Remember the stories of the mythical Fountain of Youth? This is where Florida water gets its name.
On April 2, 1513 after a long voyage at sea, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon stepped foot on what he thought was an island. The land was covered with beautiful flowers, leading de Leon to name it ‘la Florida,’ meaning ‘full of flowers’ or ‘flowery.’ Another reason given for the name is because de Leon set foot on the land during ‘La Pascua de la Florida’ or ‘Flowery Easter.’
According to lore, Ponce de Leon led this expedition to the New World in search of a miraculous fountain that supposedly had the ability to restore health and youth. In reality, however, the explorer was traveling to claim territories and establish colonies for Spain. Nevertheless, the tale has lived on for centuries, even to this day. The Fountain of Youth Archeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida has become a lucrative business based on the legend.
So, where does Florida water (in Spanish, ‘agua florida’ or ‘agua de florida’) come in? The most commonly recognized brand is Murray and Lanman Florida water, which was introduced in 1808. The mixture of alcohol, water, and fragrances (including lavender, cloves, and orange) is packaged in a unique bottle, including a label filled with pictures of bird baths, men and women in costumes, and, you guessed it, the elusive Fountain of Youth.
Once advertised as “the richest of all perfumes,” Florida water had many uses in its day, and its unique scent and alcohol base made it quite refreshing. The description on the company’s trademark summarizes its uses best: 'toilet water recommended for refreshing and scenting the skin; for massaging the body; for use as a personal deodorant and for deodorizing premises; as a before and after-shave lotion; for insect bites; and as a hair lotion.'
However, over time, Florida water was incorporated into rituals performed in various spiritual practices, including hoodoo (also known as conjure or rootwork) and Santeria. The water is said to help banish negativity, and is frequently used to cleanse spaces, perform blessings, and encourage good luck. Florida water can be used in various ways:
Other spiritual waters exist, and many can be used similarly to Florida water, but have their own distinct properties as well:
Sole Sorcery also has its own line of all natural spiritual waters made with herbs, spices, fruits and flowers, which you can purchase here. Protect yourself, and the spaces you inhabit!
~ Shelby Fizer