The Magical Gift of Mystical Scents by James Craven
Posted on December 16 2022
When you offer a gift, you are giving away a part of yourself. The best part; and this is one of the reasons why the Christmas season is such a truly magical time. The essential kindness of our nature is demonstrated in an outpouring of consideration and generosity towards others.
Christmas is a strange and lovely midwinter transfiguration of awe, imagination and an intangible sense of enchantment that never fades. Part of its wonder is that the Festival has now expanded way beyond its original religious roots, but still, at its best and in a miraculous sort of a way it has become a truly universal incarnation of love: a time not of getting but of giving.
We at Angela Flanders believe that the sense of smell is in itself the most mystical of natural phenomena.
The emotions that well up inside us on Christmas Eve owe so much to the scents that surround us and conjure up a phantasy of all our yesterdays. It’s like an annual opening of the great album of memory.
Here are sprays of bitter green holly and ivy; amorous druidical mistletoe; resinous gummy fir trees in tubs of damp mossy earth. Luscious aromas of herbs and cooking fill the home. Mulled wine and mince pies exude enticing warm fumes of psychotropic spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, anise and ginger. Garishly painted and curiously worked wooden boxes are bursting with Turkish Delight, crystallised apricots, figs and plums. Golden bowls of oranges, mandarins and pineapples reflect the candlelight and - if you’re fortunate - the live flickering flames in the grate and the pictures in the fire.
You can capture some of these sensuous gourmand scents with the luscious juicy sensuality of Figue Noire, oozing satin-skinned figs as dark as night, and Bois de Seville the woody tang of a ripe citrus orchard, or Figue d'Or our special limited edition candle for the festive season.
Stored apples, cloves, honey-scented tobacco, melting beeswax and party perfumes blend with whiffs of that uniquely curious & unmistakable Christmas weather. Outside in the square a brass band plays Silent Night and When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney. A misty draughty dampness hovers in the air as the festive front door admits the guests; then firmly shuts to seal in warmth, comfort and cheer.
Now surely is the moment for a nip of Aqua Alba, that paean to the finest Scotch whisky redolent of smoke, heather nectar and herbs. A perfume to warm your heart and exhilarate the spirit.
This is also a time of visits, whether popping in next door with a potted plant, or an odyssey to reunite with loved ones. The ancient legend of the Three Kings from the East following the Star still symbolises so many elements of our modern Christmas. The long journey to visit a family with a Child at its centre; the velvety darkness miraculously dispelled by light; the gorgeous presents laid out. And of course, mystery, wonder and - for some of us - worship.
“ .... and opening their treasures they offered unto him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh”.
These treasures resonate with us too; especially, as perfumers, the drama of frankincense and myrrh brought from afar, halfway across the world. Revel in the spell of these exotic oriental cargoes in the wonderfully named Zanzibar and Xanadu. Maybe also try Patchouli Spice: our hymn to the fragrant Indian herb which first intoxicated the West two centuries ago.
We appreciate these oils holistically for their spiritual and medical significance as well as for their rarefied and beautiful scent. They also suffuse us with nostalgia for great aromatic wood fires on the family hearth; childhood church parade; a Roman midnight mass blazing with candles. Clouds of incense open our minds and souls to the essential mysticism of the season. Frankincense purifies, calms, elevates, honours the divine. Myrrh is darker, a bitter oil. But it is sedative and healing; so much so that the ancient Egyptians used it in their embalming rites, believing it would reanimate the dead and ensure eternal life.
Ambre Noire & Oudh Noire
Try these perfumes inspired by the wonder of incense - and judge for yourselves.
Ambre Noire - dark, sensual woody and unctuous: the eternal allure of amber.
Oudh Noir - great trees fall in the forest and then are reborn in the form of precious oudh oil; decay is transformed into addictive transcendental fragrance. A crystalline cleansing scent, haunting and addictive. Try Bakhoor Oudh to fragrance the home in the form of a candle: incense burned in the traditional manner, billowing awe and mystery.
For some of us, these incense oils and precious woods may also evoke memories of half-forgotten operettas, plays and tableaux depicting the Gorgeous East: souvenirs of that once essential component of Christmas - a visit to the theatre. The extravagant and stylised tropes of ballet, opera and pantomime are as effective as perfume in capturing the heightened reality of life’s great moments.
You can kindle all this magic and much, much more with gifts from Angela Flanders. Choosing a perfect present demands your thought, imagination and empathy: we’ll ensure it all becomes pure pleasure, making buying as delightful an experience as receiving!