We’ve been snowed in for the last few days, and while it is a restricting circumstance, on a deep soul level, the isolation and white quiet helps one to return to the sanctuary of one’s true self.
Yesterday, when evening darkened the sky, I poured a glass of organic Spanish red wine for my wife Gerri and one for myself, added a few drops of my Green Jade/Purple Jadeite Crystal Elixir to each glass, and sat by the fire to listen to quiet music and reflect. The fire in the glass-fronted woodstove alternately licked and leaped and cast shadows of orange light about the room. I thought of the fires built by Paleolithic cave dwellers, illuminating and shadowing ochre and charcoal wall-paintings of bison and aurochs.
In the silvery-gray light of the obscured moon, the knee-deep snow had the aspect of a thick ground fog weaving among the trunks of the forest. The cedar and Douglas-fir branches suspended downward like the white beards of forest spirits. The old-growth cedar stumps posted here and there among the second-growth forest appeared ethereal. Until 80 years ago these old-growth cedars stood 300-feet tall, beaming power up to the higher worlds. Then tough, suspendered men with two-man bucksaws took their lives, but not their souls. Some are hollowed out and tall enough to stand in. When you do, you feel as if you are in an ancient temple. Your “I” can still hail the tree’s soul, and it will readily reciprocate and answer “Thou.”
Many of the old cedar stumps filled with years of leaf-mulch have become planters for wild huckleberry bushes. The heavy snow has bent these shrubs’ branches all the way to the ground so that they resemble the huts (made of broad leaves woven into a framework of bent saplings) constructed by wandering Pygmies in central African jungles. Huckleberry wood is impressively strong and flexible, rebounding to an upright posture as soon as the snow has melted. Little wonder that the Northwestern tribes used the wood to fashion bows.
A tall, strong Douglas-fir tree stood centrally in my view. John Muir, in his 1918 book Steep Trails, describes the Douglas-fir he encountered in the forests of Washington state: “When we force our way into the depths of the forests, following any of the rivers back to their fountains, we find that the bulk of the woods is made up of the Douglas-fir…It is not only a very large tree but a very beautiful one, with lively bright-green drooping foliage, handsome pendent cones, and a shaft exquisitely straight and regular.
For so large a tree it is astonishing how many find nourishment and space to grow on any given area. The magnificent shafts push their spires into the sky close together with as regular a growth as that of a well-tilled field of grain. And no ground has been better tilled for the growth of trees than that on which these forests are growing. For it has been thoroughly ploughed and rolled by the mighty glaciers from the mountains, and sifted and mellowed and outspread in beds hundreds of feet in depth by the broad streams that issued from their fronts at the time of their recession, after they had long covered all the land.”
Gazing at the Douglas-fir tree, I thought of one of the central archetypal themes of its essential oil, and this, in turn, drew me back to a story I had received by e-mail earlier that day from Julia Busch, author, and President of Anti-Aging Press, Inc. It is a true story about a Christmas miracle and it involves Santa Claus.
I am Jewish and even as a child I didn’t find the possibility of a Santa Claus credible, although I must admit a certain fondness for the benign old fellow. I remember thinking: How does he fit all the presents for millions of kids in that little sack? If there was ever a real figure who the Santa Claus character is based on, his legend, like Elvis’, is perpetuated by impersonators. The story that Julia sent to me is of a sick little girl and a shopping mall Santa. It is an uncomplicated, heart-warming story about a miracle.
Fortunately, you don’t have to believe in Santa to appreciate this particular miracle. We’re all experiencing some degree of hard times right now. I thought that passing along this tale would sprinkle some soul-light among the clouds. The 18th century Hasidic master Rabbi Israel of Rizhyn taught that it is the duty of each individual “…to let the light penetrate the darkness until the darkness itself shines and there is no longer any division between the two.”
Sharing this story also provides the opportunity for me to share some insight into the soul-nature of Douglas-fir essential oil. My discussion of the oil follows the story. I don’t know who actually did the writing but she or he did a fine job of capturing the essence of the events. I received this story without attribution or copyright. It was inferred that the writer’s intent is for the story to be passed along to others. Thus, I encourage you to do so. Here’s the story:
The Miracle of Little Sarah And A Shopping Mall Santa
(Permission to share their story by Susan and Mark Leonard)
Three years ago, a little boy and his grandmother came to see Santa at the Mayfair Mall in Wisconsin. The child climbed up on his lap, holding a picture of a little girl. “Who is this?” asked Santa, smiling. “Your friend? Your sister?”
“Yes, Santa,” he replied. “My sister, Sarah, who is very sick,” he said sadly.
Santa glanced over at the grandmother who was waiting nearby, and saw her dabbing her eyes with a tissue. “She wanted to come with me to see you, oh, so very much, Santa!” the child exclaimed. “She misses you,” he added softly.
Santa tried to be cheerful and encouraged a smile to the boy’s face, asking him what he wanted Santa to bring him for Christmas. When they finished their visit, the grandmother came over to help the child off his lap, and started to say something to Santa, but halted. “What is it?” Santa asked warmly.
“Well, I know it’s really too much to ask you, Santa, but … the old woman began, shooing her grandson over to one of Santa’s elves to collect the little gift which Santa gave all his young visitors. “The girl in the photograph… my granddaughter, well, you see – she has leukemia and isn’t expected to make it even through the holidays,” she said through tear-filled eyes. “Is there any way Santa, any possible way that you could come see Sarah? That’s all she’s asked for, for Christmas, is to see Santa.”
Santa blinked and swallowed hard and told the woman to leave information with his elves as to where Sarah was, and he would see what he could do. Santa thought of little else the rest of that afternoon. He knew what he had to do. He thought with a sad heart: What if she was my child lying in that hospital bed, dying; visiting her is the least I can do.
When Santa finished visiting with all the boys and girls that evening, he retrieved from his helper the name of the hospital where Sarah was staying. He asked the assistant location manager how to get to Children’s Hospital.
“Why?” Rick asked, with a puzzled look on his face.
Santa relayed to him the conversation with Sarah’s grandmother earlier that day. “C’mon…..I’ll take you there,” Rick said softly. Rick drove them to the hospital and came inside with Santa. They found out which room Sarah was in. A pale Rick said he would wait out in the hall. Santa quietly peeked into the room through the half-closed door and saw little Sarah in the bed.
The room was filled with people who appeared to be her family; there was the grandmother and the girl’s brother whom he had met earlier that day. A woman, whom he guessed was Sarah’s mother, stood by the bed, gently pushing Sarah’s thin hair off her forehead. And another woman, who he later discovered was Sarah’s aunt, sat in a chair near the bed with a weary, sad look on her face. They were talking quietly, and Santa could sense the warmth and closeness of the family, and their love and concern for Sarah.
Taking a deep breath and forcing a smile onto his face, Santa entered the room, bellowing a hearty, “Ho, ho, ho!” “Santa!” shrieked little Sarah weakly, as she tried to escape her bed to run to him; fortunately, her IV tubes remained intact. Santa rushed to her side and gave her a warm hug. Sarah, a child the tender age of his own son—9 years old—gazed up at him with wonder and excitement. Her skin was pale and her short tresses bore tell-tale bald patches from the effects of chemotherapy. But all he saw when he looked at her was a pair of huge, blue eyes. His heart melted, and he had to force back tears.
Though his eyes were riveted upon Sarah’s face, he could hear the gasps and quiet sobbing of the women in the room. As he and Sarah began talking, the family crept quietly to the bedside one by one, squeezing Santa’s shoulder or his hand gratefully, whispering “Thank you” as they gazed sincerely at him with shining eyes. Santa and Sarah talked and talked, and she assured him she’d been a very good girl that year.
As their time together dwindled, Santa felt led in his spirit to pray for Sarah, and asked for permission from the girl’s mother. She nodded in agreement and the entire family circled around Sarah’s bed, holding hands. Santa looked intently at Sarah and asked her if she believed in angels. “Oh, yes, Santa… I do!” she exclaimed.
“Well, I’m going to ask that angels watch over you,” he said. Laying one hand on the child’s head, Santa closed his eyes and prayed. He asked that God touch little Sarah and heal her body from this disease. He asked that angels minister to her, watch and keep her. And when he finished praying, still with eyes closed, he started singing softly, “Silent Night, Holy Night…. all is calm, all is bright…”
The family joined in, still holding hands, smiling at Sarah, and crying tears of hope, tears of joy for this moment, as Sarah beamed at them all. When the song ended, Santa sat on the side of the bed again and held Sarah’s frail, small hands in his own. “Now, Sarah,” he said authoritatively,“you have a job to do, and that is to concentrate on getting well. I want you to have fun playing with your friends this summer, and I expect to see you at my house at Mayfair Mall this time next year!”
He knew it was risky proclaiming that to this little girl who had terminal cancer, but he “had” to. He had to give her the greatest gift he could—not dolls or games or toys—but the gift of hope. “Yes, Santa!” Sarah exclaimed, her eyes bright. He leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and left the room.
Out in the hall, the minute Santa’s eyes met Rick’s, a look passed between them and they wept unashamedly. Sarah’s mother and grandmother slipped out of the room quickly and rushed to Santa’s side to thank him. “My only child is the same age as Sarah,” he explained quietly. “This is the least I could do.” They nodded with understanding and hugged him.
One year later, Santa Mark was again back on the set in Milwaukee for his four-week, seasonal job which he so loves to do. Several weeks went by and then one day a child came up to sit on his lap. “Hi, Santa! Remember me?” “Of course, I do,” Santa proclaimed (as he always does), smiling down at her. After all, the secret to being a “good” Santa is to always make each child feel as if they are the “only” child in the world at that moment.
“You came to see me in the hospital last year!” Santa’s jaw dropped. Tears immediately sprang to his eyes, and he grabbed this little miracle and held her to his chest. “Sarah!” he exclaimed. He scarcely recognized her, for her hair was long and silky and her cheeks were rosy—much different from the little girl he had visited just a year before. He looked over and saw Sarah’s mother and grandmother in the sidelines smiling and waving and wiping their eyes.
That was the best Christmas ever for Santa Claus. He had witnessed—and been blessed to be of service in helping to bring about—this miracle of hope. This precious little child was healed. Cancer-free. Alive and well. He silently looked up to Heaven and humbly whispered, “Thank you, Father. ‘Tis a very Merry Christmas!”
Both the Santa Claus archetype and the shopping mall Santa in this story exude the quality of paternal nurturing. This quality is one of the central themes of the soul-nature of Douglas-fir essential oil.
The female cones of Douglas-fir, a powerful tree with a masculine nature, feature a distinctive and 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.
The concept of sanctuary is central to an understanding of the Douglas-fir individual. She both requires shelter from life’s storm and is highly sensitive to the threat of the sanctuary of her home by invasive influences such as noise, smoke, odors and neighborhood change. Here too, we can see the relevance of Douglas-fir oil for little Sarah. A battle with leukemia replete with chemotherapy and its side effects, hundreds of blood draws, all the noises and odors of the hospital environment, the high risk of infection, etc. not only deprives the child of the sanctuary of her home but renders her exceedingly vulnerable to a host of invasive influences.
The term “nurturing” is reflexively associated with the mother. However, the father, especially in the 21st century, often plays a key role in the nurturing of the child. In some cases, as a result of divorce, death of the mother, same-sex marriage, etc., the father has custody of the children or, otherwise, is the children’s primary caregiver. Fathers tend to be more sensitive and freer with their affection than in past eras where the father assumed a more distant, authoritarian role. There is much commonality between maternal and paternal nurturing but there are, of course, qualitative differences. Douglas-fir oil is a specific for issues associated with paternal nurturing.
All living things are ensouled by higher forces that direct the activities of the physical body. This relationship between the physical body and soul-forces is a reciprocal one. The great philosopher Martin Buber writes in Tales Of The Hasidim: “The soul must not boast that it is more holy than the body, for only in that it has climbed down into the body and works through its limbs can the soul attain its own perfection.”
Douglas-fir oil is a specific for the soul-force referred to as the astral body. The astral body, which has a good deal in common with the Chinese concept of chi and the homeopathic concept of vital force, perceives and internalizes impressions from the external world that are subsequently exteriorized in the form of behavioral responses and movement.
Douglas-fir oil is somewhat unique in that its masculine astral forces exert a feminine nurturing action, albeit indirectly, via the vitalization of the blood. 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 therefore, a sense of completeness.
While the astral body has a yang, masculine and empowering nature, the blood has a yin, feminine and nurturing character. Typically, as Richard Moss, M.D. writes in The Mandala of Being: “In a psychological sense mothering cultivates our earliest sense of self, and how we mother ourselves throughout life strongly influences how we hold ourselves when faced with emotional pain. Fathering, on the other hand, has to do with our vision of the world and how empowered we believe ourselves to be as we implement our personal visions in the world.”
The Douglas-fir type is prone to what the Chinese refer to as Deficient Blood, a condition that is certainly a feature of leukemia. A Deficient Blood state encourages feelings of low self-esteem as, in this circumstance, there is a diminution of the ability to acknowledge and embrace one’s accomplishments. Memory is also impacted by Deficient Blood as the brain’s memory function is nourished and maintained by blood. Memory enables us to maintain a connection with our achievements. While the domain of chi is the outward projection of the self via action, the domain of blood correlates more directly with the inner self’s activities of thought and emotion.
Douglas-fir oil’s counteraction of the psycho-spiritual impact of Deficient Blood positions it to exert a paternal nurturing action upon the psyche, enhancing the capacity for self-validation and self-nurturing. Moss asserts: “In the mirror of an environment that consciously supports and respects our uniqueness, we learn to trust ourselves and unfold into life while essentially feeling good about ourselves.”
In the context of this discussion, Douglas-fir oil’s paternal nurturing energy encourages an individual’s own soul to serve as a mirror for an enhanced sense of self. Thus, the oil helps to empower one to get past feelings of failure and limitation via the offices of self-reflection.
Douglas-fir oil is associated with the Kabbalistic Tree Of Life vessel of Tiferet which is responsible for the capacity of meaningful speech and a sense of truth. Hence, it is the spiritual root that ensures that, when fully active, we are being honest with ourselves, and not giving more or less than we should.
Tiferet is the Self, poised midway between heaven and earth, which channels the divine down into matter and raises matter up to the divine. In aromatherapy, it is thought that Douglas-fir oil simultaneously effects grounding and opening to spiritual consciousness.
Paradoxically for the Douglas-fir individual, her spiritual emergence can indirectly impede her forward momentum as a spiritually creative individual. Her progress in the process of self-transcendence is accompanied by a dramatically increased level of sensitivity that can both serve to facilitate or block said momentum.
On the “earth” level, sensitivity can easily metamorphose into hypersensitivity, and largely unavoidable factors of modern life such as noise, synthetic odors, chemical off-gassing, interaction with people, etc. can assume the character of difficult invasive challenges that interfere with one’s ability to perceive one’s existence through the lens of higher levels of consciousness. On the other hand, on the “heaven” level, the experience of the higher realm: beyond me-consciousness can activate a new set of inner conflict because it threatens the long-established sense of self.
For the Douglas-fir individual, spiritual emergence sparks the most primal of all fears: the fear of non-being. On the “earth” level, ongoing connection with the higher self evokes the fear that extrinsic factors may extinguish this hard-won connection. In turn, this deepens fear of invasive factors, particularly as it relates to sanctuary invasion. On the “heaven” level, progressive soul-transformation, with concomitant diminution of me-consciousness, demands the letting-go of familiar patterns and facets of identity. This elicits fear of loss of one’s position of comfort. Therefore, the Douglas-fir individual is confronted by the threat of non-being on both the levels of heaven and earth.
Douglas-fir oil, imbued with the power of Tiferet, harmonizes the visible and the invisible spiritual opening to the limitless with the need for protection from the limiting. In so doing, it both provides shelter from the forest fires of mortal life and cultivates inner growth, watered by what the kabbalists refer to as the “waters of light” from the higher worlds.
Douglas-Fir, Hospitalized Children and Santa Claus
If you know a hospitalized child, especially one whose blood is deficient and is missing the sanctuary of home and paternal nurturing, you may wish to consider bringing along some Douglas-fir oil whenever you visit her room. Perhaps you could diffuse it into the air for a short time around her, or maybe place a drop or two upon her wrist.
Aside from the potential psycho-spiritual level benefit, Douglas-fir essential oil exerts antiseptic, anti-catarrhal, anti-rheumatic, antitussive (counteracts coughs), sedative and tonic properties. And it’s considered to be of potential value in the treatment of the following symptoms: anxiety; nervous tension; circulatory weakness; fever; colds; flu; respiratory weakness, infections and/or catarrh; cough; asthma; bronchitis; joint weakness; rheumatic joint complaints; muscle soreness; rheumatism; wounds.
And what about Douglas-fir oil and old St. Nick? There is general consensus that there really isn’t a Santa Claus. Yet, if you have a fireplace and access to some Douglas-fir firewood, you may want to put a few pieces on the fire on Christmas Eve just to vitalize the idea of Santa. However, if you do so, you may also want to hang a stocking on the mantle. Just in case.
Please Note: New readers may wish to read my very popular December, 2007 Holiday article (based on a special personal experience): Remembering A “True” Holiday Gift. Readers have shared it with friends, and their friends with other friends, and I am still receiving e-mails about this article’s “magical ambience and soulful message.”