Inhale

Like music and meditation, aromatics can be used to alter your consciousness and deepen your awareness. Using environmental fragrances is also a delightful way of lifting your mood and sharpening your mind.

A cool whiff of neroli sets your brain racing. Sniffing white rose can nestle you down into the most enjoyable indolence. Immerse yourself in the rich warmth of the ambergris and, even if you are the most timid of creatures, you can begin to feel bold and daring. Tibetan lamas mix an extraordinary combination of herbs and flowers to produce an incense which heightens concentration and centers the mind for meditation. In ancient times, temple prostitutes knew every secret of blending aromatics to create a heady aphrodisiac which was completely irresistible to their worshippers. And astrologers advised their clients which balm to use when a specific planet made particular transits in their chart.

The special substances that make all this possible are the plant essences – the light, fine, almost etheric essential oils taken from roots, leaves, barks and flowers of plants in their prime of life. A plant essence plays an important role in the plant’s growth to maturity, is forever changing its chemical composition in the plant, and is present in greater quantities in young plants. Many experts in the use of plant essences believe that, in some way that no one has been able to identify, these substances contain much of the life force of the plant, including the basic characteristics of its leaves and flowers that give it a unique character, smell and ability to affect human beings in specific ways. Some plants, such as jasmine and rose, require hundreds of pounds of live flowers to produce even a tiny bottle of the essence. They are very expensive. Other oils, such as cinnamon and basil, are easily extracted and inexpensive.

But you should know that the ‘synthetic’ version of a plant essence (in spite of the fact that its main constituents have been chemically reproduced) does not have the same effect on a person. This is probably because the terpene alcohols, phenols and esters that make up these natural substances have a synergistic quality – they work together to produce an effect greater than the sum of each working on its own. Some natural therapists rely on many plant essences for their restorative and stimulating actions in treatments for skin and hair, as well as for combating cellulite. They are also important constituents in many expensive face creams and lotions. But the way in which aromatic vibrations from essential oils can be used in your environment to alter mood and mind is something quite different from their therapeutic uses, when mixed with carrier oils and spread on the skin in aromatherapy treatments. Oil of geranium, for instance, is a mild diuretic useful in aromatherapy for treating fluid retention, eczema and anxiety. But burn it as incense, or let it diffuse into your environment as a fragrance, and it can make you act with uncharacteristic rashness – an effect quite separate from its therapeutic properties.

Aromatherapy is a tool for healing. Aromatics belong to the realm of magic. The best way to discover what its magic can do for you is to experiment with a few of the real essences. Start with six, and then enlarge your repertoire as you get to know the quality and characteristics of each, and as you discover those you particularly like. Because they are natural substances, and highly volatile, they rapidly diffuse into the environment. They just as rapidly disappear or can be replaced by other fragrances. When you choose essences and oils for burning, make absolutely sure that those you buy are natural. The current fascination with aromatherapy has led to the appearance of a myriad of poor quality so-called essential oils, which are nothing of the kind. They are cheap chemical analogues and are currently being sold in chemists, department stores and specialty shops all over. Trying to use them for mind-bending is a grave mistake. They can actually make you feel quite sick, not to mention the unpleasant fact that they tend to infuse into a room and then imbed themselves in the carpets, curtains and furniture with the tenacity of a cheap perfume. Only real essential oils have mind-bending magic. But what a wonderful magic that can be.

Cedar heightens creativity

Chamomile soothes panic and hysteria

Marjoram calms irritability, soothes panic

Cinnamon is a natural stimulant

Frankincense calms irritability and impatience

Neroli is an anti shock aid, and heightens mental functions

Basil banishes fear and indecision, and is antidepressant

Clary sage clears the head after mental activity

Juniper improves concentration, and banishes fear

Sage dispels anxiety

Lily restores energy

Geranium is anti-anxiety

Ylang Ylang is aphrodisiac and antidepressant

Lavender calms irritability, and soothes impatience

Patchouli is an antidote to apathy, and is good against exhaustion

Peppermint uplifts the spirit, is good against apathy, and is a mental stimulant

Jasmine is an antidote to shyness

Sandalwood helps new ways of thinking

Rosewood calms an aggressive mind

Vanilla heightens nostalgia – especially for childhood

USING AROMATICS FOR MINDBENDING

* Put 30 to 50 drops of essential oil or oils into a half pint size spray bottle filled with water. (The kind you use to spray plants is ideal.) Use this mixture as a room spray.

* Put 8 to 10 drops of essential oils on a small piece of cardboard and place it on a warm radiator.

* Put 5-10 drops of an essence on a small plate and put it on top of an aga or wood stove.

* Place a few drops of essential oils on a cotton or linen handkerchief and sniff it periodically. (This is a particularly good method if you are in a public place where the air is full of cigarette smoke or the room is stuffy.)

* Place 10-15 drops in water which is simmering on a hob. This will humidify the environment as well as scenting it.

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