My Encounter with the Spirit of Cora:
A Transitional Journey Using Essential Oils
Copyright 2012-2017 by Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
By Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., NCTMB
"The other world is, in fact, not so much another world
as another half of one world, which two halves only make full rounded sense
when seen in their mutual relevance and interconnection." - J.N. Findlay, The
Transcendence of the Cave
For the past two months I have been writing the Douglas-fir
chapter for my Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils.
In the process, I have discovered that paternal nurturing is one of the central
themes of the inner nature of Douglas-fir oil. Elaborating this theme rekindled
a vivid memory of encountering Cora, a 5-year-old girl...who had died more
than 80-years before.
We naturally associate the theme of nurturing with the
mother or maternal archetype. The period of attachment in the womb while being
nourished by the mother's blood supply, and attachment to the breast during the
breast-feeding period, surely constitute the most primal and intimate of
Ideally, the mother emanates vibrations of love, openness
and acceptance to the child and in so doing constructs a vibrant template for
the capacity to form an "I-Thou" relationship between two unique souls. Caring,
warm-interest and reciprocity characterize the I-Thou relationship, wherein
each of the individuals opens to and acknowledges the authentic soul of the
If a mother does not engage with her child with her whole
being and does not hold her child and express "I love you because you are You,"
the child can neither adequately develop its sense of true self nor a
satisfactory capacity for self-nurturing.
Fathers are not conventionally viewed as performing the
nurturing function within the family group. The father is more identifiable
with the task of helping the child to develop a vision of his or her place in
the world outside the family and empowering the child to actualize it.
However, there really are no hard and fast divisions between
nurturing and empowerment, and some fathers ultimately prove to be the superior
nurturer. Often a mother, for complex personal reasons, is cool and distant
while a father with a warmer, more kindly nature, becomes the glowing hearth
that warms the child's soul. Sometimes both parents are nurturers with the
nurturing of each having a different quality and niche.
The Kabbalah teaches that in the process of the creation of
the finite world, divine qualities, which existed only as potentialities in the
infinite light, were transmitted via the vessels on the Tree of Life into the
domain of the material world. In this way, these divine qualities were
incorporated into all the elements of the natural world and the make-up of soul
These transmitting vessels and the qualities they project
are considered to have either a masculine or feminine character. However, all
human beings, regardless of gender, contain both male and female vessels.
Accordingly, each of us contains the potential for certain attributes (e.g.,
nurturing, empowerment, etc.) that are traditionally associated with one or the
This has clearly been demonstrated in the more openly
affectionate and sensitive nature of the contemporary father that contrasts
with the more formal, authoritarian father-role of the past. In single parent
homes, one parent must elaborate, equally, female and male archetypal
potentialities in order to sustain the cohesiveness and success of the family
There are many Douglas-fir trees on my land (and many
thousands more on the state forest land that borders it), thus during nearly
30-years in residence, I have developed a very strong connection to this tree.
My wife, Gerri, and I walk along our forest trails every day and often we will
snap a small green twig and inhale the cool green, resinous, rich and sweet
balsamic/woody scent of its essential oil for its wonderful tonic effect. Also,
this oil is traditionally used for anxiety, nervous tension, circulatory
weakness and respiratory weakness.
The theme of paternal protection from the outside world
is central to the inner nature of Douglas-fir oil. Douglas-fir cones feature a
distinctive long, three-pointed bract that extends beyond the cone scales and
are commonly described as resembling mouse posteriors. A Native American myth
holds that each of the three-pointed bracts represents the tail and back legs
of a mouse that hid within the cone's scales as the Douglas-fir tree was kind
enough to provide sanctuary for the creatures during forest fires.
Douglas-fir oil is a tonic for the wei chi, an
undifferentiated layer of chi found just below the skin that serves as a
bioenergetic protective field, and so, is a major part of the body's resisting
Douglas-fir oil is somewhat unique in that its masculine
chi-forces exert a feminine, nurturing action, albeit indirectly, via the
vitalization of blood (which has a feminine, yin nature). Thus, the oil, in
keeping with its masculine/yang nature, is empowering while, via its raising up
of the blood into an aerated vitalized state, it enhances the capacity for
self-nurturing and connection with the inner self and thus a sense of completeness.
Like many people, I have a complex relationship with
cemeteries. My earliest memory of one goes back to when I was 8-years-old. I
grew up in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie, which was built on the land
of the Canarsie Indians who, by my time, hadn't been spotted in centuries.
Canarsie Cemetery, a relatively small rectangle of grass and carved stone, was
located about 10 blocks from where I lived.
That Memorial Day weekend, my father, a World War II veteran
and history buff, took my older brother and me to the cemetery because he had
heard that some Civil War soldiers were buried there.
It was a pleasant, sunny day. When we entered through the
wrought iron gates, I saw a scattering of small American flags in the dappled
sunlight thrust like bayonets into the graves of war veterans. The flags were
like an exotic species of wildflower that bloomed only in cemeteries, and for
just a few days each spring.
We walked along the pathways while my father scanned the
headstones for one belonging to a Civil War veteran. It was a small place, so
it only required a few minutes to find what he was looking for. He called us
over. There, 6-feet below my sneakers, lay the remains of a man who may have
fought at Antietam, Chancelorrsville or Gettysburg. There he smelled
fear-sweat, blood and smoking gunpowder as his heart started to pound while his
bowels turned to water when hearing the rebel yell followed by their cannon and
small-arms fire, and a sudden cry from a nearby comrade that served as that
soul's farewell to this life. He had survived battle, returned home to Canarsie
and picked up his life, taking his horrific memories to this grave.
About 25-years later, on a gray winter's day, my experience
of cemeteries changed from one of boyhood imagination to the grief, emptiness
and incredulity of irretrievable loss as my father was laid into the ground.
Cynics smirk at talk of graveyard ghosts; however,
cemeteries are populated with spirits. Standing by some graves, you feel no
presence at all, as if the spirit of the body below the ground long ago packed
up and moved on. At others, a presence of being is palpable: perhaps it is a
moored spirit eager to be acknowledged by a living "I" who at long last turns
to it and says: "So, it is Thou."
As I said, I have a complex relationship with cemeteries. It
was early spring of 2002 when my wife Gerri and I drove from our home in
western Washington State, across the Cascade Mountains that separate the
western and eastern parts of the state, to a small town called Cle Elum. There
resided my father-in-law Arnold, a man in his mid-eighties, whom we made the
long trek to visit whenever we could in order to keep him company for a few
days and lift his spirits.
During one of these trips, he said that he would like us to
accompany him to a cemetery a few miles from his house where he had purchased
the plot that would be his final resting place. While this seemed like a
somewhat morbid outing, I realized it was not an unusual idea among old folks who
sense their time is short and worry about being forgotten after they are gone.
So he maneuvered himself into the passenger seat next to me like a rusty
folding chair, Gerri settled into the back seat and we headed to the cemetery.
After we drove through its gate, the old man guided me
through a few turns until we rolled on to a graveled road, like a private
country lane, with an open field on the driver's side and a tall stand of
Douglas-fir and western red cedar on the other. The open field was, of course,
a manicured garden of engraved stone.
I stopped the car at the beginning of the road which was
about 20-yards from Arnold's plot, situated under a tall Douglas-fir. Gerri and
her father exited the car first while I stayed behind to rummage inside my naturopathic
medicine case for a particular homeopathic remedy I had included for him.
I watched for a minute as the two made their way down the
path. He was once a strong, athletic man, but now he ambled along with the
stiff gait of someone with joints hardened by
age and pernicious eating habits. My wife, moving gracefully beside him, held
his elbow and enveloped him in a cloak of daughterly kindness.
Finding the item I was searching for, I opened my door,
stepped out and was about to join them where they now stood speaking quietly
under the canopy of the Douglas-fir. However, the open car door was pointing
like a compass needle to a small headstone and so it caught my attention.
Less than half the size of the surrounding headstones (and
topped by a carving of a lamb--often seen on children's gravestones because it
represents innocence), it was located in what was clearly a family plot
bordered by a knee-high perimeter fence that set it apart. The fenced-in area
could accommodate six graves, but contained only one. The rest of the grassy
rectangle felt like empty prairie land after the buffalo disappeared.
I read the engraved writing: Cora, born 1914 - died 1919.
Beneath the ground where I stood, there lay a 5-year-old girl. As soon as I
read the name, I felt magnetically drawn to this little girl. It was as if a
whirlpool from the other side had drawn me in.
Instantly, I constructed a hypothesis which, although not
substantiated by anything but circumstantial evidence, felt to me like truth. I
deduced that Cora had died in the Spanish flu pandemic which, first found in
the United States, spread to nearly every part of the planet, including the
Arctic and remote Pacific islands. It came in three waves lasting from March,
1918 to June, 1920. It is estimated that 50 million to 100 million people
worldwide died which is much higher than the number killed in the shocking
carnage of World War I. I have always been a very careful practitioner who
never acted without clear understanding of circumstances; however, in this one
case I drew the instant conclusion that Cora had been counted into that tally
The powerful draw and connection to Cora deepened as I
lifted my gaze and again became aware of the emptiness of the rest of the
family plot. I didn't hear an actual voice but yet I instinctively knew I was
being told a story: a recounting of Cora's father having purchased this little
piece of ground as a final resting place for his family. However, soon after he
buried his young daughter here, circumstances changed and the family had to
move far away. Thus, Cora was left here all alone, abandoned in her innocence
by all except her vigilant stone lamb.
The name Cora derives
from the Greek word kore, meaning maiden. It is borne as a byname
for Persephone (an Earth goddess). In Greek mythology, Hades abducts Persephone
and absconds with her to the underworld. Then Zeus, on behalf of Demeter
(Persephone's mother), commands Hades to release his captive.
Zeus (the supreme ruler of the
pantheon of gods) sends Hermes (the herald of the Olympian gods and son of
Zeus) to ensure the safety of Persephone's passage. Hermes found Persephone
seated next to Hades. Upon seeing Hermes, Persephone became elated. Hades knew
he must heed Zeus' command and let Persephone go. However, eager to ensure her
return before Persephone leaves, Hades gives her a pomegranate as a gift. She
accepted the gift and Hades knew that once she tasted the sweetness of the ripe
pomegranate seeds she would return to him. Indeed, thereafter Persephone came
back to Hades for three months each year, eliciting the onset of winter.
This story was used to explain
the division between the sweetness of spring and the bitterness of winter. When
Persephone is with Hades, Demeter, consumed with sorrow, inflicts the world
with the bitter cold and biting winds of winter. When Persephone returns from
the underworld to walk upon the Earth again, Demeter welcomes her beloved
daughter home by pouring forth the sweet abundance of spring.
I didn't know this mythology then, but now it seems loaded
with strikingly relevant symbolism. In essence, I assumed a Hermes-like role
regarding Cora over the course of the next 24-hours.
Cistus oil is also crucial in
Cora's case. The oil is a specific for physical/emotional coldness and inner
emptiness and it's also associated with retrieval of lost or repressed memories
and past-life information. The theme of coldness runs throughout the picture of
the homeopathic remedy Cistus prepared from Cistus canadensis, a
relative of Cistus ladanifer: the
species from which cistus oil is distilled. Accordingly, the Cistus type is
extremely sensitive to cold and tends to have a sensation of cold in various
body parts. This proneness to coldness makes the cistus oil type susceptible to
blood stagnation and congestion of various organs, including the heart. Within
the organism, cistus oil's most important psycho-spiritual affinity is the heart
One of the primary foundations
of the Kabbalah is the concept of the vacated space. Accordingly, prior
to creation there was only endless eternal light of God referred to as the Or
Ein Sof, meaning Light of the Infinite. There was no beginning, middle or end,
nor time or space, only the Or Ein Sof. Hence, there was no room or place for
creation nor finite, material emanations.
In order to "make room" for
creation, God constricted His light away from a center point in this circle of
supernal light, creating a vacated space. This space is the area where all the
galaxies, the Earth and humankind exist. The vacated space was created so that
humans could have an independent existence and free will, and not only receive
from God but also give back.
The great 18th
century Kabbalist Rabbi Nachman of Breslov teaches that so long as the heart is
filled with worldly passions, there would be no space for spiritual
revelations. Thus, the heart must contract its load of cold, constrictive
thoughts and fears and create a vacated space, which could then be
filled with spiritual revelations. He cites Psalm 109 wherein King David
states: "My heart is a hollow space within me." Nachman interprets this
to mean that within the vacated space of the heart, one's connection to the
higher world can be revealed. Accordingly, the heart must become a vacated space
wherein the attributes of the eternal can be revealed in stages. Cistus oil is
one of the leading oils for decongesting the heart center and opening a vacated
space within it that accommodates the ingress of spirit.
Coldness is, of course, a major
factor in Cora's case. For more than 80-years she had been lying alone in the
cold ground in a region of cold winters and heavy snowfalls. If she did die
from the Spanish flu, her fever may have been accompanied by uncontrollable
shivering. This shivering may have continued until her passing.
Homeopath John Henry Clarke,
M.D. provides an important clue regarding the cistus oil type when he suggests
that the homeopathic remedy Cistus has a notable compatible relationship
with the remedy Magnesium as cistus grows on magnesium-rich soil.
Magnesium deficiency symptoms
include: apprehensiveness; confusion; anxiety; disorientation; insomnia;
weakness. One of the central themes of magnesium is repressed internal anxiety
and insecurity. A second main theme of magnesium is the emotional desire for
strong parental nurturing and protection. Renowned homeopath J.T. Kent
describes the homeopathic remedy Magnesium carbonate as a remedy for
orphans. Homeopath Dr. Rajan Sankaran writes: "I have found that many
magnesium patients have a history of being neglected in some way by their
parents. The feeling of being unwanted in the very early years of life...or a
person who has lost his mother or father at a very early age."
The relevance of this
cistus-magnesium connection in reference to Cora is apparent and requires no
further elaboration except to add that the theme of abandonment is a prominent
one in cistus oil's psycho-spiritual picture.
Cora's Healing Begins
Nature's conditions that spring day in 2002 were tailor-made
for imaginative consciousness and connection with spirit. The sky was dark gray
with small patches of lighter gray, like frosted windowpanes backlit by soft
white sunlight. In the trees behind me, chickadees chattered evanescent
sparks of sound within the cemeterial quiet. A
chilling breeze, an artifact of recent winter, washed over the terrain, making
Douglas-fir branches bob like buoys and leaf-draped cedar branches wave like
heavy bird wings.
Of all the people over the course of more than 80-years who
have passed her grave, I felt that Cora chose me to be her healer because she
felt my strong connection to the spiritual world and could sense that I was a
pushover for sad little girls. Also, perhaps she was lifted up by the scent of
an essential oil blend from my diffusor which drifted out through the open car
door (a wonderful therapy during interstate driving). An essential oil is the
most concentrated carrier of the soul of the plant. So maybe, when the oils
subtly scented the air around her grave, she engaged with them on a
Cora was reaching out to me for help. Sometimes a soul
cannot fully cross over and remains, at least in part, bound to this earthly
realm. Perhaps it was because she died with such suddenness that it disoriented
her soul. Often people were struck with the Spanish flu on the street and died
rapid deaths. There are stories of people on their way to work suddenly
developing the flu and dying within hours. Another recounting: four women
played bridge late into the night, and before sunrise three of them had
sickened and died. Whatever Cora's reason, she could not find her way "home."
Some sources say the name Cora derives from Greek for
filled heart. Having studied French in school, I knew the French word
for heart was le coeur. In Italian, Cara means beloved.
Of course, the naturopath in me thought of the word coronary, referring
to the heart. From the first minute at her gravesite, I linked Cora with heart,
and that little girl had no difficulty finding and filling mine. I wasn't about
to leave her there all alone. So I reached out to her, and together, we joined
my wife and her father under the canopy of the tall Douglas-fir.
I didn't share any of this with anyone, not even Gerri at
that time. Sometimes the connection with a soul who has passed is so tenuous
and ethereal that it can only be sustained by utter confidentiality.
Later that day, we said our goodbyes to Arnold and headed
west back across the Cascades. The entire journey home I could feel Cora
clinging to me. It was late afternoon when we finally arrived home. I helped
unload the car and then went to my office, surrounded by cedar and Douglas-fir
trees, and sat down alone with Cora.
5 Levels Of The Soul
During the ride home I had plenty of time to work out the
details of my therapeutic strategy. The cure in Cora's case did not involve
preservation of mortal life but completion of the transition to the afterlife.
With Cora still clinging to me, I opened a bottle of one of my handmade, pure
AromAnita Essential Oil Blends called 5 Levels Of The Soul.
The Kabbalah describes the soul
as having five levels. The highest of the five levels is named Yechidah, or
Unique Essence. At this level, the soul is still one with God. The only
conscious perception that one has for this level manifests in the yearning to
The next highest level is called
Chayah, referring to life and life force. Chayah is the level on which
the soul is still bound to all other souls; in other words, it is the level of
the Collective Soul. Our conscious perception of this level manifests in
the sense of self-transcendence.
The third level is Neshamah
which derives from the Hebrew word neshimah, or breath.
On the level of Neshamah, one experiences the divine breath. On this level, one
becomes aware not only of spirituality but also develops an intimacy with his
or her source.
The level of Neshamah, which
correlates with the incarnation of the spirit body via breathing, segues into
the fourth level of Ruach which translates as spirit but
also has connotations of wind, air and the directions of their movement. This
level involves the blowing downward of the Divine Wind into the organism. Ruach
is associated with meaningful speech and a sense of truth.
Finally, the level of Ruach
transforms into the fifth level of Nefesh from the word nafash,
meaning to rest. Nefesh is the lowest, most corporeal extremity of
the soul. This stage correlates with the incorporation of the spirit body into
the bloodstream. Nefesh literally means resting soul and is the basis
for intuitive knowing. Nefesh is associated with meaningful action and a sense
of understanding that one's actions could be, and should be, meaningful.
When formulating this blend, I
correlated each of the 22 oils of 5 Levels of The Soul with the
soul levels, or with the heart's emotional/spiritual center. This center must
be opened in order to effectively serve as a conduit for the descending and
reascending dynamics of the soul levels. Cistus is the oil I used in this blend
to touch and open the heart's emotional/spiritual center. Also, it is the nucleus
fragrance note around which all the other scents are organized.
This blend has been used on numerous occasions to assist a
soul in its journey to the other side. Several times that I know of, a bottle
of this blend was placed with a body just before cremation so that the scent,
illuminated like the Northern Lights, helped guide the soul to the next stage
of its existence.
I tapped 3 drops of the 5 Levels of The Soul blend on to my
wrist, rubbed my wrists together and began a series of deep inhalations and
exhalations--in and out through the nose. I closed my eyes and began to follow
my breathing, slowing it and clearing my mind of thoughts. In this meditative
state, I created a vacated space filled only by breath, spirit and scent. I
felt Cora's merger with the oil blend. She relaxed her hold on me and became
more infused with spirit. We worked this way for about 30-minutes, after which
she was still right next to me but no longer clinging.
I awoke the next morning around 6 a.m. and went directly to
my office wing where I wouldn't be disturbed at that hour. Cora's presence of
being was still strong but the attachment of her soul to mine was far less. She
was beginning to let go. I repeated the same 5 Levels Of The
Soul-breathing/meditation technique I had used the previous day. I could feel
Cora's presence becoming progressively lighter and more distant. About 15- to
30-minutes elapsed before she fully transitioned. The office was filled with a
residual celestial sweetness: Cora's vapor trail.
Certainly, I missed her. But I am a healer. My job was to
effect her release, not to cement our bond. I sat quietly for a while and gazed
out the window at the trees and morning sky, then turned to my desk and got to
During the six years since my encounter with Cora, I have
thought about her now and then, but I never encountered her again...until a
few days ago.
I was sitting at my computer writing the Meeting Cora
section of this piece when I heard a slight sound behind me. I turned and saw
that a sheet of paper had somehow lifted off my main desk and landed on the
floor. I thought this to be quite odd as there was no breeze or perceptible
movement of air in the room that could have caused it. I had a suspicion but
A few minutes later, I got up and walked over to that desk
to pour myself a cup of spring water. I leaned down to pick up the sheet of
paper, and, as I did, a second sheet just lifted off the desk and drifted to
the floor. Now I knew. I looked up and a smile slowly spread across my face. I
could feel, but not see, an incandescent reciprocal smile--happy, mischievous,
acknowledging. I and Thou: filled hearts.
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Written by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., NCTMB
Dr. Berkowsky, a registered naturopath, master herbalist and classical homeopath--is President of Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc. He is the founder/teacher of both Spiritual PhytoEssencing and the Natural Health Science System which he designed following many years of research and clinical practice, and includes herbology, nutrition, homeopathy, aromatherapy, exercise, traditional nature-cure as well as East/West healing arts/bodywork. Dr. Berkowsky teaches in-depth seminars/teleseminars/workshops to health-care professionals and spiritually aware individuals.
Disclaimer: This publication is intended as an educational tool, and not as a prescription. Seek the advice of your health-care provider before discontinuing any medication and/or trying any new remedy or technique.