Rose Anxiolytique

McCormick Place Chandelier
Dale Chihuly, McCormick Place Chandelier, 1997


Saffron—or the idea thereof—has been flitting in and out of my life recently, reminding me through word of mouth and perfume literature that it helps ease anxiety.

A welcome thing, as I’ve had quite a bit of anxiety in the last few months, followed by sudden surfacing from some mental deep-water diving, followed by slightly less sudden resubmergence while navigating some blurred lines between the real and the imagined. If that doesn’t make much sense, it’s because I’ve tried to compress into one sentence years’ worth of perception, emotional processing, and habit forming—and it doesn’t come out quite as elegantly as the deconstruction showcased by Picasso’s line drawings of cows.

In any case, during the time between the run-of-the-mill, logistically induced anxiety and the more abstract, philosophically challenging crap, I tried to make a perfume based on rose and saffron.

So far it’s relegated itself to a “concept fragrance,” although contrary to my previous experiments, I’m finding that I prefer an older mod—from before I added green notes to try to tone down the sweetness. Saffron is powerful stuff. Just a literal dot of it takes over the whole mixture. And that makes me anxious…

It goes something like this.

  • Rosy/rich notes: Rose Kazanlak, rose absolute, geraniol, saffron, nutmeg
  • Fruity/animalic notes: Grapefruit, juniper berry, indolene
  • Fillers/fluffers/enhancers: Citronellol, dimethyl benzyl carbinyl acetate, ethyl linalool, phenyl ethyl alcohol, peonile, methyl laitone
  • Woody/earthy notes: Vetiver, gaïac wood, cedarwood

It’s too sweet—not like candy, but like sticky dried fruit. A Medjool date, perhaps.


So it turns out that there’s probably no quick-sniff solution to anxiety. What might work, instead, is being conscious (or mindful, if you will—hello SEO!) of monitoring each train of thought for whether it’s about something real or imagined. So much mental energy is wasted on worries and what-ifs and presumptions, and most of the time I’m not even aware of the hijack. Separating the categories helps with deciding what to do with them.

That’s the idea, anyway.






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