Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Guest Post - Cathy Skipper - Black Sacra Frankincense

My teacher Cathy Skipper sent this in a newsletter recently, and it gave me chills.  I need to read and reread, and sit with what she shared for awhile.  It may resonate with some of you, as well.

You may learn more about the work that Cathy and Florian are doing on  their website, AromaGnosis, upcoming live classes online classes  and, most important, Cathy's new book "The Alchemy of Menopause" on Amazon.

Cathy writes:
Without consciously meaning to, I have been working with two very seasonal oils this week: Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) and Frankincense (Boswellia sacra). In this issue of the newsletter, I want to talk about frankincense.
It all started in Atlanta in November. We were teaching at The Heal Center and had asked each participant to bring two essential oils for exercises in the class. Marge Clarke, who owns and operates “Nature’s Gift” came up to me at the end of the class and said, “I want to gift you this black frankincense. It is a great one for women and I would like to know what you think about it.”
Until that point I had never really developed a deep relationship with frankincense. I could ‘take it or leave it.’ I firmly believe that the right oils meet us and talk to us at the right time. Maybe earlier had not been the right time for Frankincense and I to meet.
I really enjoyed the smell of this particular frankincense, which is also known as Black Nedjei. I love the pine needle-like ‘green’ odor delicately dancing with a subtle floweriness. It has a freshness and lightness that brings me back to a deep calmness, like the calmness you imagine to be at the beginning of the world. Black frankincense is harder to come by than white and Marge only had a very limited supply, which was harvested and distilled in Oman.
We decided to deepen our relationship with frankincense used it in ceremony. For a couple of years, I have been working on re-integrating my maternal great-grandmother’s roots that were Anglo-Indian. Being of Anglo-Indian ancestry was kept secret within my (so called) ‘upright’ British family and this secret bothered me for a long time. This week, I actually started working on a family tree through the website ancestry.com. As I filled in the pieces of my genealogical tree, I was surprised and touched by how easily I could find the information and how quickly the tree grew and how large it became. Except, there was a dead end in one small corner of it. As you could have guessed, everyone on the paternal side of my mother’s side the family tree, going as far back as the 16th century, has an easy to find, clear lineage including mothers, fathers and children. The blank spot was the ancestry of my great-grandmother, i.e. my mother’s maternal grandmother, who was born in India and married an Englishman. Before her, there is nothing in the records, as if she just magically materialized on earth, as if bought here by a UFO.
Working with the deep, calm, pure, peaceful groundedness of frankincense, I realized first of all that in any family tree it is the secrets, lies and unresolved or un-integrated traumas that stick out, that stay alive, and that call on a future generation to resolve them. Frankincense as a spiritual guide enabled me to feel and understand that my soul had chosen to end this secret within my own family. Since I was a little girl, I have been drawn to knowing the truth. I felt the call of this Indian lineage. And yet, there was silence, mouths were kept shut. The Indian blood running in English veins had to be be hidden. The family tree had to be sanitized. With frankincense, I was able to put the missing pieces together spiritually. What had felt like a wound, I could now see as my gift. I had chosen to be incarnated into that family and felt the pull of that void and was called by it. I felt it as a shadowy wound inside of me, a shameful secret, and frankincense helped me realize that this was actually my gift. My lineage tried to annihilate this secret, yet inside myself, I was retrieving the essence of my Indian lineage. What I brought to the story was inside of me and my gift is to be who I truly am. The secret was ready to be revealed.
No secret can remain hidden for ever. Silently and patiently, it waits in the dark. It lets you build your life, carefully stacking the bricks one by one, and then it appears. It deals its blow and everything crumbles. That’s why it remains intact and incorruptible in time, waiting for its ultimate destiny to be revealed.” (1)
What has been beautiful and enlightening is that the revelation of the secret is like a key within myself. That secret is part of who I am, which is why I came to unlock it. The banished Indian girl lives in me, she is part of my essence and I re-claim her.
Frankincense is a unifying oil. It helps us bring all the pieces together on all levels, physically and spiritually, into consciousness of presence. The space that this oil creates in us allows us to experience the opening needed to be able to feel our unique spiritual journeys as part of our earthly existence.
To bring this full circle, I have just read that already two thousand years ago, Jewish women used to use myrrh and frankincense for a year before their marriage. For the first 6 months, they would massage themselves with myrrh and for the second 6 months with frankincense, in order to prepare themselves for the sacred union. (2) My modern experience with frankincense and myrrh feels like an inner sacred union. They have helped me unite my spirit and my body. I can clearly feel the resonance of spirit and allow it to inhabit my physical vessel.
During the ceremonial experience with the frankincense, I kept hearing a line from the well-known Christmas carol “Hark the Herald Angels sing”: Peace on Earth and Mercy Mild. Frankincense was one of the gifts from the three Kings to the newborn Christ child. I feel its gift is that it unifies all parts of ourselves and allows us to taste our true essence in the world. It brings a truly delectable feeling of coming home to myself, to all of myself, to all fo us, here on this earth. In so doing, we experience an inner peace that exudes outwards and helps us feel compassion to ourselves and others.
Happy Winter Solstice!

(1) Stefano Livos  A life in a moment
(2) Translated from “Huiles Royales, Huiles Sacrees” by Jutta Lenze

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