DARKLY DREAMING: BLACK PHOENIX ALCHEMY LAB. Part enthusiast’s memoir and part course guide.
BPAL Intermediate and Advanced Studies

Read Part I 

Apart from the general catalog of scents on The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab website, you will also find Limited Edition scents. I have read someone comment that they doubted “the BPAL fandom would be as rabid in its acquisitional habits if there weren’t limited edition oils.” Which…ok, maybe, maybe not, because so many of the general catalog scents are supremely dreamy, but I am also the person who goes a little bit nutty when I know they are planning their annual, much anticipated Halloween update! However, I am getting a little bit ahead of myself.

There are several different kinds of Limited Edition (LE) scents:

The Lunacies, offered once a month, celebrating that month’s full moon; usually available for about 72 hours or so. It was during one of these Limited Edition lunacy runs (their Black Moon collection, I believe?) that I found my all time favorite scent from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab – Schwarzer Mond ( The keeper of secrets: opoponax, Tunisian black amber, night musk, antique patchouli, zdravetz, terebinth, myrrh, and Pimenta racemosa.) I hoard bottles of this scent – the last time they were offered, back in 2013, I bought 5-6 bottles worth. Okay, so maybe I’m a little nuttier about BPAL than I care to own up to!

The Seasonals, which can include Yule (Krampus! Snow! Cookies!) Samhaim or “Halloweenies” (Pumpkins! Pumpkins! All the pumpkins) and Lupercalia (Bonbons! Smut! Dildos!) among others. These are usually available for about a month or so. Some of the scents return year after year, so if you miss Signior Dildo, for example, one year, it’s very likely that if it proves popular enough and if there are no shortages on the components, it will return the next year.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Black Phoenix Trading Post, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s sister site, sells accoutrements and accessories ranging from nail polish to atmosphere spray, from jewelry to apparel. You can sometimes find Limited Edition scents that don’t appear on the main site, perhaps in conjunction with a tee shirt or storage accessory, and often times products scented with fragrances that are not listed on the main site.

Event exclusives – you will often find Beth and crew at conventions like San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, or Dragon Con, and more than likely they will be selling scents created exclusively for that venue and that are not available for purchase on the main site. You may also find Limited Editions at Lunacy / Will Call events, a monthly brick and mortar event that takes place on or around the full moon.


Retailer Exclusives / collaborations can be found through Dark Delicacies, a horror themed bookstore in Burbank, CA; BloodMilk Jewels and Ritual Cravt, and Haute Macabre’s very own line. Previous retailers with BPAL offerings for sale include thinkgeek, the Mutter Museum and Le Pink & Co.

Twilight Alchemy Lab, a branch of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, is founded for ritual and magickal use, “ …the fruit of a millennia of research, hands-on experimentation and investigation in the history, theory and practice of alchemy, the Hermetic Sciences, the art of rootwork and aromatherapy as it pertains to ritual, spirituality and low magick.” Twilight Alchemy Lab’s small batch oils can be purchased in their etsy shop.

Discontinued/Unreleased scents are older oils which have either been removed from the general catalog, or blends that were created but, for varying reasons, never made it to the website. “Some of the Unreleased scents eventually make their way into the general catalog, but many never do” notes one fan-made BPAL FAQ. You can sometimes find these type of scents sold by individual sellers on eBay, or in swap communities, either in the BPAL forums or elsewhere.

Random LEs may show up on the website with the monthly Lunacy update, so keep your eyes peeled for unexpected surprises! And if you are a forum member (highly recommended!) you may encounter, clever, silly, “forum only” scents. I am not certain if there’s been one in a while, but I recall one from a few years back called F5 (“A refreshing scent! GET IT?! Aloe, white musk, lime peel, fresh mint, seaspray, verbena and green tea.”) It was probably made to gently poke a little fun at us folks sitting in front of our laptop screens in the dark, maniacally refreshing the pages, when we knew a particular update was imminent. Hey, I’m okay with that! You can’t take yourself too seriously, and if you can smell in the midst of your mania, why not?

Speaking of the BPAL forums, ahh. There’s a veritable wealth of information to be found there. Detailed reviews of every fragrance in the catalog, by both long time and newbie members – real people, weirdos just like you and me – make up the bulk of the site. Any question you have after reading this (and you may have a lot!) can probably be answered there, for example: how to layer your scents, similarities to commercial perfumes, and a list of the BPAL-related abbreviations you will find both on the forum and in your further researches on the internet.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

Regarding abbreviations, here are a few to get you started…

BPAL: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
BPTP: Black Phoenix Trading Post
TAL: Twilight Alchemy Lab
GC: General Catalog
LE: Limited Edition

What else will you find in the BPAL forums? Chatter on just about every topic under the sun, and if you are lucky, like me, perhaps some amazing people, kindred spirits, and folks who will become very dear friends.

When the forum was first installed in 2004ish, it was a very different iteration – phoenix.joylandpark.org. I don’t know why I remember that down to the url, but I do (*waves at everyone who was there at that time but who probably doesn’t remember me*). I was very secretive about my internet usage, due to the possessive, jealous, controlling nature of the relationship I was in, and I frequently would create accounts, delete them, and then show up under a different name, probably making my forum presence a bit challenging to connect with.

I was terribly worried that I would be “found out” by the man I was living with and that there would be consequences. What kind of partner would even care that their girlfriend was on an internet forum talking to people about perfume? Who knows. Someone insecure and unhappy, I suppose. I was with that person for a very long time, and it made online connections and subsequent friendships with like-minded folks very difficult. I did make some friends on the BPAL forums though, and these are people that I love dearly to this very day. They kept me sane – whether they knew it or not, and I suspect they didn’t, because I never spoke of my troubling relationship – on days when I thought I could not possibly make it through another hour. And years later, now that I am in an entirely different place in my life, I have even met some of them!

When you hear people talking about “finding their tribe” – well, that is precisely what happened with me. And I found them on this wonderful, supportive forum dedicated to these marvelous fragrances.

When I started writing this guide, or article, or whatever it becomes, and I mentioned that Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab changed my life – I meant it quite literally. It re-kindled a long ago love of fragrance, it introduced me to incredible concepts and ideas, and led to the discovery of people and projects that I never would have known of otherwise. All of these things combined helped me embrace my inner weirdo, too long ignored. I could list all of the friends I’ve made outside the forums, all of the opportunities I’ve had because of related connections, but I won’t because none of that really means anything to anyone but me…but my point is this: none of these things would have happened the way they did, if not for stumbling across those BPAL descriptions on that lonely winter evening, so many years ago.

When I recommend BPAL to people, it is not solely because I think they may like a particular scent, or the company’s aesthetic. There is so much more that goes into it. Twelve plus years (15+ now as of the time of this re-posting!) watching the company and it’s family grow, having met the amazing creator/owner herself on multiple occasions, all of my own memories and experiences surrounding every strange and sublime scent I have tried, and every interaction I’ve had with the folks on the forums – I am not just making a recommendation for a perfume, but for a journey, a dream, an experience of your own.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

I hope that your experience with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab changes your life in some small way, too.

But first – try the following scents …if you can find all of them! A small collection of my personal favorites.

Snake Oil (GC)
Morocco (GC)
Dee (GC)
Melanis (LE Lupercalia)
Madame Moriarty, Misfortune Teller (Carnival Diabolique series)
Eve (Only Lovers Left Alive series)
Smut (LE, Lupercalia)
Beautiful Death (Retailer exclusive, Dark Delicacies)
Molly Grue (The Last Unicorn series)
Skekzok, The Ritual Master (The Dark Crystal series)

And two discontinued scents
Danube (DC)
Antique Lace (DC)

Do you have a long favorite from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab? Or one that you’re dying to try out? Tell us in the comments for a chance to win a set of five scents – Dee, Dorian, Embalming Fluid, Morocco, and Mme. Moriarty.

Winner shall be picked at random from the comments & contacted via email on Monday, October 7. International entries welcome. Follow @blackphoenixalchemylab on Instagram. **winner has been contacted, contest is now closed!**

135 Comment

  1. I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of perfumes for a long time, mainly because they always seemed to be so overwhelming as to give me terrible headaches, or they were just a little too simple for me to understand the appeal. It wasn’t until one of my exes introduced me to BPAL that I really started to get the appeal. That was around maybe 2013 or 2014. I think my very first couple were Crowley and Doc Constantine and I was pretty much in love with BPAL after those. Picked up a couple more nice ones that I enjoyed a lot, and then I picked up October (2010 version) and Epomophorus Monstrosus and those two made me absolutely obsessed with BPAL. Now perfumes are one of my greatest joys and I collect quite a bit more than BPAL.

  2. Juliet and Bordello have been my favorites for a long time. I started with BPAL in 05 and then when the recession hit, many things had to be sacrificed including BPAL…. I’ve finally come back home to it in the last few years and I have missed SO many new ones so I’m just diving back in where I can. Haute Macabre is also a “new”
    Favorite of mine!!

  3. So Below by you & BPAL will always be my favorite. I am forever wanting to try Lucy’s Kiss and I’m so sad that I missed out on Eve from the OLLA collection.

  4. Snake Oil is my forever favorite. It smells so dreamy and I love how my clothes all lightly smell like it since I started wearing it. ?

  5. Sooo many favorites. Dorian is up there! Every time I wear it I receive compliments. Half-Elf, Scheherazade, SO, and the Irish coffee blends BPAL did for fundraising are always in steady rotation. I try to pick up 2 from their seasonal offerings & always buy the scents they put up for charity. My next purchases will be some Weenies!! I love this guide…I know I’ll be back to reference it often. Thank you!

  6. I always go back to Cthulhu. Zombi and Blood Amber are used often, but the slithering Cthulhu is my all time favorite.

  7. I’ll always love Smut and Bonfire toffee. Antique Lace is also a favorite of mine, as it reminds me of something from my childhood…

  8. I love many. One of my favorites is Looming Spectre of Unutterable Horror (a LE from The Collected Poetic Works of Antonin Scalia). I’m an attorney and I like to wear it on days I have to appear in court – makes me feel particularly bad-ass.

  9. I haven’t tried any BPAL, though I have had them on my list to try for years and years. I very much wanted to get Only Lovers’ Eve, but wasn’t able to. Very curious about so many other scents, it is difficult to narrow it down as to which!

  10. i’ve only recently been able to try any of bpals scents, but my favorite so far is a tie between bon vivant and jack. bon vivant smells so effervescent and bright! and jack is like the pure essence of fall, all pumpkin spices and warmth.

  11. When I’m not trying to actually use my imps, I’ve been alternating for the summer mostly between Cheshire Cat and Druid. Though I Sit and Sew has really crept into the rotation since that came out.

  12. My favorite is Antique Lace. I’ve got it in oil and hair gloss and feel like “myself” when I wear it. It’s so delicate but also dark and mysterious with notes that blend amazingly well together. I want to live in a bottle of this delicious scent!

  13. Years of browsing their catalog and getting overwhelmed by choice has lead to putting off placing any orders. I’m so ashamed! I’m not a fan of sweet smells, so anything that’s earthy or smokey or woodsy! I’d love to have a sniff of Burying Point or anything from BPAL’s Sin And Salvation collection.

    1. Ooh yeah if you’re looking for smoky and woodsy you can’t go wrong with burying point. Or any of the BPALxHM collection at all. Esbat is a bit lighter but they’re all very smoky, woody, and leathery.

  14. I’ve been a fan for maybe 6 or so years…I think my bestie randomly found BPAL online, she told me, now we’re both obsessed! I just bought a bottle of Midnight Carnival from them on Etsy, since they’re not selling it otherwise, and my one regret is I could only afford one! She and I were in a theatrical production of Alice in Wonderland a couple years ago, and she got me The Dodo, which was one of the characters I played! I wore it for every performance! Morocco, another gift from said bestie, although I’ve since had to buy more myself, has become one of my signature scents. Every time I wear, people practically nuzzle my neck! I’ve been wanting to try Dorian for a while, I just haven’t gotten around to ordering it.

  15. I have been a BPAL fan since 2006 when I found an ad (possibly a little snippet feature) in edition of Gothic Beauty magazine. Over the years, I’ve hoarded my favorite scents and had a few just not work with my body chemistry. That being said, my all-time favorite scents have been two LEs and one GC: Crow Moon 2007, Scorpio and Danse Macabre. Each scent wears for hours and as it does, you’re treated to a slow simmer of layered notes–a nuanced perfume oil experience. I get compliments all the time and spread the love for BPAL whenever I can because testimonials and being a frequent sniffer of all smelly fragrance things is the only way I know how to extol the virtues of BPAL. Plus, I love their political stance and projects they support!

  16. I have been a fan of Haute Macabre for a few years now. I love all of articles! I would have never have heard of the wonderful things like BPAL scents without you. How nice it would be to win such a lovely prize!

  17. I have shared the same history in kind with you Sarah after your brave post. I am a synthesiate and sensory grounding is literally how I stay from dissociation and in the care of my world and honoring it – in honoring the connection to vs hiding in me in a hole deep inside to survive … some shelter of a sort – i send that gratitude to the moon who has been with me at night and listened and given me pause in her beauty to ask the questions and to cry and to twirl … I found my tribe and many of them are part of yours. I am glad to found you, too. The world is better with all of us in it. I have a list somewhere with all the ones I wanna have on my skin when I am in it and like my skin … now … that is a happy sentence to write. Morocco was one on it … I had ones I thought my son would love. He’s a transgender teen and likes that the oils I use change like moods and tried them … and they smell different with his chemistry which is a neat bit of a second experience of them. I found them through etsy and a fren artist mentioned a list of her favorites … FSW is another we love.

  18. I am relatively new to BPAL, but I’ve been snapping up a ton of imps and bottles from forum sales. So far, my favorites are Snake Oil, Carceri D’Invenzione and Haunted. I’m going to preorder Mummies of Mexico City at the recommendation of a lovely forum friend. Beth’s resin blends are soooo gorgeous! I want ALL of them!

  19. My favorite perfume I have from BPAL is actually Mummies of Mexico City from the Haute Macabre line! I just love how sweet and warm it is without being overpowering. And it’s kind of dusty too which I LOVE! My second favorite is the La Roue de Malheur hair gloss! I wish they made it in an oil so I could slather it on, lol.

  20. I am a long time BPAL fan with quite the stash going back to my late 20s… November is one of my most fav scents (and my birthday month lol) along with Snake Oil, Obtala, Samhain, Jack, Snow White etc and don’t even get me started on how amazing their trading post bath oils are! Beth is a fragrance creating genius!

  21. The first scent I tried was Crowley. I’d always thought there was something extra special about that one – each time I wore it I would have a really great day. Later I bought a bottle of O. Decided that I didn’t care for that one, and it sat on the shelf for about eight years until I reached for it again one day. This time, I loved it! I still do, and now that one is my top favorite. I’ve had Mme Moriarty on my wishlist for a while now…I’ve been wondering if something a little more exotic might be a nice change. I think it also comes shipped with a random tarot card too… love that.

  22. I’ve been a fan of BPAL since 2003. The two go to oils I will go to are Dana O’Shee, which was the first bottle I ever bought, and Good Morning, London (Lilith).

  23. I’ve bought a few used bottles over the past couple of months and I love them all, but hope and fear set free is my absolute favorite. Frankincense and bourbon vanilla pair so nicely.

  24. I’m a relatively new follower and have, as of yet, to decide on an oil to purchase. Top contenders include Eat Me, and How Doth the Little Crocodile from the Alice series. Gluttony and Jailbait also appeal, as does Tzadikim Nistarim, and the Vanilla Imp Pack. Fingers crossed, I’d love to try some of your scents!

  25. I am absolutely head over heels in love with Ü, from the second I smelled it at the Mütter. I get compliments every time I wear it, too! Any time a friend is going to Philly, I beg them to get me a bottle, or two, so that I will always have my signature scent. Other favorites include Mummies of Mexico City, The Emperor’s Rams and Snakes Basking in the First Sunbeams of Spring. I have been exclusively using BPAL oils for the past several years.

  26. My first love was Mouse’s Long and Sad Tale. It was the first time a perfume really smelled lovely on me and I was thrilled with the whole idea. Currently I usually reach for Morocco.

  27. Some favorites of mine over the years have been Samhain, Snake Oil, Baba Yaga… I recently tried the Luxuria Bath Oil and I’m in love. Also I bought my husband the Dee Beard Oil and an imp of Troll. He smells so damn good now. And to my surprise he’s really enjoying the scents as well. I can’t wait to try the Haute Macabre Hair Gloss! Currently compiling my wishlist, which, includes several from this giveaway like Dorien and Morocco,also Bastet and Pirate. Also impatiently awaiting the Weenies! ????

  28. Oh, so hard to choose a favorite! There are so many that I love, and so many that I associate with different phases of my life. I wore Mme Moriarty Misfortune Teller on my first date with an ex who’s still a dear friend; I brought Womb Fury along on a memorable road trip; I was wearing Dorian the day that I joined my band. But if push comes to shove, on any given day, my top BPAL would probably be Morocco.