It was before I became a perfumer. I was returning a rental car to a destination car rental joint in a forgotten, questionable neighborhood somewhere in southern California. A creepy, greasy, smelly, filthy, shit-show of a place.
But the rental agent employed by this dubious establishment – now he was an altogether different deal.
Crisp shirt, impeccable hair, gracious smile, and smelling of roses. He circled the car with clipboard poised, suavely investigating for dents and dings. An elegant gentleman from India who classed up the entire experience. I was transfixed.
“Pink is the navy blue of India” I heard in my mind’s ear… A guide stone adopted in the ’80’s as inspiration by my performance art co-collaborators and I while brainstorming shows.
We grabbed it from fashionista and Vogue Magazine editor Diana Vreeland, who famously observed, “I adore that pink, it’s the navy blue of India.”
As artists, we got it. We took its message of subjectivity all personal-like and it drove us and liberated us. We questioned rules and limitations. We expanded and created. We invented ourselves and reinvented ourselves. We became ourselves. We expressed ourselves as any seriously silly color of the rainbow we wanted to be. And we invited our audience to do same.
Back to the greasy car joint. Here was a man, elegant, masculine, and smelling of roses.
His rose infused elegance reminded me of the Vreeland quote.
I buried the experience in the recesses of my mind.
Years later, as I launched my little perfumery, I struggled to categorize the scents as I thought was required. Affixing labels on ineffable ethers. Earnestly weighing them I’d ponder, “Would a man wear this?” I thought I should conform and slap that label on each fragrance. Men smell like this. Woman smell like that. This one feminine, that one masculine, etc.
Naturally, at my first public fragrance “showing” (scenting?) this fussing was proven utterly unnecessary. A man strode up, grabbed a perfume I had dutifully classified as feminine – InVisioning Roses – and before I could steer him to the more ‘masculine scent’, he generously doused his wrist and voila! Mind altered. Like a second skin, it was a scent made for his very body chemistry. The rose prevalent but still masculine with spices simmering and electrifying citrus.
It took me back to the elegant rose scented man at the car rental joint, and I got it! Rose is the navy blue of India! Rose is for everyone. Roses all round!
He has been a return customer, my InVisioning Roses fan. Smelling lushly of Bulgarian rose and bergamot, frankincense and cardamom.
I’m grateful to live in a time and place where we can overcome these limitations. Roses are not just for women! Woodsy scents are not restricted to men. Grown up ladies can smell like vanilla and toasted marshmallows and boys can smell like Ylang Ylang. I mean who the hell cares? Do you?
October in the woods in SW Michigan, just minutes from my Three Oaks home…
Moving from the heated expansiveness of summer, a refreshing and introspective autumnal forest calls. Come walk and linger, enjoy scents and colors, experiencing the restoration and inspiration of the trees, plants, and earth. The shadows are long and the days shorter, heightening our pleasure of the moment. Falling leaves reveal the skeleton of a tree. Scent of decaying leaves is both dank and sweet, a curious embrace.
I imagine most of us woodsy fans are aware of the Forest Bath movement, Shinrin-yuko. (I rambled about Forest Bathing previously in a wintry blog – Winter Forest Bath). In Japan, formal studies are conducted regarding the health benefits of spending time in nature. A recent study explores the immune strengthening abilities of essential oils from trees and plant life. ‘Scuse me while I dab on some Hinoki Oil…
Most beguiling is the personal creativity that awakes in a Forest Bath. If we step into the woods with senses open we begin to feel very deeply. We let the forest in – into us, our psyche – and we experience profound pleasure and the rarified activity, play.
Yeah, it sounds “woo-woo.” Well, it is “woo-woo.” Let’s just lighten up go with it.
Here’s some sensory forest bath games to explore.
Find a scent and breathe it in. Close your eyes. How does it make you feel? Where do you feel it in your body. Open your eyes and follow the scent until you discover another. Repeat.
Pine, I feel in the head, throat, and heart. I walk through the woods tracking pine until I discover a fungal-mushroom scent. This I feel much lower in my body, it is heavy and rich. Something about the mushroom seems mischievous to me… Colors seem brighter after the scent of mushroom.
Let yourself gaze at something until your eyes go in and out of focus. Explore trying not to focus on anything! Find some lovely objects and make a design with them.
I feel connected to my inner child when I do this.
Sit in silence. Close your eyes. What do you hear? Repeat, this time with a smile.
Here’s a favorite. Find a tree. Go ahead and rest your hand on it. Feel. Move your hand away, slowly, and see what you feel now. Ok, umm. Just wow! Next, silently introduce yourself to this tree. “Well, hello there, Tree. I’m Doreen. It’s so nice to be in your company.” See what happens…
Go ahead and revel and twirl! Don’t be perfect! Be wild and wonderful! Be present! Be you in the deep, deep woods of autumn!
In the crisp, quiet snow, through the sleeping woods we quest. The forest, at once muted and subtle, is laid bare with winter. The naked skeletons of trees impose themselves through the softness of white drifts. The trees relieved of their autumnal frippery are akin to deep soul-urges exposed.
We seek the Winter Faerie Queene, Queen Mab, my Fae companion and I.
For the Winter Queen is queen of sleep and deep dreaming. She delivers us to new imaginings. Daring us to dream our dreams and intoxicate ourselves in crystalline brilliance no matter the chill on our fingers and nose.
So we hasten on. After all, is this not what forest snow is for? To lull and snap us to the feet of the magnificent Queen of the Winter Court. To imagine and create.
Is it not the river of life?
What of her, this Queen Mab?
Shakespeare provides us this, “she comes in shape no bigger than an agate stone on the forefinger of an alderman.”
But is she really so petite? I’ll wager it’s an expression of endearment, like “Little John,” the ironic name given Robin Hood’s 7-foot tall warrior. Because Queen Mab, Queen of Winter, and of sleep and dreams, is massively powerful.
She is our SUPERPOWER. She is yourimagination.
How often have we heard the following?
“It’s just your imagination.”
“That’s just fantasy.”
“You’re just daydreaming again!”
“Just.” A single, insidious word making fantasy and imagination diminutive, rendering it powerless. Thus (and here is the true belittling of Queen Mab) we set aside living creatively. We set aside our power to create.
“Step in line! Beware the siren’s voice inside of you! Shove away those dreams you hold dear.”
But the seeds sleeping in the depths of winter, preparing to bust out a move in the spring, are like your dreams and imaginings. And the Imaginal Realm is where you nurture those seed dreams.
And EVERYTHING comes from a dream, a feeling, a thought, and then an action.
Why do you think “they” try to steer us from it? (Yes, I’m a rebel.)
So as the light returns with the winter solstice and your dreams start to stir and bud, get yourself over to the Imaginal Realm and curtsy long and deep to the Queen. The intoxicating Queen Mab, your superpower – imagination. For she is in YOU. She is a part of YOU. SHE IS YOU.
But why am I telling you this? You know it all already. Enjoy!
A little blog I wrote, published on the Harbor Country Chamber of Commerce website about the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, MI. My home village…
By Doreen Stelton
To feel enveloped in a welcoming place with friendly folk. You know this feeling? You know it. We all share it. That desire to connect with others, to get social and commune. Perhaps even sharing a deeper experience together, basking in the beauty and mysteries of life. For a lifetime, a day, …
New Year’s Eve finds me pausing for a moment with my bulletproof coffee loving my 2017 engagement calendar. All those clean empty pages. A year of possibility with opportunity for beauty. Sprinkle that faerie dust round. Happy New Year, one and all!
My Ill-Advised Life
In January of 2016 I foreclosed on my underwater condo in Chicago and went free range faerie. I quit my jobs and hit the road with my 9 year old pup, Missy. It was not clearly planned and was a most definitely ill-advised life move. Frankly it was fucking reckless and irresponsible. Two years prior another reckless action, leaving an underpaying exhausting job of 17 years which left me even more financially unstable. But I was compelled to shout “NO” to my prior unsatisfying life.
My intention was to free myself from this life that was not personally satisfying. To peel away layers of internal crap; exhaustion, bitternesses, urban and job induced stresses to indulge in the beauty my soul craved. To know myself again and/or better. Seeking a new location in a more beautiful or rural setting. To remake myself as a faeriepreneur with a way to support myself as my own boss.
My life unravelled and got unmistakably got messy. I bravely resisted the negative mantra of “What the fuck am I doing???” Support from kindly people, without who’s help I could not have done it, surfaced. I learned to let myself release to this support, my mess, and waited for ME to reform and emerge. I practiced faerieshamanism and magic, wrote, made perfume, hunted down faerie people and places, and grooved in nature.
This experiment was to last 3-6 months. Then I’d prolly just get an apartment in Chicago and stuff. It is coming up on a year this January and I’m still essentially homeless, or as I prefer to say, “nomadic” (it’s all in the attitude ya’ll!). Ha!
What Next, Free Range Faerie?
During this madly ill-advised adventure I explored a lot of ideas of what to do with myself, always returning to the message and mission of beauty amidst chaos. And of personal liberation through beauty, truth, and the imaginal realm. I’m happy to report my soul is refreshed and I’m coming “home” to me. I feel ready to contribute and collaborate. To set up a home-base again.
My favorite passion project of 2016 was launching my wee perfume line verdant faerie fragrances. I completed my certification course (though I still have much to learn) and set up temp studios in the various places I stayed. Perfume supplies were shipped to a variety of locations – Maryland, Hawaii, Canada, Chicago. I’m excited to take it to the next level in 2017 with improved packaging and perfume blends. Expanding my knowledge and expertise. I’m looking forward to establishing a sweet home perfumery of my own in the first quarter of 2017.
I also rediscovered my love of writing and the location freedom it can provide. As a young girl writing was shoved into my shadow self. But it keeps seeking the sun! So I hope to do more of that there writing stuff, perhaps combined it with my perfume. Ideas are germinating…
One thing I truly missed was a consistent yoga and circus practice and community. (Well community in general, for it’s hard to keep this going on the road. Yet one does finds new communities.) But I really missed the sparkle and comradery of those worlds – physical exploration with expression and soul. So I’m planning to revisit that in 2017.
Oh, and once I get settled again I also hope to establish regular contribution to a social cause…
As I reestablish myself in 2017 I’ll admit to a certain degree of inner terror. I have some undeniable challenges ahead. Can I even pull this off? And I do so love my freedom! But mostly I think I got this. I’ll establish a lovely home base to travel from and I have my mission ~BEAUTY & LIBERATION~ and together we will not be denied!
All the best to you and yours in 2017!
Here’s a verdant barn in Three Oaks Michigan from my recent travels… just cause it’s pretty…
From the edge of the dance floor at the Masquerade Ball, Missy’s ears prick up, “It’s Missy! I know that dog! She’s a dog worth petting again!” Missy’s first visit to the New York Faerie Festival, or any festival, and she’s made friends with faeries, trolls, goblins & wizards within the realm of the fae.
And what a festival! Abundant enchantment; music & dancing all day…
Magical creatures of all varieties… (Missy’s new friends)
A tree house, a free house.
A secret you and me house,
A high up in the leafy branches
Cozy as can be house.
A street house, a neat house
Be sure and wipe your feet house
Is not my kind of house at all-
Let's go live in a tree house.
Missy is particularly enchanted with the joust and horses, ‘scuse me, unicorns.
When not getting petted, Missy let me visit some of the many lovely vendors. Just a sampling…
Do you know this feeling?
When you look into the woods at night or dusk. And you can feel the mystery. The wonder of it.
What. Is. Going. On. In. There?
Magnetized towards the pulsation of the ancient virtues. Heart quickening. You know something is going on in there! Alchemistic renderings of earth and spirit, your transcendence is a gossamer thread away…
It’s on the other side of the Troll’s Bridge (no duh), the Faerie Habitat. An enchanted sphere of the Festival grounds. Dryads, Mermaids, Faeries… Charm spinning and spirit gifting…
Linger in the Habitat to connect and transcend.
But first you must get past the trolls. And, be warned. There is a troll toll. They demand, in the friendliest of ways, “shinys” (really anything that is shiny), or a joke, or you may choose to get mud tattooed.
Missy is not so sure of the trolls. Mayhap because they refer to her as a goat.
But the charm of the Trolls wins Missy over.
In the end Missy passes in to the Faerie Habitat. Her mysterious encounters there will remain mysteriously hers.
But wait, Goblins!
Gandersnitch the Goblin is a revelation. Despite the assurance that he is a reformed Goblin, poetic and wise, I’m wary. But he turns out to be a kindly inspiration.
Gandersnitch is indeed poetic and wise. I’m reading and loving his perfectly inappropriately refreshing and highly entertaining book now.
He also has a lovely card game and takes confessions.
As for me, the festival was my sublime medicine. I am sincerely grateful. Thank you.
Surrounded by the singing of the spirit of the wild self, I am mended. Thank you. I soak up kindness, wildness, and joy from the festival creatures. Thank you. The dear souls near my tent who chat with me and help me set up and dance with me at the ball. Thank you. The sparkling eyes and filthy-glittered dancing bodies. Prose and laughter spilling from mouths like honeyed nectar. And the collective feeling that life is indeed something to be lived and played with. The outward reflection that we are all of us beautiful and magical. Thank you.
It brings me back to myself. Ah yes, hello to my beautiful, magical me. So nice to glow you again.
The New York Faerie Festival is a three-day affair just completing it’s 7th year. It is out in the boonies of New York, tucked in a valley near a river. Parts of the Festival grounds are in shady woods, and parts bright sun.
Primitive (Port-O-Let) but happy camping is available on the premises. Two yummy dinners are included, with options for meat eaters and vegetarians. There is a simple breakfast hosted at the local firehouse for a small fee/donation. There are some other campgrounds and motels nearby.
There is so much going on at this festival! I barely touched on it here. Fantastic music and performances on multiple stages, outstanding vendors, jousting, tons of street characters who interact with the festival goers, some food trucks, and little spaces throughout the grounds to hang out and play or dream. The Masquerade Ball on Saturday night is not to be missed!
Wear a costume.
Bring cash, always appreciated and it was hard to get a signal to use the Square reader.
Also, read the email communications you receive from the Festival carefully, for if you camp there are specific arrival times.
Hope to see you there in 2017!
If you want more festival blogs, I have several. Here they be: