Pagan Blog Project – week 10 - E#1 - Essential Oils
I was reading a book recently that talked about dressing a candle with cinnamon oil. The book mentioned that the oil might irritate some people’s skin, but that the cinnamon oil would help give the spell an extra “oomph.” All of this is true. Cinnamon is an incredibly powerful spell component (one of my favorites) and it adds great emphasis to spells and charms. And absolutely yes, oils might irritate some/most people’s skin, but especially cinnamon oil.
All essential oils should be diluted before use. What the oil is being diluted with can be determined to your purpose – olive oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, or even water.
The only pure essential oil that can be safely applied direct to the skin is lavender oil. Lavender oil is pretty great, and is often used in burn units at hospitals because it is gentle, hydrating, and a natural and soft antiseptic. But even then, I know people who are allergic to lavender and especially lavender oil. So even though it’s the most “safe” oil, it isn’t safe for everyone.
Remember that with essential oils a little goes a long way! Oil should almost never be used directly right out of the bottle. It’s too strong and too expensive and too precious. Dilute it and use an eye dropper. Even a few drops of pure essential oil put into carrier oil will do the job. You’ll still get a strong, untainted scent, it will be gentle on your skin, and it will last so much longer. It’s also a good idea to taste a wee-bit on your skin before applying it gratuitously. I use a tiny spot on the top of my hand that is known to have sensitivities. (I have terrible eczema). If that spot doesn’t get irritated, then it’s a good chance that the rest of my skin will be okay. (Even then, I’m still super sparing and super careful.)
It’s especially important to be careful with oil-to-skin contact if you aren’t using 100% pure essential oils. 100% essential oils will literally burn your skin. And be careful about the quality that you are buying! Many oils that are not 100% pure include synthetic scents, chemicals, or perfumes. A lot of these are good for anointing objects or burning on oil burners, but should not be used on the skin. Many oils from overseas are not tested with the same standards as stuff that can be bought and sold domestically, so be careful with sites like Amazon or Ebay. If you’re going to be using oils, find a very trusted source. They might be more expensive, but the safety and quality is invaluable. My all-time favorite place to buy oils is this little shop in Wilmington, North Carolina. Their prices are pretty decent, their selection is extensive, their quality is top-notch, and their staff is great.
I’ve bought essential oils from all over the place, with varying results. I have vowed never to buy essential oils from Whole Foods ever again because while the oils may come in giant bottles and be pretty affordable (for Whole Foods), their quality is terrible. The oils I’ve bought from them are old, some smell rancid, or have very little smell at all. Blech. What a waste.
Essential oils can be used for anointing yourself or your objects, for using in sprays, potions, or elixirs, to be used in perfume oils or magical blends, or just to make you or your home smell great. After finding some very high quality sandalwood when visiting Wilmington, I became obsessed with essential oils, and I use them pretty extensively now. Oils and potions with oils are some of my favorite magical tools and charms to use.
Last summer I was doing a lot of work with Selene, and as part of my work with her I surrounded myself with myrrh – oil, incense, resin, perfume, candles, etc. Very recently I re-opened a bottle of myrrh oil (myrrh + grape seed) that I had used a lot last summer, and I was instantly transformed back to July, with all of the rituals and magic I had crafted for those four months of 2013. Scent can be such a vital part of our memories, and similarly, of our magic. Many deities have correspondences to scent or oils, and working with oils or scent can really deepen the connection and relationship.
There really is no limit to the magic and possibilities of working with essential oils, except when it comes to safety! So buy high quality products, be super careful when working with oils and don’t expose any to your bare skin, cut the oil with a carrier oil to make it safer to work with and to make it last longer… be super careful, but have tons of fun!