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Cathedral

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Venerable and solemn: the scent of incense smoke wafting through an ancient church. A true ecclesiatical blend of pure resins.

 

cedar and vetiver sweetened with resins. It's pretty and calming, but it gets a little close to fragrant pencil shavings on me...I think cedar has a tendency to do that anyway on me. Too bad because it is a beautiful scent when first applied.

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In the imp: Interestingly, something bitter, sharp, and herbaceous. I eventually discovered a touch of sweetness at the base, but it definitely took more than one sniff to find it. Right now, I'm not getting much of a sense-memory of church, and I grew up pretty heavily Catholic.

 

Wet: Speaking of sense memories, the first thing I get, oddly enough, is my old guinea pig's bedding, which was cedar/redwood wood chips and shavings. The sweet/sharp divide is also a lot more evident - the sweet resins amp way up, but in a good way. At least now they've got a fighting chance against the redwood! The almost-lemony resinous sweetness comes to dominate, but not for a little while. At first it's all sweet resins from afar and sharp cedar/redwood up close, but eventually even that fades, leaving pretty much smooth, slightly smoky, resins. A great cold-weather scent!

 

Dry: See above re: resins. This is my first experience with a pure incense blend, so that might be it, but I swear I smell something almost foody-vanilla-sweet right down at the very end...

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In the Bottle: I was really, really looking forward to this (being a practicing Catholic). The Bottle is very resiny- frankinsense and benzion.

 

First Application: The scent really becomes multifacetted. It smells smoky, like the smoke from the candles at mass. There is a deep cedar or wood smell, like the pews and the wood beams holding up the roof. There is still the resiny insense smell, as well, the frankinsense and benzion and (maybe my imagination) the very tiniest sliver of myrhh. It isn't so much the smell of the church during the mass, but that blessed and wonderful time when the only light is what comes through the stained glass windows, the dust from the night has not yet been cleaned, morning mass has recently let out and you are alone with God in the Blessed Sacrament. Truly, truly lovely and evocative.

 

Drydown: It very much becomes more woodsy, reminding me of a traditionally carved church that I saw and attended mass at in Poland. The church is old, but well loved and cared for. This is your head leaning down on the pew, honoring God. This is the kneeler as it hits the floor. This is laying prostrate with the smoke from the extinguished mass candles lingering in the air.

 

Big bottle list! :)

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I've been wanting to try this forever. I've got this weird love for catholic ritual weirdness! I was raised Catholic (until maybe 13 years old), so I expected to smell this and be like AHA!

 

Nope.

 

But here's the weird thing. This dove directly into one of my OTHER huge interests - eastern philosophy/culture (I was an East Asian Studies major and have spent a great deal of time in Japan)

 

Out of the vial: Generic woodsy incense. A little of that "Church" smell, maybe? Something a bit resinous.

 

Wet: Warm, dry woods. Cedar, sandalwood. Immediately transported to being inside an ancient, wooden temple in Nara or Kyoto in summer - old mature dry, rich, warm woods and Buddhist incense wafting through the air. But also new wood! A freshly hewed note. Like if someone was doing a repair to an ancient wooden structure - just the barest hint.

 

Dry: Deepened old wood. Ancient wood. Not as much smoke as the scent of the woods themselves baking in the sun, with temple incense wafting over it for centuries. Something a little fruity, almost a plum note. Very warm and soft, but not powdery at all. Just warm, dry, old, time-worn cedar wood warming in the sun, a touch of resinous incense, a lot of woodsy sandalwood or cedar incense.

 

I expected something very resin-heavy, very solemn and very "churchy." This is more contemplative and gentle, nothing about this is severe or solemn. Very sun-warmed where I expected cold stones. Almost languid, definitely unhurried.

 

I want it even more now! It reminds me of visiting old old old temples all over Japan in summer.

 

Absolutely want it.

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When I was little, I used to go to a romanic cathedral in my grandparent's village. I remember very vividly the smell of incense and the sound of the steps in the stone floor... I have been trying for ages to find a scent for it, without luck (even buying incense directly from the church). So I had to give cathedral a try.

 

Impressions :

 

On imp:

  • PENCIL SHAVINGS O_O !!... very literal.

Wet:

  • I do get the cathedral impression now. It's quite warm and luminous though: a cathedral at daylight iluminated by both natural light and oil lamps.
  • The pencil shavings are still loud, but now I can smell resins as well. There's something warm: it's not amber, but similar.
  • I don't get the frankincense very clearly... it might be there, but it dissapears before I can pin it down

 

Dry:

  • It still reminds me of something sacral, but no longer the cathedral per se.
  • There's goodness in it: this is not a scary scent associated to a gothic church, it's something nicer. I'm agreeing with Sayaka on it being light and not severe.
  • Sweetness remains, and the pencil shavings are still flloating around.

Conclusion: Unfortunately not the smell from my childhood, and not a incense that I think works for me. I am slowly learning that I amp sweetness (maybe that's why I tend towards fresh scents). Maybe that's why I like masculine incense (e.g. Jo Malone) because i can balance it, but Cathedral is too sugarly.

However i cannot stop smelling my arm in search of those pencil smells. I won't get a big bottle, but I am sure i will sniff the imp so much that at some point i might need to order a new one.

Edited by GSR

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In the imp: Incense!

 

Wet on my skin: Incense and pencil shavings. This is the first blend I've tried that has given me pencil shavings.

 

Dry: Thankfully, the sharpness of the cedar calms down and the pencil shavings fade to a softer, almost sweet wood note. This is mostly woods on me, cedar and I think mahogany, with frankincense and other incensey resins. That being said, this isn't a heavy incense blend. No, this is light and almost ethereal, very evocative of holy church incense and polished, expensive woods. Golden in colour, dusty light streaming through ancient stained glass windows.

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In the imp: Frankincense

Wet: Frankincense and that great polished wood note all the "church" fragrances have

Dry: Pretty much Penitence minus the waxy, candle-like note I get with it.

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Just a note on my own personal tastes, my nose, etc to give you an understanding of what's shaping this review!

 

My favorite blend of all time is Mme Moriarty, followed by Captain Lilith and her First Mate, followed by Gingerbread Snake, Ivory Vulva, Druid, Blood, Strawberry Sufganiyot, Snake Charmer Resurrected, Loved to Death, Eat Me, Beaver'Versary, Dana O'Shea, and Bastet. I usually wear Mme. Moriarty or Captain Lilith, but mix it up from time to time with the other blends or for special occasions.

 

Death notes: Cedar, mahogany, oak, all florals except rose and violet, frankincense, vetiver, civet, chocolate, cream, cardamom, leather, tobacco, sandalwood, dirt, wine, anise, saffron, almond

 

Notes I adore: red musk, vanilla, coconut, apricot/peach, plum, black currant, dragon's blood, rum, cake, orange, Middle Eastern spices, Asian spices, amber, pumpkin, strawberry, cherry, sugar

 

 

Imp: Nothing too strong, maybe sandalwood or some ash?

Wet: There's something in here that my skin doesn't like already and it's getting very stinky, very fast. What normally does this is aged patch, frankincense and dark animal musks like vetiver.

15 minutes dry: Okay, there has got to be some civet or vetiver in here because that's the only note that turns to rancid meat on me. I can smell something like dust and bookcases over that, so my guess would be frank and maybe cedar or oak. There might be something like whatever notes Beth uses to make the dusty book smell like she uses in Miskatonic University but I mainly am getting yucky meat.

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Wet: Ermagerd, wood!! Like, a whole wood shop full of wood shavings. And some Frankincense. Which is lovely, buried under that pile of wood shavings. It's that really thick "chewy" Frankincense, which I really like. Sweet and resinous, but oh so much wood on top.

 

 

Dry: The Frank in this is great. The woods actually settle down and aren't terrible either. These aren't wood shavings like pencil shavings, they are wood shavings like fragrant cedar, but still not something that I personally want to smell like. I have many other blends with Frank that do work for me, but this one is just not one of them.

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The first time I tried Cathedral, it turned into pretty much a frankincense single note on me. Maaaybe a little copal. But after sitting in a box for a couple of months, it has gotten a bit more complex. I really enjoy resins and woods, so this was a likely winner for me.

In imp: Frankincense.
Wet: Sweet frankincense and dry, fresh cedar at first. Lovely. Bit of copal coming out as it dries, and all starting to meld together nicely. It really does smell quite like the inside of a church, and evokes a studious, reflective mood.
Dry: For me the copal (if I'm right about that) gets quite strong, with the wood/s and frankincense in support. The wood, that had felt very new and fresh before, has now taken on an age-polished quality. After an hour or so it almost smells like a very woody patchouli.

I was going to give this one to a friend, but I kind of want to keep it for myself. I find it good for study or magical work, and have even used it in ritual a couple of times, as it seemed appropriate for anointing some tools.

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In the imp: Frankincense and myrrh, but mostly the former.

 

Wet: This is frankincense dominant, but I can smell the myrrh as well. This is a very strong, resin scent.

 

Dry: The frankincense in this is really, really strong. This scent is too sharp to my nose, and it's starting to give me a headache.

 

Verdict: If you like strong resins (especially frankincense), try this. However, this scent just reaffirms that I don't like usually enjoy resin scents without something sweet present (like the vanilla in Hesiod's Phoenix).

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In honor of Good Friday, I fished this out of my massive box of imps to test!

 

Bottle: Dry, sharp, incredibly realistic cedar wood, softened a little by smoky incense.

 

Wet: The cedar fades almost entirely into the background, letting the frankincense take over. I was a little worried that this would go pencil-shaving, based on other reviews, but that is so not the case here. This is beautiful and subtle, happily reminiscent of old European cathedrals.

 

Dry: As this dries, the incense sweetens a bit and brings back some of the cedar, though it's not nearly as potent as it was in the bottle. It stays quite close to my skin, giving me a subtly warm and comforting feeling whenever I catch it on me. Frankincense can be hit or miss, but this is the kind that I really love - it's not sharp or matronly but polished and gentle.

 

Verdict: This one's a winner! Rose Cross is still my favorite "Catholic" scent (I'm an unapologetic rose lover), but I'm so happy to have gotten over my initial anxiety about all the frankincense... and the pencil-shaving reviews. No upgrading to a bottle for now, but I might get a backup imp or two.

 

I'll wear this to Tenebrae service tonight!

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In the imp, it's sweet, lots of frankincense and something woodsy. It's thick, rich and warm.
On my skin it goes pencil shavings and something else that's not good on me (almost an expired-foody scent); I'm guessing what other people have noted it's vetiver... Too bad, I was hoping for a cold, creepy dark church concoction. Doesn't work for me, or at least, on my skin... too bad!

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I remember back in 2009 (with a very immature nose mind you) I sniffed this and all I could think was "Cobwebs." I didn't really like most resins like frankincense at the time, they smelled musty and sweet in an off way to me. However, I now love this scent. It's soft, warm, and spicy and I have grown to love resins. The cedar is not as pronounced in this to me as it seems to for others. I get a lot of citric-leaning frankincense and cedar in the background.

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It's possible this is -- by a small margin, anyway -- my most frankincense-heavy blend. It's so grainy in the nose. But also pretty. There's that.

I smell frankincense and balsam in a puff of dusty incense smoke. I like it -- yet it smells serious enough to crack smiles off faces, and, for me at least, I think it will be best combined with Lights of Men's Lives or something else to add a slightly different mood. That said, I do love resins. And because my skin eats scents, I really appreciate the longevity of this blend -- it lasts many hours on me.

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In the imp it smelled mostly moist and earthy.

 

Wet - I smelled resinous frankincense, not yet burned yet strong and not much else.

 

Dry - this is just gorgeous...I could not stop sniffing my wrists. Long lasting, too, a good 6 hours at least. The frankincense blossomed into full blown smoky incense wafting from the censor with a hint of balsam, something floral and the sharp yet elusive (in that it seemed to come and go) scent of black pepper. As a child I went to church in beautiful gothic stone church built in the 1860's and this smell is decidedly like that church. Not for everyone, I guess, but I love this.

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I'm starting to think I amp cedar notes, because this is entirely cedar on me. A beautifully spicy, aromatic cedar, but still... In comparison to Aureus, which is also all cedar on me, this is warmer and spicier, but has far less throw; weirdly it gets drier over time. I get no resin or incense out of it, sadly.

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Very strong frankincense. It does kind of remind me of the times we actually went to church when I was young, though it's missing something. It's slightly sweet and not particularly smoky. It mostly just smells like frankincense being stored in a wooden box waiting to be used. It's nice enough, but I'm not crazy about it.

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"You smell like church."

 

I too grew up spending time in very old, very beautiful catholic churches. Dark wood, stained glass, statues, incense, candles...old cloth and dusty bibles, the way the pew smell mixed with the leather smell of the kneeling...things. I remember that it was always warm and close feeling, despite the vaulted ceilings. It was mildly hazy (even in winter but especially in summer) and everything smelled of the incense/resin blend and old church smell. Despite being bored as a kid, I always felt safe and loved, like the building was lulling me into peace. (I may or may not have fallen asleep there when I was younger.)

 

This doesn't quite capture the entire church scent experience (I'd love to find something that did) but it does smell a great deal like the incense portion of that experience on me. The constantly burning incense + the stuff they'd burn in the thurible (the caged incense ball thing on a chain they swish around.) It can get a little strong on me, especially when it's hotter out. But if I use a small amount, I smell like I've just come from mass. Odd, I suppose, since I haven't stepped foot into a proper catholic church for anything beyond funerals as of late, but there's something comforting in the scent to me.

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It's annoying because I do like this scent but unfortunately in makes me nauseous after a little while (kind of a slow burn nausea rather than an immediate one? It might be my skin doing something to it). I'm not sure which note in particular doesn't agree with me or if it's a general combination of them.

 

It really does smell churchy. I am not religious but my extended family is Catholic so that is my main experience of church. I like the incense used there and this smells pretty similar to me. (Incidentally, church incense does NOT make me nauseous.) It's not a particularly 'warm' smelling blend to me. I might even describe it as cold. It's only a little bit sweet. Mainly it's just very resinous and...something else. It's not light like incense smoke. It's quite strong.

 

My partner said 'you smell like an old church' which is what I was going for, so mission accomplished. Unfortunately, I won't be wearing this again or using it because it makes my stomach do flips.

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Sharp, polished woods (cedar?) and sweet smoky incense. A lot of frankincense, but not so much that it develops the usual citrus edge. I think the little bit of sweetness is probably benzoin, and there's definitely myrrh in there.

Very dry and antique-smelling - one of BPAL's best incenses.

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A lot of people on the BPAL forum say this smells dead-on like a Catholic church, but I wouldn't know so I can't attest to that. I don't know what resins make up this scent, but the overall impression is one of slightly powdery wood. That's really all I get out of it. It's not bad at all, just super straightforward and simple. 5/10 - warm, woody and likable.

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