30 Days of Scent – Day Eighteen – Cardinal by James Heeley   Leave a comment

Last Thursday, Christmas Eve, I wore Cardinal by James Heeley.  It, like all of my other Heeley scents, came from The Perfumed Court in a decant set.

Fragrantica.com lists the main accords of Cardinal as balsamic, smoky, amber, warm spicy, and fresh spicy.  Their description of the scent is quite accurate, as words on a screen go: “Cardinal by James Heeley is a timeless fragrance of incense and labdanum. Underlayer of linen gives it purity and a mixture of grey amber, patchouli and vetiver give it elegance.  Top notes: rose, black pepper and aldehydes; middle notes: labdanum and incense; base notes: vetiver, amber and patchouli…”  I think, though, that I like the first line of description from the manufacturer best:

Incense enrobed in folds of white linen.

The first thing I thought of when I smelled Cardinal was a censer, and I imagine it is no surprise that the designer himself noted (during an interview with Lena Brombacher) that he was inspired to create it during a service at L’Eglise Saint-Gervais – Saint Protais in Paris.  Cardinal is incense in a bottle – it is wafting clouds in the aisles, candle-lit spaces, and ritual.  It is low singing, and prayer, and space-out-of-time.  It is a scent for occasions, solemn or otherwise so long as they are steeped in ceremony.

Cardinal is also the kyphi burning near my open window in honor of things more profound than can be explained in a short time…or in words, for that matter, and that’s the reason I’m thinking it will become a ritual scent for me.  I know I cannot do justice to a full bottle – it’s not meant for everyday wear – but the decant will most likely last me for some time.

On me, Cardinal is ambergris and smoke in an “incense burner” fashion, with hints of vetiver and black pepper.  The patchouli is not overwhelming, once again proving that Heeley knows how to use it to bolster a scent without having it smell like the inside of a tent at Burning Man.  I’d recommend you try it out – if it works, it will be an amazing experience.

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