To begin this section, first recall four primary components of any plant, from precious florals to towering oaks: seed (botanically, also called fruit), root, leaf, bud (or flower). These parts comprise the base from which one can expand and draw from other esoteric systems to provide a framework for essential oil therapy. Common examples of seed oils are coriander and cardamom; root—vetiver; leaf—marjoram and patchouli; bud, or flower—chamomile and lavender.

With this in mind, you can begin to associate plant parts with therapeutic goals: If you seek to uplift or expand your mind, look to the upper or outer portions of the plant: flowering buds and leaves tend to have an elevating effect on mind and spirit. Or, conversely, when you need to center or empower yourself, you would look to the trunk, or central part of the plant, including its sap, or resin: prime examples of these are cedarwood and benzoin.

Another “from the ground, up” way to decide upon your essential oil is through its correspondence with the chakra system. The First Chakra, for example, is also called the Root Chakra. Consequently, if you want to feel grounded (or “rooted”), you would select an oil made from the root of the plant (e.g., vetiver). If, however, you feel sluggish or “stuck in the mud,” you would want to choose an oil from a “higher” chakra, in order to motivate yourself: for example, the Third chakra holds our confidence and ability to persevere. Accordingly, an oil with gently refreshing or stimulating properties, such as bergamot, would be an appropriate choice.

Each chakra also is associated with its own color. Beginning with the First Chakra, the colors of the rainbow radiate within our energy centers, in order, bottom to top: red, orange, yellow, green blue, indigo, violet. Each color corresponds with its respective chakra, First through Seventh, base to crown. So, if you are visually inclined, your emotions may be perceived through a prism of color: Feeling “blue?” Your Fifth, or Throat, Chakra may be locked up, inhibiting your ability to express yourself, thus creating feelings of despondency or angst. You would need an oil to improve the flow and expression of your emotion, something with a little zip: for example, peppermint or eucalyptus.

Special Note: Most essential oils can be used for a variety of purposes: peppermint, for example, not only boosts mood, it also works wonders on knotty muscles. In either scenario, note that the goal is to break down a barrier, be it to expression or to smooth, pain-free muscles.

As I often am inclined to consider ideas and situations from a numerological perspective, I have come to realize that each chakra seems to have its numeric partner. These “partners” add up to the number 7 or 8. (In some schools of thought, there are seven chakras (as connoted above in the color discussion); in others, there are eight chakras. In the latter system, the Eighth Chakra is an protective, surrounding energy field, or aura; its color is white.

So, the Second Chakra, for example, would find its partner in the Fifth (illustrated in the throat scenario above) or even Sixth Chakra: 2+5=7; or 2+6=8. As the Second Chakra is the seat of creativity (including physical reproduction), a seed oil would help to generate energy at that level: try coriander. The other partner of the Second Chakra—the Sixth Chakra—is the seat of the Third Eye, or spiritual intuition. Often when one feels creative, ideas seem to emanate not from within, but from without: clary sage is an aptly named oil for this chakra.

The transcendent, spiritual qualities of the Seventh (or Eighth) chakras need to be balanced by a firm foundation. To that end, you may create a blend that allows for inner tranquility and insight, as well as for a sense of security and roundedness: frankincense and myrrh is a classic combination; another pairing to try would be geranium and sandalwood.

Finally, the Fourth, or Heart, Chakra is the energetic center of the system: It is the meeting point of and the bridge between the Lower Triangle (chakras 1-3) and the Upper Triangle (5-7). (Remember: Chakra Eight does not circulate within; its energy works around us.) As you might imagine, the Fourth Chakra aims to harmonize; it is often associated with compassion. Wonderful oils to activate these qualities are marjoram and lemongrass.

Next: Part Three–Oils and the Five Elements

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