Essential Oils for Meditation and Ritual
Throughout the ages essential oils have been included in rituals and ceremonies of all kinds. In early Egyptian times, temple dancers wore a cone shaped headdress made of essential oil impregnated wax, and when they danced, the wax would melt and anoint their bodies with sensuous and enticing oils. Anointing was a practice widely done through Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Syria. We have the biblical reference of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with essential oil (spikenard). We also know that kings were anointed when crowned, that priests would anoint parishioners, that figures of deities were anointed by essential oils when favors were requested or when petitions were made. It was believed that anointing with essential oils could cast out evil spirits and those affected would be strengthened and healed of their illness. In the Christian tradition one can be anointed for baptism or confirmation, churches can be anointed for consecrations and the deceased can be anointed for their safe passage over to the other side. In Arabic countries often the bridegrooms were anointed with exotic oils whilst the brides were massaged with aphrodisiac oils in preparation for marriage.
In many countries, massage with essential oils before a marriage is an accepted practice. These luxurious oils not only add a wonderful quality of relaxation to pre-nuptial jitters, but also raise a spiritual awareness as well as create a sensual delight.
Burning essential oils and incense was another way ritual was observed. In Eastern spiritual traditions, burning incense in temples or meditation rooms was commonplace. It was believed that the different scents would bring a one into a deeper place of relaxation and contemplative awareness. Even in Christian tradition, frankincense (olibanum) was burned in a thirible on high and holy days to enrich the ceremony; a tradition that continues still. Western religious traditions have gone in and out of favor using incense in ceremony, especially falling into disfavor during the Reformation in 1517. But generally, all major religions through out time have supported the use of incense in their spiritual practices to honor the gods and ask for blessings. Incense was also used for cleansing negative energies in ceremony. For instance, smudging with dried white sage leaves was commonly used by the Native Americans to clear an atmosphere of evil or unwanted spirits.
Ritual bathing was another form of purification and cleansing. Baptism is a spiritual rebirthing ceremony, cleansing the Christian of Original Sin. Muslims bathed 5 times a day to ceremonially cleanse impurities. The Hindus bathed in the Ganges believing it was holy. Many traditions added essential oils to the ritual bath water believing that the oils added a more sacred aspect to the ritual, especially if there was a spiritual transformation happening.
Today we can use all the ancient practices to further assist us in our rituals and ceremonies, whether they be private offerings in the home or sacred healing circles including many. Smudging, anointing, incense, massage, bathing, guided visualization and meditation, all these when combined with essential oils can bring us into a deeper spiritual state and a purer, more balanced state of being.
Essential oils most used for ritual and ceremony are-
Angelica – is said to connect us to the Angelic realms and supports integration and balance of the etheric bodies.
Cedarwood – increases one’s connection to Spirit, clearing unwanted psychic influences so clarity of thought and wisdom can be gleaned.
Frankincense – lifts the senses to loftier realms, increasing inspiration, faith and inner strength. Promotes deep stillness and connection to Spirit.
Jasmine – opens the heart chakra, allows self-confidence, self-appreciation, self-love. A sensual and romantic oil for passion and compassion.
Lavender – considered the “Angel of Healing and Purification”. It activates the crown and heart chakra, clears negative energies and promotes a deep sense of contemplative calm and peace.
Myrrh – Facilitates deep meditation by opening the third eye chakra to inner awareness and guidance. A wonderful Goddess oil.
Neroli – opens the heart to the joys and delights of life. It transforms negative emotions and assists in upliftment and self-actualization.
Rose – romantic, sensuous, inviting. Opens the heart to love and self-love, inspiration, and union, both of Spirit and of mankind.
Rosewood – enhances meditation, clears the mental and astral bodies and uplifts the spirit.
Sandalwood – a profound oil, sacred in India. Deepens connection to Spirit, opens the mind to inspiration and new ideas, whilst promoting a deep sense of relaxation and inward attention.
Ylang Ylang – a superb oil for exotic rituals. Opens and enhancing one’s sensuality and sexuality, creating a deep appreciation of beauty and love.