THE GARDEN OF VENEFICIA | Limited Edition Poison Box
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In reality, female killers have relied primarily on poison to execute their will against victims and oppressors alike for more nuanced and practical reasons. Oft underestimated, it is man who bestows that passive quality unto her, and who in turn arms her with it, oblivious to the great equalizers in her arsenal: lead in her painted pots, arsenic in household dyes, the pernicious plants in her garden, and the knowledge to use them.
This year's Amatory box, The Garden of Veneficia, explores the entanglement of women, poison, and the perceived toxicity for which they are both reviled, highlighting their grace and paying homage to both their healing boons and the life-altering repercussions of mishandling them.
ACQUA TOFANA ➼ Eau de ParfumThere can be no ode to women and their predilection for poison without mention of Acqua Tofana—a historical baneful brew reportedly created by (or passed down matrilineally to) Giulia Tofana in 17th century Palermo, Italy, and thought to have been responsible for the death of over 600 men (as well as for the frenzy which seized Europe at the face of slow-killing poisons).
Though Tofana and her poison ring of faithful customers' true legacy may have been stained by historical inaccuracies and the hysteria of the epoch, the tale of her deadly phials and how they were commercially sold as a secret antidote to the violence faced by the women of Italy at the hands of their tyrannical spouses is a sensational one which plays on the feeling of powerlessness in the face of the cruelty of man and women's universal desire to defend themselves against it—themes which remain poignant today, and are surely responsible for the resurgent popularity of Acqua Tofana's notorious history.
Notes: bitter almond · orange blossom ·tobacco· tuberose · cherry stone · jasmine sambac · black currant · deadly nightshade accord
Aspects: a pungent bouquet of sharp currants, powdered blooms, and heady florals entangled in green vines, serrated leaves, and dusted in narcotic pollen.
15ml Eau de Parfum in a black glass bottle with a spray cap.
Ingredients: Alcohol (Ethanol, Pure), Natural Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oils, Absolutes, CO2s, Plant Extracts, and Natural Isolates), Essence of Atropa Belladonna Essence
*Acqua Tofana's exact formula is unknown but is thought to have contained arsenic, lead, and potentially belladonna, Spanish Fly, and - curiously - the spittle of a madman. The resulting concoction, whose deadliness was dissimulated by the ornate bottles that held it, is said to have been indetectable in colour, odour, and taste. This eau de parfum is, therefore, a parfum de fantaisie — a fantastical interpretation of the infamous elixir whose name is synonymous with slow poison today.
HECATEIS ➼ Huile Parfumée d'AconitAconitum, or Aconite, is a genus comprising of over 250 poisonous perennials - most famously Monkshood, named as such not only for its darkly-coloured hooded blooms but for its spread across monastic cloistered gardens, where it was harvested for its hallucinogenic properties to induce communion with God and his angels, and Wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum subsp. Vulparia), recognized by its yellow blooms and reported to have been used not only to kill rampant wolves that terrorized the countryside but to in fact transmute man’s flesh into that of the very canine it was used to harm. Known as the ‘Queen of Poisons’, it is unsurprising that Aconite is linked, then, to the Queen of Witches, Hecate, and her devout follower Medea, a poisoner who attempted to thwart her step-son Theseus with the ghastly bloom and whose tales we’ll continue to unravel later on.
Hecate—or Hekate, the Triple Goddess, The Mother, Maiden, and Chrone; whichever epithet she reveals Herself as to you — rules over a great many of things, perhaps all things, and embodies within her the divine feminine in all its knowledge, power, fecundity, and strife. Overseer of the underworld and of the lower and vacant planes, occult and magic practitioners will still use Aconite to commune with her today, but not without great risk; though this baneful bloom may serve as a conduit into altered states when dosed securely, as well as aid with debilitating aches, just 2 milligrams of its toxic alkaloid, aconitine, is enough to strike a man dead and can enter the body as easily as through touch.
Notes: aconite accord · orris root · lotus · violet · valerian · cassie · jonquil · galbanum
Aspects: a deceptively soft, powdery, and narcotic floral with sharp verdant top notes and a musky, damp-roots-and-soil dry-down
20ml oil perfume in a vintage deadstock glass bottle with corkscrew top
Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Coconut Oil, Fractionated), Natural Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oils, Absolutes, CO2s, Plant Extracts, and Natural Isolates), Aconitum Delphinifolium (Northern Monkshood) Essence.
MEDEA'S CHARM ➼ Parfum Onguent de Mandragore
“By the mistress I worship… Hecate, dwelling in the inmost recesses of my hearth, no one will bruise and batter my heart and get away with it” Euripides 394-397Medea — the archetype of the wise woman scorned, whose knowledge and devotion begot the unjust cruelty of man, and whose passion and skill armed and empowered her to enact her revenge and sever herself from the societal perception of women’s duties and docility.
A witch and a priestess in devotion to Hecate, Medea is first introduced as a helper in the mythical tale of the Argonautica. Skilled in the arts of magic and herbalism and renowned for her botanical love charms, she aids the hero Jason in his quest to retrieve the golden fleece by anointing him with a poultice of mandrake (an ecstatic, hallucinogenic member of the nightshade family, thought to have been an active ingredient in witches’ flying ointments). Later betrothed and betrayed by Jason, however, a wrathful Medea wields that same skillful ability with the plants of Hecate to quench her thirst for revenge and poisons a gilded robe and crown before sending her children, martyrs to the cause of her revenge, to gift them to the traitor’s paramour on the eve of their wedding ceremony.
What Medea, whose name is now as synonymous with the reviled female poisoner as the name of Jezebel is to women of ill-repute, and her tale of scorn teaches us is this: the dose makes the poison, in both love and on the poison path, and that "beneficial" and "baneful" are often two sides of the same coin.
Notes: wine-steeped mandrake fruit accord · apricot · davana · nutmeg · fermented apple · atlas cedar · mandrake root accord
Aspects: tart · earthy · fruity · ambrosial
5g perfumed salve in a black glass pot
Ingredients: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Osmanthus Fragrans Floral Wax, Natural Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oils, Absolutes, CO2s, Plant Extracts, and Natural Isolates), Mandragora Officinarum (Mandrake) Essence.
DEVIL'S TRUMPET ➼ Beurre d'EnvolAs stated by Ruta Lauleva Aiono on her Meditations with Datura class;
"(Datura) gives us permission to say: come to me correct and you will have access to my wisdom, love and beauty; approach me otherwise and I will destroy you."Datura, Devil's Trumpet, Moonflower; with her eye-catching, white-petalled skirt, Datura draws in pollinators and human admirers alike, glowing in the moonlight and letting loose a fragrant, intoxicating stream of perfume. But for what beauty she may offer, Datura's message is clear; look but don't touch, unless one is prepared to handle her with the care and caution she demands. It is in this way that Datura (along with the rest of the poisoned bouquet presented before you in this year’s amatory box) embodies the fury and poise incubated within the divine feminine, and why she can be of great assistance when those energies are ready to be unfurled.
This scented body butter is more than just that; it is a fragrant take on the traditional witch's flying ointment, meant to connect with the divinity within and outside of oneself's body.
Notes: lemon · gingerlily · mimosa · datura accord · petitgrain · tobacco · sandalwood
Aspects: a tart white floral with sultry herbaceous and musky undertones
Ingredients: Astrocaryum Tucuma Seed Butter, Squalane (Olive Oil-Derived), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil, Artemisia Vulgarum (Mugwort) Leaf Extract, Artemisia Absinthium (Wormwood) Leaf Extract, Natural Fragrance/Parfum (Essential Oils, Absolutes, CO2s, Plant Extracts, and Natural Isolates), Essence of Datura Stramonium
*An essence is a highly-diluted, cold-water energetic extraction meant to aid in communing with the plant matter on a spiritual, energetic, and animistic way. Essences do not pose a threat of physical harm.
**This body butter has been infused with mugwort and wormwood. Although suitable for topical application, we encourage avoiding mucous membranes, and to listen to your body during use. Flying ointments are powerful tools of spiritual communion and ecstatic ritual, and should be used when in a relaxed, meditative, or open-minded state. Not for use while pregnant or breastfeeding.
BLENDED AND HANDMADE IN-HOUSE IN SMALL BATCHES