The Bad Witch’s Guide to Aromatherapy
I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.
I have a super charged sense of smell. You’d think spending my childhood on the farm would have ruined it but I think it made things like chemical and perfume smells more sensitive for me. Smells can sometimes be so intense (not even bad) that they can make me throw up.
(image from here)
I was just at university when I first started using essential oils. It just sort of “made sense” to me from the get go. I wonder sometimes if this is my issue with being in a large crowd, all the smells. I can tell you what death smells like, what rot and sickness smell like too. (Death is sort of like crushed elderflowers with a hint of cat pee and a hint of tin).
I am a qualified aromatherapist. This sometimes put me at odds with some of my teachers who went from what was in a book rather than the smell of the person they were working on. Also people lie! You get a client before you and they never smoke (but you can smell it coming from them) drink only water (is that coffee breath I smell?) and have “the odd glass of wine” on the weekend (but are sweating out that alcohol smell). This taught me two things. People will put their health and well-being in danger rather than be shamed about their bad habits and start a little and work up!
What is an essential oil? An essential oil is the extraction of natural plant volatile oils. These small organic compounds change quickly from solid, liquid and gas and are easily absorbed into the body, even through the skin. Steam distillation is a common essential oil extraction process but some places use chemical extraction or compression too. The organic chemicals and compounds such as carvacrol found in many essential oils like oregano and thyme seems to disrupt bacterial membranes inhibiting their growth. It also seems to block certain kinds of pain receptors too. Science is starting to catch up with what aromatherapists have been saying all along!
Essential oils are extremely potent. They can burn or cause intense irritation not just alone but in combination with the chemical on the skin. Food, alcohol, cigarettes, perfumes, medication and even deodorants on the skin can react with essential oils in unexpected ways.
Then comes personal preference. Some people really don’t like certain smells. This can be because of a memory association, or just be the body knowing it would not be good for it. My mother hated the smell of lilacs, I disliked the smell of rose geranium for years. Some people hate the smell of rose, or jasmine. Some loathe vanilla.
Lavender is a common essential oil, and usually quite cheap. However learn the Latin! Knowing your Lavandula Augustifolia from your Lavadin is important. Much like the different between French and English lavender, or Spanish or Australia grapes, the earth, water and weather have an effect on the amounts of chemical compounds in essential oils. With cheap essential oils, you get what you pay for. Often chemically extracted, thinner and paler, with less of the extracts you want. It is often a false economy.
Keep your essential oils away from sunlight, pets and small children (as well as some ignorant adults: someone on one of my aromatherapy courses left a bottle of peppermint oil in a bathroom cupboard and had an uncle drink it to “settle his stomach” and ended up in A&E, or the ER if you’re in the States).
Magickally aromatherapy oils can be worked into workings in all kinds of ways. From adding it to the water of your ritual baths or to your asperging or cleaning water to burning it or adding it to water to make a steam, or making ritual oils for the body or objects.
Essential oils can be used like incense to cleanse and clear or charge a space or blended to charge spell candles; or added to sachets or mojo bags. Lavender flowers you buy can be a touch flat when it comes to scent so you can add a couple of drops of a good lavender essential oil to the dried herb. Lavender is considered one of the safest oil for beginners to experiment with. It is generally a relaxing oil (but about 10% of people have the opposite reaction to it) so using it as way to calm a space.
Tranquil Space and Mind Rite
You will need:
6 tea-lights (and heat proof holders)
4 pieces of amethyst
Lavender essential oil
Cold pressed organic almond oil
A small container or bowl for oil
A purple candle
Take some 6 simple tea-lights and remove them from their metal base.
Add a drop of lavender essential oil and replace the tea-light. In three pairs place them around your space (preferably in safe heat proof places) with a piece of amethyst. Take 30ml of organic cold pressed almond oil and add three drops of lavender essential oil to it, swirling gently to combine.
Take a small amount of the essential oil blend and rub between your palms and dress a pale purple candle. Wiping off the excess oil carefully light the candles in your space and turn of any artificial light.
Now taking your blend slowly and deliberately massage your body with the oil. A small dab on the forehead to begin and then working from the feet up. Take your time and make sure you don’t rush. You can now play some peaceful music and meditate using the purple candle, or simply be in the calming space.
Candle meditation is about focusing the eyes on the flame but watching it passively (like watching T.V). It is a softness of gaze, and one of observation. Thoughts come, and thoughts go, just let them.
It sounds quite simple but it can be quite transformative. Don’t be worried if you have an emotional reaction. You might cry or get the giggles. You might feel angry. This is simply what you have been holding in underneath. Keep massaging and breathing it will pass.
**Please don’t fall asleep with candles burning!**