Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.
March 20, 2007
The Intuitive-Connections Network

Plants and Their Spiritual Nature

An excerpt from

Aromatherapy for the Soul: Healing the Spirit wth Fragrance and Essential Oils

by Valerie Ann Worwood

Reprinted by Permission of the publisher,
New World Library, Novato, CA.

As each day dawns, pure sunlight sparkles in dewdrops, shimmering on the grass, and on the leaves and flowers of the world. As we walk through the woods, light filters through the leaves, creating a green haven of peace. The plant world is just full of beautiful sights; there isn’t a tree or flower that doesn’t radiate beauty.

However, providing aesthetic pleasure is not the most important function of plants. By taking carbon dioxide and water from the air and, with light, converting it into carbohydrates, plants are the ultimate production machine, purifying the air and providing food and medicine for humans and animals, even ultimately for carnivores. Plants are both the lungs and the larder of the earth. They are the conduit between the light of the heavens and the dark of the earth, channeling energy from the sky above into the crystalline structures of Mother Earth.

Plants are magnificent. The tallest tree in Redwood National Park, California, is over 368 feet high; redwoods can live to be almost four thousand years old. The size and longevity of these masterpieces of creation are humbling, but to actually walk among the immense trees of an ancient forest is more humbling still.

The smallest seed is awesome in its capacity to create another plant, perfect in every detail, including providing more seeds for future generations. Plant seeds that have been found in archaeological sites and grown, thousands of years after they were dropped there, are a testament to the monumental capacity of tiny seeds to hold life.

Most of us live in a concrete jungle, not a living, breathing one. Essential oils can restore this balance somewhat, bringing the essence of plants into our homes. To understand them fully we need to reacquaint ourselves with their heritage, their source — plants in their natural habitat.

The Singing Forest

The trees are the teachers of the law.”….Brooke Medicine Eagle

In the 1950s something happened in an ancient North American forest. It was so poignant it went down in folklore, but, due to the “Chinese whispers” effect over the years, there are now two versions of the story. In one, the central character is a U.S. Forest Service employee, and in the other version he is a PhD student conducting research for his thesis on the age of trees in a bristlecone pine forest. The story goes something like this . . .

The man walked deep into the forest for many days until he found a tree he thought might be the oldest. He planned to extract a sample using a core drill so he could count its rings and date it, but the drill didn’t work. For some days he tried to fix it, without success. He also had a saw. He looked at the saw and he looked at the tree.

He thought about the long walk back to get another core drill and about the importance of his research. He cut down the tree and dated it. It was four thousand years old — old enough to have lived through most of known human history. When Moses was a baby, this tree was already five hundred years old.

People have different relationships with nature. Some, like the man in this story, don’t treat it with the respect it deserves, making it a sacrifice to the human ego. Others claim that plants have intelligence, soul, and the capacity to communicate, and would no more cut down an ancient tree than cut down a grandmother. Attitudes differ. Some people hear the forest sing, some don’t.

One hundred forty million years ago, most of the Northern Hemisphere was covered in redwood and other trees. Human beings made their appearance maybe two hundred thousand years ago and have, especially in the last two hundred years, remorselessly cut the forest down. As early as 1905, American congressman William Kent and his wife, Elizabeth, recognized the potential ecological danger, and bought 295 acres of redwood forest in California and named it Muir Woods, after the conservationist John Muir.

He wrote to the Kents, “You have done me great honor, and I am proud of it.” To them all, we owe thanks because today Muir Woods is one of the few remaining enclaves where you can stand among these magnificent trees without hearing the sound of a distant saw, indicating that clear-cut logging is heading your way.

It is a humbling experience to stand under ancient redwood trees. In Muir Woods, I felt like a three-year-old in the presence of very large, old, and wise men with long white beards — in awe yet certain I would be completely protected. I did not want to leave their presence. Leaning on a redwood that extended too high into the sky for me to see, I felt the energy flooding into me, a cosmic river of refreshment for the soul.

I heard the drone of a distant saw, but knew in this protected forest island it must only be someone cutting deadwood and undergrowth to clear the ground. Even so, it reminded me of other areas of the world where international logging consortiums are destroying huge areas of precious forest, and I felt the overwhelming emotions of sadness and guilt. I apologized to the trees on behalf of human beings. Strange as it may seem, the trees spoke to me, directly, without voice, from their heart to mine. They conveyed to me their resignation, deep sadness, and incomprehension as to why we should want to do such things.

Having a conversation with a tree might seem like a strange thing to do, especially when you live in a large city, a long way away from trees. But when actually out among them, it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do. I can fully understand why traditional Native Americans, when planning to cut down a tree to make a totem pole or boat, asked permission and gave thanks directly to the tree making the sacrifice.

My love of trees started when I lived in Switzerland and used to take my dog for a walk in the forest late at night. When the moon and stars illuminated our path we walked on and on, for my pleasure rather than the dog’s convenience, as the silence and majesty of the forest filled me with feelings of reassurance and gratitude. It was there, high in the mountains, that I first sensed the living connection between the night sky, the trees, and the earth.

Many years later, in ancient redwood and cedar forests in North America, this impression was reinforced. Standing under a thick canopy of stars illuminating the sky, I sensed that trees, particularly very tall, ancient trees, in some way act as planetary antennae. The very tops of the trees seem to attract starlight and other cosmic energies to them, “earthing” those energies as they travel down through the trunks, into the roots, and earth.

I also wonder if the trees don’t also transmit information back into the sky, sending vibrational energy, including human thought energy, out into the cosmos. I have no scientific proof, of course, but the thought remains: These giant trees are receivers and transmitters of energy, crucial even to cosmic balance and human spiritual growth.

Anyone who studies trees knows that there is still a great deal to learn about them, especially in terms of energy and communication. Even in terms of mechanics and chemistry, an area we think we know so much about, new discoveries are being made all the time. Scientists of the British Columbia Ministry of Forests only recently found that certain tree species can share resources using an underground network of fungal threads.

Seedlings of Douglas fir, paper birch, and western red cedar were subjected to carbon dioxide containing different carbon isotopes. Two years later, 10 percent of the carbon-type fed to the birch was found in the fir. Both species share a mycorrhizal fungi that created the network of threads between them, and the carbon traveled along this complex connection. Because this same fungi does not connect with cedar, its particular experimental carbon composition was unaffected.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, scientists have discovered that, as well as sucking water up from the deep earth, a “substantial” amount of water is transported downward by trees, to the dry subsurface. These are fundamental discoveries about the mechanical workings of trees, an area we thought we already understood.

In British Columbia, Canada, the drive to harvest large-dimension lumber is in full gear, as logging companies race to bring down the last remaining trees before politicians accept what environmentalists have been telling them for years, and bring the harvest to an end. Standing in these forests is scary. You can hear the drone of mechanical saws and know you’re standing among doomed giants.

Here are these magnificent trees, silently performing crucial ecological tasks for the whole living planet, trees that have lived through so much of human history yet are helpless to stop our saws from cutting through their bases. This helplessness, coming from such powerful, massive living things, is infinitely sad. Strangely, the trees are not angry. Perhaps they mumble to themselves, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

With my experience of ancient and wise trees, I was intrigued when I heard about a woman living deep in a forest in British Columbia who claims to have heard the forest sing. Where the loggers cut one-thousand-year-old trees, Gladys McIntyre earns a living planting seedling trees. In June 1990, in a part of the cedarwood forest called Howser Creek, Gladys found herself thinking about the “immense verticality” of the trees when “a profound vertical alignment took place in me in response; and suddenly I felt about twelve feet tall.

I wondered for a moment if this was soulic consciousness, then I was struck in my solar plexus by an impact of sound. It grew to an upwelling, crescendoing symphony of sound, in range and tone unlike anything I had ever heard before! Emanating from the forested hillsides across the valley, it was unquestionably a great hymn of adoration, of joy in creation and praise to the creator! Words cannot possibly express the magnitude of this joyous sound, nor my absolute awe at witnessing it.”

But from being a song in praise of the Creator, the song abruptly changed from “overwhelming joy to abject sorrow.” Gladys writes, “My cognitive mental faculty seemed to be translating information received by my soul from that incredible presence at worship over there.” It said, “Oh noble and worthy, exploiters and conquerors, have mercy, have mercy, do not end our singing, which allows the conditions necessary to all life on the planet as you know it.”

Reports as powerful as this can easily be dismissed as the workings of an overactive imagination, so I went to visit Gladys to try to get closer to the truth. I found her living with her husband, Vince, deep in the forest. They grow vegetables that are exquisitely formed, massive, with a delicious, vibrant taste. Those vegetables were like something out of a Walt Disney movie! They positively vibrated and shone in pure, verdant, colorful perfection, well loved and content. Gladys is a person clearly in touch with the laws of nature, and as sane as you or I.

I came away thinking that if the forest does communicate, Gladys is the right person to hear it. But she is not the only one. In another ancient forest, a young woman and her boyfriend went to sit on a splendid mountain ridge to admire the forest view. But instead of feeling glad to be in the splendor, the girl became overcome with the feeling of panic and fear coming from the forest. Sick with anguish, she had to return home. Days passed but the sadness wouldn’t leave her. The girl felt driven to return to that part of the forest, to try to understand why she had been so affected. She was horrified and stunned to discover the whole area had been clear-cut to the ground.

Although to “civilized” people, communicating with trees may sound bizarre, it’s something that’s been going on a very long time. Indeed, trees have long been central to spiritual culture. In ancient Egypt, the “world tree” was associated with a “sycamore,” possibly the sycamore fig that gave shade to the goddess worshippers in their groves. Kabbalah, the mystical aspect of Judaism, with its Tree of Life, has traditionally been taught to men over forty while they sat under trees. In the last book of the New Testament, Revelation 22:2, we hear that the Tree of Life is in “the midst of the street” in heaven.

Buddha received enlightenment while sitting under a tree. The ancient Assyrians had many tree cults, with the Tree of Life sometimes being depicted as a cedar, fir, date, or pomegranate. The Chinese associated the Tree of Life with the peach, and in later times the cassia, while in Norse mythology it was the ash. A Polynesian legend says, “Out of this magic bread-fruit tree a great goddess was made.” The sacredness of trees is universal, and this may not simply be because they routinely offer up their bounty, but because they have a spirit we can feel.

Plants That Feel and Speak

When we suddenly remember to water our plants, is it because the plants send us a message across the room, “Hey, don’t forget about us!” Why shouldn’t they talk to us? We talk to them. People in their high-rise apartments, or in their gardens, say to their plants, “You look lovely today,” or “What’s up, you’re looking a bit off-color,” and then fuss around them, administering love and fertilizer — organic, of course. Chatting to plants is a regular occurrence, even for royalty, and some plant aficionados play them music, taking care to choose something they like.

Edward Bach, the man who invented Bach Flower Remedies, attributed certain medicinal qualities to plants because the plants themselves told him what they were. An entire Western healing system is thus based on plant communication, and it has gone on to inspire much more plant-human exploration. Meanwhile, in many indigenous cultures, it is considered wrong to become a healer without first having dreams or visions relating to the plants used to heal.

In other words, the spiritual realm is seen as the source of accurate information. Cultures that are very much in touch with the earth and all that grows on it believe totally that plants have a spirit. Obviously a plant doesn’t have a voice box and mouth with which to chat, so to communicate we have to get into the common space we share, the spiritual one. If you want to know what a plant can do, go to the source and ask it.

To indigenous peoples, that’s the logical thing to do. There are variations on this cultural theme: some people believe the spirit of the individual plant conveys the information; some believe each species of plant has a kind of overall spirit that communicates; some believe there are a variety of nature spirits; others believe it is the voice of the Creator who speaks. These are all variations on a theme: you can speak to, or through, a plant.

The Yaqui people of northwestern Mexico have an oral tradition going back four thousand years, to 2000 bce. Around 1500 ce, because of the oppressive actions of the Spanish conquistadors, the sacred traditions had to become secret. Seven lineages were chosen to preserve them, through sacred oral and family traditions. Through many generations the sacred way of the Yaqui was kept underground, as the bullets flew overhead. Now that we are older and wiser, hopefully, the knowledge can be revealed. Indeed, it is time for us to know it.

A man who carries this knowledge, passed to him by his father and mother, is Yaqui traditional healer Cachora Guitemea, a highly respected Native American elder. It was, then, a great privilege for me to be invited to spend a few days in the Mexican desert with Cachora to learn about sacred plant medicine. We were accompanied by both our daughters and the mutual friend who introduced us.

Although Cachora is more than eighty years old and has white hair, you would never guess his age — either from his appearance or from his extraordinary energy. His face is lit up with a joy that defies time. And despite his boyish love of jokes, you never forget that you are in the presence of great wisdom and positive intent.

Cachora teaches that we must respect plants. Permission must be sought from the plant before picking it, and if the plant is required for ceremonial purposes, sacred chants and mantras are said aloud, in honor of the plant or tree. All plants have souls and spirits that guard and protect the species. It is not that every individual plant has its own, but that there is a species-spirit that has a place within plant hierarchy, depending on the sacredness of the purpose the plant is put to.

Many plants also have animal spirits attached to them, says Cachora. The connection may be derived from the fact that an animal eats from the plants and thus distributes the seeds, because the animal eats smaller animal pests upon the plants, or because the animal uses the plants as food and medicine.

Cachora is quite plain about the underlying principle of healing herbs. He says that healing takes place when a person connects into the plant spirit, becoming the plant and understanding its personality. Using spirit as the method of transference, the plant’s energy or healing properties are transmitted to the person. First, the spirit of a particular species has to become known, its use and purposes memorized, its strengths and weaknesses understood. Then in times of ill health, as body, mind, and spirit are one, healing can take place by calling on the spirit and taking into one’s mind the spiritual essence of the plant.

Plant life must be respected and spoken to, says Cachora, for it is part of the universe, part of ourselves, part of our heritage. I understand this to mean that everyone evolved through the plant, and through the plant cycle of crystalline life. We are all part of the same consciousness pool. Getting to know plants involves looking at them closely, communicating with them with honesty, integrity, gentleness. Human thought is the greatest obstacle to plant communication. You have to get beyond thought, into empathy and feeling through focus and concentration.

On this amazing journey, I encountered a magnificent six-foot-tall white sage bush, a grandfather of the species, having seeded many generations of plants, an elder in its own right. It was so vibrant the leaves seemed to send out showers of sparks, but I was rather taken aback when the large bush bowed its body to greet us. As there was not a hint of a breeze, I turned to my friend beside me to verify what had happened, and could tell from her wide-open eyes that she had witnessed the same action! Then the sage spoke to me, in a silent block of communication, clear and precise.

There are many indigenous peoples in the world who feel the spirit in nature, and work with it. Certain themes emerge. There is the idea that some plants should not be picked because they are too sacred, that is, too old and valuable to their “tribe.” Just like us, plants need their wise elders. They say you should ask a plant if it is okay to pick it. A plant may say no or it may agree, but it is respectful to explain who the plant is for, and what is wrong with the person. The plant will then know it is not being sacrificed for no good reason.

There is also the general idea that the spirit of the plant is a communal one, that it is not an individual plant that has a spirit but the species as a whole. When you communicate with a plant you communicate with its species-spirit, which at the same time can be expressed as an individual. So, when I spoke to the large sage bush I spoke to the spirit of the species, but through the wise old bush who, from experience, happens to hold a great deal of communal species wisdom and can express more information, more clearly.

When you think about it, this is not dissimilar to the way horticulturists and gardeners view the plants in their care. Older plants have an authority that seedlings do not. Also, each species has its own character, and individuals within the species have their particular character. We speak of animals in much the same way, saying a breed of dog might be generally “good with children,” but individuals within the species might be good, or not, with children in general or with a particular child.

Many Western gardeners “tune in” to their plants in essentially the same way as do native peoples. Looking at a bed of roses, next to a bed of hollyhocks, we might perceive each species to have a different emotional tone. Each looks different, grows different, has different kinetic qualities, and different characters in much the same way people do. The more species we grow, and the longer we work with them, the more our “instinct” about plants develops (as instinct develops over time when using essential oils).

The difference between our approach and indigenous peoples’ is the effort we put into learning about plants. We’ll spend time reading gardening books, while they will sit with a plant for hours, days even, getting to know it. They’ll bring it little presents, in gratitude for what it offers, in respect, and to let the plant know they care. They go to plants as a pupil goes to a wise person, to learn. Western horticulturists, on the other hand, often feel that they are the holders of information, and that it is their job to control the plant, which they see as their property.

We know, of course, from the concept of companion gardening that plants can influence each other in terms of preventing pests and disease. This is often accomplished through scent, as aroma molecules from one plant waft over another and exert their beneficial influence. Stephen Harrod Buhner’s Sacred Plant Medicine provides an interesting anecdote on this subject. He was sitting with a lichen called usnea, which has powerful antibiotic qualities, when suddenly the usually subtle “feeling tone” of the usnea increased in intensity.

Buhner felt his “personal boundaries” dissolving, and the plant appeared as a youngish man. The plant-man told him that usnea’s primary role is to keep the earth’s lung system healthy, by being an antibiotic for the trees on which it grows, adding that as a by-product of this intended role, usnea can be used to treat human lung infections. Imagine how much more we could learn about plant interaction, and how many new medicines we could discover, if more of us could hear what plants have to say.

Plants are sensitive, sentient beings. There has been a great deal of re-search in this area, starting in 1966 with Cleve Backster, then a New York lie detector expert working for law-enforcement agencies. One classic Backster experiment involved plant murder. He put two plants next to each other in a room, along with six of his students who each drew from a hat a piece of paper, one of which had instructions for the murder.

The people with the five blank pieces of paper left the room with Backster. In the room, the “murderer” ripped one of the plants to shreds. Backster then returned, attached the re-maining plant to a polygraph machine, and called the students into the room, one by one. There was no response on the machine to the five innocent students, but when the murderer entered, the pen flew across the paper as the silent “witness” recognized the guilty party.

The implications of Backster’s work on plants are staggering enough, but he has also done experiments with other life-forms including eggs, shrimp, and human mouth cells — the implications of which are equally amazing. Backster had to conclude that all nature is essentially unified, not separate.

The planet hums. It emits a low-frequency radio signal, the earth’s vibration, which is known as the Shumann resonance. It can be detected coming off trees. Researchers in America were curious to know whether this vibration could be altered with human thought and feeling, and connected an oak tree to a machine described as being not unlike those used to measure brain waves in humans.

A group of people circled the tree and, saying a traditional native prayer, sent it love. Apparently, the signal went off the scale. Although the measurements can’t really say whether the tree was happy to receive this love or wanted everyone to go away, clearly some form of interaction was taking place.

Plants respond to human thought and to the human energy field, and you can prove it for yourself. In the thought experiment devised by Marcel Vogel, you pick three leaves from the same tree or plant and place them by the side

of your bed. Vogel put them on glass, presumably so he could view the underside without touching the leaves, but a sheet of paper will do. Every morning when you wake, concentrate on just two of the leaves, sending them love and pleading with them to live. Imagine them green and healthy looking. Ignore the third leaf. Don’t touch any of them for seven days, by which time the leaves you concentrated on should still be looking fresh, while the ignored leaf should be shriveled.

Do the experiment when you wake because that’s when you’re most physically and mentally relaxed. It’s absolutely vital to approach this with a pure heart, because plants know what you think. Don’t try to fool them because you’ll only be fooling yourself. Expect the experiment to work.

In the energy experiment devised by Daphne Beall, you put water in a container and energize it by putting both hands around it without touching it. Relax and visualize white-light energy coming out of your hands, into the container. Imagine the water becoming bright white, and do this for ten minutes. Then put a tomato in the water. Get a second container, fill it with water, and put another tomato in it without thinking about it at all. Leave both containers overnight and in the morning take the tomatoes out of the water and place them where they can sit for three weeks without being moved. Put labels nearby so you know which is which, and wait to see what happens!

An energy connects us to plants. In some people it is very obvious, when they transform a neglected piece of earth, as if with fairy dust, into a resplendent garden. We say they have a “green thumb.” But everyone has empathy for the glory of nature, natural gardeners or not. There is a magnificence there we can plug into, and do.

It is difficult to see which particular field of study should research the subject of human-plant interaction. It involves the study of light, physics, astrophysics, metaphysics, botany, biology, harmonics, electromagnetics, hydrology, mineralogy, and a dozen other disciplines, plus neurology, philosophy, spirituality, theology, and psychology, to name a few. Perhaps that is why the field is so little researched — we don’t know whose academic territory it is! The answer may be, of course, that it is everyone’s territory, because there is only one territory, in that we are all part of the connecting whole.

The Sanctity of Plants

People have always been spiritual. Indeed, spirituality has been the drive of much, if not most, culture and art throughout time — from Paleolithic cave art created 30,000 years ago to generations of art objects, temples, sculpture, and paintings. People used to so sincerely believe in an afterlife that they made sure their relatives were buried with goods they would need there, including sometimes a fortune in gold jewelry. Today we may question the existence of an afterlife and place any jewelry in our will. Sometimes we don’t seem very spiritual at all. Yet even we feel it strongly — there must be something else...

Where does this spirituality come from? What has made people think there is a life after death and an intelligence that embraces the universe? Some skeptics would say that spirituality is just a tradition of superstition, that people don’t have spiritual experiences, they just think they do.

These people can point to certain evidence. For example, the crystals in granite, being radioactive, cause brain stimulation, including hallucinations, which may explain why granite was used to build the Neolithic dolmens, or shelters, and to cover the walls of important rooms like the King’s Chamber in the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. Skeptics say people sat in these places and “tripped out” (more or less like an LSD trip) and thought they were having spiritual experiences, but they were only playing with their own minds.

The same skeptical attitude could be taken toward the spiritual use of sound, dance, and plants. Sound in the form of chanting, singing, or the repetition of mantras sets up a vibration that changes brain functioning and can cause a “spaced-out” feeling. Dance can do the same thing. Certain plants are psychoactive — they have an effect on the mind or psyche — and have been used by shamans from South America to Siberia for millennia to facilitate a state of trance and another perception of reality. Some say these activities give a false impression of spirituality, and fear and superstition do the rest.

This is a very limited point of view, for there are many other types of spiritual experiences that don’t involve stones, sound, dance, or plants. The basic spiritual experience is love; some people fall in love after knowing each other a very long time, others fall instantly at the sight of a stranger across a crowded room. When a loved one is far away, he or she can be thought about, scanned for in the distant horizon, located, and brought back to our heart through our spirit. We seem connected in a way that defies the laws of place.

Love is spiritual. Also, nature is spiritual, and many people say their strongest feeling of spirituality is experienced among nature, on a mountaintop perhaps, where they are overcome with a strong sense of a beneficent intelligence watching over us all. Many people have spontaneous spiritual experiences, when they suddenly become devout.

Others have near-death experiences, see the other side, and come back certain of an afterlife. Many people hear voices — including some of the central characters in the Old Testament — when they’re just walking along, not expecting revelation. And people have been bumping into angels for millennia.

It’s because the spiritual realm exists that we have this thing called “spirituality.” When people use stones, sound, dance, and plants, they are seeking to make the connection with something they already know is there. These things are not the reason for spirituality but a means to spirituality. People want to reconnect, and they feel they need help.

When, in the Bible, Aaron burned incense every morning and evening, it was not to create two little pockets of “spiritual experience” within the day. Aaron felt the spirit all day long. He burned incense to concentrate his mind on the subject ...and because God had told him to. Likewise, Buddhists don’t burn incense to receive the enlightenment of Buddha’s words; they already know them and believe them to be the right path to follow in life. Incense is burned to experience the enlightenment directly, to connect with something they know is there.

Certain plants have been chosen as spiritual aids by people living thousands of miles apart, on different continents, in different millennia. Cedar is a case in point. The temple of Solomon in Jerusalem was built with Cedar of Lebanon, and it is possible the Hebrews extracted an oil from the wood. In India, cedar is used to induce trance, while in Native American culture it is said to have the ability to counteract negative forces. Why should these and other peoples choose cedar? Is it because it smells good, or because it does something in the spiritual realm, or both?

Plant materials have long been used in spiritual practice, and the more fragrant they were, the more spiritual they were considered to be. This may be because fragrance transports. You can be in a place or situation and feel very uncomfortable, with chaos and noise all around you, then close your eyes, inhale a particular fragrance, and bypass it all, reconnecting with the great cosmic whole. It’s like a private vehicle silently and instantaneously whisking you away to reconnection; fragrance can be a ticket to the Divine.

Essential Oils: The Unseen Energies

In the usual light photographs of the Milky Way, its shape seems obvious: a spiral disk, a basically flat circular shape made up of countless white stars. But when you get on the Internet and look at some of the photographs that have come back from space, you can see that the reality is much more complex. The websites to visit are NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Illinois, which display photos of the Milky Way taken using X-ray, infrared, and radio equipment.

When the frequency is changed, further levels of reality are exposed. Using computer enhancement and color, different swirls of energy are highlighted, and “bipolar outflows” are revealed as coming out from the center, like two trumpets, perpendicular to the disk of stars. These exciting new pictures illustrate how much more there is to life than what we can see with our eyes.

Life on planet Earth certainly seems more benevolent than on the other planets in the solar system, and more vibrant, but what do people know of its invisible energies? Human energy fields have been recognized in most, if not all, spiritual traditions. Eastern traditions talk of prana and chi, the energies that are vital to health. In Western terminology, we hear of the aura, or of the etheric body, astral body, mental body, and spiritual body, and a golden web that connects us all. It is likely that we are dealing with several energy fields that interact with one another and our physical selves, and they are said to be the means by which we connect with the Divine.

According to Dr. Valerie Hunt, a physiological scientist and author of The Infinite Mind: The Science of Human Vibrations, although the electrons existing in humans and inactive matter are the same, the human field absorbs and throws off energy, while inert matter is passive. In addition to the electrical frequencies of the muscle, brain, and heart there is “another field of energy, smaller in amplitude and higher in frequency.”

Apparently this energy is electromagnetic, and eight to ten times faster than the other electromagnetic energy recorded on the body’s surface. Dr. Hunt has done much research on the human aura, taking measurements when subjects were in the mountains, near the sea, or after having a swim, a shower, or a barefoot walk on grass, and in special scientific study environments, such as the Mu and Anechoic rooms at the University of California in Los Angeles. The Mu room, located in the physics department, is an environment in which the electromagnetic energy in air can be altered.

When the electrical aspect of the atmosphere is taken out, subjects in the room find that they become unaware of the location of their bodies in space, and the aura becomes scattered. The Anechoic room is designed to take out sound and light, and thus these sources of electromagnetism, and subjects lose their sense of time and became unable to operate the instruments taken in there for research study.

There are few people in the Western world who have carried out as much scientific research on the human aura as Dr. Hunt, and she writes in The Infinite Mind:
The human field looms as primary to life.

Resonating frequencies are primary physical bonds in nature. For every frequency or frequency band, there exists natural or created resonators. In other words, a field’s frequency pattern at a given time is a resonating structure that determines the energy it will absorb or by which it will be affected. Theoretically, all frequency vibrations exist in the universe (which includes the body) — from sub herzian to as high as modern instruments can measure — billions and trillions of cycles per second.

Nonetheless, each material substance, living or inert, mineral or chemical, has its own vibratory signature carried in the structure of its field. There are dominant and recessive vibrations in each field, giving it character. Field interactions result from the strength and pattern of these field vibrations. These constitute windows, or thoroughfares for transactions.

A sound general principle states that interaction between fields occurs when there are compatible harmonic frequencies.

What I believe happens with essential oils is that they are “thoroughfares for transactions” — they have their own vibrations that connect with the frequencies in the human energy field, causing effects in the physical, emotional, and spiritual body. Essential oils have different electrical qualities and different molecular shape and vibration. Interesting though all the data is, it does not explain what one might rather vaguely call “the energy” of a particular essential oil. New methods of recording are required.

With this in mind, I went to see Harry Oldfield, who coauthored with Roger Coghill The Dark Side of the Brain, a seminal work on unseen energies when it was published in 1988. Oldfield has invented an energy field imaging system that records the invisible aura of energy around all living things, and I was interested to know what it could reveal about essential oils. According to Oldfield, the images produced show interference patterns with light, as light rays and photons get “interfered with by the subtle energy effects emanating from the object or space point. I say ‘space point’ because there are atmospheres and places that give off emanations too.”

Using this new equipment, which produces moving images on a computer monitor, colorful and dynamic patterns emerge in the air around the end of the smelling strip on which the essential oils are placed. With some, such as jasmine and ginger, the end of the strip appeared bright white, with all the color spectra in that spot. In others, the whole strip appeared energized, while another showed no change.

The background is generally green but different essential oils make it explode into color and shape, individual in each case. We saw magenta circles and squares or predominantly purple, orange, turquoise, or blue ones, all actually layers of color much like a rainbow. With Eucalyptus citriodora (eucalyptus lemon), a yellow haze appeared, while with frankincense,

a sudden rocket of energy flew out from the end of the strip, and with neroli, a blue circle appeared at a distance and started beating like a heart, getting slightly smaller, then larger — a flashing light of life — pulsating seven times before dispersing. The individuality of these essential oil energy patterns is amazing, and the more you see, the more amazing they are!

What we are seeing, Oldfield believes, is the etheric energy in the fabric of space itself, going beyond the molecules themselves, an energy that is in a buffer zone between the physical and higher energies. Some of the essential oils made very little impression and some were very dramatic, and the differences were not related to when, in any particular sequence, the image was taken — first or last or in between.

It cannot be said, then, that as the aroma molecules built up in the atmosphere, things got more dramatic. Sometimes, toward the end of a session, there would be an essential oil that showed very little activity. Also, some of the energy fields were very small and remained close to the end of the strip, while others immediately shot out all around and took up much space. In some, the energy field seemed to hover above the smelling strip, then in others it hung below.

Some fields seemed to come toward us, some went out, some stayed where they were, while others leaped! The kinetic nature of these events is not captured by the still images reproduced on pages 125–28. In some essential oil recordings, the energy was slow to build up, in others it built up instantaneously.

Discussing the images observed on the computer screen with the other people in the room, I realized that we were using the same vocabulary I use when describing essential oil fragrances in other contexts. Someone would say, “it’s round” or “sharp,” “sparkly,” “heavy,” “light,” “soft,” “dynamic,” or that it “has direction.”

It was also very interesting to watch the energy field of the essential oil mingle with and affect the aura emanating from a person if the person held the smelling strip or stood nearby. I was reminded of Hunt’s phrase “a thoroughfare for transactions.” Oldfield’s words were emphatic: “They definitely interact in the human energy field, there’s no doubt about it.” The mystery of the life force of essential oils was looking less mysterious by the minute.

Essential oils are crystalline structures that carry light. They vibrate and cause selective synchronous vibration; they are electromagnetic, as we are ourselves. They are thought to travel through the interstitial fluid, the space between the cells, where the molecules of emotion also travel, as has been shown by psychoimmunologist Candace Pert.

Watching the energy of the essential oil molecules was fascinating, and even more so when a human being was included in the image. Then the energy fields from the essential oil and the person gently connected, and we saw an expansion of the human aura. It’s no wonder that fragrance has been used since time immemorial to connect people with the Divine, lifting us to finer, higher vibrations, in touch with wider consciousness.

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