Breathe in the intoxicating aroma of lavender, orange, and pine to relieve stress. Attract unconditional love by sprinkling rose, jasmine, carnation, and apple into a steaming bath. From therapeutic applications for massage, pain relief and mental clarity to magical applications for love, prosperity, and ritual the 332 recipes in The Magic of Aromatherapy will help you balance your physical mental and spiritual selves.
But you'll get more than just recipes in this unusually complete guide. You'll learn the "why" of essential oils-traditional historical and cultural uses-plus you get an exhaustive reference section with planetary, astrological elemental and gender associations; magical and therapeutic properties; magical cross-references; and a listing of oil sources.
Gwydion O'Hara (Texas) has spent years researching the knowledge of our ancestors that has become obscured by time. A Pagan High Priest, he has been a student of the natural arts and sciences for over twenty years. His other books include Moon Lore, Sun Lore, and Pagan Ways,
With the increasing interest in the natural arts and sciences, many have found a keen attraction to the workings of fragrance. There have been untold volumes published on the healing applications of scent, yet the magical applications have been less celebrated. This is unfortunate, for two reasons. First, the magical applications of aromatherapy-existing since before recorded history in the sacred rites of our ancestors, who burned herbs and essences to their deities-in many ways may have been the foundation of the rich healing practices of the modern-day aromatherapist. We can only expand our understanding of the art if we remember its roots. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, is the fact that the magical practice of aromatherapy is inseparable from the therapeutic. The treatment of mind and spirit is a key concern of magical endeavor. In treating many ailments, the healer has discovered that the mind and spirit of the client colors the effectiveness of a given remedy.
Although there may be those who look at the magical applications of the fragrance arts as just so much superstition, as the old wives' tales of an ignorant world, it should be remembered that the folk remedies of our ancestors do indeed have substance. If we are truly a generation of wisdom and insight, we should not be too quick to dismiss the old magic. The lore that has been handed down from ancient days is but a piece of knowledge that was at one time necessary for "old wives" to know.
There is no shortage of available material on the art and science of aromatherapy. While some involved in working with fragrances fancy themselves artists-with a kinship to the perfumer of old, with a touch of elegance-others align themselves more closely with the medical practitioners and the scientific community. In order to fully explore the incredible world of scent, it is necessary to abandon classifications and to become open to the world of knowledge before us in whatever guise it may present itself.
The approach I have taken in dealing with this subject matter is one of open exploration and adventurous, uninhibited experimentation. By no means have I taken the mindset of the purist-and I invite you to follow my example. I take my lessons where I may, plunge deeply into the scented gifts of nature, and augment this world of wonder with the innovations created by the human mind.
Some will steer clear of anything "unnatural" in the practice of aromatherapy. Yet there appears to be an entire world of possibility abandoned with this approach. And if there is some level of justification required by the purist to ease the sense of betraying the natural order as I pursue the effects of synthetic aromas as well as those that occur in nature, consider the age- old use of a remedy like white willow bark as the predecessor to the common aspirin. What volume of white willow bark would be required to accomplish the same symptomatic relief as one tiny aspirin? And to further champion the use of natural as well as synthetic scents, cannot all substances find their beginnings in nature?
If the human mind can develop a way to enhance the effectiveness of nature's gifts, then I will not ignore the possibilities. For human thought is a creation of the natural order as well. To deny the pursuit of knowledge might be considered as much a betrayal of nature as our straying from the confines of aromas that are derived strictly from raw materials in their natural state. For in aromatherapy, we do not attempt to mutilate the gifts of nature, but rather to appreciate and utilize them to their fullest capacity.
Long ago, when humankind struggled through a strange world in ignorance, there was no true science-perhaps, in those days of darkness, there was no true knowledge either. The races of people were as children upon the earth, struggling to make their way through each successive day to see the dawning of just one more sun. It was in this time that superstition gripped the minds of civilized beings, when popular belief stood in the place that was to be reserved for science and art as the wheel of time progressed.
Now we have fine health care facilities throughout the world to maintain our physical and mental well-being. There are medical remedies for almost every conceivable ailment and chemical concoctions devoted to every purpose. And yet the old-world' beliefs have not completely faded from our lives. The superstitious world of civilization in its age of ignorance has taken a stubborn foothold in a new age of science and knowledge.
We know, now, that the world is not the center of the universe, as the pseudo-scientists of ages past would have had us believe. These one-time scholars of darkness-the astrologers, philosophers, and alchemists-have been proven wrong in many instances. Yet we pick up the daily newspaper and still consult the ancient systems of art and science as we peruse our daily horoscope. The old wives' tales are deeply rooted in cultures and family heritages; we swear by Granny's cold remedy that she inherited from her own Granny, and a hundred Grannys before her.
What is the obsession with the old beliefs that seems so inescapable in a modern world? While it may be true that science has overturned many of the old beliefs, it has given credibility to so many more. Mother's chicken soup has been found to contain a natural antibiotic that helps us to combat disease. The garlic that our ancestors were so fond of swallowing to chase away the demons that caused human suffering has also been found to have bacteria-fighting properties.
A dear friend once told me to not disregard the lore that has come down from distant years, for it often contained great wisdom. Within the substance of this simple statement is the foundation of the survival, and constant revival, of the ancient arts. Necessity was the motivation behind the old ways of healing. Centuries ago, as early as the year 1210, it was heralded that 'Nede makith the old witt to trotte.' This proverb, as recorded in The Common-place Book before 1500, illuminates the driving force behind ancient home remedies and, perhaps, explains the reason for the successes of our ancestors in the healing arts. Their remedies had to be effective for their survival. They were not reaching for a Nobel Prize; rather, the fruit of their labor was life itself.
And so the old arts continue to survive. Researchers are forever reaching back to ages past in hopes of touching one or another of the ancient magic’s of our ancestors, whose many specks of light pierced the darkened world of ignorance before the dawn of science.
The use of scent for healing body, mind, and spirit was but one of those specks of illumination. Some of us may remember the smell of camphor that filled the room as Grandma took up the battle against winter colds on our behalf, or the smell of mustard used in the paste that heated our bodies and chased the congestion from our chests. There is a crossover between the herbal remedies of the country folk and the modern application of aromatherapy today. Just as the body may absorb medication through external application or direct ingestion, we take in the therapeutic value of our healing concoctions through their scent as it is absorbed by the sensitive membranes of our nasal passages.
The avid cocaine user and the abuser of inhalant substances know well the ability of the nasal membranes to absorb both scent and substance into the body. The aromatherapist employs the same principle for positive purpose, building and healing instead of weakening and tearing down.
Although the practice of aromatherapy has grown in popularity and usage over the past several decades, its effectiveness and its subtle workings have never required the attention of humankind. Whether we like it or not, or even choose to believe it or not, we are all subject to the effects created by our surroundings. We respond in different ways to color, to temperature, to the many sounds that fill our world-and we are no less affected by the smells we encounter each day.
When we inhale the fresh aroma of newly baked bread, the thought of tasting the hot loaves flows naturally through our minds. We need not even be hungry for the aroma to exercise its magic on us. The sweet scent of a field of flowers may fill us with peaceful, dreamy feelings-as well as evoke memories or fantasies from days gone by. As we journey through our everyday lives, we cannot be unaffected by the sensual stimuli of the scents we meet on our way.
The most obvious and sensually stirring scents are those that are unusual. Perhaps from our city dwelling we go to visit a rural area and are "taken by the smell of the newly mown hay or assaulted by the gamey, piercing odor of the pig barn. In a strange setting, every smell seems to linger a bit longer in our nostrils. We breathe in deeply, fascinated by the aromas that surround us in this alien world. Every scent, the foul as well as the pleasant, holds a fascination for us, stimulating and exciting every fiber of our sensual perception.
Yet we are more often in the company of the familiar environment of our everyday existences. After experiencing the stimulating effect of the aromas that are new to us, it is inconceivable that we are not equally affected by the smells that permeate our own world. And, in fact, we are. Our constant exposure to the scents of our everyday lives, however, forces their effect onto a subconscious level. If we were to stop and analyze each of the scents that we pass in our everyday existence, we might set out on a simple journey, perhaps to the corner store, and become hopelessly lost in a sea of sensual wonder. So we learn to place the stimuli of our everyday lives into subconscious acknowledgment so that we can get on with our daily tasks.
Consider, for example, the classic scene of the elderly soul who adores cats. It seems that almost everyone with whom I've ever spoken has had contact with such a figure in their own experience. Caring, compassionate, and appreciative of their company, the cat lover's animals are well tended and continue to multiply. It is difficult to have a large number of these creatures in an enclosed area without developing a distinctive odor in the house, yet the custodian of the animals seems oblivious to the assault of the pungent odor on the senses.
Herein lies the grand secret behind the workings of aromatherapy. We are, indeed, affected by the scents of the world around us. The aim of the aromatherapist is to capture the effects of these scents-both conscious and unconscious- and to blend them together in such a way that their effect is directed to a specific purpose. Within the pages of this book are many blends, both magical and therapeutic, that have been designed to evoke given responses, remedying specific ailments, or life situations. In the hands of the competent aromatherapist, the workings of nature-often subtle in their thrust-become the gifts of nature. In their highest applications, these gifts are for the benefit, the well-being, and the betterment of all of humankind.
Whether we utilize the art and science of aromatherapy for physical and mental wellness-as in its expression as a healing art-or to enhance our spirits and better the conditions of our lives as we undertake its magical applications, we are beginning a journey of both knowledge and wonder. And to take the first steps, we need only follow our noses.
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