Three heirless kings with the wealth of bachelors and a taste for adventure are currently on the road to Bethlehem where it is the time of the annual herb harvest.
From the Island of Tonga, the Empire of Hollywood and the green lands of New Zealand, these Magi have gathered in hot pursuit of the brightest star on the horizon. Each has seen a star appear simultaneously in his homeland….
In Tonga there is a hill called Vaus Hill, the highest peak on the land, where for generations a lost tribe of the Hebrews have set a nightly watch on the heavens for a star foretold by the Prophet Balaam of Madian. Just last night the star appeared and preparations were made to leave at once to follow the voyage of the star across the sky as instructed by their ancestors. Time seem to speed up as oceans were crossed; cities and deserts passed by until suddenly the sun-kissed Balthazar, The Magi of Tonga had become lost in a strange mist on the Hebron Hills.
In Hollywood there are so many stars that another one is no cause for contemplation. Jasper however was in mourning for his King with whom he had reigned jointly. This kept him awake every night and all night, as he searched the skies waiting for a new star to appear before the sun came up on the Santa Monica Boulevard. When the star did appear, as he knew it would, he became restless for life. He tore off his black robes of mourning, donned a fine garment, gathered his followers and leapt into the night. For him too, time accelerated and the distance of months was covered in a single night until he became lost in a strange mist on the Hebron Hills.
In New Zealand it was midnight when a chorus of tuis and wood pigeons awoke Melchior from his deep slumber. Attuned to rising daily with bird song he was up and dressed before realizing that this was not sunlight flooding his room. It was starlight beaming down from a radiant star. Vaguely aware of an ancient prophesy about a Star-Child, and now unable to return to sleep he launched his canoe to follow the star beams across the sea. Within moments it seemed he had reached a landmass somewhere in the East. Horses were waiting and they galloped him through the night until he became lost in a strange mist on the Hebron Hills.
This strange mist had hidden all the earth. Slowly it began to dissipate but the star appeared not. Sunlight did reveal The Three Kings to each other and a sign post pointing to Jerusalem. After exchanging fragrant greetings, the latest samples and some vintage flacons, they realised that they had a common quest and so they continued along the Golgotha Highway to the city, glad to be reassured of their joint destination and to be in the company of fellow travellers.
Time again sped up and another day and night flew by as if they were but hours until at last they came to the gates of Jerusalem where they were greeted by The IFRA President. Did I say greeted? I meant stopped; stopped by the IFRA Synthorian Guard. President Herod had been alerted of a fragrant entourage making waves across the countryside.
Billows of aromatic air and a forward sillage that bespoke real frankincense and natural myrrh had aroused his bureaucratic interest. As he was also finely tuned to economics he could also smell gold. From which lands had these people come? It did not really matter as they were now in his jurisdiction and could be promptly detained on the suspicion of smuggling illegal substances.
There was no traveling that night for The Kings and their followers. They spent the night under guard but not under lock in a wing of the presidential palace. Their goods were confiscated and their saddle bags searched.
Balthazar’s ‘contraband’ was
Man-Myrrh known today as Christian Dior’s, Eau Sauvage Parfum (and not to be confused with Eau Sauvage EDT),
Keiko Mecheri’s Oliban, a sweet frankincense,
and a gift of gold; vintage Jicky, in Guerlain’s radiant gold packaging that was replaced some years ago.
Jasper’s saddlebags revealed Prescription Perfumes;
Mitsouko for the mornings,
Chanel Cristalle for the afternoons,
and Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur, with a recommended dosage of “Spritz x 4 at sundown’. Are these for personal use or are they gifts for The Star-Child?
The next night a woof alerts our sleeping prisoners. It’s Emile Zola, The Hairy German on a night mission of his own.
He and his master are en-route to Marrekesh on some secret perfume business and happenstance to be passing through Jerusalem. The guards have become distracted by a Kafkaesque dance that is leading them away down the corridor. Escaping is easy but where are their goods, gifts and horses?
The Kings and their travelling companions make their way out of the palace wing and to the Excise House in the palace courtyard. President Herod is inside, unaccompanied, as he trusts no man or woman with the valuation of these prohibited goods. Suddenly a flash of light brightens the courtyard as the star reappears. A piercing beam of starlight sears President Herod’s eyeballs and renders him momentarily unconscious. Snatching the saddlebags, The Kings and their companions run to the stables where their horses are champing at the bit. The star is flashing now like a strobe at a disco causing confusion at the palace gates and providing escape to the party we are following.
As the party moves to a canter the star starts to descend on the horizon. The scent of freshly plucked herbs from the December harvest surround our travellers as they come to a halt at a cave on the edge of the herb fields in Bethlehem.
The sound of laughter and the lowing of cattle from within is disturbed by the braying of a donkey whose nostrils have caught the scent of the sweat of his equine cousins. Suddenly the way is blocked by a phalanx of shepherd’s staffs. An angel appears; it is Jebrael himself who announces the arrival of the Kings to the family who has made the threshing cave their home.
The Kings pause to consider if this is their destination. The sound of a baby being hushed assures them that the Star-Child has arrived on earth as do the star beams that light the scene with a heavenly glow. As they don fine garments and reach into their saddlebags the shepherds part their staves and The Kings move forward. Stepping through the 4th wall for a moment we see their surprise at the casting of Portia Turbo as the mother of a baby which she holds in her arms. You see nary a virgin could be found in Perfumeland except for the said actress who is laughing merrily while her husband Jinoseph pours soju to welcome these visitors. The Kings fall on their knees and offer to the babe their gifts of gold, scents and myrrh.
The new mother, Mary is in stitches with laughter and sharing her joy with the world that keeps trooping to her door. The Kings having made obeisance turn their attention to her. What gift would be appropriate for this virgin bride, this vessel of starlight come to earth? Something calming but strong is clearly needed. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine but this laughter was bordering on manic.
After all that had happened; after donkey rides, visits from angels, shepherds and now Kings, Mary clearly needed calming down. The Kings consulted and agreed that there was only one thing to spritz that would clear the air. A golden bottle was then offered; Opium L’Objet Rare.
Mary’s eyes lit up as she accepted this gift. No need to spritz, this was dousing material! A yank or three on the stopper and the juice ran from her head to her toes while her laughter was subdued to a giggle. She has been a powerhouse ever since. A black shape flew throughout the air and the bottle vanished as Zola was seen leaping into the middle distance.
Perfumistas, what scented gifts would you bring to Bethlehem?
Wishing you Scent Serendipity this Season.
Waft on through the day, waft on through the night,
You’ll never waft alone on the world-world-web.
The Three Kings of Cologne
Cologne 1477 AD is the place and published date of the German manuscript that this tale is based on (albeit with some modern additions and tangents) giving rise to the English title The Three Kings of Cologne. The German translation was rediscovered by Goethe in 1818. The original Latin script is from the 14th century. The story was “lost” as it was not considered credible nor were the censors of the day inclined to enjoy it as a legend of marvels and mysteries.
If you think our Three Kings bear a passing resemblance to certain Medici Princes then you would be right. The paintings are from The Chapel of The Magi in the Palazzo Medici in Florence. The frescos were painted by Benzozzo Gozzoli in 1459 AD.
Portia Turbo as The Virgin Mary
In fact there were several candidates for the role of The Virgin in Perfumeland. However they were all too busy reading and writing perfume blogs to notice the call of the angel. Portia, not being one to ever miss a trick, especially an angelic one, was cast without the need for an audition as her acting skills are well known. It is possible of course that she played this part completely from memory. I love the Christmas story; whether is is a myth or true is up to you! We are either all God’s Children or Darwin’s. Portia was raised by Jesuits and Nuns. I trust no offense has been taken by readers as no mockery of personal beliefs was intended.
Eau Sauvage Parfum – Christian Dior
What Men Should Smell Like review
Oliban– Keiko Mecheri
Katie Puckrick Smells review
Jicky – Guerlain
Bois de Jasmin review
Noora – Swiss Arabian
The Fragrant Man review
Oud Wood Chips – Ensar Oud
Ensar Oud source details
Opium L’Objet Rare edition – Yves Saint Laurent
One of 50 bottles were produced in 2013 / 24 carat gold leaf
Now Smell This Gift Guide