One cannot think of Egyptian aromatics without the inclusion of Jasmine. While it was not in the Seven Sacred Ungents or possibly in any one of the many versions of Kyphi formulas that used Camel Grass, Blue Lotus, Aspalathos, Dill and many other aromatics, Jasmine was and is a well recognized aromatic in Egypt. In my early wildly experimental, nothing to lose, aromatic years, I would mix Jasmine, Rose, Myrrh and Frankincense into an olive oil and beeswax base and shape in the form of a small discrete cone to place on the top of my head. It was transcendent luxury to me but the dripping of oils when I became overly warm was off-putting to others. I called myself an ungentarii then, mixing beeswax with an endless amount of oils I had faithfully scented with foraged plants, roots and bark for long periods of time. I could only afford the tiniest 1ml bottles of Jasmine grandiflorum but it was enough to connect me to the antique essence of a country that has captured me my whole life.
One of the special visits I experienced while in Egypt was to a Jasmine farm. The heavy perfume blossoms agreed with the intense hundred degree heat, so much so that even the leaves had their own scent profile. I grow Jasmine in our garden apothecary and with the similar heat profile, it too, grows well and remains fragrant through a couple of seasons but a field of jasmine flowers is transformative. It compelled me to write poetry on my trip, take photos, live in the moment. Jasmine concrete is so honest a scent that it takes me back to the fields I stood in only a couple of weeks ago. I can feel the sun and the pungent honey apricot notes I experienced when I plunged my nose close to the basket of blossoms a worker was harvesting. I can still remember the harvester’s face and his knowing smile as he watched me do so while others walked by.
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