There are few flowers whose fragrance is as recognizable or as warming as that of Jasminum grandiflorum, commonly known as jasmine. In some parts of the world, the sight of the first crocuses, magnolias or plum blossoms herald the arrival of spring. The jasmine flower itself is unassuming—small, white and star-shaped. But its scent, carried on a breeze, is a sign of warmer weather to come.
Issue 10 of Sand is devoted to the sun: as a source of light and warmth, as an aid to time-keeping, and also for its symbolic significance. From Louis XIV’s ‘sun king’ medallions to more contemporary counterparts—the radiant sunshine emoji with its serene smile—it has often been used to connote strength and clarity.
A myriad of sun deities can be found across cultures and throughout history, too: Akycha, the Inuit sun goddess; Xihe, mother of ten suns in Chinese mythology; and Tama-nui-te-rā, the Maōri personification of the sun; to name just a couple.
This edition of Sand is accompanied by a vial of Catalonian Jasmine essential oil. While we’d usually formulate a new blend for each issue, jasminum grandiflorum carries such completeness that it demands to be enjoyed in its purest form.
It may seem a paradoxical choice, given that some species of jasmine bloom at night, with their petals opening to the stars. In fact, it’s not aversion to the sun that causes this behavior, but the opposite: in sunlight, the plant’s leaves produce florigen, a flower-inducing hormone, which amasses in the flowering shoots over the course of the day. And so the white blooms unfurl after sundown, much in the same way as a solar-powered lamp blinking on at dusk.
Around the world, optimism is creeping back into our day-to-day. Things aren’t back to normal, but it feels as though we are learning new ways to let in the light. Like the jasmine plant in the afternoon, we are still gathering energy, but each day, each week, feels a little brighter than before.
So here’s to warmer weather, in both the literal and figurative senses—to throwing open the windows to sweet-smelling air.