Transformation, Rebirth, and Brood II

I believe in the power of Names. In their primary function of identifiers, they’re not only used to give commands but also offer insight into the thing being named. When I tell people the name of my blog (or my email address, or Twitter handle, or Instagram), they inevitably ask, “Why cicadas?” The answer is usually more than they bargained for because as much as I believe in names, I also believe in symbols–and the cicada is a powerful symbol.

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When I registered my domain, QueenCicada was simply the screen name I had been using at that point. My blog was originally titled “Metamorphosis,” tying in with my transformative theme and insect infatuation. When I decided to rebrand, I wasn’t sure anyone would understand the tie or that it would turn off potential readers–but the truth is, the cicada is a symbol of beauty and creativity too. Cicadas turn up in a fascinating myth mentioned by Plato in “Phaedrus.” According to the heartbreakingly beautiful story, cicadas were originally human beings devoted to the Muses, classic Greek personifications of the arts. They sang their love for so long and with such depth of emotion that they couldn’t stop to eat or drink, never even realizing they had died. The Muses rewarded them by transforming them into creatures that neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, able to sing and dance from the moment they are born until the moment they die. Humans enchanted by their music clearly recognize beauty in life, more susceptible to the call of the Muses than those than continue on with their lives, ignoring the insects’ song. But that’s not entirely where my cicada inspiration came from.

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When I’m in need of guidance, I often seek out a model or ideal. I’ve never been one to look to heroes or idols like celebrities as role models, so while some people aspire to the beauty of Marilyn Monroe or the charm of Audrey Hepburn, I’ve found my inspiration in more primal sources. As a child, I saw the cheetah as a guide to reconcile playfulness with grace, while I later looked to the turtle to develop a strong sense of home while learning to reach out and explore the world before me. I turned to certain animals at certain times based on what I knew of their nature and life cycle, trying to incorporate their ancient wisdom into my daily life. But the cicada came to me in a very different manner.

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Years ago, the tea shop I worked in got a ceramic tea pot in from China. It was a delicate basket-weave design, topped with a perfectly sculpted cicada on the lid. I was positively taken with it. Each day I worked, I thought about the insect on top, why it would be chosen to adorn something people would put on their table and drink tea from–in our Western society, insects are usually considered unclean and just generally icky. What little I knew about cicadas didn’t seem to clarify anything: I knew they were periodic, and shed their skins to transform their shape much like butterflies from their cocoons. What I learned was that they’ve been powerful symbols of immortality and life after death in the East. Their lifespans are remarkably long for an insect, and the shedding of their nymph skins is symbolic of a triumph over death, of life beginning again as one stage ends. It’s an incredibly powerful idea, and the more I thought about it, the more it moved me. My life, like so many others’, has been cyclical.When things seem to be incredibly difficult and impossible to move past, I’m often too frustrated and exhausted to recognize the valuable experiences that I ultimately take away.  It’s only looking back that I realize what an important period of growth I had completed and can experience the amazing rebirth as a result. I firmly believe the universe has a way of wiping the record clean when we absolutely need it: we can be reborn into new cycles.

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This week has been incredibly emotional for me: my area is beginning to see the first wave of Brood II. Just days ago, I watched as dozens of cicada nymphs emerged from the ground, perching on trees, plants, decks, walls, tables, or street signs to shed their skins and take to the air. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this event coincides what I’m sure is going to be a summer of self-discovery for me, one of my greatest periods of rebirth yet. Each one of those tiny nymphs represents a hope or dream I have for my future: some will tear through their skins and emerge mature and complete, while others will be trampled before they have chance, experience snags, or form improperly. My heart breaks as I see mangled wings, missing legs, blinded eyes, but I know that nature isn’t always kind and trust that it’s part of the universal plan. As long as some of those live on to give new life, to inspire future hopes and dreams, they’ve succeeded. It’s a standard I also aspire to.

Aesthetics, Cosmetics, Reviews

Metamorphosis 109.0 – Fear Itself, a look at Cocoa Pink’s Halloween Phobias

There are scents for all season, but in my opinion Autumn is in an olfactory league of its own. Gone are the powdery florals of Spring, the sparkling fruits of Summer. Autumn brings a much-needed warmth and comfort before we’re hit with the barren ozone and frosty evergreens of Winter. Fall is the season that drains the contents of my wallet into bottles of perfume.

The first of my scented indulgences this year comes from Cocoa Pink. In addition to their new fall scent catalogue, they released a collection of Halloween fragrances inspired by phobias.

I picked out some of my favourite formulas to try out these new scents. I’ve posted about Cocoa Pink’s hair products before, but I need to say it again: if you’re looking for a great Indie company to make your hair look and smell amazing, Cocoa Pink has a formula for you.

Princess Poo is an SLS and Paraben Free gentle cleansing shampoo. If you’ve never used an SLS-free shampoo, you probably equate lather with clean. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This low-lather cleanser cleans away dirt and product residue without stripping colour or healthy oils from hair, giving bounce and shine without feeling “squeaky clean.” When your hair is as dry and damaged as mine, this is important. If you’re worried that this will leave your hair too greasy, fear not: my teenage sister uses this same formula as a daily cleanser on her oily, colour-treated hair with the same fabulous results.

Shine + is protein and silicone free to moisturize hair without weighing it down. I learned long ago that silicones are not my friends: my skin hates them, my hair hates them, and as a result, I hate them. Sure they help detangle hair and create that luxurious slippery feeling in all water types, but it keeps my skin from breathing and weighs down my fine hair. The butters and oils used in this conditioner leave my hair silky and bouncy like nothing else ever has. For those who like shiny hair, this is for you–despite my high-lift colour, this still imparts a healthy shine to my mane.

But the real beauty here is in the scent: Cocoa Pink will scent their products with any fragrance from their current catalogue. This season, I chose Fear of Cemeteries from their Halloween Phobia collection. I’ll admit, it was the description that sold me:

Cool damp graveyard dirt with a single white carnation placed cautiously against an old granite headstone, covered by dying crimson and yellow autumn leaves with a soft whisper of wood smoke carried in a crisp breeze. 

This is the perfect Fall incarnation of the grassy green scents I loved all Summer: this is rich, loamy earth beneath piles of wet leaves and cut flowers. There’s a note of ozone to the background and just a hint of bonfire as well as minerals. It’s rainy and wet and chilly and green, which is exactly what I wanted this to be. I have a sneaking suspicion that a large size of this will be making its way to my doorstep before the season is over.

If you’re really worried about product buildup or have an excess of oils in your hair, Squeaky might be the s’poo for you. This clarifying shampoo is still gentle enough for use on coloured hair while getting the job done. I’ll alternate this into my routine once every couple weeks to get rid of any styling products that might be hiding in my hair. I do feel like it’s a little much for me, but anyone who has a bit of extra oil or loves their hairspray will definitely go for the formula–it definitely delivers a “Squeaky” clean!

This was a sample included in my order, scented with Fear of Witches:

Warm baked bread fresh from the oven, gentle wisps of bonfire smoke drifting through the frigid autumn air and smooth buttery caramel sprinkled with coarse black sea salt is your best bet in keeping them at bay.

I had no idea how to imagine this scent in my head. Anyone who has ever baked bread knows the scent: yeasty, warm, a little dusty… I think the “bread” in the formula here is more of a sweet. While there is a crustiness, this gives the distinct impression of baked goods, pastries, sweet things in ovens. The combination of salt and caramel is distinct, and it’s all rounded off with woody smoke.

I really don’t buy scrubs often, but not because I don’t like them. I simply don’t go through them as quickly as other bath products. This was another sample with my order, and the first time I’ve tried the Soft Bubbles Foaming Sugar Scrubs. I’ve used CP scrubs in the past, but not since the grand reopening under the new owner–the old formulas were often thick, rich, and full of moisturizing ingredients with a texture like cookie dough. The Soft Bubbles formula claims to be a light and fluffy lathering scrub, textured like buttercream. It does foam softly with water, but I find the texture a bit harder–maybe like buttercream that’s sat in the fridge for a while.

This was scented in Fear of Ghosts:

Glowing marshmallow orbs and smoky vanilla spectral mists swirl aimlessly around an old bonfire in the Crisp October night air – Fresh vanilla puffed marshmallows, toasted marshmallows, hints of bonfire smoke among scattered sharp grains of white rice to ward unwelcome spirits away

I love this scent. If you’ve never smelled a Cocoa Pink fragrance before, start with their marshmallows. This is a perfect toasted-marshmallow scent, rich with wood smoke and sweet vanilla. It’s a toasty Autumn version of Vanilla Bean Noel, with a healthy dose of marshmallow on top. I definitely need to order this scent before the collection is retired–I just need to figure out which way to wear it!

Cocoa Pink’s linen spray is a fairly new addition to the line, so I was excited to try it. Because of the gentle formula, it has a variety of uses: not only can it be used to scent bed linens and clothes, it’s also safe for use on the hair and body as well as a general atmospheric spray. I’ve been using this on my clothes, spritzing it into my dresser drawers to keep my things smelling beautiful. I ordered in Fear of Spiders:

Dragon’s blood resin, the memorable scent of fine pipe tobacco, chopped bundles of firewood, fragrant sprigs of wormwood and bright scarlet apples.

The unifying theme in this collection is definitely smoke. The wood smoke is definitely present here, but there is also pipe smoke and incense. This is a rich, resinous scent polished off with tart apples and bitter herbs. It’s incredibly sophisticated and mysterious and I will definitely be ordering a larger size of the linen spray so my clothes can smell like this year round.

I am incredibly pleased with the Autumn offerings from Cocoa Pink, and I know I need to try the rest of the Phobias collection before they disappear. Whether you’re looking for sweet, confectionary fragrances or deep, mysterious perfumes, Cocoa Pink has something for you this season in products your hair and body will love.

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine

Cosmetics, Love Lists

Metamorphosis 52.0 – Creme de Menthe, a minty-green love list!

Every few weeks or so, I come down with some sort of colour-bug. Certain colours stick in my head and I just can’t get enough of them. These past few weeks it’s been mint green. In all honesty, mint has always been one of my favourite colours. I think my synesthesia is partially to blame, but the creamy, soft texture of mint has always struck a chord with me. (In fact, “Menthe” was an early web-moniker of mine.) But for Spring, it’s really hard for me to pin-point a better colour: it’s fresh, it’s delicate, and it goes well with everything. Lately, I’ve been pairing it with lilacs and corals.

Here are some of my favourite mint-coloured products at the moment. Full reviews of these products are forthcoming, I promise!

Shiro CosmeticsKawaii Shadow in Banzai is a very pale mint green with strong blue tones. The satin texture makes it perfect for highlighting or as a base for darker shadows. It’s fairly opaque on its own though it can be built up or blended out. I’ve been using this in the inner corners of my eyes for a bright pop of minty colour!

Evil ShadesFaerie Garden is a slightly darker green, more of a fresh mint than a creme-de-menthe. On site, it’s described as “primary green with golden shimmer,” but I’d say it’s a slightly blue-toned green with a shimmery finish. I usually pat this on my lid with a flat brush for a sweet, herbal green base.

I’ve really never been a body-shimmer type of girl, but I’ve really been loving Meow CosmeticsWildcats powder in Jungle Cat. I was obviously hesitant when I ordered a green body-powder, but it blends beautifully to the barest, palest minty sparkle. Like mint frosting for your skin! I use a large, flexible Taklon kabuki brush to dust this powder over my chest, shoulders, cheekbones, and brows for a very subtle highlighting effect. (It also works nicely mixed into a pump of body lotion or sunblock!)

I have to admit, I haven’t yet had a chance to wear Lime Crime‘s Mint to Be lipstick out of the house yet! Of course as soon as it arrived, I ripped it open and slathered it on, but I just haven’t had an appropriate occasion for it otherwise. Like most of the reformulated Lime Crime lipsticks, this is perfectly opaque and creamy when properly applied. I suggest covering your natural lip colour for truest-green results.

For a little bit of not-quite-swatchy fun, this is a shot of my pigment-encrusted hand after opening up and fiddling with all the jars for these shots. You can see quite a bit of Jungle Cat on my fingers and a bit of Faerie Garden on my palm.

Obviously, wearing all these beautiful minty products together might be a little green-overkill. As I said above, they pair beautifully with lilacs and lavenders (like Sugarpill’s Paperdoll or Weekender), peaches and corals (like Morgana Cryptoria’s Peach Daiquiri and Evil Shade’s Faerie Kisses), even bubblegum pinks (like Sugarpill’s Birthday Girl).

What colours are you loving for Spring?

Love you to the Moon and Back,

Luna Valentine