Symbols, Transformation & Aromatherapy

Change. It comes in many forms doesn’t it?  Sometimes we’re thrust into it, sometimes we opt-in to it, oftentimes we need help accepting it. This is when tools come in handy like abstract symbols, mindfulness and working with plant-based modalities like Aromatherapy.

Symbols are often archetypal and may be represented by myths & tarot cards to animals or patterns in nature. Understanding these symbols and how they relate to us may elucidate a seeker on how to work with whatever change they are living with. Yet awareness is not always enough for us mortal beings. Tools such as essential oils, aromatherapy, meditation, yoga (and more!) may be worked with to initiate, work with and accept change. It is with these tools that we are “armed” to slay the proverbial dragon.

Symbols of Change: Luna Moths and Lightning

I have been thinking about lightning a lot over the past few weeks and had a recent Luna Moth encounter. Both seemingly embody message of change and impermanence. Lightning fosters creation yet destroys. Luna moths symbolize intuition, change and death. Within the beauty of life always awaits change and death. Natural phenomena like the aforementioned are quite powerful, giving us “mortal coils” glimpses of the power of being true to our inherent natures.

La Bella Luna: Beauty in Change and Intuition

On a recent outing at a local winery I looked toward the direction of my near-by car and noticed a Luna moth on the front left tire (picture below). I was out of my mind and nearly breathless at the sight as I have seen only one other Luna Moth in my lifetime. It is my understanding that sightings of this particular native moth are a rarity versus encountering the plethora of other moths that seem so common and pesky.

A Luna Moth on My Car’s Tire

Though a moth is a moth and moths symbolize change. Reflecting upon the Luna Moth I am struck by the lessons offered in its life-cycle. It has a relatively long life from egg to emerging from the cocoon but once thrust into its adult phase it cannot eat and only lives 7-10 days to mate and finally die. So, what of it?

La Bella Luna: Beauty in Transition

Many of us are in-awe of the supposed beauty of the adult Luna Moth. But this “beauty” is literally fleeting. It spends 60+ days being “ugly” only to be “beautiful” the closer it is to death. What could this be taken as? To realize youth in-and-of-itself is not necessarily beautiful? How it takes time and effort to obtain grace and beauty? To acknowledge the potential of grace in dying? To appreciate the beauty in change and aging? Not clinging too tightly to one part of life as the next part inevitably comes? I like to think the answer to all of those questions is yes.

La Bella Luna: Tuning Into Intuition

Opportunities (i.e., change) are fleeting and it behooves us to have our feelers out for them, just as the male Luna Moth’s distinct antenna are out to detect a female’s pheromones over a mile away. Yet you may notice how the Luna Moth is often quite still for some time (as on the car’s tire) waiting and sensing.  Luna moths are not only associated with change. They are symbols of sleep, dreams and intuition.  This symbol of symbols is letting us know it’s time to slow down, to sleep, to listen to our “gut”. Intuition is like a moths antenna, it is always on but often times we try to tune-out and distract ourselves with artificial means, which generally sap our energy, intuition and sleep.

A Luna Moth lesson: be true to yourself by listening to your intuition which gives space to weather change and find opportunities.

When Lightning Strikes the Mind

Has anything ever “struck” you? Some people call this anything from an “ah ha” moment to “when the walls come crashing in” depending on the intensity, revelation and upheaval of the “struckness.” In my mind, lightening is symbolic of falling from an ivory tower. A sudden opportunity of Nietzschean “thrustness” that topples stacks of rigid concepts leaving space for the creative process and growth. Lighting is brut, hot force. It fractures and burns; from the ashes comes new life and a chance for growth. Its instant electric force is often viewed as destroying when it necessarily is not. From a different perspective it may be viewed as a catalyst for sudden transformation for both sacred and profane as well as providing crucial life to Earth’s flora and fauna.

This brings us directly to lightning and its aural manifestation of thunder. Lightning is electric-heat generated by the collision of ice particles and water vapor in a cloud which cause surrounding air to rapidly expand and vibrate (which begets thunder). These major collisions in the atmosphere are one of the Earth’s ways of taking Nitrogen, a key chemical element of life, and “fixing” it into a bio-available form that plants can use (formally known as “The Nitrogen Cycle”).

Nitrogen is necessary for all of life, occurring in all living organisms for critical amino acids (protein formation) and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA). Plants need Nitrogen for healthy leafy, vegetative growth (think GREEN & photosynthesis!). It is the 4th most abundant element in our body (~3% by weight), coming after Oxygen, Carbon and Hydrogen. But here’s the thing about Nitrogen (N2). Despite its abundance in the atmosphere it is held together by a triple bond making it super hard to break apart. These bonds must be broken for it to become bio-available for plants and other earthly beings. Breaking this triple-threat-bond requires BRUT, HOT FORCE. Guess what? A collision such as lightening can do the job.

Nitrogen becomes bio-available through lightning’s brut-hot-force. This spectacular process exemplifies how Earth’s wildly life-sustaining atmosphere is not only perfect doing what it does but also how elements of the Earth are eternally recycled. Although lightning is destructive it is also a part of the creative act of life.

Now each time I witness lightning and thunder I think of the plants and how these storms are literally and symbolically agents of change, transformation, life and death. Following is a haiku recently inspired by a summer lightning storm titled “Thunder is the Sound of Green

Electric shards crash
The sound of green being made
As air falls apart

The symbols of the Luna Moth and Lighting convey how change is a necessary though often sudden and disruptive part of life that can be worked with by tapping into our intuition.

Essential Oils to Initiate, Support & Accept Change

Now that we have some symbols for inspiration how about a few tools to help initiate, work with or accept change? Enter in aromatherapy: working with aromatic plants and their beautiful essential oils. The beauty of aromatics plants is their ability to communicate with us in many ways: odor recognition, memory-based associations and directly with our neuro-endocrine system. These myriad touch-points can support our natural ability to process and grow.

Following are some suggested essential oil combinations and methods of application for working with change and supporting intuition.

Cutting Through: Awareness and Initiating Change

The following blend of oils promotes clear-seeing, precision, focus and removing mental muck. Consider adding frankincense to the blend as well. With clarity and energy present, space has opened for perception and tapping into intuition.

Common NameLatin Binomial# of DropsIntention
Rosemary verbenoneSalvia rosmarinus ct verbenone16Brightening, clarifying, focus
LaurelLaurus nobilis9Bravado, courage, stamina
SageSalvia officinalis5Focus, memory, wisdom
  • Usage Suggestion: Personal Diffusion
    • A few drops on a clay or stone diffuser (see the picture below) or stone jewelry throughout the day, especially during times when change is brewing or at the start of a transition when lightning sharpness is needed.
  • Usage suggestion: Atomizer (Spray bottle)
    • Add 25 to 30 drops of the blend in a 2 ounce/60ml spritzer combined with distilled water.
    • Use as a facial spray or “mood mist” by holding the bottle ~12 inches from your face and spritzing the air in front of your face 2 – 3 times
    • Use with purpose, as desired through the day, through the course of the transition or until the bottle is empty.
Sustaining: Holding You Up and Processing

This blend is suggested for times of change when you are uncertain, feeling stuck in the middle and need support moving on.

Common NameLatin Binomial# of DropsIntention
Black pepperPiper nigrum3Cutting through the muck, breaking habits
ElemiCanarium luzonicum8Supports intuition, clarifying
PetitgrainCitrus aurantium (leaf)4Bridging, clarifying
Angelica rootAngelica archangelica1Supports intuition, grounding, connecting
VetiverVetiveria zizanoides1Calming, grounding, supportive in trauma
  • How to use: Roller Ball Applicator (10ml)
    • Apply daily to pulse points and along the jawline 1 to 3x/day
    • Continue daily use for 21 days
  • How to use: “Neat”
    • Double the “Recipe” and combine the oils in a small bottle with orifice reducer or dropper top.
    • Apply 1 drop to your palms, vigorously rub your hands together for a 5 seconds then cup both palms over your nose and calmly inhale for 5 breaths
    • Do this 1 to 2x/ day for 21 days
    • Alternately, drop one drop on the soft arch of each foot and cover each drop with a finger and hold for 30 seconds (or more if you feel like it). I suggest doing this in the morning.

Moving On: Manifesting & Integrating

This beautiful combination of essential oils promotes tranquility, stability and support. Think of the oils working together to hold you up as you access your inner reserves. Once the change has happened you can now manifest and move forward as the graceful Luna Moth.

Common NameLatin Binomial# of DropsIntention
PalmarosaCymbopogon martinii5Loving yourself, acceptance
HelichrysumHelichrysum italicum2Stability, wounds, “it’s going to be OK”
PatchouliPogostemon cablin4Supportive, easeful
CypressCupressus sempervirens3Supportive, transitions
CedarwoodCedrus atlantica2Strength, stability
  • Usage suggestion: Body Cream or Oil
    • Combine the essential oil blend with 1 ounce of a cream or oil base.
    • Gently massage small amounts onto your heart-center and solar plexus
    • Consider saying the words “I move forward with grace and wisdom” as you apply the oil
    • Use daily

By supporting intuition and therefore the creative act we can be our genuine selves which fortifies us through the storms of life.


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