Hawaiian Lei Newsletter
Hawaiian Lei Perfume
The Lei is a reflection of oneness
From this loving land,
an adornment for you
-Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele
Each month presents wonderful opportunities for making unique aromatic essences that capture some special way that flowers and their beautiful fragrances have been incorporated into the lives of people in different countries times. Actually any perfume that is prepared to be featured in the monthly newsletter is created at least 6 months in advance so the absolutes, essential oils, co2 extracts and ruhs that comprise have a chance to mature together. The maturing process of the various essences comprising a perfume is a critical part in the evolution of that fragrant creation. It is a pure joy to study ones own perfumes through the different stages of its aromatic life. As the days, weeks and months flow and one smells their creation again and again one learns many new things about how essences meld together to make something that expresses the story they wish to tell.
This month we have created an Hawaiian Lei Perfume in honor of the beautiful tradition of creating the special floral garlands that have their roots in ancient Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. In ancient times people living in close proximity to nature in the South Pacific Islands evolved their own traditions to express their attitude toward the universe they lived in. The island paradises they lived on abounded in botanical treasures that served many purposes from the practical to the spiritual. Everything that they needed to live on had to be drawn from the environments in which they lived and it was most natural that a special reverence for all life forms should be woven into their ways of thinking and living. The sentient world including things seen and unseen was considered alive and conscious and so needed to be appreciated and used with proper appreciation and sensitivity.
The "lei" in the early stages of Hawaiian culture was a profoundly beautiful means of expressing outwardly some of the most sacred parts of the life experience: love, friendship, devotion, death.
The plants that were used for creating these enchanting aromatic garlands each had their own legends and myths as to how they came into being. These special stories were charged with meaning and significance and those beholding them understood the story that there was a specific purpose in choosing each for incorporation into each special type of lei. Flowers, leaves, vines, and herbs were selected with meaning and purpose to tell a story that had great cultural significance and much sacred knowledge was passed from generation to generation through the agency of leis.
Both the person making the lei and the person wearing it were participants in a greater story than their individual lives. They, each in their own way, became actively involved in the grand mystery of life in which they were a part. Those collecting the botanicals for creating leis prayed before entering the forest to gather the plant materials for the type of lei they were making and were careful to use only as much as was required for their purpose. These floral artisans were greatly respected and appreciated by the society in which they lived for they were the agents for communicating the high ethical and moral traditions of the community.
Later in the history of the Hawaiian people, when foreignors, started visiting her shores regularly in the early 1800's, the deep spiritual significance of the lei and its many exact symbolic meanings began to be lost and the by degrees it became a simple and beautiful gesture of friendship and welcome. Nonetheless, the deeper knowledge has a way of being preserved and at the appropriate time gets awakened again.
Those who wish to explore this subject in greater depth might enjoy reading the listed books and visiting the suggested web sites
Hawaiian Lei Perfume recipe
2 ounces White Ginger Lily absolute
1 ounce Jasmin sambac CO2
1 ounce Jasmin sambac absolute
1/2 Tuberose absolute
1 ounce Frangipani absolute
1/2 Rose otto (Bulgaria)
Books about the Hawaiian Lei
Hawaiian Heritage Plants
Angela Kay Kepler
Plants in Hawaiian Medicine
Plants in Hawaiian Culture
Plants of Old Hawaii
A Lei for Everyday
The Hawiian Lei Book: A Tradition of Aloha
Na Lei Makame: The Treasured Lei
Marie McDonald and Pau Weissich
A Literary Lei, Flowers and Plants of Hawaii
Jim and Virginia Wageman