Scent | Cacti by Regime des Fleurs

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I’ve been reading about empaths lately, wondering if I am one or if I am just hyper-alert to other people’s emotional states due to various childhood factors. (Empaths are people who literally feel others’ emotions, which can be a little  . . . overwhelming.) One thing that stood out to me is that empaths are drawn to water, as it helps cleanse them of other people’s emotions and restore energy.

I still don’t know if I am an empath, or even know if I truly believe there are such beings– you go down some pretty woo-woo paths when researching this stuff, but on the other hand, you can also find articles on empaths on the Psychology Today website. Regardless, I am definitely a water person, and when I read about its emotional cleansing qualities, it resonated deeply. Growing up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, I always took Lake Michigan’s presence for granted. I remember being lulled into a meditative state by the waves while I sunbathed. Later, as I traveled around the country and abroad, I always noticed the lack of a large body of water. The mountains of Colorado are beautiful, Paris is lovely, but I always felt somehow hemmed in. When I ride my bike to the lakefront in Chicago, it’s like a touchstone. I like looking at water, sitting next to it, being on it, swimming in it.

Cacti by Regime des Fleurs seems oddly named to me, as it is such a watery scent. Water notes are listed as an element, but they’re not the main one—other notes are Italian bergamot, shiso, black tea, jasmine sambac absolute, heliotrope, cucumber water, maté absolute, Baltic amber, and aloe vera. But if you have read this blog before, you know I don’t focus on individual notes. I’m not very good at identifying them, but also I’m more interested in the emotional and visceral responses to fragrances. So here’s mine:

There is definitely a spicy opening girded by white florals. Gradually the spice fades to leave the florals more dominant, yet not overwhelming, and the water comes more to the fore, with that curious alchemy that changes both notes. After it sits on my skin for a while it has a slight decaying quality, very subtle and not unpleasant. It reminds me of a lush sun-dappled pond overlooked by trees, alive yet (perhaps inevitably and naturally) skirted by traces of dying matter as well as cool stone.

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The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Chicago

Perhaps not surprisingly, the bottle is green-tinted, but synesthetically, for some reason, I think of this scent as more of a transparent purple. I’m not sure yet if it makes me feel as grounded as being in or near water–I’ll let you know. But it is a strangely familiar scent, for reasons I can’t quite identify.

So why is it named Cacti? Perhaps because cacti are known for their water-storage properties. Or more likely, as the perfumers are from Los Angeles, the elements have different associations than they do for someone in the Midwest. In that way fragrances resemble art—we all bring the sum total of our lives to the experience of smelling them. They include a quote from Peter Stafford, author of the Psychedelics Encyclopedia, by way of explanation: “Many of the Huichols and North American peyotists claim that when one eats peyote, one is ‘tasting’ oneself: if the user is pure, this cactus is ‘sweet.'”  I guess I’ll have to do peyote to find out if the name is accurate or no.

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