The Soul Garden

The Alchemy of Aromatics

February 16, 2024 Georgina Langdale Episode 46
The Soul Garden
The Alchemy of Aromatics
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of The Soul Garden we explore natural perfumery and working with ancient cosmological concepts in the approach to creating aromatic portraits of ancient mystics and modern day perfume lovers.

Georgina Langdale discusses her approach to working with aromatics. She talks about using raw ingredients, astrology, amulets, and Renaissance mysticism. She studied aromatherapy and natural perfumery and founded an apothecary called Archeus. She sees plants physically, through the doctrine of signatures, and energetically. She makes medicated oils by infusing herbs. She discusses how Marsilio Ficino used aromatics as medicine for the soul and spirit in the 1400s. The speaker explains how she composes natural perfumes based on astrology, symbolism, and the energies needed. She created aromatic portraits of Marsilio Ficino, Paracelsus, and Hildegard of Bingen. She describes the process of formulating each perfume based on their life, writings, astrological charts, and the energies they embodied. Georgina talks about making bespoke perfumes for people by looking at their astrological chart and having them draw in the elements and energies they need. She discusses remembering those who have passed by creating an aromatic portrait of them.

Courses | Coaching
Instagram @georginalangdalesoul
Facebook @georginalsoul

NatFem Botanics | Perfume |Plant Essences:
Archeus Apothecary

Instagram: @ArcheusNaturalLiving
Facebook @ArcheusNaturalLiving
Youtube @ArcheusGeorgina

Hello, and welcome to the soul garden. My name is Georgina Langdale. And I'm just delighted to have you here with me today. And today, I'm going to be sharing with you my approach to working with aromatics. And in this discussion, we're going to look at the beauty of working with raw ingredients. And we're going to look at astrology. And we're going to look at amulets, and we're going to look at Renaissance mysticism. And I hope that you enjoy it perfume is such a subjective thing, isn't it, we all have perfumes that we like and those that we don't. And even the way a perfume sits on our skin and changes over time changes its aromatic qualities. These are all completely unique to the individual. But there are two types of perfumery really there's the kind of high street perfumery that uses lots of synthetic fragrances. And then there is the beautiful alchemical art of natural perfumery. So gorgeous. Few years ago, I studied with Mandy Aftel who is you know, she's basically the queen of natural perfumery and a lovely and inspiring human being. And if natural perfumery is something that you you're finding interesting and might like to get into, then I recommend that you seek her books out. She's a font of information and wisdom. Many, many years before that when I was living in London in the early 90s, I studied aromatherapy so looking at the aromatics and physiological and biochemical properties of essential oils. And these things have always stayed with me. I know I work with plants all the time. So I have an apothecary that I call Archeus, which I founded over 10 years ago now Gosh, and I'm making beautiful natural botanical skincare and remedies and wellness and wellbeing products there. And so working with plants in this myriad of ways, has really reframed how I see them and working with them as per Fumiya. And as a healer, and as a herbalist. I look at them in a number of ways. Firstly, I see the plant in its physical sense. And then I look at it with the medieval eyes of observing the doctrine of signatures. And what this means is how a plant grows, its shape, its form its color, its relationship to plants around it times of year, all of these things can help us build up a picture of how we might use that plant in medicine and in healing and in symbolism. I look at how do I work with the plant with its what I call the coarse aspect. So this is kind of this is thinking about it as matter. So I might dry the plant or parts of the plant to then make infusions or tea, or I might use it to infuse into oils. I'm in fact making these beautiful in a evatik sense. You call them medicated oils by infusing herbs that you use in medicine into those oils create something very, very special. I will also use that physical matter to infuse an alcohol to make tinctures and then I will use the plant material freshly harvested plant material to make plant essences you know these are flower remedies. So these are subtle, energetic imprints of the plant in the mainstream, which is water and some alcohol for preserving it and the set It's an energetic quantum relationship with the plant. And I've found this to be very, very powerful and wonderful for use in ceremony in end of life care and celebrations and in so many ways, but I'll save all that for other episodes. Over millennia aromatics have been seen as medicine for the soul and the spirit Marsilio Ficino, in the 1400s. And Florence wrote extensively about this. He said, there are certain ways of taking those plant aromatics, to work with health. So he would say for example, if you're feeling that your spirit it's sort of loose and you're losing it, you know, you can't quite grasp reality, he would suggest that you eat you nourish your soul and your spirit with very aromatic foods. And it's almost that taking in of those aromatics and settling them within you is a way of helping ground and settle your spirit. Conversely, he would say that if your spirits are really weighed down and and, and feeling low, so if you're feeling really depressed, melancholic, he would say the opposite he would say this is when you need to have beautiful aromatics and odors around you because they help lift the spirits. And so when I work formulating and composing natural perfumes, I'm thinking of the ways that I can lift the spirits in the way that I work with plants, I start off with my knowledge as a herbalist and aromatherapist. And then I also layer on top of that my energetic connection with plants from an early age I had been a traumatic event enabled me to suddenly see energy and plants and and everything around me really. So it gave me a shortcut to building that energetic relationship with nature. So when I'm working with plants, I really, I really feel them. I feel their signature, I feel their character, then another layer. I love this life is so beautiful, isn't it just layers and layers of meaning I work with astrology, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, said 2000 years ago, he said that to be a physician first you must know the stars. This all goes back to this very ancient idea that our health and our well being is in direct relationship with a relationship with nature, spirit and Cosmos, it was really widely understood, that stars us everything in this cosmos. Everything in this universe is made of the same stuff. Ficino said we are made of stardust. So astrology was used to see to kind of peer into the Stardust that you are made of. And see how then, by mapping your birth, against the position of planets and stars and the moon at the time of your birth, you can start to see the character, the signature of the person of their constitution and work with this for their well being. And when we look at the plant world, we can apply these signatures, these cosmological signatures to plants as well. So we will talk about plants having planetary astrological rulership rulers. So a plant is really good for fighting off infection may be under the rulership of Mars. A plant that is really good for women's health issues could be under the rulership of Venus or the moon. So there are all of these into woven beautiful layers and layers of meaning and wisdom that we can draw on and I love drawing on this when I am working when I'm when I'm formulating my products for in my Archeus apothecary for my NatFem Botanics range when I'm making my plant essences when I'm working with clients, and when I'm making perfume my approach to making a perfume is never just about the aromatics. It's not simply Now, anyone who makes perfume knows that there's no such word as simple and making perfume. But what I mean is, it's not simply about getting a beautiful accord of base notes and mid notes and top notes and finding gorgeous locks, and really playing with aromatics in a multi dimensional form. That is not simple. Oh my God, it is not simple, but it is a beautiful rabbit hole to go down. I also paint and in a way, making perfume for me is a bit like painting an oil painting. It takes time those one of the perfumes I'm gonna talk about in a minute that I made to render Marsilio FIcino in aromatics, I think that whole process took me the best part of a year, just keeping working at it trying these different things getting the light, and the shade and the depth and the shimmer of that perfume literally was like putting my brush into the oils onto the canvas. And then standing back and looking and then leaving it you have to leave it for a while and then come back again piece by piece. perfumery is another form of art and artistic expression. When Ficino worked with aromatics as medicine for the soul and the spirit. He would look at the person look at their astrological chart. And then he would start to look at what are the energies what are the rays from the cosmos that need that person needs to draw in to themselves and around them to help with their well being their wellness. This is the term we use today isn't it? And and then he would prescribe the aromatics for them. So I like working in that way. And on my website, Georgina, I have three perfumes available. And each of them an aromatic rendering an aromatic portrait of somebody very special to me who inspires me. And those three people are Marsilio Ficino, the Renaissance physician and philosopher and soul Dr. Paracelsus, who is an A physician and an alchemist of the 16th century, an incredible incredible man and then the 12th century mystic abbess, artist, composer. all around amazing woman, Hildegard of Bingen, decided that I was going to create an aromatic portrait of each of these individuals, these three individuals. Now another part of the inspiration I had for that was from Gertrude Stein, the American author and a woman with an amazing sell on and she did what she called Word portraits of people. She rendered them in words like an artist would render them with pigment and brush. I read a book about her and Alice B. Toklas, probably in the early 80s. And it has just stayed with me this idea of these word portraits, so I thought, Well, why not do the same thing? But with perfume? So Paracelsus Hildegard and for chino. I've studied so much about them over so many years now. I really feel like they are. Each of them are walking with me guiding Me in the work I do. It's a it's a very deeply felt connection I have with them. For example, when I was developing Magnus waters, which is the perfume for Paracelsus. I thought about his character. He was he was a firebrand, he took no prisoners. He was he was outspoken, he got himself in trouble. He, I think he must have had a huge ego, but also so sensitive, sensitive to nature, sensitive to healing, sensitive to Cosmos, and he was an alchemist. So I looked at what are some of the plants that would would that would represent those firebrand aspects of him, and then balancing them tried to create the chords, the aromatic Accords, with extracts and resins that would temper that burning soul of his. So his perfume is quite spicy and hot. And whenever I spray some on me, I get a kind of rush of adrenaline. And sometimes I think that when I, when I wear that perfume, I wear it for those moments when I need a bit of Paracelsus in my life, when I need that, that push, and that confidence and that self belief, because face it we all suffer from moments of lack of self belief, don't we? With Hildegard of Bingen, I looked at the time that she was living in to understand the astrological events that were happening through that time. I drew really heavily on her writings about working with herbs for health and well being for example, in aromatics. She said that rose and sage would help dispel anger. And she worshiped the Virgin Mary, she she wrote extensively about Mary. And so I thought about some of the plants that represent the Virgin Mary, and also Mary Magdalene, all the time looking at symbolism and layering and balance and points of aromatic intrigue. So her aroma Divinia Essentia is very floral. It's deeply feminine. For me. Hildegard is the deep feminine she is Artemis, she is Hestia. She's just an incredible, incredible being. And then with Marsilio Ficino, again, I drew heavily on his writings about working with aromatics for a spirit medicine. But I also thought about his deep sense of melancholy, he struggled, he had satin in his first house in Aquarius, and it weighed heavily on him. Saturn is the planet that is seen as it is related to things like depression and heaviness and darkness and death and all of these things. So he spoke often or wrote often about Saturn's influence in his chart. However, satin also gave him the ability to draw down these philosophical ideas that were kind of floating around in space, and draw them down and get them onto the page. And I think that that sat and helped give him extraordinary insights as he was translating the works of Plato, and things like the Hermeticum and in Ficino's letters. He spoke often about these furthered love and for a younger man, and the intensity of his feelings were so strong, they kind of leapt off the page at you. And so I thought about the heavy narcotic, heady stuff sent of plants and a night garden of those deep longings of the seduction of aromatics. And it was beautiful, weaving those into the perfume. The great thing about Ficino is that we have his birth date in place, and so able to work off his astrological chart. And so that enabled me to look at where are his planets? Where are the pushes and pulls of the cosmos within his being? And how do I as I'm creating this portrait of him, render them in sent render them in bass notes, and middle notes and top notes. So the perfume that I created for him, Lunae Signa et Stellas is, I think, quite a heady and sophisticated perfume. These notes wind around themselves. And I think that there is a beautiful complexity in that scent in the perfume, that what I hope is a lovely rendering of Ficino, the man or the perfumes I make I make with natural ingredients and the men, that makes them expensive. They're so exquisite. I stand in, in nature. And so working with these plants and trees, root leaf flower in these ways, is so alchemical, it is alchemical. This is an alchemy, you add a drop of this, and a drop of that, and you get something totally magical. Or you add a drop of this in there, and you get something that totally bombs. So when I'm making these perfumes, this multi dimensional relationship with nature and with cosmos is front and center of my approach. And I love the idea of making bespoke perfumes for people in this way. So imagine, if you were wanting your own perfume, and you came to me, I would ask you for your birth date detail. So I could draw up your astrological chart just in the same way that for Chino would have done in the Renaissance. And we would have a session together on Zoom. And we would look at that chart, we look at your chart and talk about the things that really resonate for you. And then I would start to prepare your natural rendering of nature and cosmos to create a perfume that represented you or that draws in your allies. Now Ficino wrote a lot about this idea of amulets. And this is not just his idea this goes back through millennia again. And you see it absolutely in Vedic traditions, using gemstones plants and astrology Jyotish to work out what a person needs for their well being is 1000s and 1000s of years old. So I'm just stepping into that lineage. And looking I'd be looking at you through that lens. I'm interested in creating a perfume for you that draws down the elements, the energies, the rays you need from the cosmos, and from your plant allies in nature. This is not the stuff of the high street this is an atelier, a apothecary in a centered garden. It is private and beautiful. Working with aromatics working with I plan energetics, working with the physical matter of plants, working with the stars, working with music and art, and the spoken word, holding sacred space for a client, so that they can explore the things that are mattering to them. This is all part of my calling, I feel that there is something beautiful in this multi dimensional way of caring and tending for someone's well being. And in the good times and the bad times in life, and at the end of life. One of the things that I offer, as well is making that perfume that aromatic portrait of a person as a way of remembering them. Someone has passed, working with creating an aromatic portrait of them, may be beautiful for someone, as they remember them. Paracelsus said this beautiful, beautiful thing about plants. And he says the soul does not perceive the external or internal physical construction of herbs and routes. But it intuitively perceives their powers and virtues and recognizes at once their signature. So Paracelsus lived from 1493 to 1541. He was an alchemist. My hope in working in this way is that I'm creating ways for others to intuitively perceive the virtues and signatures of the plants that help them have their own life force, the powers and signature of this soul it's kind of an aromatic augmented reality. So when you're out in a garden or in nature somewhere what are the aromatics that you are drawn to? Is it that beautiful warm sundrenched smell of hay or the heady aroma of a rose, or that beautiful woodiness of cedar or for pay attention to the aromatics that lift you up or repel you or weigh you down. Maybe journal them think about your aromatic relationship with nature. And if you're interested in exploring what that might be for you, what you might be like rendered aromatically or your allies and guiding stars rendered for you aromatically. Get in touch. I'd love to help thank you for joining me in the soul garden today. It's been lovely to have you here. I'm going to disappear off out into my garden now. and smell the roses. See you next week.