For Wiccans the Sabbat of "Mabon" is the pagan equivalent of Thanksgiving. Also known as Second Harvest, Mabon falls on the Autumn Equinox and is a celebration of abundance, of balance and of reflection. Symbols of Mabon include grapes, vines, wine, pine cones, acorns, dried leaves, wheat and horns of plenty. (The symbol of wine is one I enthusiastically support.) Mabon is a Welsh word meaning "great son" and in Wiccan mythology also refers to the son of the Great Mother, The Divine Son of Light.
Up until the end of January this year I was dating a Wiccan, and I had observed and helped celebrate Mabon with him. I'm not a believer, but I really enjoyed the marking of the seasons and the respect for the cycles of nature that is a significant aspect of Wicca.
With that backstory in mind I was intrigued to spot a fragrance called Mabon on the Fleurage Perfume Atelier website. (Fleurage Perfume Atelier is a Melbourne based fragrance studio who create and sell their own all natural fragrances, create bespoke fragrances, and run classes in perfumery.) To quote the website's description of Mabon:
An autumnal chord of woods, earth and spices. Inspired by the seasonal harvest festival when the earth begins to rest and we gather the rewards of a fruitful spring and summer.When I visited Fleurage back in June (and met the lovely owner, and nose, Emma) it was the first thing I tried, and ultimately what I decided to purchase. I had a lovely time visiting the Atelier and I would heartily recommend it if you happen to be in Melbourne. In hindsight I wish I hadn't made my decision to buy Mabon so quickly, because I would have loved to have had a reason to sample more of the fragrances Emma creates. Next trip I've promised myself!
A true spicy fougere where sharp spices are enveloped in rich warm woods and leather then relax into the deeper smokey resins and earth notes. A perfume for men.
Mabon, by Fleurage Perfume Atelier
Eau de Parfum
Top Notes: Allspice, Pepper
Middle Notes: Cardamom, Bay leaf, Mimosa
Base Notes: Patchouli, Myrrh, Vetiver
Nose: Emma Leah
[Notes and description by Fleurage Perfume Atelier.]
Mabon opens as a gorgeous spicy fougere (or 'fern'), with peppery top notes overlaid on herbal and incense notes. I haven't smelled Mimosa in isolation so I can't say for sure what it smells like, but I presume the slightly floral and woody note in the heart of Mabon comes from it (if the descriptions of the aroma which I have read online are any indication). My first impression is a combination of the lofty spice and incense notes, over a green, herbal base. There is a lovely almost menthol note in there, which is possibly a combination of the pepper, bay and vetiver. There is a very noticeable balance between warm and cold tones, with the warmth of the cardamon and allspice offset against the cool herbal bay and vetiver.
At the 30 minute mark Mabon is slightly softer, a little less spicy, but still a lovely fougere with an incense and slight menthol edge to it. It also seems a little sweeter, woodier and more earthy, which is possibly the mimosa and patchouli becoming more noticeable as some of the allspice and pepper depart. Perhaps it is more of the vetiver base coming through too, as vetiver can have that wonderful earthiness that I have described as a 'raspy' and 'green jute' quality in the past. (Like old rope, but in a good way.) I don't really get much of a sense of any leather note, as would be suggested by the description, as I normally associate leathers with a smokey birch tar quality that I don't notice in Mabon.
After 2 hours Mabon has become considerably warmer and more incense in feel, with the vetiver, patchouli and myrrh basenotes giving it more of a church incense quality. The fougere greenness and peppery topnotes are much less noticeable, but still lend the fragrance a little bit of a cool tone to offset the earthiness of the incense. It still smells complex and exotic, but is a much gentler beast than the intense spicy opening. At 2 hours the longevity and projection on my skin is moderate.
Wonderful! Mabon is a complex natural perfume that unfolds on the skin, from quite an intense and spicy green opening to it's final phase as a slightly green and spicy, earthy incense fragrance. As you would expect with handmade natural fragrances the individual elements in the fragrance live and die on the skin, so it is in a constant state of change. I loved every stage of Mabon's evolution.
I think one thing that bears mentioning is the love and care that Fleurage put into the presentation. The fragrance comes in a complex rigid card box which is actually 2 boxes. The lower section opens to reveal the natural pump spray, while the top section is a 2 part base and lid that holds the fragrance bottle securely in a flocked molded base. A foam insert in the top of the box also holds the cap of the bottle securely, ensuring that the bottle is secure and does not roll around. The slender paper sleeve keeps the 2 sections of the top box together. Complicated, ingenious and no doubt quite expensive to produce for a company creating small runs of fragrances.
The art deco inspired style of Fleurage is also consistent; from the packaging, to the website, to the interior of the atelier (which I photographed here). There is a great tradition of smaller artisanal brands who hand make natural perfumery, and it's wonderful to think that we have one of our own here in Oz. The brand may have only come into existence in 2007, but it exists in the same spirit.
[For my reviews of other incense themed fragrances try here.]