Interview with Gail Adrian
by Bonnie Cehovet
Life brings people together in very strange ways. Gail Adrian crossed my path when she signed up for my newsletter - I had to see the site of someone with "Fragranceur" in her sig line! Gail works with her clients on a one on one basis to create scents that reflect who they are. She has also created specialty lines, including Astrological and Chakra based scents.
In her latest newsletter, Gail made the announcement that she was developing a new fragrance line based on the Tarot. That really got me excited! Gail agreed to do an interview, and talk about the process that she went through, and is still going through, in developing this line.
BC: Gail, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
GA: And I thank YOU for the opportunity to speak about the ineffable. It is always a privilege to be able to honor and discuss the arcane.
BC: Before we get into the area of fragrance, let's talk about the role of Tarot in your life. How did you come to work with the Tarot, and what place does it hold in your life?
GA: When I was 5 years old, a baby sitter came to our house with a box. She never directly spoke of the box, but I was magnetized to the cards that showed mysterious magical pictures. Being a shy child, I felt unable to ask about the images she was carrying around and instead, subtly signaled her with my eyes, that I was mesmerized by her cards. She noticed my eye signals but chose to ignore my childish invitation to introduce me to what I now know was the Rider Waite deck. I never forgot those cards though and in college in the 60's, the Rider Waite deck was ubiquitous. People were much more open to tarot by then.
I am linked to the unseen, the causal. Nothing I do is casual. When I began composing perfumes in the 90's for people, it was an obvious choice to use archetypal Tarot correspondences when formulating for the deepest resonances between my clients and their personal perfumes.
BC: Please tell us a little bit about your very diverse background (you have many amazing skills)! and what drew you into the world of fragrance.
GA: The long or short version? LOL
Here is a somewhat abbreviated version:
In the late 60's I hitchhiked along the West Coast stopping to camp all along the way. This was during the time that Patchouly had become ubiquitous. I was seduced and addicted to its fragrance. One day, I was bathing in the Navarro River in the Redwoods, just out of Mendocino, California. A young woman next to me was wearing "That scent" as I had come to call it in my mind. I asked her what that perfume was and, as she reverently inhaled, she whispered, "Patchouly". "Patchouly", I repeated with equal awe.
From that point on, It became my mission to obtain a patchouly oil with the distinctly complex and subtle quality this particular woman's evinced. I realize now, this was my first perfume course. In becoming educated in the diversity of a single natural ingredient, I learned much about the unique relationship between natural perfume materials and each individual who wears them; Which skins pick up the base notes, which pick up the lighter, sharper topnotes, What is the longevity of a material as well as becoming introduced to the complexity of tone in perfume.
Then, in the very early 70's, I had friends who visited India every year. During their trips, knowing how much I adored botanical scents, they would visit a rose farm and bring me back tiny glass vials of "Rose Attar" These particular attars (An attar is a botanical distillation marinated in pure Sandalwood) were incomparable for their longevity, sweetness without cloy, and contained a breathtaking dryout.
While I was still quite naive, I instinctively recognized the creamy sensuality of the dryout (The final lingering note of a perfume) as the interaction between Rose and Sandalwood. Unfortunately, after several years, the rose farm closed. Thus began my quest for an attar that would lend this same exquisite honeyed creaminess to my skin. I began what was to become an extensive collection of different Roses and Sandalwoods in my quest to duplicate this same aroma. I never succeeded in replicating my original bottles of rose attar but I did learn volumes in my search which was perhaps, more important.
BC: What do you hope to accomplish through your work with fragrance?
GA: That which I hope to accomplish with everything I do: Deeper connection to the Mysteries as well as creating a sense of completeness in my clients and myself.
BC: How did you become interested in developing a line based on the tool of Tarot?
GA: I have entered a deeper evolution in my work and felt "called' to do so by forces greater than myself.
BC: What was the reasoning behind including the Minor Arcana and Court Cards in this line (along with the powerful Major Arcana archetypes)?
GA: Again, I felt it was a calling. I always obey my voices. I hope that by obeying them, I become better able to hear them.
BC: How do you choose which cards you will be working with - or do they choose themselves?
GA: Yes, they choose themselves. I shuffle shuffle, shuffle and then shuffle some more until one (sometimes two or three) card(s) removes itself from the deck.
BC: Has this process been one of spiritual growth for you, along with the development of a commercial product?
GA: Yes, I do nothing unless I feel it is important for my Spiritual growth. If I find myself in a situation where I cannot see how the outer world is aligning with my inner world, I construct a paradigm for myself that allows me to deal on a Spiritual level.
BC: In your newsletter, each Tarot card had a message, as well as the ingredients in that specific perfume. Through what process did the messages and ingredients come to you?
GA: They write themselves. I have trained myself to be ambidextrous and I really feel this helps open me up. Through this journaling technique, I find that the message emerges.
BC: What place do you see these fragrances holding in the lives of your clients? Do you educate your clients about ways in which they can make the power of these fragrances work for them?
GA: I used to be a lot more pedantic -LOL - I offer very short instructions and observations to those clients that wish to use the Arcana or Chakra Collections or deeper work but I try not to preach. Nothing is more counterproductive than someone offering unwanted information or advice. And, after all, perfume is multileveled. It is possible to enjoy a scent just for its aesthetic.
If, on the other hand, a client or customer wishes more information regarding the Spiritual or Metaphysical aspects of their perfume, I am always available.
BC: What message would you like our readers to take away regarding the Arcana Fragrance line?
GA: Like Tarot, Perfume can be used in any way that you find appropriate for yourself. The most important thing is to WEAR these perfumes! In regular use, their message will be fully utilized. I myself, like to wear the different scents to reflect the daily reading I perform every dawn. In this way, I feel aligned with the card of the day and the energetics of my scent.
BC: I want to thank Gail for sharing her time, her energy, and her thoughts. Along with her Astrology and Chakra fragrance lines, the Arcana perfume line represents powerful energies, far beyond the conscious act of wearing fragrance.
Gail Adrian was born and raised along the wild ravines of Lake Michigan where I was introduced to the woods by my scout leaders and various naturalists who took note of my ability to apprehend things others walked by. She has is a licensed cosmetologist in NY and NJ and has a degree in aromatherapy from the now defunct Institute of Aromatherapy.
In addition to Perpetual and Ongoing Self-Study in Perfumery, Metaphysics and Energy Work: she studied botanical perfume by mentorship with Christine Malcolm, a perfume master. She also studied with Kathryn DeGraff.
Gail has taken various Tarot teleclasses with Walt and Ruth Ann Amberstone, Astrology with Wendy Ashley, mythic astrologer, Energy work, Crystal work, and Intuitive development with Mala Pelow who also initiated her in Reiki I and II.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.