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

by | Dec 22, 2012 | Giveaway | 52 comments

Day Two of eleven days of the Winter Solstice Event, which will end Dec. 31, 2012.

I’m not a scholar who tracks down every comment for accuracy – sorry.  I do think I can say with a degree of certainty, however, that practically every historical group of ancient people worshiped the sun and tracked its course through the sky and the seasons

The day of the longest night and shortest amount of life-giving sunlight would be recorded, analyzed, and in most cases, worked into a ritual celebrating/commemorating the day.

Such a day is December 22,  the day the Hopi Indians of North America celebrate Soyaluna. It is also spelled Soyal, Sol-ya-lang-eu and Soyala. The ceremony of the black plumed snake is the central theme of this ritual, signifying the sun in terms of the winter solstice.  Prayers are offered for the lengthening days, asking for prosperity to grow along with them, and for good health as they move through the still-cold months.

Fearful that the Sun God was traveling as far away from them as he could, they constructed the Soyaluna ceremony to stave off the sun vanishing forever.  Before the ceremony, they would create gifts of feathers and pinyon pine needles tied together with cotton strings and give them as gifts. The ceremony of the gifts was elaborate, involving specific ways to move the string, willow branches and inception of the gathered goods to the kiva meeting room.  The feathered/pine needle gifts festooned the rafters of the kiva.

The ceremony goes on for hours, held in utmost solemnity, for the loss of the sun would be devastating to their world, and all their intent in the ritual was focused on keeping the solar energy in their universe.

The Hopi continue this tradition, yet I found it nearly impossible to find images to illustrate this blog post. I will share with you an evocative, calm painting of an unnamed tribe at the time of the Winter Solstice in 1100.  This is a computer artwork created by an Richard Thornton, architect and member of the Perdido Bay Muscogee-Creek Tribe, in an attempt to allow us to see that night, that Winter Solstice serenity 1000 years ago.










For today’s giveaway, I’d like to offer some fragrant products extracted from plants grown in my garden, and extracted by hand by myself.  This would be an homage to the Native Americans who grew and harvested and processed their food, medicine and fragrance materials.  What better than white flowers that glow in the moonlight?  I will giveaway two ounces of gardenia pomade. I harvested various gardenias for a succulent accord: native lush gardenias that we in America are familiar with, Vietnamese gardenias, and to a lesser extent, Tahitian gardenias. They were placed on nonhydrogenated palm oil shortening to extract their scent. Look at the photo I took during one of the extractions – gardenias slowly turn a deep golden/orange as they age in the pomade.  The pomade can be used right out of the jar for a single-note perfume, blended with some other oils and butters for a body butter, or perhaps just used to fragrance your hair.  Please leave a comment to be in the random drawing for this gift, and thank you for stopping by during my first Winter Solstice event.

viet gardenia enfleurage2small

Prizes will be shipped worldwide.  Posting for the Light drawing ends tomorrow, Dec. 23 at 10 a.m. ET, USA.


  1. Eileen Jackson

    Those are the best creative and original perfums. Happy Solstice!

  2. Sandi L

    Anya, It may have been impossible to find images as it is still a sacred thing to them. Great read and oh this pomade sounds heavenly. Thanks for the great article.

  3. Zee

    Our power went out in an amazing snow storm, forced to slow down be with the wind and the bright moon, but still checking my email on my phone before bed, what a funny world we live in.
    I love the idea of enfleurage of gardenia I’ve done jasmin….
    Thanks for the draw.

  4. Aba

    Very interesting reading. Am reminded of the central role the sun plays in keeping our world in existence, the source of energy for the plants that sustain life and also provide the beautiful, fragrant oils and other natural materials that are used in natural perfumery. What a tragedy it would be if ever the sun was no more!

  5. Annia

    I love gardenias and I’d love to win the pomade which you created. Thank you for this giveaway.

  6. Naheed

    Both winter and summer solstice are very fascinating and worth noting days that how we experience the longest day on June 21and then, this length shortens on December 21. I would happy like to enter the drawing as am always eager to try something extracted from your hand. Hope I succeed winning one day.


  7. Monica H.

    What a wonderful prize in honor of the Native Americans! Thanks Anya and I think it will brighten anyone’s winter =)

  8. Anna Lybecker

    Perfume, the most beautiful and important art in the world!

  9. Sophie

    The gardenia pomade sounds divine!!

  10. Tony

    This is such a great prize to have. Thanks for the draw!

  11. Julia

    I’m a newbie to natural perfumery, so it’s very tempting to me to try extract scents from every plant in my backyard %) First point of interest is my gorgeous frangipani trees, I try tincturing, but not sure how it will turn out, maybe oil or pomade would work better…

  12. Jeanie

    And so the Palm calls into it, the essense of Gardina and summer is silently lengthened and brought to light in the darkness of winter. I can nearly smell it from here.

  13. Gail

    I use Tiara Tahiti oil to smooth my hair. While not a true hair pomade it works and has a lovely Tahitian gardenia scent that I associate with happy vacations. Beautiful, natural hair pomades are an important perfumery product that, unfortunately, we don’t see enough of these days. I would love to win yours! It sounds wonderful. Gail

  14. Chanelle

    Anya…love your blog and your newsletter and am on the yahoo group. I cant wait to learn more about this art form and start perfuming myself! My mom loves gardenias and whenever I smell them I think of her!
    If I dont win how would I go about buying some of that scent?

  15. Michael S

    Thank you for introducing me to Soyaluna!

    And a hand-made gift of Gardenia pommade, what a treasure for a lucky someone.

    Happy Holidays!

  16. Suzy

    This is such fun! I wake up in the morning before my daughter gets up and I rush down to the computer to see what Anya has researched for today. I am so enamoured by gardenia and I know it’s very difficult or costly to procure an essential oil or absolute so when you write you’re giving away a gardenia pomade today, I am oh so excited. I think your idea of paying homage to the Native Americans who grew, harvested and processed their plants and flowers is awesome and I’d love to go to the library and find out about what specifically they used. Any ideas on a great book to look up?
    Again, thanks for a lovely start to my day,

  17. Kim

    I’m really loving these posts. What a fitting giveaway to pay homage to this ritual. Thanks!

  18. Matthew Chaney

    Having fun reading your blog and hoping to win a little perfume, too. 🙂 Merry Christmas, Anya!!

  19. Anna Paidoussi

    I can’t believe what must have been an incredible zen laborious act of love –
    To enfleurage the gardenias urself!!!
    How fabulous. I would LOVE to be the lucky
    One to have this particular heart joy offering. Blessings to you and to whoever
    receives this lovely gift.
    Season’s Blessings to all-
    Love to all-


    Reading this makes me long to visit America again.
    The anciant land of the Indians ‘to celbrate Christmas ( which we dont down here)
    and to visit your shop
    How else can I get the chance to smell your creations.

    The best perfume in the world was a natural Gardenia oil
    that the flowers were picked while chanting-I never found anything like this
    ever-yours sounds magical as well.

    Thank you

  21. Linda Scott

    This was a lovely oasis of calm in my morning. Thank you for offering these sweet reflections on your blog. A moment of communion with the sacred was just what I needed.

  22. angiefunk

    It was nice to learn about the Soyaluna. Also I adore the scent of Gardenias!! Thank you for the drawing.

    • Lore mama

      Awesome tradition, solyaluna.

  23. JK

    I’m almost happy that there were no photos to be found…leaves our imaginations to run wild with fantastical images of ritual and celebration. Thanks for that mental image!


  24. Marilyn N.

    My first, and only, gardenia was in my graduation corsage. It was heavenly – I kept it in the fridge and smelled it every day. And what an interesting story. I love to learn about ancient cultures.

  25. Diana

    Anya, thanks to you I now make my own “personal blend” perfume. I used to shop the department stores for a fragrance that my body liked. It was a hassle! Now I just blend some essential oils with a base, and my body likes them a lot better!

  26. Matthew

    Wow! I would love to try some of this on my feet in the morning…give me a day of walking on flower pedals!

  27. Rae Lynn Reffruschinni

    How interesting that there are so many kinds of gardenias, and that they turn yellow as they age in the oil.

  28. Magdalena Roza

    White Peaceful Princess!

    A room can be easily scented just by one of her luxury white gifts.

    The blossoms are soft velvet when you touch them. But when you did that they start to go away from their whiteness telling us this way that the real beauty is not catchable. It is mental experience that is live only when it is achieved constantly.

  29. Hemla

    Back again. I am keeping up with your posts so far, and pleased that I am. Thank you for sharing the information on the Hopi tribe.

  30. Lyzz

    How lovely!

  31. Sylvia

    Oh my gosh, a gardenia pomade! Gardenia is one of my favorite scents! That sounds truly amazing.

  32. Cheri Howard

    Gardenias are so lovely. My parents had a gardenia bush when I was young. One day it was gone. I was so sad. I think this is why gardenia is one of my favorites. It reminds me of a time when life was more simple and less stressful; I would spend hours in my parent’s backyard observing the beautiful trees, flowers, and plants. Today these plants are gone except for some plants that are easy to grow. They still have camellia bushes and their orange tree, but the lush garden is gone.
    Anya, thank you for these wonderful drawings. What a beautiful gift to whoever receives it. Gardenias are pure sunshine.

  33. The Duke of Pall Mall

    This solstice project is such a wonderful idea. Certainly the rhythms of nature are something humans need to keep in their minds, because, try as we might, we cannot segregate ourselves off from what is the foundation of all existence. And here, by the way, is my favorite solstice song:

  34. Rachel L.

    Wow Anya. Those gardenia goldening in the pomade base look gorgeous and give me hope that someday I will be able to make a simple perfume. Thanks so much for this!

  35. Bab Burroughs

    Your blog posts are always so informative and lovely to read. I’ll pass this on to my sister as this is right up her inquisitive ally.
    I love Gardenia. I remember my first meeting with it. My Aunt came through the door of the house one day, and immediately the room was filled with the fragrance. I learned later that it was an Hawaiian gardenia perfume. In love, I was!
    Thank you for your Winter Solstice event, generosity in giving away your labors of love, and your continued support of newbies, like me.
    (Your photo is really beautiful)

  36. Susan Marynowski

    Thank you so much for having this wonderful contest, and giving me the opportunity to try your exquisite fragrances!!!

  37. maria d.

    Amazing how scent of gardenia brings me back to wonderful childhood memories

  38. Dana Tate

    Oh, how lovely!

    I have such fond memories of gardenias.

  39. Brian Shea

    OOOOO! Gardenias! I want some! Mmmmm. The golden/white colors of the blossoms also fit the solar theme perfectly, even though traditionally gardenia is connected to the moon.

  40. Wendy

    Oh my gosh, gardenias are my favorite!

  41. Susan

    Hi Anya, I am a recent subscriber. I am enjoying your Solstice event. Your comments about the Hopi awakened wonderful memories of various trips to Four Corners, through Hopi and Navajo Country. Your giveaways are a lovely perk reflecting your generosity of Spirit. ‘Tis the Season:) Thanks!

  42. Lindaloo

    Fascinating to see how the gardenias yellow. I love gardenias, and will occasionally have a pot. One of the things that intrigues me is how robust the scent is, yet how fragile the flower, browning at a mere touch.

  43. Mim En

    Hi Anya, and thank you for running this solstice series of posts and draws.
    lovely! I am just starting to learn about scent extraction and would love to try this myself someday–I love the scent of real gardenias and would put a flower or loose petals from my mother’s plant in my bath growing up. None of my amateur extractions then were successful, though, and I’d never even heard of enfleurage.

  44. Melinda

    Thankyou for sharing your knowledge with us all : )

  45. Diana

    Please enter me in the gardenia give away! It looks so lovely! I would love to try it !

    Warm regards,

  46. Katherine Lloyd

    Thank you for this article. Indigenous culture is so important – I live in Australia and we have so many new essential oils coming out constantly. Having done a lot of research, I have to rely on bush medicine and stories about various plants. It’s so sad that we have lost so many languages, wisdom and stories with our local Kuarna peoples.
    Ironically, with your salute to winter, I am in the midst of the longest day and we have had weather of 42 degrees celcius today (I think that’s 108 in farenheit)…. anyway, I digress from the next stage of rambling.
    Love pomades. Thanks for showing your technique for those beautiful gardenia sunshine flowers – gorgeous. I am attempting to extract the scents of the Adelaide Hills where I live but so far, the plants have not been all that willing…. Will keep on asking them until I find a plant that is happy to share.
    I am loving the blog – great read and thanks for sharing.

    • anya

      Hi Katherine:

      Thanks for stopping by in the middle of your Solstice heat wave 🙂

      The view of the gardenias in the enfleurage tray is only half the picture: they are covered by tightly-affixed aluminum foil to keep in the scent except when it is time for the change of flowers/photo-taking.

      Best wishes,

  47. nushechka

    i love gardenias

  48. Lore mama

    The aging flowers subtly add essence, even through the web.

  49. Jen Jaris

    Thank-you for having this contest.merry holy days to you.

  50. Cheri Howard

    Hi Anya,

    Is there a way of purchasing even a small amount of this? How I miss the scent so bad…



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