I have been a student of the Tarot since I was 12 years old, so when I heard a natural perfumer was bringing the deck to life in the form of a line of fragrances…I HAD to try them! At one point (in college), I was one of those (often annoying) ultra-natural essential and incense oil wearing, natural fiber sporting, bleeding heart, hair-to-the-middle-of-my-back tree-hugging hippy types. If it wasn’t ALL NATURAL…I wasn’t wearing it. Now, I am what I call a “reformed hippy” who cut his hair, tries to wear eco-friendly clothing and still respects nature, the Earth and others (as much as I can); but who also realizes all things (natural and synthetic) have their place.
The Tarot is an ancient form of divination (a system of trying to understand one’s place and relation to cosmic forces beyond one’s control). There are many types of tarot decks and this line is based on the Gaian Tarot. All decks consist of 78 cards composed of two “Arcana” (Latin for mysteries). The Lesser Arcana (the equivalent of the modern playing card deck) are minor events and types of people we meet in our daily lives. The Greater Arcana represents archetypal experiences and roles everyone plays (in some form or another) at some point in their lives. These also correspond to the 22 paths between the 10 spheres of Kabbalah. Often called “The Fool’s Journey”, it begins with the Fool (Number 0) as an innocent who goes through many “stages” until, after many events (both good and bad) he emerges as the World (number 21). He is complete and in tune with himself and his environment. It is the Major Arcana that Amanda Feeley of Escentual Alchemy has focused on, for her perfumes. If you tried the mass market line of Tarot perfumes (Anthology) and found them wanting and rather generic, I urge you to give these perfumes a try!
The Hermit (no9) is composed of a delightful blend of jonquil, tuberose, castoreum, hyrax, ambergris, benzoin and civet. This is the archetype of someone who has gone “away from the world” and above the din of others to hear their own thoughts and though alone has become wiser and more in tune with self. You would expect this to be a heavy animalic fragrance, from the listed notes, and that it would have a heavy thick floral odor…perish the thought! The Hermit goes on softly and smoothly with the warm benzoin, immediately comforting and cozy. The flowers (two of my favorites by the way) are blended perfectly and jonquils sharp fresh green aroma “cuts” the heady tuberose and balances it elegantly. A very sexy complex muskiness pervades throughout this scent; yet, it is never “dirty” or barbaric. It captures the elusive nature of this “trump” with an excellent blend of “wild” and untamed with earthy and natural. Sillage: good, Longevity: very good
The Star (no17) is composed of peru and tolu balsams, hay, tonka, styrax, cloves, carnation, cinnamon, wormwood, lavender, mint and peppermint. This is the archetype where one has found peace and inspiration after such unsettling and devastating events as the Devil (15) and the Lightning Struck Tower (16). It is one of my personal favorite tarot images. This begins brightly and crisply fresh with mint and clean lavender. As it dries a bit, the dry carnation, sensual spices and balsams surround you; after which the bitter dark green wormwood juxtaposed with the fresh opening leads you to a wonderful dry down of sun warmed hay, smooth (but not too sweet) tonka beans and gorgeous styrax. The Star shines ancient and eternal; yet is also bright, warm and woody. This is an amazing balance of cool cleanness and comfy warmth! Sillage: very good; Longevity: very good
The Moon (no18) is made up of many of the same notes as the Star is. Clove, carnation, cinnamon, wormwood, mint and peppermint create something much starker (and darker) however. Wormwood and the two mints swirl together to make a deep dark green scent (much like the juice’s color). This is the archetype of intrigue, mystery and possible danger (or deception) lurking. It symbolizes forces in motion that are just out of your sight, not unlike a walk in deep shadows before emerging into the light. As the spicier notes rise, along with carnation’s dry and pungent aroma, you are taken from a shadowy green to a smooth and (almost gourmand) deliciousness and sharp fresh dried flowers. The Moon is usually considered mysterious, unknown and often times frightening…and here it is all of those things; but shows us the dark can be welcoming and beautiful and we do not have to fear it. Sillage: average; Longevity: excellent
The Builder (no4) *called The Emperor in most decks* is a blending of a sweet woody base (sandalwood and patchouli) with exotic green flowers (geranium, jasmine and rose) with a touch of camphor over lush pineapple. The Emperor is usually the archetype of the stern (often cold) ruler on his throne. The Empress rules from the heart; HE rules from the mind, and is not often swayed by matters of the heart. The Builder (in the Gaian tarot) is one who has balanced heart and head and creates lovingly with his hands. This opens very masculine as a thick luscious pineapple is embraced by medicinal camphor which reduces its sticky and syrupy qualities and leaves a delightful tart sweetness tinged with a very unique aroma. The floral heart is not overly feminine (thanks to the geranium) but hints at a loving nature and the softer and gentler side of manliness. The finish (a combination so often over used in mass market scents) is simple yet eloquent here: keeping it earthy and “real” as (obviously) aged patchouli covers a dry aromatic sandalwood. Hints of greens and subtle sharpness come and go, even in the dry down. Sillage: very good; Longevity: excellent
The World (no21) is expressed by sharp herbal lavender, hay, spicy sweet tonka beans combined with peru and tolu balsams and styrax with subtle fruity undertones. This particular “trump” symbolizes completion, victory over adversity and self-knowledge resulting in happiness. The “Fool” has finished his “journey” and found himself. He is content and at peace with himself, learned from all he has been through and has been reborn. Lavender (more green than floral here) along with hay brings to mind summer days and carefree country settings. Aromas of sun ripened fruits hanging on trees, and littering the ground, add a whisper of autumnal harvests. Thick spicy exotic resins and hints of both cinnamon and vanilla tease playfully as a superb woody dry down blends sensually on one’s skin. This is NOT the “World” in terms of its material wealth. It IS the scent of utter happiness and feeling “on top of the world” while enjoying life’s simpler but perhaps most meaningful riches. Sillage: quite good; Longevity: very good
Amanda has done something very few perfumers (natural or otherwise) thus far have done. She has taken totally natural essences and blended them superbly to catch something so very esoteric (deeply meaningful on an “inner” spiritual and subconscious level) and brought an ancient divination and meditation tool to life. Many think Tarot is a thing of folly and fancy; many others think the same of perfumes. I find, for me anyway, both Tarot and perfume capture elusive energies and feelings all of us can relate to, in one way or another. They echo experiences, gently remind us of lost memories and can ease our life’s journeys and teach us, if we care to listen. Amanda has plumbed the depths of her psyche and graced us with distillations and combinations of fragrances that truly capture universal experiences. I am eagerly awaiting the turn of the next card in her Tarot series and look forward to completing my own complete perfumed Major Arcana one day.
These reviews were written from samples purchased myself from www.esscentualalchemy.com
Thanks to Amanda Feeley and Esscentual Alchemy we have a complete sample set of 1mL vials to give to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment telling us which Tarot card or Tarot perfume speaks most clearly to you. We will draw one winner on February 10, 2012 via random.org.
We announce the winners only on site and on our Facebook page, so Like Cafleurebon and use our RSS option…or your dream prize will be just spilt perfume
–John Reasinger, Contributor