Spring has finally arrived and with it signs of life: pollen everywhere, animals in heat, and people contemplating matters both romantic and carnal. And yes, people are always considering these matters to be sure, but it occurs with more frequency without the winter chill to distract everyone. There are many festivals to celebrate the return of vigor to the soil and to our loins. The ancient Roman festival Lupercalia comes to mind for some reason.
In this festival, priests would run around the city, striking women’s hands with thongs made from sacrificial animals. This would somehow help women get pregent and ease their childbirth pain. (Don’t ask me why, religion is confusing.) The festival also indirectly honors both Mars and Venus. Venus is obvious, with celebrants wanting fertility–which was a big selling point in the ancient Roman marriage market. Lupercalia also honors the she-wolf that suckled the twins Romulus and Remus–founders of Rome and sons of Mars. Mars and Venus had far more in common with each other than their modern interpretation–more yin and yang than opposing forces. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab explores this intertwining with their Ode to Venus and Ode to Mars. We expose these two below…and I think you will find it tantalizing.
[ad#horiz-ad]The ancient Roman gods were multifaceted creatures. While they can be simply described as being the god of love or war, such a broad subject contains subtleties. Venus, for example, has aspects that covered both sacrifice and indulgence, mothers and prostitutes, and even victory in battle. Venus Cloacina (Venus the Purifier) deals more with the watery aspect of Venus, who was born out of the ocean on a seashell. She ensures that the sewers of Rome keep the great city from succumbing to the filth and noxious airs. The sweetness of a gardenia represents the sweetness of the water the goddess blesses…along with frankincense, sheer musk, and vanilla orchid to add a bit of the mystical that attends the adoration of a goddess. Of course there is Venus Erycina (Venus of the Prostitutes). Prostitution was a everyday fact in ancient Rome with licenses, regulations, and depictions in the popular writings of the time. The scent has the lightness of honeysuckle absolute and white gardenia for femininity. In contrast, you have red patchouli, red amber, and crushed diamond accord to grab your attention, your loins, and your wallet. Venus Obsequens (Venus the Gracious) sounds charitable and giving. Well, this aspect of Venus is for those who are a little too gracious with their favors. According to Wikipedia (which is always right), her temple was funded from the fines of wives found guilty of adultery. The scent is a tempting pink apple made even sweeter with black currant, honey and cardamom. Apples seem to lead people into all sorts of trouble. Venus Victrix (Venus the Victorious) had many suitors. Sulla, Pompey, and Julius Caesar all vying to be identified with this conqueror of hearts. As Pat Benatar sang, well, ‘Love Is a Battlefield.’ Peru balsam, white sandalwood, and wood moss is the staff of the spear she carries for combat or to be sexually suggestive, aged patchouli and red musk are for the passion of war or desire, and red roses the universal symbol of love.
Now we move on to Mars, god of war. Mars, for the Romans, was not about conflict for its own sake, but using military might to bring wealth and stability to the Empire. This fits with the Roman style of battle, which featured tightly controlled units and camps that were basically Roman towns in miniature. Since many of the early citizen-soldiers of Rome were farmers, agriculture, the conquest of nature, was also part of Mars’ domain. Mars Rigonemetis (Mars of the Sacred Grove) covers this aspect with woodland scents of ivy, black pine, birch tar, cypress, and black cedar but enhanced with the potency of dark musk and black pepper. Mars Loucetius (Mars of the Thunderstorm) befits as son of Jupiter, master of thunder and lightning. It also reflects the flash of metal blades and the roar of battle being joined. A white tea chypre with rockrose, white sandalwood, and champaca flower gives the scent of a rainstorm mixed with the ozone of a lightning strike. Mars Ultor (Mars the Avenger) is not the character Ares the Avenger from Marvel comics, to be clear. Mars Ultor was created by the emperor Augustus as the god who punishes those who would wrong the Senate and people of Rome. Whether assassins of Caesar or barbarians who dare steal legionary eagles, terrible is the wrath of this god. You can smell the dark purpose with powerful black amber, smoky vanilla, caramelized tobacco, and blackened nutmeg.
This is a mere sampling of the scents dedicated to Venus and Mars. In fact, there are even more scents dedicated to love and pleasure. Black Phoenix again returns to Novel Ideas For Secret Amusements, the perfume line based on Japanese pornography prints of the Edo period. Above is pictured Comparison of Celebrated Beauties, where we witness Japanese ladies perusing their version of that year’s Hottest List. Befitting their beutiful skin, you smell the scent of vanilla cream, mimosas, and almond blossom. There is also the Box of Bonbons where popular perfumes, like Laudanum, Desire, and Haunted are mixed with chocolate to be even sweeter. Everything is better with chocolate.
Do hurry, like a passionate affair, these perfumes are fleeting. They will disappear soon. So act now and find them here.