Essential oils are both biochemical and bioenergetic entities. The practice of Spiritual PhytoEssencing involves the use of phytoessences (i.e., plant essential oils) that are generated and stored by the plant in specialized cells. Virtually every part of the plant produces essential oils; however, the location of substantial quantities of these oils varies from species to species. Examples: The oils of rose and jasmine are extracted from the flowers; peppermint and geranium oils are extracted from the leaves and stems; lemon and orange oils are pressed from the fruit peel.
The most well-known use of phytoessences is referred to as aromatherapy, because one major aspect of their therapeutic value derives from the perception of their scent. The olfactory nerves: nerves related to the sense of smell are directly connected to cerebral centers, including the hypothalamus: a crucial portion of the brain stem. The hypothalamus along with portions of the cerebral cortex comprise a complex called the limbic system that can modify the way a person acts, because it functions to produce emotional feelings such as fear, anger, pleasure and sorrow. In this way, the limbic system guides the person into appropriate behavioral responses to daily survival challenges.
Too, the hypothalamus plays a pivotal role in maintaining physiological homeostasis and by serving as the link between the autonomic nervous and endocrine (hormonal) systems. Essential oils also directly interact on the non-material energy plane–via both the sense of smell and wave resonance–with human bioenergy or vital force (referred to in Chinese medicine as chi). The energy fields of these oils vibrate at frequencies that achieve resonance with the dynamic or energy body of the organism.
In Spiritual PhytoEssencing,the dynamic (non-physical) level—so-called because it affects all levels of being simultaneously—aspect of the essential oils is given greater emphasis than their chemical actions. This dynamic aspect is not accessible to our ordinary intellectual consciousness. Nevertheless, it is the key determinant of the nature of an essential oil.
Every living cell must be animated by a vital force, or “ensouled,” and it’s this incarnation of higher forces into living tissue that lends each organism its tangible expression. An essential oil is the most concentrated carrier of a plant’s soul.
Plants are alive, and everything that lives has a soul. The essential oil is the carrier of the soul of the plant. Rudolf Steiner notes: “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.
The Kabbalah teaches that the scent of a plant is a manifestation of the superconscious aspect of its soul. Whereas the taste of a fruit such as an orange nourishes a human being on a conscious level, the scent of its oil provides sustenance for one’s spiritual dimension. Hence, 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 Kabbalah teaches that the human soul is an homogenous blend of plant-, animal-, and human-soul components, and thus, human beings can relate to plants on a soul-to-soul level. Hence, one can use essential oils to elicit deep-seated, life-changing, soul-initiated responses. However, in order to do so, one must first come to understand each oil’s unique inner dimension, or “soul-nature.”
Like the human soul, the plant soul contains the spiritual roots for all the plant’s material and non-material manifestations. Hence, when using essential oils for deep psychospiritual work, all of the morphological, biophysical and bioenergetic features, plant signatures, folkloric associations, etc. of the plant can be used to develop an understanding of said spiritual roots.
An essential oil, being the most concentrated carrier of the plant soul, is inherently a potency—a storehouse of a dynamic potential that reflects the essence of all aspects of the source plant. In Berkowsky’s Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils, the one of the two central reference books of the art of Spiritual PhytoEssencing (the other being the Spiritual PhytoEssencing Repertory of Essential Oils), the individualized soul nature of 122 essential oils are elaborated using a varying synthesis of aromatherapy, herbal medicine and folklore, classical homeopathy, gemstone healing, color healing, conventional physiology, traditional Chinese medicine, depth psychology, anthroposophical medicine and the Kabbalah.
When one has an understanding of the soul nature of a particular oil, then that oil can be used with far greater specificity regarding resonance with the unique inner pole of each person’s self-structure referred to as the real self.