Herbal Body Oiling
plant healing through your skin + an ancient ritual.
Herbal Body Oiling has become one of my most beloved rituals.
A delicious ceremony to commune + heal with the plants. This practice tends to your nervous system, lymphatic system, musculoskeletal system, & immune system as the medicinal plants are directly transferred through your largest organ (your skin) and from there they are able to access these systems and begin working. A simple + profound way to nourish the body into a state of calm relaxation and health.
botanical infused oils
are made of dried or fresh whole plants that are placed in a carrier oil and infused for 3-6 weeks. This allows ALL of the medicinal chemical constituents of the plant to be pulled into the oil. Essential oils are different because they are concentrated extractions of volatile oils from a plant, which is a very small portion of the total availability of a plant's medicinal constituents in actuality. In a whole plant infusion, every part of the plant is extracted to provide the ultimate medicinal oil for your skin + systems!
(Journal post coming soon on Essential Oils vs. Herbal Oils.)
nervous system nourishment
Nourishing the nervous system and allowing it to drop into a state of calmness amidst such an active & stimulating society is a vital form of daily self-care. Allowing yourself to feel centered and in tune with your self and emotions enables you to take on anything that comes your way with peace and ease. It is magic to be the master of our nervous system and a gift to have the tools to do so. Herbal Body Oiling is one of those simple yet profound tools. Plants like Lavender, Kava, Tulsi, + Rose (all infused in Oil of the Sisters) are examples of some plants that are deeply calming to the nervous system, anxiety, and stress. Applying their medicine onto your skin through an infused oil allows them to directly access the nervous system and drop it to an immediate state of calmness. You can truly feel it almost immediately. The simple act of rubbing + massaging your body is also such a loving practice that tells your nervous system that it is okay, that you are safe, and you are loved.
“Whatever your philosophy of life, the nervous system is your only means of connecting and interacting with your world. If you treat your nervous system like the sensitive system it is, it will play back the finest music to enrich your being. Keep it tuned and healthy, feed it well, and protect it from overuse and exploitation, and your reward will be a life of exquisite quality. Through even the most stressful events, you will feel centered and empowered.”
- Rosemary Gladstar.
self massage for the lymphatic + immune system
The Lymphatic system is the only system in our body that needs touch in order to properly function and flow. The Lymphs, when they are active and healthy, keep our immune system working and strong so that it can fight off harmful pathogens, bacterias, infections, and dis-eases. When the skin is dehydrated, the lymph is dehydrated, causing it to stagnate. When the Lymph stagnates, our immune system suffers. Herbal oils deeply hydrate the skin with fat (as opposed to lotions that contain water that is quite drying) which allows us the keep these systems nourished, healthy, and running smoothly. The ritual of self-massage gets our lymph flowing, relieves congestion in the body, releases toxins, strengthens the immune system, and relieves inflammation. You can research different lymphatic drainage massage techniques as well and get familiar with where the lymph nodes are throughout the body. I also believe that the simple act of pressured touch while applying herbal oils allows your body to activate and flow, but if you feel you need lymphatic drainage, there are some specific techniques in which you can apply while you oil. I love the guidance by Lisa Levitt Gainsley on @thelymphaticmessage.
a protective auric field
My favorite aspect of this ritual is the feeling of bathing in a protective aura of plants that surrounds you with love and support. To feel their spirits radiating out into your energetic field, clearing blockages, protecting your energetic field, feeling them with you, attuning to their vibration.
Amber of @mythicmedicine wrote “By making Herbal Body Oiling a regular practice, you create a layer of nourishing protection around your body. This ambient aura is both subtly etheric and physically powerful. It’s as if the oil on your skin extends its energy outward to fill up space around you, ensuring that whatever comes your way is processed first through this layer of healing defense, slowing down and transforming what can otherwise be anxious and overwhelming reactions.” (I first learned about the practice of herbal body oiling from Amber’s e-book years ago and have been in love ever since.)
This is so powerful + true, it makes me want to cry! It is such a beautiful gift that the plants give us. When I make my botanical oils, this is often the initial purpose of the plants that call to be gathered together. I create with their spirit + energy first, I allow them to guide me. Then after they are created, I realize how incredible they also are for the skin! Magic. Light of the Dove Oil was created with the intention of protection against taking on other's energy and keeping your auric field strong and true.
an invitation for ritual
If you can take the time to create a ritual around your Herbal Body Oiling practice, it is truly so deeply relaxing and powerful. It will become your favorite time of day, I promise you this! It feels like such a luxurious practice, yet it is available to all.
Here is my favorite way to oil …
Take a nice warm shower or bath. Light some incense, put on some music, or sit in silence. Create whatever sacred space means to you. Place a towel down to sit naked on (I sit on my bed). Choose an oil that you feel will nourish you the most (mine change often depending on what I’m feeling that night - sometimes I want more hydration, to inhale roses, to feel deeply grounded, pain relief, relaxation). Place a few droppers full of your oil into your hand and rub your palms together. Take a few deep breaths - inhale the scent of the plants + oil, sinking into relaxation + surrender, beginning to commune. Start at your feet and work your way up, lathering and massaging your entire body. Taking your time in each place, tending to every inch of your body, being a lover to yourself, listening to whatever feels good to you. Allow yourself to indulge + receive. Once you are done, let the oil sink into your skin a bit longer before putting any clothes on, use this time to relax and enjoy the calming state you are in. Put on very loose, dark-colored clothing once you are ready. I prefer to do this at night before bed!
Another way to ritual is to simply lounge on your bed, on a towel, and watch a movie while you oil, or whatever feels good to you! The simple act of placing the oil on your skin and rubbing your body is all you need - it doesn’t always have to be done in sacred space in the most ritualistic way. It can be simple and just as nourishing and healing!
Bathe, adorn, and allow yourself to be fully supported by the plants.
“DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE WORRY –FREE? TO BREATHE IN THE SWEET SMELL OF YARROW, MUGWORT, AND PINE? DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU PLACED YOURSELF IN THE HIGHEST PLACE OF IMPORTANCE? SELF-CARE INVITES YOU TO REMEMBER ALL OF THESE THINGS. MASSAGE YOURSELF WITH HERBAL OIL, BATHE IN HERBAL WATERS, AND PLACE YOUR BARE FEET ON THE GROUND. TEACH YOUR LOVED ONES TO DO THE SAME. NOTHING COULD BE MORE IMPORTANT.”
-Vicky Salcido-Cobbe via Amber Magnolia Hills E'-book.