All Saints and Dia de los Muertos

All Saints Day and Dia de Los Muertos marks the start of a very introspective time of year for me – it’s the gateway into winter, a time of death and preparing for renewal.  Today is All Saints Day, and tomorrow is All Souls Day.

I was trying to think of what perfumes best fit this time of year.  Putting on the beautiful new release from Puredistance last week made me yearn for my very favorite from that line – the original, Puredistance I.  It is angelic and saintly, while still being human, and soars, and it is so perfect for All Saints Day.  But I want to pair it with Unum Lavs. I need some incense to really feel centered in all that soaring beauty.

Dia de Los Muertos, I’m picking Arquiste Anima Dulcis – chocolate, vanilla, chile, cinnamon. It just seems right somehow.

Then I was thinking so what for All Souls Day?

this is too easy – Serge Lutens de Profundis, which I seem to not have any of right now.  Ugh, need to fix that.  de Profundis is conscious of how imperfect we are, but revels in the very part of humanity that makes us all that we are.

I had to go over to church tonight, All Hallows Eve, and change the linens to white for All Saints Day. It was turning dark, the little ghouls were out trick or treating, and I went into the church and left the lights off. I could still see when I went in, but it got progressively darker, and the church groans and creaks all on its own.  I had to laugh because isn’t that the setup to a Halloween horror movie?

For November, I think I’m going to sort through my favorite contemplative scents, like Passage d’Enfer and Malle’s En Passant, along with others. My favorite perfumes that give me the feels.

What would you pick for All Saints/All Souls/Dia de Los Muertos?  Or just as your favorite contemplative perfume?

So I’ll do a little sample set giveaway of these three perfumes – Serge de Profundis, Puredistance I, Unum Lavs and Arquiste Anima Dulcis – to two commenters drawn at random.


  • maggiecat says:

    Halloween was OJ Woman for me. Because, hemlock. Earth Mother from Dame Perfumery for All Saints Day. Because, beautiful and peaceful.

  • My daughter was baptized on All Saints Day. 27 years ago! ?

  • Jan says:

    Fate by Amouage . . . for both days. Deep, liturgical if you want it to take you there, but a sweetness and light to float perfectly in a contemplative state. We are simultaneously Saints and Souls in our lives and our duty is to become fully conscious of that. Holy days, feast days and scent help us get there!

  • Sapphire says:

    I think I would probably go with Black Cashmere for contemplation. I almost wore Prada Candy for Halloween, which would have been really literal. Now I can’t recall what I wore. Life has been a bit of a blur lately. I think Orchidee Vanille, Organza Indecence or L de Lolita Lempicka would all have worked well, though.

  • RoseMacaroon says:

    Patty, this post is so beautiful! Very moving to read all the comments and the photos are astounding. I will second Passage d’Enfer and add Olympic Orchids Olympic Amber, also SIP’so discontinued Arunima. Contemplation for me is best undertaken after a really deep soothing. Thank you for this really sublime post, and if course the draw!

  • Tiara says:

    What a beautiful post. Really touched me tonight. I turned on Christmas music 2 different times today and both times “O Holy Night” was playing, my mother’s favorite Christmas song. She’s been gone a little more than 7 years, but she still has her way of letting me know she thinks of me! I don’t usually wear a scent specific to a holiday, but I do like Chaos to calm me down. The name just doesn’t fit for how it wears on me.

  • audesko1 says:

    Unum lavs great! and Bat for Halloween!

  • Lemoncake says:

    For All Souls – Anubis by Liz Zorn. For Halloween – Frederic Malle’s Dries van Notten

  • HeidiC says:

    For Halloween, I wore Zoologist’s Bat because OF COURSE. Like others, I thought CdG Avignon was a great choice, but at the last second I switched to Jacomo’s Silences, which seems contemplative to me. For All Souls/Dia de los Muertos, I’m thinking of wearing MDCI’s Fetes Persanes — the mix of floral and spice and something slightly gourmand makes me think of those feasts set up in Latinx cemeteries.

  • Noche says:

    Memememe! Please pick me, Patty! This is right up my alley. I would probably choose something earthy from Zoologist. Dirt and dust. I agree with De Profundis and its contemplative beauty.

  • grizzlesnort says:

    Voleur de Rose for the dying garden today

  • eldarwen22 says:

    My family has never been religious or celebrated All Saints Day. We do get lots of enjoyment from Halloween though. Seeing all the kids dress up and go trick or treating is a lot of fun. Being in a rural area, we only get maybe 4 or 5 trick or treaters but we didn’t get any this year. I usually wear Zagorsk or Kyoto when I’m feeling contenplation.

    • Patty White says:

      I do love Halloween, except for the ringing my doorbell part. 🙂 My dogs HATE that. Well, they love it, I hate it. They bark when someone is outside the door, which I want them to do, but not over and over all night long.

      I love all of the CDG incenses, they are a treasure in the perfume world.

  • otamom says:

    My meditative scent is Perfect Veil. It makes me feel calm and centered, and not overly fragrant that I am distracted. For the recent days leading up to today, I wore more festive seasonal perfume oils from Solstice Scents (Maplewood Inn, Sycamore Chai, and Pumpkin Spice Latte).

  • Ann says:

    Beautiful post, I need some more incense in my life, and contemplation.

    I hated Halloween this year. I recently read your post (I think it’s over 10 years old now) about your oldest going away to college, it made me tear up.

    We have two separate cemeteries, each about an hour away from us, with relatives from both sides. I like the idea of going to pick nick there, but afterschool might be too late. Maybe next year we will take the day off.

    • Patty White says:

      We all can use more peace and contemplation. The world is so loud and bitey now, I hunt for that peace everywhere.

      Goodness, if I was close to where my relatives are buried today, I’d just camp out with coffee laced with something great or maybe hot apple cider with Cointreau in it.

  • Jeanne says:

    I lost my wonderful mother 36 years ago on All Souls Day. I remember Evening In Paris when I think of her. It was a “dime-store” perfume. I don’t remember her ever having a department store perfume. I still have a small blue bottle just to remember. She would have been 96 this year. Sadly, I think, mom could still be here. She was a cherished soul.

    • Patty White says:

      What a great feeling you have for your mom. My dad would have been 95 in January, had he lived. This time of year marks the beginning of his last days. I don’t get as sad and weepy as I used to, I just think of him and his big laugh and how nuts he would make us.

      Hugs, Jeanne.

      • Jeanne says:

        Thank you Patty. Very thoughtful and kind of you. Hugs back to you.

        P.S. My mom had a great laugh too and she was always laughing.

  • MMKinPA says:

    I don’t have a lot of incense perfumes but I think my sample of Tauer Incense Extreme would fit the bill. I also love the SSS but I sent that off in a swap.

  • dinazad says:

    When I was a child, we lived in Munich, Germany. My parents had fled from Czechoslovakia, so we had no graves of relatives or friends to visit on All Souls Day. Myy mother would take me to the nearest cemetery, and we would light candles on all the graves nobody seemed to care for. I still love cemeteries….
    I wear incense for All Saints. Tauer Incense Extreme, or Villoresi Incensi. And Lutens Douce Amere for All Souls. Bittersweet remembrance seems to be appropriate. Douce Amereis something of a rather forgotten Lutens. I have no idea why – it is heartbreakingly lovely!

    • Patty White says:

      Oh, I love that so much. I love cemeteries too, I’m never afraid in them, even at night. It is peaceful and where we all have to go. So best to get comfy with the dead. I used to say prayers for all the forgotten souls in purgatory who had no one to pray for them. I need to start doing that again.

      I love Douce Amere, and thanks for reminding me of a fave that I seem to forget too! It’s understated, but so gorgeous.

      • maggiecat says:

        I also love cemeteries, especially older ones. They strike me as sacred, real, a little sad but not depressing. .

  • Kandice says:

    I have never thought of a scent for contemplation but must remedy that. I do enjoy incense scents, and I think one of my favorites, Sweet Redemption, just might do the trick. It smells like incense and orange blossom to me, so something contemplative and uplifting. I have never been a fan of Halloween but have always loved All Saints Day. It always seems like we are leaving the darkness behind and coming into the light. Serving your church as you mentioned seems like a wonderful way to do that. Thanks for the draw!

    • Patty White says:

      Oh, I like that choice! Yeah, it’s like the passage into/out of the dark. I mean, we are going into winter and darkness, but it’s a reminder that there is always light and hope. I think that’s why I love these three days so much.

      I know the first time I was in France on All Saints Day, it’s a National Holiday! I mean, how cool is that?

      • Kandice says:

        That would be wonderful to be somewhere like France where it’s celebrated at that level. Lucky you! It must have been a wonderful experience. Also, I’m very glad to hear Vinnie is doing better and is more like his old self!

  • FeralJasmine says:

    I’ve always loved Halloween, and Dia de Los Muertos has become deeper for me every year as a time to hold a contemplative “banquet” for loved ones I’ve lost and people I never met whose thoughts and writing influenced my life. For Halloween I always wear a pumpkin spice scent brewed up by an online friend, and Fiore d’ Ambra for Day of the Dead. It goes well with copal burning in the incense burner. I’ve never tried Anima Dulcis; it sounds lovely.
    Happy contemplation, everyone.

    • Patty White says:

      Today always reminds me of what they told us during my hospice training classes – by the end, we are all experts on loss. I remember not even caring about any of this until I was in my 30s? Every year who you loved and lost means more as that level of grief piles up. I used to feel so bad for my dad – he lost all of his brothers and sisters except one before he died, all of his close friends. He still had us, but I kept thinking how heavy that bag of grief was that he carried around with him. I felt it more when my brother died last year. A sibling you are close to and love and you have known all your life is different from everything. He had 12 brother and sisters and loved and was close to them all. I can’t ever imagine how each loss left him feeling more and more alone.

      Me and my other three sibs fight now over who we think will be the last one standing. I told them it was fine with me if any of them want to do it. I don’t!

      I did get an essential oils diffuser – put water in it, and whatever oil, and it just softly fogs up the house. So it’s filled with Fornasetti all the time. My house smells spectacular!

      • FeralJasmine says:

        Funny, I do hospice work too, and with the same feeling that loss is the real training. I just turned 59 but I have lost my closest friends and the family members that I felt closest to, and since I was involved with the end-of-life care for all of them, I figure at least I can sit with the dying and not blink. But I take the time around Day of the Dead off. That’s my time to contemplate the lives that I’m so lucky to have been a part of, and celebrate the time that we have on the planet. Albuquerque has a wonderful sweet parade and celebration. Any public celebration in your neck of the woods?

        • Patty White says:

          Loss is always the training in life – not just of others, but of all the things that make up who we think we are – our great hair, smooth skin, hips and knees and ankles that don’t creak and take a while to unfold when. In the end, we lose everything, and it is a lifetime process to get comfy with who you are, so when the exterior things you think make up who you are fails, you do know who you are. 🙂

          • Queen Cupcake says:

            Patty, that is one of the most beautiful of all the beautiful posts I have read here. Thank you. <3

  • Mariann says:

    Incense all the way! I have Passage d’Enfer, Contre Bombarde and samples of Voix Humaine, Lavs and Fueguia Missiones. Choices, choices but with my scent eating skin I may put on all 3.

    • Patty White says:

      Put them all on! Oh, the Saufs! I need to put those on too. Voix Humaine is often my “I don’t know what I want to wear” because it always works. But I think incense will always work for me when I’m undecided. It won’t annoy me like having on tuberose when you find out at 10a that you just aren’t feeling the tuberose today!

  • Queen Cupcake says:

    In 1976, I was fresh out of college and playing in an orchestra in Mexico. I had never seen anything like the festivities of Dia de los Muertos. People bought elaborate candy skulls, and gave them to their friends, sometimes with their names written on them in icing. I seem to remember that marigolds figured prominently into the scene. People visited the cemetery where their relatives were buried and had picnics there. All very strange to me then, but now I can understand it better. I want to find something with frankincense in it–I’m sure there is something in my samples collection.

    • Patty White says:

      I would love to be in Mexico during Dia de los Muertos! I should try and plan out to make that happen in the next year or two. Yes, marigold are big, and they are perfect for the day.

      • Queen Cupcake says:

        I did a little searching for perfumes with marigold (tagetes) notes. Found RL Safari, which is a solid favorite of mine! I will wear that today. 🙂

        • Patty White says:

          Perfect! I’m still hunting for one. I know I’ve thouht about doing a marigold post before, but didn’t because there aren’t that many true marigold-centric perfumes. Maybe there shouldn’t be. 🙂

  • Taxi says:

    The earthly symbols of Dia de los Muertos have always bothered me. Skeletons, skulls, etc., were very creepy to me as a small child & I still find them distasteful. At the same time, I was glad for the school holiday at St. Anne’s Elementary School. I do like church-type incense. CdG Avignon is a favorite.

  • Shiva-Woman says:

    Halloween or All Hallows Eve is my birthday and my departed Maternal grandmother’s. It has always been extra special because we shared the day together. Today was the big “5” “0”, but it started rocky with a trip to the ER vet late, late last night. I wore Areej Le Dore Oud Picante in the am, on the way to pick up my sick kitty, but finished with Blackbird Hallow this evening, a lovely very Tauer-like incense, a bit sweeter, less “creosoteish”. Blackbird makes some great incense as well as incense-based scents, so I find it contemplative, a time to think of those who passed before me and perfect for the day.

    • Patty White says:

      Happy birthday a little bit late! Hope everything is okay or mending with your kitty. I have never tried any of the Blackbird scents. I should fix that. Would Hallow be a good place to start?

  • Maya says:

    You gave me the idea for my choice of scent for Dia de Los Muertos when you mentioned Arquiste. I would wear Flor y Canto. I don’t know about the rest.
    PS I’m almost afraid to ask, how is Vinnie?

    • Patty White says:

      That was another choice, and I love that.

      I feel so bad, I should have updated on Vinnie. He’s okay’ish. He has a low back injury/degeneration. It may or may not heal, but the panting and other scary things he was doing were pain-related. So he’s on muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories and bedrest. I laughed when she said that. It’s a Bulldog! He does nothing but bedrest! He’s out of pain, and I hope there’s whatever healing that can happen for a 9-year-old bulldog. He may need some pain management the rest of his life, which is okay. As long as he’s comfortable and not hurting and can get around the four steps he likes to walk to get scritches, it’s completely okay with me. 🙂

      • Maya says:

        I am very happy to hear about Vinnie! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Tara C says:

        I picked Tauer Incense Extreme for this year. Spending today remembering those I’ve loved who have gone on ahead. So glad to hear Vinnie is doing better with his pain management.

  • Jennifer S. says:

    At least you didn’t ‘spook’ yourself out! I’ve never thought about what scent to wear on these days before. Probably nothing I ‘spose, for clearer contemplation. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Patty White says:

      I hadn’t either, but, you know, I was sitting down to write a post, and then it all made sense. I often think a lot about what to wear on EAster, Thanksgiving, Christmas, but I love these two days so much. It’s about, well, everything! That requires some thoughtful perfume-choosing. 🙂

  • pjmcbride says:

    Passage d’Enfer is what first came to mind. Easter Vigil in a bottle.

  • Marianna says:

    I probably would pick up some of Incense based perfumes – something by Unum?

  • nicevulady says:

    I’m not sure how contemplative I am. Scent plays a role, but the scenery is probably more important for inducing contemplation in me. Your devotion and your service sound truly beautiful. Thank you for the giveaway. Off to wear Avignon…how’s that for contemplative!

  • Jo says:

    That’s a hard question, I realize as I look at my wardrobe that “contemplative” isn’t really the word I’d use to describe my collection. 😉 I’d have to go with my vintage bottle of Coco Chanel EDP however. It’s so gently spicy, incredibly comforting and just feels peaceful to me.

    (And thank you for changing the linens, nothing like getting there for Wed Eucharist and it’s still green!)

    • Patty White says:

      I think Chanel Coco is really comforting and contemplative, at least it is for me! I screwed up one time this year, wasn’t sure on one of the Marian days if it was a linen change or not. WEnt to mass – all white vestments. I wanted to just slink out of the church. Ugh. I won’t make that mistake again!

  • Rina (USA) says:

    I picked up 2 huge bouquets of marigolds on the way home tonight. Such a wonderful scent. Dirt-y, sooty, green but decaying. No fume could do it justice. My goal is so celebrate in Mexico one year! Enjoy?

  • Janet in California says:

    I love Kilian’s Incense Oud, Puredistance Antonia,and Neela’s Trayee for contemplative dyas. All very different but they each stop me in my tracks with how lovely they are. Soothing and relaxing.

  • Sarah says:

    All Saints Sunday is my favorite church service of the year. Remembering all that have gone on before. I love that you change the linens on the alter. How many woman before and after us have done and will do this simple profound fulfilling service.
    I never thought of fitting my scent to this time.
    Thank you for giving me the idea to study on that.

    • Patty White says:

      Same, it’s just lovely. I do think about that. The church is over 100 years old, so someone’s hands have done this job every year. And I really like that time alone with Jesus. We have some interesting conversations. I’m always afraid someone is up in the choir loft doing something and I can’t see them and they’ll overhear. 🙂

  • Maria B. says:

    Whoa! In your church you go to the trouble of changing from green to white cloths for All Saints’–and back to green again after All Souls’? I hope that idea doesn’t catch on where I live. Violet is coming. I’ve been thinking of wearing Tauer Orris for All Saints’ and Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure for All Souls’. But I might reverse them.

    • Patty White says:

      We keep it white for both – at least that’s what my calendar says. We don’t change for everything, just the Holy Days of Obligation and the Solemnities. I’m not even sure what is normal, I just got this task in January, so it’s my first year of reallly understanding the Liturgical Calendar

      • Maria B. says:

        When you think of the Stark family motto, “Winter is coming,” think “Violet is coming.” 🙂 And then white.