My deeper foray into essential oil exploration began about 18 months ago. I write deeper as I have actually been intrigued and in love with essential oils for most of my adult life, having been seduced by them in my late 20’s thanks to my friend Jan Douglass (who sadly no longer specialises in the aromatherapy field).
A health crisis (injury) pulled me up to a point of enforced rest last year and made me stop and smell the roses. Literally, actually. I had began working with a healing modality called The Liquid Crystals which are remedies along the same lines as Bach Flower essences. Each of the remedies had corresponding essential oils. Some I had never heard of, and what’s more, were hard to find unless you went online.
So my journey went way beyond the dusty shelves of health food store racks that stock the obligatory lavender and peppermint bottles, and into a world of scent where the gods themselves reside. I have taken to the essential oils as I would imagine an entheogen enthusiast would, and list below 7 of the most delectable, sacred scents that never leave my olfactory turntable.
These are the scents that I will use in meditation and for focusing when I am at a particular stage of painting a work. Whilst putting these in rank of favourite is near impossible, I will leave the most powerful to the end.
Not a top 12 but . . . .
If this were a Top 12 I would have to mention the power of these fragrances also:
Palo Santo (bursera graveolens)
Pink Lotus (nelumbo nucifera) also called Sacred Lotus
Blue Lotus (nymphaea caerulea)
Cedarwood (juniperus virginiana)
Rockrose (cistus ladanifer) also known as labdanum and Rose Of Sharon
The 7 Scents
Sandalwood (Australian) (santalum spicatum)
The exotic wood smell of sandalwood has the ability to transport one into a meditative space immediately. It is not a heavy wooden scent but an intense one that invites deeper inhalation and with it, greater contemplation.
I prefer the Australian variety to the Indian ones that I have sampled, but am intrigued by Hawaiian sandalwood, which I wonder if it will have a salty note to it?
Galbanum (ferula galbaniflua)
The heady and commanding scent of this Mediterranean flower is both focusing and dispersing of one’s contemplative tendencies all at once. In the same way that kerosene alerts you to its presence, galbanum does so also albeit with a rewarding, clarifying tone that does not engender chemical alarm.
Rose (rose damascena)
The king of florals that produces instant calm, rose has a luminescent quality that brings emotional equilibrium and inspires a harmonic stillness. Yet this stillness is not of this realm and hard earned - given how many petals of this precious flower are required to make but one drop of essential oil.
The aromatic blessings bestowed by this oil can not be overrated.
Copaiba (copaifera reticulata)Woody in a way that echoes sandalwood, but which takes you in a completely different, upward spiral of olfactory adventure, this subtle but obsessive fragrance speaks of hidden dimensions within its molecules that in turn mirror the hidden ones in you. I have sampled two types of Copaiba – both are oleoresins and considered a balsam.
One is from YoungLiving and the other Simplers Botanicals – the later has a greener note to it than the former.
I have experienced real and prolonged “feel good” states after inhaling this essential oil, and am led to understand that this is owing to the high content of beta-caryophyllene which has been studied for its ability to modulate the body's response to irritation.
Frankincense (boswellia sacra)
Frankincense has been a personal favourite for years, but using it in meditation and prayer practice has become commonplace for its ability to engender a spiritual (or sacred) state. It is commanding in the same way that galbanum is, yet it has a subtle, softer tone that beckons burgeoning spiritual states to emerge and become manifest in this world.
I am familiar with many types of frankincense now – serrata, neglecta, olibanum, and caterii – and whilst I enjoy all of these, sacra (sacred frankincense) is my preferred.
Myrrh (commiphora myrrha)
Calmative, exhilarating, exciting and sacred are words that describe myrrh. Like frankincense, this has been a favourite for years, but as my olfactory senses develop I find new, richer depths to this woody resin that find me sticky in my spiritually indeed.
It is a kind of bliss to be trapped in myrrh’s exotic clutches, and dare I say it may indeed bring us closer to parts of our soul anatomy more readily than most of the others.
Agarwood (aquilaria species of which there are 8)
also known as aloeswood and oud / oudh
I was not prepared for the overpowering ominousness of agarwood when I first encountered it earlier this year. I am obviously predisposed to woody essential oils but to describe this fragrance simply as woody is to do it a grave injustice.
I mentioned soul anatomy in relation to myrrh above; but if there were a scent to be anointed with in order to take ones physically immortal body into the realms where the other 8 pieces of soul anatomy reside, then this is that scent.
A sacred scent (like many of the above) to many ancient cultures and religions for a very long time, oud is especially favoured in the Arab world and beloved of Islam.
Wood that has been regenerated with spiritual fire, wood that has survived decay to become a new holy thing, wood that is wet and wood that is caramel are just a few ways I can describe this majestic fragrance. And yet no words can do this justice.
The agarwoods that I own are from Grandawood, and called Wild Dark Merauke and Wild Cambodian.
|A sketch trying to convey the sentiments expressed above; the device is a nebulising diffuser - my "olfactory turntable"|
|Sketch for painting "Liquid God"; the chemical equations are that of the aquilaria tree, the Netjer featured is Setesh|