The Power of Perfume: An Introduction to the Primordial Scents Project as hosted by Monica Miller - Perfume Pharmer

Every day we warm ourselves by Fire,
Wash ourselves in Water,
Feel the Wind in our hair,
Walk upon the Earth.

The Power of Perfume: 

An Introduction to the Primordial Scents Project

 as hosted by Monica Miller - Perfume Pharmer

It all started at the beginning. And at the beginning there was air, fire, water, and earth. The final spark was found inside. Aether. Also known as spirit. The flame inside. It came into being only when the others were all present.

Sacred Flame                               [via]    

Planting the Seed.

This year, the most amazing project is pulling together. The building blocks are, in part, those that form the universe. The building blocks are exquisite perfumes based on the original building blocks: the four - no, five! - elements. They are talented perfumers working in a variety of materials - some all-natural, some not. They are gifted perfume writers, sniffing the creations and making an offering of words. They are dreams from the minds of creative people all over the world and, especially, the dream of one woman on an island off of Massachusetts.


The foundation for this project was laid by Monica Miller. You may remember her from last year's group blogging project, The Summer of Patchouli Love. Or maybe you've run into her on Martha's Vineyard. Or you've picked up one of her brilliant Skye Botanicals products - was it her much beloved Fuzzy Blue Blanket perfume or some of her delectable skincare? Maybe you have read about her here or elsewhere when people raved about her collaborative strawberry scent. Or perhaps you're a huge fan of her website Perfume Pharmer.

Well, somehow as busy as she is, Monica finds time to read and think and dream and plan. Monica took to heart thoughts from a book written by Starhawk, a writer and activist known for her importance to the neo-paganism and ecofeminist movements. The Fifth Sacred Thing is a novel that proposes a utopian society that happily exists using sustainable methods (read more here). Inspired by this and other influences, Monica rearranged her focus in life and launched into, among other things, investigating permaculture and dedicating herself to inspiring others to work towards that sustainable utopia. In her words after "some serious soul searching I took a different turn from the notion of using my energy primarily to advance my personal career to ponder the question 'what do I hold most sacred, what should I dedicate my time on Earth to?' "

And so, as part of her process, the Primordial Scents Project was formed. She has gathered a group of perfumers from all over the world who have spent the last year creating scents inspired by the elements, including the fifth element proposed by Starhawk: spirit. The focus for the project is on the primordial beginnings, the inner workings of... everything. In Monica's words, "For the purposes of this project, Primordial to me means original material...going back to the ELEMENTS that make up our planet, our bodies, our selves. What are we made of physically and spiritually? What do we hold most sacred?"
Declaration of the Four Sacred Things 
The Earth is a living, conscious being. In company with cultures of many different times and places, we name these things as sacred: air, fire, water, and earth. 
Whether we see them as the breath, energy, blood, and body of the Mother, or as the blessed gifts of a Creator, or as symbols of interconnected systems that sustain life, we know that nothing can live without them.
To call these things sacred is to say that they have a value beyond their usefulness for human ends, that they themselves become the standard by which our acts, our economics, our laws, and our purposes must be judged. No one has the right to appropriate them or profit from them at the expense of others. Any government that fails to protect them forfeits its legitimacy. 
All people, all living things, are part of the earth life, and so are sacred. No one of us stands higher or lower than any other. Only justice can assure balance; only ecological balance can sustain freedom. Only in freedom can that fifth sacred thing we call spirit flourish in its full diversity. 
To honor the sacred is to create conditions in which nourishment, sustenance, habitat, knowledge, freedom, and beauty can thrive. To honor the sacred is to make love possible. 
To this we dedicate our curiosity, our will, our courage, our silences, and our voices. To this we dedicate our lives. 

If the elements are indeed, as the ancients thought, the building blocks of the universe and of human beings themselves, how much power do those elements have? How much power can be obtained - how much personal power can be obtained - when we channel the elements, when we work with them, using them for balance?

The elements are heavy with symbolism. I asked Monica to explain the elements to me and here is what she described...
Goddesses of the Elements              [via]
AIR ~ Air represents the mind and intelligence, communication, telepathy, psychic powers, inspiration, imagination, ideas, knowledge, dreams and wishes. Air also rules visualization. 
FIRE ~ Fire represents energy, inspiration, love, passion, leadership. Fire is also the element of magic and change. 
WATER ~ Water represents emotions, absorption, subconscious, purification, eternal movement, wisdom, the soul, emotional aspects of love and gender. 
EARTH/METAL ~ Earth represents strength, abundance, stability, prosperity, wealth and fertility. 
SPIRIT ~ Aether (also called Spirit) is the prime element present in all things, providing space, connection and balance for all Elements to exist. Aether is immaterial unlike the Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Aether is essential to our sense of connectedness with spirit and well-being. Aether represents the sense of joy and union.
Ideally, one seeks balance in life. Too much of one thing is not a good thing. Monica proposes that we try using the elements as a guide in the hopes of correcting imbalance. The perfumes created in this project were created with intention: they are meant to be an aid to finding balance using the elements as inspiration.

For example, should I find myself lacking in passion for my job, perhaps I need more fire. Reaching for a scent based on that element may help restore that balance by adding a spark - giving me that verve and passion I am lacking. Another example: maybe I am suffering from some financial instability. Earth/Metal governs this area and a scent based on that element may help me find balance and discover a way to smooth out those rocky roads. My restless nature may be soothed by Earth scents as well, while I may benefit greatly from Spirit scents during meditation.

So Monica envisions change through scent. And she has an army behind her.

Then again, maybe one wants to take the scents at face value and sniff them for the usual reasons: the notes sound interesting, the scent puts a spring in the step, it garners compliments, and it just makes you feel good. That works, too! If the concept of the elements doesn't resonate with you, I still encourage you to keep an open mind and follow along with us as we explore this project. In the end, perfume is what you make of it!
Balance                                    [via]
The concept of these Primordial Scents has grown and morphed and become even larger than Monica had even dreamed, I am willing to wager. Many seem moved by the project's concept not just on an intellectual level, as an exercise in perfumery, but also on a more organic and profound level. Friends contacted each other, the list of participants grew, and the soft murmur of the project's inception became a much louder buzz.

The roster for the project reads like a Who's Who of Perfumery. And when I say this project's reach is world-wide, I mean it!  Emma Leah is contributing to the project from Australia, Juan Perez is sending fragrant magic from Puerto Rico, Tanja Bochnig calls Berlin home, several Canadians are participating, and Americans from both coasts and quite a few cities in between will be represented, too. And that's just the perfumers! Articles about the project will be penned all over the world: the thread starts with Sheila Eggenberger in Denmark, wraps through Austria and the able hands of Birgit Oeckher, and hops the Atlantic to then dance all across North America.

The Perfumers
Amanda Feeley (Esscentual Alchemy) - AIR & EARTH
Ane Walsh (Ane Walsh) - BEACH/WATER
Anita Kalnay (Flying Colors Natural Perfumes) - SPACE/ ETHER
Anu Prestonia (Anu Essentials)- WATER
Bruce Bolmes (SMK Fragrances - website comings soon) - METAL
Dabney Rose (Dabney Rose) - FIRE
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (Perfums des Beaux Arts / Essence Studio)- ETHER/SPACE
Emma Leah (Fleurage Perfume Atelier)  - METAL
Jane Cate (A Wing & A Prayer) - FIRE
Juan M. Perez (Exotic Island Aromatics)- FIRE & EARTH
Justine Crane (The Scented Djinn) - EARTH
Katlyn Breene (Mermade Magickal Arts) -FIRE
Kedra Hart (Opus Oils) - EARTH
Kirsten Schilling (Arabesque Aromas) - ETHER/ Space
Laurie Stern (Velvet and Sweet Pea) - AIR
Lisa Abdul-Quddus (Blossoming Tree Bodycare) - METAL
Lyn Ayre (Coeur d’Esprit Natural Perfumes ) - ETHER
Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes) - WATER
Maria Mcelroy (Aroma M) and Alexis Karl - FIRE
Marian Del Vecchio - FIRE 
Michael Storer (Michael Storer Perfumes)- AIR & EARTH
Neil Morris (Neil Morris Fragrances) - AIR
Shelley Waddington (EnVoyage Perfumes) - ETHER/SPACE, FIRE & WATER 
Suzy Larsen (Naked Leaf Perfumes) - AIR
Tanja Bochnig (April Aromatics) - AIR, EARTH, ETHER
Note: the links provided show the perfumer's websites and,
 when provided, a Facebook page dedicated to that
perfumer's offering for the Primordial Scents Project.
To access those FB pages, use the link associated
with the perfumer's chosen element(s)

The sniffers and writers
Beth Schreibman Gehring - Perfume Smellin' ThingsThe Perfume Magazine
Birgit Oeckher - Olfactoria's Travels
Carlos Powell - artist, perfumista, Patch Test Bunny
Diana Wiener Rosengard - Feminine Things
Donna Hathaway - Portland Fragrance Examiner
Elaine Jaune - perfumista
Elena Knezevic - EIC, Fragrantica
Gaia Fishler - The Non-Blonde
Ida Meister - Chaya RuchamaFragrantica
Jade Dressler - 
Jodi Battershell Fragrantica
Josie Alycia Plumey - Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies
Lucy Raubertas - Indie Perfumes 
Margi Macdonald - writer
Marlen Elliot Harrison - The Perfume Critic
Naheed Shoukat AliFragrantica
Nava Brahe - perfumista, writer
Rochette Withers - perfumista, writer
Scent Scelf - Notes from the Ledge
Sheila Eggenberger - The Alembicated Genie
Stevie Wilson - LA Story
Victoria Jent - EauMG
Zoran Knezevic Fragrantica 

Monica herself will be sharing a very special scent she has worked on and will be writing plenty, too, as the project evolves. And the surprises don't stop there - I haven't even mentioned The Traveling Perfume. Stay tuned for more on that!
Follow general developments and thoughts share by Monica on the Primordial Scents Project page on Facebook and on Perfume Pharmer, Monica's blog

Mother Earth                                                                                          [via]
Igor Drandic Photographic Art
It seems the participants identified quite deeply with Monica's ideas. As she so rightly said, "we have to stay positive and dedicate ourselves to the good- for our children/planetary children and for ourselves. We cannot wallow in self pity/ delusion or allow ourselves to believe there is nothing we can do. We can ALL do something, no matter how small."

How large can a small vial of perfume really be? Follow along with the Primordial Scents Project and find out! 


  1. wonderful introduction to an exciting and multifaceted project!

    1. Thank you, Lucy! I am so excited to see how this all progresses.

  2. Thank you Jen, you really captured the essence of the project! Lets get started!!!

  3. What an amazing overview Jen to keep coming back to and back to and back to. I'm sure over time this will read like the index to a virtual book on the blooming of a new and fragrant consciousness. Great!!!! Job!!!

    1. Anita, I totally agree with you. I cannot wait to get sniffin'.

  4. Oh Jen! So beautiful, so lovely. :)

  5. Fantastic, Jen, you've laid it all out perfectly so there is no question in the mind about what we are all doing here. Thank you so much. The Aromatic Merkaba has lifted and we will all be transported on its smelly wings. Love Lyn

    1. Beautifully said, Lyn, even if I did have to look up the definition of merkaba. ;)

  6. What a beautiful summary of the work and love we have put into this project. I love the part about balancing your life with the missing element--using perfume to do it. (In Medical Astrology, Earth and Air balance each other; Fire and Water balance each other). Excellent introduction Jen!

    1. Thank you, Suzy. I've never had the pleasure of smelling your work and very much look forward to breaking that trend.

  7. what a light is coming off this page!! it is a wonderful brilliant project. congratulations to all involved. totally brilliant blog Jen...I will be back. Thank You!

    1. Thank you very much and it's a pleasure to meet you!

  8. Extremely cool project from an equally very cool & lovely Monica Miller. I hope to be able to check out some of these scents - but I still haven't gotten to any of the patchouli ones that are available from last year's project ( & I lurve me some patchouli). :/ Wonderful write up Jen! XO

    1. I love that Monica makes sample sets available for these projects. In fact, I think she still may have some from the Patchouli project, if you're still lemming them!

  9. Great intro Jen. I'm really excited about this project. I can hardly wait to read more.

  10. Wonderful and beautiful. Thank you and Love,

  11. Very interesting. I'm looking forward to this project.


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