Saturday, March 20, 2010

Greenwitch and Tethys for Spring Awakenings

Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers,
oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch,
lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.
The eternal return of spring and the regeneration of nature are deeply ingrained in this side of the world: A glimpse of the wild nature that bursts forth with renewed vigour is enough to understand how ancient Greeks sanctioned it in several myths. Some of them tied to the sea involve Tethys, the Greek aquatic goddess, and the sea-creatures she protects.

For the occassion of the Spring or Vernal Equinox, Roxana Villa of Roxana Illuminated Perfume came up with GreenWitch, an all-natural perfume, dedicating it to Tethys. She was inspired by the GreenWitch novel by Susan Cooper (1974), part of the authors Dark is Rising Series. The characters Simon, Jane, and Barney return to Cornwall with their Uncle Merry after learning that the grail they had found in Over Sea, Under Stone (Harcourt, 1966) has been stolen from the British Museum. Soon they are joined by Will Stanton and his American uncle. Older local women are preparing a celebration creating a doll from sticks and leaves which they toss into the sea as an offering to the White Lady or Tethys, goddess of the sea, "for the greeting summer and charming a good hearvest of crop and fish". Jane's unselfishness in the ritualistic wishing process wins her the favours of the effigy and thus the secret to the manuscript that will enable her to decipher the Grail's writing later on.
Tethys (also known as "The White Lady" in Celtic lore) daughter of Gaia and Uranus according to Hesiod, is one of the Titans in Greek mythology. Wed to her brother Oceanus ~obviously the family relationships of classic mythological figures supervenes any modern notion [sources: Callimachus, Hymn 4.17, and Apollonius, Argonautica 3.244] ~ she became the mother to the rivers known to the ancients and thousands of daughters called the Oceanids.

GreenWitch as a perfume follows the formula of a traditional Chypre where oakmoss and labdanum in the base are balanced with bergamot in the top and where seaweed enters to render the sea accord. It's interesting to see such a "sea/marine" accord in a natural setting as I wouldn't be able to conjure it in my mind besides the expected ambergris. And yet, it can be done. Green Witch has some facets of deep blue in there! What I liked was the contrast between the marine and the earthy, as if brown algae were dancing in front of my eyes. Another novelty enterting the perfume is Africa Stone, the fossilized excrement of a small animal called the rock hyrax (providing an animalic edge and longevity)
A complete breakdown of the ingredients and the composing process is included on this link. Balance is one of the main themes of Meán Earraigh (the Celtic spring equinox) as the light is evenly matched with the dark, as in this fragrance. A percentage of the profits from purchasing the flacon support GreenPeace. The perfume is available in the quarter ounce flacon pictured in the photo, 1 gram vials and in sample packs here. (stock is regularly replenished, according to demand)

Please visit the rest of the participating blogs at the following links:
Ida at BitterGrace Notes
The Non Blonde
Tom at Perfume Posse
Portland Examiner
Scent Hive
The Windsphere Witch
Roxana Illuminated Journal

Painting Les Océanides (Les Naiades de la mer) by Gustave Doré, French, 1832 - 1883 via ArtMagick. Bottle photo and illustration by Greg Spalenka.


  1. Thank you for the enlightening information E! I hope you are enjoying your Spring.


  2. Hi T!

    Thanks, I hope to add a paragraph or two later on on the scent itself.


  3. You are so good with words my dear...feeling very blessed today. Thank you for adding to the beauty of the day. I love that Gustav Dore painting of Les Oceanides.

  4. I really must read the book now, it sounds so intriguing! Great choice of imagery, so evocative of the character of GreenWitch perfume.

  5. I love all your historical references !

    May your Spring be joyful and restorative:-0

  6. R,

    that painting is delightful and I was so happy to see it on your blog upon linking that I decided to use it myself. Thanks for inviting me over!

  7. Flora,

    thanks you, hope you do read the book, I find fantasy novels have a huge following so apparently they've got something going for them (they can't be all wrong! LOL)
    Thanks for commenting and happy equinox to you!

  8. Ida, darling,

    thanks so much for your kindness and for your wishes and most of all for joining us!

    Happy Equinox honey! Fragrant hugs to you!

  9. I do love this scent- I was afraid to mention the seaweed accord; I was afraid people would focus in as "aquatic".

    Lovely post!

  10. This is really a lovely review! You've thoroughly wet my appetite and now I must go read the book!
    Thank you!

  11. Tom,

    thanks for stopping by!
    Yeah, isn't it a shame how acquatic has become such a taboo word? ;-)

  12. Beth,

    thanks for commenting and aww, no match for yours!
    The books belong to the fantasy genre, if you're a fan of that you might enjoy.

  13. Beautiful images and review. I love the connection to mythology and dear Gaia's spring awakening. Chypres are probably my favorite category of perfume; I hope I get the chance to try this one.

  14. Miss Heliotrope08:56

    I love that book.

    O dear....

    Matching perfumes & books -


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