THE DEVILSCENT PROJECT VII
– a review of Mermade Magickal Arts‘ ‘Mephisto’.
How far we perfumaniacs have come from that mystical, mythical matter we love so much. We dream in it, we bathe in it, we enrich ourselves, our chosen perfumers and our surroundings with it, we save for it, splurge for it, lust for it. Those magical elixirs and ethereal blends of heaven and earth, of balsam and resin, flower and herb satisfy our souls as few things else, and yet – in this lightning-tempo age and this instant gratification time, we forget what it once was, have somehow lost what it once did, have blithely obliterated all notions of its very form and function – to reconnect us, to realign us, to summon and to appease.
Perfume. The very name means “through smoke”, essences and absolutes distilled over fire in an alembic (which also gives its name to this blog), or, as perfume indeed was used once, as lumps of costly incense, burned in an offering to appease and to invoke the gods, and in so doing, to evoke – as well as please – our highest, finest, most divine selves.
To invoke an altogether different sort of beast.
I’m no stranger to alternate forms of perfume. I’ve burned Armenian papers and joss sticks, I’ve had potpourri in jam jars all over my homes at different times, pressed roses in old books, made my own lavender water. I’ve indulged my senses in a wantonly extravagant scented candle that’s still scenting my bedroom nearly a year later. And with the exception of potpourri, all of these demand fire to release their potent odors, that primeval element that is both beginning and end, metaphor and transformation. Just as fire begins with a spark, so does life itself, or another kind of life, when you glance across a glass of mulled wine in a dark midnight café at a stranger who sits so close beside you…
Here we have another kind of perfume, a very primeval kind – because here is a Devil’s scent as an incense, and it is by far the most extraordinary kind of incense I’ve ever had the pleasure to be inspired by.
It began at the behest of Monica Skye Miller, the Perfume Pharmer, when she suggested that Katlyn join our devilish endeavor, and I could only agree. I had of course heard of Katlyn’s alchymistical blends, had perused her website, and dreamed, that some day – or some night, I, too, might have a chance to breathe in their wonders. A few emails, some days and the Devilscent Project perfume brief later, I was completely unprepared by what came back in the mail.
What would I be as a human animal? I’m the Devil, so they’ve said. Neither animal nor human, but a combination of both, just enough of each to be dangerous, and that’s the whole idea. Danger. I want her to be able to know exactly who I am by her sense of smell alone. So. The perfume. Labdanum is a note she loves, labdanum is animal and sexy and slightly goatish.” – From the Devil’s Brief, the Devilscent Project
To which the saucy Katlyn retorted in her accompanying letter:
Did I just read ‘Goatish Labdanum’, something dark, sexy and extremely untamed? Ah, yes, I have just the thing…Within my cabinettes of curiosity there just happens to be something just waiting for this project. Labdanum from Crete complete with a few goat hairs. I knew there must be a place for this strange fragrant black stuff…The Devilscent Project. The most wonderful black frankincense from Oman. And then dark patchouli, tears of myrrh, contraband aloeswood…Incense is always needed to conjure up a spirit. And this has the scent of the crossroads at midnight and a little hair of the goat. Best burned on an electrical burner. Or a bit of brimstone if you have some handy. Use sparingly. May cause unnatural urges. Save this one for a dark night when you need a bit of company.
As I finished the quote above, I had reached 666 words. For a moment, that gave me pause for thought. You’d pause too, for this puts ‘incendiary’ into ‘incense’. I’m typing out these words as it burns in its dish above sea salt and charcoal, not in the dead, dark hours of night, but in the long twilight of midsummer when it never does get dark, yet I tell you…it may as well be that rainy, windblown Friday night in early November when I had my first harebrained idea that led all the way to…this.
That goatish labdanum (and yes, it does contain a little hair of the goat!) with its sweet, heady, animal air is all the more potent for the luscious patchouli and that touch of aloeswood that we know as the note du jour called oud. This is a living, breathing Dark Art. That chilly, dangerous alliance of myrrh and frankincense is never far behind it, exhaling its own numinous breath of otherworldly beneath that heated, heavy heartbeat. It doesn’t smell like goat, but it certainly smells sacred, sacred in a way most of us have forgotten. It smells like sin, if I believed in such a thing. Not so much as an act of moral transgression, but as the kind of act you would never tell in polite company, the kind of sin that must be kept secret, or else lose its delicious, subversive edge. The kind of sin that makes you glow in the dark. And the morning after, too.
If you think you know what incense is and what it does to your mood, if you’ve never thought about the tricks ambient scent can play on your suggestible mind – or even if you have – you’re in for a surprise. Just as the hapless protagonist of Quantum Demonology was whenever she caught a whiff of the Devil from afar, that otherworldly, bitter, dark that made her blood run cold in her veins and her heart beat faster.
Mephisto made my heart beat faster and ignited my imagination as all the Devilscents have, ignited it as few perfumes ever have before. In this dark, Monday night hour, I see it smoldering, and in those formless wisps of smoke, I can squint my eyes and almost see him hovering above.
“No need for that,” say a voice I know too well. “I’m right here. Did you know that in the ancient world, it was said the gods were helpless to resist the lure of burning incense? When it’s as good, as rich, as decadent and dangerous as this, I might as well give up the ghost completely. I can’t resist.” He leaned closer and whispered in my ear. “Just like you, baby.” He gave me that grin. “Just like you.”
“So what do you think?” I asked.
He picked up the letter from Katlyn, printed on parchment-like paper with cursive writing, and read the words with an even bigger grin. “I think…” he said after a while, “that Katlyn nailed it. Trust me, if the batcave has a scent, it would be this one. This is a lot of what I am. He shook his head and laughed. “Cretan goat hairs included! And I do believe it’s time I came back.”
“Where have you been?” I wouldn’t let him know he’d been missed. Hell wasn’t that cold yet.
Another long, fraught pause. Another long, level, red-brown stare. “Removing obstacles. Rearranging events, putting other things in motion, doing…what I have to do.” Dev tipped his head back and took a long, deep breath. The incense was so potent, it scented the entire apartment.
“And what would that be?” I sat back on my chair, looked him right in the eye.
“Telling you…that we made a deal, you and I. I take care of my own, I always will. And while I’ve been gone, you’ve somehow lost track of what you need to do. You need to believe. You need to have faith. I can make it happen for you. In fact, it already is happening. Since you forgot, and the incense reminded me, I’m here to tell you again.”
“Dev…I hate to say this, but you’re a fictional construct. I cooked you up, remember?”
“No, you didn’t. You conjured me out from the shadows. So I came back to remind you of what you forgot.” He leaned closer, much closer. I could feel his hot breath on my neck, feel him blowing in my ear.
“Forgot what?” I was confused. Or else it was that hot air and those lips by my ear, that subtle shiver down my spine, that dangerous, sexy, evocative scent that filled the room.
“Be careful what you wish for, baby. You will get it!” Light as a feather, his lips brushed my ear and he breathed down my neck.
When I turned my head to look, he was gone, and only the unholy, dangerous smoke of Katlyn’s incense remained.
Find ‘Mephisto’ at Mermade Magickal Arts here.
Disclosure: Samples were provided by Mermade Magickal Arts. For which I thank Katlyn Breene and Monica Miller most profoundly and sincerely.
I have a giveaway! Two lucky readers will receive a sample set of ‘Mephisto’. Leave a comment by June 30th at midnight CET to be eligible! Open to readers worldwide. The winners will be determined by random.org on July 1st.
48 thoughts on “Unholy Smoke (& a giveaway!)”
i am thrilled by the multiple forms your goatish friend has shown up! magic begets magic… and you have so begotten! carry on my wayward sister! ❤
I certainly will! You’re in the draw! 🙂
It would be wonderful to win this!!
ANd if you do, I want to know ALL about your reaction, too! 🙂
Oh my! I’d love to know what it smells like in a room where such visitors frequent.
I love the dialogue. I love the concept. Everything about it.
Warum, you’re in! Of course! And …thank you, too!
Would love love love to try these
No worries, Leslie – you’re in the draw! 🙂
Such an amazing writer you are 😉 I’d love to win this!
Thank you! (Always nice for the ego…;) ) You’re in! Good luck!
You truly are an amazing writer. 😉
Yes I’d love to win!
Since you already commented once – and entered! – I’ll take that as the nicest kind of compliment. 🙂
This sounds utterly intoxicating and transportive, I’d love to sniff and languish in the depths while soaring to new heights with this bit of magic. ~ Roxana
Intoxicating, transportive…oh, yes! And magic, too! Roxana, you’re in the draw!
OMG! I am scared to try. Reading this I had to look behind me, in full morning daylight. He He He. Shivers much?
No….;) You’re in!
I love the work of Katlyn. So creative and gifted. Great article;)
Thank you, Sandi! Of course, you’re in the draw, now, too!
whoa! sounds fab!
Fab is right! And with only a little luck, you might find out just how…fab! 🙂
I am thoroughly enjoying the reviews of the devilscent project entries.I would love to try Mephisto!
thanks for the draw
Then I shalll wish you the best of luck, Yash, and hope you get a chance to try it. 🙂
Thank you for this wonderful review/story/grimoire!
I enjoyed it immensly.
Your writing is intriguing, I will definitely be reading more here.
I don’t want to be in the draw since I already have a fair stock of this, and more of it coming.
Thank you for your comment, Lars! I won’t enter you in the draw then, but do please feel free to read – and to comment! – whenever or wherever you like!
It sounds like everything’s coming along nicely; and that we must all be careful for what we wish for 😉
If for no other reason than…what dreams will we have left? 😉
My goodness, this sounds just wonderful. And right up my alley. Would love to be included in the draw, thanks.
Woodgirl, you’re in!
Well I’m intrigued..I would like to be apart this draw and if I win I’ll let you take the next soul 😉 Bisous
Rosemary…for you, ma chère – anything! You’re in the draw! 🙂
I’d sell my soul to win this! Seriously, brilliantly-written piece!
Thank you for the compliment, Michael! Of course, you have a chance to win!
That sounds really interesting! I’ve never smelled handmade incense before.
Until this, I never had, either! Which can only mean – you’re in for a treat if you win! Good luck!
it sounds really amazing. would love to enter to the draw.
Good luck to you, Linnea! Because…amazing is right!
Oh Sheila the more I read from you the more I’m drawn in! I love what I’ve read so for and really want to try the unholy smoke!!!!
In which case, Amy – keep your fingers crossed for the draw! And keep reading, too!
Oh my, this is all kinds of wonderful.. Just when I’m getting back in touch with fragrance at it’s heart, just received some Oman frankincense and a couple of delicious bakhoors for burning.. Sheila how do you keep finding your way to my life force?? Xx
Ah…verbal sleight-of-hand…c’est moi! 😉 I’ll wish you luck in trying…all kinds of wonderful! 🙂
This has my name written all over it! Absolutely love this article! Thank you!
You’re very welcome, Mickers! Good luck!
Sheila, I need it here 🙂
Well, then, Margo – you know how it goes. Be careful what you wish for! 😉
a very special voice, you have- bravo!
would love to try these
Thank you, Irina! And good luck in the draw, too! 🙂
Love to try this
I would recommend everyone with an interest in all-natural handmade incense try Mermade’s Sample Option for 15$.
You will be back for more.
I spend an almost unhealthy amount of money on Mermade products each month.
You have been warned.