Modern life features an ongoing degenerative process, whose impact on a soul level is comparable to the destructive effect climate change exerts upon our planet. This degenerative process is fueled by the disappearing influence of the Divine Feminine. In fact, climate change and the disappearing influence of the Diving Feminine intersect at the point of man’s heedless destruction of the natural world. As the natural world recedes, so does the Divine Feminine which inspirits it.
In this reference, Thomas Traherne, the 17th century English poet and theologian, wrote: “You never enjoy the world aright until the sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens and crowned with the stars.”
However, the human race has largely forsaken its connection with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of the most famous nature mystic poets, declares: “Man is a dwarf of himself, for he was once filled with the spirit of nature but shrank from what he was and could be.”
The 19th century German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel observed: “Beauty is merely the spiritual making itself known to the senses.” The beauty of the natural world is one of the means by which the higher world reveals its character. In turn, when we get these glimpses we are able to strip away some of the veils of the world of becoming that separate us from the inner spiritual aspect of our souls and communion with the world of being: divine reality.
As essential oils are unusually rich carriers of the Divine Feminine, they represent an invaluable source of support for the inner spiritual self and sustenance for its inherent impulse toward actualization in an increasingly challenging world.
Contrasting Being and Becoming
We can view the human soul as being operative in two worlds: the world of becoming (the physical world of the senses) and the world of being (the transcendent world of spirit).
Plato, in comparing the spirit and material realms, wrote:“We must make a distinction between the great forms of being and ask: ‘What is that which Is and has no becoming and what is that which is always becoming and never is?'” In other words, while the being associated with spirit is eternal and unchanging, the being associated with modern human existence is characterized by perpetual striving toward becoming something better than one is at the moment.
Reality in this world of becoming is always in a state of flux. The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote: “Everything happens through strife. Reality is a condition of unrest.” Full presence of being entails not only more spiritually informed navigation through the flux of our daily lives, but also the ongoing engagement of the inner spiritual self’s capacity to know and interact with the spiritual world.
Noted Buddhist teacher Adyashanti writes in The Impact of Awakening: “You have to become more interested in the silent background [i.e., the higher Self] than in the foreground, the phenomena. Most people are focused on the foreground, but the Self is discovered in the background from which the phenomena spring and the ground in which this display of phenomena is happening. When you rest as this background, you can taste your Self.”
Of course it is crucial to develop communion with both the living reality of the universe, the natural world, or world of becoming, from which our own physical existence arises as well as from the world of being: the divine ground of spiritual being that is the invisible underlying milieu of living reality.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, the blender is taught to practice at the junction point of these two stages of reality: the world of the senses and the spiritual world. You cannot begin to understand the inner nature of the oils without union with the natural world. When we live in harmony with the rhythms of the natural universe, we can begin to perceive the beauty of the oils. However, this perception of beauty must not only please the senses but also act as gateway to developing relation with the spirit within the oils.
The beauty of an oil’s scent represents the tangible expression of its inspiritment. The French spiritual teacher and philosopher Jean Klein once noted that words which emanate from heart wisdom are “saturated with the perfume of the Source from which they come.” Clearly, this description may be even more relevant when ascribed to essential oils.
Those who move forward with full presence of being come to see that life is nourished from within as well as elaborated from without. Ideally, successful existence proceeds from effective navigation of one’s physical milieu under the guidance of the higher world.
The basic conflict of all those who are spiritually conscious is the simultaneous yearning for higher light and attachment to that which is shadows that light. In other words, the fundamental dilemma is the need to resolve the paradox of being and becoming.
The Dominance of Thought over Feeling
Our intelligence has been programmed to be specialized for survival in the material world – the world of becoming – so we come to view this to exclusively be the “real world.” Accordingly, thought consciousness becomes the dominant window of knowing. Psychoanalyst Eligio Stephen Gallegos, Ph.D. in Animals of the Four Windows observes: “Thinking creates constructs that are good at maintaining rigid organization, but they know nothing of wholeness.”
Spirit is perceived, and connected with, via feeling, not thinking. Thus, the dominance of thought consciousness institutionalizes the estrangement from spirit that characterizes modern day existence – an estrangement that keeps one mired in the sense of stuckness and incompletion that afflicts so many spiritually sensitive individuals.
Adyashanti writes: “You must go so deeply into the Unknown that you are no longer referencing thought to tell you who and what you are. Only then will thought be capable of reflecting that which is true, rather than falsely masquerading as truth.”
In order to reengage with the being that constitutes the core of soul existence, as well as to be able to prepare essential oil blends that resonate with that core, one must operate less from thinking and more from feeling.
Gallegos speaks of “maps of reality” which we employ to guide ourselves through life. He writes: “We have been taught to accept as valid only maps that are principally mechanical and logical…The maps we have drawn have been extensively crippled in the domain of feeling, because feeling is not mechanical and does not function in terms of symbolic logic…A map which is drawn exclusively through thinking cannot ultimately be a healthy map, for it distorts the map of ourselves and thus perpetuates an unwholeness in who we are.”
The capacity for deep feeling emanates from the soul’s connection to the Divine Feminine. As noted above, one can only engage with spirit through the offices of feeling. This is why engagement with feeling is such a crucial part of the Spiritual PhytoEssencing blending method.
Breast-feeding is one of the clearest human manifestations of the nurturing quality of the Divine Feminine. When viewing the painting below – Louise Nursing Her Child by Mary Cassatt (1898), one can clearly observe the primacy of feeling over thinking regarding soul-to-soul relation between living beings: human to human, human to animal, human to plant. Only interactions characterized by soul-to-soul relation are infused with spirit.
Unlike most other mammals, the human infant suckles from breasts located in the region of the heart: the seat of shen whereas the mammary glands of most other mammals are located near the sexual organs and areas of waste excretion. Shen is one of the “Three Treasures” of Chinese medicine, the other two being chi (vital force) and jing (essence). The word shen translates roughly as “spirit.” Shen vitalizes chi and jing in the body. Whereas movement is indicative of the presence of chi, and growth and renewal indicative of jing, consciousness indicates the presence of shen.
Shen is said to reside in two houses. The higher house correlates with the nerve-sense system where it brings forth clarity of thought and conscious direction of life and the vital processes. The lower residence is the heart where it ensures balanced feelings and clear, honest communication. Heart shen is spirit transformed by feeling.
The institutionalized dominance of thinking over feeling in the modern age is one of the leading factors in the diminution of the palpable presence of the Divine Feminine.
The Divine Feminine: The Immanent Divine Presence within the Natural World
Theism (belief in the existence of God or gods) has always featured either a balance or a conflict between the principles of the transcendence and immanence of God. The doctrine of immanence infers that an infinite divine presence pervades all phenomena within the natural universe (e.g., plants, animals, stars, gemstones, etc.).
On the other hand, the doctrine of transcendence holds that an intelligent and creative spiritual force or being exerts its influence from outside the bounds of the natural world. In Judaism, Christianity and various other religions, God is viewed as being simultaneously present and active in the natural world and transcendent to the created universe.
The following observation by Meister Eckhart, the 13th century German philosopher and mystic, alludes to the dynamic interaction between the transcendent and immanent aspects of the divine: “Secretly, Nature seeks and hunts and tries to ferret out the track in which God may be found.”
The Divine Feminine and the immanent aspect of God are one and the same. The Divine Feminine is the yin aspect of spirit. For thousands of years, the Chinese have understood the phenomena of the natural world to be the products of yin and yang: two primal opposing but complementary forces. Yin and yang are not viewed as having a static relationship, but rather as a continuous cycle in which each tends to become dominant or receptive in alternation.
Accordingly, heaven is seen as being the embodiment of the yang aspects of the cosmos: ethereal, bright, active, generative, initiatory and masculine. In contrast, Earth is viewed as being deeply yin: solid, dark, cool, quiescent, growth-sustaining, receptive and feminine.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing, yin and yang are viewed as being coequal components of both Heaven and Earth – the spiritual and material realms. The immanent aspect of spirit is more yin and the transcendent aspect is more yang. The yin-feminine quality of divine immanence is implicit to the term “Mother Nature.”
The Creation myth in Genesis (a very important section of the Torah for kabbalists) relates: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was without form and empty, with darkness on the face of the depths, but God’s spirit moved on the water’s surface. God said, ‘There shall be light,’ and light came into existence.” (Genesis 1:1 – 1:3; excerpted from The Living Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan). In these verses we not only see a complex interaction between the forces of yin and yang, but notably, in the sequence of Creation, darkness (yin) precedes and thus facilitates the appearance of light (yang).
Thus, the yin- Divine Feminine is as generative a Heaven force as is the yang. Since in the sequence of Creation darkness preceded light, the Divine Feminine is similarly required to initiate the soul’s movement from darkness to light.
While thinking has a more yang nature (ethereal, active, moving), feeling has a more yin nature (solid, growth-sustaining, receptive). The ascendancy of thought consciousness and the concomitant decline of feeling in the modern world has fostered a diminution of the nurturing tendency and receptivity to spirit.
In recent years, due to the disappearance of the forests, plains, deserts, lakes, etc. religious practice has become estranged from the natural world. As the natural world is the domain of the Divine Feminine and a rich reservoir of feeling, we have observed the ascendancy of religious fundamentalism dominated by the thought-consciousness inherent to harsh judgmentalism and rigidly structured legalisms. As the Divine Feminine recedes, the feeling aspect of the pursuit of connection to spirit has become, at best, a secondary window of knowing. This creates a fertile breeding ground for yang, fire-and-brimstone clerics convinced of their religion’s exclusive claim to God’s good favor, instead of compassionate spiritual mystics who emphasize the universality of spirit and the sacredness of the natural world.
Note how the spiritual connection of Angela of Foligno, a 13th century Italian Christian mystic, is permeated by the Divine Feminine and how she marvels at Divine immanence:
“The eyes of my soul were opened and I beheld the plenitude of God, wherein I did comprehend the whole world, both here and beyond the sea and the abyss and ocean and all things.
In all these things I beheld naught save the divine power in a manner assuredly indescribable; so that through excess of marveling my soul cried with a loud voice, saying: ‘The whole world is full of God!”‘
Angela of Foligno led a life devoted to higher perfection and an understanding of the deepest mysteries (yin). She was noted not only for her spiritual writings, but also for founding a spiritual community that refused to affiliate with any religious order so that it might continue her vision of caring for those in need.
The Divine Feminine, the Kabbalah and the Exile of the Shekhinah
One of the central tenets of the Kabbalah is the concept of tsimtsum: God’s withdrawal from the central point of the pre-Creation infinite light, which resulted in a Vacated Space in which the finite, material world could unfold.
The theme of separation is inherent in the kabbalistic interpretation of the Garden of Eden myth. Accordingly, Adam and Eve’s fall from grace precipitated a “cutting of the shoots” which represented the severing of the unity between the Creator and His creation. In effect, Adam and Eve caused the plane of the material world to lose its absolute divinity, and thus, become isolated from the higher world.
This isolation is referred to as the “exile of the Shekhinah.” The Shekhinah is the term used in the Kabbalah for the female essence of God (i.e., the Divine Feminine), which constitutes the presence of God in the material world (the rose is a symbol of the Shekhinah). If the natural world is a reflection of patterns within the higher world, and the Divine Feminine is the primal maternal archetype, then it seems logical that the Shekhinah/Divine Feminine would accompany her offspring – all the ensouled living beings within the natural world: plant, animal and human – into “exile” within the realm of creation. There her omnipresent force could nurture and guide her offspring in a tangibly maternal way.
According to the Kabbalah, the full repair of our highly flawed world through the offices of human spirituality can only be facilitated via the reunification of material world with the higher world. By necessity, this reunification features a parallel reconciliation between the transcendent (masculine) and immanent (feminine) aspects of the divine.
This primordial separation serves as the template for all the forms of separation that color human existence. Separation takes the form of estrangement between rational, everyday consciousness and higher consciousness between a person and God, between an individual and his or her own true self, between a person and the natural world, between a person and his or her beloved, children and other loved ones. If the healing of the world (tikkun olam in Hebrew) can only be achieved through the receptivity of the yin Divine Feminine to the higher light imparted by the yang transcendent aspect of God, then all these other varieties of psycho-spiritual separation require the nurturing guidance of the Shekhinah as well.
Yet, if the Divine Feminine/Shekhinah is less present and accessible due to the diminution of the natural world and the dominance of thought over feeling, one will need assistance to (borrowing some of Meister Eckhart’s words) “ferret out the track in which God may be found.” In this regard, essential oils: concentrated carriers of the Divine Feminine can serve as the conduit to tikkun olam within one’s soul, each of which is a microcosm universe.
Essential Oils and the Divine Feminine
The kabbalistic idea of “sparks of holiness” that rained down upon the material world as a result of a cataclysmic event that occurred during the process of Creation is a compelling variation on the theological theme of divine immanence, and thus, the Divine Feminine. Accordingly, these sparks of the Infinite Light (Or Ein Sof in Hebrew) became embedded within all the elements of the natural world.
Divine immanence is a primary principle of nature mysticism: the perception of the divine within nature. In this reference, in Nature, Ralph Waldo Emerson writes:
“Throb thine with Nature’s throbbing breast,
And all is clear from east to west.
Spirit that lurks each form within
Beckons to spirit of its kin.”
Anthroposophical science teaches that plants produce fragrance as a means of absorbing “the soul” of the sun which contains the essence of spirit. Fragrance-formation represents an interaction between terrestrial and cosmic forces, and it’s used by the plant as a means of uniting with the spiritual essence contained within sunbeams.
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, an essential oil is the most concentrated carrier of the plant’s embedded sparks of the Infinite Light. To the extent that the immanent divine presence: the Divine Feminine can be perceived in plant matter, it is most tangible and accessible in essential oils.
Spirit can be considered to be the non-material form that illuminates and otherwise sustains the substance of all living beings: plant, animal and human. Kabbalist Rabbi Yechiel Bar-Lev in Song of the Soul writes: “The body is the form’s vehicle of expression…Light and vessel are synonyms for form and substance, respectively. The vessel reveals and expresses the character of the light through its actions…The light is internal. The vessel is external.
The light is the essence which clothes itself in and directs the action of the vessel. Through the action the light is revealed; the inner self is shown.” The character and quality of an object depend on its form—its spiritual power. Form determines the traits and characteristics of that reality, so that one may assert that the form is the essence of the reality, the substance. A person who improves his or her soul improves his or her essence.”
An essential oil’s inner soul-nature, illuminated by the Divine Feminine, serves as the light, and its material substance is the vessel. The scent of the oil represents its inner light expressed through its unique biochemical construction.
While all essential oils are vitalized by the Divine Feminine, some, such as oils of rose, Jasmine sambac, neroli and patchouli, are generally viewed as having a more feminine nature than others. There is no question that women, more than men, do indeed have a distinct affinity for oils such as these. However, all essential oils, even those which have a more masculine character, such as cedarwood, cypress and Douglas-fir, are deeply imbued with the Divine Feminine. These oils receive their higher quotient of masculine energy from their engagement with the masculine forms within the downward flowing Infinite Light. In turn, the expression of this Light within an essential oil is mediated by the Divine Feminine.
Importantly, not all oils that one may purchase are equally inspirited. In Spiritual PhytoEssencing practice, only the finest quality, most deeply inspirited oils are used. The level of an oil inspiritment varies in accordance with how and where the source plant was grown and the consciousness that surrounded the distillation and subsequent handling of the oil.
The fact that an oil is certified organic does not guarantee that it has a particularly high content of spirit. Consciousness and intent play as much of a role as growing conditions do in the inspiritment of an oil.
Essential Oil Blending and Satsang: being together in truth
The idea that the separation of the masculine (transcendent) and feminine (immanent) aspects of the divine was a central feature of the cosmological (pertaining to the origin and development of the universe) model of the Kabbalah was discussed above. Accordingly, the healing of the world (tikkun olam in Hebrew) can only be achieved through a reconciliation between the transcendent (masculine) and immanent (feminine) aspects of the divine.
Whereas the yang, transcendent aspect of the divine imparts spiritual light, the yin, immanent aspect receives that light and then shares it with all the elements of the natural world. Of course, the transcendent aspect has the desire to receive from Creation and the immanent aspect has the desire to impart to the transcendent its understanding of the workings of the material, finite realm. This is simply a reflection of the perpetually reciprocal nature of yin and yang.
It is not difficult to see why the early kabbalists viewed these two aspects of God as cosmic lovers since their relationship is characterized by perfect reciprocity, which, in turn, is the distinguishing quality of perfect love.
The Buddhist term satsang literally means being together in truth. When two individuals have a perfectly reciprocal relationship, and speak truth to one another, they create satsang. Thus, when you engage in soul-to-soul relation with an essential oil, there is perfect reciprocity between human soul and plant soul, and together you create satsang. You acknowledge and communicate caring to the soul of the oil and it, in turn, opens a window within its soul through which the Divine Feminine shines.
Rabbi Zevi Hirsh, a 19th century Hasidic master (quoted in Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber), taught: “When a traveler walks in the way of God, then whether he knows it or not all the holy sparks which cling to the plants of the field and the trees of the forest rush forth and attach themselves to such a person and he or she is illuminated with a great light.'”
Carry this understanding with you whenever you work with essential oils. For if you always move through their world with a consciousness of their being and a desire to receive for the purpose of sharing, “the holy sparks which cling to the plants of the field and the trees of the forest will rush forth and attach themselves to…” you. The Divine Feminine will permeate your inner spiritual self and you will take another step toward wholeness of being and assist in tikkun olam: the healing of the world.