds of peace - first within and then outwardly to our environs.

I am now praying to have the courage, strength, wisdom, and the right help and partnership to be sawing these seeds for real in my everyday life.

Without any messed up politics, but through meeting people's true essence, and mine... This requires serious self reflection and internal alchemical transformations that transcends trauma, hurt and long history of pain and destructive defense mechanisms.


Of course, it is so much easier said than done... So I am hesitantly putting it here and trusting you to guard this and save this as a reminder to make this come true on all levels. The process begins from within. I hope that soon enough I will be ready to share it and bring it outwardly and lead others through this process.
Thank you


Incense for Peace




New Leaves in My Book

Heart Leaves
SmellyBlog has been mostly silent for two seasons. Such a long absence warrants an explanation. While coping with the harsh heat of the Mediterranean summer, I've had plenty of time for soul-searching and redefining what is it that I want to be doing next.

My move to the countryside was not only to be closer to my family, but also closer to the fragrant plants that grow here in abundance. Living surrounded by wilderness and nature has direct impact on my pace of life and makes priorities and values even clearer and more tangible.

I am so deeply moved and affected by the seasonal changes and the healing powers of plants, and I am dedicating much of my time to studying the plants here from every angle - their life cycle throughout the year, their fragrance (if they have any), healing properties and the lessons that can be learned from these resilient and inspiring living beings. While I've always been most drawn to the beauty of plants - especially to the colourful and fragrant flowers -  I am now learning the subtle beauty of the more humble ones, and am enchanted even by those which don't give off perfumes, or those that are edible or "useful" to people in any tangible way. Those plants too are magical and great teachers, showing us their way of life in their unique habitat, their way of facing the elements, and their unique defence mechanisms and methods of coping with hardships are great lessons to our human life, if we only take the time to observe, listen and take to heart.

It is becoming increasingly more important to me to be true to myself, to protect the earth and dedicate my life to healing and making a positive change all around me (starting with myself of course). I am reconnecting with the earth, and with its plant creatures in particular. It is now time for all the seemingly disparate aspects of my life to come together. All the gifts I've been blessed with to be channeled in the most effective way to share the wisdom I've received regarding plants in general, and perfume and incense plants in particular. Besides making natural perfumes, and incense (which I've been most dedicated to in the past two years), there are other components of how to bring this magic and wisdom to the people in my life. One aspect of this is my writing, outside of this blog, namely a book that I've been dreaming of for at least 12 years.

Therefore, this year will be dedicated to further deepening my knowledge of the plants around me and from this place of respect to the plants and the earth, and I have decided to gather all my experience with the perfumed plants in one book:

THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
Complete Guide to the Essentials of Natural Building Blocks (Agarwood through Zdravetz)
The second book I am currently writing is a book which is in the works since 2005, and is planned to be published at the end of year 2020. Pre-order it now and support the completion of this unique project!

This comprehensive dictionary of raw materials of natural perfumery is meant to serve as a continuation of my first book, "Foundation of Natural Perfumery" (2014). Perfumers and students alike will benefit from condensed resource covering over 200 different plant species (and some mineral and animal materials as well) - and the raw materials for perfumery and incense which are derived from them - which amount to close to 400 different botanical extracts and preparations, presenting different colours and shades for the natural perfumer's palette. Each plant receives a unique treatment showcasing its organoleptic properties, in my own unique language which is both poetic and informative; as well as quick reference for how it can be used in perfume compositions, and which essences it pairs with to create magic. Some plants which are particularly important for the trade will receive wider coverage entailing their cultural and historical significance as well as healing or therapeutic properties whenever applicable. In some cases, comparison between different varietals or terroirs will be also addressed.

I invite you to support this project and pre-order this book. It will be ready sometime in 2020. And it will be an amazing resource for perfumers and students. I have done the same thing with my first book, and thanks to everyone's advance purchases of the book, was able to publish my book independently, and fund the editing, graphic design and printing of the first run. I hope to do so with my second book, and for that I need your help!
If this is a book that you'd like to have, please pitch in and pre-order it for a special price, of only $99. The book is anticipated to have at least 400 pages, and will likely need to be printed in 2 volumes, so the final price will be much higher once it is out.
Thank you in advance for your help and for believing in my project!
Sincerely,
Ayala


Elul

Bountiful harvest
"Bountiful harvest" Jaimi Lammers 

The Lunar/Solar Jewish year is coming to a close. This is Elul, the 12th month, which means "grain harvest" in the Akkadian language (an ancient language which is the origin of the Semite languages, which served as the lingua franca of the Ancient Near East). It may also relate to the word "search", which alludes to the the soul-searching that happens during this month. Jews say special prayers of repentance, and ask forgiveness of one another in preparation for the new year to come. We want to start with a blank slate, without any heaviness in our hearts of feelings of regret. All accounts must be cleared and in order so we can have a fresh start.

As always, I look to nature and the seasons to find inspiration and guidance. To better understand the internal process I am going through I see how it is reflected in the natural cycle of birth, death and re-birth. At the end of the Eastern Mediterranean summer, death is the stage of life where most plants are at. After a long dry spell, the ruling colour is yellow and only the hardiest of plants remain green. All the annuals, except for a few weeds that irritate the gardeners and farmers, have dried up and come to seed long ago. This is a time of deep sleep and hibernation, awaiting the blessed rains of autumn to awaken the seeds and bring them back to life.

There are some exceptions of course - and these also teach us about tools for coping with the challenges of the season, and its gifts: 

The fruit-bearing trees which come to their peak this time of year - figs, carobs, pomegranates and grapes. Their sweetness comes out of this fertile albeit arid land, showing us that Earth's fertility is not forgotten, that it is eternally generous and giving. That it is never futile, even if on the surface it may seem dead and deserted.

A few very special "Autumn-Announcers" bulb plants are at a different stage of their life-cycle, and show us an original way to live life: bringing forth their flowers, their very best, first and before any leaf is to be seen. These flowers or resurrection are the first to bloom and remind us that fall is about to come, that there is life after death. Out of a pile of dead, dried leaves from the winter, the Beach Lily (AKA Sea Daffodil) springs out with impressive, large, bridal-white flowers and a scent so regal that intensifies in the afternoon and the evening, attracting night-pilots such as moths to pollinate it. It literally looks like coming out of a pile of dry bones. The Sea Squill (Urginea maritima, Drimia maritima) AKA Sea onion, in Hebrew: חצב מצוי, Arabic: عيصلان - brings the tall, white columns of flowers that bloom in order from bottom to top. The succulent leaves won't be seen till mid-Winter. Autumn crocus will also arrive in early fall, showing flowers first and leaves only later on. They all teach us to bring out our very best first, with full faith and trust. They teach us many other things that deserve a post on and of themselves, which I promise to write next.

Clary Sage Seeds
Sorting Clary Sage Seeds 

This is the time to separate the seed from the chaff, to sort and prepare for the winter time. To see what is in our stock after a summer of collecting seeds, of saving up potential for growth that is only waiting for the water from the rain to open it up. Seeds of ideas, plans, hopes, dreams and memories are all wrapped up in this compact little being of the seed stage. Some of the seed's potential and outmode is hidden, and some hints can be found in its previous stage of coming into seed and full maturity, the previous cycle. Be it your previous life stage, or previous generations, your people's history and your personal history as well. And just like those toy-capsules that expand in the bath to become fully blown dinosaurs - it is important to choose your seeds carefully before sewing. 

I would like to share a little prayer for the seeds I am hoping to find now while in the month of sorting, seeds I would like to sew before the blessed rains of nourishments and growth and action will arrive - blessings that I wish for myself and perhaps will also resonate with you:
- Being open to the knowledge, love and wisdom that comes to me in many shapes and forms. Sometimes it comes in strange ways and patterns, speaks strange languages and we need to read between the lines.
- Continue to share these gifts that come to me - of knowledge, wisdom, love and healing. This also takes many shapes and forms, from the basic care of my body and my family, plants, animals and nature around me, to what I share through making perfumes, writing this blog or in any other method of communication available.
- May this communication always be clear, honest and truthful, peaceful and conducive of positive change and growth.
- Mastery of the things I've taken upon myself, both personally, spiritually and professionally.
- Be devoted and dedicated to bringing more healing and peace to the world through whatever I do. First and foremost by inspiring deeper connection to oneself and to Nature.

In more specific terms, I would like to fill all my perfumery courses this year, master the art of incense (an ongoing challenge!), to finish writing and to publish my second book, and to continue to make an honest living by creating the beautiful perfumes and incense that I love, and share them with you, all over the world! I hope that my clients will continue to feel a strong connection to what comes from under my hands,  and find in it a portal or a passage to deeper and more meaningful connection to yourselves and to the beautiful world around you.

Vulnerability


Being an artist means revealing one's more vulnerable, deeply personal side. Part of it comes from the artist's need for self-expression. But this need is not completely selfish. Through the artist's experience and ability to translate emotions into their artistic medium, they are enabling their audience to process their own parallel or similar life experiences, relate to them and perhaps even work through emotions that are at times difficult to access, perhaps even acknowledge not to mention deal with.

An artist does that by highlighting their aesthetic aspects, no matter how painful they may be, and showing a larger perspective - such as the symbology of a tragic story. To actually live it or re-live it would be a nightmare. But to read it or watch it on the silver screen may allow us to safely laugh, cry, and re-emerge stronger and perhaps even more resilient.

Perfumery is an art form, although some may argue otherwise.  My own perfumes are a complete expression of an idea, memory or emotion. I pour my heart and soul into creating them, from concept to designing all aspects, including the imagery that may accompany it (such as the postcards I create especially for some of my perfumes), the story behind them or the "ad copy" if you will. And of course sourcing the materials carefully (sometimes growing, foraging and extracting them myself). So much of myself goes into every bottle - my energy and intention, as well as my own personal story. Because most of my perfumes are a chapter in my own life's story. As winding as it may be.

The last perfume I've launched was deeply personal, even more than the others. First of all, I made it for someone very close to me who have since disappeared. It was with a heavy heart that we had to part ways, and now he is lost to me. I was debating for the longest time if to launch this perfume or not. In hindsight, I feel this was a mistake. Because not only was it not well-received (which I can deal with,  but it was even ridiculed. Or at least the story that I shared about it on SmellyBlog was. I wasn't counting on this to be a blockbuster, but I did want to share my story and love the scent very much. And very few bothered to actually try it (because I guess my personal story, as interesting as it is to me, wasn't appealing to them).

For whatever that is worth, I wanted to share with you these feelings I have about launching new perfumes and pouring my heart here or encasing them in flacons for that matter. I feel that I grow more and more distant from the perfume as an "industry" and want to fully express my potential as a human, a scent-artist, and do it freely. It does require courage. But apparently right now I don't have that courage. I want to learn, create and share with those who appreciate it. I am no longer in that phase of life when I feel the urgency to prove myself or my talent; this desire has long been replaced by the need of authenticity in all that I do: research, teaching, incense and perfume making, as well as blogging.
  • Page 1 of 501
  • Page 1 of 501
Back to the top