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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

Filtering by Tag: ritual

Labdanum: ancient medicine + sacred perfume

Katie Gordon

Labdanum is one of those scents that has been haunting me for the last couple months. It had come as a sample with an order of essential oils. As soon as I opened the tiny bottle it came in, I was transported to an ancient temple, surrounded by sacred smoke curling up from ritual censers. It smelled both familiar and foreign at the same time, as if it was waking up memories from long ago held in my bones rather than in my brain.


Something about Labdanum ignited a new curiosity about botanical perfumes, which I'm already enamored with, but this was different. It was almost as if this oleoresin brought a piece of me to the surface that had long ago been buried and forgotten. 

So I started getting curious about Labdanum.

What is it? What plant is it distilled from?

Labdanum, not to be confused with Laudanum (a tincture of opium), is a dark, stick, brown resin that comes from a couple species of the shrubs in the Cistus genus, otherwise known as Rock Rose. These beautiful + aromatic members of the Cistaceae family grow primarily in temperate areas of Europe and the Mediterranean basin. 

Labdanum has an ancient history of being used in various cultures from Hebrew, Assyrian, Arabic, and Greek traditions. Egyptians used it in their Kyphi mixtures and it's even referenced in the Bible as the Balm of Gilead. It's said the Ishmaelite caravan coming from Gilead to which Joseph was sold, was transporting labdanum.

Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt. - Genesis 37:25

It's believed the "myrrh" in this verse actually refers to a mixture of Myrrh resin and the resin of Rock Rose.

Similarly, the combination of Myrrh resin and Labdanum oleoresin has been documented as a food supplement to support the immune system, protecting against bacteria and fungi. Even Hippocrates prescribed it for sores, and the Romans used it to treat worms, the common cold and cough, and various infections. 

The fragrance itself is incredibly complex with balsam-like notes, with hints of oakmoss, leather, amber, smoke, and plum. Earthy, green, and woody. It's said that this complexity is one of the reason for Labdanum's strong affect on the subconscious with its grounding, warming, and sensual aromatherapeutic actions. 

Labdanum mixes beautifully with Lavender, a combination featured in the Imbolc Wild Medicine Bundle, as well as other green and earthy fragrances.


3 Skin Rituals for Spring

Katie Gordon

Spring is a weird time for my skin. It feels as if a layer is being shed, like a snake sloughs off its skin, each year in the spring and again in the fall. It's a time of transition, sort of the inbetween. In the spring, our body's naturally want to purify and clear out old sludge, which it does partially through the skin. So it's important to be supporting that purification process by doing things like drinking lots of water and incorporating more greens into your meals. Herb-infused vinegars are a fun way of moving liver qi and also getting liver-loving herbs like nettle, sage, and rosemary into your diet. You can use them to make homemade salad dressings, add them to soup/broth, or make it into a sweet + sour sparkly beverage by adding sparkling water and fruit juice. 

But, I always love trying out new homemade skin care products and routines. And I believe in skin care as a ritual. So here are 3 ways to help your skin make a smooth transition from winter to spring this year:

  • Wash with Honey - That's it. Spoon a nickel size of honey into your hands, warm it up a bit by rubbing your hands together, and spread it over your face in light circles. If you want to get really fancy and add another purifying element to your skin care ritual, you could add a bit of fine sea salt (not course sea salt!) to your honey for a bit of exfoliation. 
  • Wakame + Aloe Vera Facial Mist - Seaweed (like Wakame) is wonderfully moistening and nourishing to the skin. That tissue that's trying to emerge from under the snake skin is going to love the combination of sea vegetables and aloe. To make this, put a bit of wakame in a jar and cover it with rose water or any hydrosol. Let it sit for a day or so (or even an hour) strain it, and add a bit of Aloe Vera Gel. Side note: I use about 3:1 hydrosol to aloe ratio. Seaweed smells a little...oceanic. So you may want to add a few drops of a skin-soothing essential oil such as lavender. Mist over your honey-cleansed face, allowing the seaweed and aloe to soak in. 
  • Make your own facial oil - I think people get a little overwhelmed when trying to decide what carrier oils to use, how much of each ingredient, what's right for your skin type, etc. This time of year, I like to use lighter carrier oils so my skin can breathe. I suggest equal parts of jojoba and grapeseed oils, with a half part of argan oil. You can leave it at that, or add a few drops each of rose, lavender, helichrysum, and vetiver essential oils. Shake it up in your dropper bottle, and you've got yourself a pretty dang good facial oil. Now, part of the ritual is actually making your facial oil because creating = magic! But if you can't be bothered with making your own, (hey no judgments here, we all have stuff to do), I've been using the Luna Face Serum No. 2 and my skin's been loving it!