Ariadne had a Clew ☽•☾ champaca soliflore
a l c h e m y ☽•☾
White champa flowers and leaves, red and yellow champaca flowers, champak attar. Ariadne had a Clew is a vegan solid perfume. It is part of my Minotaur series, which includes: Hollow Sow, Daedalus the Architect, The Minotaur Path, Ariadne had a Clew, The Maze is Inside the Maze, Splitting, Theseus the Betrayer, Alone with Dionysus, and Nymphs of Naxos (The Rainy Ones).
Photos: the solid perfume in a 240ml glass jar, the old growth forest at home.
M I N O T A U R ☽•☾ a f r a g r a n t s e r i e s
The eight carat reishi ring was fit for Ariadne's decomposing engagement. Light and dark myrrh cast fake shadows in the labyrinth as Daedalus worked on Minos’s commission. A gargantuan mala of hollow succinifera beads the size of boulders but finely crafted. This snaking garland of caves, tangled and branching into itself like an inbred family tree, led nowhere. A puzzle and a prison. The architect got high on Maydi gum vapors and lost his mind inside the walls. Well, it didn’t help that the king imprisoned him, the architect and the Minotaur. The trap was in the building, Daedalus thought, amazed.
Ariadne had been put in charge of her half brother, essentially. Half in more ways than one. Her dad officially loathed the bastard beast. But though Minos's policy regarding the Minotaur was that he was a shameful family secret locked away from civil society in the deep recesses of the labyrinth if not the mind, the king unofficially seemed to swell with pride at her brother's ferocity, Ariadne observed. Over the years, as young men and women were sent into the maze to be eaten, Minos seemed to share in the brute's triumphs although he did not actually partake in the feasts of earthly delights. He was not a cannibal, or half-cannibal, but he could admire the unnatural appetite of this creature from afar. You had to admit that the monster's reputation lent Crete a formidable notoriety. And pride had always been her father's weakness. Ariadne saw all of this as she oversaw the maze, which she recognized was not just a physical structure. At least it kept her sibling at a distance. Her father too, preoccupied as he was with the half breed. Obsessed, even.
Then Theseus was sent over. When he walked onto the beach, Ariadne felt a jolt of recognition, as if he were here, or her child, or her as a child. She had known him before. She wanted to protect him, although she denied falling in love with him at first sight. One thing she had learned growing up in her family was that she needed to protect herself at all costs. It was futile and before long Theseus had broken down her walls. He put her on a pedestal from which she never wanted to come down. "You can protect me," he said. "I know you'll keep me safe." She didn't know if he was referring to his mission to kill the Minotaur, or to a deeper natural contract between them. "I've never felt this way with anyone else." She didn't know why he said these things, but she also loved it. Ariadne felt her connection to Theseus growing, lengthening, and strengthening. It didn't matter whether she believed the things he said; she believed he saw her this way. Ariadne started to see a way through for her and Theseus. "I have a clew," she said, handing him a soft ball of thread from under her dress.
"It won't be easy. You're the one going into the maze, and you're going alone."
"I know, my dear."
"I will be here though, holding one end of the yarn, so you can find your way out and back to me when it's all over." They were both scared.
"When I come out I will be bringing the maze with me," he warned her.
"I know. The Minotaur too." She stroked his arm and looked into his eyes mischievously, "I told you I had a clue, didn't I?" He winked at her pun. "Theseus, I realize that retracing one's steps is not forgetting where one has gone, or what one has done."
"To go through and out, I'll have to go backwards. But some places are irreversible."
She nodded, but love pushed away the clouds of worry forming at the edges of her heart. For the lovers it was never really a question about going through with it. They felt a little invincible, so maybe they already had some of the Minotaur inside them.
The fact was, although Ariadne was responsible for management of the maze, she had never met her brother. So how could she say she had a clew, that she would keep her precious love safe, when she didn't and never would have a clue. The irony was that the clew that connected them, that kept them together through the ordeal, would also forge a rift. It was a distance that couldn't be closed or crossed, only held, like a loose string unwinding and lengthening to disappear around the corner. Theseus in that horrific maze, lost to its depths, the recesses of repressed desires, ugly drives, and taboo deeds, and Ariadne outside, holding on.
When Theseus came out, he was terrified and covered in blood. He held the bull's head by his side, exhausted. Through the terror and exhaustion, Ariadne detected something else: a triumphant mania. She couldn't blame him. He had, after all, slain the monster. He broke the family curse. But he had also witnessed the burden of keeping a dark secret, of walling it in, feeding it, and obsessing over the threat and shame of it, without ever purging oneself of it. He had seen the result of locking away an abused child to make him into a monster paying for the transgressions of his parents as a birthright. Condemned to roam paths that led nowhere, to murder and be murdered. Abandoned by the parents who were supposed to protect and nurture him. In his victory, Theseus inherited the Minotaur's pain. It went into him and allowed him to see himself and his own circumstances in his victim. He, who had been sent by his own father to this faraway land, to murder or be murdered. It was an ancient cycle.
Even worse, when he emerged from the labyrinth and the first thing he saw was Ariadne, he saw her brother's face in hers. The warrior couldn't hold the cycle in himself, so he put it in her. There was such a thing as family resemblance, Theseus convinced himself. When he rolled the Minotaur's head at her feet, she started to see it too. That horror of recognition was now in her, the other edge of the sword of love.
"I have to go," he said. "Your family wants to kill me." Ariadne was stunned. Was he really realizing for the first time that he had been sent to his death in the maze? That he wasn't supposed to come out alive? Ariadne couldn't help being annoyed. What he had been thinking all of this time? She thought she knew him. Come on, she checked herself. He's been through hell. All that mattered was that she was with him now and they could escape together, free.
Did they really feel free? And what was the difference between being free and feeling free? Does it matter at all, she tried to shut off her mind.
Theseus no longer seemed to feel invincible despite his unbelievable accomplishment. He was frayed, erratic. The goddess could no longer predict what he would do. Ariadne sensed him drifting, and not just on the canoe they had rowed out in. On the open ocean, it was the witching hour. All that openness, black water indistinguishable from black sky. No stars. Where was the rush of freedom they had been expecting? The openness was crushing, but at least the fresh air was nice. Theseus could still smell the body odor of the beast, the ripe air inside the maze. It had been hot in there, what with old breath, pyramids of feces, semen cast onto the walls, dried urine, and culverts of blood. Now he shivered out in the fresh air with Ariadne, his love.
Even though she sat only inches away from him, he couldn't see her. "Your family tried to kill me. They want to destroy me." The words came out of him with so much sadness. No matter how she tried to soothe him, Ariadne could not recreate that magical feeling of safety he had once projected onto her. She had managed Crete's labyrinth for as long as she could remember, but she had no clue how to navigate this. "Please let me in," Ariadne begged. "Please leave it behind. It's over now. You, we, can move on. But please see me like you used to, as your precious love." Sobbing, she saw that he couldn't. She knew she would always love him, and as in the maze she refused to let go. But the going in and coming out had changed him.
Theseus stranded her on the island because now that he had met the Minotaur, he saw the Minotaur in her and he was scared. What he couldn't admit was that he was also scared she would reject him down the line for killing her brother if he didn't abandon her first. Even though the Minotaur was dead, and at his hands, the fact gave him no comfort. It was as if seeing the Minotaur in person, for who he really was, was the real horror. It was a familial horror that, once awakened, could not be put to bed, tucked in, and said goodnight. It would constantly wake up in a different bed, not remembering where it had fallen asleep. An unsleeping terror. He hoped that leaving Ariadne would pacify the beast and the nightmare would fade. When Ariadne woke up on the cold sand her heart split in two. She couldn't breathe. The waves washing on the shore only served as a painful reminder of beach memories with Theseus. Now this place was ruined for her too. As rage rose up inside her she worried that Theseus had been right to see the murderous monster in her. It wasn't fair, He had seen her family, and all their dirty laundry, and she never even met his. He kept them apart from her and it seemed now that this had been on purpose. Had she really ever had a clue? Or was it all just a tangled mess. She dropped to her knees and prayed to Dionysus that Theseus would truly see her. When she lost him she felt she lost herself. Part of her went dark. In the darkness she tried to unlearn her old ways of seeing. She learned to feel herself instead. Psyche became her best friend, but she still missed him and felt she would forever.
Ariadne abandoned there under the clear stars of Naxos, those tutors to Dionysus. She woke up alone with her strand, weaving toward Crete in the blue-black water, and remembered the journey with Theseus. Theseus was gone. Going away was his thing. Another cord cut, the thread un-taut. She chucked that shitty reishi ring into the sea and welcomed Dionysus, who brought her a bridal diadem, fertile with sculptural jasmine, peonies, ruby bilberries, and white and blue sapphire hyacinths. The Rainy Ones taught her about wine and pampered her with sea weed wraps. She tried to forget about Theseus. Maybe she was just supposed to be a guide? But the bull was inside her now, seeing red and not seeing the way out clearly. So she imprisoned him in the maze. In anger Ariadne sprayed sea water into the night sky, forming the Corona Borealis. The Nymphs of Naxos donated blue plants and berries so she could dye the redness into purple.
~Theseus the Betrayer~
They sat on the floor in her bedroom, studying the model. A night perfume from the champaca outside wafted in on the air. The rounded tree top poked through the railing on Ariadne's balcony, clustered with flowers: yellow stars and spiders. Her long black hair fell in waves as she leaned over the replica of Daedalus's masterpiece. Some girls have dollhouses, he thought. This chick has a labyrinth. There was a soft batting nose from one of the corners of the room and a pair of green eyes flashed. Ariadne gently lifted a silky black cat out of the darkness. It held a ball of yarn in its muscular arms. She put the cat next to her and unwound the thread. Laying it inside the miniature, she outlined a path to the center, where a Minotaur shaped doll reclined on his back in a cell. Theseus watched her wide and shrewd black eyes concentrate on the puzzle, while the cat stalked the string.
The memory of this, the purring rhythm of her cat, the glow of her hands moving in the candlelight, and the scent of champaca-- Theseus tried to sustain it on his fatal route. But like a fire without oxygen, the memory was swallowed up here in Crete's sphincter. An acrid smell flared his nostrils and made his eyes water. He tried to remember the path by accessing his muscle memory of their endless rehearsals with the model. Here in the dark he felt disconnected from his body and her, even has he held one end of the clew in his hand. He tugged it, and felt her reply as the thread gained tension. Yet he sensed his problem solving skills fading. They were back in the room with her, not down here in the annals of her heritage. The stench took over. She'd never been here in this situation. She had only ever had that panoptic view of the maze, where she was a giant, a god who could see everything at once and contemplate each move at a remove. Like a meditation or a game. She'd never been blind, hyperventilating in the bowels, and utterly vulnerable. Theseus clung to the ground and began to crawl toward the stink and the vibrations of the monster. Though he kept clutching the thread in his hand, he could feel her disintegrating. She was becoming as abstract as a pressed flower, as me moved deeper, writhing, like a worm.
It was a meaningless, lateral depth, with no redemption or solution, he later told her. Despite their expectations, there was no learning to come from it, only experience. Pure and rough experience. Raw and sensitive like stomach lining, and undigested. Severed, like the massive truncated head he held by the horns. Back in her bedroom, after hauling himself out of the tunnel, he laid on the floor with his trophy before her. Ariadne stood over him like a giant, her brow knitted and hair undulating like thick black curtains. At the fraying edges of consciousness he sensed the champak flowers pushing against the red perfume of blood and guts. But botany was no match for meat, he thought, and passed out.
What was she— some kind of sadist with her miniature? Controlling every element inside it. And he, the warrior reduced to a doll. What a reversal.
r a w ☽•☾ m a t t e r
Wild Veil natural perfumes are composed by me, Abby, using homemade, wildcrafted and organic aromatics in Vermont. These include my handmade enfleurage, tinctures, enfleurage extraits, absolutes, resinoids and concretes, and floral waxes. I spend as much time growing plants and foraging as I do composing perfumes.
h o w ☽•☾ t o ☽•☾ w e a r
The best way to experience a natural perfume is to apply it to well-moisturized skin, without rubbing in (absorption only shortens the wear time of fragrance) and without scrubbing off. Natural perfumes are dynamic and take a minimum of 2 hours to reach their final stage, or dry down. Enjoy the alchemical changes as they unfold from the initial intensity of top notes, to the warmth of the heart, to the depth of lower base notes.
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☽•☾ All aesthetic material copyright Abby Hinsman 2020 ☽•☾