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. Soon to follow was The Daughter of Heaven and Earth, the Fruitful Mother of Thousands, The Empress. Today we focus on The Star Maiden, She Who Shines in the Darkness, High Priestess of Veiled Golden Isis, the Eternal Virgin–The High Priestess.
Originally, the High Priestess was the Papesse, who was perceived as an allegory for the power of the Church, a heretical scapegoat, an incarnation of the Holy Spirit, or the herald of a new age. Later, she transformed into the virgin priestess, eternally pure, forever guarding the doorway to the mysteries.
Robed in blue, symbolizing knowledge, she is seated between dark and light, as represented by the pillars in Solomon’s temple. She is wearing the crown of Isis, representing the Triple Goddess and the solar cross at her breast is a symbol between the balance of female and male. The pomegranates on the tapestry behind her seated form are sacred to Persephone. She sits in front of the thin veil of awareness, which is all that separates us from our inner selves.
The High Priestess is the conduit between the archetypical and formative worlds, and she is the only guide capable of traversing the terrible wasteland that is the bleak desert of the soul . She is intuition and the inner voice, opening your eyes to the potency and power of your dreams, your subconscious, and your imagination, granting insight into the myriad realities beyond the scope of your current understanding.
Is finding answers more important than finding peace? What price are you willing to pay for a chance to look behind the veil?
The Night Priestess (night-blooming jasmine, clove bud, cardamom, moonlit vanilla orchid, and moonflower.) Who leads the star-dazed hero in a moon-blessed quest for his mythical lover. Turn down service that includes a patch of shimmering moonlight illuminating a milk-white pillow upon which candied jasmine awaits a sleepy tongue, orchid incense lightly perfuming the bedclothes, and hushed moonflower lullabies.
The Moon Goddess (vetiver, white pine, hay, Sicilian lemon, leather, and agarwood) Virgin, huntress, witch, holding the mysteries and powers of womanhood between her palms. A small, leather bag into which spells of leafy, wooded camouflage and swift, quiet-footed enchantments are stitched, then stuffed generously with bitter lemon peel, crisp pine needles, and dry prickly hay.
The Eternal Virgin (white carnation, cardamom pod, and honey milk) The keeper of the secrets that are hidden at the moment that life begins; she is the mediator between the supplicant and the word of the gods. An ambrosial desert of rich, honeyed cream and floral spices.
La Papesse (rose oudh, blackened myrrh, and cathedral incense) A visionary heretic, martyred to usher in a new Aeon. The remnants of a dream wherein the middle-aged goth headshop proprietress leads you to the far end of the woo woo store, behind the heavy velvet curtains to the back room, where you just know that she keeps the good stuff. Instead of a coterie of giant quartz crystals, brilliant and glimmering and full of Instagrammable vibes, however, you meet a dark goddess, your shadow self, in a blackened, lightless cave. Are you both the “good vibes only” girl-goddess and the dank dream priestess of doom? This scent, shifting from light rosy florals to dark, smoky chambers and sibylline vapors would will it so.
Pomegranates and Date Palms (pomegranate, dates, and cypress infused with ketoret smoke veiled in violet, purple, and crimson) The Mysteries of Persephone’s divine descent entwined with the Mysteries of the Temple of Solomon, forming a map of the Tree of Life. This is fun! Reminds me, at first, of Daytona Beach middle school spring break and time spent at the beach wearing bikinis that were a little bit inappropriate for a 13 year old and liberal spritzes of Ex!clamation by Coty. Of course, there is nothing beachy or cheap about this scent, really. It’s a complex, fruity blend; a rich, colorful still life in real life– ripe amethyst and ruby-hued fruits, sticky amber dates, and a plum-shadowed cloud of smoke.
The Pillars (white cedar, cypress wood, sweet myrrh, honey myrtle, white sandalwood, spikenard, and frankincense) The pillars at the entrance to Solomon’s temple. Vavavoom! So glamorous, dense with exotic woods, florals, and resins. And in this respect, The Pillars reminds me a little bit of BPAL’s long-discontinued-but-recently-revived Venom. Both elegant, ominous Wicked Stepmother scents, but different aspects of that perennial cruel, selfish trope. Where Venom is seductive and serpentine with dark wild berries and that sinuous opoponax, The Pillars, perhaps due to the fresh foliage/evergreen aspects of cypress, feels less lush, more whittled down and spare. To borrow from children’s literature, let’s say that Venom is Aunt Sponge, and The Pillars is Aunt Spiker.
The Crown (blue chamomile, mugwort, and orris root) The three phases of the moon fashioned into a lunar triregnum. From The Crown, I’m getting competing cedar and violets from this, at first, perhaps duking it out over an herbal sweetness lurking below. Simultaneously I am piqued by peppery and poked by powdery. It later becomes the still slightly peppery, but vastly comforting, Johnson’s baby shampoo.
The Crescent Moon (amber and copal with white sage and juniper) The mystery of divine virginity, insemination, and the cradle of all birth. Fertility, wise counsel, and the gift of true wisdom. Amber and sage sounds like a kind of weird combination to me but it results in a bright, shimmering, lightly resinous scent. Teenaged resins, roller skating through the suburbs, without the cares and worries and addictions and affairs that darken the psyches of adult resins .
The Scroll (honeyed myrrh with a drop of Ceylon cinnamon) Her scroll is sealed, her book is closed, and she is silent: the wisdom that she grants is that which cannot be put into words, that which cannot be recorded but must be experienced. A cozy, close to the skin scent; a cup of lightly spiced tea, its steeping playfully sweetened an effervescent splash of cream soda.
The Cross (frankincense, styrax, oakmoss, patchouli, and birch tar) The integration of spirit with the material world. Both sharp and smooth in the same sniff, The Cross is a many layered, nose-ticklingly pungent enigma of bitter and waxy, dry and woodsy, and bottled in a sort of pope-blessed-in-ballpoint-pen, incense-y plastic.
The High Priestess 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.