The Sacred Art of Aromatherapy

By Christine Nightingale, BA, RM, CH, Contributor to Aromatherapy on

Many people believe that aromatherapy only works because certain scents make us feel good and help us relax. It is true that scents can affect us at a subliminal level. Because the olfactory system is connected to the bottom of the brain without being processed by any higher brain centers, a smell can activate memories of Grandma’s garden, or a horrible hospital experience, faster than any sound or sight can do, and without any processing of the raw, visceral emotion.

My client today said that the lavender transported her back to a time when she was 20, in France, with her boyfriend, when they went to the fields to see the monks harvesting medicinal lavender in the early morning. It made her feel young and free again, Also, the scent  of orange reminded her of childhood Christmases, when oranges were  such a rare treat that you got one orange in your stocking. I had chosen lavender for her nervous tension  and orange for her lymphatic system; if she had not liked them I would have used other oils. I let my client choose five out of about fifteen which addressed her issue for that appointment. (Next week it might be something else).

But this very powerful evocation of pleasant memories is only a partial explanation of why the use of essential oils is so efficacious in improving health and well-being.

Plants and humans have co-existed and affected each other’s evolution for as long as there were humans. Plant energies directly affect us, not just when we eat them, or enjoy the appearance of a flower garden or a natural verdant scene. It is intuitively understood by most people that being in nature makes us feel better. Most natural scenes have plants in abundance, with healing green colors, sometimes lovely flowers, invigorating scents of evergreen trees or intoxicating scents of flowers, or the soothing sound of wind in the trees.

People all over the world use flowers in important ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, because flowers help us to experience emotion. Orange blossoms make us happy; rose blossoms help us cry if we need to. (Both tears and laughter offer stress relief.) Incense is used in many religions to help in spiritual opening during services (frankincense, myrrh , and spikenard are psychic openers)

From time immemorial healers in every culture have collected certain plants which were understood to be helpful for infertility, or stomach complaints, or nervous conditions, or insect bites. In every  area of the world where a disease occurs often among humans, there is a plant which can be located in that area which can treat the problem. Mother Earth has arranged it so. We are all her children and are meant to help each other. Healers from every culture have learned to concentrate the essences of these plants, the healing components, usually by a process involving distillation. This is what produces essential oils.

Plants can mimic human hormones, and are especially helpful with such issues as infertility and mood. Anything not needed by the body in a blend which is applied through massage or bath, will simply be excreted. Essential oil blends which are properly made do not have side effects. Essential oils are blended by the healer according to the specific needs of the client. Synergy has been understood for thousands of years. The synergistic effects of plant energies which are combined are far more powerful that a single healing plant used alone. All the misunderstood stories of witches brewing potions were in fact about healing women blending a synergistic and healing treatment for someone in the village who was ailing or in childbirth.

The sacred aspect of this is clear when we realize that plants seem to be available when needed in mysterious ways. I have lived in my home for ten years. I read somewhere that if you leave your land fallow for a time, plants which someone in the house needs will come on their own (birds, water, and wind will carry them). The plant devas and Pans know which ones are needed.)

So in time, my four cats had catnip in the garden As a healer, I found Echinacea (good for preventing colds) and lavender(for soothing one to sleep) in my garden. Where did they come from? They were not there when  I bought my home, and I did not put them in. I planted white clover, but not the red clover which I recommend for my clients to help with infertility (it can be eaten raw or made into a tisane). Same with red raspberry-I did not notice any when I bought the place. I did not plant the red clover, and when I bought the house there was only scruffy-looking grass in the yard.

Healers of the past said that the physical appearance of a plant related to its function. For example, beets, which resemble a uterus, are very good for pregnant women.

Healing blends are  made using a combination of intuition, the client’s perception of the offered scents, and the known properties of the plant.

In every blend there should be at least one high note, one middle note and one low note. Any good book on aromatherapy will tell you which is which, but as a rule of thumb oils made from  citrus rinds are high notes, those made from wood are low notes, and those made from flowers and herbs are middle notes.

Most essential oils have a variety of uses, so it should be possible to find at least three and possibly five which fit the client’s needs, smell good to the client and work well together.

Blends can be used in massage oils, in baths, or in inhalation. They should always be diluted in a large quantity of carrier oil such as almond oil, grape seed oil, etc. with a general rule of 10 drops per shot glass. Blends should be stored in dark glass containers so they are not affected by light.

The energy of the sun is in every green plant, and whether it enters out bloodstream through the skin (which takes about twenty minutes) or through the digestive system (which can take much longer) our health- and our lives-depend on the proper, and hopefully respectful  and grateful, use of our plant relations.

18 Handy Uses for Essential Oils
9 Essential Oils with Huge Health Benefits
3 Essential Oils to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

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Peter A.
Past Member 2 years ago


Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Dr. Neala Peake, for Sharing this!

Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

When I was younger I experimented with aromatherapy essential oils. I was mostly interested in producing wonderful fragrance so I learned about the nature of perfume making. I bought pure rose absolute, jasmine absolute....all the purest forms of all kind of fragrance of the best quality:Oshadi. The notes to be used in any perfume: base-woody, or aromatic, a heavy note, middle: heady rose, or magnolia or whatever the lasting fragrance is to be, top note- always very light, citrus works very well.

Of all the experiments I tried my asolute favorite was a very heady and wonderful combiniation of equal amounts of neroli and rose absolute diluted in perfumers alcohol. Perfect springtime or summer fragrance. Very light and lingers.

Debra Griffin
Debra B.3 years ago

I love it

Shirley E.
Shirley E.3 years ago

The sense of smell is so, so powerful and yet often underrated. I sometimes get an unexpected whiff of something which puts me in mind of a memory - I recently learned there's a name for this kind of esp experiene, clairalience, which is new to me. This highly informative article does justice to thee knack of the nose in sniffing out benefits - beautifully written and researched.

Carmely Guizar
carmely Guizar3 years ago

yes!! the best thanks for all info! ;)