Monday, September 21, 2009

Impressions of Peace

A girl: "How come we aren't doing all this stuff?
Another girl: "We didn't know."
~from "The Strawberry Statement"

Long before "world wide peace" became the finishing note in the pouting mouths of aspiring beauty queens in pageants across the world it was something less cliché, more noble. I wasn't born in the 60s and only have that strangely appreciative feeling that later generations too will have for that romantically delusional and missteppingly optimistic decade (Historical research suggests things were much grimmer than populary thought of). Someone once said that the 1960s as an "idea" didn't really begin till May '68 (Paris May) and it ended in August '69 at the Summer of Love in Woodstock. I vividly remember watching The Strawberry Statement/ Strawberries and Blood (a 1970 film) on state-television as an impressionable teenager. Simon's tiny apartment worked as a time capsule in retrospect: the "2001: A space Odyssey" soundtrack, the Robert Kennedy photo on the wall, Neil Young's "Down by the River"... The (how ironic!) paean for peace by John Lennon at the final sit-in was waving like the rowing gestures of the quiet hero in my mind for months. Almost 40 years later it still has resonance. (It would take an even more touching, more nuanced film to lightly smudge the impressions in my mind: Johny Got his Gun...)

So what's an essentially political post doing in a perfume blog? But I have long opined that basically everything is political, more or less! Everything we do, the views we have, the actions we perform have impact and they make a difference: To us certainly, but also to the world. The very etymology of "political" comes from the Greek word πόλις which means city-state (the formation of choice in classical Greece) and in that concept the citizen is the one who forms the essence of the city ("it is men who stand as the walls of the city") and is keenly aware and participant in everything that surrounds his/her life, embodying the city and the world around spiritually. The ideal of participating in common affairs was simple yet wise: if the city/world goes well, so will the citizen!

On a related thread I was contacted a few days ago by independent artist and perfumer Roxana Villa, who has created a special fragrance for the International Peace Day: developed specifically to help raise funds for an annual worldwide telecast concert of Superstar musicians performing Sacred Music from the most mystical concert venues on the planet. The perfume is officially unnamed due to the squatting on words perpetuated in the fragrance industry these days...but the Peace sign dangling leaves little doubt; and it rang a bell.

Let's leave Roxana explain the concept in her own words: "This fragrance is very much like the concept music albums that came out in the 60's when the Peace movement became part of mass consciousness. This perfume began with the intention of supporting a friends vision to create a global chant for peace as a series of concerts in sacred sites all over the world. His vision has not yet manifested. I intend that this perfume will facilitate manifesting that vision, just as Q facilitates manifesting consciousness for the California coastal live oaks. The illustrated image, the illumination, was created by my husband Greg. He is an award winning visual artist who has worked both in illustration (Time, Sports Illustrated) and in film (Narnia, Golden Compass). We choose a shade of burgundy from my palette as the color harmony for this fragrance based on the pigments in the image".

The perfume was orchestrated like a symphony with three complex chords of base, middle and top notes. Each chord contains up to seven different essences which come from all parts of the world and what I personally get is an earthy floriental (with a delectable neroli and possibly petit-grain with coriander/ginger opening? Roxana didn't specify but it's piquant!) on a smooth, smoky tobacco-vanillic woods aftertaste (sandalwood? and probably also rosewood in the middle?). It consolidates my faith in Roxana's woody blends and seems like a great, sweet fit for moving into the autumnal season.

Perfume launches September 21st, the United Nations International Day of Peace. The fragrance will give a portion of the proceeds from each of the 7 gram liquid perfume flacons and solid compacts to the POE (Project Peace on Earth) organization to facilitate their vision of a global prayer concert for Peace.
Join the celebrations for peace
on the International Day of Peace link and learn about the non-profit project Peace on Earth here.
The perfume will be available as a pure, perfume extract and a solid natural perfume unguent. Visit Illuminated Perfume for purchases and Roxana's Journal for a chance to win two liquid samples.

Please visit the rest of the participating blogs with thoughts on Peace:
Bitter Grace Notes
Examiner Cleveland
Examiner Portland
Illuminated Perfume
Indie Perfumes
Memory & Desire
Perfume Smellin' Things
The Non Blonde
Illustration by Greg Spalenka


  1. I love Love Love your way with words and am honored to have been a part of this with you!

  2. I'm awfully flattered you think so and thanks so much for saying so! It's been great to be part of this with you too :-)

  3. I thought the tobacco did come to the fore on me over time, but in a very honey roasted way...
    Yes, I agree it's all political!

  4. Anonymous18:20

    Not surprised you go the unusual path and support the small companies and it seems like that perfumer which I hadn't heard of before, lol, is doing something worthwhile, so what I am asking is whether I could sample it first someplace and then order some.

  5. What an engrossing post (I learned at least two new things from it) and what a beautiful project this is!

    Thanks to you and Roxana both, she must be quite the lady to pull the strings on this.

  6. L,

    glad we see eye to eye on that and I liked the tobacco inclusion, the way you described it!
    Thanks for chimming in!

  7. A,

    thank you I guess and you can hop over at Roxana's journal (link in the article) and read details on this. She has a worthwhile Etsy store too!

  8. S,

    very happy you feel this way and even happier the project has put a smile on people's faces from what I see. (She's very sweet!)

  9. I absolutely adore how you weave in the most interesting details of history and myth into your posts my dear. It is so delightful.
    Wafting gratitude your way for being part of this circle of Peace!

  10. Dear sisters- E and all-

    What a privilege, to share this experience...

    The Rox-one and her consort have done marvellous work; you have echoed all the political overtones in the music of your own voice[es] !

    May it be so-
    Ken yehi ratson.
    [Liturgy of the High Holidays ;-) ]

  11. Great history lessaon and such a unique way of looking at this subject! Isn't the perfume just divine?!


  12. How lucky for me that I could be a part of this along with you, Helg. Right now in my studies, I'm reading Plato for the first time in my life. It's hard to believe that, but I skipped over those guys and went straight to the existentialists a long time ago. I now understand the original meaning of civic duty - everyone participates, everything is related to the community, and everything is political. You've known this for a long time, but it's a fairly new concept for me, and I'm trying to learn how to function as a better member of my human community. (Which is not necessarily a physical one.) I believe this is actually the very first blog-o-rama in which I've been involved, and it's a marvelous experience to share these impressions with so many, such different voices. I have more to say, but I'll save it for later... I'm rambling. Warmest greeting to you personally, and thank you for keeping me linked here, despite a long silence.

  13. Roxana,

    you flatter me! Thanks so much for including me in your beautiful project. I do hope something comes out of it. It seems like large gestures (such as an international music day) have a way of uniting and becoming memorable even when not practical. I like to think that in the cynicism of today's world there is a little leeway for some dreaming still.

  14. I,

    thanks darling for chimming in and how utterly thrilling it was to hear you too! You're certainly the sunniest personality of this community so we're all blessed to have you smile our way. I really do mean it.

  15. D,

    thanks for saying so! I'm afraid I come across as a little geeky sometimes but hopefully unique is a more lenient and pleasant way of looking at it, so much appreciated. :-))
    It was an honour being part of such a beautiful project.

  16. H,

    it's a true pleasure having you comment again and to communicate after a long silence, so thank you for hopping over. It's good to have you back (at your own pace and with your own unique voice) and I'm sure this is a sentiment felt by many. :-)

    Re:Plato. Ah, well... A funny anecdote if anyone cares to read it: I first realised the wisdom of the idea when I opted out of electing representatives at my University while a student. ("He who shuns common affairs is destined to be ruled by his inferiors" etc etc). Suffice to say: Never again! There is a reason why it's considered the "ultimate right".
    And yes, the community doesn't have to be a physical one for it to function on those terms.

  17. Wonderful to be connected to you once again E, and for such a worthy issue such as peace. Thanks to Roxana for creating a perfume to make it so.


  18. T,

    reciprocal feelings! :-)

    Hope you're well!


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