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Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab: Ex Cathedra

The Lilith 2015 Update Is Live!

The Lilith 2015 Update Is Live!

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Lilith, I love you. I love you more than words can convey. I love you more than my heart or mind can comprehend. I love all of you: the light and the dark, the cheerful and the complex. I love your luminous spirit, I love your generous, kind soul.

Truly, to me you are the Gladdener of All Hearts.

Happy birthday, kiddo.

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro, singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes, and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.

Eternally lapping ocean waves at sunset, touched by the pale pinkish amber of the setting sun.

Lilith loves her kung fu classes. She loves her sifu, she loves the exercises, she loves practicing her forms. (She’s alright with the meditation aspect, but let’s be real: she’s a kid, and would rather be doing somersaults.) This year, she attained her blue belt, and this scent was created to commemorate her achievement. Baby, I am so proud of you. You worked so hard, and it paid off. I am always, always proud of you.

This Battle Fairy smells like blue cotton candy, strawberries, a plop of vanilla icing and a bit of crushed peppermint candy.

This year, Lilith started cultivating a love of Shakespeare, especially Hamlet. Man, this kid loves that play. I assumed, when we started talking about Shakespeare’s works, that she’d love the comedies, particularly Midsummer Night’s Dream and all its attendant fairies. Nope; it’s all about the mopey Prince of Denmark and his teen angst.

When she started at her Shakespeare summer camp this year, one of her teachers asked which characters she liked best. She replied, “Horatio.”

“Horatio? But he doesn’t have many lines, does he? Why do you like him so much?”

“He’s Hamlet’s best friend, he’s always there for Hamlet, and he’s the only one that doesn’t die.”

Wise words, kiddo!

This is a photo that I took of her watching Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet with her trusty sidekick, Wednesday. The dog, for her part, is a huge fan of the Two Gentlemen of Verona.

A little kid’s interpretation of Hamlet’s BFF. A scent of kindness and devotion, friendship and loyalty: soft brown leather and brushed suede with bourbon vanilla, toasted almond, tonka bean, and amber.

While we were at Kensal Green in March, Lilith began knocking on all the crypts to wake the ghosts. In her estimation, they were likely bored and lonely, and a party would do them some good. Lil is always very concerned about everyone’s happiness, both the living and the dead.

A spectral shindig: damp mosses, fallen leaves, and soft woods swirled with an ethereal mist of white sandalwood, lilac, orris root, and moonflower.

“Give me thy breath, my sister,” exclaimed Beatrice; “for I am faint with common air! And give me this flower of thine, which I separate with gentlest fingers from the stem, and place it close beside my heart.”

Lilith absolutely adores her carnivorous plants. She is doting and gentle… decidedly loving… and tends them with all of her precise, attentive Virgo care. She has a small pot of scarlet pink pitcher plants that are all her own, and two bogs that she shares with mom and dad.

Rosy snap-traps, syrupy mucilage, and pink, ballooning bladders: a scent like honey cotton candy, with hints of mint, sugar crystals, and a hint of crisp, bog-moist greenery.

“Lady Macbeth should have Macbeth and the king just play rock paper scissors to see who gets to be king. And then whoever wins has to play against her and if she wins, she gets to be king.”

– Lilith coming up with solutions as we begin reading the Scottish Play.

A Lilith’ized take on our Lady Macbeth scent, wherein ambition, covetousness, and manipulation are transformed into fairmindedness, equity, and a willingness to sometimes leave things to chance: sugared red currant and honey cake.

When our tarantula, Pinky, died, Lilith buried her. She cradled Pinky’s little body and placed her in a special box. She dug the grave with her own hands. She composed a memorial for Pinky, and spoke at her funeral. She laid a heart-shaped stone that she had found at the beach on her grave, and many months later, she still does what she can to tend Pinky’s grave.

She has a reverence and respect for both life and death that is as beautiful to me as it is uncanny. Just recently, Lilith asked Ted and I to compose eulogies for our Soccer Mom Car, which was recently totaled, so we could share our memories of the car and let the car know how much she meant to us, thanking our poor, unfortunate SUV for keeping us safe for so many years.

I love and treasure many things about my daughter, but to me, her big heart is her most beautiful aspect. She seems to love everyone and everything, she forgives all, and she truly values other people’s feelings. Lilith, you are a good person. You are a better person than I, I suspect, and it is an honor to be your mother.

A cotton candy-suffused blend of Snake Oil and Dorian, touched by earthy green moss and raiz de moras, hope-filled vanilla bean, sweet honey, and joyous carnation. The scent has roots in her bloodline and has been touched by the world, but is entirely her own. She is entirely her own.

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

Lilith performed this prologue with her Shakespeare camp this summer. It gave me chills every time I heard her practice her lines, and forevermore she will be my Muse of Fire.

The image accompanying this scent is from the morning of her performance. Lilith, you inspire me every day. Your love of Shakespeare has reinvigorated my own, and it means the world to me that we have this to share with one another.

My little Muse of Fire: an explosion of rainbow-hued flower petals dusted in sugar.

[Seriously… you have no idea how it made me feel to hear Lilith recite lines from Henry V. I still choke up every time I think on it too long, and when this prologue comes to mind, I hear it in her voice.]

Look, I just wanted to make a scent for Lilith and this baby goat. Because it makes me happy and BECAUSE LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT THAT BABY GOAT.

Fuzzy baby goat musk, goat’s milk accord, wild rice flower, and a little bit of farmer’s market honey.

While in London this year, Lilith learned how to blow bubbles with her bubblegum. It may not sound like a big deal, but I really do think that blowing bubbles is one of childhood’s great milestones. It’s a momentous occasion to a 6-year old, and is certainly deserving of commemoration!

This is the scent of the bubbles that she popped all over the city: strawberry bubblegum against a backdrop of chilly wind.

Last year, Lilith helped us set up one of the maze rooms for her school’s Halloween party. Not only did she help prep prop guts, but during the event, she spent some time assisting us by hiding in front of a glass window and throwing eyeballs, dismembered rubber fingers, and entrails at passers-by.

I love my kid.

Sticky white glops of marshmallow and clotted cream with ropes of sinewy strawberry licorice whips and oozing pink jelly.

This is the scent of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich on a cold, stormy day in March: ancient oaks and deep green mosses dampened by rain and sea salt.


Over at Black Phoenix Trading Post, Teddy has some stories to share about his life as Lilith’s daddy:



I love you.

Those three words are said every day by millions of people with varying degrees of meaning, but those three words cannot convey the depth of feelings I have for you.

Beth is my soulmate and I would be lost without her, but you make me want to live forever just so I can see all the amazing things you are capable of.

Up until you were born, I felt that my life was great. I had traveled the world, seen and did many wonderful things, but nothing compares to having you hug me and say, “Daddy, I love you.”

Just the other day, you said that you are going to learn how to make robots so that when we are old we can put our brains in robot bodies and live forever.

I hope that you can do that so I can spend my eternity with you and Beth.

I love you.


“Catch me dad!” she cries, and takes off.How can I ever say no to my best friend?I hope she never loses the joy of running because I will always be ready to run and play with her.

Sun-warmed dirt and wildflowers, a whiff of the lavender Lilith loves to use in her hair, and the green leaves of summer just turning to autumn’s russet and brown.

Captain Lilith, the scourge of the seven seas has returned.

Lilith and her crew were playing a spirited game of Liar’s dice, when the first mate was caught cheating. The captain does not tolerate cheaters on board her vessel and she took the first mate to task. The battle was fierce but quick. Captain Lilith takes no prisoners! “WALK THE PLANK, DAD.”

Rum-flavored candies, caramel, pirate tobacco, sugar cane, and vanilla beans.

When I was younger, my life was one huge, fast merry-go-round of bars and dance clubs but I have found that there is nothing better that a lazy evening of a movie and popcorn with my best friend and her Dog Mom Wednesday.

My life is full of love and my belly is full of popcorn. What could be better?

Popcorn and jelly beans.

Lilith is never going to let me grow old, and why would I want to? Especially when there are muddy puddles just waiting to be splashed in and mom is waiting with a warm mug of chocolate.
I love the rain and my family.

The scent of hot chocolate with marshmallows after a long day of puddle-hopping.

Once upon a time there once was a King and a Princess that both adored books.
Every night they would retire to the royal chambers and read together.
Sometimes they read about castles.
Sometimes they read about superheroes.
They would about read about pigs that could fly, exploding cows, purple crayons, and imaginary friends. The stories changed, but always they would lie side by side and enjoy each other’s company.

I love my little Princess. I hope we always read stories and make stories together, forever.

Our bedtime scent: French lavender, hops, yarrow, Roman chamomile, and a drop of vanilla.

Sunday mornings are made for the tranquility of a quiet family breakfast.

Totally-not-healthy breakfast cereals, spilled milk, a smushed bit of banana, and the last gloopy bits of latte foam.

Lilith and I have a game where I lie down on her like I’m going to sleep and say, “My pillow is lumpy. What a lumpy pillow.” Then I try to fluff up my pillow. She tries to get away while I yell, “COME BACK PILLOW!”

This photo was taken while we were in Seattle; laughing and giggling is what we do best.

Coffee and junk food room service: a fluffy coffee scent, all pillowy vanilla, caramel, and roasted beans.

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