A dear friend emailed me on Twelfth Night to say how drear and sad the Christmas cards and decorations look once taken down and dismantled. I was feeling exactly the same: all the magic and illusion of Christmas reduced to piles of tired coloured paper, moulting tinsel and the popped bulbs of entangled fairy lights that once twinkled and sparkled so enchantingly. A couple of cardboard boxes packed with fripperies and shoved under the stairs for another eleven months: who can tell what will happened before they are hauled out once again and restored to their glittering glory. Food for thought indeed, and one might preach a three minute sermon on the theme of resurrection of life and spirit even in this humdrum chore and at this most depleted of times. Liturgically we remain in the Christmas until February….but who wants to know that? Retail is already hotfooting it to Easter. I saw the hot cross buns today, and the chocolate bunnies!
There’s something very strange about New Year altogether, an oddity that lasts well into January; this feeling that we rushed to completion & exhaustion in the last frantic weeks of the old year only to be reborn, forced to begin the whole exhausting cycle once again. No wonder the ancient Mesoamericans felt that these were queer sorts of days and lurked indoors, shutting out the light, dousing their fires and refusing to eat until the sun had made up his mind to re-appear and illuminate the next calendar. They kept still, anxious to avoid the unwelcome attention of a malevolent cosmos.
A wonderful speaker – Canon Angela Tilby – spoke on Thought For The Day on January 6, the feast of the Magi. She ruminated on the ancient theory of St Ignatius that the wise men who sought out the Infant Christ were not kings nor sages, but magicians and alchemists who brought their treasures of gold and rare perfumes not as tribute but to symbolically renounce their tools of wizardry and abandon the age of superstition and darkness before venturing into an era of light.
The end of magic, then; but the innumerable kaleidoscopes of life keep whirling around, throwing out new fantasies of colour and pattern so that you might well care to celebrate the arrival of 2015 by choosing a fresh scent and thereby kindle some enchantment of your own. You can weave a new perfume into your New Year resolutions: stretch the boundaries of your existence and of your character. Keep pushing forward: our bodies and skins and senses are changing every second so our response to perfume is never still, always mutating. The true magic of fragrance lies in its quicksilver quality – always fugitive, forever different, impossible to pin down or entrap.
So be equally fluid when you select a new scent. The time of day, the weather, the air pressure, your state of health & frame of mind all play a key role in determining your sense of smell and perception of perfume. Shop alone or with someone in total empathy; play it slow and play it cool. Trust to your instinct, project into the future: choose slow and choose sure, thus transmuting from a midwinter caterpillar to a gorgeous spring butterfly!