I know what you’re thinking, “she picked a couple of easy ones for December”. Okay, okay, I get it. Frankincense, Myrrh…Christmas, the 3 Kings, and the Gifts bestowed upon the blessed baby Jesus. Now, hold on there! Before you turn away from this special pair of essential oils for the month of December, just give me a second to explain.
I actually almost picked a couple of other essential oils for this month, like clove and cinnamon. Although those two would’ve also been perfect for December (warming, strengthening, memory recalls etc), I chose a couple of essential oils that have an interesting history, story and purpose attached to them. When I think of December, yes, of course I think of Christmas…but I also think of fond memories this time of year: special school programs and gift exchanging with classmates, family gatherings, school breaks…a time for reflection of the past year, a time to share stories, a time to give to the less fortunate and think of one another.
This is where Frankincense and Myrrh come in.
Both essential oils come from the Burseraceae family.
Frankincense is a small shrubby tree with white flowers. A cut into the bark of the tree will produce a milky, white resin (thick, syrupy like) liquid that hardens into orange-brown tears. The resin is what is steam-distilled to obtain the essential oil.
Myrrh is also a small shrubby tree or a shrubby bush that produces a yellow resin that hardens into more reddish-brown tears when the bark is cut into. The essential oil is from steam-distilling the hardened resin tears as well.
Because frankincense and myrrh were hard to come by during historical times, they were considered rare and therefore, highly valued. The resins were burned as an offering to the gods and used as incense to ward off evil energies/spirits. Only the richest of the rich had access to frankincense and myrrh back then.
Today, frankincense essential oil is valued for its ability to slow down and deepen the breath. This is especially useful when rapid breathing is related to fear, anxiety, nervous tension and stress. Frankincense, in this way, is also useful for someone who suffers from respiratory issues such as colds, bronchitis, asthma, coughs and sore throats that may make it difficult for a person to take that deep breath and slow down. It smells divine (to most people), although others may associate it with church.
Spiritually, it is valuable in prayers and meditation as it stills the mind and helps one to focus on the intention of prayers. The energy of frankincense is very protecting and is used to drive away bad spirits and break links with the past (useful in times of forgiveness).
Myrrh, on the other hand, functions differently. Physically, Myrrh is a great anti-infectious and anti-fungal! It is used effectively to treat athlete’s foot, wounds and infections. In fact, it was used this way thousands of years ago when ancient Greek soldiers carried myrrh with them not only to treat wounds, but for psychic protection as well. Because of Myrrh’s anti-inflammatory abilities, it is used not only in skin care but also to treat coughs and colds. It is soothing, healing and helps to restore the body and mind.
Spiritually, myrrh is all about peace and tranquility, REALLY! Just like frankincense, it is one of the most spiritual oils and is used for meditation as well. Myrrh’s energy is all about moving on in life and helps those who may feel stuck.
So, wouldn’t you agree that these two essential oils are perfect for December? I mean, think about it. This is the month when our skin suffers from dryness (at least where I’m from) and the cool air. Colds, coughs and flu are also common this time of year. When it comes to our spiritual and emotional health, December is often a time in which we take time to reflect, meditate, pray and be thankful. It’s a time in which we feel hopeful that peace and tranquility will be in store for us in the coming year- a time of forgiveness and a time to move on!