The Spiritual Journey of Essential Oils

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The Spiritual Journey of Essential Oils

My son calls it voodoo magic. I call it health and wellness.

I’m a big fan of aromatherapy, daily employing the use of essential oils in my cleansing and skin-care regimen. I use oils in diffusers to keep my energy and concentration levels high during the day. I inhale the scents of the oils first over trying a pain medication for a headache. And I’m just barely scratching the surface.

Aromatherapy has experienced a resurgence as of late. Our heightened awareness of the use and side effects of synthetics, coupled with the increased availability of information, has refueled the use of essential oils for therapeutic, cosmetic, fragrant and spiritual use.

Though its term has only been used for about 100 years, the use of plant oils, including essential oils, for psychological and physical well-being date back to Old Testament times.

The Chinese burned it as incense.

The Egyptians distilled it and applied it during the embalming process.

The Greeks realized the medicinal benefits and touted its anti-inflammatory properties and healing abilities.

When the Black Death hit in the 14th century, killing multitudes, herbal preparations are credited with the treatment, to the point that those who worked most closely with it avoided the plague altogether.

During the 16th century, oils could be purchased at apothecaries.

Not until the 20th century did scientists begin separating major constituents and creating synthetic chemicals and drugs. Though these discoveries helped lead to “modern medicine” and synthetic fragrances, it actually weakened the use of essential oils for medicinal and aromatic benefit.

A French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, is credited with coining the term aromatherapy in 1928. He became convinced of essential oil’s medicinal advantages when he incurred a severe burn to his arm. He quickly plunged it into the closest liquid at hand, which happened to be a large container of lavender essential oil. When the burn healed quickly and left no scar, he began to move away from the idea of breaking oils down and, rather, using them in their natural form.

So getting back to Bible times…

I always wondered, what went into the holy anointing oil that consecrated Aaron as Israel’s high priest?

Anointing

Objects and people were anointed with oil to set them apart as sacred, to be used of God for His purpose and for His glory. I found the recipe for holy anointing oil as well as holy incense in Exodus (italics added by me):

Holy Anointing Oil

22-25 God spoke to Moses: “Take the best spices: twelve and a half pounds of liquid myrrh; half that much, six and a quarter pounds, of fragrant cinnamon; six and a quarter pounds of fragrant cane; twelve and a half pounds of cassia—using the standard Sanctuary weight for all of them—and a gallon of olive oil. Make these into a holy anointing oil, a perfumer’s skillful blend.

26-29 “Use it to anoint the Tent of Meeting, the Chest of The Testimony, the Table and all its utensils, the Lampstand and its utensils, the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Whole-Burnt-Offerings and all its utensils, and the Washbasin and its base. Consecrate them so they’ll be soaked in holiness, so that anyone who so much as touches them will become holy.

30-33 “Then anoint Aaron and his sons. Consecrate them as priests to me. Tell the Israelites, ‘This will be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations.’ Don’t pour it on ordinary men. Don’t copy this mixture to use for yourselves. It’s holy; keep it holy. Whoever mixes up anything like it, or puts it on an ordinary person, will be expelled.”

Holy Incense

34-38 God spoke to Moses: “Take fragrant spices—gum resin, onycha, galbanum—and add pure frankincense. Mix the spices in equal proportions to make an aromatic incense, the art of a perfumer, salted and pure—holy. Now crush some of it into powder and place some of it before The Testimony in the Tent of Meeting where I will meet with you; it will be for you the holiest of holy places. When you make this incense, you are not to copy the mixture for your own use. It’s holy to God; keep it that way. Whoever copies it for personal use will be excommunicated.” – Exodus 30:22 – 38, The Message

Okay, wait. God was not fooling around with this. Neither the holy anointing oil nor the holy incense were to be treated flippantly, nor used for any other purposes than what they were intended.

It got me to thinking. Where does this leave us with essential oil use in our own lives? I know God specifically directed that we not replicate these combinations for our own use, but what about the other oils? Is there some warning here for us to avoid oils altogether? Should we merely know the healing properties of essential oils and yet be prohibited from using them?

Or…

Did things change with the birth of Christ and the emergence of the New Testament?

1) Jesus was presented with myrrh, one of the ingredients needed for the anointing oil, by one of the wise men who visited him as a baby.

2) Jesus was presented with frankincense, one of the ingredients needed for the holy incense, by another of those wise men.

Was God sending us a message here about who Jesus was?

Then I read on:

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – I Corinthians 6:19 – 20, NIV

Let that sink in for a minute. We are God’s temple. We are His dwelling place. God wants only the best for His dwelling place. (Tweet that.) What might happen if we truly begin living that way, actually claiming and walking in this fantastic truth?

I challenge you to tap into this truth in your own lives. You are God’s temple. You are His dwelling place. Go forward in confidence, knowing that God has His hand on your life, that He desires to accomplish great and mighty things through you. Look for opportunities today to be used of Him.

Kinda strange. And maybe not so much. I set out to learn about the healing physical properties of essential oils, and God directed me to the healing spiritual properties instead. Isn’t that just like him?

So, what’d I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdm/44346080/”>darkmatter</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

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One Comment

  1. Interesting information, Anna. I think that there is much we can use – and learn – about oils and herbal remedies from the past. I think today, because things have been so processed, our Christian society is afraid that these “remedies” are new age. I love the smells of essential oils and think they can help our bodies.

    We don’t think of our bodies as temples often enough, do we? We read it and agree with the spiritual concepts and then continue our day. If we had that thought more internalized, I think we would push away many other “oils” that we find ourselves busy with.

    Nice writing!

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