The good news is you don’t have to be an aromatherapy expert to tap into their magic!
The science of aromatherapy and using essential oils seems to be all the rage nowadays, but the truth is that they’ve been with us for millennia.
Cleopatra bathed in rose-scented baths, incense has burned in temples and church since ancient times, and healers have always had aromatic salves in their toolkits.
Do you have a special scent that immediately carries you back to your childhood? Maybe to your grandfather’s study, or the woods behind your house, or your favorite beach? One of my big triggers is Ponds Hand Cream… one whiff of that and I’m a kid again, sitting on my grandmother’s lap!
That’s because our sense of smell is the most evocative of all our senses. It’s directly connected to our limbic system, the part of our brain that’s the seat of our emotions and memories.
You can use essential oils for physical healing, to elevate your mood, for destressing, to enhance meditation, and to infuse sacred space, to name a few uses.
And while an entire industry has grown up around the specific healing qualities of all the various essential oils, you can also just focus on the ones that resonate with you personally, for whatever purpose you’re exploring.
How can you get started or deepen your own exploration of aromatherapy?
I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve been researching and using essential oils for almost 30 years. I burn them in my home office in my little aromatherapy diffuser, I bathe and massage my body with them, and I use them every month in my women’s New Moon circles. If I can teach myself, so can you!
Here are a few basics you need to know:
1) Always test them on your skin, a drop or two in the bend of your elbow to be sure you won’t have a reaction. Most books and resources will tell you which ones shouldn’t be used directly on the skin, but it’s a good idea to check yourself.
2) If you are going to add essential oils to your bath or apply them to your skin, use a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond oil. I’ve also added it to coconut oil and even olive oil, though that has a distinct smell to begin with.
3) There are a bunch of ways you can surround yourself with magical scents, and here’s where you can begin to bring in a little astrology wisdom. Everyone knows their zodiac sign, so start with that:
- Diffuser (Air signs – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
- Massage oil or lotion (Earth signs – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
- In the bath (Water signs – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
- Aromatherapy candle (Fire signs – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
4) Be prepared for some of those limbic-related emotional responses to pop up when you least expect it! In one of my earliest women’s circles, I burned the ancient scent, frankincense. As we all went around the circle sharing memories of our spiritual journeys, one woman told us that the smell immediately took her back to her childhood when she used to faint in church. Then, as we continued around the circle, another woman shared the same thing! I’ve been really careful with that scent ever since.
If you do want to explore the connection between aromatherapy and your personal astrology, here are a few essential oils for each zodiac sign to experiment with.
- Aries (March 21–April 19): to tap into Aries’ fearless, full-steam-ahead energy, burn some black pepper, ginger, or marjoram.
- Taurus (April 20–May 20): Earthy Taurus wants you to nurture your body with patchouli, rose, or ylang-ylang.
- Gemini (May 21—June 20): try basil, bergamot and grapefruit to stimulate Gemini’s intellect and gift of gab, or if you really want to focus on finding the perfect words to say or write.
- Cancer (June 21—July 20): with Cancer’s natural instinct to nurture others, rosemary, lavender, and chamomile are lovely scents to remind you to take care of yourself.
- Leo (July 21—August 21): rosemary, garlic, and ginger are all great choices to complement Leo’s dramatic nature and willfulness,
- Virgo (August 22—September 21): to capitalize on Virgo’s penchant for health and healing, try some of the “cleansing” scents like lemon, pine, and tea tree.
- Libra (September 22—October 21): Libra is a mental Air sign, but it’s also about creating balance and partnership, so experiment with rose, neroli, and bergamot to maximize harmony
- Scorpio (October 22—November 21): “Still waters run deep” is Scorpio’s motto… to capture that intense, passionate energy, try clary sage, ylang-ylang, or jasmine.
- Sagittarius (November 22—December 20): the Sag vibe is an expansive, optimistic one so uplifting oils like geranium and rosemary are great. Or to enhance Sag’s search for meaning, go with frankincense.
- Capricorn (December 20—January 20): the Capricorn season encompasses the holidays and the turning of the year, so play with cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove oils… like eggnog!
- Aquarius (January 21—February 18): Aquarius likes to be different, to shake things up! So try coriander, peppermint, or eucalyptus to really awaken your senses.
- Pisces (February 19—March 19): Pisces souls are sensitive and intuitive so experiment with a blend of sandalwood, lotus, and sage bring out that mystical nature.
Or you can just go with your mood or theme of the day!
Obviously, the astrological associations with essential oils are just one way to go. In fact, my favorite aromatherapy tactic is simply to check in with myself when I wake up, or when I walk into my office and see what I need that day.
My longtime resource for figuring out what direction to go is a little book by Scott Cunningham called “Magical Aromatherapy”. It focuses primarily on the emotional, mental and spiritual uses of essential oils and gives you lots of ways to find just the right one.
Feeling a little down? Geranium or anything floral is a great go-to mood-lifter. Are looking for a little energy booster? Put grapefruit or peppermint oil in your diffuser. Do you just need to mellow out a little? Then light a lavender-scented candle.
And every time I lead a New Moon circle, I pick a scent that matches the theme of the circle. If we’re focusing on building self-confidence, I’ll have grapefruit or bergamot oils on hand. If the theme is extreme self-care, we might give each other hand massages with chamomile-infused lotion.
You can carry that “theme” idea into your own life, too.
Consider some essential oils like basil or rosemary to stimulate discussion at your next book club meeting. If you’ve got a big family gathering coming up, try spraying your house with a few drops of lavender and rose oils mixed in water to promote peace and harmony.
Or here’s a fun one… keep a bottle of suntan lotion in your car so you can take a sniff on your way to an important meeting. Not exactly classical aromatherapy, but it’s still guaranteed to carry your heart and mind to the beach and calm you down!
Here’s a cheat sheet I’ve compiled over the years to get you started:
Healing — Lavender, eucalyptus, sandalwood
Courage, protection — black pepper, ginger, clove, parsley
Clarity, focus — sweet basil, sage, dill, rosemary
Creativity – bergamot, neroli, grapefruit, geranium, tonka
Sexual energy – Ylang-ylang, patchouli
Love — jasmine, rose, vanilla
Prosperity — cinnamon, nutmeg
Psychic awareness — lotus, yarrow, mugwort
Happiness — lemon, orange, freesia
Peace, relaxation –bergamot, chamomile, clary sage
Spirituality – frankincense, gardenia, jasmine, myrrh, sandalwood
Are you getting the idea? You don’t have to be a certified aromatherapist to play with essential oils and use them in creative ways. All it takes is a little research and a love of scents and you’re good to go.
Hi, I’m Deborah Roth, a Spiritual Life and Relationship Coach, and also a Counseling Astrologer and Interfaith Minister. My Master’s thesis was on the power of transformative ritual and I love designing creative, meaningful rituals for individuals and couples to re-energize mind, body and spirit, and enhance their relationships.You can learn more about my work HERE or email me at Deborah@SpiritedLiving.com to schedule an introductory coaching session.