Why aromatherapy? True healing is holistic and should take the whole person into consideration. Our bodies and souls are interconnected and wellbeing is the balance between them. I believe scent is the sense that unifies the body and the soul, it is physical yet so elusive and its effects on our entire being are undeniably powerful. Olfaction (sense of smell) in humans is the first sense to develop, and it’s already given to babies inside the mother’s womb. The sense of smell is embedded in the amygdala in our brain, precisely where emotions are born and stored. Healing with scent is a natural approach to wellness, and for the skeptics, research reveals the virtues of aromatherapy beyond any doubt.
How to do it? Most people use essential oils for aromatherapy. Essential oils are the quintessence of a plant or flower captured and concentrated. Since this requires a massive amount of plant matter to produce a tiny amount of oil, they can be expensive and are very strong. The good news is you can practice the art of aromatherapy with OR without essential oils:
*MAKE YOUR OWN FLOWER ESSENCES~pick the freshest flowers possible at a time when they are full of life and their scent is at their peak. Place them in a glass bowl and leave it under the soon (or moon) for at least 3 hours. strain the water and bottle the liquid. you can add some brandy as a preservative.
*SURROUND YOURSELF~cook with them, sleep with them, put them in vases and bowls around your house. There is nothing quite as comforting as the smells of cinnamon wafting throughout the house, or relaxing as a bathtub exuding the scents of roses and lavender. Keep a dish of coffee beans nearby your desk at work to perk you up midday, it’s as effective as drinking it!
*STOP+SMELL THE ROSES!!!~The simplest and purest way to reap the benefits of the flowers is to surround yourself with them in their natural habitat. Taking a moment to sit outside near a flower and smell its essence is medicine. Find or grow an aromatic garden where you can breathe in nature’s medicine anytime. Continue reading
My teacher Rosemary Gladstar wisely points out, “what better way to get to know the herbs than to sleep with them?” This is a really cute project you can make that will bring you sweet vivid dreams, using herbs that are known to help with dream recall and dream consciousness. There are many combinations to use, and each pillow can be made to suit your personal dream style. The traditional dreamer’s herbs Mugwort and Hops should be your base. Add others (below) for peaceful sleep, spiritual awakening, or to chase away nightmares. You can also use any type of fabric to encase the herbs, such as cotton, velvet, silk, or linen. I crocheted a little pouch and placed the herbs in an organza sachet bag, then stuffed that into the pouch and closed it up. It smells so good…!! Before bed, ruffle the pillow a bit to release the energy and aroma.
Suggested Herbs: Mugwort, hops +
Pick+choose: catnip, melissa (lemon balm), roses, lavender, chamomile, star anise, honeysuckle, chrysanthemum, rosemary.
There are few things as precious and delicate as a perfect rosebud picked on a dewey morning, a bunch of fresh chamomile gathered and hung to dry, or sweet honeysuckle flowers collected at the peak of their beauty and vitality. Naturally the freshness and purity of herbs and flowers need to be preserved properly and in containers that are worthy of their beauty, not plastic bags or tupperware. Well preserved herbs stored in glass amber or blue jars and kept in shaded, cool areas can then be transformed into high quality healing teas, tinctures, hydrasols, and herbal oils. I have seen some beautiful herbal pantries that are filled with unusual jars, hand painted, etched, engraved, embellished, and labeled with handmade labels to house the owner’s beloved herbs. You can find unique pieces online or at yard sales and antique shops, here are some jars that inspire me:
Floriography, or the Language of Flowers, was a most enchanting practice of the Victorian times in which people communicated messages and conveyances through flowers and herbs. This language of flowers is possibly one of the most romantic gestures that ever existed. Writers, poets, artists, and everyday people employed the age-old symbolism of flowers and herbs, rooted in mythology and folklore, to express emotion and ideas. Today, it can be an ideal outlet for those of us who seek the deeper meaning behind things.
Though there are inevitably countless variances in flower meanings based on geography, language, and culture, most flowers’ meanings are remarkably consistent throughout the world. As there are cases of extreme discrepancy, (such as with Basil, which in some manuals meant true love and in others, hatred), when sending or receiving messages it would be wise to combine flowers/herbs whose meanings are more consistent with those that are more elusive. In my attempts to help preserve and perhaps even revive this charming practice, here is an index of some popular flowers and herbs and the meanings assigned to them by tradition and folklore.
Join my Facebook page to send messages to friends using the Language of Flowers.