Syndicated from the Web


2019 Weenies From Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

by on Nov.12, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Weenie time, weenie time! It’s Weenie time at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! I think I can skip the preamble this year and get right into it. I mean, I could very well wax poetic about my love of autumn leaves and long, dark nights and bloody harvest moons and spooky Halloween feels, but I’m pretty sure you all love those things, too, just as much as I do! I am preaching to the choir with that sort of talk, you know? I don’t need to convince you.

Below are my “tasting notes,” if you will, on several greedy handfuls of this year’s Weenies: my initial thoughts, impressions, and reflections; the imagery and memories and stories and dreams that each scent immediately evokes. These notes comprise the raw material which eventually gets incorporated into what I hope are thoughtful and cogent reviews. Think of them as “behind the scenes” (“behind the scents”?) peeks and insights, I guess! Some of them are more fully fleshed out than others and some, I’ll confess, don’t entirely make a lot of sense. Sometimes in the potent grip of a particular sniff, I’ll practice what I might chalk up to a bit of automatic writing and channel the spirit of the scent, the results of which I then reason with and wrangle into proper words fit for human eyes. Here today I have left them in their original, reflexive, stream-of-consciousness state.

Before I get into it, I will share one last thing: I am over the moon excited that I had the opportunity to sniff some of the lab’s Dracula: Order Of The Dragon collection (with amazing label art by Abigail Larson!) I have savored Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story on countless occasions in the course of my lifetime and I plan to do so again and again as far into the future as I am able. There is no tale quite so thrilling for me as Dracula, and of all my beloved stories, it is the one that has eternally snared the deepest, rarest love of my heart. This is the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab collection I have been waiting for, since, well, forever and I feel very fortunate to share some of my thoughts on it with you today.

So…let me know what you think about this format! Actually, now that I look it over, it kinda looks… the same as the other BPAL reviews I write. Huh. How did that happen?? Well, I await and appreciate your feedback, all the same. And please do let us know if you have any favorites from this year’s Weenie collection! If you have questions about a particular scent that I did not mention below, leave a comment, and I’ll see if I can’t come up with an on-the-fly review for you.

And, also, wow…my preamble-less intro was a lie. Read on for the good stuff!

Les Heures de la Nuit (blackcurrant musk, white lime, and sparkling white cognac) Mimosa icing sugar frosting a tea cake? Cold black tea sweetened with a citrus blossom sugar?

Songs of Autumn I (sometime before: rain-damp grass and white sage) a herbaceous, purifying scent; hand made soap and icy, clear water.

Songs of Autumn III (dust and tumbleweeds, dry sage and chaparral, cactus nectar, and cinders) The scent of the absence of a thing; a melancholy, echoing pocket of once-was in a space where a thing was just-there. A faintly sweet, and slightly sad slip of void.

Songs of Autumn V (dry maple leaves, blackcurrant juice, patchouli root, and bourbon) It’s the sort of earthy-foresty-berried brew that a wood-witch keeps in a flask at their side for the revivification of lost souls and a nip for themselves on bone-cold nights. It’s probably about 51% ABV. I wish POM Wonderful made a version of it.

Dusk in Autumn (black tea, currant cake, mandrake root, a whirl of dried leaves, and hearthsmoke) Sara Teasdale made perfectly fragrant (I feel like the sweet comforts of her wonderful poetry were made expressly for this!) Dusky, musty, sweet autumn vegetation; the ancestral memory of smoke twisting up into a starry sky.

The Shadowed Veil (black pumpkin, leather, pomegranate incense, agarwood, and bourbon patchouli) a browned butter cake topped with autumn leaves and smoky icing sugar, served by the misty hands of by a solemn ghost; a widows (cake) walk.

Are You Digging on my Grave (snuggly musk, milky puppy breath, upturned earth, and a gently-gnawed bone) I was previously unaware of this poem, and the imagery plus the wonderfully pupper-centric scent notes make my heart sigh weepily. Dabbed on the wrist the fragrance conjures November-chilled cemetery gates, a frigid wind biting through woolen mittens, and an afternoon treat–a softly crumbling scone perhaps, wrapped in a clean cotton handkerchief, and stuffed deep into coat pockets for nibbling over forgotten gravestones.

The Empty House (black oud, woodsmoke, mahogany, pine pitch, and blackened pumpkin) the most delicious pine-log campfire coffeecake, enjoyed post-Wendigo escape.

Fall Leaves, Fall (starry musk melting into blackcurrant, black oudh, black roses, and blood-red maple leaves) this smells the way the phrase “a murmuration of starlings” feels on the tongue; spectral silhouettes fluttering behind closed eyelids in a cinematic sort of way.

Mictecacihuatl (copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco, and roses) An intricately carved wooden tray with offerings of dried roses and fresh apricots, dusted with cocoa and cracked pink peppercorn.

The Listeners (mist-pale lilac, orris root, bruised violets, mugwort, white amber, yuzu, white champa, and white musk) Intensely aromatic dry, bitter citrus mingles with paraffin wax and fresh-cut, almost savory green capsicum for an oddly enjoyable scent that somehow smells exactly like the aggressively weird label art would have you believe it smells.

Pistachio Pumpkin Truffle an immediate deep saltiness, bordering on savory toastiness, followed by a wild, animalic chocolate. Like if cacao pods had scent glands.

Cozy Pumpkin Sweater (a dribble of pumpkin spice spilled onto a fluffy orange angora sweater) Ok so imagine that demented cashmere sweater scene from Lord Love A Duck but transplant it into the eternal autumn of the Sabrina universe. Pumpkin spices and that enchanted inch or so of knitted or woven fabric along your cardigan collar that even when removed at the end of the day, retains the warmth of your skin and the phantom perfume of your favorite shampoo.

Cardamom Cream Pumpkin Cake Cardamom is one of my favorite kitchen spices and, I think, one of the most unique scents and flavors that I’ve ever encountered. Woody, incense-y, soapy (is this just me?) and wonderfully aromatic–I add it to every “spiced” baked good I make, whether or not the recipe calls for it. In this instance, it makes for a warm, delicious fragrance, with milky-sweet aspects and a “fresh out of the oven” vibe.

Pumpkin Mead And Honey Cakes quintessential carmelized carbohydrates; the platonic ideal of a dense sticky, brown bread

Apple Butter Rum A fresh stick of butter, and a basket of fresh-picked apples. Later, these notes will come together in a cast-iron skillet and carmelize with sweet spices and a liberal spike of Kraken rum, but fresh out of the bottle, those two elements, the creamy dairy and the crisp fruit flesh, are so incredibly vivid and present and magically distinct from one another.

Sugar Skulls In The Pumpkin Patch Deliciously mouth-scratching Sour patch kids (strawberry?) + Downeast Maine pumpkin bread, the recipe I’ve been using from allrecipes.com since 2002

Miskatonic University Pumpkin Patch LILY–>GILDED Everything you love about the Irish coffee, dusty tomes, and polished oakwood of the original Misk U scent, added as an extra shot to a grande PSL. Somehow this really does call to mind a campus coffee shop for me (I went to a community college which I am pretty sure had no coffee shop, but I’ve got a good imagination.)

Devil’s Night In The Pumpkin Patch (a flaming pile of pumpkin guts, booze, and sweaty dark musk) A leathery dark musk, and the vegetal funk of clingy-stringy seasonal gourd innards. A crazy skeleton on a lurid horror paperback cover smells like this. Maybe this guy.

Popcorn Ball Snake Oil Popcorn is my favorite food. I could eat it for every meal. And while there are many “foodie” scents I don’t think I’d like to smell of, popcorn gets a pass. Hell yeah, I’ll smell like popcorn! This is the hot-toasty-salty-buttery-corniness of movie theatre popcorn, bound stickily with that sugary-resinous Snake Oil, which gives it a complexity and depth that you wouldn’t get with your run-of-the-mill, plain old popcorn perfume (because … there’s so many of them out there?)

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil Here’s my Downeast Maine pumpkin bread again! But imagine if you substitute Snake Oil for the cooking oil (which I already swapped for olive oil) and the result is a sugared-vanilla incense-xxxspicy loaf (because I use at least three times as much cinnamon, too.)

Lollipop Snake Oil Effervescent, grapefruity-limey Fresca + a watermelon Dum Dum!

Carotene (sunset orange, a marigold-bright throb of light: sweet amber, ginger root, apricot, patchouli, red mandarin, chrysanthemum, and yam) if carrots smelled more like tangerines–fresh, citrusy, a little waxy; if tangerines grew up from the rooty earth rather than hung down from high, sunny branches.

Chlorophyll (dew-dotted grass, tea leaf, and sun-warmed herbs) Oddly enough, this smelled like a matcha custard bun when I sniffed it straight out of the bottle! On the wrist though, it is a riot of vibrant greens, from fresh tomato leaf to sharp ivy to sweet marjoram.

Anthocyanin (red musk, mandrake root, patchouli, pimento, saffron, red oudh, clove, and basil) Fall air rich with decaying leaves and cider-y scents and gorgeous spice and incense-saturated veils billowing in a sun-warmed October afternoon’s breeze. Like… if your very favorite head-shop had a stall at your favorite autumnal renaissance fair. This is basically the best of all worlds.

Dead Leaves, Cacao, and Sandalwood The most wearable chocolate I have ever encountered, sort of a dry, mossy cocoa chypre?

Dead Leaves, Nutmeg, Sweet Vetiver and Virginia Cedar I don’t normally love nutmeg, but this is such a sweet, simple, wholesome combination that now I want to start putting nutmeg and cedar shavings in my morning porridge. I also want to be the kind of person who eats porridge.

Dead Leaves And Chai Really lovely, reminds me of the enchantment of autumns in NJ. A sweet-tempered spiciness mingled with those manky, musty, softly rotting vegetal dead leaves–this is such a great combination. It conjures the memory of an evening stroll I took over a decade ago, on Halloween night. Without the slightest hint of a breeze, a whirlwind of crushed and broken leaves rose up from the sidewalk to swirl around my head. One smacked me in the face so hard it felt like someone punched me. It was weird and exhilarating.

Dead Leaves Green Cognac And Tea Rose Very-extra-super rose-centric! Damp rose petals, tenderly bruised.

Dead Leaves, Moss, And Mushrooms if there was ever a better argument for “more is more,” I don’t know what that could possibly be. My favorite “Dead Leaves” scents have thus far been those signature dead leaves plus some unexpectedly bright or springy floral pairing…but as it turns out, the very best one is comprised of a “like + like” formula. This one smells as if you had swept your favorite mug across an autumn flotsam of forest floor and brewed up in boiling rainwater all the sylvan sweepings you had gathered. Best served warm and cozy in tiny acorn cups, to ring of sleepy woodland creatures. If you love fall but you don’t love pumpkin, maple, or apple scents, I think you are really going to fall for this one. Pun intended–I always intend my puns.

The Country Gets Wilder As We Go (a snow-capped, untamed maze of fir, poplar, and oak. Ghostly beech reaching skeletal arms into the ink-black sky.) Sweet, peaceful mountain flowers.

The Meaner Things (thundercrack of ozone and moist, salty fog. A flap of leathery wings, a cluster of bark-brown feathers, and skittering, chattering black musk) A wolf in mermaid’s clothing; a subtly sweet aquatic for people who think they don’t like aquatics. Beautiful.

Wax Cylinders (polished mahogany, soft leather, and gold-molded wax) soft swirls of waxen, creamy, chewy, golden confections;

Death’s Head Moth (dusty brown sandalwood, nagarmotha, brown oudh, clove husk, white patchouli, black pepper, vetiver, green cumin, and ash.) Hand-made lace, only a little moth-eaten and musty, that has retained the gentle perfume of its owner –a combination of warm skin, fine-milled soap, and sweet, cooling herbs– a century later. This is an understated and sublimely beautiful scent. *I believe “nagarmotha” is a kind of cypress*

The Empty Coffin (dead roses, oud blanc, and white sandalwood) at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is the creepiest thing I have ever smelled. If you have ever sat, alone, in a funeral home and sniffed at the sterile atmosphere and softly rotting blooms, almost certain that your nose could eke out the decaying flesh and embalming fluid and grief and loss and heartbreak and terrifying dread of your own mortality, underneath it all. Well, then. I challenge you to dribble a bit of this on your wrist and try to read Dracula without going a little bit insane. (Edited to add: this dries down to an eerily beautiful rose.)

Flesh of my Flesh (deep crimson musk threaded with mesmerizing Tunisian amber, voluptuous champaca blossom, vanilla absolute, labdanum, bitter almond, and black orchid) This is a wildly hypnotic, narcotic scent; a feral floral with a hint of musk and talc.

Come, Sister (icy musk draped in osmanthus and white gardenia, a whisper of ti leaf and orchid, crystalline amber, and incense smoke) A chilly scent-scape of misty wheeling figures and transparent gloom, of intolerable laughter in sweet, tingling tones; the low voice in a dream that befools, and leads you from one nightmare to the next, promising weak light and wakefulness. A fragrance of lightly falling snow and beguiling madness.

The Sleeping Draught (a haze of lavender and black oudh, laudanum accord, and opium tar) first: sharp, somewhat camphoraceous lavender steam; later, a dark, sticky, honeyed sweetness, like opium manufacturers jumped on the cbd gummies trend. Ye olde-time sugar-dusted opium gumdrops.

The Sun Rises To-day ( blue lilac and violet leaf, white musk and eucalyptus, carrot seed and ti leaf.) Fruity amber, a lavender + violet tonic, lemony green tea.

The Blood Is The Life (blood trickling through thick, dark myrrh and a rivulet of unholy, desecrated sacramental wine) This is the deepest, richest, reddest, most indecent goblet of spiced wine.

Kisses for us All (red roses and honey, a throb of red musk, bitter neroli and clove husk all staining a slash of sheet-white vanilla sandalwood) Out of the bottle, this is very similar to the deep claret of The Blood Is The Life, but it shortly differentiates itself as jammier, stickier, and more floral in the way that sometimes tuberose smells to me like grape jellies.

The Embodiment of Funeral Gloom (a shroud of black agarwood, cypress, myrrh, and upturned earth, scattered with crushed lavender and creeping with moss-smothered stone) This is an uncanny creation and smells exactly like this passage: “Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom.” I mean, that’s always the point, I’m sure, to have your work match up with your vision, but dang they nailed this and if you want whispering shrouds and grave tombs and misty clouds and ominous doom, you have come to the right place.

Lucy’s Eyes (a pulsing infernal amber, shot through with lilac-blue, bloodshot and blazing) Lilac and amber really is a strange and sinister combination! Miky green leaves, dewy and fresh, incased eternally in a glowing amber shrine. The amber lends a perversely sweet note to the potion, a sort of “evil Play-Doh” vibe. If Lucy rose out of her coffin and filmed a relaxing slime ASMR compilation for her YouTube channel, the shimmering ooze would smell like this.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2019 collection of perfumes, hair glosses, and atmosphere sprays are currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available for Weenie 2018.

Order of the Dragon illustrations by Abigail Larson


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2019 Weenies From Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

by on Nov.12, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Weenie time, weenie time! It’s Weenie time at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! I think I can skip the preamble this year and get right into it. I mean, I could very well wax poetic about my love of autumn leaves and long, dark nights and bloody harvest moons and spooky Halloween feels, but I’m pretty sure you all love those things, too, just as much as I do! I am preaching to the choir with that sort of talk, you know? I don’t need to convince you.

Below are my “tasting notes,” if you will, on several greedy handfuls of this year’s Weenies: my initial thoughts, impressions, and reflections; the imagery and memories and stories and dreams that each scent immediately evokes. These notes comprise the raw material which eventually gets incorporated into what I hope are thoughtful and cogent reviews. Think of them as “behind the scenes” (“behind the scents”?) peeks and insights, I guess! Some of them are more fully fleshed out than others and some, I’ll confess, don’t entirely make a lot of sense. Sometimes in the potent grip of a particular sniff, I’ll practice what I might chalk up to a bit of automatic writing and channel the spirit of the scent, the results of which I then reason with and wrangle into proper words fit for human eyes. Here today I have left them in their original, reflexive, stream-of-consciousness state.

Before I get into it, I will share one last thing: I am over the moon excited that I had the opportunity to sniff some of the lab’s Dracula: Order Of The Dragon collection (with amazing label art by Abigail Larson!) I have savored Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story on countless occasions in the course of my lifetime and I plan to do so again and again as far into the future as I am able. There is no tale quite so thrilling for me as Dracula, and of all my beloved stories, it is the one that has eternally snared the deepest, rarest love of my heart. This is the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab collection I have been waiting for, since, well, forever and I feel very fortunate to share some of my thoughts on it with you today.

So…let me know what you think about this format! Actually, now that I look it over, it kinda looks… the same as the other BPAL reviews I write. Huh. How did that happen?? Well, I await and appreciate your feedback, all the same. And please do let us know if you have any favorites from this year’s Weenie collection! If you have questions about a particular scent that I did not mention below, leave a comment, and I’ll see if I can’t come up with an on-the-fly review for you.

And, also, wow…my preamble-less intro was a lie. Read on for the good stuff!

Les Heures de la Nuit (blackcurrant musk, white lime, and sparkling white cognac) Mimosa icing sugar frosting a tea cake? Cold black tea sweetened with a citrus blossom sugar?

Songs of Autumn I (sometime before: rain-damp grass and white sage) a herbaceous, purifying scent; hand made soap and icy, clear water.

Songs of Autumn III (dust and tumbleweeds, dry sage and chaparral, cactus nectar, and cinders) The scent of the absence of a thing; a melancholy, echoing pocket of once-was in a space where a thing was just-there. A faintly sweet, and slightly sad slip of void.

Songs of Autumn V (dry maple leaves, blackcurrant juice, patchouli root, and bourbon) It’s the sort of earthy-foresty-berried brew that a wood-witch keeps in a flask at their side for the revivification of lost souls and a nip for themselves on bone-cold nights. It’s probably about 51% ABV. I wish POM Wonderful made a version of it.

Dusk in Autumn (black tea, currant cake, mandrake root, a whirl of dried leaves, and hearthsmoke) Sara Teasdale made perfectly fragrant (I feel like the sweet comforts of her wonderful poetry were made expressly for this!) Dusky, musty, sweet autumn vegetation; the ancestral memory of smoke twisting up into a starry sky.

The Shadowed Veil (black pumpkin, leather, pomegranate incense, agarwood, and bourbon patchouli) a browned butter cake topped with autumn leaves and smoky icing sugar, served by the misty hands of by a solemn ghost; a widows (cake) walk.

Are You Digging on my Grave (snuggly musk, milky puppy breath, upturned earth, and a gently-gnawed bone) I was previously unaware of this poem, and the imagery plus the wonderfully pupper-centric scent notes make my heart sigh weepily. Dabbed on the wrist the fragrance conjures November-chilled cemetery gates, a frigid wind biting through woolen mittens, and an afternoon treat–a softly crumbling scone perhaps, wrapped in a clean cotton handkerchief, and stuffed deep into coat pockets for nibbling over forgotten gravestones.

The Empty House (black oud, woodsmoke, mahogany, pine pitch, and blackened pumpkin) the most delicious pine-log campfire coffeecake, enjoyed post-Wendigo escape.

Fall Leaves, Fall (starry musk melting into blackcurrant, black oudh, black roses, and blood-red maple leaves) this smells the way the phrase “a murmuration of starlings” feels on the tongue; spectral silhouettes fluttering behind closed eyelids in a cinematic sort of way.

Mictecacihuatl (copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco, and roses) An intricately carved wooden tray with offerings of dried roses and fresh apricots, dusted with cocoa and cracked pink peppercorn.

The Listeners (mist-pale lilac, orris root, bruised violets, mugwort, white amber, yuzu, white champa, and white musk) Intensely aromatic dry, bitter citrus mingles with paraffin wax and fresh-cut, almost savory green capsicum for an oddly enjoyable scent that somehow smells exactly like the aggressively weird label art would have you believe it smells.

Pistachio Pumpkin Truffle an immediate deep saltiness, bordering on savory toastiness, followed by a wild, animalic chocolate. Like if cacao pods had scent glands.

Cozy Pumpkin Sweater (a dribble of pumpkin spice spilled onto a fluffy orange angora sweater) Ok so imagine that demented cashmere sweater scene from Lord Love A Duck but transplant it into the eternal autumn of the Sabrina universe. Pumpkin spices and that enchanted inch or so of knitted or woven fabric along your cardigan collar that even when removed at the end of the day, retains the warmth of your skin and the phantom perfume of your favorite shampoo.

Cardamom Cream Pumpkin Cake Cardamom is one of my favorite kitchen spices and, I think, one of the most unique scents and flavors that I’ve ever encountered. Woody, incense-y, soapy (is this just me?) and wonderfully aromatic–I add it to every “spiced” baked good I make, whether or not the recipe calls for it. In this instance, it makes for a warm, delicious fragrance, with milky-sweet aspects and a “fresh out of the oven” vibe.

Pumpkin Mead And Honey Cakes quintessential carmelized carbohydrates; the platonic ideal of a dense sticky, brown bread

Apple Butter Rum A fresh stick of butter, and a basket of fresh-picked apples. Later, these notes will come together in a cast-iron skillet and carmelize with sweet spices and a liberal spike of Kraken rum, but fresh out of the bottle, those two elements, the creamy dairy and the crisp fruit flesh, are so incredibly vivid and present and magically distinct from one another.

Sugar Skulls In The Pumpkin Patch Deliciously mouth-scratching Sour patch kids (strawberry?) + Downeast Maine pumpkin bread, the recipe I’ve been using from allrecipes.com since 2002

Miskatonic University Pumpkin Patch LILY–>GILDED Everything you love about the Irish coffee, dusty tomes, and polished oakwood of the original Misk U scent, added as an extra shot to a grande PSL. Somehow this really does call to mind a campus coffee shop for me (I went to a community college which I am pretty sure had no coffee shop, but I’ve got a good imagination.)

Devil’s Night In The Pumpkin Patch (a flaming pile of pumpkin guts, booze, and sweaty dark musk) A leathery dark musk, and the vegetal funk of clingy-stringy seasonal gourd innards. A crazy skeleton on a lurid horror paperback cover smells like this. Maybe this guy.

Popcorn Ball Snake Oil Popcorn is my favorite food. I could eat it for every meal. And while there are many “foodie” scents I don’t think I’d like to smell of, popcorn gets a pass. Hell yeah, I’ll smell like popcorn! This is the hot-toasty-salty-buttery-corniness of movie theatre popcorn, bound stickily with that sugary-resinous Snake Oil, which gives it a complexity and depth that you wouldn’t get with your run-of-the-mill, plain old popcorn perfume (because … there’s so many of them out there?)

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil Here’s my Downeast Maine pumpkin bread again! But imagine if you substitute Snake Oil for the cooking oil (which I already swapped for olive oil) and the result is a sugared-vanilla incense-xxxspicy loaf (because I use at least three times as much cinnamon, too.)

Lollipop Snake Oil Effervescent, grapefruity-limey Fresca + a watermelon Dum Dum!

Carotene (sunset orange, a marigold-bright throb of light: sweet amber, ginger root, apricot, patchouli, red mandarin, chrysanthemum, and yam) if carrots smelled more like tangerines–fresh, citrusy, a little waxy; if tangerines grew up from the rooty earth rather than hung down from high, sunny branches.

Chlorophyll (dew-dotted grass, tea leaf, and sun-warmed herbs) Oddly enough, this smelled like a matcha custard bun when I sniffed it straight out of the bottle! On the wrist though, it is a riot of vibrant greens, from fresh tomato leaf to sharp ivy to sweet marjoram.

Anthocyanin (red musk, mandrake root, patchouli, pimento, saffron, red oudh, clove, and basil) Fall air rich with decaying leaves and cider-y scents and gorgeous spice and incense-saturated veils billowing in a sun-warmed October afternoon’s breeze. Like… if your very favorite head-shop had a stall at your favorite autumnal renaissance fair. This is basically the best of all worlds.

Dead Leaves, Cacao, and Sandalwood The most wearable chocolate I have ever encountered, sort of a dry, mossy cocoa chypre?

Dead Leaves, Nutmeg, Sweet Vetiver and Virginia Cedar I don’t normally love nutmeg, but this is such a sweet, simple, wholesome combination that now I want to start putting nutmeg and cedar shavings in my morning porridge. I also want to be the kind of person who eats porridge.

Dead Leaves And Chai Really lovely, reminds me of the enchantment of autumns in NJ. A sweet-tempered spiciness mingled with those manky, musty, softly rotting vegetal dead leaves–this is such a great combination. It conjures the memory of an evening stroll I took over a decade ago, on Halloween night. Without the slightest hint of a breeze, a whirlwind of crushed and broken leaves rose up from the sidewalk to swirl around my head. One smacked me in the face so hard it felt like someone punched me. It was weird and exhilarating.

Dead Leaves Green Cognac And Tea Rose Very-extra-super rose-centric! Damp rose petals, tenderly bruised.

Dead Leaves, Moss, And Mushrooms if there was ever a better argument for “more is more,” I don’t know what that could possibly be. My favorite “Dead Leaves” scents have thus far been those signature dead leaves plus some unexpectedly bright or springy floral pairing…but as it turns out, the very best one is comprised of a “like + like” formula. This one smells as if you had swept your favorite mug across an autumn flotsam of forest floor and brewed up in boiling rainwater all the sylvan sweepings you had gathered. Best served warm and cozy in tiny acorn cups, to ring of sleepy woodland creatures. If you love fall but you don’t love pumpkin, maple, or apple scents, I think you are really going to fall for this one. Pun intended–I always intend my puns.

The Country Gets Wilder As We Go (a snow-capped, untamed maze of fir, poplar, and oak. Ghostly beech reaching skeletal arms into the ink-black sky.) Sweet, peaceful mountain flowers.

The Meaner Things (thundercrack of ozone and moist, salty fog. A flap of leathery wings, a cluster of bark-brown feathers, and skittering, chattering black musk) A wolf in mermaid’s clothing; a subtly sweet aquatic for people who think they don’t like aquatics. Beautiful.

Wax Cylinders (polished mahogany, soft leather, and gold-molded wax) soft swirls of waxen, creamy, chewy, golden confections;

Death’s Head Moth (dusty brown sandalwood, nagarmotha, brown oudh, clove husk, white patchouli, black pepper, vetiver, green cumin, and ash.) Hand-made lace, only a little moth-eaten and musty, that has retained the gentle perfume of its owner –a combination of warm skin, fine-milled soap, and sweet, cooling herbs– a century later. This is an understated and sublimely beautiful scent. *I believe “nagarmotha” is a kind of cypress*

The Empty Coffin (dead roses, oud blanc, and white sandalwood) at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is the creepiest thing I have ever smelled. If you have ever sat, alone, in a funeral home and sniffed at the sterile atmosphere and softly rotting blooms, almost certain that your nose could eke out the decaying flesh and embalming fluid and grief and loss and heartbreak and terrifying dread of your own mortality, underneath it all. Well, then. I challenge you to dribble a bit of this on your wrist and try to read Dracula without going a little bit insane. (Edited to add: this dries down to an eerily beautiful rose.)

Flesh of my Flesh (deep crimson musk threaded with mesmerizing Tunisian amber, voluptuous champaca blossom, vanilla absolute, labdanum, bitter almond, and black orchid) This is a wildly hypnotic, narcotic scent; a feral floral with a hint of musk and talc.

Come, Sister (icy musk draped in osmanthus and white gardenia, a whisper of ti leaf and orchid, crystalline amber, and incense smoke) A chilly scent-scape of misty wheeling figures and transparent gloom, of intolerable laughter in sweet, tingling tones; the low voice in a dream that befools, and leads you from one nightmare to the next, promising weak light and wakefulness. A fragrance of lightly falling snow and beguiling madness.

The Sleeping Draught (a haze of lavender and black oudh, laudanum accord, and opium tar) first: sharp, somewhat camphoraceous lavender steam; later, a dark, sticky, honeyed sweetness, like opium manufacturers jumped on the cbd gummies trend. Ye olde-time sugar-dusted opium gumdrops.

The Sun Rises To-day ( blue lilac and violet leaf, white musk and eucalyptus, carrot seed and ti leaf.) Fruity amber, a lavender + violet tonic, lemony green tea.

The Blood Is The Life (blood trickling through thick, dark myrrh and a rivulet of unholy, desecrated sacramental wine) This is the deepest, richest, reddest, most indecent goblet of spiced wine.

Kisses for us All (red roses and honey, a throb of red musk, bitter neroli and clove husk all staining a slash of sheet-white vanilla sandalwood) Out of the bottle, this is very similar to the deep claret of The Blood Is The Life, but it shortly differentiates itself as jammier, stickier, and more floral in the way that sometimes tuberose smells to me like grape jellies.

The Embodiment of Funeral Gloom (a shroud of black agarwood, cypress, myrrh, and upturned earth, scattered with crushed lavender and creeping with moss-smothered stone) This is an uncanny creation and smells exactly like this passage: “Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom.” I mean, that’s always the point, I’m sure, to have your work match up with your vision, but dang they nailed this and if you want whispering shrouds and grave tombs and misty clouds and ominous doom, you have come to the right place.

Lucy’s Eyes (a pulsing infernal amber, shot through with lilac-blue, bloodshot and blazing) Lilac and amber really is a strange and sinister combination! Miky green leaves, dewy and fresh, incased eternally in a glowing amber shrine. The amber lends a perversely sweet note to the potion, a sort of “evil Play-Doh” vibe. If Lucy rose out of her coffin and filmed a relaxing slime ASMR compilation for her YouTube channel, the shimmering ooze would smell like this.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2019 collection of perfumes, hair glosses, and atmosphere sprays are currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available for Weenie 2018.

Order of the Dragon illustrations by Abigail Larson


Leave a Comment more...

2019 Weenies From Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

by on Nov.12, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Weenie time, weenie time! It’s Weenie time at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! I think I can skip the preamble this year and get right into it. I mean, I could very well wax poetic about my love of autumn leaves and long, dark nights and bloody harvest moons and spooky Halloween feels, but I’m pretty sure you all love those things, too, just as much as I do! I am preaching to the choir with that sort of talk, you know? I don’t need to convince you.

Below are my “tasting notes,” if you will, on several greedy handfuls of this year’s Weenies: my initial thoughts, impressions, and reflections; the imagery and memories and stories and dreams that each scent immediately evokes. These notes comprise the raw material which eventually gets incorporated into what I hope are thoughtful and cogent reviews. Think of them as “behind the scenes” (“behind the scents”?) peeks and insights, I guess! Some of them are more fully fleshed out than others and some, I’ll confess, don’t entirely make a lot of sense. Sometimes in the potent grip of a particular sniff, I’ll practice what I might chalk up to a bit of automatic writing and channel the spirit of the scent, the results of which I then reason with and wrangle into proper words fit for human eyes. Here today I have left them in their original, reflexive, stream-of-consciousness state.

Before I get into it, I will share one last thing: I am over the moon excited that I had the opportunity to sniff some of the lab’s Dracula: Order Of The Dragon collection (with amazing label art by Abigail Larson!) I have savored Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story on countless occasions in the course of my lifetime and I plan to do so again and again as far into the future as I am able. There is no tale quite so thrilling for me as Dracula, and of all my beloved stories, it is the one that has eternally snared the deepest, rarest love of my heart. This is the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab collection I have been waiting for, since, well, forever and I feel very fortunate to share some of my thoughts on it with you today.

So…let me know what you think about this format! Actually, now that I look it over, it kinda looks… the same as the other BPAL reviews I write. Huh. How did that happen?? Well, I await and appreciate your feedback, all the same. And please do let us know if you have any favorites from this year’s Weenie collection! If you have questions about a particular scent that I did not mention below, leave a comment, and I’ll see if I can’t come up with an on-the-fly review for you.

And, also, wow…my preamble-less intro was a lie. Read on for the good stuff!

Les Heures de la Nuit (blackcurrant musk, white lime, and sparkling white cognac) Mimosa icing sugar frosting a tea cake? Cold black tea sweetened with a citrus blossom sugar?

Songs of Autumn I (sometime before: rain-damp grass and white sage) a herbaceous, purifying scent; hand made soap and icy, clear water.

Songs of Autumn III (dust and tumbleweeds, dry sage and chaparral, cactus nectar, and cinders) The scent of the absence of a thing; a melancholy, echoing pocket of once-was in a space where a thing was just-there. A faintly sweet, and slightly sad slip of void.

Songs of Autumn V (dry maple leaves, blackcurrant juice, patchouli root, and bourbon) It’s the sort of earthy-foresty-berried brew that a wood-witch keeps in a flask at their side for the revivification of lost souls and a nip for themselves on bone-cold nights. It’s probably about 51% ABV. I wish POM Wonderful made a version of it.

Dusk in Autumn (black tea, currant cake, mandrake root, a whirl of dried leaves, and hearthsmoke) Sara Teasdale made perfectly fragrant (I feel like the sweet comforts of her wonderful poetry were made expressly for this!) Dusky, musty, sweet autumn vegetation; the ancestral memory of smoke twisting up into a starry sky.

The Shadowed Veil (black pumpkin, leather, pomegranate incense, agarwood, and bourbon patchouli) a browned butter cake topped with autumn leaves and smoky icing sugar, served by the misty hands of by a solemn ghost; a widows (cake) walk.

Are You Digging on my Grave (snuggly musk, milky puppy breath, upturned earth, and a gently-gnawed bone) I was previously unaware of this poem, and the imagery plus the wonderfully pupper-centric scent notes make my heart sigh weepily. Dabbed on the wrist the fragrance conjures November-chilled cemetery gates, a frigid wind biting through woolen mittens, and an afternoon treat–a softly crumbling scone perhaps, wrapped in a clean cotton handkerchief, and stuffed deep into coat pockets for nibbling over forgotten gravestones.

The Empty House (black oud, woodsmoke, mahogany, pine pitch, and blackened pumpkin) the most delicious pine-log campfire coffeecake, enjoyed post-Wendigo escape.

Fall Leaves, Fall (starry musk melting into blackcurrant, black oudh, black roses, and blood-red maple leaves) this smells the way the phrase “a murmuration of starlings” feels on the tongue; spectral silhouettes fluttering behind closed eyelids in a cinematic sort of way.

Mictecacihuatl (copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco, and roses) An intricately carved wooden tray with offerings of dried roses and fresh apricots, dusted with cocoa and cracked pink peppercorn.

The Listeners (mist-pale lilac, orris root, bruised violets, mugwort, white amber, yuzu, white champa, and white musk) Intensely aromatic dry, bitter citrus mingles with paraffin wax and fresh-cut, almost savory green capsicum for an oddly enjoyable scent that somehow smells exactly like the aggressively weird label art would have you believe it smells.

Pistachio Pumpkin Truffle an immediate deep saltiness, bordering on savory toastiness, followed by a wild, animalic chocolate. Like if cacao pods had scent glands.

Cozy Pumpkin Sweater (a dribble of pumpkin spice spilled onto a fluffy orange angora sweater) Ok so imagine that demented cashmere sweater scene from Lord Love A Duck but transplant it into the eternal autumn of the Sabrina universe. Pumpkin spices and that enchanted inch or so of knitted or woven fabric along your cardigan collar that even when removed at the end of the day, retains the warmth of your skin and the phantom perfume of your favorite shampoo.

Cardamom Cream Pumpkin Cake Cardamom is one of my favorite kitchen spices and, I think, one of the most unique scents and flavors that I’ve ever encountered. Woody, incense-y, soapy (is this just me?) and wonderfully aromatic–I add it to every “spiced” baked good I make, whether or not the recipe calls for it. In this instance, it makes for a warm, delicious fragrance, with milky-sweet aspects and a “fresh out of the oven” vibe.

Pumpkin Mead And Honey Cakes quintessential carmelized carbohydrates; the platonic ideal of a dense sticky, brown bread

Apple Butter Rum A fresh stick of butter, and a basket of fresh-picked apples. Later, these notes will come together in a cast-iron skillet and carmelize with sweet spices and a liberal spike of Kraken rum, but fresh out of the bottle, those two elements, the creamy dairy and the crisp fruit flesh, are so incredibly vivid and present and magically distinct from one another.

Sugar Skulls In The Pumpkin Patch Deliciously mouth-scratching Sour patch kids (strawberry?) + Downeast Maine pumpkin bread, the recipe I’ve been using from allrecipes.com since 2002

Miskatonic University Pumpkin Patch LILY–>GILDED Everything you love about the Irish coffee, dusty tomes, and polished oakwood of the original Misk U scent, added as an extra shot to a grande PSL. Somehow this really does call to mind a campus coffee shop for me (I went to a community college which I am pretty sure had no coffee shop, but I’ve got a good imagination.)

Devil’s Night In The Pumpkin Patch (a flaming pile of pumpkin guts, booze, and sweaty dark musk) A leathery dark musk, and the vegetal funk of clingy-stringy seasonal gourd innards. A crazy skeleton on a lurid horror paperback cover smells like this. Maybe this guy.

Popcorn Ball Snake Oil Popcorn is my favorite food. I could eat it for every meal. And while there are many “foodie” scents I don’t think I’d like to smell of, popcorn gets a pass. Hell yeah, I’ll smell like popcorn! This is the hot-toasty-salty-buttery-corniness of movie theatre popcorn, bound stickily with that sugary-resinous Snake Oil, which gives it a complexity and depth that you wouldn’t get with your run-of-the-mill, plain old popcorn perfume (because … there’s so many of them out there?)

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil Here’s my Downeast Maine pumpkin bread again! But imagine if you substitute Snake Oil for the cooking oil (which I already swapped for olive oil) and the result is a sugared-vanilla incense-xxxspicy loaf (because I use at least three times as much cinnamon, too.)

Lollipop Snake Oil Effervescent, grapefruity-limey Fresca + a watermelon Dum Dum!

Carotene (sunset orange, a marigold-bright throb of light: sweet amber, ginger root, apricot, patchouli, red mandarin, chrysanthemum, and yam) if carrots smelled more like tangerines–fresh, citrusy, a little waxy; if tangerines grew up from the rooty earth rather than hung down from high, sunny branches.

Chlorophyll (dew-dotted grass, tea leaf, and sun-warmed herbs) Oddly enough, this smelled like a matcha custard bun when I sniffed it straight out of the bottle! On the wrist though, it is a riot of vibrant greens, from fresh tomato leaf to sharp ivy to sweet marjoram.

Anthocyanin (red musk, mandrake root, patchouli, pimento, saffron, red oudh, clove, and basil) Fall air rich with decaying leaves and cider-y scents and gorgeous spice and incense-saturated veils billowing in a sun-warmed October afternoon’s breeze. Like… if your very favorite head-shop had a stall at your favorite autumnal renaissance fair. This is basically the best of all worlds.

Dead Leaves, Cacao, and Sandalwood The most wearable chocolate I have ever encountered, sort of a dry, mossy cocoa chypre?

Dead Leaves, Nutmeg, Sweet Vetiver and Virginia Cedar I don’t normally love nutmeg, but this is such a sweet, simple, wholesome combination that now I want to start putting nutmeg and cedar shavings in my morning porridge. I also want to be the kind of person who eats porridge.

Dead Leaves And Chai Really lovely, reminds me of the enchantment of autumns in NJ. A sweet-tempered spiciness mingled with those manky, musty, softly rotting vegetal dead leaves–this is such a great combination. It conjures the memory of an evening stroll I took over a decade ago, on Halloween night. Without the slightest hint of a breeze, a whirlwind of crushed and broken leaves rose up from the sidewalk to swirl around my head. One smacked me in the face so hard it felt like someone punched me. It was weird and exhilarating.

Dead Leaves Green Cognac And Tea Rose Very-extra-super rose-centric! Damp rose petals, tenderly bruised.

Dead Leaves, Moss, And Mushrooms if there was ever a better argument for “more is more,” I don’t know what that could possibly be. My favorite “Dead Leaves” scents have thus far been those signature dead leaves plus some unexpectedly bright or springy floral pairing…but as it turns out, the very best one is comprised of a “like + like” formula. This one smells as if you had swept your favorite mug across an autumn flotsam of forest floor and brewed up in boiling rainwater all the sylvan sweepings you had gathered. Best served warm and cozy in tiny acorn cups, to ring of sleepy woodland creatures. If you love fall but you don’t love pumpkin, maple, or apple scents, I think you are really going to fall for this one. Pun intended–I always intend my puns.

The Country Gets Wilder As We Go (a snow-capped, untamed maze of fir, poplar, and oak. Ghostly beech reaching skeletal arms into the ink-black sky.) Sweet, peaceful mountain flowers.

The Meaner Things (thundercrack of ozone and moist, salty fog. A flap of leathery wings, a cluster of bark-brown feathers, and skittering, chattering black musk) A wolf in mermaid’s clothing; a subtly sweet aquatic for people who think they don’t like aquatics. Beautiful.

Wax Cylinders (polished mahogany, soft leather, and gold-molded wax) soft swirls of waxen, creamy, chewy, golden confections;

Death’s Head Moth (dusty brown sandalwood, nagarmotha, brown oudh, clove husk, white patchouli, black pepper, vetiver, green cumin, and ash.) Hand-made lace, only a little moth-eaten and musty, that has retained the gentle perfume of its owner –a combination of warm skin, fine-milled soap, and sweet, cooling herbs– a century later. This is an understated and sublimely beautiful scent. *I believe “nagarmotha” is a kind of cypress*

The Empty Coffin (dead roses, oud blanc, and white sandalwood) at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is the creepiest thing I have ever smelled. If you have ever sat, alone, in a funeral home and sniffed at the sterile atmosphere and softly rotting blooms, almost certain that your nose could eke out the decaying flesh and embalming fluid and grief and loss and heartbreak and terrifying dread of your own mortality, underneath it all. Well, then. I challenge you to dribble a bit of this on your wrist and try to read Dracula without going a little bit insane. (Edited to add: this dries down to an eerily beautiful rose.)

Flesh of my Flesh (deep crimson musk threaded with mesmerizing Tunisian amber, voluptuous champaca blossom, vanilla absolute, labdanum, bitter almond, and black orchid) This is a wildly hypnotic, narcotic scent; a feral floral with a hint of musk and talc.

Come, Sister (icy musk draped in osmanthus and white gardenia, a whisper of ti leaf and orchid, crystalline amber, and incense smoke) A chilly scent-scape of misty wheeling figures and transparent gloom, of intolerable laughter in sweet, tingling tones; the low voice in a dream that befools, and leads you from one nightmare to the next, promising weak light and wakefulness. A fragrance of lightly falling snow and beguiling madness.

The Sleeping Draught (a haze of lavender and black oudh, laudanum accord, and opium tar) first: sharp, somewhat camphoraceous lavender steam; later, a dark, sticky, honeyed sweetness, like opium manufacturers jumped on the cbd gummies trend. Ye olde-time sugar-dusted opium gumdrops.

The Sun Rises To-day ( blue lilac and violet leaf, white musk and eucalyptus, carrot seed and ti leaf.) Fruity amber, a lavender + violet tonic, lemony green tea.

The Blood Is The Life (blood trickling through thick, dark myrrh and a rivulet of unholy, desecrated sacramental wine) This is the deepest, richest, reddest, most indecent goblet of spiced wine.

Kisses for us All (red roses and honey, a throb of red musk, bitter neroli and clove husk all staining a slash of sheet-white vanilla sandalwood) Out of the bottle, this is very similar to the deep claret of The Blood Is The Life, but it shortly differentiates itself as jammier, stickier, and more floral in the way that sometimes tuberose smells to me like grape jellies.

The Embodiment of Funeral Gloom (a shroud of black agarwood, cypress, myrrh, and upturned earth, scattered with crushed lavender and creeping with moss-smothered stone) This is an uncanny creation and smells exactly like this passage: “Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom.” I mean, that’s always the point, I’m sure, to have your work match up with your vision, but dang they nailed this and if you want whispering shrouds and grave tombs and misty clouds and ominous doom, you have come to the right place.

Lucy’s Eyes (a pulsing infernal amber, shot through with lilac-blue, bloodshot and blazing) Lilac and amber really is a strange and sinister combination! Miky green leaves, dewy and fresh, incased eternally in a glowing amber shrine. The amber lends a perversely sweet note to the potion, a sort of “evil Play-Doh” vibe. If Lucy rose out of her coffin and filmed a relaxing slime ASMR compilation for her YouTube channel, the shimmering ooze would smell like this.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2019 collection of perfumes, hair glosses, and atmosphere sprays are currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available for Weenie 2018.

Order of the Dragon illustrations by Abigail Larson


Leave a Comment more...

2019 Weenies From Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

by on Nov.12, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Weenie time, weenie time! It’s Weenie time at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! I think I can skip the preamble this year and get right into it. I mean, I could very well wax poetic about my love of autumn leaves and long, dark nights and bloody harvest moons and spooky Halloween feels, but I’m pretty sure you all love those things, too, just as much as I do! I am preaching to the choir with that sort of talk, you know? I don’t need to convince you.

Below are my “tasting notes,” if you will, on several greedy handfuls of this year’s Weenies: my initial thoughts, impressions, and reflections; the imagery and memories and stories and dreams that each scent immediately evokes. These notes comprise the raw material which eventually gets incorporated into what I hope are thoughtful and cogent reviews. Think of them as “behind the scenes” (“behind the scents”?) peeks and insights, I guess! Some of them are more fully fleshed out than others and some, I’ll confess, don’t entirely make a lot of sense. Sometimes in the potent grip of a particular sniff, I’ll practice what I might chalk up to a bit of automatic writing and channel the spirit of the scent, the results of which I then reason with and wrangle into proper words fit for human eyes. Here today I have left them in their original, reflexive, stream-of-consciousness state.

Before I get into it, I will share one last thing: I am over the moon excited that I had the opportunity to sniff some of the lab’s Dracula: Order Of The Dragon collection (with amazing label art by Abigail Larson!) I have savored Bram Stoker’s classic vampire story on countless occasions in the course of my lifetime and I plan to do so again and again as far into the future as I am able. There is no tale quite so thrilling for me as Dracula, and of all my beloved stories, it is the one that has eternally snared the deepest, rarest love of my heart. This is the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab collection I have been waiting for, since, well, forever and I feel very fortunate to share some of my thoughts on it with you today.

So…let me know what you think about this format! Actually, now that I look it over, it kinda looks… the same as the other BPAL reviews I write. Huh. How did that happen?? Well, I await and appreciate your feedback, all the same. And please do let us know if you have any favorites from this year’s Weenie collection! If you have questions about a particular scent that I did not mention below, leave a comment, and I’ll see if I can’t come up with an on-the-fly review for you.

And, also, wow…my preamble-less intro was a lie. Read on for the good stuff!

Les Heures de la Nuit (blackcurrant musk, white lime, and sparkling white cognac) Mimosa icing sugar frosting a tea cake? Cold black tea sweetened with a citrus blossom sugar?

Songs of Autumn I (sometime before: rain-damp grass and white sage) a herbaceous, purifying scent; hand made soap and icy, clear water.

Songs of Autumn III (dust and tumbleweeds, dry sage and chaparral, cactus nectar, and cinders) The scent of the absence of a thing; a melancholy, echoing pocket of once-was in a space where a thing was just-there. A faintly sweet, and slightly sad slip of void.

Songs of Autumn V (dry maple leaves, blackcurrant juice, patchouli root, and bourbon) It’s the sort of earthy-foresty-berried brew that a wood-witch keeps in a flask at their side for the revivification of lost souls and a nip for themselves on bone-cold nights. It’s probably about 51% ABV. I wish POM Wonderful made a version of it.

Dusk in Autumn (black tea, currant cake, mandrake root, a whirl of dried leaves, and hearthsmoke) Sara Teasdale made perfectly fragrant (I feel like the sweet comforts of her wonderful poetry were made expressly for this!) Dusky, musty, sweet autumn vegetation; the ancestral memory of smoke twisting up into a starry sky.

The Shadowed Veil (black pumpkin, leather, pomegranate incense, agarwood, and bourbon patchouli) a browned butter cake topped with autumn leaves and smoky icing sugar, served by the misty hands of by a solemn ghost; a widows (cake) walk.

Are You Digging on my Grave (snuggly musk, milky puppy breath, upturned earth, and a gently-gnawed bone) I was previously unaware of this poem, and the imagery plus the wonderfully pupper-centric scent notes make my heart sigh weepily. Dabbed on the wrist the fragrance conjures November-chilled cemetery gates, a frigid wind biting through woolen mittens, and an afternoon treat–a softly crumbling scone perhaps, wrapped in a clean cotton handkerchief, and stuffed deep into coat pockets for nibbling over forgotten gravestones.

The Empty House (black oud, woodsmoke, mahogany, pine pitch, and blackened pumpkin) the most delicious pine-log campfire coffeecake, enjoyed post-Wendigo escape.

Fall Leaves, Fall (starry musk melting into blackcurrant, black oudh, black roses, and blood-red maple leaves) this smells the way the phrase “a murmuration of starlings” feels on the tongue; spectral silhouettes fluttering behind closed eyelids in a cinematic sort of way.

Mictecacihuatl (copal, precious woods, South American spices, agave nectar, cigar tobacco, and roses) An intricately carved wooden tray with offerings of dried roses and fresh apricots, dusted with cocoa and cracked pink peppercorn.

The Listeners (mist-pale lilac, orris root, bruised violets, mugwort, white amber, yuzu, white champa, and white musk) Intensely aromatic dry, bitter citrus mingles with paraffin wax and fresh-cut, almost savory green capsicum for an oddly enjoyable scent that somehow smells exactly like the aggressively weird label art would have you believe it smells.

Pistachio Pumpkin Truffle an immediate deep saltiness, bordering on savory toastiness, followed by a wild, animalic chocolate. Like if cacao pods had scent glands.

Cozy Pumpkin Sweater (a dribble of pumpkin spice spilled onto a fluffy orange angora sweater) Ok so imagine that demented cashmere sweater scene from Lord Love A Duck but transplant it into the eternal autumn of the Sabrina universe. Pumpkin spices and that enchanted inch or so of knitted or woven fabric along your cardigan collar that even when removed at the end of the day, retains the warmth of your skin and the phantom perfume of your favorite shampoo.

Cardamom Cream Pumpkin Cake Cardamom is one of my favorite kitchen spices and, I think, one of the most unique scents and flavors that I’ve ever encountered. Woody, incense-y, soapy (is this just me?) and wonderfully aromatic–I add it to every “spiced” baked good I make, whether or not the recipe calls for it. In this instance, it makes for a warm, delicious fragrance, with milky-sweet aspects and a “fresh out of the oven” vibe.

Pumpkin Mead And Honey Cakes quintessential carmelized carbohydrates; the platonic ideal of a dense sticky, brown bread

Apple Butter Rum A fresh stick of butter, and a basket of fresh-picked apples. Later, these notes will come together in a cast-iron skillet and carmelize with sweet spices and a liberal spike of Kraken rum, but fresh out of the bottle, those two elements, the creamy dairy and the crisp fruit flesh, are so incredibly vivid and present and magically distinct from one another.

Sugar Skulls In The Pumpkin Patch Deliciously mouth-scratching Sour patch kids (strawberry?) + Downeast Maine pumpkin bread, the recipe I’ve been using from allrecipes.com since 2002

Miskatonic University Pumpkin Patch LILY–>GILDED Everything you love about the Irish coffee, dusty tomes, and polished oakwood of the original Misk U scent, added as an extra shot to a grande PSL. Somehow this really does call to mind a campus coffee shop for me (I went to a community college which I am pretty sure had no coffee shop, but I’ve got a good imagination.)

Devil’s Night In The Pumpkin Patch (a flaming pile of pumpkin guts, booze, and sweaty dark musk) A leathery dark musk, and the vegetal funk of clingy-stringy seasonal gourd innards. A crazy skeleton on a lurid horror paperback cover smells like this. Maybe this guy.

Popcorn Ball Snake Oil Popcorn is my favorite food. I could eat it for every meal. And while there are many “foodie” scents I don’t think I’d like to smell of, popcorn gets a pass. Hell yeah, I’ll smell like popcorn! This is the hot-toasty-salty-buttery-corniness of movie theatre popcorn, bound stickily with that sugary-resinous Snake Oil, which gives it a complexity and depth that you wouldn’t get with your run-of-the-mill, plain old popcorn perfume (because … there’s so many of them out there?)

Pumpkin Spice Snake Oil Here’s my Downeast Maine pumpkin bread again! But imagine if you substitute Snake Oil for the cooking oil (which I already swapped for olive oil) and the result is a sugared-vanilla incense-xxxspicy loaf (because I use at least three times as much cinnamon, too.)

Lollipop Snake Oil Effervescent, grapefruity-limey Fresca + a watermelon Dum Dum!

Carotene (sunset orange, a marigold-bright throb of light: sweet amber, ginger root, apricot, patchouli, red mandarin, chrysanthemum, and yam) if carrots smelled more like tangerines–fresh, citrusy, a little waxy; if tangerines grew up from the rooty earth rather than hung down from high, sunny branches.

Chlorophyll (dew-dotted grass, tea leaf, and sun-warmed herbs) Oddly enough, this smelled like a matcha custard bun when I sniffed it straight out of the bottle! On the wrist though, it is a riot of vibrant greens, from fresh tomato leaf to sharp ivy to sweet marjoram.

Anthocyanin (red musk, mandrake root, patchouli, pimento, saffron, red oudh, clove, and basil) Fall air rich with decaying leaves and cider-y scents and gorgeous spice and incense-saturated veils billowing in a sun-warmed October afternoon’s breeze. Like… if your very favorite head-shop had a stall at your favorite autumnal renaissance fair. This is basically the best of all worlds.

Dead Leaves, Cacao, and Sandalwood The most wearable chocolate I have ever encountered, sort of a dry, mossy cocoa chypre?

Dead Leaves, Nutmeg, Sweet Vetiver and Virginia Cedar I don’t normally love nutmeg, but this is such a sweet, simple, wholesome combination that now I want to start putting nutmeg and cedar shavings in my morning porridge. I also want to be the kind of person who eats porridge.

Dead Leaves And Chai Really lovely, reminds me of the enchantment of autumns in NJ. A sweet-tempered spiciness mingled with those manky, musty, softly rotting vegetal dead leaves–this is such a great combination. It conjures the memory of an evening stroll I took over a decade ago, on Halloween night. Without the slightest hint of a breeze, a whirlwind of crushed and broken leaves rose up from the sidewalk to swirl around my head. One smacked me in the face so hard it felt like someone punched me. It was weird and exhilarating.

Dead Leaves Green Cognac And Tea Rose Very-extra-super rose-centric! Damp rose petals, tenderly bruised.

Dead Leaves, Moss, And Mushrooms if there was ever a better argument for “more is more,” I don’t know what that could possibly be. My favorite “Dead Leaves” scents have thus far been those signature dead leaves plus some unexpectedly bright or springy floral pairing…but as it turns out, the very best one is comprised of a “like + like” formula. This one smells as if you had swept your favorite mug across an autumn flotsam of forest floor and brewed up in boiling rainwater all the sylvan sweepings you had gathered. Best served warm and cozy in tiny acorn cups, to ring of sleepy woodland creatures. If you love fall but you don’t love pumpkin, maple, or apple scents, I think you are really going to fall for this one. Pun intended–I always intend my puns.

The Country Gets Wilder As We Go (a snow-capped, untamed maze of fir, poplar, and oak. Ghostly beech reaching skeletal arms into the ink-black sky.) Sweet, peaceful mountain flowers.

The Meaner Things (thundercrack of ozone and moist, salty fog. A flap of leathery wings, a cluster of bark-brown feathers, and skittering, chattering black musk) A wolf in mermaid’s clothing; a subtly sweet aquatic for people who think they don’t like aquatics. Beautiful.

Wax Cylinders (polished mahogany, soft leather, and gold-molded wax) soft swirls of waxen, creamy, chewy, golden confections;

Death’s Head Moth (dusty brown sandalwood, nagarmotha, brown oudh, clove husk, white patchouli, black pepper, vetiver, green cumin, and ash.) Hand-made lace, only a little moth-eaten and musty, that has retained the gentle perfume of its owner –a combination of warm skin, fine-milled soap, and sweet, cooling herbs– a century later. This is an understated and sublimely beautiful scent. *I believe “nagarmotha” is a kind of cypress*

The Empty Coffin (dead roses, oud blanc, and white sandalwood) at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, this is the creepiest thing I have ever smelled. If you have ever sat, alone, in a funeral home and sniffed at the sterile atmosphere and softly rotting blooms, almost certain that your nose could eke out the decaying flesh and embalming fluid and grief and loss and heartbreak and terrifying dread of your own mortality, underneath it all. Well, then. I challenge you to dribble a bit of this on your wrist and try to read Dracula without going a little bit insane. (Edited to add: this dries down to an eerily beautiful rose.)

Flesh of my Flesh (deep crimson musk threaded with mesmerizing Tunisian amber, voluptuous champaca blossom, vanilla absolute, labdanum, bitter almond, and black orchid) This is a wildly hypnotic, narcotic scent; a feral floral with a hint of musk and talc.

Come, Sister (icy musk draped in osmanthus and white gardenia, a whisper of ti leaf and orchid, crystalline amber, and incense smoke) A chilly scent-scape of misty wheeling figures and transparent gloom, of intolerable laughter in sweet, tingling tones; the low voice in a dream that befools, and leads you from one nightmare to the next, promising weak light and wakefulness. A fragrance of lightly falling snow and beguiling madness.

The Sleeping Draught (a haze of lavender and black oudh, laudanum accord, and opium tar) first: sharp, somewhat camphoraceous lavender steam; later, a dark, sticky, honeyed sweetness, like opium manufacturers jumped on the cbd gummies trend. Ye olde-time sugar-dusted opium gumdrops.

The Sun Rises To-day ( blue lilac and violet leaf, white musk and eucalyptus, carrot seed and ti leaf.) Fruity amber, a lavender + violet tonic, lemony green tea.

The Blood Is The Life (blood trickling through thick, dark myrrh and a rivulet of unholy, desecrated sacramental wine) This is the deepest, richest, reddest, most indecent goblet of spiced wine.

Kisses for us All (red roses and honey, a throb of red musk, bitter neroli and clove husk all staining a slash of sheet-white vanilla sandalwood) Out of the bottle, this is very similar to the deep claret of The Blood Is The Life, but it shortly differentiates itself as jammier, stickier, and more floral in the way that sometimes tuberose smells to me like grape jellies.

The Embodiment of Funeral Gloom (a shroud of black agarwood, cypress, myrrh, and upturned earth, scattered with crushed lavender and creeping with moss-smothered stone) This is an uncanny creation and smells exactly like this passage: “Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funeral gloom.” I mean, that’s always the point, I’m sure, to have your work match up with your vision, but dang they nailed this and if you want whispering shrouds and grave tombs and misty clouds and ominous doom, you have come to the right place.

Lucy’s Eyes (a pulsing infernal amber, shot through with lilac-blue, bloodshot and blazing) Lilac and amber really is a strange and sinister combination! Miky green leaves, dewy and fresh, incased eternally in a glowing amber shrine. The amber lends a perversely sweet note to the potion, a sort of “evil Play-Doh” vibe. If Lucy rose out of her coffin and filmed a relaxing slime ASMR compilation for her YouTube channel, the shimmering ooze would smell like this.

The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Halloween 2019 collection of perfumes, hair glosses, and atmosphere sprays are currently live and available for purchase. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available for Weenie 2018.

Order of the Dragon illustrations by Abigail Larson


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Stacked: October 2019

by on Nov.07, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Maika

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker – I enjoyed this novel every bit as much as Pinsker’s previous short story collection, Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea. This book is set in the same world as one of the stories in that collection, which was very satisfying. I’d be over the moon if Pinsker decided to give more of her short pieces the novel treatment.

Orange World and Other Stories by Karen Russell – Weird short fiction is one of my homes and I thoroughly enjoyed the singular strangeness of these tales.

The Naked Woman by Armonía Somers – This surreal nightmare of a novella was written in 1950, but only translated into English last year. Set in rural Uruguay, it’s the story of how one woman’s feminist awakening quickly drives the population of a nearby village into abject madness. This book deserves a proper review, but my brain just can’t with the coherent thinking and sentence forming right now, so I’m going to cop out completely and allow wonderful Carmen Maria Machado’s blurb to say the rest better than I ever could: “I am so grateful that a new generation will be able to read this surreal, nightmarish book about women’s struggle for autonomy—and how that struggle is (always, inevitably) met with violence.”

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire – Book #2 of McGuire’s ongoing Wayward Children series. Here we break from the main story to delve into the backstory of twin sisters Jack and Jill, two characters from the first book. Going into it, I was a little skeptical about deviating from the main story so soon. But I thoroughly enjoyed this decidedly dark tale and appreciate the additional depth it adds to Jack and Jill’s respective roles in Every Heart a Doorway.

Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories by Brian Coldrick – Impressively, delightfully creepy.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami – Unpopular opinion time: I love a hard-boiled mystery, but I was underwhelmed by this novel. It reminds me of Vonnegut, which is not a slight. I just expect a Murakami novel to feel more distinct than this one did. As interesting as its premise was, the story ultimately felt like a disappointing meander and the writing didn’t move me. Maybe this was just the wrong Murakami for me. *shrug*

Paper Girls: Vol 6 by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Cliff Chang (artist) – I’m very sorry to see this series come to an end, but it was fine adventure from start to finish.

The Wicked + The Divine #45 by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Jamie McKelvie (artist) – After the epic, kaleidoscopic journey that has been Wic +Div, knowing the end was in sight, I couldn’t imagine how it would possibly conclude at all, let alone in a way that did justice to itself. I’m a fool. After it was over, I couldn’t imagine it ending more perfectly. Having read this story it came out in single issues, I look forward to rereading the entire tale in one go.

The Umbrella Academy Volume 3: Hotel Oblivion by Gerard Way (writer) and Gabriel Bá (artist) – I really want to enjoy these comics, because I thoroughly enjoy the TV adaptation. But with this new volume, I enjoyed the art far more than the story itself, which felt so scattershot, I wasn’t sure I was following it all.

I seldom review single issue comics here, but this year has been full of beloved series reaching their respective conclusions, so I’d like to take a moment to celebrate the return or beginning of a few others:

Pretty Deadly: The Rat #1 by Kelly Sue Deconnick (writer) and Emma Ríos (artist) – I know I’m not alone when I say that I have missed Pretty Deadly something fierce. It feels so good to be back in this world, which has somehow managed to become even more dreamy and beautiful since last we met.

Trees: Three Fates #1 by Warren Ellis (writer) and Jason Howard (artist) – It’s a gift from the comics gods when not one, but two of your favorite series start back up at the same time. I’ve missed the quiet, unsettling strangeness of Trees and I’m powerfully curious to see where this story goes. One of my favorite things about it from the very start has been the fact that I can’t even begin to guess what’s in store and that hasn’t changed at all.

Steeple #1 by John Allison (writer) and Sarah Stern (artist) – John Allison’s Giant Days hasn’t quite ended yet. There’s a final holiday special that’s literally making its way to me in the mail right now. But after that, it’s over and I would be much sadder about this if it weren’t for the fact that Allison just began an entirely new comic entitled Steeple. Says Allison, “It’s about a vicar in the Church of England and their counterpart in the Church of Satan who accidentally become friends, in a Cornish parish blighted by witchcraft, mermen, and chronic NIMBY-ism,” and I am here for it.

Truth be told, aside from the single issues comics, all of these books were read in late August and September. If you happen to follow me on IG, you’ll know that my little feline familiar, Harriet, passed away on October 10th and now, incredibly, I’m keeping vigil over her brother, Dorian, who is suddenly in his last days as well.

Here’s something I wish everyone knew, especially us bibliophiles: It’s incredibly common, but surprisingly unrecognized that grief often has a huge impact on one’s ability to read. So much so that it can feel like a secondary loss for a grieving person. I can’t not read, but shortly after Harriet died I noticed that my attention span shrunk and my reading comprehension deteriorated. Incidentally, I also can’t handle silence (because it leaves me too much in my head) or most music (because it amplifies everything I’m feeling, which makes me cry nonstop).

So with things as they have been and currently are, I’ve been in comfort re-reading mode since early October. I re-read Good Omens, my literary BFF and go-to comfort read, for the Nth time right after Harriet died. Reaching for it felt as automatic as reaching for more tissues. Now I’m re-reading the Discworld series, which has always provided a safe, comfortable, entertaining, and fantastic place for me, which is exactly what my heart needs right now.

Sarah

Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. I never thought of myself as someone who was particularly interested in serial killers (I prefer my murdery shenanigans to be of the more supernatural variety) so I was surprised by how much I really got into Mindhunter on Netflix. Following the agents as they pioneered the development of modern serial-killer profiling turned out to be really riveting, compelling stuff. I didn’t realize that it was based on a true-crime book, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit …which I am sure was not news to a lot of true-crime fans, but I guess these things depend on your interests. I mean, I was startled to find out that people didn’t know that the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House was based on Shirley Jackson’s book! Like, how could you know know that, right?  So there you go.

Anyway, I wish I hadn’t read the Mindhunter book. I mean you get the sense from the show that the unit, the department, the entire FBI at the time was sort of an “old boy’s club” but the language and tone of the book really drives it home. And it’s not always really overt, it’s just…at any moment, you expect the author to start talking about what a “great set of gams” some female colleague has. Gross. I don’t mean to be overly picky, the actual content was interesting enough, and a decent supplement to the show. This was another book I read during the hurricane in September. I’d rate it three out of five clogged gutters.

Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride by Alyssa Harad. I was recently explaining to my book club friend that Coming To My Senses is a book that Past-Me wishes I’d read fifteen years ago when I first found myself fascinated with fragrance, when my obsession was in its heady, beginning stages. Reading it now, in 2019, Present-Me wishes that I had written, myself. But one of the issues that I had with the book is also the reason I would have probably never written the book. 

Alyssa Harad comes from a background of academia, and when she discovers and becomes obsessed with the world of fragrance and perfume blogs, I think she initially over-intellectualizes it all a bit (and I believe she’s aware of this in her recounting of the experience) and so her beginner’s love for scented treasures is squirrelly and almost secretive and fraught with feelings of indulging in frivolous nonsense. As someone who took a decade to get their Associate’s degree, and who revels in frivolity, I couldn’t quite relate. But also I don’t have that scholarly drive to dive deep into my passions and find out everything there is to know about the thing I’m interested in, so I’m pretty sure that this book never would have been written on my watch! I bristle and get a bit prickly when I know I am reading something written by someone whose education far exceeds my own, and it’s a struggle to tamp that down and find enjoyment while I also find myself feeling insecure. So I guess when I mention above that I have an issue with the book, it’s really an issue with myself.

Wow. All of this to say… I actually really enjoyed the book. Following Alyssa’s perfumed journey from sample orders to private museums to fragrant showrooms re-kindled my own love for perfume, which has waxed and waned over the years– and much to my surprise, I was especially interested in how fragrance figured into her wedding plans. I say “much to my surprise” because I don’t think of myself as someone who cares very much for, or about weddings. I don’t think I’ll ever be married, myself. But I have a keen interest in people’s lives (one might even say I am nosy) especially as it relates to a life lived differently than my own. So while, no, I probably don’t want to attend your wedding, I am very much interested in all of the details that go into it! Its sort of like, “seeing how the other half lives,” if that makes any sense.

Harad’s writing is witty and warm and brims with the loveliest turns of phrase–even when she’s not describing perfume– and aside from my own hang-ups, this was a charming book. I came away from it thinking that I’d love to grab tea with the author, swap favorite fragrances, and compare our perfumed paths.

 The Toll by Cherie Priest, a southern gothic tale about creepy bridges, not-quite-alligator monster things, and a mysterious little town and the terror and weirdness that occurs there every thirteen years or so. Not my favorite offering from this author–it’s a bit of a swampy slog at times–but to be honest, I will read anything she writes. Even not-great Cherie Priest is pretty-okay and lots-of-fun Cherie Priest.

In The Third Hotel by Laura van den Berg, Clare travels to Havana after her husband’s death…where she sees him standing outside a museum. I loved this surreal slice of life encompassing grief and loss, secrets and the unknowability of one another, and a place or a time where/when one can both be dead and not-dead. There are two phrases I grabbed from various chapters that for me, really sum up the ideas that the author was working with: 1. “The desire to have a life and the desire to disappear from it,” and 2. “…a world of serendipity…which defied the usual laws.”

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough was a super-trashy hurricane read (how many books did I read during that hurricane?? I’m still finding new ones to talk about!) It’s the sort of thing that might keep book clubs chattering way past the appointed time that you try to get them all out of your house so that you can take off your pants and eat all the leftover potluck wine and cheese in relative privacy. (What kind of monster takes their leftover potluck offering back home with them? RUDE. Feel free to debate me on this.) A single mom and an illicit office romance and a possibly unhinged wife and some twists that you might not be expecting but if you read Lois Duncan’s Stranger With My Face when you were eleven years old you may get really, really close to figuring it all out. I WAS SO CLOSE.

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Post Mortem: October 2019

by on Nov.05, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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Stacked: September 2019

“Whipping Waves”: Alice Auaa A/W 2019-2020

Apothecary: Haute Macabre Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Witching Hour Baby (Sponsored Post)

October Events Calendar

Offerings: Spells & Teas by Ritual Cravt, The Carnival at the End of the World, Crow Tarot, Garnets, Calcite Spheres, and Amethyst Roots

An Ineffable Collection: Good Omens At Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

NARRE TOD, MEIN SPIELGESELL

October Full Moon Tarotscopes by Sarah Faith Gottesdiener

Weekly Eyeball Fodder

“The Folklore of Halloween” Mini-Course from The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic (sponsored post)

Waking Moon

Many Moons 2020 Lunar Planner Pre-Orders Now Open

Obolus: Jamie Draven + Heather Gabel

Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell

Library Thing: Grimoires & Guides

Gothic Splendor

The Feral Feminine: An Interview With Kristen J. Sollee

Weekly Eyeball Fodder

Red All Over: An Interview With Adam Nevill

New Moon in Scorpio

How To Wear: 31 Days Of Spooky Attire

Ask Arcanalogue: Advice from the Arcana

Haute Macabre Small Business Advertising Special


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Post Mortem: October 2019

by on Nov.05, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Stacked: September 2019

“Whipping Waves”: Alice Auaa A/W 2019-2020

Apothecary: Haute Macabre Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Witching Hour Baby (Sponsored Post)

October Events Calendar

Offerings: Spells & Teas by Ritual Cravt, The Carnival at the End of the World, Crow Tarot, Garnets, Calcite Spheres, and Amethyst Roots

An Ineffable Collection: Good Omens At Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

NARRE TOD, MEIN SPIELGESELL

October Full Moon Tarotscopes by Sarah Faith Gottesdiener

Weekly Eyeball Fodder

“The Folklore of Halloween” Mini-Course from The Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic (sponsored post)

Waking Moon

Many Moons 2020 Lunar Planner Pre-Orders Now Open

Obolus: Jamie Draven + Heather Gabel

Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures In Hell

Library Thing: Grimoires & Guides

Gothic Splendor

The Feral Feminine: An Interview With Kristen J. Sollee

Weekly Eyeball Fodder

Red All Over: An Interview With Adam Nevill

New Moon in Scorpio

How To Wear: 31 Days Of Spooky Attire

Ask Arcanalogue: Advice from the Arcana

Haute Macabre Small Business Advertising Special


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Ask Arcanalogue: Advice from the Arcana

by on Oct.31, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

Reposted from | Go to Original Post

Dear Arcanalogue,

I am a 38 year old woman, and in the past two months, there have been drastic changes in my life. I am living alone for the first time, and I am single — another first for my adult life.

I don’t really know how to do this. I don’t know how to live lovelessly and alone. I am, by my nature, a loving and sensitive person. I have always cared for the people around me more than I have cared for myself, and even my self-care has been grounded in care for other people, so that I would not be a burden (and since I struggle with depression and CPTSD, this has been a real concern at times). But now, I am the only person around. While I have a lot of time to care for myself these days, mostly I feel like it is pointless, and so I don’t. I eat poorly, I stay in when I know I should go out, I mismanage my time with void-filling activities like too much TV, and I have no energy or desire to reenter the world of dating, even though I know it is, for me, a fast track toward a purposeful life.

How do I live for myself and not for others, when living for others is all I have ever known? At 38 years of age, do I even stand a chance at figuring this out, or is this just what the rest of my life looks like?

Sincerely,

Lost and Lonesome

Hello, L&L. 

Questions like these remind me why it’s been so useful to lend querents a veil to wear; very few whom I’ve sat down with face-to-face have been able to open up this honestly, or offer such a detailed view of themselves. 

My dear veiled, beautiful one, I first want to congratulate you on knowing a life of love among others. When we’re doing the self-lacerating work of personal reckoning, it’s too easy to overlook these simple accomplishments, which our younger selves would surely be so proud of. For all-time, you have already proven yourself lovable, and capable of being loved.  

Depression and other factors rob us of feeling any warmth from those embers. Unless the fire is actively raging, it’s meaningless to us. But embers can be useful, and so can ashes. I wish self-awareness of one’s depression was enough to counter its effects. I wish we could just start a fire in ourselves, or put one out, as easily as we operate the stove. 

Alas, we are very slow to change, and often dependant on other people’s influence to feel any warmth at all.

You say living for others is all you’ve ever known. I have good news for you! As you go through this lonely and painful healing process, you’re still living for others. As we speak, there are people out there whose paths await your crossing, scattered across your future like clusters of stars, just beyond the range of your telescope. Your ability to help them in their hour of need, and your ability to receive and return their love (indeed the best gift one can give) could depend entirely on your next steps. 

If you’re not there for them at a crucial time — if you succumb to depression, pain, illness that might have otherwise been avoided — perhaps no one will be. In a very real way, showing up for yourself during these awkward times is the first step back onto a path toward showing up for others. 

That’s the potency of the Queen of Cups in this draw. She steps into the unknown all the time, as an expression of her elemental composition. So shall you, Querent! And if it were truly just up to her, she might wallow forever in these depths, or simply decline to surface, content among her own mysteries or else unconvinced of the outside world’s need for them.

However, as a Queen, she’s obligated to more than that. The watery Cups cards are also about communication, and thus she bears the responsibility of surfacing to tend to the needs of her subjects, poor earthbound creatures such as they are, translating her arcane gleanings into wisdom, leadership, and tangible forms of care. In this sense, it’s the card of divination itself, commenting on the rewards and also the seductions (and dangers) awaiting those who dare to dive. 

As Joanna Newsom sings:

I know we must abide

each by the rules that bind us here:

the divers, and the sailors, and the women on the pier.

But how do you choose your form?

How do you choose your name? How do you choose your life?

How do you choose the time you must exhale,

and kick, and rise?

This is your time, Querent. To exhale, and kick, and rise. When you’ve been underwater long enough, the ocean’s cthonic mysteries become so familiar that it’s the surface that becomes “the great unknown.” But it will matter to someone that you did it anyway, however unimaginable that might seem now from your mermaid perch.

Obviously it’s all worthwhile for what this gives to you. I’m only framing it otherwise because I know what cold comfort those words can be during a depression. Numbness settles in, and you can’t feel your own heart anymore. This is why you mustn’t fault yourself for giving into appetites and cravings. Sometimes they’re all that seems real. Forgive yourself for that, and then on days when you’re feeling stronger, explore other forms of comfort. The crutch serves its purpose during the healing process, but getting back on your feet means periodically laying it aside, testing yourself, overcoming the awkwardness of supporting yourself. Stepping into the unknown!

More good news from the cards: that Six of Wands indicates that a few early successes await these halting attempts; nothing major, but perhaps enough to rekindle some faith in the process. And then, and then! The road rises to meet you in the Ace of Wands, which firmly establishes a new purpose in your life — one which you’ll be strong enough to grasp, by then, if you show up for it. Queen, there is your scepter!

Embrace the slow track to a purposeful life, my dear veiled Querent. You’re at this threshold now, after all these years, right on time. 

Can you handle hearing that your avoidance and self-comforting bad habits are very, very normal? Have you checked in with yourself to see if there are more specific forms of comfort that you could make available, the kind other people have never been quite able to satisfy? That’s one way of being good company and an attentive lover to your lonely self; later you’ll be able to take refuge in these glittering sea-caves even during times of love and companionship.

Can you handle hearing that it’s truly impossible to imagine, from this point, what the rest of your life looks like? Unless you decide this is it, and then end up proving yourself right. 

Please keep the veil, it looks so fetching on you, and is de rigueur for every Queen of Cups. Wear it with pride, in hopes that the best parts of you — and of the world outside it — remain only partly obscured. 

A R C A N A L O G U E


Hi! It’s me again!

The question I have is: I have lost a considerable amount of work over the past few months that has forced me to push towards a series of long term career goals rather than focusing on freelance and other short term work. 

Along with that, it feels like the sturdiest structures in my life are falling apart. I’m not sure what to prioritize or how to survive in the short term, although all these incredibly fast paced changes are pushing me towards re-examining how I spend my time and on what. 

How do I go about handling these changes? Will things slow down? What will provide me the most stability? How do I know what to prioritize in this moment?

Signed,

[bloody thumbprint] 

Dear [bloody thumbprint], 

We experience losses like these — even ones that push us forward — as danger or even violence against us, depending how invested we’ve become in the status quo, in the story we imagined we were telling. It’s a reminder of just how little control we have over our own lives, how vulnerable we are to the caprices of others. And then instead of executing our plans the way we’d designed them, our decisions end up being influenced by our reactions, which casts doubt upon them before the die’s even cast.

I’m truly sorry you’re in this position. I’ve gone ahead and drawn four cards, one for each of your questions. As a diviner, I tend to think that more cards = more rope to hang myself with, but in this case I feel very supported by the results, and I hope you will too.

“How do I go about handling these changes?”

The Queen of Swords answers this in a couple of ways. It hints that these events are activating trauma from past experiences. You’re battle-seasoned and better equipped to brawl than ever, but it still stirs up feelings related to past betrayals and disappointments. These threaten to cloud your judgment, and could possibly do more damage than anything fortune could contrive to throw at you. This Queen’s “sadder but wiser” quality is a source of her strength, but it also makes it harder for her to foresee any positive outcomes, leaving her vulnerable to self-fulfilling prophecies of doom. 

So, like… don’t do that, I guess? 

What this tells me is that until things stabilize, some of the most important conversations you’ll have will involve talking yourself down from ledges and backing away from ultimatums. Remember that the Queen’s sword is meant to be ceremonial: it’s not that she can’t expertly wield it — go on, try her!  It’s that ideally, it should never come to that. Her true strengths lie elsewhere.

“Will things slow down?”

No, they will not. And that’s largely a good thing, because that Ace of Wands signals terrific things on the horizon, some of it resulting from all the pushing you’re doing, but some purely just because

But that’s precisely why you need to pace yourself and tame your thoughts now… because if you’ve worn yourself to tatters by the time you reach that threshold, the velocity of good fortune will be indistinguishable from the violence of bad fortune. Does that make sense?

“What will provide me the most stability?”

As much as it might seem counterintuitive to take your eye off the ball, career-wise, my deck recommends an elemental shift in focus. Interacting honestly with your own simplest forms of pleasure and emotional fulfillment, using this as a benchmark for the quality of your life, and making it a priority instead of treating it like a guilty thing that distracts you from IMPORTANT MATTERS. 

During chaotic times, this can provide the purest reflection of who we really are, and why we’re doing any of this in the first place. Challenge yourself to soften in response to all this; you’re hard enough already. If you’re in a relationship, this could be a good time to knit up unravelled edges and find harmony in your shared goals; it also provides your partner with an opportunity to care for you when you truly need it. 

If you’re not in a relationship (or not that kind), then you need to regularly set aside time to gather generosity in your own heart for yourself, as well as others, in whatever form that may take. Cooking can be a good one! Maybe you have other ideas. Just listen for opportunities to lay your troubles aside (what a relief!) and busy your hands with something that has nothing to do with solving your very real, very practical problems

Remember, without emotional equilibrium that tough-talking, rough-riding Queen of Swords can become her own worst enemy, as well as everyone else’s.

“How do I know what to prioritize in this moment?”

If you’re doing the things I just described, the moment will speak to you. And you’ll be able to trust what it says, and respond, without agonizing over each tiny detail, and how it affects the Big Picture. Without having to know.

This could become a way of life for you, Querent. I think that’s the significance in pulling two Aces in four-card reading. I think you’re on the precipice of taking full responsibility for how your life turns out, fast pace and occasional leg-sweeps notwithstanding, and being satisfied with the results.

I think the strain you’re feeling now is a cry that deserves to be answered, even if it requires additional energy put into reorganizing things. And you’re correct, that invites further speculation into how resources are currently allocated, and may advise changes you’d hoped you woudn’t have to make. 

Is it more threatening to imagine that all this work won’t turn out to be worth the effort… or that it will? 

A R C A N A L O G U E 

Want to ask Arcanalogue?  Submit your questions via the $6.66 tier on their Patreon, where further instructions await.

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Images from the Dalí Tarot


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How To Wear: 31 Days Of Spooky Attire

by on Oct.30, 2019, under Syndicated from the Web

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Sadly I did not engage in my annual tradition of watching one horror movie a day, every day during the month of October. I didn’t have the time! I’m so sorry! If you missed them in previous years, you can find my 31 Days of Horror in our archives for 2018 and 2017. I’m definitely going to go for it again next year, so stay tuned.

(Although! In the first days of the month, I did watch one beautiful giallo-style horror movie with a cast almost entirely populated by queer characters, and that I highly recommend–Knife + Heart, on Shudder right now.)

So…maybe fill the void with something else, then? I gave it some thought and realized that over the past decade of assembling little fashion collages (see our How To Wear category for more!) so many of them, at least half, probably more, are horror-inspired! How fun would it be to gather up some of my favorites, dust off the cobwebs, and present them here at Haute Macabre? For …31 Days Of Spooky Attire!

A small disclaimer: many of these sets were made using a site that no longer exists. Whereas I used to have a list for every item I included for each ensemble, sadly that is no longer the case and I cannot link to any of the items used. I know–it’s a travesty! Some of them I might remember though, so feel free to leave any questions you might have in the comments and I am happy to try and guess!

DAY ONE // DAGON

DAY TWO // SALEM’S LOT

DAY THREE // LURID PAPERBACKS

DAY FOUR // SATAN

DAY FIVE // CRIMSON PEAK

DAY SIX // COVEN

DAY SEVEN // MORTICIA ADDAMS

DAY EIGHT // CARMILLA

DAY NINE // VAMPIRE SQUID

DAY TEN // WITCHES

DAY ELEVEN // A MOTLEY MENAGERIE

DAY TWELVE // JUNJI ITO (TOMIE)

DAY THIRTEEN // VIRGIL FINLAY

DAY FOURTEEN // FEMALE CENOBITE

DAY SIXTEEN // SPOOKY CHATEÂU

DAY SEVENTEEN // THE HOUSE ON THE BORDERLAND

DAY EIGHTEEN // PENNY DREADFUL

DAY NINETEEN // WENDIGO

DAY TWENTY // MADAME DE LA ROUGIERRE

DAY TWENTY-ONE // AN OCCULT ENDEAVOR

DAY TWENTY-TWO // TERRIFYING TOTS

DAY TWENTY-THREE// SPIDER BABY

DAY TWENTY-FOUR // GOTHIC ROMANCE NOVELS

DAY TWENTY-FIVE // OBSESSED HORROR FAN

DAY TWENTY-SIX // PEEPHOLE

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN // TWIN PEAKS

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT // A SPOOKY SCENT

DAY TWENTY-NINE // CARNIVAL OF SOULS

DAY THIRTY // ABANDONED AMUSEMENTS

DAY THIRTY-ONE // PET SEMATARY

Featured image: George Ziel for the cover of Shorecliff by Marilyn Ross

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