Tiny tubs, ancient scents

If not a genie in a bottle … maybe a goddess in a tin?

Aromatic history in the palm of your hand

Aromatic history in the palm of your hand

These adorable tins of solid perfume from Pacifica – known more for their exotic candles – are small enough to slip into your wallet and take anywhere. I haven’t worn perfume for years, but these have a natural, subtle scent that I find irresistible. Actually, they’re sort of like spreadable candles to-go.

The sandalwood tub smells like what I imagine the first perfumes smelled like thousands of years ago when ancient cultures burned resins and woods as part of their religious ceremonies and then rubbed their bodies with the liquid. But grand imagery aside, the scent isn’t overpowering. Honestly.

The Mediterranean fig scent smells as woodsy as it does fruity. The marketing folks at Pacifica point out on the back of the tin that the goddess Demeter introduced the fig to mortals as a symbol of long life … so you can see that there’s plenty of vaunted allusion to go around here.

Whereas the fig scent is more for Demeter types, I’m feeling the Malibu lemon blossom tin is more for those who relate to the goddess Artemis – she’s not one to lose focus when she’s on the hunt. This one is mostly citrus-like but has a slight undertone of grassiness. Of course, I could have been swayed after I read that part about the grass on the back of the tin.

Junipers for all my friends.

Junipers for all my friends.

Those are the only three tubs I’ve smelled with my very own nose, but Pacifica makes  more overtly floral varieties as well. I’m tempted to try the earthy-sounding new Avalon juniper scent. The tin is a gorgeous winter-y white, and junipers are often used in magical rituals during the cold months.

If you’re not used to wearing perfume, consider this: The Roman public baths were said to house shelves and shelves of fragrant oils, where Romans applied perfume several times each day (with all that bathing, I guess multiple applications were necessary). In medieval times, women wore perfume around their necks to ward off odors and plagues alike. Cleopatra had her myrrh, Marie Antoinette had her florals … really, you’re just playing your role in history.

My point is, we sometimes lose sight of how entirely glorious we are. We all need a couple of daily rituals – not routines we perform mindlessly, but intentional acts that evoke the sacred. By associating a story and meaning with these perfumes (or your own), you can remember who you are just by anointing yourself in a  sweeping gesture that also happens to smell nice. If you already have a favorite scent, give yourself a story about what you’re already using so that whenever you make it part of your day, the ritual remembering begins.

Pacifica solid perfume tins, $8.95. Also available at some Anthropologie and Whole Foods Market locations.

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