Michel Honegger

Sunshine

I

An essential ingredient was necessary.
After several hours of prayer and meditation the perfumer retired to bed, dropped his body and ascended into the cool night air. His soul glided over the surface of the swelling sea and flitted off waves like a skimming stone or a flying fish until he caught the unmistakable scent of ambergris. The bodiless being settled down onto the soft uneven surface of the ambergris and allowed itself to seep into and become one with the waxy raft.
The large, vaguely oval shaped mass had reached a perfect point of decomposition since being expelled from the gut of that great whale, and the correct exposure to sea- water, air and sunlight had converted it into a fixative of the finest quality.
The satisfied soul of the perfumer darted back to it’s dormant body and dropped into him as if he were a most comfortable garment.

Alexander rose at first light with a broad smile on his face and after a quick bite to eat made his way down to the beach, found a suitably situated and comfortably smooth rock, sat down, and with a knowing glimmer in his eye waited for the tide to deposit the floating treasure.
The sun rose higher and the earth warmed up, schools of tiny fish jumped around in the glinting glassy waves before they crumbled and sprawled a short distance up the beach.
„Maybe now, maybe never“, thought Alexander as he flicked sand with his toe and watched a lizard hurry out of a crevice and settle down beside him to bask in the sun.

Time dripped by and the shapes of shadows shifted with the cosmos. Alexander stood up, stretched, sat back down again and glanced over at his reptilian companion who responded by rolling its eyes and twitching before settling back into a deep solar wrapped sleep.

When the sun had reached it’s zenith volumes of evaporation were almost a visible mist on the surface of the swelling sea. The lizard awakened spasmodically from the intense heat and scurried back to the safety of it’s shadowy crevice, but Alexander could not be moved from his stony vantage point.
His gaze fell upon the shimmering sea which blended effortlessly with the bleached blue sky where the sharp white rays reflected randomly and dazzled everything.
The cool breezes that travelled rhythmically with the waves became a focal sensation that turned his consciousness inward to the starting point of a familiar journey which leads far beyond the heaviness of the body.
It was as if he were evaporating into the heat and swirling upwards on absorptive rays of sunshine.

Sacred perfumes were conjured
Vividly
Before the boundless scope
Of his inner eye
They swam through him
Vaporous strands of angelic music
Wisps of scented sound that coils
And dances
And swirls
And makes the love
That emanates purity
From the source of all creation

But now he belonged on the earth, grounded, physical.
A sharp pain flashed through his solid body, forcing his outer eyes to open and meet the blinding glare of water and air drowned by sunlight. The sand fly that stung his foot buzzed past his ear and he smiled in amusement at the omen.
Just when Alexander thought his patience would not bear fruit the dark mass he’d been waiting for came bobbing towards the beach. The sun, perched like a molten disc on the cusp of the horizon prompted him to marvel at the nature of time, which like water, changes shape according to the vessel that tries to contain it.

II

It had taken him years to collect all the divinely inspired and randomly scattered bits of architectural planing that Angelika had left behind while she was still on the earth, and when he had found the final piece to the puzzle that was the plan of the temple complex, architects and craftsmen of the highest order trickled out of the desert and presented themselves to him as if by chance.
Alexander had almost filled an entire room with these found fragments that were everything from one word on a scrap of paper to incredibly elaborate models. The room had become more than a shrine to Angelika over the years, it was alive. It was where the divine beauty of her life came together and where the marriage of their souls in the world glowed with meaning. It represented how a lifetime of their love had opened portholes into heaven.

Allowing them to glimpse
The all encompassing light
On which they glide
Intertwined
On waves
Of eternal love

Alexander stood in her room looking around at the miscellaneous scraps, words, shapes and colours that began to piece themselves together into a cohesive whole and when the picture was complete he lit a stick of the finest cinnamon incense and placed fresh jasmine flowers on her altar. As he left the room he felt the warmth of her lips brush his cheek, allowing words of love to flow into him like nectar from heaven.

I touch your skin
The silken petals of paradise
You captured my soul
With your flashing gaze
Like sweet scented flame
Burning down my fragile home
Exposing me to truth
Releasing me to love

Your beauty is angelic essence
I float away
Your beauty is a child of gravity
I remain unmoved
Embrace me with eternity
Beloved

III

The essential oils were extracted from the three orchid plants he had named Rukhmootaa, Kheerroottaa and Quwoot according to the traits he recognised in the auras of their blooms. He nurtured them as he did his own children and as the years passed a powerful bond developed between the plants and the perfumer.

The sacred plants took three years to reach Alexander after revealing themselves to him in an ecstatic dream which impassioned him to pass the information of their magnificent flowers and the flora and fauna of their surroundings to three trustworthy travellers who were about to embark to distant corners of the earth.
As the first day of the third year was passing the travellers returned, each bearing an orchid in full bloom. Unfortunately the trio of travellers all died from unknown tropical diseases soon after their arrival and with them died the secret of the orchid’s geographic origins.

IV

The perfumes taken from the first attempts at extraction were so subtle that Alexander had to spend some years perfecting his techniques of enfleurage so that the dream essences could be captured with their full potency intact.
He revisited the two ancient Sanskrit treatises on perfumery to review the Vargas and develop the processes of Bhavana, Pacana and Bhoda. He re read old texts such as the Q’anun, Al-Hawi, Summa Perfectionis and the Djami el-Moufidat to gain the inspiration needed to develop new methods of distillation that could tap the wonders he knew lay within the these miraculous plants. But no matter how hard he tried the essences extracted could never compare to that which was encountered in his dream.
Finally the mystery unlocked itself and the scent of his dreams exploded into the waking dimension when he blended the essences of the three orchids together.
This simple action unleashed a perfume that reaches into the body and touches the soul of the seeker of the truth of beauty.

The blended perfume was then carefully steeped for many weeks at a low heat with the ambergris that had floated into his life and when the final oil was refined in large enough quantities he brought it to the site of Angelika’s temple. The perfume was measured and mixed into the mortar used to construct the central sanctuary of the vast domed complex so that upon completion the desert sun would rise and strike it’s smooth walls, releasing the sacred perfume as if it were holy nectar seeping in from the celestial regions.

The temple complex was an oasis within an oasis. It’s gently overlapping domes and the verdure encompassing them could be seen like a delicious mirage from far off in the desert. It attracted life and it gave life. Cool clear water flowed through the dense foliage of moist groves and tranquil gardens. All year round varieties of sweet fruits ripened and the most fragrant of flowers blossomed to invigorate the aura of splendid bliss. The majestic buildings stood amidst this natural beauty just as Angelika had intended and at it’s heart was the perfumed sanctuary, caressed by sunshine that liberates the essence of eternal love…

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