The Breath of Eternity

– a review of Opus Oils’ The Divine Collection – Isis

Many, many gods and goddesses have made their indelible impressions on history, imagination and the human mind. Mythology is nothing more nor less than the sum total of every lesson we humans need to learn in order to evolve and move forward, and so those many gods and goddesses are all expressions of basic human truths and a basic human need for the numinous, the sacred, that which is both above and beyond us and connects us with that deep, secret bedrock of our very selves.

Among all those many gods and goddesses of our storied past and present futures, one of the most important of all is the Egyptian goddess Isis. She was the embodiment of the ideal woman, wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, the Queen of Heaven and the giver of eternity in the afterlife. When Osiris was murdered and thoroughly dismembered by his brother Set, Isis walked the earth to find for all his scattered parts, and when she had them, she transformed herself into a kite, flew above him and breathed him back to life.

Even Christian iconography and its many thousands of images of the virgin Mary and baby Jesus traced their origin directly back to Isis and baby Horus. She was worshiped from Egypt to Britain and from Tingis (in modern Morocco) to a remote Essene stronghold near the Dead Sea. The Roman writer Apuleius in the second century quoted her:

I am nature, the universal Mother, mistress of all the elements, primordial child of time, sovereign of all things spiritual, queen of the dead, queen of the ocean, queen also of the immortals, the single manifestation of all gods and goddesses that are, my nod governs the shining heights of Heavens, the wholesome sea breezes. Though I am worshipped in many aspects, known by countless names … some know me as Juno, some as Bellona … the Egyptians who excel in ancient learning and worship call me by my true name…Queen Isis.

All these many years later, Isis is also an all-natural perfume in Opus Oils’ Divine Collection, and all these many perfumes later, her arcane magic has been so very hard to resist.

Kedra Hart told me that that Isis contains no less than three different kinds of lotus absolute – pink lotus, white water lily, which is often called lotus but in fact is another species of flower, and the fabled blue lotus which was used everywhere in ancient Egypt.

Blue lotus is an intriguing bloom. Every morning, it emerges from the water and opens up its petals to the sun, only to close them up at noon and retreat back into the water. It was a symbol of immortality, used in many medicines, presented to the Gods – and even to Isis – and its blooms were famous not just for their haunting perfume, but for their effect – they were soaked in wine and drunk as an aphrodisiac. The very scent of blue lotus itself has been shown to have psychoactive properties on the brain, and recently, a study proved the Egyptians were on to something – blue lotus contains phosphodiesters – which make Viagra so effective!

Isis is a hard perfume to pin down. Those three unmistakable lotuses – the blue, the pink and white water lily might make you think that Isis would be aquatic and ethereal, when in fact it is nothing of the kind.

A very long time ago, I once had a boyfriend who made a point of taking me to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen when the blue lotus bloomed to present me with a flower or two. Once you’ve sniffed a lotus, it’s impossible to mistake it for anything else – it is floral and green, earthy and warm, heady and haunting.

Right from the beginning, lotus is apparent – a juicy, jasmine-flecked, deep, complex lotus. The spicier pink lotus peeks out among the jasmine and the more ethereal white water lily too, all of them somehow a sum total of lotus both magical and alluring. As it opens up its fragrant petals on your skin, that exquisite sandalwood note I find in many Opus Oils is detectable in the far distance, but for a very long time, it’s all about those lotuses. Isis is no ordinary Goddess – and these flowers are no quotidian blooms. They entwine themselves around you in a warm, sensuous hug, and after a stressed out day that has you spread thinner than gold plating, suddenly, all your missing pieces come together into one fragrant entity, standing tall, standing proud, as serene as a secret lotus unfolding its petals in the sunrise among the reeds of the Nile.

I may be only frail and human, and I may never be immortal, but even I sometimes need a little centering calm in my own busy life, a reconnection with all I hold sacred, and Isis does just that.

When you are centered at last, secure as any earthly goddess can ever be, that beautiful sandalwood sings with frankincense and myrrh their redolent tales of sacred and profane, of worship and adulation, of all the many secrets Isis knows and shares with every woman who needs that grounding, that centering in an often frantic life, and finally, you can – as I did – imagine yourself as Nefertari, Ramses the Great’s queen, in the wall painting above. She has passed her test and weighed her heart on Anubis’ scales, Osiris has proclaimed his judgment, and the Goddess Isis – protector of all women in life and in the afterlife – steps forward to bestow immortality upon her or even you – that Breath…of Eternity.

Notes: Blue lotus absolute, pink lotus absolute, white water lily absolute, jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense, myrrh

Opus Oils – The Divine Collection – Isis is available as perfume oil, parfum and Eau de parfum, bath and body oil, bath salts, body lotion and body butter directly from the Opus Oils website. It will no eternity at all before I buy up one of everything!

Image: Nefertari and Isis, from Nefertari’s tomb, 19th Dynasty, the Valley of the Queens, Egypt.

Image of “Pink Lotus”, © Cecilia Webber

A Tintannabulation of Skin

 A review of Opus Oils’ Eau Pear Tingle 

So far as our senses and sensory impressions are concerned, all too often we tend to take them entirely for granted. We will always be able to appreciate the visual beauty of a burning crystal clear sunset, our ears and minds will marvel at a perfect F over C, our fingertips vibrate with the anticipatory pleasures of touching silk, skin or velvet, and all the thousands of sensations that together spell out “chocolate” will always be addictive. And for a dedicated hedonist/perfumista, what could be more important than our sense of smell to awaken all our other senses?

Now imagine you’re an anosmic who has lost your sense of smell due to trauma or illness, and in an instant, over one fifth of your entire sensory register is…gone. Suddenly, your sense of taste is vastly diminished since so many complex taste sensations are more smelled than tasted, suddenly flowers are only able to be appreciated for their visual beauty and not their fragrance, and as for perfume, well, really…what’s the point? Or what about being born congenitally anosmic, that is to say without any sense of smell at all?

We’ve all experienced bad colds that killed our sense of smell and taste. For epic colds, my sister swears by Naga chilis so thermonuclear, not even native Kerala Indians will go near them. And as it happens, she’s on to something.

Such are the workings of the human brain, that even with anosmics, they don’t lose what’s called the trigeminal response – that is to say, the nerve that registers things like the heat (or pain!) of chilis, the prickly bubbles of carbonation, the cooling sensation of mint and many other responses that are tied to your nose more than you think.

A few months ago, the writer Michelle Krell Kydd of Glass Petal Smoke issued a perfume brief via the social media of Twitter and Facebook. The challenge was to make a pefume that would both register with anosmics as well as appeal to non-anosmics, since is there any reason why anosmics too shouldn’t experience the pleasures of wearing a truly good perfume for themselves as well as their surroundings? After all, the rest of us may wear perfume to please ourselves first and foremost, but no small part of the thrill – at least for me – is to make an impression, too.

One perfumer took up that challenge – Kedra Hart of Opus Oils, whose mother was diagnosed as an anosmic after a skating accident when Kedra was a teenager. So Eau Pear Tingle was created, and now that I’ve tried it too, I can tell you this – this is not your usual ‘perfume’.

In order for such a perfume to succeed, it had to appeal in a different way, to work for anosmics and also to satisfy the rest of us as a true perfume does – with complexity and evolution, and by triggering that precise trigeminal response that tells an anosmic—yes! There’s something new on my skin!

So there is…because right away, Eau Pear Tingle announces its presence with the tingling sensation you might know from Vick’s Vapo-Rub or Tiger Balm…nothing nearly so obvious but emphatically present – soft, sensuous and simultaneously warm and cool at once – and even more surprising is that sensation on your skin stays with you for as long as the scent itself, and really, how great is that?

Wait! It gets better! But first, let me hear you scream…

Eau Pear Tingle as a perfume is best classified as a fruity-floral-oriental, which tends to make perfume bloggers break out in verbal hives, if not howls of derision for their sheer, unavoidable ubiquity in the mainstream perfume market. So before I’m pelted with rotting bottles of Giorgio Beverly Hills, may I say that this is Kedra Hart, darlings, and with two notable exceptions, no one does fruit+floral better. Combined with the uniqueness of being able to feel it, it takes the concept of wearing perfume to a multi-sensory experience you won’t find anywhere else.

It starts green and minty, effervescent and slightly astringent to the nose – the spearmint that gives it that effect on skin – and in seconds, what smells like a tropically flavored cocktail of pear, pineapple and coconut starts dancing away, even though neither pineapple nor coconut are listed in the notes. Lime/linden blossom and jasmine must give my nose that impression, and they are thick, heady and truly luscious to behold – and not indolic in the slightest. What next happens as the flowers and fruit fade to sensuous green embers is a woody, elegant, vintage feel of the musk, pine and a glorious sandalwood – an accord I’ve begun to recognize in many of Opus Oils’ perfumes as a definite signature.

This sandalwood is not the sandalwood we’ve had to settle for these days, this smells like the very best of very vintage Mysore with all its many facets of magnificent, moody, sensual wood…a journey in time and on skin back to the bad old days when opulence wasn’t an advertising byword or overused PR ploy but a fragrant reality you trailed in your wake, precisely the kind of trail that gets you noticed for all the very best of reasons!

If I had to put another name to Eau Pear Tingle, it would be…wearable champagne. Think about it – half the thrill of champagne – apart from its taste and effect – is… all those thousands of bubbles dancing their cancan in your mouth and up your nose – stimulating the very same trigeminal nerve this perfume does.

I love the unusual – in life as well as perfume – and Eau Pear Tingle is unusual both in its creation and its effect, and as unique as Kedra’s perfumes always are. It happily satisfies all my perfumoholic urges for exploring new territory – a multi-sensory time trip from the future through providing a sensation – the present in its sparkling fruity-floral richness, and the glowing, vintage depths of its long-lasting drydown, a wave and a knowing wink to the wonders that were that so many of us still revere and love. Most of all, however, there is that wonder and shock of unique …like strumming a pear guitar, or like the tintannabulation of skin to make a music all its own that everyone should be able to sense.

Notes: Spearmint, lime blossom, pear, jasmine, white musk, pine, sandalwood

Disclosure: A sample of Eau Pear Tingle was provided for review by Opus Oils.

Don’t miss Michelle Krell Kydd’s excellent article on anosmia and the development of Eau Pear Tingle, as well as Kedra’s own words, too!

Images: Pear Guitar, vir41, Eau Pear Tingle atomizer bottle by permission of Opus Oils.