A  Faint Smell of Lilac


“A faint smell of lilac filled the air. There was always lilac in this part of town. Where there were grandmothers, there was always lilac.” Author: Laura Miller

Lilacs casing old latia fencing on El Tros Road in Talpa, are the purple ones, my favorite. The odor smells of sacred, sweet perfume, and the vibrant color brings life to the old Camino Real Road of packed dirt that once was a trade route to Mexico. I lived there for a decade. After a long winter in Taos the blossoms were a welcomed site in late April/May. Families still live there after 500 years, caring for their livestock and alfalfa fields. Old traditions still thrive. The seeds of the lilac were planted many moons ago, generations had passed. The lilac bush stands tall almost tree-like. They are trimmed and tamed over time, not by hand, but by tractors and trucks pulling their hay bales tearing at the flesh of the lilac bush on this narrow hallow road.

There is something sacred about the lilac, Syringa vulgaris, in New Mexico. It fills the senses. I can conceive of the grandmothers of ancient old, who used to live down the street as midwives before the Conquistadors (true story), most likely adorned their courtyards with lilacs and used the fragrant flowers to wash the womb after childbirth. It can be used like aloe vera, with its soothing, calming, antiseptic healing properties. 

With this herstory, one can imagine the essence of the lilac is suffused with the marrow of La Loba, Bone Woman, myths told in the wild southwest. In Women Who Run with The Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the author talks about La Loba representing uncuento milagro, a miracle story. It is a resurrection story about the underworld connection to the wild woman. The author writes, “It promises if we can sing her song, we can call up the psychic remains of the wild soul and sing her back into vital shape again”. She is the old woman, the grandmother, the shapeshifter, the youth-maiden. Another myth, deeply entrenched in Taos, are the stories of La Que Saba, the old woman, who also shapeshifts. To torment her subject, she has been seen on El Tros Road dressed in black as an old decrepit woman only to turn into a voluptuous alluring beautiful woman taunting the unsuspecting male. 

And what do they have to do with lilacs you ask? The wild essence that inhabits nature has been called by many names the Mother-Creator-God of all beings and doings, including the earth and sky. I am reasoning that the essence of the lilac flower was used to restore the youthful maiden and sing in the wild woman soul. For her attributes include antioxidants and anti-aging compounds to improve the appearance of skin and make you look and feel younger. 

And you wonder why Taos attracts remarkable women. Mystery solved. Uncuento milagro.

Lilac infused facial toner recipe

What You’ll Need:

16-ounce mason or another type of jar with cover

lilac blossoms

witch hazel to fill the jar


Allow lilac blossoms to dry overnight on a paper towel, to let most of the moisture to evaporate. They will be slightly wilted.

Cut or chop wilted lilac blooms into small pieces and put them into your mason jar. You may include flowers, stems, and leaves. Cover plant matter completely with witch hazel.

Cover jar, and label with date and contents. Allow to infuse for 2 weeks, occasionally giving the jar a gentle shake to mix the contents. After two weeks, strain into a bottle and label. Compost the solid plant matter.

Apply lilac facial toner to your face after washing using a cotton pad or soft cloth. Keep refrigerated if desired, though the alcohol in the witch hazel acts as a preservative.

Lilac Body Oil 

Simply put oil in place of Witch Hazel and follow the steps above.

I recommend Olive or Sunflower oils, organic of course. Make sure the oil completely covers the flowers. Use for facial, body or massage oil.



This is a guest post for taoStyle by Toni Leigh. Toni says she is “a Western and Ayurveda Herbalist and Alchemist of sorts.”

She is the founder and formulator for Desert Blends of Taos. Her products are for sale exclusively at Cid’s in Taos.

For more information please visit her site linked below.



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