I’ve been growing a Sambac Jasmine plant for about 3 years and this is the first year it’s really poppin’ off. I use an absolute of its flowers in one of my perfumes and it’s been such a pleasure living next to this plant, learning what it likes & watching it flourish. Sambac Jasmine starts blooming heavily in May in my region (9b) and sends its sweet, floral fragrance far & wide. It feels sensual, relaxing & uplifting at the same time. Here are a few facts & observations about Jasminum sambac:
In my yard: The variety that I have is like a mix between a shrub and a vine. It loves to sprawl out and send its branches in many directions, though it doesn’t send out tendrils. The flowers on my plant are double-layered. The last time I repotted it, it had spread its roots out of the pot and down into the tiny amount of soil available in my otherwise concrete yard. From its limbs to its roots to its big, loud, delicious fragrance, Sambac Jasmine is not afraid to take up space.
Plant names: Jasminum sambac, Sampaguita (Philipines), Melati Putih (Indonesia)
Elemental correspondences: Water + Earth
Family: Oleaceae (olive)
Native to: tropical Asia, from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia. It’s the national flower of the Philippines and 1 of 3 national flowers of Indonesia. Widely cultivated in Southwest of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. Naturalized in many places, including Mauritius, Madagascar, the Maldives, Chiapas, Central America, southern Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.
Botany: Frost-tender evergreen vine or shrub; highly variable; ovate, simple leaves, either opposite or in whorls of 3. Blooms in clusters of 3-12. The flowers open at night and close in the morning.
Lore/traditional uses: In the Philippines, Sampaguita garlands are used as a form of bestowing honor, veneration, or accolade. Jasminum sambac is the subject of the danza song La Flor de Manila, composed by Dolores Paterno in 1879.
In Indonesian tradition, it has long been considered a sacred flower, as it symbolizes purity, sacredness, graceful simplicity and sincerity. It also represents the beauty of modesty; a small and simple white flower that can produce such sweet fragrance. The jasmine has wide spectrums in Indonesian traditions; it is the flower of life and beauty, yet it is also often associated with spirit and death.
Scent profile: Sweet, creamy, floral, vanilla, fresh (like bath soap up close), lush, sweeter, more of a creamy floral from a distance, coumarin, indolic, lactonic; very diffusive (projects its scent far)
Energies & Aromatherapy: “Paradoxically strong yet serene, jasmine can settle and open the heart to self-love, compassion for others, and new experiences.” (from Aromatics International). Euphoric.
Elspeth’s Airs perfumes: Fleurs et chocolat*
*Fleurs et chocolat has been out of stock for a long time because I’ve been unable to find one of the essences (Tiare.) I’m currently growing both Tiare and Sambac Jasmine and enfleuraging them to hopefully use in perfumes again!
How do you connect with the element of Water? How can perfume guide & inspire you?
Intentionally working with the element of Water can help us to connect more deeply with our emotions, feel them and move them through our bodies. Water can help us tap into our natural intuition & creativity, cleanse energies that we’re ready to release, and to open up to play, ease and joy. Along with many other powerful ways, connecting to water through our sense of smell can help us to go deep and get intimate with Water.
We can intentionally channel the energy of Water within us and around us, through focus and visualization, as well as through rituals, scents, plants, and symbols. Below are the qualities & correspondences associated with Water, Elspeth’s Airs most watery perfumes & some of my favorite ways to connect with this energy. What are some of yours?
The photos in this post are of my friend, Shana, embodying the element of Water for our Elemental Magic photoshoot in March. Read more about Shana below!
Shana’s makeup by Sabrina Blunt and photos by Trevor Mark.
Water Qualities & Correspondences
Nature: Flowing, purifying, healing, soothing- realm of emotions, intuition, depth, nourishment
Astrological Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Planets: Venus, Mars, Moon
Plants: Chamomile, lemon balm, orange blossom, gardenia, water lilies, roses
Perfumes: Elspeth’s Airs’ Picnic
Rituals to Connect with Water
* Walk or sit by a body of natural water. Breathe in deeply and notice what smells stand out. What different qualities of scent do different bodies of water have? What other scents do you detect? Which ones seem intertwined with the place- i.e., the mix of still water + algae, the fresh ocean breeze + dry sand? Do you notice the “aura” of the water? What other ambient scents do you notice that create a fragrant snapshot of the place of the water at this moment in time? (I LOVE doing this & creating imaginary “perfumes of place”- i.e., the Bayou in the Spring with still water, wet earth after the rain, jasmine & maybe the smoke of BBQ!)
Where else do you notice the varied “scents of water” (i.e., air heavy with coming rain vs. the air right after a rain)?
* Choose a fragrance (maybe an Elspeth’s Airs perfume! Or an essential oil or fresh plant) that has correspondences to Water. Inhale it as you imagine the aspects of Water that you would like to connect with & set intentions or meditate. Revisit this scent each time you would like to remember those intentions & feel them within your body.
* Charge drinking water with energy & intentions: hold the water and speak or think your intentions then drink the water mindfully.
* Try using “color magic” and symbols to evoke energies you want to connect with. Wearing the color blue and adorning yourself, your altar or your space with objects like seashells is a great way to communicate with your subconscious about the Water connection that you are nurturing.
* Take a ritual bath with herbs. I love preparing a tea with the herbs first and then adding that to the bath water, and adding a few flowers or leaves directly to the bath for an added feeling of beauty (w easier clean up!)
* Swim or sit by natural bodies of water.
* Have a tea ceremony, perhaps with herbs that have water correspondences. Sip mindfully and tune in to how the tea tastes and how it feels in your body.
Elspeth’s Airs Perfumes to Connect with Water Energy
Affirmation: I am naturally playful.
Key notes: Boronia, Tangerine, Sandalwood
Picnic plays with the fruity-floral notes of Boronia and imagines it resting on a blanket in a secret clearing with a bouquet of Neroli and a bowl of Tangerines. Ambrette seeds allude to sweet sweat from frolicking and a hint of Spearmint freshens it up after the romp through the woods.
Ripe, fruity and a little zesty, with a woodsy and slightly animalic base, this blend merges precious essences for a delightful foray into fantasy.
About the Model
Shana is a force of Nature. Like water, Shana has a gift for making big changes- transforming landscapes by consistent action over time. Emotionally brilliant with a strong intuition, this Cancer sun swims boldly into deep waters.
Shana Turner @shanaturner_writes is a writer, grassroots literary instructor & organizational facilitator. “Community Solstice” is where this work comes together. Born on the summer solstice, she is a working-class, queer femme of Irish and Jewish descent from Boston who lives in New Orleans. She has two decades of experience with justice organizing, infrastructure development, participatory planning, creative writing projects, and collective learning through a popular education praxis. Through her work, she seeks to treat wounds as sites for transformation, to complicate the false binary between victim and offender in intra-community conflict, assess equity and disparities of power within groups, interrogate the construction and perpetuation of whiteness, and engage rituals of ceremony in the ordinary moments of everyday life.
Shana & I have been friends for over 10 years, connecting over nuanced critiques of social dynamics, breaking bread & our shared love of being near & in water. We support each other through hard times, provide spaces to vent & process, act as thought partners in planning out our visions, and celebrate & cherish the moments of joy. And of course, go to the beach, the bayou or the river every chance we get!