Merriam Webster defines essential oil as “a class of volatile oils that give plants their characteristic odors and are used specially in perfumes and flavorings, and for aromatherapy.” Plant parts have been used therapeutically for thousands of years. And today, essential oils are growing in popularity.
What’s your favorite essential oil? Lavender? Rosemary? Frankincense? Did you know that distilling essential oils is considered an art and a science? Take a look at the label on your bottle. You may not be able to tell, but the oils in the blend you’re holding were birthed at a distillery!
I’m a student at Aromahead Institute, an aromatherapy certification program, and PhiBee Aromatics is highlighted in our curriculum resources. Since I had planned to be in the Scottsdale area for a business conference, I was thrilled that Clare was able to accommodate my schedule. But I almost cancelled my appointment…
It was raining on the day of my tour, and I had received information from the hotel staff to avoid driving north because a snowstorm was expected to hit Sedona. Naturally, I began resisting the idea of an unpredictable two-hour drive. But after speaking with Clare about the most current conditions in Sedona, she assured me that although it was sprinkling in the area, and snow was forecasted for the evening and the next day, I should be okay. Her husband, Max, had just checked the local reports, so she encouraged me to make the trek, if I felt comfortable: “Say, you’re from Chicago! This would be nothing compared to what you get! We sort of freak out with any mention of snow.” After hanging up, I sat quietly for a moment then felt a calm, peaceful nudge. Without hesitation, I quickly got dressed and hopped in my rented Ford Fiesta.
As I headed north on Interstate 17 and tuned in to a classic oldies station, I experienced a renewed sense of energy. Turning onto scenic Highway 179, I was greeted by the welcoming committee: magnificent red mountains punctuating the grey mist. I knew I was “home” and grateful to be traveling this road. Nature profoundly affects my spirit!
Although Sedona was cloudy and damp, my visit with Clare was brilliant! I witnessed the distillation process firsthand. The day before my visit, Clare harvested pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) from the canyon and started distilling before I arrived. By the end of my visit, an inch of the essential oil had separated from the water and was floating at the top of the condenser. This process yields two products: essential oil and hydrosol. The hydrosol is the floral water that remains after steam distilling. It’s fascinating how a 50-gallon drum attached to an elaborate steam distilling apparatus can transform plant material into an incredibly delicious oil.
Clare has been studying medicinal plants since 1987. Out of their great love and passion for the earth, she and Max, a botanist, began distilling as a hobby in 2005, using a small copper distiller. As their interest and business expanded, they purchased larger equipment in order to experiment with conifers and junipers. So far they have distilled over 80 species of plants.
During my visit with Clare, I learned about select essential oils native to the Southwestern United States, their chemical constituents, therapeutic properties and clinical applications. Clare honors the plants of the region, and over the years, has cultivated a special relationship with each. She presents workshops and teaches her craft across the globe. What a lovely spirit!
The final exam
Do you possess an intuitive sense about your favorite plant? Clare assessed my ability to connect with the energy of specific oils. She asked me to smell the oil, then indicate which area of the body was activated. Focusing on the chakras, internal organs and aroma, I was surprised how accurately I had identified the intended areas of the body. Most interesting, however, was the vibration I received from snakeweed (Guttierrezia sarothrae), one of the deliciously warm and vibrant coniferous oils I purchased. I felt myself immediately spiraling upward—a sense of being elevated. “Right on!” Clare exclaimed. Kundalini rising! Snakeweed is referred to as “life medicine” by the Navajos, and Clare explained that it has been used by Native American tribes as a panacea for a wide range of issues from snakebites and insect bites to common ailments.
Get into the vortex!
After I left Clare and drove around Sedona, I hardly recognized it. Sedona has been tremendously built up, since I used to visit while living in California, decades ago. However, this red rock country and its spectacular peaks, is still stunning!
Are you familiar with the energy centers, or vortexes permeating Sedona and the neighboring vicinity? These are renowned areas of heightened spiritual and metaphysical energy. When I was sharing my experience with my Ageless Grace class, one participant told about the time she and her young son were exploring Sedona. She had lost sight of him for a second and when she turned around, she saw him sitting on the ground drawing pictures in the earth of what appeared to be an Aztec calendar with intricate details he’d never before seen.
I’m certain that my spiritual power center was activated while in Sedona. Do you need an uplifting adventure? Experience the vortex! Add Sedona to your destination list, and while there, invest in a few bottles of Southwestern essential oils from PhiBee Aromatics. For more information about PhiBee Aromatics, click here.
As a holistic health and wellness professional, author and workshop presenter, I would be happy to assist you in devising an empowering individual or group plan. Learn more about Lifestyle 120 programs, by clicking here.
“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again.”—Joseph Campbell
Love, peace and health,
T. Kari Mitchell
Certified Holistic Health & Wellness Coach