• op ed

    Aromatherapy – a new slant on gardening


    Tactus Vocal Ensemble & Jan Overduin

    AROMATHERAPY established itself in the 1990’s as a marriage of sense and sensibility, a union of skin care and self care.  There were many providers of the good, the true and the beautiful in aromatherapy, and there were almost as many who stretched the truth in their packaging.

    Aromatherapy is the use of the essential oils of botanicals for their healing and aromatic properties.  Extracting the essential oils from the plants is an intricate process of pressing and distilling, with low yield.  Pure essential oils, then, range from those at reasonable prices to those that go into the hundreds of dollars per one hundred millilitres.  Exotic jasmine, neroli, frankincense and rose are amongst the highest in cost.  Because they evaporate rapidly, essential oils are secured in carrier oils which allow the healing oils to be used in mists, soaps, bath oils, creams and related products.

    An essential oil, then, is the soul of the botanical – precious, unique, healing and lovely.

    In my two devotions of being driven by soul-learning, psychotherapy and soap-making, I was privileged to work with souls – the essences of people and the essences of plants.  Psychotherapy and aromatherapy are related, I’ve found, and they teach lessons to each other.  And this is where the alchemy comes in.

    In approaching aromatherapy or psychotherapy, the purpose, the end result, the desired healing, must be clarified first.  For instance, essential oil of ylang-ylang would be chosen where soothing and luxurious skin care were in order.  In psychotherapy, a Rogerian positive regard would be applied to the psyche suffering from wounded self-esteem. Wise and caring creation of context and ongoing assessment are essential to each domain.  Finally and most importantly, results must be seen and felt!

    What should the consumer insist on experiencing in aromatherapy and psychotherapy?  I suggest that there are three kindred essentials:  oasis, perfume and wellness.

    The oasis is the place and the time that are yours and that contain what you need in terms of beauty and awakening of the senses in the unique manner that defines ‘you’.  The perfume is the fragrance that comes from the essence of the botanical, or the fragrance that comes from the healing psyche that you place in trust to the psychotherapist.  The aromatherapy perfume is the olfactory that we take for granted too often in the physical framework.  The psychotherapy perfume is the sixth sense realm that we have to develop in a more spiritual sense.  And, finally, the wellness is the subtle and growing glow that we feel in our body and soul.

    Like shrouded footprints left within a forest, there are also intangible trailings of the fragrance that emanates from the depths of our bodies and souls.  We need to learn how to see the trailings, to touch them, embrace and care for them.  We need to come to our senses!

    She was lying in the holiest green field of basil.  Its mystical, pungent aroma infused her soul.  As she continued to look up, she saw a sky as blue as the Madonna’s skirt.  Her senses luxuriated in the abundance of the sights, the textures and the most sacred of aromas.”  Antonia, in Antonia of Venice

  • op ed

    credo – i believe

    credo from Bach’s Mass in B; Andrew Parrott; Taverner Consort

    Credo (plural Credos) noun (from ENCARTA):  statement of principles: a statement of principles or beliefs, especially one that is professed formally  [12th century. From Latin, literally ‘I believe’.]

    1. statement of Christian beliefs: the Apostles’ Creed or Nicene Creed, both of which are ancient statements of the basic doctrines of Christianity

    2. musical setting of the Credo: a musical setting, especially in a Mass, of the Credo

    You have one, you know – a personal Credo. We all have. Unfortunately, all too often we form it fuzzily and semi- or un-consciously, failing to be aware of it, never having been taught to pay attention to “I believe”.

    It could well be that one’s Credo is the single most important construct built during a sojourn here on earth.

    I’ve been thinking frequently about mine over the past few days. Not having come from a liturgical church background, I’ve been fortunate in meeting the credo concept face-to-face in music. There cannot be a more wonderful way to begin to take in the wonder of a Credo than by singing the words to music that has stretched from Mediaeval to Modern times. Music loosens us up to the spiritual and frees us from having to think exclusively in words.

    But I digress! Blame it on music. After all, Vivaldi is playing on my DVD player, and those close to me know my current writing obsession to be with Vivaldi.

    So, I’ve been thinking about my credo while I listen to Vivaldi and while I’ve been on the treadmill. The treadmill functions musically, if you will, freeing up the right brain and allowing me to wander into the holiness of the non-verbal.

    All this wandering around and into my credo culminated in the crystal-clear awareness that I need to put my credo out there – to you – to anyone when appropriate. You see, today, I told someone who vehemently disagreed with me, finding me too watery in my faith, that I believed that I could die for what I’ve come to believe in. I actually said that. I said it evenly, with thought and with conviction. And then, I sat down with myself, took a deep breath and scrupulously examined what I had said.

    That’s the question that has been bubbling along inside me since the eleventh of September this year, 2001. Would I, could I, die for what I believe in? Isn’t that what many, if not all, of us have been struggling with? Isn’t that what times like these draw out of people? And don’t we either face the question or flee? I’ve been taking many deep breaths since I sat down with myself. I’m taking one now – while Vivaldi’s ‘Nisi Dominus’ accompanies. Of course, I sit here in freedom and luxury while I ask myself these questions.

    Well, then, deep breath – here’s my credo. I share it with you in the hope that you will read it, abandon judgment and work on your own if you need to….

    I believe:

    •           that we chose to come Here from Elsewhere
    •           that we have a purpose to find, healing to carry out and Soulwork to do
    •           that we forget our genesis as we move through early childhood
    •           that we feel the call to remember throughout our adulthood through dim, non-verbal, cellular memories
    •           that we name this call Emptiness, Longing to Belong, Why, Homesickness, Quest, Thirst… until we begin to identify it as Homecoming or Soulcoming
    •           that we are unconditionally loved by the Almighty
    •           that we are personally accountable for our lives, no matter how we got to be where we are
    •           that we must “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling”
    •           that all our answers lie within us
    •           that we dream our lives into being
    •           that we are capable of great creativity

    I acknowledge that there are Seductive Traps along our Journey Home. Amongst these traps are:

    •           righteousness
    •           greed
    •           piety
    •           the abuse of power
    •           ownership, especially of how we conceive God
    •           competition
    •           repetition
    •           sanctimoniousness
    •           blind fear
    •           and others

    I leave my Credo before you. Handle it with care. It is about my soul. And all souls must be handled with care.

  • op ed

    What Do You Think?

    sisters forever

    an OP ED for July 9/19 USA headlines

    A friend’s daughter told me today her mother has been deeply affected by the politics in the States over these many, many months. There must be so many others, I thought. And then I had to think about myself, given that this friend is a strong, compassionate woman. Have I been affected?

    Of course, the answer is yes. And yet I would say the impact is less and less since the election. It’s a ‘what can be done now?’ kind of attitude. Ah, the slippery slope of apathy. But not now! No, indeed – not with hearing more on the “powerful” cowards south of the border… Epstein and friends, and all who have colluded with him. How will the souls of these young women ever heal? How can the collective female soul recover from Mr. Trump’s vulgar words and misogyny toward Megyn Kelly. Is there a way to forget the video of the Access Hollywood bus driving into 2016. That was when Mr. Trump was seen for what he truly is. And the beat goes on through revelations via the Me Too Movement.

    And so I, like a multitude of females, have been led into the overgrown pathways of buried ‘sexual happenings’ against me and my friends and family… the big older brother of a friend exposing himself to me, a step-grandfather trying to molest me when I was 11, the full-on kiss from someone I barely knew when I was in my forties, the hand on bottom when the choir was climbing a narrow a narrow staircase to the choir loft.

    I was meditating on something a friend had said about forgiveness in a note a few days ago. Is there anyone I have not forgiven? For some reason, forgiveness comes easily to me. But there was something niggling at me. And then it hit me. There was someone I have not been able to forgive. That step-grandfather I mentioned.

    I escaped from him by leaving my house and going to a friend’s house. I didn’t tell anyone. And I quickly forgot what had happened. Until I returned home.

    She was standing on our porch steps. When she saw me, she ran to me, very upset. She had been molesteded by that step-grandfather, that United Church minister. There we were, an 11 year old and an 8 year old, and it was my job to tell our father, our fathermother, who would – and did – take care of the situation. He never did know about me – I knew it would have been too much for him. How could I add to his grief and anger?

    Our mother’s response was a call to silence – “think of the money.” The next summer, when we were getting ready to head to Ontario for our biennial vacation with family, Margaret shared her plan to throw herself down the stairs so that she could stay in hospital while the rest of us were in Ontario. I said I would be ever vigilant and would never leave her alone. Interestingly enough, our grandmother Violet converted the chicken coop for our hangout and bedroom. Our mother’s sister gave us a rescued three-legged chinchilla as a pet. I was relieved that she gave us this acknowledgement that she knew. And we were safe. The next winter we learned that the predator had been killed in a car accident.

    Margaret’s sexual assault affected her for the rest of her life. We would talk about it quietly. We delivered it, along with Robinson’s perennial clerical collar, to a cosmic sinkhole when she was approaching the end of her singular journey.

    She went elsewhere… to the great beyond of Love, which is God. I was with her. I still am.

    Perhaps you’ll understand why I can’t forgive that long-departed man. It has to do with what he did to my sister and all the consequences it had for her. And it has to do with what he did to me. For all these years, I have felt like I abandoned my little sister that day.

    I can’t shake that sense of having deserting her.