Copyright 2022 by Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc.
By Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., H.M.C.
Founder and Teacher of Spiritual PhytoEssencing
Note: Dr. Berkowsky’s 2018 Spiritual PhytoEssencing Webinar-Based Training Intensive
(Course begins April 10th)
The art of Spiritual PhytoEssencing (SPE)utilizes customized combinations of essential oils for deep soul-level healing work, which involves what I refer to as archetypal blending. In SPE, the term archetype refers to a unique intangible construct of the soul that generates a characteristic pattern of perceptible emotional and physical expressions. In turn, these expressions—such as temperament, personality traits, reactional tendencies and diverse symptoms of dysfunction, such as anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, stomach weakness, etc.—are considered to be archetypal images.
The basic premise of Spiritual PhytoEssencing is: In order to be able to ameliorate soul-level disharmony, an essential oil blend must engage with the archetypes embedded within the fabric of a person’s soul rather than with the archetypal images which manifest as emotional and physical symptoms. While oils are not selected to directly treat specific emotional and physical symptoms, these symptoms are used to identify their underlying archetypal roots.
Spiritual PhytoEssencing 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, gemstone healing and color therapy.
I have used this synthesis to develop individualized portraits of the inner soul nature of each of the oils used in Spiritual PhytoEssencing blending. Thus far I have elaborated highly detailed portraits of 124 different oils (Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils). Accordingly, each of the oils represents a unique plant soul with a characteristic mixture of prominent archetypal qualities.
Since each person’s soul is characterized by an array of archetypal patterns, soul-level healing work is best approached with a customized blend of essential oils rather than a single oil. In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the construction of a custom essential oil blend is similar to painting a portrait. Accordingly, the custom blend development process can be characterized as “painting a portrait in oils.”
The relative effectiveness of a custom oil blend will depend upon the degree of congruence there is between a person’s inner soul image and the soul image constructed by the combination of plant souls within the blend. It is this congruence that will encourage the person’s soul to absorb the soul-force generated by the plant soul combination and use it to reorient from its outer self-structure (and the associated outgoing mind) back to its source – one’s eternal nature (and the associated heart-going mind).
Given the wherewithal, the soul’s first priority is to overcome the estrangement between the self-conscious personal self and the higher self. When these aspects of soul existence are reintegrated, higher consciousness and the real self (the first aspect of the self-structure that emanates from one’s eternal nature) reassume their natural hierarchical superiority. Accordingly, they can then once again direct one’s decision-making process and guide the evaluation of personal experiences and the navigation of daily existence. Clearly, this wholeness of being is a fundamental component of mind/body wellness.
SPE is not a conventional science, instead it is a type of rational mysticism that incorporates various scientific perspectives. All the reference and study materials, including the Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils and the Spiritual PhytoEssencing Repertory of Essential Oils, begin with the rational thought processes that organize and direct the flow of the practice of SPE. However, this thought-consciousness also opens the door to the coequal superconscious, metaphysical aspect of SPE. Thus, the practitioner needs to approach the art of SPE using all four windows of knowing: thinking, sensing, feeling and connection to spirit.
Philosopher J.N. Findlay in The Transcendence of the Cave remarks regarding the world of spirit: “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.”
In this regard, Spiritual PhytoEssencing places great emphasis upon the use of “imaginal consciousness” which enables one to go beyond analysis of the physical properties of a given essential oil via a complementary perception of the spiritual roots from which these physical properties arise. While these spiritual roots are beyond the reach of the senses and rational consciousness, they nevertheless are the source of the material nature of an essential oil.
Essential oils are the most concentrated carrier of the soul of the plant. Anthroposophy founder Rudolf Steiner states: “Matter is most spiritual in the perfume of the plant…When the spirit most closely approaches the physical earth, then we have the perception of fragrance.”
In other words, the fragrance carried by an essential oil represents the merger of cosmic and terrestrial forces. This closely equates to the dynamics of soul life, wherein the body, a product of the materials of the earthly realm, serves as the instrument for the actualization of the potential resting within the soul.
Plants are alive, and everything that lives has a soul. An essential oil, the bonding medium for the soul of the plant, is uniquely suited to act as the physical entity that can facilitate an interface between plant and human souls.
The plant-soul is not encumbered by ego, so it has the qualities of purity and infinity. Thus, an individualized plant-soul combination within an essential oil blend, when proffered to the human-soul, would be eagerly received and infuse the latter with the impetus to move beyond limitation by changing its orientation from the finite to the Infinite.
The Alchemy Aspect of Spiritual PhytoEssencing
Spiritual PhytoEssencing takes alchemy from the realm of the purely esoteric into the realm of general practical application. The term alchemy invokes images, such as the one above, of medieval chemists attempting to transform base metals into gold or silver. In contrast, in Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the alchemy techniques that I have developed are designed to vitalize an essential oil blend in such a way as to enhance its potential for effecting deep, psychospiritual transmutation within the individual for whom that customized blend is intended.
The phenomena of transmutation, in this case, involves the transformation, via deep self-inquiry and connection to one’s higher self, of one’s life journey from one of inner conflict and stuckness into one directed by an ongoing process of acceptance and understanding that facilitates the capacity to let go and move forward toward wholeness of being. In this way, the “lead” which weighs us down in our lives is transformed into “gold” that leads us forward.
In SPE blending we begin with the material world and move toward unity with spirit. In the process we gradually transition from awareness of material thoughts and substance to an inward, intuitive perception of spirit.
According to Plotinus (famed 3rd century Greek philosopher) in the process of creation that begins in the endless light (what Plotinus refers to as the One) the unity of the One evolves into the ever-diversifying multiplicity of the many. This is the nature of emanation — the centrifugal process that begins in the world of being and cascades in this world of the becoming.
In the process of blending, we begin the centrifugal creative process by determining a number of oils that will be part of a blend. In other words, we elaborate a multiplicity. However in the process of blending, with the proper intent we reverse this flow, not only by blending the many to create a unified whole but by linking the soul energy within the blend with the unity of the uncreated light.
The One, to use Plotinus’ term, creates without being altered or diminished by what it has created. The same is true for spirit and intellect which are the initial emanations from the uncreated light. If, when we are blending, we begin with intellect and complete the process with spirit, we create without depletion of creative energy or personal soul force. In fact, when the blend is completed, the blender feels greater integration with the unity of the higher world. Thus, the blend that the blender is ostensibly creating for someone else, helps heal the blender.
When blending, look to the higher not the lower, always remain in close communion with the higher aspect of your soul and let that inspire your state of consciousness. True understanding and healing power belong to those who draw thought and guidance from this higher source.
This ultimately is a prerequisite for the creation of a deep-acting blend – a blend which has the power to leverage the soul out of the stasis associated with the inability to grasp that all the inner conflict that keeps one estranged from one’s eternal nature and authentic self is a product of a limited vision of being that is not consistent with what is truly real.
The various alchemy techniques used in Spiritual PhytoEssencing blending serve as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical, the tangible and the intangible, heaven and Earth. Utilizing these techniques elevates a custom blend out of the realm of the ordinary and potentiates its ability to affect fundamental shifts in a person’s relationship with the inner and outer worlds.
Below, I describe the Surrounding Essence technique, one of the primary alchemy techniques that I have developed for Spiritual PhytoEssencing blending
The Surrounding Essence Technique
All Spiritual PhytoEssencing blends are built in layers, with a maximum of one layer added per day. Layering is an integral aspect of the natural world. This can be seen in the rings of a tree and the sedimentary layers of rock set down over the course of many millions of years.
The Kabbalah teaches that the soul is comprised of five levels. The two highest levels are considered to be outer lights, so high they cannot be contained within the material nature of the body and can barely be perceived even in the deepest states of meditation. The three lower, inner lights represent those aspects of the soul with which we have the most intimate, conscious contact.
Based upon my observation of the phenomena of the natural world and this kabbalistic model of the soul, I came to the conclusion that blends prepared for soul level healing work must be constructed similarly so that they are more consistent with the inner patterning of both the natural world and the soul.
The purpose of the surrounding essence technique is to create an organized surrounding field for the blend. In other words, instead of simply adding the first layer of oils into an the void of an unfeeling, empty bottle, the blender creates a surrounding field of energy that welcomes and embraces the oils in the blend and helps in their transition from multiplicity to unity. In fact, the term embracing essence can be used interchangeably with surrounding essence.
Of course, the blender has to determine which oil would serve well as the surrounding essence for a given blend. The surrounding essence oil is not a constant. Instead it varies from one blend to the next. Any oil has the potential to serve as a surrounding essence.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing blends, the oils in the blend with the strongest links to the person’s soul archetypal profile are referred to as the “main oils.” On the other hand, those oils which have sufficient relevance in the case to qualify for inclusion in the blend but not enough to qualify as a “main oil” are utilized in much smaller quantities as “alchemy oils.”
For the 2018 Spiritual PhytoEssencing Training Intensive I have formulated a blend called Soular Hero’s Journey (inspired by the work of the great mythology scholar Joseph Campbell) which all the students will be blending using the oils in the course oil set.
This blend will help spiritually sensitive individuals acknowledge and understand their own hero’s journey. Furthermore it will help the individual successfully navigate through this dark period in our history from an inner self level, so that the current seemingly intransigent resistance to enlightened ideas and empathic understanding does not inhibit the progress of one’s soular hero’s journey.
For this blend, I have selected copaiba (pronounced ko-pah-ee-bah) essential oil to serve as the surrounding essence oil.
Copaiba oil is steam distilled from the gum/resin of Copaifera officinalis, a wild tree native to Brazil and other parts of South America. Once tapped (similar to how maple syrup and rubber are extracted), the copaiba resin is distilled to produce a clear essential oil that has a soft, subtle, yet expansive woody scent with a subtle, herbaceous, sweet note at its center.
Copaiba oil contains a significant amount of kaurenoic acid, a diterpene that exerts anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, and diuretic, antimicrobial and smooth muscle relaxant actions. Copaiba is also the highest known plant source of the anti-inflammatory sesquiterpene beta caryophyllene. The copaiba in the 2018 SPE Training Intensive course oil set is comprised of 69.2% beta carophyllene. In comparison clove oil, another notable source, contains only 8%.
These two biochemicals are responsible for many of copaiba’s traditional uses and established biological actions. Copaiba decreases PGE2 production, and is a Cox-2 inhibitor. Traditional medicinal uses of copaiba include: pain; inflammation; bacterial and fungal infections; tumors; fibromyalgia; lupus; multiple sclerosis; respiratory congestion; sinusitis; bronchitis; tuberculosis; stomach ulcers; stomach cancer; chronic diarrhea; hemorrhoids; constipation; cystitis; kidney weakness; urinary incontinence; arthritis; psoriasis; dermatitis; wounds; rashes; herpes; insect bites; boils; acne; nail and skin fungal infections; skin cancer.
Clearly, on a physical level, copaiba is an impressive healing agent. It is equally so on a psychospiritual level. The scent of copaiba is somewhat elusive. At times, it recedes to a level of mildness that is unusual among essential oils. At other times, its tropical wood scent unfurls and spirals upward in full. The subtle sweet undertone similarly varies in intensity. Regardless of the level of intensity of these scent notes, they are always enveloped in a warm, nurturing, somewhat maternal essence that is comprised of both scent and energy.
When I first received this oil, its scent was at its lower point. However, as the days passed and I interacted with it on an I-Thou, soul to soul, level and it physically warmed up in the quiet of my lab, its scent projection became progressively more robust. It seemed as if the oil needed physical warmth, a sense of safety and soul-to-soul acknowledgment before it trusted enough to reveal the beauty of its inner mystery.
Being that copaiba is a wild Amazon jungle oil, its scent behavior reminded me of a nature program I once saw which showed monkeys, upon the approach of a jaguar, scrambling up trees into the cover and safety of the canopy. Once the jaguar left the area, the monkeys reappeared on the jungle floor and resumed their normal activities.
From this experience with the oil, I began to use it in blending for individuals who are somewhat introverted and prone to feelings of vulnerability. The copaiba individual withdraws when she (or he) is among people she does not know. She is reflexively introverted when among strangers. She needs to feel nurturing warmth and soul-to-soul acknowledgment before she will emerge from the shelter of her introversion.
Some of the rubrics in the Spiritual PhytoEssencing Repertory of Essential Oils in which copaiba appears include:
Hide, desire to
Hides true feelings
Strangers, worse for the presence of
Vulnerability, feelings of
Warmth, better for
Warmth, desire for
Copaiba oil has a particular affinity for the 2nd, 4th and 6th chakras as well as the Earth, Warmth and Water elements.
Considering all of this, it became clear to me that copaiba was an ideal oil to serve as the surrounding essence that embraces and shelters the other oils in the Soular Hero’s Journey blend.
Instructions for Preparing a Surrounding Essence
1) Prior to blending, add 3 drops (per a 5 ml blend) of a selected alchemy oil (not one of the main oils in the blend formula; in this case the 2018 students will be using copaiba oil) to 27 drops of alcohol* in the empty blending bottle.
*Alcohol: Ideally 190 proof (95%) alcohol should be used as the essential oils are soluble in alcohol, not water. I use 190 proof alcohol distilled from organic wine. In many places, you can easily obtain a permit to purchase this strength alcohol. However, if you cannot, opt for 100 proof (50%) vodka. This is not as effective a solvent but will still work for the purposes of the surrounding essence technique. Alcohol that is more dilute than this will not serve well for the purpose of creating a surrounding essence.
2) While holding the bottle upright, swirl vigorously for a minute.
3) Then empty the bottle and place it upside down (with the cap off) on an eco-friendly paper towel and allow it to drain for 30 minutes.
4) Proceed on to blending the first layer of the blend. Always set down the first layer of the blend within 30 to 60 minutes after the draining of the surrounding essence began.
When you are preparing your next essential oil blend, consider beginning with a surrounding essence. You will find that this simple Spiritual PhytoEssencing alchemy technique will enhance the power and overall dynamics of the blend.
Note: Dr. Berkowsky’s 2018 Spiritual PhytoEssencing Webinar-Based Training Intensive
(Course begins April 10th)
Written by Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, N.M.D., M.H., H.M.C.
Dr. Berkowsky teaches in-depth seminars/teleseminars/workshops to health-conscious, spiritually aware individuals.
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 the art of Spiritual PhytoEssencing as well as 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).
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.
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.