Uh, no …

… I didn’t go.

After all my faff about awaiting a long weekend away and really needing a change etc it didn’t happen. Not worth explaining why.

But I now can’t write about the things I did or the perfume shop I found that sounds amazing or what I ate and saw.


Instead, at least, I caved and bought a decant of Kilian Dark Lord (as compensation) for silly money and which will show up from the US at some point (got it from Surrender to Chance and I damn well will be writing about that once I’ve had a chance to sample it on skin).

Then, I went to the nearby fancy grocery shop (because there was no food in the house as we’d run it down) and went to town.

And then I reminded myself I had an acupuncture appointment late this week and that’s what you’re getting today: the pleasures of needles and moxa.

If that makes you twitchy there’s only a small bit about the needles. The big thing is the moxa, which is stuff made from mugwort leaves that is burned near or on acupuncture meridians and points.

Meridians in Chinese medicine refer to ‘paths through which the life energy known as qi flow’. Stop rolling your eyes. It’s been used for thousands of years and even Western medicine acknowledges that acupuncture has effects.

But anyway. Moxa.

Mugwort is in the Artemisia family (which is in the daisy family).

The stuff is dried and ground and made into cones or sticks like fat incense.

One of the points in acupuncture of moxa is that it can be used to warm a needle or an area (moxibustion), helping to stimulate … things.

My acupuncturist likes to use moxa on needles on my lower belly. It’s really lovely to have your belly warmed up. I am frequently told that I need heating up (so eat stuff like cinnamon etc that is warming).

But what does moxa smell like, which is the key question here. Welllll … some people think it resembles marijuana. But that’s not what I get. Rather, it definitely smells smoky and resinous, but I get something a bit darker than MJ.

If you’ve never experienced acupuncture, the needles are small and sharp and the pinch with insertion is only momentary. My acupuncturist likes to wiggle them initially to make sure they are positioned correctly (ie, ‘do you feel that? Yes, of course, I feel that’).

If my digestion is misbehaving it’s a needle on a point about an inch below my naval and then the moxa on that.

So, back to the moxa smell. To me, it speaks of something ancient. There’s an incense aspect but there’s more to it than that. A sense of something otherworldly. It’s dark and dense, something that a very old church would smell of. So, maybe incense plus a birch tar and a bit of leather, cold stone and oddly honey and hay. A smell conjured by a magical practitioner.

I love the aftermath of being moxa’d and smelling just that little bit weird out in the world. No one has ever commented on it but I have gotten a few weird looks in the local bakery.

Artemisia shows up in perfume as a bitter and green note, it seems. I looked up which fragrances have it and it’s a fair number, but including Amouage Memoir Man, l’Artisan Fou d’Absinthe (which having read the notes I’m now quite curious about), a couple of Penhaligons, and a load of mainstream stuff (it seems to pop up a fair bit in Calvin Klein perfumes).

So, does that make you want to run out and find an acupuncturist to moxa you? Or not… Anyway, let us know — and what you think of the idea of moxa.

Pics from Pexels

  • Musette says:

    I love acupuncture! It cured my migraines, so… yes. Moxa is GREAT! Peoria, oddly enough, is a hotbed of ‘complimentary medicine’ (I say ‘oddly enough’ because it is an otherwise very conservative city in a very conservative area of the state which, other than the Chicago area, is pretty Red)

    sorry you didn’t get to travel but glad you’re getting Dark Lord!


  • Tom says:

    I’ve never done acupuncture. I’m a little phobic of needles but if I had something that it would help I would get over that.

    • cinnamon says:

      needles as in shots? I hate getting blood taken (whine mightily at the nurse) but I’m fine with acupuncture. there are lots of things it benefits. might be worth just having a look. and I find it can be a very powerful healer.

  • Dina C. says:

    Many years ago when I herniated disks in my lower back and was recovering, I went to a Chinese man who was both an MD and a practitioner of acupuncture. He placed needles all over me to help resolve my back pain, but didn’t use moxa. I wish he had — I’m curious to sniff it now.

    • cinnamon says:

      That sounds like a wow. I had a dentist in NYC who used acupuncture for pain management. He was wonderful. A couple of needles in my ear and even getting fillings done no pain. Moxa really is wonderful.

  • Queen-Cupcake says:

    Mugwort grows prolifically in my garden–a weed. There are herbalists who have high regard for this plant. You can probably find them on Youtube. I have had acupuncture with moxa. It is very transitory and not too uncomfortable–one needs to relax and concentrate on the breath, as in yoga. Sorry about your weekend trip but maybe something beneficial came along. Best wishes!

    • cinnamon says:

      That’s interesting on it being a weed. Will look it up here on the plant sites. Thank you regarding trip. I am really hoping it will happen later in the year.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    Bummer about the trip. I hope all is well.
    Acupuncture sounds amazing but I’m way too much of a pussy to do it.
    Moxa sounds really trippy.
    Portia x

    • cinnamon says:

      It is a bummer. Hoping to try again in the summer.

      Acu is amazing but you need to find a good practitioner. Most are pedestrian and you don’t get much benefit. Moxa trippy … well, sort of.

  • March says:

    Oooohhhh!!!!! Well I’m very sorry you missed your trip, but I love this post. I spent several months last year going to an alternative medicine person who did a lot of acupuncture, among other things. The needles don’t hurt but there’s that ziiiiiiiiinnng! every now and again that’s pretty wild. I feel wonderful afterward. And I love love love the moxa smell, so herbal and bitter/pungent, I don’t think it smells like pot at all. There’s a popular ornamental here, artemisia “Powis Castle” used for xeriscaping and I always run my hand gently over it when I see it around, so I get that scent on my skin. Green, somewhere between turpentine and tarragon. I think it’s an absolutely lovely and unusual smell, especially after a rain.

    • cinnamon says:

      It was one of those argggg things.

      If I could do acu once a month or more I would. I just find it so … helpful (that’s not the word I want but I am not sure there’s a word for what I mean).

      I’m not sure artemisia grows here. will have to look. bitter and pungent is a perfect descriptive though.

  • Tara C says:

    No interest being needled, but the moxa sounds interesting. I love Amouage Memoir and Fou d’Absinthe, so I guess I like artemisia. Need to check Fragrantica to see what else it appears in.

    • cinnamon says:

      I also enjoy reflexology (foot stuff — not needles) but if it’s a choice (which it is financially) it’s acupuncture. I think artemisia shows up in a fair number of Penhaligons.