First off: can anyone help me get some more Glitter? Like, you've got an imp you didn't like, etc.? It's been temporarily discontinued and OF COURSE it was at the top of my list of bottles to buy next. Fnarrr.
So. A big Yay for Book-Finishing Splurge shipment:
Just before I got this one, I ordered a few in a swap and got March Hare, Verdandi, Blood Amber, and then as a surprise, Milk Moon (thanks, Lily Rose!). Plus, I still have several leftovers from other swaps that I haven't reviewed yet, either.
What I ordered in May: Shub-Niggurath, Arkham Revisited, Honey Moon, Strawberry Moon, and O (all 5 mls); Blood Rose, Fae, Leanan Sidhe, The Hesperides, Catherine, Nosferatu, Juliet, Katharina, Endymion, La Belle au Bois Dormant, Seraglio, Snake Oil, The Unicorn, Dorian (oops--had that one already), Vice, Aunt Caroline's Joy Mojo, Has No Hanna, Florence, Glasgow, Morocco, Silk Road, The Hanging Gardens, Tintagel, Venice (all imps).
My free imps (frimps, as we like to call them here in the cult): Khephra, Wilde, Hetairae, Umbra, Incantation, Juke Joint, High John the Conqueror, Kathmandu, Hunger, House of Night, Voodoo, Horn of Plenty, Hollywood Babylon, Hurricane, Tushnamatay, Zephyr, Tintagel.
I should note here that apparently this is par for the course--apparently you get about three freebies per bottle your order, and maybe another per six imps or so. So no, Beth is not sucking up to me, and in fact probably has no idea who I am or why she would do that anyway. ; )
Zephyr I already had; Tintagel was in my order--well, put it this way, I ended up with two Tintagels somehow. I was really excited about Hollywood Babylon, because that was actually on my wishlist; Hurricane was sooooo close—it’s the same category (of only four blends!) as Undertow, which I wanted for the lotus note. I was also pleased to see some voodoo blends in there, and they smelled pretty good on the wand (unlike, say, Van Van or Water of Notre Dame, which didn’t so much work for me). Interestingly, a lot of these are heavier than I would normally choose for myself.
Also, a note on my new “second try” theory: the first time I tried Dorian, I was like, “EWWW MUSK!” The second time? I didn’t smell musk at all. The first time I tried Siren? “EWWW GINGER!” The first time I tried Phantasm? “EWWW JASMINE!” I think you see where I’m going with this. My point is that whatever note that comes out really strong and puts me off the first time I wear it, I tend not to smell it at all the second time. It’s like it goes and hides because I’m looking for it now. So I’m trying to give things more than one shot, to get past that Ew Really Strong Subnote stage.
Sacred Whore of Babylon (Excolo): And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth. An ancient formula that inspires unrepentant decadence, lechery and debauch.
Hmmm. Gardenia… maybe vanilla and cinnamon? A watery/aquatic note of some kind—something also a little bubblegummy, but I don’t think it’s lotus; the “bubblegum” may actually be the vanilla-gardenia combination. Also, the gardenia actually smells like a fresh gardenia bloom—I know, because we have several floating in a bowl downstairs from the bush outside, and I was sniffing them because I knew I had this one on the way, and I wanted to get the smell of real gardenia in my mind. There’s something green and wet in both smells—the real flower and the oil blend—that’s like the green plant itself. But the vanilla and cinnamon (maybe it’s carnation, actually?) lay a candied tone on top of that. Interesting. There’s also a bit of smoke to it, and the forumites think there may be myrrh in here—I don’t know what that smells like, though. So… smoky, spicy, candied gardenia. There you go. I like it, and yet I don’t think I’ll end up wearing it much.
ETA: This one is STRONG. I washed my hands four times and took a bath and the gardenia note didn’t come off. Twelve hours later, a full night’s sleep included, and it was still there. I petted my dog and he smelled like it. Rooms I wasn’t even in smelled like it, according to my family. Seriously, you don’t even have to apply this one to your skin—you just have to think about it real hard, and you’ll smell like gardenia for days.
Also, my sister claims that all the blends smell like powder on me, despite her Highly Educated Chef’s Nose (eyeroll). Sacred Whore legitimately turns into the Baby Powder of Babylon on the drydown. Hope you like talcum, because you’re going to be stuck with it a while.
Phantasm (Bewitching Brews): This delicate, spectral perfume gives rise to an eerie distortion of of the senses. It bestows an ephemeral, ghostly, and truly haunting quality to your presence. Green tea, lemon verbena, jasmine and neroli.
Eeee! It smells like Lemon Zinger tea on the wand! That’s my favorite tea! Now that it’s on my wrist, I smell a light jasmine tone in there as well, but it blends really, really well. Depending on how this wears through the day, this may be a bottle for me. I’m starting to wonder, however, if I like jasmine as much as I thought I did…
Note: The second time I tried this, the jasmine was much more integrated, and the blend was more of a sweet, happy citrus.
The Moon (Tarot, secondhand decant): No description.
Hmm. I was expecting jasmine, which is kind of present, but it’s kind of… bitter. And really strong. AUGH HERBAL LICORICE GET IT OFF!!
Bayou (Wanderlust): A lazy, warm deep green scent with a thick aquatic undertone: Spanish moss, evergreen and cypress with watery blue-green notes and an eddy of hothouse flowers and swamp blooms.
After the Sacred Whore incident, I applied this one very sparingly—I think I may need to test it again. It was sort of faint and murky, but again, applied sparingly. So… “murky,” really, sums it up. Which is appropriate. I’ll say this—throw in a whiff of incense, and it is what New Orleans smelled like when I was there last summer. From one test, it didn't do much for me at all, though.
(Why are all the Wanderlust blends “murky” or “blurry” on me?)
Zombi (Funereal Oils): Dried roses, rose leaf, Spanish moss, oakmoss and deep brown earth.
It really does smell like dried roses, which is the amazing thing—that soft, dried rose smell plus the deep-dark-green smell of withered brown stems. It’s one of those blends where you smell it and wonder who, at what time, would actually want to smell like this, though—and then I remember that people use the oils for other purposes than just perfume. It would make a great moody room scent or candle, actually. It’s going in my Writerly Smells collection, as far as I’m concerned, and will probably be resurrected (har!) when I start working on Black Ribbon again.
Mata Hari (Bewitching Brews): A renowned exotic dancer and courtesan, possessed of aristocratic elegance, matchless charm, an iron will and a streak of fearlessness. The actual events of her life have met with much speculation, and to this day it is unclear whether or not she was truly a German spy. Despite shaky evidence of her guilt, she was tried for espionage by a closed court-martial and was executed by a French firing squad in 1917. Her scent is striking and bold with a delicate yet dark undertone: five roses with soft jasmine, warmed by vanilla, fig, tonka bean and mahogany, spiced with a drop of coffee bean.
Ack! Coffee on the wand, coffee on the wand! I hate coffee! It tastes like burning! I thought you said A DROP!
Wet: PERFUME! And JASMINE! We're 0/3 so far, people. Also... something licoricey. I don't know what it is, but I think it's similar to the note in The Moon that made me want to gag.
Seriously, did I just put some on from the wrong bottle? This is The Moon, y'all. It's the jasmine mixed with something else, that's the note I am seriously loathing, and I have got to figure out what it is so I can make sure I never, ever order it again. (Note: a friend of mine really likes this one. It's not a bad blend--it just doesn't work on me at all.)
Lughnasadh (Limited Edition, secondhand decant): The first of the year's Harvest Festivals. Lughnasadh represents a rest from toil and a time of reflection. Fertility magick is practised, as is agricultural magick used to ensure a bountiful Autumn harvest. The holy day is named after the Celtic deity Lugh, God of Skill in All Things, Patron of the Arts and Sciences. Though he and Rosmerta, his consort and the Goddess of Nature, are venerated at this time, the holy day was created out of respect for his foster mother Tailtiu, one of the Earth-Goddesses. Though she was a Lady of the Fir Bolg, she was a good, loving and honorable being, and cared for Lugh well. After her people were defeated by the Tuatha Dé Danann she was forced to clear a vast forest for the purpose of planting grain, and sadly, she perished from exhaustion in the process. The Hill of Tailte in Ireland was named in her honor, and legend states it was there that the first festival of Lughnasadh took place. To some outside of the Celtic mythos, this holy day also marks the annual death of the Sun God or the God of the Grain. The holiday is celebrated with contests of skill and cunning, feasting, oath-making, and agricultural competitions.
Hmm. I think I smell either grapes or cherries, and something alcoholic. I liked this one more than Samhain (see below), but I'd have to be in the mood for it, and it is very like Samhain in tone--that deep, earthy, almost smoky tone.
Samhain (Limited Edition, secondhand decant): Truly the scent of autumn itself -- damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.
Heard wonderful things about this one. Smells delicious on the wand, but woodsier than I was expecting—I think I was expecting a foodier smell. I need to give it another run, but it was kind of unpleasantly bitter on me the first time. It's a very true autumn smell, is what I'm saying--earthy and spicy--and I prefer sweet or foody scents, because I'm lame like that. Jack may be more the blend for me.
Rosalind (Illyria): Dew-covered berries and fresh green grasses with a faint breath of spring flowers.
I'm going to have to try this again because I really, really didn't like it. It came in somewhere between "young wet grass" and "soap." It may work better under different conditions.
Brisingamen (Love Potions): The amber necklace of Freyja, Norse Goddess of Love, Sex, Attraction and Fruitfulness. Her magnificent necklace was bought from four Dwarves [Alfrik, Berling, Dvalin and Grer] at the price of four nights of her passion. When Brisingamen graces your throat, no man can resist your charms. A glittering mantle of rich golden notes: five ambers, soft myrtle and apple blossom, myrtle, and carnation.
Hmm. On the wand it’s pleasant and sort of… deep? rich? fluid? Except not? I don’t know? Seriously, I can’t put any kind of name to the way it smells on the wand. I don’t know if the “soft myrtle, and myrtle” is what I’m smelling, but I don’t know that I like it. I’ll have to give it a second try, because in theory you would think I’d like it. It may be one of those where the offending note doesn't bother me the second time around.
Rage (Diabolus): Black amber erupting with a dark volcanic surge of fiery dragon's blood and a burst of melati, rose geranium, mandarin and black currant.
I wanted to like this one, but it was like the dragon's blood resin (the warm, throat-scratchy note I liked in Wolf's Heart) was fighting with the flowers for supremacy. I think it was Weird Chemistry Week, though--if the notes blended the way they usually do with Beth's oils, it would be a really, really nice scent.
Aunt Caroline’s Joy Mojo (Voodoo Blends): Bottled happiness. Helps reverse misfortune, brings light and laughter to even the most troubled and discordant place, and aids in alleviating the stress and discontent that accompanies so many of life's daily trials.
Mmm, bubblegum. It’s a little softer and more complex than that, but it does smell like powdery-pastel candy. As it dries down, there’s also a warm tone underneath, but I can’t figure out what it is. It’s a very comforting, happy smell to me.
The Hesperides (Bewitching Brews): The Hesperides are the Nymphs of the Evening who dwell in a verdant garden located in the Arcadian Mountains, guarded by the terrible three-headed dragon, Ladon. Within their garden lives the tree that bears Hera’s sacred Golden Apples. Their perfume is that of sturdy oak bark, dew-kissed leaves, twilight mist and crisp apple.
You know how I said I was looking for something that matched my tiny childhood bottle of Hello Kitty apple blossom perfume? I think this is it. I mean, it’s more complex than that, but when it settles down, it’s that sweet, happy apple blossom smell—it doesn’t have the heavy sugary depth of apple juice, you know? Just light and happy and sweet. I don’t like it in the bottle or wet, so if you’re trying it, don’t get turned off by that stage. Wait it out.
Verdandi (Excolo): VERDANDI: NECESSITY -- Deep herbs and apple with black amber.
I’m putting these two together because they’re both apple scents, and you need to see them compared. At first I was like, “Crap, they smell totally alike.” Except that, after you get the apple note out of the way, they don’t. Verdandi is gorgeous—I didn’t like it much in the wet stage, but as it dried down I couldn’t stop sniffing my arm. The apple note is very green—I don’t know that it’s a green apple per se, but it’s a very wet, woody, living apple smell. The background is this misty-woodsy-herbal smell—God, it’s gorgeous. Very clean, and almost three-dimensional.
March Hare (Mad Tea Party): A twisted teatime tart: apricot and sweet clove.
YUM. This one is apricot and clove. No more, no less. Sweet and yummy and true. It doesn’t change; it’s exactly what it is, from start to finish. I went around with my wrist stuck to my nose for several hours. MMMMMM.
Strawberry Moon (Limited Edition, A Little Lunacy): Strawberry moon is a blending of strawberries and cream with light, dry lotus and soft ylang ylang and a touch of green tea and sage to bring it closer to Earth.
Mmm, strawberries. Really nice, really sweet (can you tell I like the sweet?). It did smell more like a Strawberry Shortcake doll than an actual strawberry, but that may be a function of the “cream” note that’s in there. Do I care? Not I. In fact, this would be a great companion to Glitter, which I feel smells wonderfully like bubblegum and My Little Ponies.
Hollywood Babylon (Wanderlust): Glittering Egyptian amber and heliotrope, infused with the sweetness of strawberry and vanilla - dragged into debauch by lusty red musk and a dribble of black cherry.
I tested this and Strawberry Moon on opposite wrists; this was the second time I tested HB, but then again, I’ve been testing multiple scents at a time the last couple of days, so I still don’t know that I’ve really given it a fair shake. All I know is that I do like it, which is enough to get it in the Yum Pile. What’s interesting is that Strawberry Moon is like Strawberry Shortcake dolls; Hollywood Babylon is like Strawberry Shortcake hits the casting couch. It’s dimmer and more complex and less sweet and more cynical. (I’m not sure what I’m smelling that’s kind of perfumy, but I think it’s amber.) The vanilla balances it out really well, though. Also? There was kind of a shimmer on my wrist after I put it on.
Juliet (Illyria): Sweet pea with stargazer lily, calla lily, heliotrope, honeysuckle, white musk and a touch of fresh pear.
Another oil with a shimmer to it. Hmm. It's a very sweet floral on the wand--I think that's the lilies I'm smelling. Wet, it's way strong--I don't know if it's the lilies or the sweet pea or both, but it's not me. (This is the interesting thing: I love "sweet" as long as it's fruits or food. We get into florals, we have problems.) Actually, it may also be the honeysuckle; I seem to have problems with that, too. I got it because Beth's pear usually works wonderfully on me, and I think if the pear came out more, I would really like it.
ETA: Now that I'm smelling it again, there's something of a powdery note that reminds me of Aunt Caroline's Joy Mojo, and possibly Glitter. That must be the pear. Yeah, this is much better on drydown.
Honey Moon (Limited Edition, A Little Lunacy): Honey Moon contains five different honeys, ranging from pale and sweet to deep and heady, with hints of jasmine, white gardenia, Hawaiian white ginger and thyme.
My favorite part of this one was when it was still wet, and the ginger and thyme were at the forefront with the honey--it's beautifully blended, so the smell... I don't know that lemon is actually present (and I'm pretty sure tea isn't at all), but it reminded me of a glass of iced tea with that perfect balance of lemon and sugar. As it dries down, the gardenia and jasmine come out, and it's more floral. I still like it, but... it was so much more interesting when it had this herbal-honey iced tea smell to it.
Milk Moon (Limited Edition, A Little Lunacy; secondhand decant): May marks the apex of the year’s fertility, expresses the reawakening of the sexuality of the Earth and her inhabitants, and May’s full moon celebrates both the fecundity of the creatures and flora of this world and the vibrancy, rejuvenation and life-affirming energy of Spring. Milk Moon is its warmer, gentler cousin; it is a scent that emulates the closeness of child and mother. In it, cream and warm honey soften our traditional blend of lunar oils.
It's kind of scary in the bottle--a teensy bit of a curdled smell. Awww, hell. It’s this gorgeous creamy coconut smell when it's wet, and all I have is a decant imp. Shit. Actually, as it dries down, though, there's something... I don't want to say "missing" from it, but there's something kind of "watery" about the coconut-vanilla smell. That may be the "lunar oils" in the description. (It was decanted by someone I trust, so I don't feel like the "wateriness" is coming from a diluted oil. It's a more aquatic note than that.) I like it, but I think I'll be okay with just an imp.
Fae (Bewitching Brews): A brilliant, ethereal scent: white musk, bergamot, heliotrope, peach and oakmoss.
Another one that smells pretty true on the wand. Really, really gorgeous--what I mostly got was the peach and bergamot. (Heliotrope seems to be in a lot of things I like, but I don't know what it smells like by itself.) A sweet, vivid, effervescent scent; really nice. This is totally a bottle for me.
Katharina (Illyria): A strong, willful blend with a soft, utterly lovely soul: white musk with a trickle of bright, sharp apricot and orange blossom.
I really like it--turns out I LOVE apricot scents--but with Fae and March Hare around, it feels a little redundant. I may try it again later, and I'll probably use the imp, but between having a bottle of Tamora and wanting a bottle of Fae and possibly March Hare, I don't know that this one distinguishes itself well enough. The musk isn't a problem for me at all, though.
O (Love Potions): The scent of sexual obsession, slavery to sensual pleasure, and the undercurrent of innocence defiled utterly. Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.
It was all amber on me, and I wasn’t terribly impressed with it, despite the fact that this and Snake Oil (which is waiting to be tested) are the most popular blends. I wanted more vanilla, I think. And yet… it grew on me. I think it needs another good test. (Hmm. It might be really interesting layered under Milk Moon. This seems like a good layer blend.)
Arkham Revisited (Springtime in Arkham): A shadowy, unapproachable forest of maple, birch, dogwood, cypress and pine softened by a garland of New England wildflowers: bergamot, columbine, rue anemone, blue violet, creeping phlox, bloodroot, toadflax, and pixie moss.
I’ve become a little scared of pure florals, since they don’t seem to work on me very well. This one’s kind of soapy… but in a good way. I mean, I think we forget that soaps are intended to have nice smells, so “soapy” isn’t always an insult. But I think this one makes it official: straight florals do not like me. I will probably continue to try them, because I'm just stubborn like that. But they don't like me at all.
Shub-Niggurath (Springtime in Arkham): Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. The lust incense of a corrupted Astarte. A blend of ritual herbs and dark resins, shot through with three gingers and aphrodisiacal spices.
In the bottle: AUGH! IT BIT ME! Wet: ginger and spice. No sweetness, interestingly. It’s almost... savory. And really, really strong, and almost unpleasant. As it dries down, it develops this sugar note--and strangely, it's not sweet at all. But you know how sugar smells when you take the lid off the sugar bowl? Not how it tastes, but how it smells? That's the smell. Shub kind of smells like sugar and cinnamon, or maybe brown sugar, on top of all that ginger and spice. At that point, it's at least pleasant... but still not sweet.
Oddly, I feel like this would be a very good scent to wear to a Christmas party you really resented having to go to. It's pastry, but it's angry.
Up next to try: Catherine, Kathmandu, Vice, The Hanging Gardens, Glasgow, Morocco, High John the Conqueror, Has No Hanna, Tintagel, The Unicorn. And about another thirty after that. I know, man.