elcome to a new segment on Canto – the Sacred Arts Spotlight! These are articles dedicated to reviewing products from Sacred Arts purveyors that I know members of our community will be interested in. Although I personally know and love most of the folks and products that I will be turning the spotlight on in this series, the opinions that I give you are not influenced by that – if something is awesome I will tell you, if something is less-than, I will tell you that too.
The reviews are fair (hello, Libra) and genuine. I may receive the products or offerings to review for free or at a reduced cost but I receive no financial kick backs for making these reviews available. The goal here is simple: get Sacred Arts based products and practitioners some air time and introduce them to my community so that we can all support each other.
Kicking off this series is my review for a very special line of oils crafted by the goblins at Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs. I have talked about the lab before and have been intending to do a full review of their tarot-inspired oil collection known as The Fool’s Journey. So far the lab has released 5 scent families in this collection: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, and the Emperor. I have received samples of all of the scents and I will be backtracking and reviewing all of them – because really, making tarot inspired perfume is pretty awesome – but currently the only oils in stock are those of the Emperor. Also, it is election day here in the US and so the archetype and essence of the Emperor is one that we should probably spend some time with, yes? Yes.
The first thing to know about each of these collections is that they are divided into two categories. So there are the aspects of the Emperor and then the Faces of the Emperor. The category of Aspects covers specific symbols, instruments, tools, and physical characteristics of each card while Faces category speaks to some of the most archetypal essences distilled in the figure of each card.
Before I get into each individual scent I just want to remark on how excellent this concept is as a whole. Students of mine and clients know that I often talk about the different physical senses of our bodies and how they can all be worked with in our Sacred Arts and magical practices. When we typically think of a fairly organized and cohesive system like Tarot we often immediately think of pre-defined meanings of each card. You learn the meanings are you are good to go. This is one of the reasons why I created 20 Question Tarot – which provides another possibly way of getting to know the cards (through asking questions). Black Phoenix has provided yet another way – they have created families of scents for each card. This is such a fantastic way to bring tarot immediately into your daily life, by wearing an oil or a blend of oils that have been inspired by the images of the cards. I love the multi-sensory approach in coming to this old system of knowing.
If you go and visit the BPAL website (you should, you should!) you will notice that each scent has an evocative description of the primary fragrance notes often paired with powerful quotes, allusions, or literary passages. My reviews are going to give you my personal sense of how the oil smells as well as how I like to work with it.
So with that said, I give to you the Emperor:
Aspects of the Emperor
The Emperor’s Armor – I love the quote by John Steinbeck attached to this scent on the BPAL website: “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts.” Can I get an amen! To me this scent is clean, clear, and strong just the way our minds should be when we don our own armor. I see this scent as one that is good for protection (obviously) but also good for clearing away fear and stepping confidently into our own power. I also think this is a really good scent to wear before exercising, doing a martial art, or engaging in any kind of activity that calls on your physical power.
The Emperor’s Beard – This one, as the BPAL website says, is for the hipsters, but I have to tell you I love it. Its a little glam in an old school way and reminds me vaguely of Old Spice – the original scent my grandad liked to wear. To my mind that’s what it does, like a snowy white beard, it gives you the appearance (for a time at least) of having some deeper wisdom and insight about the human condition. Wear it if you need to appear august.
The Emperor’s Crown – To me this scent smells like gold. Not the gold found deep in the earth but the golden light of the sun radiating down to touch the brow of a mere mortal – that image after all is one of the inspirations behind the making and wearing of crowns. I like working with this scent whenever I am doing any solar based work that requires my mind to be firmly fixed on an aspirational goal or endeavor. It is a bright scent and clear-eyed scent as well and I would recommend it for anyone who is stepping into their sense of right power and needs to be able to hold their head up high.
The Emperor’s Rams – The Rams have a spicy, cinnamon-y scent that resonates perfectly with their astrological sign of Aries. The Rams are located on the Emperor’s throne, they are where his hands would rest when he allows them to do so. To me this is an oil of protection with a fiery element – it is not just “back off” it is “back all the way off, NOW.” It is a scent that can galvanize people who are fighting the good fight or engaged in any kind of social justice advocacy. It is a scent that is not afraid to inspire us to draw lines, say No, and mean it.
The Emperor’s Scepter – This oil is a little sweet smelling for my own personal taste – I go for slightly more bitter, acerbic, and smoky notes. But I like the fact that it is a tinge on the sweeter side for the Scepter because so often this tool is seen as one of influence and command. Here the message carried along the scent lines is that kindness and sweetness can be powerful foundations of true influence and real, inspiring, command. Wear it when you need to control a situation AND remember to be kind.
The Emperor’s Throne – I love this scent personally, it is clear and clean and has a note of cedar that does it for me. It is a strong scent, one that I would wear when I wanted to encourage myself to know my place – by which I mean know where I stand, what I stand for, who I stand with. For it is that knowledge that allows wherever we stand or sit to be our throne, our established place of potency.
The Fiery Mountains – Mountains have so many symbols attached to them. For me they always speak to our hopes and dreams as well as the obstacles we face in attaining them. This scent, which smells like a certain kind of spicy fire itself, is ideal for lighting a fire under you in pursuing those hopes and dreams and can also be worked with effectively to burn away the various obstacles that plant themselves in your path.
The Orb – Of all of the Aspect scents this one to me is the most personal. If I was upfront and close to the Emperor this is the scent I would expect him to exude. It is rich and earthy and also bright all at the same time. The orb is the round golden ball he holds in his hand. It is time, the cosmos, the material plane, the sacred hoop, the whole. This is the scent I would work with when you find yourself in a position of authority and need to see the WHOLE picture.
The Red Robes – How does your power need to be shielded and protected? This is the question that this scent inspires me to ask. The answer it gives me is surprising: it is red (like the robes), brilliant, and juicy. It reminds me that there is a sacred aspect to play and that allowing ourselves to be fully in the mud and muck of the world confers a special kind of strengthening and seasoning of our inner power.
The Stream – This scent is clean and nourishing like the stream of water that runs through a relatively dry and desert-like landscape. It is a scent I would wear when I want to emphasize the streams of power that inspire my own work, one that reminds me about the lineages of power that we all have available to us. It is also a scent of refreshment and restoration.
Faces of the Emperor
Pater Populi – He is the benevolent father of all of the people. I love this scent as a way to honor fathers and ALL people who father regardless of gender. It is woody, clean, and bright. I have worked with it to call in forces of Justice to good effect and also to repair and mend old father wounds.
The Eternal King – This is the scent of the Underworld Emperor, of the Emperor at his time of death so it is dark, earthy, sweet, and loamy – one of my favorites. It is a scent of sacrifice and would be ideal to wear when you are looking at your own realm and deciding what needs to be culled in order for new life to continue.
The Horned God – To me this scent reads like a labyrinth, taking us back in time behind the face of the old wise man, behind the face of the sun child, or the young king, and into the first woods where the antlered animals stand out as Emperors within their realms. There is something primal and wild about this scent and also a call to remember what power and ruler-ship really mean, or really can mean, when we show up at our best.
The Huntsman – I love pairing this one with the above scent, although this one is more faerie kissed and calls to mind the right hours for hunting and riding with the hunt, early, early in the morning when the sky is black as pitch and the stars surround you, and there are shadows everywhere limned in moonlight. It is a reminder of the wild, unpredictable, nature of power and a call to be devoted in preserving that.
The Imperator – How do you take care of your people? That is the question this scent inspires me to ask and in a way that crystallizes the entire Emperor line for me. Power is not something that we can be content to outsource to someone else – be it person or party. Power is something we all have a personal relationship with and I see this line of scents, like the Emperor card itself, asking us to engage in that relationship consciously. The Imperator is the protector of his realm and his people. But we all have realms, we all have people. How do we protect them? How do we nourish and care for them? How do we defend them? And, perhaps the most important question for all Emperor’s to ask: how can we be of best service to our people? This scent inspires the hunt for those answers.
Check out the entire line of Emperor scents here. And leave a comment on this post for a chance to win an ENTIRE set of out of stock Magician oils! A question to consider for those of you who want to comment: How do you define power?