Essential Oils and the Golden Mean
Are there scents that return us to wholeness? I suspect so—and one of those scents for me is that of lavender essential oil. Not just any lavender essential oil, either! In fact, until we started growing lavender, I wasn’t particularly drawn to lavender’s scent. But when the mounds around our home started blooming and the bees arrived, when the still revealed a scent that dropped me into the present, I realized I was hooked on this plant. Then, recently I read a statement about the quantities of constituents in lavender essential oil being in proportion to the golden mean, and I began to reflect on my own experience with our oil.
At the suggestion of our viticulturist, we originally planted the lavender to replace some grapevines that were not thriving and to diversify. We sold dried flowers and took the excess to a local distillery. It wasn’t until we purchased a small 15 gallon still and started distilling the lavender in small batches that we discovered that the five different places that we planted the lavender actually produced five different scents of lavender essential oil. This means that lavender has a terroir— that its scent reflects the environment in which it grew. This was amazing to us, but not as amazing as lavender’s impact upon us.
There is a scene in Wind in the Willows in which Mole smells home. Author Kenneth Grahamme writes:
We others, who have long lost the more subtle of the physical senses have not even proper terms to express an animal’s inter- communications with his surroundings, living or otherwise, and have only the word ‘smell,’ … to include the whole range of delicate thrills which murmur in the nose of the animal night and day… . It was one of these mysterious fairy calls from out the void that suddenly reached Mole in the darkness, making him tingle through and through with its very familiar appeal… . He stopped dead in his tracks, his nose searching hither and thither in its efforts to recapture the fine filament, the telegraphic current, that had so strongly moved him. A moment, and he had caught it again; and with it this time came recollection in fullest flood… Home! (Chapter 5, Grahamme)
This is the “fairy call” I experience when I smell this oil. It returns me to home. Of course, this lavender comes from where I live. It shared the same sun, the same water, and is rooted in the earth I too live on.
But it is also grown Biodynamically and organically. These processes are a kind of individuating process for a plant and a farmer, a dialogue in which the farmer supports conditions that help the plant thrive. When a plant is grown in this way, it is a well-organized plant that fits in with the whole. Fractional crystallization shows crystals that are beautiful and symmetrical, an indication of the order of the golden mean. Wholeness is present.
Does the experience of wholeness have a resonance, a similar experience to that which the alchemists termed multiplicatio? The resonance experienced, whether that be by form or by scent, is like a fairy call, or a call home, and we experience the totality that we are.