It's always a delight to check in with SF Bay Area's Mauricio Garcia — perfumer, aromatherapist and champion of sustainability. We loved hearing about the spiritual meaning and magical practice Mauricio applied to the creation of his 2021 limited edition fragrance, Bone Flower, as well as what's coming up next for Herbcraft Perfumery. Read on...
Q. Congrats on the release of Bone Flower! What inspired you to launch a limited edition for October?
A. Thank you! I’ve always loved tuberose and its cousin, narcissus. Even before Herbcraft Perfumery was a dream I seemed to always be weaving my blends around these two flowers. They are still in each of my fragrances in some form. Narcissus was beloved of Persephone, the Mediterranean Goddess of Spring, and was said to have been the last flower She reached for before taking Her place as Queen of the Underworld.
Tuberose was associated with the Mesoamerican Goddess of Spring and Flowers, Xochiquetzal. The Aztecs called it “omixochitl,” which translates to “bone flower.” Bones were holy in ancient Mesoamerica, and were guarded by Mictecacihuatl, the Goddess of Death, until She rewove them into new beings in the cycle of reincarnation. This is the origin of modern-day Dia de Los Muertos celebrations, which take place at this time of year due to further syncretization of Catholic holy days (i.e. the Celtic Samhain with All Souls Day, All Saints Day, and All Hallow’s Eve).
Narcissus is native to the Iberian peninsula (i.e. Spain), and tuberose to the land we currently call Mexico. I think it’s interesting that my fragrances, like my life, are an interplay of the magic of both places, and the air this time of year seems to be especially saturated with it! Bone Flower is a tribute to that magic.
Q. Was this fragrance intentionally designed for spiritual use in honoring ancestors, and if so, how do you envision this in practice?
A. It was certainly designed with that in mind. The materials and plant spirits I worked with in this fragrance are aligned with the liminal energies of the moon, which white flowers seem to effortlessly conjure just by being. It is, in a way, a two-way enchantment.
Anointing oneself, a space or objects with Bone Flower draws those things closer to their essential (or spiritual) selves, while simultaneously doing what perfume does best—reaching across unfathomable distances. Applying Bone Flower to skin and to an unscented candle (especially with your hands) is a great, easy way to experience this delicious energy, which can be adapted to fit into daily or nightly rituals, meditation practices, seasonal celebrations and, of course, ancestral vekin.
Q. You call your fragrances Eau d'Espirit, what does that mean?
A. For the perfume heads out there,
the concentration of Herbcraft Perfumery fragrances are 13-15% fragrance in a base of un-denatured wheat alcohol, along with hydrosols and the non-fragrant components of each blend.
The meaning translates to “Spirit Water,” which I just love. It is an encapsulation of the process of creating Herbcraft Perfumery fragrances. By now, most people familiar with my work know that I work very intentionally, but they might not know that my fragrances are created, blended and bottled during specific times of year, on specific days and during chosen hours, my altars all lit and refreshed with offerings.
For example, Bone Flower was filtered and bottled during the hours of Venus, Mercury and the moon on the night of the last dark moon, as it transitioned to new. The Eau d’Esprit designation is a part of my work in exploring the origins of perfumery, as well as a way to share it.
Q. How would you describe Bone Flower in three words (or in a haiku even)?
As luminous as moonlight
Dancing across skin
Q. How did you achieve the creamy tuberose drydown? It's lovely.
A. You know how there are times you make things you just adore, which evolve over time until the perfect opportunity to showcase them presents itself? It was definitely like that. I’ve always loved the candy quality of maltol. It smells almost like it sounds—spun sugar and syrupy caramel just on the edge of burning.
That scent reminds me of the fairs and festivals I attended with my family and abuelitos as a child: churros, cottoncandy, candy apples, lights, laughter and carnival vibes. I wanted to tuck the whisper of that into a creamy musk, creating a harmonious little bridge for the tuberose materials that tend to tilt in that direction. If you want to know what maltol smells like, hunt down a bag of those crazy cotton candy grapes at Trader Joe’s.
Q. How's it going at COSP, any recent developments or news?
A. Well, our team was very happy to congratulate two of our members on the growth of their families, so we’ve got some official first-gen COSPers. We’ve also met with groups doing amazing work around restorative and regenerative agriculture, who we cannot wait to connect perfumers here in the States with once their products are available. Did you know aromatic plants are particularly good at restoring degraded land? How cool is that?? Cool enough to bring some tears to my eyes.
Q. What's next for Herbcraft Perfumery?
A. I am very excited for my upcoming seminar for the Institute for Art and Olfaction’s (IAO) Scent and Society series. It is called “Fragrant Altars: Offerings to our Beloved Dead” and takes place online on October 25, 9am PDT. During the class, we’ll discuss the origin of the Dia de los Muertos altar, with a particular focus on the fragrant plants who are a part of this very special tradition. In the medium-term, there are some very fun collaborations in the works!
See details for Mauricio's upcoming seminar and the other incredible olfactory events at IAO.
Jump to the Herbcraft Perfumery collection to learn more.