From Module II - Materia Medica/The Biology of Essential Oils
“When we use essential oils, whether for physical aromatherapy or in more subtle ways, it is easy to forget their origins within living plants, but if we want to appreciate and experience the healing powers and subtle energies of plants to the full, it is important to look beyond our little brown bottles.
Never forget the living plants, in all their wonderful diversity, which bless us with the gift of these precious oils. An essential oil is the summing up of the qualities of a plant, it stands as a representative of that plant, but it can never entirely replace the beauty and power of that plant when it was whole and growing. It is as if, in concentrating the perfume of the plant, we sacrifice its visible beauty and in doing so we lose some of the ways of knowing that plant and its energies at a deep, intuitive level. So it helps our understanding and our sensitivity to come close to living plants as often as possible.
When you consider the growing plant here are some of the things you might ask yourself:
What does its colour tell me? Is it soft and subtle, or vibrant and glowing? Look at the colour of leaves, stems, flowers and maybe fruit and bear in mind which part yields the essential oil. What does this suggest about the plant’s energy and areas of healing?
What shape are the flowers? Are they simple or complicated, open and expansive in appearance or secretive and containing some mystery in their shape? What shape are the leaves? Are they simple or complicated? How do they relate to the flowers? Do they offset the flowers or hide them? Are their shapes similar or complementary? What can I learn from looking at these shapes?
What is the habitat of growth? Is it tall and straight, or does sit hug the earth? Is it fragile in appearance or strong and rugged? Is it spiky or rounded, straggling or compact, and what can these aspects tell me about its energies?
What is its texture? Is it rough, smooth, hairy, thorny, leathery? Look at both stems and leaves – are they similar in texture or different? What can I learn about this plant from its texture?
Above all, every time you use an oil, try to carry a clear picture of the plant or flower in your mind. When you give healing, encourage the receiver to form a mental picture of the plant, too. Surround yourself with pictures of the plants – photographs, paintings, botanical drawings and look at them often. Whenever possible, look at the living plant itself.”
“Every time you come to the end of a healing session, a meditation, or whatever purpose for which you have drawn on the unique and precious qualities of plants, remember to thank your friends in the plant kingdom for their help.
Be aware, too, of the precious soil in which the plants grow: the soil that is part of Gaia, our loving planet. In drawing their nourishment from the very body of the Earth Mother plants make that nourishment readily available to us, to use as food, medicine, perfume, building materials, fabrics. Life on Earth would not be possible in its present form without plants.” ~ Patricia Davis, "Subtle Aromatherapy"