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Mississippi Medicine – Daily Ritual - January 7, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Chromesun - Mississippian priest digital painting

I was sipping my morning café au lait and making my way through the weekend Globe and Mail, when I saw an article titled Message(s) in a Bottle which talks about one man’s journey into the world of niche fragrances: "Hoping to differentiate himself from the masses wearing Calvin Klein, Nautica and Davidoff scents, Rory Johnstone, a Toronto-based art director and DJ, embarked on a week-long olfactory journey not too long ago. It saw him skipping over many of the popular eaux de toilette and colognes available at mainstream department and drugstores in favour of testing out an assortment of lesser-known, unisex eaux de parfum sold in apothecarystyle shops and men’s-wear boutiques.

Seven days and dozens of spritzes later, Johnstone narrowed his options down to three favourites: Odin’s intensely woody and peppery Tanoke 07, D.S. & Durga’s sweet and smoky Mississippi Medicine and Le Labo’s leathery Santal 33."

The article went on to talk about how more and more men are turning to niche fragrances, helping to account for their exponential growth worldwide.

I put the paper down and thought about Mr. Johnstone’s dilemma: Tanoke 07, Mississippi Medicine and Santal 33. I’m familiar with all three of these frags and they are all FBW, but Mississippi Medicine is the one that sits on my shelf. I find it intriguing and completely irresistible.

Like all D.S. & Durga scents, this one has a great back story. The box says that it is “Based on the rituals of the proto-Mississippian death cult of the 1200s”. Also known as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex, Mississippian culture was established from approximately 800 CE to 1500 CE and varied regionally. It extended from the Great Lakes area all the way down to Florida and over as far as Texas.

It was a complex culture based on warfare with a rich cosmology comprised of three main levels: the Above World, where the Sun, Moon, and Morning Star lived, the Middle or Upper World where humans lived and the Beneath World, a cold dark place where chaos and death ruled. Each world was represented by different animals.

The three worlds were connected by a central axis – a cedar tree or a pole, painted with red and white stripes that was believed to reach from the Under World to the Above World. Elaborate rituals and ceremonies, using such things fire, herbs, roots, found objects, animal skins and parts, allowed communication among the three levels and was a major part of the S.E.C.C. religion. Well, one sniff of Mississippi Medicine made me a believer.

It opens with a potent note of smoke from birch tar. I see licks of red flame, crimson cinders floating above them and smell the smoke of transformation. Then comes the white spruce, animalic and astringent, it smells of skunk or animal urine and sacrifice. It has been ground in incense, giving it the deep  smoky smell of ritual and violet smelling cypress root – the tree the Romans believed was the tree of death. There’s violet too, sweet and floral with a mild woodiness, its therapeutic effects are called here to banish pain and infection.

The drydown is smoky, sweet, woody, masculine and flat out sexy. Potent, but not too full-bodied or overpowering, it smells of ritual, divination, medicine, healing and magic. This is a fragrance that was meant to be inhaled.

When I reached the end of the article in the Globe and Mail and discovered that Mr. Johnstone chose Tanoke 07 as his new signature scent I was, quite frankly, a little disappointed. Not because he didn’t choose Mississippi Medicine - to each his own after all. No, my quibble was that he chose just one scent. Where’s the magic in that?

Today, we’re adding Mississippi Medicine to our decant listing. Decants are $6.00.