Nature has endowed us with a special treasure of healing essences, an alchemy of plants that through their energy or even their smell can help us balance, ground or (re)find ourselves. Alchemy can be defined as a magical power or process of transforming a substance, usually of insignificant value, into a substance of great value. Over the centuries, this concept of alchemy grew from metallurgical foundations and embraced psychological and spiritual transformation. For example, Carl Jung's work focused on the alchemical transformation of shadows into light, or rather, the transformation of the shadowy aspects of the self into illumination, the golden aspects of the self. Today, modern spiritual traditions invoke the alchemical power of transforming the Self from a single, introspective consciousness to an awakened, dynamic consciousness open to the subtle energies that surround us.
To restore the balanced flow of energy in the body, we need tools filled with healing energy that can bring us back into alignment with the universal energies or the Source from which all form and energy emanates. Thus aligned, our consciousness opens, our inner matrix intertwines with that of the world around us, and we are drawn on the path to discovering the best version of ourselves, the highest Self we can have. In order to progress towards healing, we must understand certain aspects, namely, we must explore this "matrix" and discover what it is made of. It all starts with the concept of Vibration. We are all manifestations of Vibration, a form of energy, so we are all at a fundamental level of energy. Deepak Chopra explains very nicely that the physical world, the world of objects and matter, is made up of information contained in energy that vibrates at different frequencies. The reason we don't see the world as a huge web of energy is because its vibration is too fast. Our senses, because they work so slowly, can only register snippets of this energy and activity, and these clusters of information become the "Seat", "Body", "water" like any other physical object in this visible universe. Knowing that matter is made up of vibrational energy at different frequencies, it is fascinating to consider our own vibrational signature as Human Beings. Researcher Warren J. Hamerman notes that the organic matter that makes up and forms human beings generates a frequency that can be represented by sound about 42 octaves above the C note in the middle of the piano keyboard, or 570 trillion Hz (Frequency is measured in hertz , an international unit of measurement where 1 hertz equals 1 cycle per second). Because Hz measures vibrations per second, human beings vibrate 570 trillion times per second, a number that exceeds the boundaries of imagination and indicates incredible and special potential. Every atom, cell, structure and organ in the human body vibrates according to its unique pattern. We human beings possess an entire inner universe, full of overlapping frequencies, and the result is a symphony of cosmic proportions.
Physics shows us that vibrations can affect each other in time and space, creating interaction and amplitude, i.e. vibrational power. The principle of resonance describes how one vibration can reinforce another vibration. So the resonance builds a vibration that is louder, more stable and much stronger. Because we are vibrational beings in a constant state of flux, an important key to our well-being and growth is strengthening our desired energy patterns. We must learn to recognize the diseased and disharmonious patterns within us, identify the vibrational tools with the strong, stable and resonant frequency, and use these tools to transform the shadowed and unbalanced energy into a strong and harmonized one. In other words, we can introduce external vibrational energies to influence ourselves positively, through the power of resonance. The vibrational signature of herbs and essential oils, crystals, minerals and metals provide a stable foundation upon which we can weave this inner universe, transform, heal and harmonize, for these are suitable vibrational tools for Spiritual Alchemy.
In many Eastern creation stories, from Vedanta to Buddhism, the World is said to have begun as an emanation of form from the emptiness of pure Potential. From this perspective also found in Carl Jung, everything that has been created represents a Pattern born from the universal Ether transformed into recognized Form. So, further exploring this spiritual energetic world, we also reach the five great elements, also called tattwas, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether. Tattwas or the five elements represent the energy that drives Archetypal Patterns, which animate each chakra (energy center, the 7 chakras). They are energetic skeletal structures that create and support every aspect of human existence. To understand how each element works and behaves, we must first recognize how it affects us and how we can access it. By becoming aware of these archetypal elements, their traits and the impact they have on us and the external environment, we open a door to a state of inner consciousness that brings us closer to Self.
We will explore these elements as we experience them through our senses, namely, Sound (Hearing) - Ether, Touch (Tactile) - Air, Sight (sight) - Fire, Taste - Water and Aroma (Smell) - Earth, and how it affects the human emotional, the spirit, the body, the mental and last but not least the soul. By understanding and experiencing the microcosm of the elements, we can become aware of and work with the macrocosm (outer space). When we stimulate an outer space, we stir and influence the inner space (microcosm), and when we stimulate the inner universe, it affects and influences the outer space. Once we understand the resonant energies involved, we can use them to manage vibration both internally and externally. Our intention is to use the five elements to consciously work on our subtle Self, free ourselves from blockages and imbalances, and restore harmony, peace and balance to our lives. As we come to identify with these vibrational elements, we can create a bridge that allows us to ascend back up into the sky, closer to our cosmic roots.
The five Elements, like other forms in the Universe, are born from vibration, they are the essence that creates the feeling of existence, and in the Vedic tradition, these elements called tattwa (from Sanskrit, translated truth, principle or thatness in English) manifest a series in which each successive element derives from its predecessor and inherits a heavier (slower) vibration. The first element to develop is Ether, also called Akasha, which contains an infinite potential of energy and is in a subtle state where both energy and matter exist in the heart of consciousness. As soon as the Ether / Akasha begins to vibrate, movement is simulated and the element of Air comes into being. Because the particles of Air have the widest freedom of movement, this element is seen as a continuous movement in which all movements intertwine, also called "all-pervading motion". The excessive energy of Air stimulates the emergence of the next element, namely, Fire, where less energy is consumed compared to that of Air, this being seen as Light. Satyasangananda says that this element represents energy in the first stage of manifestation, in which Form arises with the appearance of light. In the absence of light there is no perceptible form, and the Ego comes from this lightless space. Once the movement subsides, the Fire element condenses into that of Water. Water energy is created to "penetrate", being confined in a space without a specific form. The final element arises from a larger decrease in vibration, which causes the water to solidify into the earth and appears as static. To understand the vibrational healing power of an essential oil, it is necessary to understand the qualities and environment of which the oil is a part, as well as the vibration of the element of which the essential oil is a part.
Swamy Satyasangananda claims that the Ether Element presents a subtle vibration that cannot be perceived by the external senses; our senses have not been tuned to this frequency, so as long as we operate through them, we cannot experience the subtle vibration of the Akasha / Ether element. However, we can introduce it into our lives through essential oils and aromatherapy and the properties it holds. The sense related to this element is that of hearing, namely, sound. The color associated with Ether is Black, and the symbol in Sacred Geometry is the oval. Aether represents everything and nothing, all in one Whole, or unity. On the mental level, the ether is said to hold the control of human emotions and passions, used with confidence for spiritual discovery. We find it in the neck area, correlated to the fifth chakra (Vishuddha, the inner muse), and it encourages good communication skills, clearly expressing what we want and how we feel, along with the ability to hear exactly what others are saying. When there is too little ether, we lack spiritual connection, have difficulty communicating, and find it difficult to find ourselves. With too much ether, we can feel too airy and disorientated and afraid of being alone or feeling lost and unable to find our way back to balance.
The oil chosen to best represent this element is Lavender, Lavandula Angustifolia. It is a complex, healing, soothing oil that can envelop us in a state of comfort and relaxation. This oil stimulates the fifth chakra, the center of communication and inspiration. Lavender essential oil harmonizes many aspects of the human condition, like any other essential oil. This remarkable oil encourages us to connect deeply with the outer world, to share our unique personal talents and inner light. Lavender heals the feeling of vulnerability, anxiety and withdrawal or fear; it brings spiritual growth and evolution by helping us integrate personal experiences, which brings us expanded awareness and a broad perspective on life. According to Swami Satyasangananda, each element is materially invisible and can be described as energy in motion. Constant movement creates change and the influence of the air element causes instability in a person or external environment.
The element of Air is called Vayu in Sanskrit, being located in the spiritual heart, or correlated to the fourth chakra (Anahata/hearts). The color associated with air is smoky green, the sacred symbol is the circle, and the representative sense is tactile, namely touch. Air is gaseous in form, is associated with wind, and represents kinetic energy in all forms, electrical, chemical, vital, etc. Air represents the Breath of life, it is the prana that helps us to be vital. It expresses movement through contraction and expansion and creates instability and restlessness. The air element is responsible for intuition and spontaneity, useful especially at the time of creation and creativity. It helps us make major positive changes, and is connected to intuition. It promotes curiosity, learning and flexibility on all levels. It is associated with understanding and dreams, air being the element of active dreamers, visualizing what can be. It promotes freedom from attachment and helps to accept change and awakening consciousness. When the Air element is too little, the heart is blocked and can no longer give or receive love, and intuition is not activated. When there is too much Air, the mind is disturbed, the ability to concentrate is low, and we cannot carry out any plan or project.
The oil of choice for this element is the essential oil of Neroli, Citrus Aurantium, i.e. orange blossom. It is an airy and light oil, akin to Spring and newly blooming flowers. This oil stimulates the second (svadhisthana/sacral center) and fourth (anahata/heart) chakras. Vibrationally, Neroli essential oil is suitable for spiritual openness, serenity and self-acceptance, being a delight at first whiff. Bringing the energy of pure love and light, Neroli melts away sadness and brings peace and calm. This oil is indispensable in healing early emotional trauma and is a good help during an emotional crisis, suffering or sadness. It offers a touch of hope and promotes courage. Neroli essential oil opens us up in such a way that we love ourselves unconditionally and receive love to flow freely throughout our being.
The element of Fire is associated in Swami Satyasangananda's texts with the birth of the Ego, because the ego identifies with form, resulting in attachment, and fire arises from form. So, without the presence of form there can be no attachment. We must understand that Agni tattwa is not only the first manifestation of form, but also of ego (ahamkara), simultaneously creating itself and becoming conscious for the first time. Fire is called Agni in Sanskrit, being located in the solar plexus and correlated with the third chakra (Manipura / Inner Sun). The associated color is dark red, the sacred symbol is the triangle, and the representative sense is Sight. It represents energy in its first states of manifestation, perceived as Light. The color of this element denotes excessive heat, it is consuming, a devouring force that can be unstable and destructive. It is also seen as a catalyst for change, growth, evolution. Its main function is to restructure, fire is the catalyst in life, being the great transforming element that consumes to renew or reborn. Located in the solar plexus area, Fire helps us initiate projects at every level, develop our passion, enthusiasm and warmth.
It promotes the ability to escape from any unpleasant situation, relates to the mental body and the ability to act on the ideas of the physical world. It supports masculine energy, is protective and causes feelings of happiness, growth, change and evolution. It is closely related to the third chakra, Manipura / the inner sun. When we have too little fire we fail to defend our ideas or beliefs and we cannot face a confrontation, we are passive. When we have too much fire, we end up being arrogant, selfish, superior, domineering and closed off. We are out of control, unstable, childish, angry and conflicted.
The oil chosen for this element is Cinnamon, Cinnamonum Zeylsnicum, an oil that envelops us in its warmth, with a sweet and energizing aroma that refreshes our senses. Cinnamon essential oil is purifying, strengthens us with its smell and heals our mind and body. It is beneficial for strengthening the manipura chakra, the inner fire. It is an intense oil that lasts a long time and is part of the spice category, highly appreciated for thousands of years and very valuable. It is a very useful oil if we want to use it as protection, it balances the energy centers and is associated with the heart chakra, promoting openness and infinite love. The essential oil of Scorțișoara is the symbol of sovereignty and respect, being a special gift given to the gods throughout history. It is called Darusita or Tvak in Ayurveda and is a powerful healing tool with a long history. Cinnamon oil increases the Fire in the system and is responsible for the metabolic and digestive functions in the body.
The Water element can be described by "penetrating". It is also called Apas (from Sanskrit) and is closely related to the second chakra (Svadhisthana / Sacral Chakra), located in the pelvis and is tuned to the sense of taste. The energy at this stage can be seen subtly and contains matter ready to penetrate, to be reborn. Water is a creative influence in the material world, being the gateway to all things hidden within us. This element is constantly changing and moving, and the results are not permanent. The representative color is silver, the sacred symbol is the waxing Moon, and it is especially helpful for creating new spaces. Among the qualities of this element are connecting to the emotional, understanding natural cycles and the emotional body. The Water element is full of creativity and fluidity, deeply connected to the realm of dreams and the divine feminine. When we have too little of the water element, we can feel desolate, lacking empathy, in need of emotional healing. Too much water can make us too dreamy, out of touch with reality, and far too sensitive and vulnerable.
The right oil for this element is Clary Sage, or Salvia Sclarea. This essential oil is widespread and is used for spiritual purposes as a tonic that manages to maintain the balance of energies in the body. This oil has many uses not only for our physical health, but also for our emotional and mental health, so we can say that it is very useful for the mind, body and soul. Sage essential oil connects us with the Feminine and balances the chakras. Its fresh and sweet aroma manages to penetrate in a harmonious and fluid way, and the warm and grassy tones induce a fresh state of relaxation and dreaminess. Sage essential oil is creative, stimulates the second chakra, the Sacral, and influences our emotions, dreams and desires.
The last element or tattwa is the Earth, or Prithvi (also known as bhumi, which means "to be" or "to exist" and is associated with the sense of smell. It also means the earth and the soil we live on, which means existence. The vibrational energy of this element almost stands still, it is almost static, and thus the energy appears as concrete matter. It is located at the base of the spine / coccyx, and is closely related to the first chakra, muladhara, the root chakra. The representative color is dull yellow, and the symbol sacred is the square. The vibration of this element is low and dense, with Earth being associated with solidification, weight, or gain. The Earth element relates best to the material world and is meant to give us balance and centering for creating foundations and structures in our lives. It provides mental and psychic stability, but is contraindicated in times of blockage, limitation or stagnation.Among its qualities are stability, security, grounding, balance, determination, patience, positive parenting. When we have too little of this element we can feel too aerial, rootless, unstable; we may feel uncomfortable in our own body, without sensual desire or pleasure. Too much of the Earth element can make us stubborn, bored, greedy, stuck or uncreative.
The essential oil chosen to represent this element is Cypress, Chiparos or Cupressus Sempervirens. It comes from an evergreen tree native to Asia, considered a sacred tree in many traditions and civilizations. It is a special purifier that can be used both in meditation (because it increases concentration and mental clarity) and in other spiritual rituals. It is tonic on all levels, physically, mentally and emotionally, and its woody, fresh aroma with conifer tones connects us with the earth element that it proudly represents. Its aroma is particularly exotic, with strong toning and energizing effects, it successfully balances all chakras and unlocks emotionally. Cypress essential oil stimulates the root chakra, which is closely connected to the Earth and connects us to our roots, to our family. It is a protective oil that strengthens us and brings us down to earth.
There are many dimensions and purposes for each herb and essential oil, and their healing power is limitless. These important tools belong entirely to us, they are part of our environment and they are here to help us. Along with other existing subtle energies such as these five elements, they are a welcome aid in chaotic and troubling times, and are here to bring us clarity, balance, peace and cleansing. If we can open our senses and give ourselves a chance for emotional healing and introspection, these essential oils come to our aid and envelop us in an aromatic protective layer. Once protected and open, we are ready to dive into the journey that can show us who we really are, a wonderful journey where essential oils and aromas reveal their true power. Are you ready to find out who you really are?
Candice Covington , Essential Oils in Spiritual Practice, editura Healing Arts Press, 2017
Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils, editura New World Library, 1991
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