Imaginative Consciousness: Developing “Pure Relation” With Essential Oils
Philosopher J.N. Findlay in The Transcendence of the Cave remarks: “The other world [i.e., spiritual 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 “imaginative 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.
In I and Thou, the great philosopher Martin Buber discusses the I-Thou relationship between human- and plant-soul: “The living wholeness and unity of a tree that denies itself to the eye of anyone who merely investigates, is manifest to those who say Thou, is present when they are present: they grant the tree the opportunity to manifest it [soul-level consciousness] , and now the tree that has being manifests it.”
Buber’s central point is that one encounters spirit only through a meeting of souls (including a meeting between a human soul and a plant soul) at a “between” space. This “I-Thou” (or “I-You”) meeting (one’s true Self engaging with another’s true Self) engenders the development of pure relation characterized by reciprocal soul-level acknowledgment. In contrast, the more common and generally superficial “I-It” experience is characterized by lack of soul-to-soul acknowledgement, thus using and experiencing rather than knowing and caring.
When I was a young man, I spent a great deal of time traveling about the United States and camping in state and national forests. I can clearly recall hiking through forests on warm, summer afternoons when only the hum and buzz of flying insects and the occasional rustle of deciduous leaves in the breeze echoed in the cathedral silence. At those times I was completely aware of a presence that, as Buber states it, “flashes towards us from that which has being.” I could tangibly perceive that the trees, wildflowers, ferns, etc. were all ensouled and had being. Accordingly, it is natural for my I (the true Self embedded within the higher soul) to feel and acknowledge the “You” of an essential oil and engage with it in a reciprocal soul-to-soul meeting.
Kabbalists place great emphasis on the importance of kavanah, or intent. A practitioner of Spiritual PhytoEssencing must acknowledge each essential oil’s “I” or they will not open to you with their soul essence and any resultant essential oil blend will be limited in its potential to meet a person’s soul in the “between space,” attract spirit and encourage realization of one’s true self.
Identifying the Unique Soul-Nature of Each Oil
Every living cell must be animated by a vital force, or “ensouled,” and it is this incarnation of higher forces into living tissue that lends each organism its tangible expression. Hence, when using essential oils for psycho-spiritual work, all of the physical features, clinical properties and historical associations, etc. of the plant can be used to develop an understanding of its spiritual roots.
The central reference text in Spiritual PhytoEssencing is Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils, which contains 120+ chapters and each is devoted to the elaboration of the inner soul-nature of a specific essential oil. This process of elaboration involves the interweaving of information regarding plant characteristics, habitat, historical and folkloric associations and therapeutic action with a diverse variety of synchronicities.