Our first set of reviews for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s archetypal adventure and tarot-inspired collection, The Fool’s Journey, featured the master of ceremonies and consummate magus, The Magician. Today, our focus is The Daughter of Heaven and Earth, the Fruitful Mother of Thousands: The Empress.
A soft figure of beauty and calm, in flowing robes of pomegranates and a crown of stars, The Empress is seated in luxury and is surrounded by lush forests, the abundance of a recent harvest at her feet.
The Empress is “…an avatar of Demeter and all the goddesses of the earth, she is the personification of the land and the nurturer of all Creation. Also an avatar of Aphrodite and the myriad goddesses of love, she is the Queen of the Honeyed Heart and the passion that drives the generative function of all things. She represents secular authority and the power of queens throughout the ages, but she is also the principle of feminine energy as it manifests in the physical world. Within her womb, she nurtures three kingdoms, and within the palms of her hands, she holds the key to creation. She is the land itself, and holds within herself the miracle of life on this plane. She is Attraction Incarnate, and she pulls to herself all that she requires and desires.”
“She is the fecundity of the Earth, she is spiritual fruitfulness, she is life-giving power, she is the potency of the creative principle and the fountain of abundance. She is sexuality, she is motherhood, she is the glory of the feminine principle of love that grants sustenance, nurturing, and the gift of life itself. She is generosity and warmth, she is the expansiveness of love, she is Spirit in harmony with Nature.”
How will you wield your own power and passion? What will you nurture, and what nurtures you?
The Earth Mother (patchouli and clary sage with a host of dark mosses and lichens, wild grasses, warm acorns, dammar, burgundy pitch, pine needles, mandrake root, hay absolute, and sweet vetiver). Imagine a bosomy earth mama hug, all patchouli deodorant, wild hair tangled with leaves and moss, a tiered and torn cotton skirt, patched wildly and smelling of summer grass and fresh-dug earth, and the intimate metallic tangle of vintage copper jewelry, tarnished and tinkling and maybe worn even when the wearer is running around starkers under a full moon.
The Queen of Love (red rose petals, benzoin, honey myrtle and ambrette seed). A bouquet of the sweetest, pinkest roses, chosen for the unblemished beauty of their petals and their peerless fragrance, and secreted away in a chipped jam jar, accompanied by a dripping fragment of honeycomb, redolent of clover and ripe apricots. The one who scrapes a morsel of this concoction across their morning toast, or who adds a fragrant, sticky pinch to their bathwater, will soon be accused of the unfathomable transgression of self-love.
The Eternal Queen (white gardenia and tuberose with ambergris accord, vegetal vanilla musk, bourbon vanilla, and amber incense) She is every queen that has ever walked on this Earth, and every queen that shall come. She smells of lush, velvety, sun-warmed magnolia blossoms mingled with vanilla-tipped white musk incense.
The Queen of Earthly Paradise (daffodil, gladiolus, tulips, crocus, aconite and jonquil, amber) A glowing grove of blonde woods, yellow pollen across a veiled wing, and golden bulbs bursting through the soil at the first warm light of Spring.
The Robe of Pomegranates (pomegranate and bakhoor oudh, honeyed incense, fig and ambrette seed, sandalwood and carnation)
To my nose, pomegranate, no matter how sophisticated the blend in which it makes an appearance, always manages to smell like a combination of Robitussin and Hall’s cough lozenges. Milky fig and carnation’s piquant, clove-like undertones, however, transform this into a remedy more cocktail than head-cold related, and I’d gladly quaff a spoonful (or champagne coupe) or two. BUT! Turns out I wrote two reviews without realizing it. Apparently, two days ago, I noted: “this is not the red, ripe, syrupy blast of pomegranate that I was expecting, but instead a more sedate fruit, cooked down a bit, calmed by soft spices and baked into a desert with a lightly caramelized crumb.” It seems that any way you slice it (pour it?), I want to eat or drink it.
The Forest of the Empress (clubmoss, silver fir, blue spruce, red cedar, cypress, and live oak) A verdant grove of evergreens, the promise of peace, quiet, and refuge within the heart of Nature’s embrace. Sharp and green with a brilliant hint of something bitter and candied (rock candy pine needles?) A honeyed tea brewed from both the flotsam of the canopy and the detritus of the forest floor.
The Shield (white patchouli and helichrysum with blackcurrant, white sage, praline, vetiver, and orris root) In some interpretations, her shield bears the eagle of dominion, in others, it is emblazoned with the symbol of the planet Venus. The sovereignty of love, the protection and succor of a benevolent mother-queen. An initial patchouli dankness dissipates immediately (maybe white patchouli is the ghost of regular patchouli?) and reveals a most intriguing combination of powdery cotton, dusty straw, and creamy, sugared pecans.
The Starry Crown (French lavender and star anise, Roman chamomile and leather) A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. I believe it was one of Aldous Huxley’s characters, when assessing a champagne, remarked, “it had the taste of an apple peeled with a steel knife”; Starry Crown smells to me of that assessment, along with a dreamy creamy-lemony note and a bit of soft, warm tobacco.
The Scepter of the Empress (amber oudh, mandarin rind, Florentine bergamot) One half of the Tarot’s binary expression of archetypical sovereignty, governing comfort and succor, the healing power of the natural world, the fecundity of the countryside, the stability of earth supported by the passionate tides of water, and all that gently nurtures humankind. At the forefront, the citrus mingles in such a way to tickle the memory, But it’s more the leaves and the twigs and seeds of a citrus tree; waxy and bitter and almost a little soapy, with a halo of sweet orange oil hovering elusively just out of reach. In opposition to that fleeting sweetness is a pungent, indolic funk at the very heart of this scepter (like if you went to Ollivander’s and he took one look at you and said, “aha! You need a wand with a core of fossilized skunk pee!”)
Funky bits aside, this is actually a lovely and interesting fragrance.
The Harvest of the Empress (wheat stalks, hay absolute, and clove) The first time I wore this, I thought “wow, this is a really rich, mature scent”, but you might not come to that conclusion unless you’ve worn it for an hour or so. Sniffed straight out of the bottle, The Harvest of the Empress is super clove-y; once settled on the wrist, it’s the interplay of fresh, tangy hay and warm, balsamic woods with a spicy bite. It culminates in a scent that I associate with skin-warmed, vintage costume jewelry.
The Squishy Cushions (rose petal attar, red oudh, Mysore sandalwood, red benzoin, elemi, silken musk, and jasmine sambac.) The glory of Venus as the apex of luxury and sensuality. I’ll be honest with you; I believe I am pre-programmed to adore a scent called “The Squishy Cushion”. Comfort is my life’s goal. “She was comfortable” is what you will find etched into my headstone. And is there anything more symbolic to my cause than a well-squished cushion? I daresay there is not. The Empress’s squishy cushions are a vague mélange, a faint but incredibly luxe blend of roses and resins; a posh pillow (or Chanel cardigan, or Burberry robe) upon which the scented imprint of someone glamorous has been left. You want to rub your face all over it, but you know that’s kind of weird.
The Empress collection is currently live and available for purchase in 5ml bottles for $26 each. As this is a limited edition series, sample sizes imps are not available.