By Stephanie Mathivet

Here at the Goddess House we love the essential essences of plants. There is something so sacred about the purity of aroma. We breathe it in and it becomes one with us. We create a connection at a deep soul level allowing the essence of the plant to communicate with us, and we respond with our hearts. When we receive the beauty of aroma into our senses, and when we receive the physical molecules of plant essence into our bodies, we enter into a relational space of heart, mind and physicality with that oil. It might sound odd to talk about having a relationship with a substance or to suggest that there is something within a substance that seeks to communicate with us, but this is exactly what happens.

The olfactory neurons in our nasal passages detect aroma and relay information from aroma to the sensory limbic area of the brain. The fine hair-like receptors at the end of the neurons key into the molecules in aromas, creating a ‘vibrational song’ or ‘osmic frequency’. This happen at sub-molecular levels, so we are barely aware of it happening as a process, although we are likely to be aware of the result. We smell an odour and recoil because we don’t like it. There is no vibrational resonance; maybe it jars as it triggers an old buried memory and our limbic brain activates our amygdala to react.  Or we may smell an odour and become immediately transformed into blissful peace and relaxation. The osmic frequency creates a resonance that triggers a range of responses in the body and mind, just from that little sniff.

Our bodies like essential oils too and it is still a mystery as to why. Over the years there has been more and more research into the properties of essential oils and how or why they work. The old theory, that aromatic compounds formed by plants contain sets of chemicals that can be measured, and their effects predicted, is no longer thought to be helpful to our understanding. Somehow the chemical processes are more complex as it is the assembly of compounds, rather than the singular, which has the effect. This is why we like to blend oils, to create a ‘synergy’ where the compounds work as a united team. The constituents of oils can change according to the chemotype, what time of year it was harvested, weather conditions, soil conditions etc all have their bearing on an oil. Our individual bio-chemistry too is very different between people so it can be suggested that we all have our own way of relating and responding to, the effects of essential oils. Also, as we progress our own healing through the stages of a cold, for example, our body’s needs change so a new blend is needed. Our response to an oil tells us as much about how helpful it is as a list of chemical constituents can – although it is still important to know this information.

However, we use our oils and whatever theoretical windows of learning we look though when applying them, one thing we can agree on is that good quality oils are important. The more true they are the more we are able to communicate clearly with that oil. So many oils are adulterated, and it is hard to know how to choose oils. Organic and wild crafted oils are going to have something special that mass cultivated oils are going to miss and plants that have been lovingly cared for are going to vary widely from those that have been farmed over acres. Large international companies might grow a plant in various countries, bring it all back to the production plant and distil the whole lot together so you get a very hybrid product. If we think about a plant such as lavender, hardy though it may be, climatic conditions can affect crop yield – yet the same amount of oil is out there on the market. How can this be so? Dilution and adulteration is rife, especially where the production of essential oils happens on an industrial scale. As a rule, the larger the oil company is, the more likely it will be that the oil is not true. Marketing materials may claim to show chemical constituents of an oil even by the serial number on the bottle. Chemical constituents such as linalool or geraniol can be laboratory made and added to a compound to make it chemically close to an oil and this is what adulteration means.

Relational seems to be a key word here. Just as we, the user or aromatherapist, finds healing power in the relational connections we have with the plant oil, so there needs to be a relational element between small scale growers and their crops as well as a relationship of honesty and trust between a grower and supplier. As therapists and we need to be able to have a relationship with our supplier so that we can trust that the oils we receive are the very best. When we then smell our oils, we have a sense of that bond between ourselves as humans and the sacred essence of the plant, opening ourselves to receive its magic and share that with our client.

At the Goddess House we are creating an opportunity to explore this relational aspect of choosing quality oils. We will be holding a series of 8 seasonal mini-workshops where we will be looking at groups of oils that resonate with that season. Our first meeting will take us into the wintry forests of pine, fir and cypress as well as into the clear air of the eucalypti family, tea tree and myrtle. Of course, these are our anti-viral oils too, that help prevent spread of coughs, colds and flu and which are our best friends when we are under the weather. We will relax with short, gentle journey into the aromatic wintry landscape of a blend of oils, so we can really tune in to how we respond to their aromas. We will learn a little bit about the meaning of colours for each season, as well as about the oils and their hydrolats where available. We will also look at a couple of different vegetable or herbal oils and think about how these also help us at this time. We will learn about some of the latest research as well as correct some of the misleading information that is currently out there about how to use essential oils. Leading these sessions will be Stephanie Mathivet, one of our House Aromatherapists, and Karen Elliot from Fragrant Earth International. You will also be able to order any of the oils we get to know and receive a 10% discount.

These workshops are more than just a marketing and sales opportunity, though. They are a time for aromatherapists and lovers of aroma to get together, to create relationships with us at Goddess House and Fragrant Earth as well as with each other. Moreover, our workshops will be a time for a shared experience and an intimate moment with aromas that connect us to plants as well as the energies of each season.

Please come along if you can. The next one will be at Imbolc. Refreshments will be available just beforehand. Donation £5 to cover room rent.