First Annual Winter Solstice Event at Anya’s Garden Perfumes – Day Eight

by | Dec 28, 2012 | Natural Perfumery Institute | 50 comments

Let’s not be northern-latitudes-centric – there is a Winter Solstice south of the Equator, it just happens in June!  Still, the same principles apply: the tilt of the earth and the angle of the sun all combine to create shorter and shorter days and longer nights until the Winter Solstice starts the return of the sunlight longer hours.  Many of the countries in the Southern latitudes are warmer than those in the North, except for high altitude plateaus and mountain ranges, but even the folks in the warmer climes appreciate the lengthening of the days.  Also, certain crops need long-day photoperiodism to flower, so there’s that benefit.

I’ve always been particularly interested in the Maori people.  The Maori are Polynesian people who live in New Zealand.  Their language and culture are regarded as national treasures in New Zealand.  A sanguine spirituality is infused in every part of their lives.  I always loved that they talk about their dreams with each other, something I have done practically every day of my life. The waking hours and sleep/dreams hours are all part of the same continuum.

It is an easy step to understand that the Maoris would be in tune with the heavens, the stars, moon and all of their movements.  “From ancient times Maori knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation through music, arts and crafts, story-telling and reciting of whakapapa genealogies. Traditions such as carving, weaving and ta moko (tattoo) are still practised throughout the country. Kapa haka (group performance) which incorporates harmonious singing, rhythmic dancing and ferocious war dances or haka, is a must-see for any visitor.”   (


 Pleiades constellation

The Maoris celebrate their New Year each year in mid-June.  They call it Matariki, which is also their name for the Pleiades star cluster.  When these stars rose in the sky, it signaled to them that it was time to plant new crops, so it was very important for their agriculture – and survival.  The Maori New Year blends in with and recognizes the winter solstice.  They knew, because of thousands of years of practicing agriculture, that certain crops need the lengthening days, the long-day photoperiodism (an agricultural term I learned as an undergraduate student, when I studied agriculture and botany) to trigger the initiation of flowering and thus fruiting, in plants.  If my research is correct, the word Matariki is used for both the New Year and the Winter Solstice.

“Matariki celebrations were popular before the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, and they continued into the 1900s. Gradually they dwindled, with one of the last traditional festivals recorded in the 1940s. At the beginning of the 21st century Matariki celebrations were revived. Their increasing popularity has led to some to suggest that Matariki should replace the Queen’s birthday as a national holiday.

When Te Rangi Huata organised his first Matariki celebrations in Hastings in 2000, about 500 people joined him. In 2003, 15,000 people came. Te Rangi Huata believes that Matariki is becoming more popular because it celebrates Māori culture and in doing so brings together all New Zealanders: ‘It’s becoming a little like Thanksgiving or Halloween, except it’s a celebration of the Maori culture here in (Aotearoa) New Zealand. It’s New Zealand’s Thanksgiving.” (from

matariki celebration2

Matariki dance celebraton


A beautiful image reflecting the Maori Polynesian seafaring days and the beauty of then the Pleiades constellation appears.

Note to my readers:  I originally intended this blog event to go until Dec. 31st.  I am trying to have some relaxation time at the end of the year and truly, this is just too demanding of me, so I will end the series tonight. For so many years, running three businesses and caring for my elderly mother made me feel like “a hamster on the wheel”, just going, going, going.  I told friends and relatives recently that I have lost energy, or rather, just stepped off the wheel and am trying to rebalance my life after the death of my mother.  In true “Type A personality”, I took on this event at the end of the year.  Not a good idea.  My business is closed until Jan 2nd, and yet I am still busy with this event, and two huge Food & Drink wholesale contracts I just signed. So, I need a break.  I’m sure you’ll love the consolation prize I’m offering tonight as part of my bowing out of this event – a chance to win a place as a student in the Natural Perfumery Institute.  A random drawing will be held on Dec. 29th for the textbook and placement in the student discussion forum where you can interact with other students and adjunct faculty and myself, and you will be able to receive updates for forms, announcements, etc. You can read more about the course here: The Home Study option has a $500 value: the knowledge it imparts: priceless!  I know that it is the most comprehensive, organized and professional perfumery course available, and that you will love it.

Besides, tomorrow is a Full Moon in Cancer, where the moon resides in my chart, so I need to nest a bit more, enjoy life a bit more and stay off that darn hamster wheel! Love to you all and yes, I will continue this event next year, perhaps shorter in duration, and written months in advance so I can enjoy the holidays some more.


  1. Julia

    Thank you for this wonderful event, it was very interesting to read about different cultures and traditions. Have a lovely holiday!

  2. Susan

    Wow Anya,
    Yet another beautiful article with delightful images and links. What an incredible gift you are!
    One of the most amazing books I have ever read; “The Bone People” by Keri Hulme is set in New Zealand.
    I am sure that it would be quite an interesting place to visit.
    It is so wonderful that you are honoring yourself. I always say that rest is good medicine. Nest away. Rest & “Re-creation” can go a long way to refresh the Spirit. May you enter the new cycle of 2013 thoroughly revitalized.
    I would be so honored to win your random drawing if it is in the flow. Thanks for your generosity regardless!

    • Gail

      Hi Susan,
      I agree that “The Bone People” is amazing read. I would recommend it too.

  3. Tamara Shortt

    I’m wondering if my sister was Maori in a past life. When my mother stopped reading us bedtime stories once we could read for ourselves, my sister started telling me her dream from the night before as my bedtime story. She even got mad at me if I started falling asleep before she was finished. Then she’d go to sleep and continue the dream from where it ended the night before, and tell me about it the next night. This went on for years. I remember three different dreams/storylines. There was never any doubt about what she would do with her life. She’s an award winning writer to this day.

    • Suzy

      That’s an awesome story!

  4. Magdalena Roza

    The New Moon in January 2013 in Capricorn will be important for wishing and write down wishes for career.

  5. Hemla

    That painting of the seafaring folk…. beautiful. I put it on my desktop.
    I feel some sort of special closeness to the pleiades

  6. Chanelle

    I have been wanting to take your course for the last 2 years! I am still saving up the money for it as I have had so many family issues and death etc that I have not been able to. I so hope to be enrolled soon! This year is my year! To win would be an answer to all that I have been putting into the universe!
    Thanks so much

  7. Jennifer Sano

    Your post touched my heart. As an ex-pat New Zealander, I am inordinately fond of Maori culture. I miss it (and NZ itself) intensely and always enjoy being “home”, no matter how long I have been away. I recently learnt how to do the haka (as part of a “Haka flash-mob” set up in London’s Trafalgar Square) and I had enormous fun. It was lovely to be involved, and Maori are such charming and down to earth people. I am also pleased to discover that the full moon I saw last night is in Cancer (my own sign) – no wonder I have been feeling so vivacious :) Thank you Anya :)

  8. Suzy

    Thanks for such great information on the Maori people and their Matariki celebration! I completely understand your need for rest. You have given so much of your time and yourself that you deserve it. No need to enter me in the draw since I became a distance ed student in September. However, I needed to take some time off (a much bigger chunk than you) to plan and pack our move to the Okanagan in BC. My perfume supplies required for the course have been packed for a month now and I’m eager to begin again after the new year. I have learned so much from your blogs over the week and I have appreciated it greatly. Happy New Year and Be Well Anya.

  9. joyce

    Dear Anya, Thank you for all you have given. This blog event has been wonderful but I am sure it is so very time consuming. Rest and enjoy, heal and restore……I would love to visit NZ some day and hunt the beaches for some ambergris! Interesting how ancient civilizations are so connected to the stars and universe……..Enjoy the full moon tonight, I will be making Blue Moon soap. Happy, Healthy New Year!

    • joyce

      I forgot to leave a comment on how much I would love to win a spot in the NPClasses!

  10. elise

    love hearing of other cultures..and love the pic of the woman reaching toward the stars.
    Happy new year to you!

  11. Gail

    Thank you, Anya, for putting together this solstice blog event. The post (and the comments too) have been so interesting, the photos and other images so well done. All of your draws have been very generous, especially this last one. Best wishes for a wonderful New Year.

  12. Tativa

    Oh noes! So sad that you are almost done with this series! I would much love the lessons in perfumery as I was just laid off at my job this week so now have the time to devote to this passion. Thank you for putting this event together! I have enjoyed the articles muchly!

  13. Anita

    Oh my goodness – my next perfume creation is going to be about my travels around New Zealand and the oils that I picked up from there – to include tincture of ancient Kauri wood. Thank you so much for this excellent post. I LOVE the pictures. Have a restful holiday.

  14. Nancy

    A wonderful article! I too am a ‘star gazer’, and walk every morning before the sun is up to feel connected to those heavenly bodies. I must look rather goofy falling over imaginary cracks in the sidewalk because my eyes are lifted to the heavens!!

    Enjoy some rest, and have one for me as well :)

  15. Musette

    This is a wonderful course about the Maori, whose culture is fascinating! I think you should shut it down now and go rest. Thank you for the wonderful Solstice giveaways – but now it’s YOUR turn to gift yourself!


  16. ShA'y

    Thanks for this most informative article – have always been drawn to cultures in the Pacific – New Zealand on my “tovisitlist” for long times now – had no idea of their celebrations & connections with their Star Systems – thanks again!
    Wishing you much Joy & Love, and above all much loving caring for thyself – a reminder to many of us I’m sure…

  17. sheryl

    The sun! How it nourishes our body.
    The stars! How they guide our way.
    The moon! How it reveals our cycles.
    The heavens: Dark or Light. Night or Day.
    All cultures, all people are affected by the rhythm of light and darkness — physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. I would love to learn how to make perfume blends to affect people in this way!

    May the darkness of your retreat provide the energy for your light to shine in the coming year!


    This is how the New Zealand people called the Maoris.
    WHY ?
    Because they were playful and laid back, unlike little hamsters.
    Maybe this is why they showed up now.

    Another thing I like about this culture-not that I know much-but the women in the Polynesian culture
    Were equal and sex was a natural pure thing-watch
    “The Piano” .

  19. Rachel Singletary

    That’s incredibly generous of you. I know that for myself this has been the hardest Christmas I’ve ever had, I can only imagine how it was for you. Sending much love your way. Hope you get lots of much needed rest.

  20. Tamara Agnew

    Love it! I have seem the seafaring picture before, bit did not know anything about it, so thanks. Enjoy your down time & happy new year!

  21. Larissa

    Thanks for the post! I have long been a fan of the Maori culture and their rich traditions. I agree that the Piano is a good film, as a previous commenter mentioned. But I would also like to highlight the film, the Whale Rider. It’s a great fable [plays out like a modern myth] but also highlights the beauty of the Maori culture.

  22. Ananda

    Fantastic!!! Thanks for taking us all on this journey with you.

  23. Brian Shea

    This was a really cool thing to learn. I always think it’s wonderful when a cultures celebrations and arts are revived (or better yet, still going) even after another cultures invasion.

  24. Dana

    Oh, Anya, what an incredible gift!

    Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to get to know you and for sharing your passion with us.

    Much love to you. Rest well.

  25. Sylvia

    Hi Anya,

    Thank you for putting together this lovely event. I have enjoyed reading the blog posts and recognize the time and effort required to put all these thoughts together. I love how you draw connections from disparate realms.

    In the US culture, it can be normative to keep pushing yourself with commitment upon commitment (even addictive, at times!) I like to think of our need for restorative time in terms of the Chinese Five Elements — water, fire, earth, metal, and wood. Each element corresponds with a different kind of energy in us. Wood is what I usually think of as Type A energy. It’s the urge to put new things out there, the way a bamboo shoot pushes up out of the soil. Water is the energy of beingness — of who you are BEFORE you even do things. When Water is depleted, you will feel quite drained, and you need to replenish it before you can go out and DO things again. Of course, this is rather cursory introduction to the Five Elements, but I thought they were the most relevant here. I think the need to replenish the Water element runs throughout this post. Not only does it surface in your well-deserved desire to rest, but even in the beautiful pictures you have posted — particularly that of the Pleiades constellation, and the Maori seafarer. Both those images are full of blue and black, the colors of the Water element, and of course, the seafaring image has the sea as well. Just fun food for thought ;)

  26. Chris Schaefer

    I am continually amazed at what you have shared with all of us in the Natural Perfumery community. Enjoy your well earned break and although I have been studying for years I would dearly love to have access to these on going discussions and the textbook.

  27. Rae Lynn Reffruschinni

    As, I’ve been reading your lovely blog, I couldn’t help thinking how much work it must be! Enjoy your time off.

  28. Anna Lybecker

    Anya ,
    Thank you for the great Maori tradition story. I was fortunate to go to a paper makers conference in Sydney many years ago and we were able to watch the women’s weaving circle. Each of the conference participants received a woven envelope (which I still have and keep my postage stamps in). I feel it speaks to the communication between humans so this is a fitting use. I loved Australia and want to return someday. Most of my time there was spent in botanical gardens. I loved the fragrances as well as the uses of plant fiber in paper making. I still make paper using raw plant fibers and now have developed a keen interest in fragrances and fragrance oils. I love reading your blog and Learning about perfumes. I also love experimenting with the oils and layering existing perfumes. There is south to be learned and I am only just getting started. Who knows where all this will lead, but I’m enjoying the ride!!!
    Care to you,

  29. Dianne Christenson

    Yes, Matariki celebrations are gaining impetus here in kiwi land. There is a long tradition behind Matariki, not only fro planting of crops and tilling of the earth (Papatuanuku) but for navigation and using the winter days and nights to draw inward and focus on learning new skills, passing on stories and yes, focussing on those dreams and discussing and interpreting them to plan for the New Year. If you would love a truly inspiring read about learning, journeys and traditional spirituality check out stoneprint press. I would reccomend “Song of the Old Tides” by Barry Brailsford or “Song of the Stone” by the same author.

    Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi aroha ki a koutou! Nau mai, nau mai, heare mai, tena tatou katoa.

  30. Preeti Menon

    I hope you get some rest. It’s vital to our being. You are very talented in your writings. I loved your blog. :) Blessings.

  31. francesca

    Matariki is indeed a special time here in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and has been embraced by all who live here in this country, Maori and Pakeha (non -maori) and we have lots of celebrations going on throughout the time. Aotearoa means Land of the Long white cloud in Maori and I hope one day that’s what we will officially call this country. Lovely read Anya!

  32. Isayah

    Dear Anya, thank you so much for your generosity: the blog, the wonderful stories, the opportunity to learn.
    I feel fortunate to read your blog, to participate when I can, and hope someday we’ll meet.

  33. Jacquie J

    Dearest Anya:

    I am a loyal follower of your perfumes and teaching from the natural perfumery group. I have learned so much from you. You give so much of your time to our community, bless you. I would love to win the textbook. Thank you for these blogs about different cultures. You are the natural perfumery mom to all!

  34. Florentina

    It’s always a pleasure to read your stories, you are a great story-teller, Anya.
    I’d be honored to win this prize, you are so generous!
    Happy Nesting! :)

  35. Melissa Davidson

    New Zealand is at the top of my list of places to visit and explore plant life, so I was excited to see your topic. Your essay did not disappoint. Thanks so much for this fun and informative series. Everything you do for the Natural Perfumery world is much appreciated. Now go rest up!

  36. Eileen Jackson

    I have enjoyed studing your home studies course. I don’t have a reliable computer just a real good smart Android phone. And is good to have a balance in our passions. But when I take brakes I can’t wait to work projects. It is my world my Sky.

  37. Gayle

    Anya, many thanks to you for your creative ideas & all of your time that you have devoted to us & given to us so freely & generously for so long now! Your First Annual Winter Solstice Event was an absolute success & it’s obvious from the comments left that you have enriched our lives dearly during the last eight days & beyond. You have taken me along on a journey that lifted my spirits from Day 1, literally, with the passing of my father-in-law on the morning of the 21st throughout the week ending with New Zealand & the place that is 1st on my bucket list to visit after reading your review in Fragrantica on Floating Gold & the book! it is closer to becoming a reality than ever before! With that being said I can now look forward to devoting everything towards my true passion & would benefit greatly from your generous giveaway to receive your textbook & the opportunity to interact with other students, adjunct faculty & yourself! As we learn so do we continue to grow to build upon the foundation that we have laid for ourselves & to follow our dreams…Thank you for giving so much to help us along this fragrant path. We all understand your need to rest & hope as you do so you will regenerate with renewed energy as you lead us all towards the fulfillment of our dreams…HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!!!

  38. Diana Bigham


    I would really love to win the 500 for the class. For years I have been trying to save enough for your class, but I have been very ill due to MS and any extra money I have is usually spent on medical bills. :( It would be the best Christmas present and a great way to ring in the New year. It would give me something to look forward to instead of medical treatments and doctors visits.

  39. Ida

    It has been so interesting to read your articles for the Winter Solstice Event. It is especially interesting to read about the Maori people, as I have long been fascinated by them.

    I would dearly love to win the prize of the course as I would very much like to learn more about natural perfumery.

    Thank you for celebrating the Winter Solstice with your blog event, and I wish for you a very Happy New Year!

  40. Kelly Croasmun

    I enjoyed your informative post immensely! How wonderful to talk about your dreams freely! I hope you get some much-deserved rest & will be able to step off of the hamster wheel. Also, what a very generous prize! Anyone would be lucky to win it. For once, I hope I am very lucky! :) Blessings & good health in the New Year!

  41. Magdalena Roza

    All nations has so different ways of presenting their vew of principals of Life, Love and Chi (Powerful Living Energy/God). In the other hand all of them remain the same thing when we look close up. The flowers do the same – they show their appreciation to Life with amazing variety of aromas but also when we “look” inside the aroma they have very similar components besides their different essence.

    It will be a deep language for me to have the opportunity to learn your personal language Anya that you speak with the flowers. This is one straight way to know you . We are more often to be open to each other and to show our heart beauty when we use some indirect communication like is the one in the chain ~ manflowerman ~.

  42. Vikki Vaughn

    Very interesting and great pics! Happy New Year Anya!

  43. Anya

    Susan of San Diego is the winner of the textbook giveaway from my blog! I don’t know her last name, so I am very grateful I switched to WordPress from blogspot, because it gave me her email and IP, which gave me her location. She has been notified, and will receive her textbook next week, and I’ll email her the collection of recording forms, list of suppliers, charts and much more. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my blog and leave comments. Happy New Year everyone and best wishes for the best year ever!

  44. Lore mama

    Yes, yes, yes. Thinking of a perfumero course, and what a blessing it would be. Just got home from seeing the Hobbit in 3D, and loved the New Zealand scenery.

    • Anya

      I’m not sure what your name is so I’ll just say Hi Lore Mama, thanks for stopping by. Make sure you bookmark my educational course at and consider my textbook as your perfume course foundation.

      Take care,

  45. Lora Ruppert

    I loved this Winter Solstice Event!

    Thank you Anya & Happy New Year!


    • Anya

      Happy New Year to you, Lora!


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