Kama Sutra - Esprit de la Nature
Kama Sutra... A sensuous, musky, temple blend
Ingredients: Sultan’s grade, green, hojari Frankincense resin. Benzoin resin infused with Saffron, Benzoin resin infused with Vanilla, Kua Myrrh, Sandalwood, Costus root, Castor tincture*, Muskrat musk tincture*
Rolled and powdered with sandalwood infused with muskrat musk
Over the years, I have been generously gifted with many perfume and incense ingredients from fellow fragrance artists. These gifts included a number of the raw materials for making animal musks. I prepared the musks extractions and set them aside in a quiet spot to age. Animal musk extractions can often take years to fully mature. This winter, when I was doing an inventory of all my fragrant materials, I came upon my cache of musks in the cool storage area. I brought the tincturing jars into my living room near the warmth of the wood stove. I put a tiny dap of the musks on each wrist and held my arms over the radiant warmth of the wood stove. My skin blossomed with a warm, furry slightly floral scent that was familiar, yet that I had never smelled before in a fragrance extraction. Enthralled for many hours by their smell, I found myself bringing my wrists to my nose, over and over again. Their scent brought up so many scented memories; close contact with my mother as a child, the smell of my lover’s skin and hair, the musky odor of my dog’s clean, dry fur and the fragrance of flowers during the height of summer. Deeply erotic, these fragrances returned me to the time, when I had a project of updating and illustrating the “Kama Sutra”, for the 21st century. Barely into the project, I realized that what an enormous undertaking it would be and I never finished. Blended with other exalting incense ingredients, these animal musks are like the “Kama Sutra”. They celebrate a sensuality that is seductively physical yet spiritually transcendent at the same time.
In ancient India, like in many archaic cultures around the world, they had the concept that the ruler was the embodiment of the life of the land and a mirror for society. In some societies, the ruler could be ritually killed if there was prolonged drought or social disintegration. To advise the king and the court on how to keep the natural and societal balance, Indian sages wrote guides on good governance, politics, private and social life.
The body of these traditional works on sexual life is called the Kāmashastra. Kāma refers to love, erotic, sensual, and sexual desire. Shastra refers to a group of teachings. These love guides had a practical orientation, similar to the tradition of texts on politics and government. Just as the latter instructs kings and ministers about government, Kāmashastras aimed to instruct both the ruler and urbanites, in the ways to attain enjoyment and fulfillment. A stable society relied on stable marriage and the secret to a stable marriage was really good sex. Marriage was a path to heaven and sex was the vehicle to get you there.
No one knows when the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana was written. Some scholars say it is thousands of years old, while other scholars believe it was written around 350 BCE. Compared to all the other Kamashastras written on the subject, the Kama Sutra was a revolutionary text. For the Kama Sutra was the first of the Kāma texts to consider that women had an independent source of pleasure from the man and, in fact, did not need a man to reach orgasmic heights. Furthermore, the degree of elegance in the Kama Sutra is extraordinary. The text is all refinement and nuance. Kamasutra not a book about sex but about refined seduction.
The beautiful language in the Kama Sutra is far from the misogynist, and often crude language, used to describe sexual practices. The clitoris is described as the “love umbrella” and the vulva is the “fragrant palace”. The text distinctly instructs that it is the woman who sets the limits, and that without her consent, no violence or force should be used. Kama Sutra translator and expert, Seema Anand, says that the Kama Sutra was meant to bridge the cap between the two sexes. “Men’s desires are like fire, starting at the genitals and moving up to the brain. They are easy to ignite and equally quick to extinguish. They need very little encouragement to arrive at full arousal and are content with instant gratification. Women’s desires are like water, starting at the head and flowing downwards; and like water they take far longer to come to the boil and equally long to cool down”.
Ideally, a man had a room in his house dedicated to sex, decorated, full of flowers, and fragrant with perfume and incense. The ancient love texts say that fragrances used on the body and in the boudoir were very important. They should used to embed in each other’s consciousness the memories of what you had done together. The fragrances should unfold over time, and be as close as possible to a partners own nature scent, especially the areas around the armpit and the vulva. For this reason, musks were an important part of the blends. Every time you made love these personalized incenses and perfumes would bring up memories of past pleasures, giving the lovers a foretaste and an anticipation of things to come.
Blurring of boundaries of devotional and sensual love is one of the key dimensions of Indian lovemaking where divine love and sensual love are mingled together.
Like smokeless flame
That glows from the inner source
Until it dissipates to the core
Or like a fragrant flower
That gives perfume
Without holding its essence
From the One who picks
Until it withers to the ground
To know love
One has to annihilate oneself
And let go the ego barriers go
And then only One knows
The supreme brilliance of love.
By Jagmohan Kapur
*Some thoughts on animal musks.
In this blend, I use self-made, muskrat musk and castor tinctures. I was gifted these ingredients. Over the years, I have thought a lot about whether to use them. After years of maceration, I recently smelled my tinctures and immediately understood why the animal musks have been used in the fragrant arts. Animal musks are warm, arousing, and bewitching. They stroke pleasure cords deep inside my olfactory memory.
But what about the fact that in order to have these materials an animal had to be killed? First, neither of these animals was killed for their fragrant parts. The Beaver and the Muskrat were killed by First Nations’ and professional trappers for their furs, as food and/or as animal control. The trappers endeavor to see that every part of the animal is used, something for which I have a lot of respect. These animals were not caged or tortured. They lived their lives in the wild and died there. In Canada, there has been a lot of debate around the honoring and support of First Nations' traditional ways of “making a living”. As a non-indigenous person, I had to rethink my value judgments concerning trapping. If you are at all uncomfortable about using animal musk, please do not purchase this incense.
- Be-en-Foret (Bonnie Kerr)
This price is for 12 pellets nested in Mysore Sandalwood in a black tin