Jeanne Rose

The Violet is the best-loved of all the flowers, but does little to further its reputation in the field of aromatherapy as its elusive scent is difficult to capture in a bottle. It does not yield its fragrance to distillation -- and enfleurage is no longer much employed as a means of extracting this delicious odor. It is said that in the early part of this century, the Russian Empress would only use the scent of Violet and only Violets that had been picked in the early morning hours in the most select fields of Grasse. These Violets were then rushed to the still-room where they were treated by enfleurage to produce a thick odorous perfume that was then diluted with refined alcohol. (pure Potato Vodka, no doubt).
Nowadays, a concrète is made of both flower and leaves, mostly leaves and this is washed in alcohol to obtain the fragrance material. This Violet leaf absolute is a deep green-colored, green-smelling, sweet-green-scented scent of the leaf. Neither the little produced Violet flower perfume at $100,000 per kilo nor the leaf absolute has yet found a use in aromatherapy. It is just too expensive. So if you go to a store and find Violet perfume or Violet-scented soap, please note that it is a fake and synthesized version of this most fabulous of odors. Do you have a garden? Only with a garden and the knowledge of the ancient alchemists can you extract scent from this purple beauty to make a sweet violet-colored scent.

TO EXTRACT THE VIOLET'S ODOR: You will need patience and lots of Violet flowers but the end result will be pleasing and therapeutic for your soul and psyche. Fill a small jar with Violet flowers and then cover the flowers with pure* alcohol. [150° vodka may work]. The alcohol will extract both the color and the odor of the flowers. When no more color is in the flowers, strain out the flowers and add new flowers to the alcohol or you may just pour the alcohol onto a new batch of flowers in another jar. You will have to repeat this procedure over and over again using the same alcohol and new flowers until the alcohol is a deep violet color and has the odor of the flowers. This will take an entire season. At this time store the alcohol in the refrigerator.

TO USE THE VIOLET PERFUME: Dilute your Violet cologne with a bit of water or oil and apply to your body. Another use is to put 1 oz in a 4 oz spray bottle, add 3 oz of spring water and let your husband use this to heal his skin of nicks after shaving.

VIOLET USES: Jeanne Rose's Herbal Body Book describes how to use the flowers . . . Externally, the Violet flower and leaf are used to treat anything near the throat or esoterically anything near the 5th chakra. Violet leaf has a historical reputation for treating cancers of the mouth and throat. This is one of the flowers that has been mentioned since the time of the ancient Greeks. Sweet Violets either fresh or dried are used in teas or baths for the soothing and slight astringent quality. Violets contain salicylic acid and are extremely high in vitamins A and C. Violet flower water (1/4 c. Violets steeped in warm spring water for 30 minutes, strained, bottled and refrigerated) is used on the face as a tonic and healing spritz for all sorts of facial afflictions. "It is wonderful as an after-shave water or even as a wash for baby's skin. If the leaves and flowers are macerated in oil, strained and then beeswax added, this cream is excellent as a daily application to remove cosmetics, or can be used daily on your face and hands for dry skin.

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In The Secrets of Flowers as revealed by A. Stoddard Kull, the Violet is a symbol of Faithfulness. "Some lovely maids of antiquity once became the object of Venus queenly wrath, when a dispute arose whether she or they were more beautiful, Cupid judged in favor of the maidens; and in a fury, Venus beat them until they were blue. Thus the girls became the first Violets." This is the story as Herrick tells it.
In the garden to obtain more flowers in the Spring, mow down the patch in the Fall. Your Violet patch will look like a scraggly lawn, but you will be pleased by the amount of flowers that you can pick in the Spring.

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A Violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
No more. . . . . .            
Laertes in Hamlet

SOURCES*: To learn to use the leaves and flowers of the Violet, you may wish to read Jeanne Rose's Herbal Body Book and The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. Both are available from Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy and if you mention this article you may receive both books for $32.00 which is a 10% discount. Call 415/564-6785 and charge to your credit card. To purchase the flowers and leaves you may have to try a number of herb mail-order places and these addresses are listed in Chapter VI, the source list of both aforementioned books.

Remember the words of Shakespeare: Violet is for Faithfulness, Which in me shall abide; Hoping, likewise, that from your heart You will not let it slide.

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Rose, Jeanne Herbs & Things. Last Gasp Press. 2000. Available at New Age Creations, 219 Carl Street, San Francisco, CA 94117. $18 includes S&H.

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