In September 2018, as I begin the last 2 weeks of a 42-day fast, Providence created, at the crossroad of the hot baths of Rennes-les-Bains in France, a beautiful meeting between 2 Belgian souls on the sacred lands of the Aude, over which Mount Bugarach watches over.
It is here that Claire Vandewalle has made her home to birth her dreams, including a connexion with the ground with the creation of medicinal gardens and an alchemical side with the creation of unique scents. Claire puts her intuition at the service of the sense of smell to create perfumes, cosmetics and elixirs which also have a therapeutic action: “a well chosen or created perfume can be a really good ally to go through ups and downs in life, to transform oneself profoundly, to discover, to grow and to blossom. To bring out certain characteristics, I follow several principles related to smells: a neurological, physiological, poetic and scientific approach. The sense of smell is a sense that does not pass through the filter of the mind to be interpreted and directly affects our limbic brain, the seat of many memories. It therefore allows us to come into contact with the unconscious and to have a direct action and influence on it. The experiences we live are often linked to a smell. In contact with the scent of a flower, a whole universe, complete and complex, is brought to our reality, isn’t it.” These natural scents are very far from what today’s perfumery, which is made up of synthetic perfumes, offers us: “In the best case, I create the scents myself, directly with the plants I grow or find in the wild, otherwise most essential oils are organic and come from Bioflore. Its founder, André Bitsas, is very precise: he pays attention to the purity of the scent and is interested in the psycho-emotional level.”
She is a daughter of a doctor and has always been attracted by the exploration of non-invasive healing methods; it gives each person the opportunity to be at the center of their healing journey through their own understanding of things and personal transformation. In 2010, she stopped using allopathic medicine and turned to the wisdom and medicine of plants as she was travelling abroad. She then went on walks to discover plants, prepared herbal teas and experimented a lot: “For a time, I was discovering each plant one by one in nature, their smells, their virtues, I was getting to know them, their habits, their needs. Plants, like each individual, are unique and have a vibration of their own. They play on specific strings.” One day, she came across a book by Lydia Bosson on energetical aromatherapy. The author talked about healing with the soul of plants, the essential oils were classified by color, in relation to the action of the plants on each chakra: “I found it was great to see the world through this lence”.
The game of colors initiation
Claire and I sit down and let ourselves be guided by the play of colours she works with: “I was inspired by other existing games to create my own game in which I use 14 colours. Each plant is classified in one or more colours.” Claire invites me to choose the colour that attracts me the most at the moment. I choose purple. Then comes the colour that doesn’t make me vibrate at the moment (white) and one at random (orange). For each color, I smell the associated perfume composed of 3 to 10 plants. It’s the smell associated with the color white that brings me something that nourishes me without me being able to put words on it: a pleasant, unexpected, forgotten, out-of-date smell.
Claire explains how plants are classified by colour according to certain criteria. Are the molecules that make up the plant rather heavy or light? What part of the body does it act on? Is it a root or a creeping plant, or even a small tree? Lavender, for example, has very etheric molecules and is classified in the purple section: “To classify them by colour, I analyse the behaviour of the plant, how it grows. Lavender has a long stem with a certain strength of character. Even if we cut it, it continues to spread its smell for a long time on our shelves. You can tell by its morphology that lavender is rising very high, opeping its little antennaes and picking up things from the sky.”
Then I discover the messages contained in the different colours I have chosen. Purple is linked to the alliance in action. White and silver are colours that go beyond the individuality and connect to the cosmos. White is related to purity and source, essence, integration, unity consciousness and transmutation. The need is to accomplish a mission on earth with integrity. It is in the white ray that one reinvents and that creation happens. The orange ray brings things down to earth in the belly. In my case, the mixture of these 3 colors can be seen as “an invitation to connect to the right source to be in total integrity. There is a life force in you that is very strong and joyful and enthusiastic, one that could be stifled by too much spiritual will.”
Claire also makes custom-made perfumes: “A second side to discovering the play of colors is to use the power of intention to inscribe new memories through the creation of perfumes. It has a vibratory, spiritual and poetic aspect: each plant is a being in its own right and is on earth to share something. In my fragrances, I create a story where each plant is a character in the story whose message I have captured and translated. One of my first clients told me, after receiving her personalized perfume, that it had transformed her life. She used to wear it every night before going to sleep, she fell asleep apeased thanks to the smell that was by her side.”
Claire’s floral waters and hydrosols smell divine, especially helichrysum: “you can put a cap in your cup of beverage, it has an anti-inflammatory effect internally, or it can also be added in the bath in winter to warm our cold extremities.” I smell one of Claire’s formulas, “protection for therapists”. The preparation, which favours reliance and purification of energies, brings together different hydrolats (officinal sage, cistus) and essential oils (juniper, incense (olibanum) for the elevation of spirit, galbanum for retreat and reliance with the strenght of Earth, hemlock for lucidity and mental mastery and laurel for confidence). Claire’s preparations have the grace of well-kept secrets.
Today, Claire is expanding her dreams and her impact on the world through a larger and more ambitious project: dedicating a place where art meets healing, which she already combines marvellously in her fragrances. At the beginning of 2019, she will open a centre (Harmonia) in collaboration with her partner in Rennes-les-Bains, in the marvellous region of the Aude, which brings together different worlds, talents and interests in one place: a medicinal garden, consultations for treatments and fragrances, music lessons, art exhibitions, conferences and training courses.