Copyright 2011-2022 by Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
By Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., NCTMB
Like most Americans, I was dismayed this past week by the scenes of utter destruction and despair left in the wake of the tornadoes that, like malevolent mythological creatures, laid waste to populated areas throughout the South.
I observed the razed houses and heard distraught survivor’s plaintive descriptions of loss. Soul-level healing is the focus of my work with essential oils. Thus, I reflexively began to analyze the toll the storm and its aftermath had exacted upon those left to pick through the ruins for loved ones and remnants of what had instantly become their former lives.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing practice, one of the first things we do in the process of oil selection for a given customized blend is boil down, to a set of recurrent themes, all the diverse formative circumstances and symptoms (emotional and physical) in a person’s life-history.
This rendering of a personal history down to recurrent, standout themes serves to organize the analysis of a large, unwieldy database of case information. In so doing, it makes the subsequent process of oil selection more cohesive and allows the blender to penetrate the outward expressions of disharmony and engage with the core psycho-spiritual disturbances from which those expressions arise.
As regards, the survivors of the violent storms that destroyed their homes and neighborhoods, uprooted their lives and may have killed one or more of their loved ones, we can concentrate on four central themes: insecurity relative to the home, grief, crisis of faith and storms.
In this article, I will discuss four essential oils (cedarwood, cypress, rosemary and rhododendron) that are particularly relevant in reference to these themes.
My goal is to demonstrate how to prepare a blend that may prove of good service in providing deep-level for the survivors of the recent tornadoes as they go about piecing their lives back together.
Insecurity Relative To The Home – Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
The Atlas cedar (so-called because it is a native of the Atlas Mountains of Algeria and Morocco), a close relative of the Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani) referred to many times in the Bible, is a majestic, pyramid-shaped evergreen conifer that can grow to a height of 165 feet.
The reddish-brown wood is very hard, and owing to its high content of essential oil, very aromatic. In ancient times, cedar was a revered structural wood and was traditionally used in the construction of large buildings such as temples and palaces as well as for ship masts. Large buildings require framing material that can withstand a huge weight-bearing load, and ship masts must be strong enough to resist the destructive power of violent ocean storms.
Cedarwood’s most distinguishing property relative to the other wood oils is the dominating theme of “strength.” Of course, other tree oils such as pine and eucalyptus also have this property to a degree. However, for cedarwood this is the central theme of its therapeutic character. Remember, its common name is Atlas cedar. Atlas, of course is the mythological figure who supports the entire weight of the heavens.
The word cedar is derived from a Semitic word meaning “spiritual power,” and in ancient times, it was a symbol of constant faith. Here we see that cedarwood not only covers the theme of the protection of the home but also touches upon the theme of loss of faith.
On a spiritual level, cedarwood oil is considered useful for: disconnectedness; inability to hold firm in the face of life’s challenges; alienation and destabilization due to persistent stress; loss of spiritual focus.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, cedarwood is considered to be a specific for the kidneys and the bones. The kidneys engender the structural elements of the body and are important to the mineralization of the bones. This, in conjunction with cedarwood’s affinity for the bones, makes this oil relevant for any individual who requires calcium supplementation.
The main emotional theme of calcium is the need for protection, stability and security. Calcium is the major mineral component of the protective shells of molluscs, crabs and the exoskeleton of insects.
The calcium type has a strong bond to the home, a bastion of safety comparable to the oyster’s calcium-rich shell. Hence, they are bolder and more assertive at home than in the outside world where they feel vulnerable and uncertain.
Strong structural protection is one of the central themes of cedarwood. In fact, among essential oils, this theme is most resonant within the cedarwood picture.
In this regard, the Bible makes numerous references to cedarwood as the following examples will demonstrate:
2Samuel 5:11: “Then Hiram, king of Tyre, sent messengers to David with cedar trees and carpenters and stonemasons; and they built a house for David.”
Cedarwood was a central structural element of King Solomon’s temple. This is referred to in 1Kings 6:9: “So he built the house and finished it; and he covered the house with beams and planks of cedar.”
Ezekiel 17:22-23: “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.
On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.'”
Grief – Cypress (Cupressus semipervirens)
Song of Songs 1:17 reads: “The beams of our houses are cedars. Our rafters, cypresses.” Note the synergy between cedarwood and cypress relevant to structure.
The survivors of the tornadoes are not only grieving for lost relatives and/or friends, but also for the loss of a way of life—that which was familiar, comforting and very much part of a sense of self.
Perhaps death and grieving are the most prominent folkloric themes of cypress. The ancient Greeks and Romans planted cypress trees in their burial grounds and Hades (Pluto to the Romans), god of the Underworld, was described as living in a palace situated next to a cypress tree.
The ancient Egyptians used cypress wood to construct the sarcophagi in which their mummies were laid to rest. In more modern times among Mediterranean countries, cypress trees were planted in cemeteries, both as a symbol of grief and a source of solace.
Cypress’ species name semipervirens means always green or, in essence, lives forever. This appellation is generally thought to refer to the wood’s resistance to rot, but given the tree’s long association with death and burial, a correlation with the afterlife cannot be dismissed as coincidental.
Not unexpectedly, cypress oil is a major essential oil for grief. In the same way that it was once purported to assist in the transition from this world to the next, it aids in the inevitable transition that takes place in one’s life after the loss of a loved one or some other beloved feature of one’s life.
Cypress helps to counteract depression, uncontrolled crying and the desire to withdraw from life and purifies the spirit of the lingering anger. Cypress encourages a degree of inner peace that can come only through having faith in the soul’s eternal nature (i.e., that the soul “lives forever”). Here again we see a cross-over, where one oil is touching upon two themes. In this case, those two themes are grief and crisis of faith.
Crisis Of Faith – Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
As we have seen, cedarwood and cypress both address the theme of faith and loss thereof. However, since the maintenance of faith is crucial to the avoiding a descent into an intractable state of paralytic despair, I feel it is important to add another oil into this blend to buttress faith.
A medieval Christian legend holds that when Mary and young Jesus were fleeing to Egypt, she once spread her mantle over some rocky ground from which some white-flowered rosemary plants were growing. She then set the child on this soft, temporary bed. Later, when she lifted him, and then picked the mantle up, she observed that the rosemary flowers had turned blue. Ever since that time, rosemary has been a blue-flowered plant.
The significance of this legend is that to the people of that time, the color blue (which is said to have been the preferred color of the garments worn by both Mary and Jesus) symbolized heaven, eternity, truth and wisdom. In fact, all of these themes are central to the soul-nature of rosemary oil.
Rosemary also had symbolic religious significance to the peoples of the classical civilizations. It was said that the Greek gods of Mount Olympus valued a wreath of rosemary more than gold.
Rosemary’s reputation for strengthening memory and as a symbol of both the fertility of the afterlife and of faithfulness between lovers or friends, as well as between the living and their deceased forebears, extends back thousands of years. From a psycho-spiritual perspective, it is the interface of these two properties of memory and faithfulness that lends rosemary its very unique, widely applicable specificity.
The ancient Greeks and Romans associated rosemary with remembrance and related faculties such as retention of knowledge and faithfulness to vows. In Europe, rosemary incense was once burned at funerals in memory of the deceased. Students in ancient Greece wore rosemary garlands while studying for exams as a means of improving their memory.
At weddings, rosemary was entwined in the wreath worn by brides or included in the bouquets they carried, and rosemary branches were presented to the wedding guests as a symbol of love and loyalty. It was once a custom to distribute rosemary to the mourners at a funeral who would cast it upon the coffin after it had been lowered into the grave as a sign that the life of the deceased would not be forgotten.
In aromatherapy, rosemary oil is considered to be potentially useful for the treatment of the following symptoms and conditions: memory loss; mental strain and fatigue; poor concentration; lethargy; depression; lack of self-confidence; poor resolve; negativity; over-thinking; nerve weakness; exhaustion; paralysis.
On a soul-spiritual level, rosemary is thought to help release negative thought patterns and help develop sensitivity to the higher forces.
The soul-nature of rosemary is shaped by a strong relationship with the Kabbalah’s Tree Of Life vessel of Keter (meaning “crown”). Keter is the highest vessel on the Tree of Life. Keter is the point of interface between the Infinite, and emanated creation. It is completely hidden from rational consciousness and conception as it is imbued with the quality of infinity.
Keter is the superconscious source of faith. The power of faith emanates from the hidden juncture where the human soul clings to its Divine Source (i.e., Keter). It is this connection which imbues the soul with its eternal quality. This is the basis for the verse from Deuteronomy 4:4: “You who cling to God, your Lord, are alive everyone of you this day.”
Storms – Rhododendron Oil (Rhododendron spp.)
Rhododendron is an essential oil that deserves greater attention. It can be distilled from a variety of closely related species. Rhododendron chrysanthum (Siberian rhodoendron), commonly known as snow rose, is the species used in homeopathic medicine and primarily discussed in herbal medicine.
Rhododendron chysanthum is an elegant evergreen shrub which inhabits the mountains of Siberia that flowers in June or July. Various North American Rhododendron species were used medicinally by native American tribes.
There is a paucity of information regarding this oil in the aromatherapy literature; however, both homeopathic and herbal literature provide some key insights into its character. Hence, the symptom picture of the homeopathic remedy Rhododendron chrysanthum (Rhod.) can be used to provide crucial understanding of the soul-nature of rhododendron oil.
Here are some of the relevant symptoms from that symptom picture: sensitiveness to storms and weather changes; worse on the approach of a storm, during a storm or in wet weather; sensitive to electrical changes; remedy suited to nervous persons who dread a storm and are particularly afraid of thunder; fear of thunder in nervous persons; better after the storm breaks and for warmth; symptoms come on in the spring and autumn: the seasons of change; brain feels as if “surrounded by fog”; starts and appears terrified in sleep but awakes cheerful [this is comparable to a violent storm that passes through and is followed by clear weather]; whirling vertigo [like a tornado] with sensation as if “the head were turned backward” [as if possessed]; hair stands up as if electrified; headache comes on before a storm; darting like arrows through eye from back of head before a storm; clouded sight when reading and writing; violent tearing and jerking facial aching aggravated by wind and changes of weather; toothache with drawing and tearing pain in the molars in cold, damp weather or on the approach of, or during, a storm; diarrhea in cold, wet weather; pain in the ovaries aggravated by a change in weather; rheumatic pains in limbs aggravated before a storm; worse in windy weather even if the patient is indoors.
Clearly, one would be hard—pressed to find an oil more relevant than rhododendron to address the theme of storms and the impact they can exert upon one’s state of being.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, lavender oil is included in every blend as an agent of organization that mediates among the diverse plant soul energies in the blend and encourages them to integrate harmoniously. In a future article, I will describe lavender oil in detail and explain why it is uniquely suited for this role.
The After The Storm Formula
My hope of course is that some of you who are reading this, who also happen to live near the storm-impacted areas, or have friends or relatives that do, will prepare this blend and share it with those for whom it may prove to be a unique source of solace and strength.
Here is the formula that I have constructed that can serve as a basic guideline. The actual number of drops will vary from blender to blender because everyone is working with different oils (oils will vary in quality and soul essence according to where and how they were grown, how they have been handled and stored, etc.). Also, each blender, having a singular soul, develops a unique soul-to-relation with the oils. Nevertheless, you will find the ratios I have set out below to be usefully orienting.
Cedarwood 2.75 parts
Cypress 2.5 parts
Rosemary 2.5 parts
Rhododendron 1.5 parts
Lavender 4.25 parts
After blending, let stand for one day before using to allow the inner natures of each of the oils to integrate and develop harmonious relation with one another.
There are a variety of ways this blend can be used. The most basic of these is: Place 2 to 3 drops of the blend placed upon the inside of one wrist. Rub the wrists together. Inhale scent through the nose. Turn head to the side when exhaling.
The blend can also be dispersed via an essential oil diffuser (this may be of particular usefulness in shelters or hospital rooms) applied to chakras or mixed with unrefined sea salt (5 drops of the blend mixed with 1 Tbsp of sea salt) and added to a warm, full bath.
Of course, this blend is relevant not only for the aftermath of tornadoes but other severe storms as well, such as hurricanes.
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.