Fragrant Oils in Magical and Spiritual Work

by Keri Desherite

The power of scent, and the virtues of the oils of various plants, have been recognized by religious and magical practitioners since ancient times. Whether through the inducement of subtle and powerful sensory memory, or the direct stimulation of the body and nervous system through chemical reaction, scented oils can help to shift consciousness and enhance psycho-spiritual well-being.

The ancient Egyptians used a compound called kyphi (the name means “welcome to the gods”), which was said to induce hypnotic states. Priests in the City of the Sun, Heliopolis, burned resins in the morning, myrrh at noon and kyphi at sunset to the sun god Ra. Kyphi had more than religious uses, however. It could lull one to sleep, alleviate anxieties, increase dreaming, eliminate sorrow, treat asthma and act as a general antidote for toxins. (“Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art” by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green). In the Book of Exodus, requirements for the Tabernacle include fragrant anointing oils and an altar devoted to burning incense (Exodus 30).

Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki discusses the psycho-spiritual impact of fragrance in her book “Highways of the Mind: The Art and History of Pathworking” as she describes how our brain and neural systems function while doing spiritual work. “The olfactory sense is the only one that connects immediately with the mid-brain, with no kind of transformer between the particles coming in and the actual organ of scent. Much has been written about the memory stimulation brought about by different smells. It is because of this direct contact with the hidden ‘Halls of the Gods’ that incense has always been of the greatest importance in magical work” (p. 41). Whether incense, scented candles, or scented oil, stimulation of the olfactory senses can have a powerful impact on any work involving the mind. The virtues extend to magical, psychic, and healing work, as well as psychological adjustments and intellectual pursuits.

What types of uses can fragrant oils been put to?

Anointing is a powerful ritual practice which conveys blessings on the recipient. Even in modern times, priests and sovereigns are anointed with sacred oil as part of their investiture. Magical practitioners frequently anoint themselves with sacred oil as part of self-blessing or purification prior to doing ritual work. Sandalwood, myrrh and frankincense are among the oils used for such rituals.

The connection between love and roses doesn’t end with flowers in a vase. Rose oil is used to heal and open the heart on the spiritual level, and is a primary component in many rituals for attracting love. Rose oil is used to anoint candles for love spells, or worn as a perfume to attract a lover or to induce a more romantic state of mind in the user.

How else can you use oils and incense to enhance your own spiritual well-being? The possibilities are almost endless. First, decide what effect you want to achieve. Do you want to feel more peaceful? Become more prosperous? Balance your chakras? Commune with angels or spirit guides? Successful ritual work begins with a clear, specific intention. Once you have your goal clearly in mind, consult several of the many books and websites which list correspondences and find out which oils are associated with your interest. In many cases there will be more than one listed. For example, mint, patchouli and pine are all associated with increased prosperity. Select the scent with the strongest positive associations for you, or experiment with blends.

Oils work best when coupled with visualization or ritual work. The scent stimulates the mind and spirit, and the mental focus and physical gestures reinforce the inherent virtues of the oils. After the ritual or visualization has been performed, anointing yourself with the fragrance, putting some on a diffuser, or using some in your bath can renew the energy raised and released in the ritual. Just as the smell of fresh-baked cookies can instantly transport you back to the emotions of childhood, a ritually-charged scent can trigger the effect over and over again.

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