Holy Smoke, Carnal Flower

I´m on the flower guild at my church. I think they let me join because I’m still young enough to bend over and pick things up off the floor; I´m at least a generation younger than most of those ladies.

This is a tough time of year for me, church-wise; I´m going to skirt the edges here and just say I´m not sure what I believe any more. I was raised in a church, and I´ve had my share of spiritual comfort. But the construct of the church we belong to now (and the mainline Protestant faith behind it) isn´t doing much for me. Yeah, I know – it´s not supposed to be about what the church is doing for me. But there you have it.

The simple Lutheran church my mother took us to when I was a child was a major fact in my life, not a peripheral part of it. Back then, my faith ran through me like a river. I wasn´t sure of all the details all the time, but on Christmas Eve and watching the sun come up in that little wooden chapel on Easter Day, I stood with God, safe and full of love.

We wound up at the Lutheran church because it was the closest to our house and my mother didn´t drive. If we´d lived a quarter mile further west I´d probably be Catholic. Anyway, I married into our current high-church Episcopalian rigmarole, and I barely go anymore while I have my quiet, well-mannered spiritual crisis. But I do the flowers regularly.

Our church right now a big old stone deal, with that dank fortress smell. My favorite time to be there is any rainy day, because this church is perfect for gloomy weather. I like to listen to the rain pouring off the slate roof into the copper downspouts outside those weird little transom windows they can crack open in the larger stained glass windows. It splashes off the rocks below and into the gardens. It´s the most peaceful sound in the world. Sometimes I just sit in there, with the lights off, all alone in that huge space, and take it in. I ponder the parts of my life that are a little too full, and a little empty, and I ask for guidance. It´s those moments, there in the semidarkness, that I feel most at peace.

That church´s dank smell works great with Etro Messe de Minuit. I wear it in there fairly regularly, and on the occasions I´m actually going to a service like a proper member. Messe de Minuit is some incense and some woods and some sadness on me, like a yew-green cloak, and that drop of mildew just makes it a little more contemplative.

But the real winner I only discovered recently, when I tried Demeter Holy Smoke for the first time. (Yep, this turns out to be a post about God and perfume during Holy Week! And you know what? I think God will cut me some slack.) I fell in love, because Holy Smoke has that piece I´ve been missing. In the Lutheran church of my childhood, we didn´t have anything fancy like incense; I only associate it with “church” through smelling it in various cathedrals as an adult. As a child, probably my main church smell association (besides the wood beams, old polish, and coffee brewed in those monster percolaters) would have been candle smoke. I was an acolyte (the person who lights the candles and puts them out) from the time I could reach up that high, and I´ve always loved the smell of candle smoke right after you douse the flame. Demeter Holy Smoke is full of that candle smoke rather than, say, the woody smoke of a bonfire, along with a waft of sweet incense. I got my bottle a few weeks ago and I´ve been quietly enjoying it ever since then.

For my flower duties, which are significant this time of year, I´ve been layering Holy Smoke (you can spray that thing all over your head and body, or even your clothes, it´s light enough) with various floral perfumes. The perfect one is Malle Carnal Flower; it´s got that little bit of chill, like working in a florist shop, and a true tuberose on me rather than a “perfume”-ish one. It´s strong and fierce but not headache-producing like some are. When I dab on some Carnal Flower and then veil myself in Holy Smoke, I feel I’m my own small, peaceful cathedral in the rain. For me, as I said, it´s a contemplative smell.

Anyway, for those of you who are with me: a Joyous Passover and Happy Easter. For the rest of you: I hope you got a couple of vacation days. Maybe the Easter Bunny will stop by and bring you some Djedi.

Cathedral window, Annaghdown Cathedral, Co. Galway, www.monasette.com

  • assorted raisins says:

    🙂 Happy Easter to you, March!
    and Happy easter, passover, spring to everybody else!

    What a touching, lovely post. I pray that the God of Peace would give you His peace to help you find Him whether it’s in your church on a rainy day, or any other place, and that His peace would remain with you. Thanks!

    I also loved that Jewish prayer thanking God for being the Creator of many spices! Amen!

    Spiritually speaking, I’m a Christian and a follower of Jesus…but it’s a near-daily struggle comprehending how God loves me and everybody! I can’t remember any scent stories from the old testament but there is a really cool one in the new testament gospels. A woman called Mary of Bethany loved Jesus, and one day when he was at a dinner party, she quietly came up and cracked open an alabaster jar of “pure nard” (what is that?) which was an extremely expensive perfume. She dumped the whole thing on his feet, then washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Naturally many of the disciples and dinner guests found this shocking and complained…for they could have sold it to the poor! Plus she was showing her hair. But Jesus didn’t stop her or shush her. Instead, he praised Mary and said, “She did it for my burial, and, because she loved much.” Imagine that sacrifice! and all of that wonderful smell.

    I haven’t smelled Holy Smoke, but it sounds cool. I tried Passage d’Enfer but makes me feel like I;m walking through a lonely desert. So I settled on some frankincense and myrrh oil for good Friday. Hard to decide for Easter!
    We still burn frankincense incense when we visit my grandma’s grave and I always find it soothing.

    Again, a happy easter to you march and enjoy the flowers!

  • minette says:

    love your description of the church in the rain and how you find solace there. that’s what it’s about.

    i served with the church ladies at my orthodox church a few years ago, and it was always interesting. holy week was/is lots of flowers to be affixed to the tomb of Christ and placed around the church, lots of candlelight and incense, many beautiful laments, and then the joy and light of the resurrection. i think some of the protestant churches (and some modern orthodox churches) have done away with some of the better aspects of early worship – namely incense and standing to worship. it’s quite different when you stand rather than sit. takes a while to get used to, but it feels good eventually.

    will have to seek out the demeter holy smoke – i love the smell of just-snuffed candles, too. i love messe de minuit – i find it soft and soothing.

    may you have a blessed pascha!

  • Marie-Helene says:

    Beautiful post March! I love Bois D’Arménie because it is an incredibly realistic scent if you have lived in South-East-Asia. It evokes directly or by association, I’m not sure, the scent of the incense in buddhist temples.

    I want to bathe in a green radiant scent for Easter.

    Haven’t got around to doing a post yet, but thought the notes in the Virtue scent sounded yummy! I’d like to try it.

  • JenniferR says:

    Delurking, to add my appreciation to the chorus. Your post is a real gift, March. And I’m happy to see what a gift it is to so many others, of differing faiths and degrees of spiritual ease or difficulty. Like Patty, I’m a converted Catholic, and my spiritual struggles are a near-daily thing. You remind us all, March, of why we continue to grapple with them. And of the beauty and the poignancy of this particular season. And, of course, of the beauty and poignancy of fragrance …

    • March says:

      Hey, thanks for de-cloaking!>:d< I know it's hard to do ... discussions like these are a favorite part of the blogging for me, I love reading everyone's thoughts, particularly on something like today's topic. I know I'm not alone in these sorts of struggles, but it's nice to read others' stories too.

  • Robin says:

    Everyone told me Holy Smoke was the best Demeter, why didn’t it work for me? I guess I was expecting something very close to CdG Avignon, and it seemed so comparatively bland. Maybe because I have *no* church smell associations?

    • pitbull friend says:

      Robin — it’s weak on me, too. Heeley Cardinal is what I wear when not ready for the grandeur & depth of Avignon.

      BTW, haven’t seen it mentioned here, but I love Lise Watier’s Capteur de Reves (Dreamcatcher). Has lily & birch & sage, so some may find it suitable to a spiritual week.
      –Ellen

    • March says:

      R — If you were expecting something even remotely close to Avignon, I can see you’d be totally disappointed.[-(

      I think in this particular case, my love for Holy Smoke is *completely* bound up in a scent memory — like if you smelled a fragrance and it conjured up Earl Gray tea with your beloved grandmother every Thursday. Holy Smoke smells very specifically like candle smoke to me, with the incense very much in the background (as it would be in an empty old church.) It’s the smell of candle smoke that sends me — a response to remembering a happy, comforting time in my life. I was hoping for that smell from Guerlain Armenie (the burning paper one) but the smell, of course, was all *wrong* — that’s a particular, benzoin smell. Anyway, maybe at some pt you can revisit thinking CANDLE SMOKE and see how it goes!;)

    • Robin says:

      Ellen, thanks, I like the Heeley too, but had never even heard of that LW scent & will have to look for it.

      March, ok, will try again, but not sure I even like the smell of candle smoke. Will have to think about it. I do hate it when things aren’t named correctly, LOL…ah well, I have plenty of Demeter favorites already.

      • March says:

        Well, now I’m tempted to backpedal frantically. What did everyone on your post think it smelled like, I wonder? Maybe Demeter would be surprised to hear the candle smoke thing… to me it’s maybe 80% generalized “smoke” and 20% incense.

  • Maria B. says:

    March, what a wonderful, beautifully written post. Your line “Back then, my faith ran through me like a river” is utterly poignant in its sense of loss. In children faith can run without obstacles. It’s adolescenese and adulthood that bring spiritual crises. I don’t think as adults we can have real faith without coming to terms with the nature of belief. I hope something very good comes from your current crisis.

    I was baptized Catholic, as most people in my native country were, but, unlike my indifferent family, at eight I insisted on being an observant Catholic. My first crisis of faith came when I was sixteen. In my heart I left the church, though I was still attending Catholic school. I never returned, though I still love and admire the Catholic Church and I remain, of course, culturally steeped in it.

    I thought I was incapable of belief until the last couple of years. It takes a leap. I’m not surprised to discover I’m still a Christian.

    I like Messe de Minuit, but, thanks to Lee, I’ve discovered Avignon, and THAT is the smell of church I so love. Another nice one is Crazylibellule and the Poppies Encens Mystic, which is in the same vein as Avignon. It’s softer and not as long-lasting, but it’s only $16 and eminently packable, so you can carry it around for when you need that instant hit of church smell.

    A wonderful commemoration of rebirth and deliverance to everyone! @};-

    • March says:

      It surprises me that I’m still a Christian, too … as Patty says up above, it’s a constant wrestle between different parts of my brain.

      Avignon is a great (French) church smell, but I think I almost prefer Zagorsk, the Russian Orthodox one. And Encens Mystic I’m posting on next week! Those Crazy Libs keep on satisfying!:x

      • Maria B. says:

        March, Avignon is not just a French smell, it’s a Roman Catholic smell–at least in the old days.

        • March says:

          Well …. I spent some time thinking about that. Here’s the thing: I can only compare the inside-the-church smells of Italy, the U.S. and France. I swear they smell different to me. It’s probably not anything specific to the church; it’s probably all the other cultural smells (like food and clothing.) But I swear … I swear Avignon smells like French church. Even some of the old Catholic cathedrals I’ve been to (like in NYC) smell American to me. I used to think it was just the age requirement, but I was stunned when I went to Italy 2 years ago and realized they smell … I dunno, different. French churches smell more solemn./:)

  • tmp00 says:

    March-

    What a beautiful post! I love the smell of old churches, that sense of timelessness, rooted spirituality and age.

    Sadly, our new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (raised, and long-lapsed Catholic) is about as close to that wonderful feeling as a really nice airport waiting room. And the statue over the doors looks like the Vulcan chick from “Enterprise”

    • March says:

      Noooo!!! Not Our Lady of the Waiting Room!!! You know, my sister converted to Catholicism years ago (she married a Catholic.) I was excited for her because I was looking forward to checking out her church. Well, we went there and it’s one of those sterile, blond-wood and banner, guitar-strumming joints. What’s the point of being Catholic?!? Give me something gloomy!!!

      • tmp00 says:

        Thank you! I want gloom! Robes! Swinging incense and Latin!

        Nuns strumming and concrete walls I can get at LAX, thanks. :((

        • Patty says:

          My Easter Vigil baptism/conversion mass, it was dark, just candles, we had hooded priests, chant, incense. I walked into that and thought. Now THIS is church!

          More drama, less Hula liturgical dance, please.

          • March says:

            Amen, sister![-o< It still pains me that our "family service" at church is the modern liturgy. No thanks.

  • Justine says:

    March, What a lovely, thoughtful post. I am slowly starting to get into incense, and I do mean slowly. Unlike Patty, I am not a big fan of the smoke at church. They’ll have it at mass tonight, and sometimes it makes me feel a little claustrophobic, the enclosed space, all the people, the smoke…I wanna bust right out of there and take a deep breath of clean smelling air.

    Your church sounds lovely.

    And Patty? What a fantastic prayer you have. I’m gonna have to start using that one myself…

    • Patty says:

      Honey, for me, it’s necessary — the war with my rational mind and my spiritual side has always been, um, vigorous! As a converted Catholic, it took a while on the whole Eucharist as Body and Blood Transubstantiation thing, so I just kept saying that prayer every mass until it sorta, well, worked. Well, the rest of it is a longer post that I’ll put in for tomorrow.

      How can you not love the incense!? It just does it for me, along with the candle smoke and the smell of lillies at Easter. It’s like a scented nose job (can I say that?)

      • March says:

        Nose job. Naughty. I wrote “nosegasm” once in a post, but I took it out. Trying to hold onto our PG13 rating.

    • March says:

      Justine, this is the eternal question for me — since I didn’t grow up with incense in church, in a way maybe it’s better — I can associate it generally with spirituality rather than, say, an unhappy experience if I smelled it in a church I’d turned away from.

  • Dawn says:

    Hi March….

    Beautiful post and I fell in love with these 2 lines: ** When I dab on some Carnal Flower and then veil myself in Holy Smoke, I feel I’m my own small, peaceful cathedral in the rain. For me, as I said, it’s a contemplative smell.**

    Dawn

    • March says:

      Dawn — thanks. There’s fairly regular discussion about virtual-reality fragrances, and whether they thrill you or not (they leave some people cold, or creeped out.) I am a huge fan of that type of smell, which I view more as welcome magic than trickery. I can be in a bonfire, a burning leaf, damp soil…

  • Melanie says:

    An Easter perfume–I hadn’t considered that. What would be something joyous but not too overwhelming for the close quarters of a small church? It gets pretty heated sometimes from the singing and preaching,LOL–should I just stick to clean-smelling soap in this case? I hardly dare ask that here :”>

    • March says:

      Melanie — in theory you’d be right. In practice I seem to be surrounded by Big Perfume, particularly on major holidays (I am thinking people spray on for dinners before/after…) Things like Joy, or Cartier. Or Chanel No. 5, which I appreciate very much on other people.

  • donanicola says:

    Such a personal and beautifully written post, Thanks March. I’d love to smell the Demeter one – but not available I think in the UK. CdG Avignon does it for me (anyway) – I love the smell of incense and have taken to accompanying my mother to her church (high C of E) for a bit of guidance and the incense. I don’t think God minds. Years ago a catholic friend had a son who went to Sunday school during the service – he was told incense took the prayers of the congregation up to God. He sighed, looking up at the ceiling and said “got to tell you – they’re not getting there”. I love kids! Seasons Greetings to all! BTW, smell of a cemetary – Diptyque’s Lierre (the ivy one?) Maybe.

    • March says:

      Hah! Nope, the prayers of my kids aren’t getting there either — although what’s that old saying? God answers all prayers; sometimes the answer is “no.”

      Lierre is a good cemetery suggestion, yes.

  • AnnE says:

    March, thank you for your lovely piece today. Reading about your early choice of church, , my first blasphemous thought (having grown up Catholic myself) was, “It’s a good thing that the Catholic one was further away!” I’m not aligned with any religion, but that does not preclude having faith and a certain spirituality.

    I’ve not tried either one of the scents you mention today. What a state of affairs – I must be the only one I know who hasn’t tried Carnal Flower; but as I generally loathe tuberose, I haven’t been able to bring myself to venture it. I should. At least for educational purposes, right? 🙂

    I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend!

    • March says:

      AnnE — tuberose is not my all-time favorite either. All I can say is, I tried it with trepidation and I love it.

      I know so many lapsed Catholics. It’s interesting — I’m doing the soccer-mom thing for the first time, and we got into this really intense discussion about church/temple and faith. The (ex) Catholics in particular were very bitter about things that had happened to them.

  • Christine says:

    March, that was beautiful. And Holy Smoke sounds great. I’ll have to check out the local Sephora and see if they carry it.

    Here’s to a peaceful Easter/Passover/Spring.

  • pitbull friend says:

    Dearest hearts: March’s beautiful contemplative thinking seems to have invited out the same in others. Gorgeous!

    Louise: I love my cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg. A couple of months ago I happily realized that I smelled like Havdalah spices! (Have to check my notes tonight — what perfume?)

    FYI to non-Jews: Havdalah ends the Sabbath. Its 2 distinctive features are a blue & white braided candle (symbolizes unity) and a pretty little silver box full of sweet spices (symbolizing the sweetness of the Sabbath or longing for the destroyed Temple, depending on who you read). It’s a brief, good-smelling ceremony.
    –Ellen

    • Louise says:

      Ooh! Eau de havdalah-let me know when you find the scent. What sweet memories I have of Grandmother’s havdalah. My only clove thing is Arabie-quite not right!

    • March says:

      What spices do you think are in there? Cinnamon? Cardamom? I am picturing it, and I think it sounds lovely, trying to conjure up the smell. Do they burn the spices?

      • pitbull friend says:

        Hey, March: We just sniff ’em. The spices prob. vary. As a dispersed people, we seem to vary widely in such things. But cloves & cinnamon were the strongest notes at my grandparents’. Oooh! Just Googled Havdalah and spices & saw lots of cool stuff, incl. an article on “The Kabbalah of Smell!”

        This one line from the Havdalah ceremony seems appropriate:

        “Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, bo oerei minei v’samim/Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of many kinds of spices.” It’s as close to a perfume prayer as I’ve seen.
        –Ellen

        • March says:

          Ellen — that’s beautiful! Actually, I bet if we dug around in the Old Testament/Torah we could find some stuff about perfume …

          • Louise says:

            Thanks for reminding me of a lost prayer. Why am I now craving non-allowed (spicy) Honey Cake? I am always off a few holidays in my cravings.

            So why didn’t we get those wonderful cover fragrances in my synagogue???

            Did a wee bit of online research about Christian use of incense. Likely church incense borrowed at least some from early Judaism: in scripture Moses “said”: “Take unto thee spices . . . of sweet savor and the clearest frankincense….Most holy shall this incense be unto you”.

            But-given the widespread use of incense in world-wide religions, it’s likely that a more general explanation of its origin makes sense. As in…the Power of Scent to transport. Think what scent does to us in perfume, its power to evoke memory and old experience, reinforce rituals. Around the world the ingredients of incense mostly include pungent spices, and sometimes opium and cannibis. Whew. Also-that visual of “Holy Smoke”-rising to Heaven, mystically clouding the congregents…

          • March says:

            Louise — I think you’re exactly right. What more perfect, simple way to add to ceremony? Smoke, from the earliest gift of fire. Makes total sense, no matter what the background is.

            Have a great weekend!

  • Flor says:

    March, that was beautiful. I don’t actually like churches, they spook me out, but I loved your description of the church. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not faithless, I’m a believer, I just don’t believe in churches. But I do love the smell of incense and I am wearing an Arabian perfume oil layered with Mania (the old one) which is all incense on me. It’s quite beautiful. Happy Easter!\:d/

    • March says:

      Flor, your fragrance sounds lovely! Churches only spook me out when they’re the really shiny modern ones with banners, etc. It just seems so … wrong.:”>

  • Marina says:

    March,
    I don’t remember not being in a spiritual crisis. I think I accepted the fact that whatever is on offer religion-wise is not for me. Faith-wise…well, I am still struggling to come to terms with the fact that I probably just don’t have faith. But I won’t bore you with that.
    You know, maybe we just aren’t wearing the right scents? Maybe we should let go of impure perfumes and turn to that Virtuous one…the one that was guided by the Spirit.:d:d:d

    • March says:

      M — where WAS that?!?! Was that on your blog? I guess if they’re going to have one (actually two) lines for the 7 Deadly Sins, they should have some of the virtues…

      Or how about that MosBuddhaJew thing?

  • Elle says:

    Have never thought to layer Carnal Flower w/ Holy Smoke. Great idea! And love that photo.
    I grew up w/ militantly atheist parents (the church was not exactly accepting of gay men in those days), but was deeply immersed in three separate faiths by the women my parents hired to take care of me (in different parts of the world). I still love all those faiths, but as an adult settled on walking a line somewhere between Buddhism and Christianity as my way of finding the unity between all of them. I don’t worry about the details – I assume God’s done that and just have a profound belief in the continuation of our spirits and an ordering force of love, balance and ultimate harmony in this world.

    • March says:

      What a beautiful story! What different places did you live? We contemplate uprooting the bairns and moving them somewhere exotic, but haven’t done so yet… I don’t worry about the details much either, and that’s part of my current distress with my church (which is in schism over various issues, including homosexuality). But I can’t fault them either, you know? I believe that they believe that they’re doing their job — faith not being maintained by a bunch of slackers, etc. I just do the flowers and pretend to ignore it…:-“

      • Elle says:

        Lived mostly in the Middle East, Asia and Central America, but spent every summer in Sweden and northern Germany – where I learned about Christianity from my mother’s nanny. Islam (my very first memory was getting a prayer rug of my own when I was two and a half and I cherish that rug till today), Buddhism and Hinduism were the faiths I learned from the women who cared for me. I didn’t come to the US till I went to college and *loved* growing up overseas, but it’s not been great for ever feeling like I can settle in in this country. And I think having roots is very valuable. I think it’s a good thing you’re giving your kids a sense of having roots.
        Also wanted to let you know I got Jules! LOVING it. I know “that place” is supposed to be terrible, but I really have not had bad luck w/ it – again, knocking on multiple types of wood.

        • March says:

          Ooooh!!!! I’m gonna go email you!!!

          Thanks for your history. I guess … I feel like place is really important. My dad still lives 30 minutes from me, in the house I grew up in. I think I could take the kids somewhere for a year (maybe 2) but I want them to have a “from” they can go home [email protected]};-

  • Louise says:

    March-leave it to you to move this Jewish girl’s heart toward even more love of MdM, and during Passover. It has struck me from 1st spray as ungodly (oops-sorry, wrong week) beautiful, but I never understood quite why. Nor needed to question it-love is never so explicable. Certainly, it did not resemble the smells of Saturdays at synagogue (mold, perhaps, but mostly older peoples random sweet perfumes and body smells).

    But now I remember-when I was a student in France, I lived in a (slightly) converted monastery, next to a grand cathedral. On most warmish Sundays, the church threw open the doors to allow cool air into the cathedral. And-now I realize, that I was seeped in church smells, including powerful incense. The smell lingered for days. So-I find my madeleines, thanks to you.

    On a less spiritual note, I can’t wear CF-just nasty on me. But
    I will soon order Holy Smoke, as I love the smell of burning things (no, no pyromania here). And as for finding and losing faith, I think that what we feel is just perfect for us at the time, and cannot be mourned or forced. For me, my spirituality is always found in nature.

    A peaceful week to everyone-beleivers, seekers, lost, and apostates, all.

    • March says:

      L — yes, there it is — that inside-the-cathedral smell, which is even better when you can mix in some sunny-outdoor-air smell.

      I wonder whether Holy Smoke would even make it 30 seconds on your skin!:) But I bet it would last on your clothes. I’m sorry about CF, though.

      • Louise says:

        Help me out-what’s the smell of a cemetery? I love them-no creepiness, just great for early morning haunting and studying of family histories. What’s green and earthy and peaceful like that? Black March? Suggestions?

        • Patty says:

          Black march, or To See a Flower are both pretty darn good for that, especially a spring cemetery Memorial Day visit.

        • March says:

          I agree with Patty — Black March and Too See a Flower. (Trying to remember if there’s enough grass in there). Donanicola suggested Diptyque Lierre…

          If you wanted to go something more perfume-y and less virtual-reality, I think one of the Annick Goutals takes me there, whichever one has all that ivy and shrubbery — Camille?

  • Patty says:

    an empty church and a cemetery are the most peaceful places on the earth. I remember when I first went to the cathedral I go to now, when the archbishop came in, the incensors came with — and there was incensing all through the mass. Knowing what a smell whore I am, of course I was just bowled over with gratitude. Most Catholic churches don’t do that anymore, which is a shame, because it brings in the other sense that remembers.

    God knows I need all the help I can get. My favorite prayer is and always has been, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. He knows the incense helps. 🙂

    • March says:

      Hah — maybe CHURCH made you a small-whore! Have you thought of that?!?:d

      I like that prayer. Gonna get that up on the [email protected]};-

      • March says:

        Smell. Smell-whore. Is writing “smell-whore” a sin?

      • Patty says:

        maybe! It sure dictated where I decided to land in my weekly spirutual life. 🙂 I just find it weird that when the words and the music and the organ and the bells and the beautiful stained glass (and the cathederal has some amazing stained glass) fails to give me a little spiritual boost, the incense always does.

        You goof. I traveled the Southern Baptist major believer as a kid to agnostic to fervent atheist back to faith Route 666 (couldn’t resist). And other than providing some major amusement for The Big Guy, I’m not sure what the point was.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Hello, dear lady !

    I love the Galway church vista.
    And your prose, too.
    It seems that a lot of perfumistas are wearing MdM,Passage de L’Enfer, etc., as their Lenten choices- can’t say as I blame them, it makes perfect sense to me.
    All of these echo mindfulness,and aid contemplation on a higher plane…

    I’ll wager that you didn’t think your partner-in-crime-and-smut to be such a spiritual softy, did you ?

    May all who observe feel at one with their maker at this time of year-
    And everyone else, at one with the vernal beauty of nature, and the rhythms of existence…

    Kisses to all.

    • March says:

      Chaya — your softyness doesn’t come as a huge surprise … and I would love to read an article about the use of smells in religious ceremonies, incense and smoke and the like. Which came first? Is there, say, something inherently meditative about the smell of incense (it’s used across so many religions)? Or does incense conjure up religion because it’s so frequently smelled in that context?:-?

      • Lee says:

        Wasn’t it used originally to mask the ripe smells of the congregation?:-&

        • March says:

          Probably! Along with those scented sachets…

          • ahtx says:

            Incense — and scent in general — has been a part of meditative worship in nearly all religions for as long as the history books go back (and probably further). Spirit and breath are deeply connected, and scent is a way of making breath more visible, more deeply felt. Offerings are burned as a way of letting the earthly travel to the heavens via the smoke — incense lets spirit come to us via the same medium…

            There is so much more to say on this topic, but that’s the gist!

            LOVED your post.

            A.

  • Amarie says:

    Thank-you for a lovely evocative post March.

    I spent time cleaning a couple of churches through a dark time in my life and the feeling you get in a church when it is empty of all people but you is very special. Space and time seem to run on a different path altogether. It is such a personal thing to know where you are spiritually- I am glad you have somewhere to go where you can ask those questions.
    I fell in love with Messe de Minuit as soon as I smelt it, and your description of Holy Smoke definately means it is on my must try list-with umpteen others! The candle smoke sounds gorgeous.

    • March says:

      Amarie — wow, cleaning churches — then you know exactly what I mean. Sometimes they’re in there cleaning, and I’m always amazed at how muffled the sounds are in that open space.

      I’m glad to see so many MdeM lovers here!

  • Lee says:

    Holiday love to you March!

    I’m not a believer (and I do so wish this wasn’t the case) but you could lure me in with your lovely layering combo.

    • March says:

      You … you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny? =((

      I’m all about the jelly beans, myself. And the Djedi.

  • Lavanya says:

    Lovely review, March!..now I *have* to try Holy Smoke..Also, I should try Malle’s CF again-it seemed just dewy and pretty on my skin when I tried it at Barney’s ,nothing strong and fierce like you describe(but then again I had million other scents that i was trying on, sprayed within an inch of my skin)..

    • March says:

      Lavanya — well, try it again. It kicked my fanny at first. (BTW I have the same experience when I re-try something after a sniffathon. Frequently my impressions are very different, I think you fry your nose.) “Fierce” still isn’t the right word — that seems spicy to me somehow — it was more like, sticking your nose all the way in the blossom, if that makes sense.

  • hausvonstone says:

    Good morning March and Good Friday! What a beautiful piece of writing. I’m consistently impressed. I shall wear MdM in its honor today, and hopefully someday try out Holy Smoke. Have a lovely weekend, and know that your work has an impact (even on lapsed Methodists).

    • March says:

      Thanks! We’re off Saturday to the Eastern Shore for the festivities (why does lamb for the main meal feel so *wrong*?) They have an Easter Eve service I hear is lovely.

      Dang. I wish I could call your package back and stick some Holy Smoke in it.:-w

      • hausvonstone says:

        Uh, yeah, Lamb sounds all wrong! But, you know, there’s always that whole cannibalism thing with religion! No worries on the package, I’m looking forward to it!

        • March says:

          S — I’m serious, this is really chafing me. WHY is lamb a traditional Easter dinner? It’s probably symbolic, and eeeeew.

          • Patty says:

            Um… Lamb of God thing? You know, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us? That one? 🙂

            I believe, and I’m a little theologically rusty in all things Jewish, that the lamb comes from the time when lambs were the traditional sacrifice in the temple for Passover. I hope a Jewish friend will pop in here if I get this wrong. So in Christian theology, Jesus became the sacrificial Passover lamb.

            Now, as far as eating lamb on Easter– yuk! I hate mutton, nasty stuff. I suggest chicken and noodles instead.

          • March says:

            Chicken of God doesn’t have the same ring to it!

            ~:>