When a talented perfumer I know let slip that he bought some of his base scents from Eden Botanicals, I went to the website immediately. I’ve long used essential oils to help me relax or shift my mood, adding a few drops to baths or lit candles or a few drops on a pillow. They have the power to calm the nerves and change a vibe or mood. (It’s why they call it aromatherapy. There are many books that teach how to employ them for healing.)

At Eden’ site, I found myself reading descriptions of essential oils that were much like good wine writing, with notes about terroir and nuances of specific geographies, cultivation methods and fragrance notes. The offerings are a far cry from vin ordinaire essential oils I’d been accustomed to using: 9 kinds of lavender, from France, Bulgaria, Seville…high elevation…wild… ; 7 kinds of rose….; 4 kinds of vetiver, all carefully made from botanical sources.

Here’s a description of their High Elevation Lavender essential oil:

Very refined, herbaceous, green-floral aroma, with a subtle sweet coumarinic undertone…Rows of this violet-blue Lavender are cultivated at high altitudes where upper elevations appear to increase the development of the light, powdery ester, linalyl acetate.

Lavandula_angustifolia_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-087 Wikimedia

The description of Vetiver from Java gave me a sense of its complexity and effect:

Our Vetiver from the island of Java in Indonesia has an earthy, green, woody-rooty, fresh aroma with sweet, cedar-like nuances underscored with a pronounced ‘boozy’, earthy note of great depth. More than just a simple grass, its chemical complexity is why Vetiver is often thought of as a perfume in itself… Also known as vetivertkhus, or khus khus, Vetiver has a long history of use and is very well known as the Oil of Tranquility.2 It is obtained from the roots of a tropical grass originally from India and Sri Lanka…

…Christopher McMahon, a soulful observer and lover of plants, suggests that Vetiver oil’s “…wonderful complexity is due to the fact that it has many hundreds of fine rootlets that are in direct contact with the earth in which it grows and that it is able to extract from this earth subtle and rare molecules that are absorbed into its vascular system which in turn transforms them into a galaxy of molecules within the plant.” 

Since Eden’s offerings are available in sample sizes for a couple of bucks each, I ordered an array including less common scents like cannabis, hinoki wood, violet leaf, vetiver. I made a study of scents in the same way I’d taught myself about darjeeling teas, wines, chocolate, by experiencing a wide variety side by side and not only homing in on the aspects of how they smelled, but how they made me feel. In this way I began to learn differences that, say, various lavenders or vetivers can have and with them a different effect on my mood or response. It was a revelation.

Lavender via David_Kandel Wikimedia

There’s a useful protective aspect of essential oils in their ability to create a pleasing barrier in difficult situations. I realized I could use these lovely oils to antidote the sickly sweet synthetic incense that sometimes wafts up from my neighbor’s apartment when the terrace door was open. I bought an electronic diffuser to create a mist of Wild French Lavender or Rose Geranium from Madagascar, or a mix of oils from my collection.

A drop of Wild Lavender oil rubbed under my nose can mask an unpleasant odor when traveling, relax me and transport me to a lavender field in France. It is an essential component in my survival kit.

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