This is Week 46 of 52 Artists in 52 Weeks. Thank you for reading and sharing Kim's story today. To see more of Kim's soaps and jewels, please visit the following links:
Friday, November 25, 2016
Kim Downes, Shamanic Soap and Candle Maker, Tells Her Story
I was born and raised in the desert in Arizona so the spirit of the land and the essence of Native American culture has always been in me. However, as time went on, I left that area for the East Coast, eventually living first in New York City and then moving to Washington DC. I always knew I would settle in Washington, DC every since taking a field trip here at the age of 12. There's just something about this place that called to me - almost like a call to duty!
I held positions in various law firms, working as a legal assistant. (I don't really remember how I even got into that work because I have no legal background.) I remember one day looking at my outfit and thinking, "this is not me, why am I doing this? I'm an artist, with a background and a degree in photography!" It was then, in the mid 1990s, I seemed to have a spiritual awakening.
However, while I still worked in the law firms, I began selling at Eastern Market on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, making jewelry out of plaster of Paris with various images and jewels embedded in it. Painted bright gold, it was definitely not the Washington DC conservative look! I recall sitting in the hot sun one August day and something just whispered to me quietly "make soap". At first I thought the voice said, "make soup," but I quickly realized that would mean I was having a heat stroke! But, seriously, I recognized that the Universe was giving me a gift and a direction, and I went with it. So, I turned down subsequent lucrative legal assistant positions and chose to put all my energy and time into creating aromatherapy products, adding candles, facial masks, foot baths, and all sorts of fun things at a time when no one was really doing any of that anywhere! As this was pre-internet days, I had to do research at the library as well as through trial and error.
As my business grew, one day I was searching the dictionary for a name for it and I happened upon the word Aurora. And that was it. Aurora was the Roman goddess of the Dawn, whose chariot arrived each day to open the gates for Apollo and let the sun to shine forth. My very first business cards read "Aurora Bath, Greet the Dawn, with a tagline: for Visionaries of the New Millennium." I did not realize exactly what that meant at the time but, in hindsight, I see the guidance that I was given once again.
After a visit to the Roman Baths in Bath, England, I took a series of photographs there to represent my business and the spirit from which I felt it rise. I was very much inspired by the Greek and Roman goddesses of ancient times and how they created things to cleanse not only the body but the spirit, as well as to heal others. It was always of great importance to me that I help heal others with the products I create.
I saw this most intensely after September 11th, 2001, when I created a Peace Candle and a Peace Soap. I saw the emotional devastation those tragic events brought upon the DC community and people flocked to get something, anything, to help keep their spirits up, to keep them centered and to make themselves feel better in general.
In the local community I have become known as the Cherry Blossom Soap Queen after I started creating cherry blossom products in the late 1990s. I always had an affinity for the cherry blossoms every since I was young girl and was taught the cherry blossom song in Japanese, "Sakura", which I can still sing in its entirety today! The cherry blossoms are so beautiful and they represent a nonpartisan part of Washington D.C that everyone can come together and agree upon. They've always symbolized the spirit of cooperation between the USA and Japan, and basically cooperation between any Nations and all peoples.
About eight years ago I began my formal shamanic studies with faculty from Alberto Villoldo 's Four Winds Society, training in the ancient tradition of the Laika in Peru. I completed by mesa work in 2014. I now see aromatherapy taking yet another twist and turn, especially after my shamanic studies, especially at this time in our history when things are shifting so rapidly now that we have moved into the age of light.
I feel the community, the population as a whole, is now ready for the spiritual messages that I received over 20 years ago. I feel my products are needed more than ever. I'm called again to create new lines of candles and products specifically geared towards healing the human chakra system and keeping the vibration levels of those who purchase the candles very high.
I so enjoy creating new products from various essential oils and channeling in the healing energy of the ancient goddesses. I have created unique artistic combinations of fragrances and products with a sense of integrity and a bit of humor. I incorporate these ideals into my life, reflect them through my business and pass that onto my customers. I think it's what I do best and it is my intention to do the very best I can to help all those in need to greet the dawn of each new day.