Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jeudi: Root Work

Entertaining was one of the many things that my Grandmother excelled at.  She was notorious in small towns along the Washington coast such as Aberdeen and Hoquiam for her during-Prohibition-and-beyond cocktail parties.  So much so that the memory of them lingered long after Gran had joined the Ghede. 

I remember being approached by a quite elderly man in Ocean Shores when I was in my early twenties.  He asked me if I was “Helen’s granddaughter” and when I said yes he began to gush about Gran, perfectly dry martinis and a certain silk dress that evidently showed off rouged knees.  Right about then my Grandfather came around the corner.  The gushing ended abruptly; even in his 80s Grandpa could be threatening.

Since my own mother tends to loath entertaining – I suspect she loathes people in general so entertaining would naturally follow – I was always keen to hear what Gran had to say about the makings of a perfect get-together.  One of her favorite bits of advice involved the use of what we would now term “aromatherapy”.  She called in “incense magick” and gave the credit for her knowledge of the responses of the human olfactory system to her old friends, the Gypsies.

Accordingly, she wrote down a list that I’ve kept tucked in her old cookbook.  Some of these incenses are harder to find today than they were in the ‘30s when Gran was in her glory, but most can still be acquired if you’re willing to look.  Remember to always purchase the highest quality incense your budget will allow, regardless of your preference for stick, cone or loose varieties.  High quality ingredients, it goes without saying, result in high quality incense.  Here’s Gran’s list with a few of my own tweaks:

Amber ~ a fine choice for small gatherings, particularly those with romantic overtones
Cassia ~ sets a comfortable, homey mood
Cedar ~ calms men (Gran recommended this one if two rivals were bound to show up at your soirée)
Cinnamon ~ a purifier that is best to burn the day before you entertain to “clear the air”
Clove ~ stimulates the brain; great for meetings, book clubs, writing circles etc.
Frankincense or Myrrh ~ attunes the conscious mind to higher powers; the right choice for any spiritual gathering
Ginger ~ creates a warm, welcoming environment; perfect on cold winter nights
Lavender ~ a tension reliever that dissipates nervous energy; this is a good one for the hostess to enjoy in her private rooms while she prepares for her guests
Neroli ~ brings joy; a great choice for celebrations of weddings, baptisms, birthdays and a loved one who has passed on
Pine ~ this perfect holiday scent is like a combination – figuratively speaking – of Ginger and Neroli
Rosemary ~ much like a combination of Cinnamon and Clove – again in the figurative sense – Rosemary helps clear both the atmosphere and the brain; it is also a good choice for groups made up exclusively of women
Sandalwood ~ tends to make people drop their barriers and interact freely
Ylang-Ylang ~ “inspires beauty” and is perfect for gallery openings or gatherings of artists young or old; I find this scent is particularly good for children’s parties

Incense is a simple and inexpensive way to bring harmony, well-being and creativity into your home, and not just when you entertain.  Not all magick has to be concentration and sparks, after all.  If you’re like me and are not blessed with a local purveyor of good incense, I recommend Azure Green as a place to shop online.  They are reputable, have a large stock and ship to both the U.S. and Canada.  Bonne chance ~

Header: The Village Fête by Victor Nehlig via American Gallery


Timmy! said...

Nice story, Pauline. Always fun to hear about the family history and the knowledge that has been passed down...

Pauline said...

I think so too :)