Tabac Aurea (Sonoma Scent Studio)

Ezili moves in an atmosphere of infinite luxury, a perfume of refinement, which, from the moment of her arrival, pervades the very air of the peristil and becomes a general expansiveness in which all anxieties, all urgencies, vanish.

--ethnographer Maya Deren, quoted in Phyllis Galembo's Vodou: Visions and Voices of Haiti (1998)
The Yoruban goddess Oshun is the orisha (divinity) of rivers, pleasure, and love. Coquetry is her art, and beauty her obsession; feminine strength and dignity are her sacred charge. In Brazil she is known as Oxum; in Cuba, Ochun. In New Orleans they address her as Maîtresse Erzulie, and in Haiti, she is called simply Ezili-- though she is anything but simple. She is, in fact, an entire family of goddesses -- dozens of them, each with her own personality and tastes. Learning what each Ezili likes is a major component of worship... and all the Ezilis adore perfume.

According to the hounsis interviewed by photographer Phyllis Galembo, Ezili Fréda -- the flirtatious loa (spirit) of love -- favors Anaïs Anaïs above all other fragrances. This is mainly due to Cacharel's romantic package design, misty pink flowers on milk-white glass. Ezili Dantò, the protective mother of all who suffer, prefers the orange-blossom bouquet of agua de Florida-- that is, when her supply of Piver Rêve D'Or runs low. The formidable loa of female rage, Ezili Jé-Wouj (from yeux rouges, 'red eyes') likes only three scents: gunpowder, rhum Barbancourt, and blood. (Finally-- a use for the Blood Concept line!)

But just as all roads lead back home, all Ezilis return to Oshun-- and the great goddess' tastes are very particular. Her sacred color being the pure golden yellow of polished amber, most offerings made in Oshun's honor fall on a color spectrum ranging from pale gold to deep, burnt orange. Her vever (sacred symbol) may be drawn with ground turmeric, cinnamon, or bee pollen; gold dust might not be asking too much. She feasts on lemons, clementines, persimmons, yams, and saffron rice, and would not dismiss a glass of Goldschlager if you poured one for her. American Ifá priestess Luisah Teish recommends "fixing" a jar of honey for the Goddess by stirring in quantities of whole cloves, nutmeg, and allspice-- proof that Oshun is the mother of all spice girls.

And of the many perfumes I'm sure she'd adore, I would offer Oshun nothing less than Tabac Aurea.

With its notes of honey, suede, and tabaco rubio, there is something about this fragrance that expresses itself as golden yellow, penetrating and powerful. This is a sun scent without doubt. Though strong, its cedar and tobacco notes are also impressively smooth, polished to a high shine. Clove and patchouli -- both 'dark' notes capable of subtle intrigue -- meld into an accord reminiscent of spice-imbued ceremonial wine. And whereas Annick Goutal's Sables projects burnt-bitter austerity in its pairing of immortelle and lapsang souchong, Tabac Aurea's panoply of sweet and mellow notes radiates a merciful lovingkindness most apropos of Oshun. However intoxicated one might become while wearing it, its benevolence promises to hold a faithful serviteur aloft.

As Luisah Teish states in her marvelous book Jambalaya, "When Oshun perfumes Her skin with honey no one can resist Her; so give in, surrender to Her passion." Substitute Tabac Aurea, and make yourself and the Goddess glad!

Scent Elements: Cedar, sandalwood, blonde tobacco absolute, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, labdanum absolute, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, musk