Aromatherapy, the inhalation of fragrant essential oils to promote relaxation and rejuvenation, can facilitate a change in consciousness when used with visualization, meditation, prayer, or ritual.
Photo by Povy Kendal Atchison
Plants have been incorporated into human rituals since time immemorial. Before methods of extracting their essential oils were devised, the plants themselves were employed as both physical and spiritual healing agents. Plants connect us to nature, remind us we are part of something greater, and can serve as a catalyst for the transformation of our body and soul. One of the most basic ways of bringing plants into our consciousness is through our sense of smell. Scent is routed to the brain’s limbic system, where memory and emotions are stored and where some patterns of behavior are triggered. That is why certain fragrances evoke particular memories.
Essential Oil Blend Recipes:
• Soothe Sensitive Baby Skin
• Warrior’s Spirit for Courage
• Rainbow’s End for Pampering
• Relaxing Bath
• Uplifting Bath
• Wedding Night Oil
• Separation Ceremony for Letting the Past Go
Ways of Using Ritual Blends
• For a bath, swish as many as eight drops of the blend into a tub of warm water.
• For a massage oil, use five drops of blend per tablespoon of vegetable oil unless otherwise noted.
• For a room mister, use ten drops in 1/4 cup of water. Shake the container well before each use.
• Use the blends undiluted in a sniffing bottle or in an aromatherapy air diffuser.
Aromatherapy, the inhalation of fragrant essential oils to promote relaxation and rejuvenation, can facilitate a change in consciousness when used with visualization, meditation, prayer, or ritual. In our Western culture, many rituals have fallen by the wayside, although some—marriage ceremonies, graduations, funerals, baptisms—have survived.
Rituals are simply ceremonies performed to bring an idea into physical form or to acknowledge a special time. Plant scents can be powerful tools when used in a ritual.
Aromatherapists believe that the inhalation of different fragrances produce different effects. In a ceremony to create or empower, for example, they recommend scenting the air with rosemary oil to bring clarity to the mind. In a purification ceremony, rose oil purifies the heart. To facilitate grieving or recognize pain and let it go, choose petitgrain (the essential oil from the leaves of bitter orange), which encourages transformation.
An Aromatherapist's Materia Medica of Essential Oils
• Angelica: protects
• Bergamot: eases grieving
• Black pepper: stimulates, energizes
• Chamomile: calms, soothes
• Carrot seed: strengthens inner vision, alleviates confusion
• Cedarwood: enhances spirituality and mental clarity
• Clary sage: enhances dream memory, combats depression
• Cypress: aids in transitions such as moving to a new home, making a major decision, or loss
• Eucalyptus: depletes negative energy
• Frankincense: aids meditation, breaks ties with the past
• Jasmine: arouses sexual desire, develops creativity
• Juniper: cleanses and detoxifies, clears negativity
• Lavender: calms, balances, cleanses, harmonizes
• Marjoram: eases loneliness and grief
• Myrrh: strengthens spirituality
• Neroli: enhances creativity, calms mind and body
• Patchouli: strengthens and grounds
• Peppermint: dispels pride, fights feelings of inferiority
• Petitgrain: transforms, increases mental clarity
• Pine: invigorates, energizes
• Rose: brings love
• Rosemary: fosters clarity of thought
• Sage: manifests strength
• Sandalwood: stills the mind
• Vetiver: grounds, centers
• Ylang ylang: dispels anger, creates peace
Mindy Green of Boulder, Colorado, is the author of Natural Perfumes: Simple Aromatherapy Recipes (Interweave Press, 1999), and the education director at the Herb Research Foundation.