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The art of the fragrant Spanish Alchemy

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Daily stress is something experienced by many in modern society; stress which causes unhealthy moods and physical disorders. The more we ‘run’ in our lives, the less we seem to achieve and the more exhausted we feel. Spas are increasing in popularity because people are feeling the need to recover their inner harmony and balance. Knowing how to bring this calming and soothing effect is key to regaining our harmony.

Human beings are more complex than their superficial appearance. To achieve a deep and enduring balancing result we need to treat our body, mind and soul. In most cases it's our mind (thoughts, beliefs) and our soul (emotions and feelings) that lead us to our body (physical) issues. Thus having a good and balanced diet as well as maintaining a positive attitude and happy spirit are vital to obtaining the best physical results.

Essential oils and the ancient alchemy principles are the perfect way to treat our whole being in a holistic way and thus achieve the best beauty results. In olden days, beauty formulas were based on alchemic principles. The purpose was not only to acquire physical improvement but also spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Hence they were created in a way that would help users achieve profound holistic wellbeing. Cosmetics based on aroma-therapeutic alchemy meet this holistic approach. They make you look beautiful and also feel healthier.

Although Spain still preserve some of the ancient SPAs, the in-depth knowledge of Spanish alchemy and perfumery is only truly known by a few people nowadays. For so many centuries alchemy was prosecuted as it was considered witchery specially when practised by a woman... getting lost in the woods... or maybe just kept as family secrets. I do like to keep the word alchemy instead of the actual modern word aromatherapy as alchemy goes far beyond. Let's unfold why.

What's an essential oil?

An essential oil is a volatile liquid obtain by the distillation that keeps the characteristic odour of the medicinal plant or other source from which it is extracted.

Aroma-therapeutic alchemy is the art of knowing how to use the essential oils to improve our health, beauty and wellbeing.

An essential oil is composed of a variety of substances including vitamins and oligoelements (trace minerals). It's very tricky to imitate properly an essential oil because there's not just the chemical compounds on its composition, there's also an energetic charge original from the plant's vital force which is unique and inimitable. An essential oil is a living product, it evolves; otherwise the transformation it produces wouldn't be possible.

The main chemical substances you will find in an essential oil are:

Acids: antiseptic and diuretic properties

Alcohols: antiviral, antiseptic and anti bacterial

Aldehydes: responsible of the plant fragrance

Esters : antispasmodic and calming properties

Acetones: regularise fluids and mucus

Phenols: stimulants, anti-inflammatory, anaesthetics Terpenes: another perfume responsible

Sesquiterpernes: inmune system stimulant

Vitamins : A,B,C,D,E, Pp,K

There are essential oils such as Rosemary, or Thyme with lots of alcohols which are very invigorating and energising. Or others such as Lavender and Ylang Ylang full of aldehydes with a strong fragrant component. By all means, their composition is very complex and really difficult to imitate, being the reason why a reconstituted essential oil would never work in a same way, would never be efficient at a holistic level.

Therefore, it is essential to learn how to choose an essential oil pure, natural and extracted by the right method to work at and alchemical level .

Where does the essential oils strength reside?

When using essential oils we are working at 3 different levels: body, mind and soul or more "scientifically" said; physical, energetic and emotional. Plants can also be divided in these 3 levels or realms:

  • physical: composed by the oligoelements or trace minerals

  • energetic: composed by the alcohols

  • mental: the most subtle one, represented by the essence, a tiny amount highly concentrated obtained from a huge amount of the plant.

The strength of essential oils is due to their concentration, they contain the same beneficial properties as the original plant but exponentially higher. To have an idea about what I'm talking about : to get 1 kg of Bulgarian rose essential oil you would need to distil around 3000-4000 kg fresh petals which would represent 15.000m2 area of crops fully productive. Or for 1kg of lemon essential oil you would need the zests of 4000 lemons to be pressed.

Furthermore, when using alchemic aromatherapy we're not just achieving physical effects on our body, but through our mind and spirit as well. When we smell a pure essential oil there're some phytohormones released from the essential oil that goes into our nose and ignite in our brain a chemical response.

Our sense of smell is more complex than you might think. Your nose contain thousands of olfactory nerves. While your tongue has the ability to taste sweet, sour, salt, and bitter, it is your sense of smell that creates all the delightful flavours you experience.

The olfactory bulb is part of your brain's limbic system, which is not under conscious control. The limbic system controls digestion, libido, and emotions.

So, it's not your imagination that scents evoke emotions. Aromas actually trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that create a feeling of well-being. Scientists say your body's response to an aroma takes just four seconds. Besides, the smell is the oldest and most primitive sense and therefore the olfactory memory is the strongest in our "emotional brain".

Here's a very interesting article that talks about this and more!

Now that you know how a pure essential oil works you just need to learn how to make the right choice. Do you know how an essential oil is properly extracted to be suitable for an alchemical product? Have a read on my next blog post!

Wishing you a magical week!

Sonia x

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