Learning from our plant elders

From inside comes the voice and from inside comes the scent. Just as one can tell human beings in the dark from the tone of voices, so in the dark, every flower can be recognized by its scent. Each carries the soul of its progenitor.

Gustav Fechner

Plants communicate every need and gift through their chemistry – ages upon ages of DNA information passed from one seed to the next. Essential oils are considered the “life blood” of the plant, perhaps communicating the spirit of the plant’s soul, carrying the vital essence of what makes the plant medicinally and spiritually valuable and viable. On a functional level, plant fragrance molecules communicate warnings and welcomes to other plant beings and insects for a wide host of reasons but mostly for protection, pollination, and decomposition. Dr. Florian Birkmayer of AromaGnosis noted that plants have around 700 sensors, enabling them to feel the smallest changes in their environment. And as Guatav Fechner suggested, “each carries the soul of its progenitor.” Each carries cellular lessons from its elders.

As we call upon these plant essences to help us sort out our very human emotional world, they act as elders or teachers, if we’re open to allowing them to share their story and hold a respectful sense of curiosity and respect for the plant. Veteran aromatherapist, author, and educator, Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy for the Soul suggests fragrance molecules travel through our interstitial fluid, having a chat with our cells on how best to help physically and emotionally. They get to work fast, within seconds, offering their support. We only have to inhale their fragrance to notice how they make us feel. This is where the investigation begins. Hopefully curiosity invites us to learn more about why we feel what we feel. Peter Holmes writes in Aromatica: a Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, “Inhaling geranium is truly a litmus test for the balance in our emotional bank account. Any deficit, loss, insecurity, or neediness in our feeling life can be registered with great sensitivity in the presence of its deeply supportive and nurturing aroma.”

If we look at plants purely objectively, if we continue to single out one active constituent to treat one emotional or physical issue, for example, we fail to see and understand their whole lesson and in so doing, fall short of honoring the medicine of its lineage. Why does this matter? When we look at plants purely for what they offer in parts, not in their wholeness, we fail to regard and understand the whole picture of ourselves and others, likewise. The older I get, the more the more I understand and accept it takes a lifetime to get to know plants, humans, and myself.

In the book, Grandmothers Counsel the World by Carol Schaffer, a compilation of indigenous maternal wisdom, Yupik elder and doctor, Rita Pitka Blumenstein offers, “It is essential to allow yourself to know what you know, instead of driving yourself to be. When there is so much striving to be and become, we don’t often recognize what it is we really want when it’s right in front of us.”

This week, I’ve revisited my old friend Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens). Geranium has many gifts, but most notably she helps to support circulation of blood and lymph. A woman’s essential oil, she helps support female hormone balance. Recently, she has reminded me of patience, simplicity, nurturance, releasing, and going with the flow. She teaches peace every time I sit with her.

Here’s a whisper of a blend to try (for adult use only).

In a 10 ml. rollerball, add a carrier oil of your choice, then add the following, if you like.

3 drops Melissa (Melissa officinalis); 3 drops Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens); 4 drops Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)

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