AROMAtrip Part I: A travel blog post of re-discovering aromatherapy

A year ago, I traveled to countries that brought me back to centuries of aromatherapy and essential oils.

The first stop was in Jordan. Petra known as the “Rose City” a magnificent archaeological site, that has been in existence since 300 B.C. It was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom where tombs and temples were carved into pink sandstone cliffs. Essential oils have been used back then to embalm bodies in the tombs.

Israel (Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth) was the next stop. The Bible referenced over 600 essential oils both in the old and new testaments. Oils have been also referenced in stories of healing miracles and in Jesus’ entombment . In the seven sacraments of the Catholic church, oils are used in religious rites and sacraments from baptism, anointing of the sick and the last rites. Essential oils such as Frankincense, Myrrh and Rose Oil are widely used for meditative purposes.

In visiting the churches and holy sites , oil lamps hang in ceilings and used as altar candles.

While walking down the streets of Nazareth and Jerusalem, it is quite evident that dried herbs, plants and fruits are staples in the local markets. Aromatherapy products such as handmade soaps, hair care, skin products, carrier oils such as Olive oils and aromatic essential oils such as Sandalwood have been in existence for centuries known to be the essence of physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

India is one of the four ancient urban civilizations which include Egypt, Mesopotamia and China. The Vedic civilization is the earliest civilization in the history of ancient India. Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medical system of healing uses of aromatic plants & plant parts for treatment and cure as part of the Ayurvedic treatments. In India, they have a variety of the most expensive and purest oils you can ever find.

Also, India’s food is characterized to use many spices and these spices are combined or blended into masala. So each dish or meat can be blended with different spices or masala.

My friend Dharam Rajpal from India also added ”  Aromatherapy existed in correlation with Ayurveda not only for physical treatment, essential oils, fragrant incense and scented flowers were an indispensable part of worship & religious rituals of Indian civilization since centuries. The natural aromas were thought to be related with spiritual upliftment & cleansing of the soul as well.”

In Nepal, Buddhist temples burn oils as candles for prayer and thanksgiving.

Aside from the oils, Nepalese take pride in the selection of their spices and teas. The dried herbs are made into teas and handmake soaps and skin products.

Morocco is culturally diverse and serves as a crossroad between Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East. Morocco is a country located in North Africa that has a coastline on both the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco is my favorite of all the countries I have traveled. Argan Oil, Saffron Oil and Rose Oil are the most exquisite oils you will ever find in Morocco. Variety of oils, dried flowers, dried fruits and all kinds of carrier oils can be found in Markesh.

Europe was the next destination. France, Spain, Italy, Germany , Switzerland and Vienna also have utilizes aromtheraphy and oils into their spa techniques. They see the value of incorporating the essential oils into massage therapies, Wines and spices are used as part of their cultural life.

As I reflect on my trip, I realize that aromatherapy provides a profound perspective on wellness and healing both in the mind, spirit and body.

In closing, the quote below summarizes that there is more in life to be explored and it is such a joy to encounter new discoveries each day. JOY. Life is good!

“Living is about capturing the essence of things. I go through my life every day with a vial, a vial wherein can be found precious essential oils of every kind! The priceless, fragrant oils that are the essence of my experiences, my thoughts. I walk inside a different realm from everybody else, in that I am existing in the essence of things; every time there is reason to smile, I hold out my glass vial and capture that drop of oil, that essence, and then I smile. And that is why I have smiled, and so you and I may be smiling at the same time but I am smiling because of that one drop of cherished, treasured oil that I have extracted. When I write, I find no need to memorize an idea, a plot, a sequence of things: no. I must only capture the essence of a feeling or a thought and once I have inhaled that aroma, I know that I have what I need.” ― C. JoyBell C.

–Cecilia Ramirez, President and CEO, St. Michael & Company