Halloween Memories: Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery’s “Black Cat” Eau de Parfum
“Bonfires dot the rolling hillsides,
Figures dance around and around...
To drums that pulse out echoes of darkness,
Moving to the pagan sound...
Somewhere in a hidden memory,
Images float before my eyes... O
f fragrant nights of straw and of bonfires,
And dancing till the next sunrise...
I can see the lights in the distance,
Trembling in the dark cloak of night...
Candles and lanterns are dancing,
Dancing a waltz on All Souls Night.
Figures of cornstalks bend in the shadows,
Held up tall as the flames leap high...
The green knight holds the holly bush,
To mark where the old year passes by..."
All Souls Night- Lorenna McKennit
Can you smell the heady sensuality of the harvest season as it hangs like the moon in the chilly night air? On Sunday the wheel of the year will makes a turn round once again to mark the Celtic festival of Samhain and every child that I know is completely delirious with excitement. I adore everything about the celebration of Halloween and for many years I’d throw wonderful parties for the neighborhood children outdoors under the moon at Windesphere , our century farm nestled on a quiet hillside in Burton, Ohio.
Jim would build spectacular bonfires which I’d scent with pine boughs and cinnamon pine cones, I’d “haunt” our front pasture with fog , lights, spooky music and creepy sounds and Alex would pull his friends down through the cornstalk maze one at a time in his little red wagon. We’d have a blast scaring them just enough so that they’d be thrilled to be going out on such a big adventure , shortly they’d rejoin their parents up back on our hillside next to the bonfire where cauldrons of spicy hot cider and slabs of cemetery cake would await!
For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure , cemetery cake is a delightfully gooey pleasure of devils food cake, crushed chocolate cookies , whipped cream, all covered with coconut that was tinted green like grass, shortbread cookies placed in the frosting so they resembled gravestones and covered with fruity gummy worms and candy corn for a very gross and delicious effect. I made steaming copper kettles of pumpkin soup and we’d always finish with S’mores . My husband would laugh because I love to burn my marshmallows to a blackened crisp and slather the whole hot oozy, gooey delicious mess onto thick pieces of chocolate that I sandwiched between two cinnamon graham crackers!
Standing around the fire we were always joined by a wide array of barn cats and the occasional familial ghost as well as an owl or two. I loved those parties and there was something so wonderful about being on that very old land and celebrating a holiday with such powerful connections to life and death and our pagan past. For me, Halloween will always be the smell of a roaring bonfire , sweet sugar and spice and more than a measure or two of spectral surprise.
Samhain, or the beginning of the Celtic New Year is also a festival that honors the dead. Have you ever felt a cool , moist presence float past that chilled you to your marrow and made the hair stand up on your neck in a way that you couldn’t understand? This is the time of the year that the veil between the worlds is the thinnest and our loved ones who have left this worldly existence are once again close at hand. If you listen carefully you may find out what blessings the New Year has in store for you! Heed their words well......
Living on our farm brought me closer to those ancient mysteries than I’d ever been before, for after all the original family cemetery lay secretly nestled in the woods across the street and our farm was the original property that enveloped all of that land , a lovely homestead built by Harmon McBride in 1848 about 12 years before the beginning of the Civil War. There was always a palpable energy of the past that was present on our land on Samhain and even though I no longer live there, I still make the yearly pilgrimage through the sweet autumn woods to place pumpkins, herb bundles and flowers on the long forgotten graves of those that I came to regard as my own, a ritual that has become a meditation for me.....
Excitement is once again filling the fall air because for the very first time in the many years since I left Windesphere I have a new home in the city, a charming brick duplex that my son has christened “The Citadel” . We are nestled at the top of a lovely hill on a short bit of brick road. My new neighborhood came complete with lots of wonderful families and many delightful small children and yes…I am planning a party! We will have many luminarias to light the way up the winding stone path and a ghostly piñata courtesy of one of my lovely friend Michelle. Cornstalk and Indian corn are tied to the large Oak tree and I have pumpkins settled everywhere that I will carve tomorrow. The haunted music is ready and I am told to expect hundreds of trick or treaters. Sunday just can’t come quickly enough!
My copper kettles are standing at the ready to be filled with pumpkin soup and green Thai curry and the ingredients for pumpkin martinis and adult root beer floats are waiting on the bar. Soon my kitchen will be warm with the fragrance of spice and carrot cakes cooling on the sill just waiting to be frosted with sweet buttercream and garnished with candy pumpkins and corn. Spicy concord grape juice and grilled cheese sandwiches with barbecued drumsticks will be waiting for the children, along with old Addams family , Bewitched and Munsters episodes playing on the TV on our porch. My darling husband has even gotten into the act, cleaning up the yard , bagging loose leaves into pumpkin bags and even promising me a fire pit for my S’mores !
I have my costume, complete with a fabulously sexy witches hat that is covered with sparkly things just the way that I like and the perfume I’ll be wearing? None other than Velvet and Sweet Peas Purrfumery’s devastatingly luscious and completely bewitching “Black Cat” lovingly crafted by the delicious High Priestess of Natural Purrfumery , Laurie Stern! Laurie’s “Black Cat” is a beautifully rich and totally natural botanical perfume, a sumptuous and downright hedonistic blend of cocoa, sweet blood orange, ylang ylang, aniseed myrtle and vanilla that just seems to get lovelier by the hour on my skin. It’s a perfume that I never seem to tire of and utterly perfect for this time of year with its candy like yet sophisticated decadence. Watch your necks when you wear this one my darlings….It is after all Samhain and you never know who may be lurking in the dark…..
You can purchase the beguiling little “Black Cat” at purrfumery.com