The sun does not shine for a few trees and flowers, but for the wide world’s joy.
Summer Solstice is upon us, and the long day’s sun is shining on hungry ghosts and a Sicilian monastic garden overflowing with sweet peas:
HUNGRY GHOST MOON
On the 14th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the Gates of Hell burst open, and ghosts pour forth from the Nine Darknesses into the sunlit world. To placate the dead, Hell Money is burned, offerings are made, and paper boats and floating lanterns are set out to give comfort and direction to wayward spirits. Though many spirits simply seek out the comforts of their former homes and the company of their loved ones, rancorous spirits also roam the streets, seeking revenge on those who have wronged them, before and after their deaths. Offerings of hell money, ginger candy, sugar cane, smoky vanilla and rice wine mingle with a ghost’s perfume of white sandalwood, ho wood, ti, white grapefruit, crystalline musk and aloe. This scent is tapered by the presence of seven herbs, woods and resins used in the purification of the spirit and the purging of earthly concerns from the soul.
SINGLE NOTE: SWEET PEA
By helpful fingers taught to twine
Around its trellis, grew
A delicate and dainty vine;
The bursting bud, its blossom sign,
Inlaid with honeyed-dew.
Developing by every art
To floriculture known,
From tares exempt, and kept apart,
Careful, as if in some fond heart
Its legume germs were sown.
So thriving, not for me alone
Its beauty and perfume —
Ah, no, to rich perfection grown
By flower mission loved and known
In many a darkened room.
And once in strange and solemn place,
Mid weeping uncontrolled,
Upon the crushed and snowy lace
I saw them scattered ’round a face
All pallid, still, and cold.
Oh, some may choose, as gaudy shows,
Those saucy sprigs of pride
The peony, the red, red rose;
But give to me the flower that grows
Petite and pansy-eyed.
Thus, meditation on Sweet Peas
Impels the ardent thought,
Would maidens all were more like these,
With modesty — that true heartsease —
Tying the lover’s knot.
First cultivated in the late 17th century by a Sicilian monk, Father Francis Cupani, sweet peas represent chastity, bliss, and innocent pleasures. The vines and flowers are used in magick to protect children, guard virtue, inspire affection, and cultivate friendship.
This month, we turn our attentions to the breathtaking strangeness of the natural world and the internalization of our relationship with it:
++ SONG OF NATURE
Mine are the night and morning,
The pits of air, the gulf of space,
The sportive sun, the gibbous moon,
The innumerable days.
I hid in the solar glory,
I am dumb in the pealing song,
I rest on the pitch of the torrent,
In slumber I am strong.
No numbers have counted my tallies,
No tribes my house can fill,
I sit by the shining Fount of Life,
And pour the deluge still;
And ever by delicate powers
Gathering along the centuries
From race on race the rarest flowers,
My wreath shall nothing miss.
And many a thousand summers
My apples ripened well,
And light from meliorating stars
With firmer glory fell.
I wrote the past in characters
Of rock and fire the scroll,
The building in the coral sea,
The planting of the coal.
And thefts from satellites and rings
And broken stars I drew,
And out of spent and aged things
I formed the world anew;
What time the gods kept carnival,
Tricked out in star and flower,
And in cramp elf and saurian forms
They swathed their too much power.
Time and Thought were my surveyors,
They laid their courses well,
They boiled the sea, and baked the layers
Or granite, marl, and shell.
But he, the man-child glorious,–
Where tarries he the while?
The rainbow shines his harbinger,
The sunset gleams his smile.
My boreal lights leap upward,
Forthright my planets roll,
And still the man-child is not born,
The summit of the whole.
Must time and tide forever run?
Will never my winds go sleep in the west?
Will never my wheels which whirl the sun
And satellites have rest?
Too much of donning and doffing,
Too slow the rainbow fades,
I weary of my robe of snow,
My leaves and my cascades;
I tire of globes and races,
Too long the game is played;
What without him is summer’s pomp,
Or winter’s frozen shade?
I travail in pain for him,
My creatures travail and wait;
His couriers come by squadrons,
He comes not to the gate.
Twice I have moulded an image,
And thrice outstretched my hand,
Made one of day, and one of night,
And one of the salt sea-sand.
One in a Judaean manger,
And one by Avon stream,
One over against the mouths of Nile,
And one in the Academe.
I moulded kings and saviours,
And bards o’er kings to rule;–
But fell the starry influence short,
The cup was never full.
Yet whirl the glowing wheels once more,
And mix the bowl again;
Seethe, fate! the ancient elements,
Heat, cold, wet, dry, and peace, and pain.
Let war and trade and creeds and song
Blend, ripen race on race,
The sunburnt world a man shall breed
Of all the zones, and countless days.
No ray is dimmed, no atom worn,
My oldest force is good as new,
And the fresh rose on yonder thorn
Gives back the bending heavens in dew.
Words by Ralph Waldo Emerson, illustrations by Ernst Haeckel, fragrances by Elizabeth Barrial for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.
Wild strawberry and red currant squished into a deep green blend of oakmoss, crushed mint, green tea leaf, mastic, petitgrain, Terebinth pine, and cypress.
Black leather accord with olibanum, black pepper, white sandalwood, luminous Asian blossoms, and sheer elemi.
White amber and mimosa with tendrils of Italian bergamot, myrrh, green tangerine and green patchouli, sheer coconut, quince, and vetiver.
Luminous white musk with lemon verbena, Calabrian lemon, guiac wood, vetiver, Arkansas black apple, white sage, and white thyme.
East Indian Mango, cassis, blackcurrant, orange carnation, sugared coconut, and Maid of Orleans.
Pale moss, white kelp, sea buckthorn berry, ambergris accord, Somalian frankincense, rose geranium, and salt.
White mint, lime rind, champaca flower, khus, juniper berry, and matcha tea.
Black licorice root, aged red patchouli, white sandalwood, orange blossom, lemon peel, and dried jewel-toned fruits.
At the Post, Song of Nature baths are a-brewin’! –
++ SONG OF NATURE BATH OILS
ASTERIAS BATH OIL Sweet apricot, white honey, orris root, white sandalwood, and white peach.
PERIPHYLLA BATH OIL Bulgarian rose, ambrette seed absolute, saffron, white pear, oudh, and a touch of oakmoss.
And for the moment, that’s all the news that’s fit to print!