Bois d'Encens

Notre Dame

Frankincense essential oil only presents certain aspects of the resin, reminiscent of citrus zest (lemon, orange) and sharp turpentine qualities in various degrees of harshness, depending on the oil's quality. The dry down of frankincense oils is typically powdery and faint, leaving much to be desired in both longevity and the scent itself. All in all, frankincense distillations generally pale in comparison to the rich experience of smouldering resin smoke that Church-goers and incense addicts are so fond of.

The reason for all this is rather technical: frankincense resin (and resins in general) are made of essential oils, gum and resin. The gum is water soluble, often creating a plasticity (this is especially apparent in mastic, the resin from Pistachia lentiscus).

Bois d'Encens is one of the most realistic frankincense scents I've ever smelled, which, given the above factors, is not an easy feat. Rather than smelling like the oil, it brings to mind the burst of citrus and dust that occurs when you place a tear of frankincense on a hot charcoal, followed by an explosion of essential oils released in thick smoke. So far, this is the only Armani that ever spoke to me (the rest of the Armani Privé collection seemed mediocre, or at best pretentious - a trend that is sadly saturated the faux niche market from its very conception).

Frankincense Tears

But, as common with modern niche fragrances, there is a culprit. And that shows itself in the dry down, which often with the incense genre falls into the disinfectant-soap basin, with musk molecules or iso-E-super that break down the illusion of authenticity. Thankfully with this number, it happens later into the game (then, in, say Kyoto by Commes de Garcons).

Perfume for Peace

Back in the day, Escents Aromatherapy in Vancouver sold a blend called "Peace" with lavender and vanilla. It was lovely, and was a diffuser oil blend and also in a variety of scented body products. There was something truly luxurious and peace-invoking about it. Lavender to me really is a very peaceful scent. It brings a sense of well-being, calm and is at the same time also uplifting rather than sedative or narcotic. The healing properties of lavender are wide and well known, both emotionally and physically. But it is not the only essential oil that promotes such state of mind.

I spent most of yesterday morning uncorking vials in my perfumer's organ, in search for scents that will inspire and induce peace through the sense of smell. I've decided to go by intuition alone in my selection process, but then also researched the aromatherapeutic and spiritual uses of these oils and cross-reference my choices with some of the known traditions.

Inspires peace and calm. Very uplifting, gentle, soothing...

Spiritually, frankincense is connected to the heart. On a biochemical and psychoactive level, frankincense smoke brings a heightened spiritual awareness and helps the mind to enter a meditative state.

Grounding, centering, very spiritual, and also goes with everything and anything.

Olive essences:
1. Olive tree resin that I prepared from resin my brothers picked from our family's trees. 
2. Olive fruit absolute
3. Olive leaf absolute - grassy, leafy, bitter essence. A little similar to tobacco and tomato leaf, actually but not as harsh.
These are unusual raw materials, and are not commonly used in aromatherapy, healing or ritual. But the choice of olive is obvious, since a dove carrying an olive branch is a biblical symbol of peace.

The association with Peace pipe was inevitable. Tobacco is a sacred plant to the First Nations and was used for healing and for the famous "Peace Pipe" to seal deals and peace treaties between tribes.

I'm still unsure about how these essences will come together in a perfume. I feel as if this process can take one of two directions:
1) A harmonious continuum of peaceful aromas. That sounds kinda boring actually. But sometimes what's necessary is a good example...
2) My perfume is going to be like a peace process between clashing elements that are an unlikely partner for any collaboration whatsoever...

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