Marjoram Oil and the Perception of Threat to One's Self-Concept
Copyright 2017 by Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
By Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., H.M.C.
Dr. Berkowsky's Spiritual PhytoEssencing (webinar-based) Training Intensive
In the past
year, I have spent a good deal of time studying the writings of the great
humanistic psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers (1902-1987), and have found that many
of his ideas are similar to those I have long emphasized in Spiritual
ostensibly Rogers, one of the most brilliant and influential of 20th
century psychoanalysts, focused upon human psychological dynamic as both a
theoretician and practitioner, he clearly operated along the borderline between
mind and soul. For this reason, I find that many of his central concepts can be
readily adapted to the psychospiritual framework of the art of Spiritual
article I discuss some of Rogers' foundational concepts and then demonstrate
their relevance regarding the inner conflict of the marjoram oil individual.
Actually, those of Rogers' ideas presented here are relevant regarding the
inner nature of many of the approximately 115 essential oils fully elaborated
in Berkowsky's Synthesis Materia
Medica/Spiritualis Of Essential Oils
(the central reference text of Spiritual PhytoEssencing). I selected the
marjoram oil individual for closer examination because the relevance of Rogers'
concepts can be perceived particularly clearly within the marjoram oil
PhytoEssencing (SPE) (an art I began developing in the mid-1990's) is a
synthesis of certain aspects of aromatherapy, doctrine of signatures, classical
homeopathy, modern physiology, Kabbalah, philosophy, anthroposophical science,
Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and folklore, depth psychology, alchemy, gemstone
healing and color therapy. One of the central goals of SPE practice is the
revitalization of a person's real self, enabling it to assert its essential
dominance with the self-structure and self-concept.
Real Self/Ideal Self Dichotomy
popularized the terminology real self and ideal self. Viewed
through the psychospiritual lens of SPE, the real self is a construct of both
psyche and soul that is a direct expression of an individual's unique
soul-nature that is more or less intact at birth. Ideally, this unique soul-nature
serves as the operational headquarters of the self-structure that emerges as
the child matures.
that each person has a "self-actualizing" tendency: an innate
drive to actualize the potentials inherent to the real self. Accordingly, a
"fully-functioning person" is one who, throughout all the ups and
downs of mortal existence, never veers off the path of real self-actualization.
The fully-functioning person trusts his organic nature, experiences life
through its basis of understanding and mechanisms of feeling, is able to
express his deepest feelings and develop independently of the judgments and
limitations introjected (adapted from others, but perceived as being self-
generated) into his self-structure.
Unique Soul-Portrait in Essential Oils
PhytoEssencing, an interview (called anamnesis - Latin for recollection)
is conducted which enables the blender to identify the constitutional themes
and the primary archetypal components of the real self (the unique soul-nature
we are born with) that characterizes the subject's psycho-spiritual dynamics.
These archetypes and themes are then proficiently matched with corresponding
essential oils whose inner soul nature features similar archetypes and themes.
"custom blend" constitutes a plant-soul analogue of a given individual's
"unique soul-portrait." In other words, the blender is creating a
portrait in essential oils of the real self. It is this customized
correspondence to the real self that encourages an individual's soul to accept
the homogeneous blend of plant-souls as a "reorganizing nucleus."
Conditions Of Worth
self is the compensated state a person begins to construct
when he or she is told (in various ways), beginning as a very young child, that
his or her real self is not well-suited for negotiating the harsh realities of
life. Rogers emphasized the central role, what he referred to as "conditions of
worth" at play in the development of the ideal self. In his view, a fully-functioning
person is one whose self-concept is not thoroughly formed by these conditions
All of us as
children received positive regard from our parents and other influential
figures such as older siblings, teachers and friends that was "conditional"
upon one of our specific actions or character traits conforming with their,
and/or cultural, views and standards. Thus, a child will feel that he is loved
when he receives positive regard for something considered to be of value (but
not for something that does not meet the standards) regarding a particular
influential other. For instance, in the modern inner city environment, while street
toughness is venerated, studiousness is often viewed with derision. Therefore,
this creates a condition of worth for young boys; toughness elicits positive
regard, scholastic accomplishment does not.
establishes conditions of worth that limit the child's real self-expression as
he comes to understand that he is worthy of love and other forms of positive
regard only when his behavior and other expressions of self are consistent with
the prevailing concepts of influential others and cultural context. This is a
demonstration of what Rogers refers to as a shift in the "locus of valuation."
Ideally, the "locus (point or place) of valuation" by which we assess our life
experiences should rest within the domain of the real self – an expression of
one's unique soul-nature. However, when the locus of valuation shifts to the domain
of influential others and societal expectations, the real self yields to the
regime of the "manufactured ideal self." Thus, various identifying archetypal
elements within the real self are sidelined like eliminated chess pieces.
it is the incongruence between what we would organically feel and experience
via the offices of the real self, and what we feel and experience as a
consequence of our possession by the construct of the ideal self that underlies
much of the discontentment and feeling of being incomplete by those who are not
ideal self becomes dominant, an individual only gets fleeting glimpses of his
or her authentic soul-nature. Essentially, the ideal self is the real self
extensively altered (sometimes beyond recognition) by the establishment of
a collection of conditions of worth.
The real self
continues to exert a strong influence, but that is primarily experienced as
sadness, discouragement, resentment and other negative emotions arising from
the suppression and repression of the real self. In the course of this
suppression and repression, one's memory of the shape and image of his or her
true soul nature fades. It is as if the real self is a boat that has become
unmoored, slowly drifts out to sea, and disappears over the horizon.
Reestablishing the Real Self
blend, a portrait in oils of the real self, serves as a mirror within which the
real self can, for the first time in a very long while, gaze upon its
unobscured image. It is this casting of a reflection of the true shape of a
person's soul that enables the custom blend to unlock the moribund potential
within an analogous human-soul.
When a person
can once again "see" his or her true self, an overwhelming urge
arises to return to oneself. As the true self and the higher soul share the
same spiritual root, there is also a simultaneous flaring-up of the natural
desire of the soul to establish ongoing intimate contact with its divine
source. Ultimately, reorientation regarding the real self and the spiritual
world are central to the amelioration of the soul-level central disturbance
that often ripples outward and is expressed as emotional and physical
Perception of Threat to One's Self-Concept
Rogers' key ideas involves the process of symbolization by the
self-structure. Accordingly, the self-structure symbolizes (i.e., labels)
various life experiences, organizing it into a particular relation to itself. Ideally,
these symbolizations should be accurate snapshot representations of the quality
of each experience and the reactions it elicited.
process can be guided by either the real self or the ideal self, but most often
by some combination thereof. To the extent that an experience is processed
primarily by the real self, it is more accurately symbolized in awareness. To
the extent that it is processed primarily by the ideal self, the symbol is distorted
and therefore more likely to contribute toward the potential for inner conflict
when it is incorporated into self-structure. True psychospiritual adjustments
can proceed only when the organic feeling and sensing operations of the real
self consistently assimilate experiences on a symbolic level into the matrix of
the ideal self - unlike the real self which is an expression of one's unique
soul nature - is an artificial construct, when it dominates the process of
symbolization, that process is characterized by estrangement from the spiritual
realm. Consequently, the self-structure is vulnerable and much more easily
the ideal self-dominant individual tends to be defensive. Any experience that
does not conform to the ideal self-structure is much more likely to be
perceived as a threat. The greater the ongoing perception of threat by the
ideal self, the more rigidly it organizes its barriers and resistances in order
to maintain the survival of its tenuous edifice of compensations, conditions of
worth and illusions.
reference, Rogers writes in The Carl Rogers Reader: "The essential
nature of threat is that if the experience were accurately symbolized in
awareness [by the ideal self], the self-concept would no longer be a
consistent gestalt [an organized whole that is perceived as being greater
than the sum of its parts], the conditions of worth would be violated, and
the need for [positive] self-regard would be frustrated. A state of
anxiety would exist. The process of defense [i.e., defensiveness] is
a reaction which prevents these events from occurring."
on to explain that defensiveness involves "the selective perception or
distortion of the experience." This is necessary to contain the perception
of the experience within the rigid boundaries of a carefully constructed
self-structure that has largely been shaped by conditions of worth. Rogers
observes that an important consequence of the process of defense is "a
rigidity of perception." Thus, establishing genuine soul-to-soul relation
with the ideal self-dominant individual often borders on the impossible. These
individuals can be very trying as their capacity for uncritical acceptance and
empathic understanding is greatly restricted by their "rigidity of
When the real
self dominates, the higher soul exerts a continuous influence upon one's
orientation regarding daily existence. When this occurs the perception of
threat to the self-structure is greatly diminished as that structure is infused
with infinity via connection to the spiritual ground of all being. In this
case, instead of being perceived as threatening, experiences that are incongruent
with the self-structure's nature, will be objectively analyzed and assimilated,
facilitating modifications to self-structure that are consistent with inner
consistently experiences are symbolized and processed by the real self in this
manner, the greater the propensity to replace a frame of reference (which
begins to be established in early childhood) based primarily on distorted
symbolizations introjected by influential others with an organic valuing
process rooted in one's unique soul-nature.
I have chosen
to weave marjoram oil into this discussion of the perception of threat to the
self-concept because the picture of its typology that I have presented in the
Marjoram chapter of Berkowsky's Synthesis
Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils
provides: a) a clear view of the dichotomy
between real self and ideal self; b) the distortion of symbolization associated
with the latter and 3) the characteristic reactional mode that develops in
response to the ideal self's perception of threat to a self-structure that has
been primarily invested in the illusory workings of the finite realm.
Marjoram and the Real Self
(also referred to as sweet marjoram) is a tender perennial which
is usually treated as an annual, because outside of those warm regions to which
it is native, including North Africa, Turkey and southwest Asia, it cannot
stand the cold of winter and so must be sown anew every year. Here we see
signatures that point to the inherent sweetness, tenderness and vulnerability
of the marjoram individual.
short-stalked, gray-green, oval leaves are soft and fuzzy and occur opposite
each other on the plant's square stem (as is typical of mint family plants).
The leaf is nurturing and extensional (reaches out); thus, it is the plant part
that relates most directly to human capacity for feelings. Marjoram
leaves' soft and fuzzy quality is another signature of similar qualities within
the realm of feeling in the marjoram oil individual. The opposite arrangement
of the leaves points toward a strong desire for 1:1 soul relation with another
leaves, when bruised, emit a distinctive spicy, aromatic fragrance. As scent is
the product of an interaction of cosmic and terrestrial forces and represents
the most spiritual aspect of matter, the leaves' increased emission of scent
when bruised suggests that, when operating from her real self, the marjoram
individual's response to wounding will be strongly influenced by spirit.
white or pink flowers are very small and are arranged in long burr-like heads
that resemble knots before blossoming (thus, marjoram's alternative common
name: knotted marjoram). On a psycho-spiritual level, pink (the color
associated with the energy of kindness and unconditional love)
pacifies and calms, and so, can be used to ameliorate anger, aggression,
irritation, over-sensitivity and feelings of neglect, and otherwise promote
emotional comfort and healing.
The origin of
marjoram's name can serve as an important signature. Its genus name Origanum
derives from the Greek words oros and ganos which, in
conjunction, translate as joy (or adornment) of the mountains.
The origin of the name marjoram is less clear. It is thought that it
derives from the Latin word amaracum, whose meaning is uncertain.
However, because of its similarity to the unrelated Latin word amar,
meaning love, the Roman's associated it with love.
word marjoram is a product of the combination of amaracum and
another Latin word: maior, meaning greater. Thus, it can be
argued that marjoram means "greater love." An alternative view holds that the
name marjoram comes from the French word maiorana which is a
diminutive of Mary. In ancient cultures, marjoram was a plant that sanctified
marital bliss and was often incorporated into the marriage ceremony.
ancient Greeks, the bride and groom were crowned with marjoram. The Greeks
associated marjoram with Aphrodite, their goddess of love, beauty and fertility
who supposedly created marjoram as a gentle symbol of happiness. Supposedly,
Aphrodite's gentle touch endowed marjoram with its warm, sweet scent. According
to their myth, Aphrodite applied marjoram to the wounds of her son Aeneas -
who, heroic and pure of heart, after having already carried his aged father
from the city of Troy as it was collapsing in flames, went back into the
blazing city to search for his lost wife. Marjoram was also planted on graves
by loved ones of the deceased to help ensure that he or she does, in fact, rest
plant signatures and historical associations of marjoram suggest that marjoram
oil's inner nature is characterized by sensitivity, beauty and connection to
spirit. However, when we shift our attention to the marjoram oil aromatherapy
symptom picture we see all the hallmarks of dominance by the ideal self and the
disharmony associated with estrangement from the real self. In this reference,
relevant symptoms include: hyperactivity; nervousness; anxiety;
irritability; deep psychological trauma; feelings of persecution; oppressed
feeling; obsessions; addictive behavior; grief; insomnia; loneliness;
claustrophobia; mental and physical weakness and exhaustion; chronic lethargy;
chilliness; excessive sexual desire; wounds; bruises.
Marjoram oil chapter, there is a good deal of explanation devoted to the hypersexuality
(or, conversely, sexual indifference) often seen in the failed state of the
marjoram individual. I am going to reserve a discussion of that for my next
article wherein I will explain the sexual behavior of the marjoram type through
the lens of the anthroposophical model of etheric body and astral body, as well
as the alchemical model of Mercury and Sulfur. So for our purposes here, I will
limit my remarks in this reference to the observation that the hypersexuality,
or the sexual indifference, of the marjoram individual is often the product of
varying conditions of worth.
Marjoram and the Homeopathic Remedy Palladium
observed that individuals who require the homeopathic remedy Palladium
commonly have a strong affinity for marjoram oil. This is not to say that one
is a substitute for the other in clinical practice. Instead, they act
synergistically, and for our purposes, this relationship enables us to use
relevant portions of the Palladium picture to more fully elaborate our
understanding of the marjoram individual.
reference, the following Palladium symptoms are revealing within the
context of the current discussion: subtle self-centeredness and haughtiness;
vanity; problems with looking older; need for approval and praise; very
pleasant and eager to please; cheerful and upbeat in company but becomes
exhausted from the effort; extremely fatigued in the evening; mental exhaustion;
bad news aggravates all her symptoms; nervous sensitivity to company; strong-willed
yet tries to appear amiable; need for expressions of appreciation from others;
needs to be made to feel that she is of value; prone to feeling offended or
ignored when no insult was intended; pride easily wounded; complaints from
feelings of shame, humiliation or wounded pride; delusion of being
unappreciated; feels neglected; anger with trembling; irritability, takes
everything in bad part.
between marjoram and Palladium runs very deep. The following description
of the marjoram type provided by Gabriel Mojay in Aromatherapy For Healing
The Spirit clearly corroborates this. Mojay writes: "There may be
feelings of real or imagined emotional deprivation—the idea that 'no one
cares.' Regardless of whether the person is truly isolated or not, they tend to
see themselves as lonely and unsupported, easily feeling denied both warmth and
description is consistent with the central Palladium feelings of not
being appreciated and/or the need to earn the love or good opinion of others
lest she be neglected. These feelings are expressed in such symptoms as: need
for expressions of appreciation from others; needs to be made to feel that she
is of value; prone to feeling offended or ignored when no insult was intended;
pride easily wounded; complaints from feelings of shame, humiliation or wounded
pride; delusion of being unappreciated; feels neglected.
On the other
hand, Philippe Mailhebiau in Portrait In Oils provides a description of
the characterology of marjoram which points back in the direction of the
marjoram type's real self. He writes: "... [she has] nobility of
heart, love for life and people and beauty of soul and body...[she is]
upright, pure and motivated by noble feelings...[she has] an inner beauty
reflected in a stately bearing."
essential oils described in Berkowsky's
Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis Of Essential Oils (within
which a complete chapter of 15 to 30+ pages is dedicated to each of the 112
oils included thus far), on a soul level relate therapeutically to some aspect
of dysfunction of the partnered dance in which the real self and ideal self are
perpetually engaged. Each oil addresses either variations of said dysfunction
or is specific for certain of its causative or complicating factors. The
complete Marjoram chapter (19 pages long) provides an in-depth view
of those causative and complicating factors particular to the marjoram oil
Even with the
limited amount of the marjoram oil picture presented here, the outlines
regarding the marjoram oil individual's conditions of worth, tendency toward inaccurate
symbolization in awareness, rigidity of perception, insecure self-concept,
heightened sense of threat and associated volatile emotional defensiveness, can
be clearly discerned.
description of the process of the perception of threat and related
defensiveness ties these threads together and helps explain some of the
psycho-spiritual "knots" (recall that a common name for Origanum majorana
is "knotted marjoram"; marjoram flowers are very small and are arranged in long
burr-like heads that resemble knots before blossoming) that can mire the
marjoram oil individual in a tenacious state of stuckness.
process [of defense] consists
of the selective perception, or distortion, of experience and/or denial to
awareness of the experience or some portion thereof, thus keeping the total
perception of the experience consistent with the individual's [insecure,
ideal self-dominant] self-structure, and consistent with his conditions of worth."
In Ecomysticism, Carl Von Essen, M.D.
writes: "William James [1842-1910; renowned philosopher,
psychologist and physician] discussing individuality wrote:
'the recesses of feeling, the darker,
blinder strata of character, are the only places in the world in which we catch
real fact in the making.'
Hidden deep in each of us, these strata are near to what some may speculate is
the soul. They are reachable when we clear the way by sweeping aside the bits
of information, the 'noise' that blocks the inner journey to the plenum [complete, incorporating all
components] of our ground state."
Schweitzer observed "The tragedy of man is what dies inside himself while he
still lives." Rabbi Zadok HaCohen of Lublin, a 19th century
Hasidic master, makes a similar observation, albeit from a different,
more inspirational perspective: "The essence of a person is what his heart
of these men are indirectly referencing the need for a person to be directed in
life by the real self, that aspect of being which can never forsake spirit as
it is inherently a tangible expression of the interaction between spirit and
soul. When one wanders outside the realm of the real self and becomes totally immersed
in the illusory meshwork of the ideal self, he or she loses touch with what the
heart deeply wants. This essentially represents one of the primary trailheads on
the pathway of despair and disease.
On the other
hand, when the real self is the consistent center of operations, one's thoughts
and feelings are always influenced by an ongoing connection to spirit – the
only viable pathway to wholeness of being. In this vein, Helen Keller, in
Light In The Darkness writes:
"My mystic world is lovely with trees and clouds and stars and eddying streams
I have never 'seen.' I am often conscious of beautiful flowers and birds and
laughing children when to others there is nothing. The skeptical declare that I
see light that never was on sea or land, but I know that this mystic sense in
them is dormant and that is why there are so many barren places in their lives.
Dr. Bruce Berkowsky,
founder and teacher of Spiritual PhytoEssencing,
is an internationally acclaimed master of deep soul-level healing work with
essential oils. If you would like
to learn this rare, invaluable art, consider his upcoming, webinar-based
Spiritual PhytoEssencing Training Intensive.
If you are
interested in studying with Dr. Berkowsky and would like a free recording
wherein he discusses the theoretical foundation of Spiritual PhytoEssencing,
e-mail your request for the recording link.
Written by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., H.M.C.
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.