The Magical Essence of Frankincense, One of the most powerful essential oils

The essential oils can be such powerful catalysts for change and comfort at the end of life, and any time in our lives, really. This story tells of one of the most powerful experiences I had one day while doing my “routine” hospice work.

Douglas, my hospice patient, had been struggling to breathe all night long. In fact, breathing had become the major issue in his life during the last week. He was now wearing an oxygen mask. His daughter Marcia was on one side of his hospital bed, his granddaughter Jenn on the other. They had just tucked him back into bed after a sleepless night on the Hospice Unit.

Later I found out they’d both been giving him permission to let go all night long, for they knew that he was suffering too much.

It was a Monday morning, and I had just listened to my voice mails. One of our palliative care specialist nurses had left me a message saying that Douglas wanted me to come and anoint him with the essential oils as I had done for him last week. As I drove toward the Hospice house on the east side of Puget Sound, I had no idea that I was about to witness one of the most profound experiences I’ve ever had with the essential oils as a spiritual counselor.

Having revamped my schedule for the day, I entered Douglas’s room with my essential oils and a favorite CD of East/West Chants in hand. I felt some power beyond my own guiding me.

Upon entering Douglas’s room, I knew what needed to be done. First, I anointed him with some oils.

Marcia and Jenn made room for me to bless their father and grandfather with the oils. I got out Myrtle, the Believe Blend, and Frankincense. I lifted the oxygen mask and placed some of the Believe Blend around Douglas’s nose. After anointing the area around lungs with the Believe oil, too, I rubbed some Myrtle on his right ribcage and some on his feet. Then I anointed his forehead with Frankincense, my favorite oil. Frankincense, meaning “real incense,” I’ve discovered is also considered the favorite incense of the spirit realm.

The oils almost immediately had an effect. Douglas’s breathing slowed and his whole body began to relax. Next, I went over to the CD player and got the beautiful chants by Cynthia Snodgrass filling the room with their special harmony (Ubi caritas et amor — “Where charity and love are, God is there”). Douglas’s oxygen mask had been removed, and it was Marcia who noticed that Douglas had opened his eyes to look straight up, above his bed.

“He’s going, he’s going!” she exclaimed.

“Well, maybe,” I thought to myself, as one never really knows when and how the dying process will happen, not unlike a birth.

I also found myself praying hard at this point. I recall offering a prayer out loud, too, around Douglas’s bed with his two beloved ones. Before long, Douglas’s breathing had slowed down even more, and it became clear that he was in the final stages of letting go. The three of us witnessing this turn of events were so amazed, it did not even occur to us to leave the room. Within 20 minutes of my entering his room and administering the oils, Douglas had taken his last breath.

After a few minutes of experiencing this sacred time together, one of us finally left the room to go find a nurse. Two hospice staff came into Douglas’s room to help us begin to digest what had just happened. After confirming that Douglas had died, they checked his limbs, noting that there had been none of the mottling that usually happens before a person dies.

In hindsight, I believe Douglas realized that the relaxation offered him by the essential oils gave him an opportunity to let go and make his way over to the next realm. This meant that he could forego the usual process of the body’s slowing down gradually.

Needless to say, this experience with essential oils opened me up to the subtle yet tremendous power that they can have in the end-of-life and dying process. On some level, I have known that the oils possess this kind of magic, since I’ve heard about how they were used in ancient times around death and burial. And Frankincense was what the Three Wise Men brought to Jesus as a gift for him at the time of his birth.

However, one doesn’t have to be dying or experiencing a transition to enjoy the benefits of these oils. I use them on a regular basis, to lift my mood and raise my vibration and mood.

Frankincense is known for its anti-depressant quality and for its ability to connect a person with the spiritual realm; it is also a wonderful tonic for the skin and has anti-tumoral qualities, as well.

I heard about a mother who had a son with a brain tumor. She kept her son’s head wet with Frankincense. Over time, the son was healed by the power of this powerful healing oil that was once considered more valuable than gold. Frankincense has also been known to work its magic with people suffering from Alzheimer’s.

If ever you happen to be with an obstinate person who suffers from Alzheimer’s, simply apply some of this wonderful oil to your own hands and then run your hands through their aura – energy field – in some way. This process will very soon have a calming effect on the headstrong individual.

If you are interested in learning more about the essential oils and transitions, Maria will be leading a class on this on Thursday, April 14 at the Brilliant Moon. Please call them to register: (360) 868-2190.

 


Is Speaking about death becoming fashionable?

Have you heard of the Death Cafe? Death Cafe is a worldwide movement that’s helping to bring out the taboo topic of death into the public arena. This movement began in the U.K. – and before that in Switzerland –  three and a half years ago. There have been many more than 1,000 death cafes by now around the world.

At a Death Cafe (www.deathcafe.com) people, often strangers, in a given city or neighborhood gather at a given location that’s private and comfortable – cafe, bookstore, home, etc. – to eat something sweet, drink tea, and talk about death. The idea is “to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

A Death Cafe is a gathering of people dedicated to the discussion of death with no agenda, objectives, or themes. It’s a discussion group rather than a grief support or counseling session.

Death Cafes are always offered:

– On a non-profit basis

– In an accessible, confidential, and respectful place

– With no intention of leading people to any particular conclusion, product, or course of action

– Alongside refreshing drinks and nourishing foods – and cake, or sweets of some kind, of course!

I have attended my share of Death Cafes; in Sedona, AZ, I even helped to start one. My experience of them are quite varied and have always left me feeling very good. In general, they seem to attract a variety of ages and people.

Almost always, the people who attend have been touched by death or grief – sometimes recently and sometimes many years ago. They are people who are eager to share their experiences, perhaps because in many places still today, death is a taboo topic.

Two people – a friend and myself – led the Death Cafe I helped start in Sedona. We got the inspiration to start one because, surprisingly, no one had started one in Sedona. We led the Cafe in a private home once a month for about five months, through one summer. Most sessions we had a good eight to ten people attending. There were older individuals facing death themselves; there were individuals who had experienced powerful NDEs (near death experiences). We also had people and friends who were just curious attending and checking out the group. It was a most worthwhile experience. Eventually, the energy for the group dwindled, and my friend had to focus on other things, so we had to close the Death Cafe.

About the same time, another group ran a Death Cafe for just one time in a neighboring town. They used an assisted care facility and publicized it in a big way. They had a large group attending, – 30 plus – but  they decided to have it be a one-time experience. People sat at small tables in a large room to speak in small groups during the Cafe.

I invite you to look into the Death Cafe movement and see if there happens to be one in your community. If not, you could always start one, perhaps with a friend who’s interested in the topic as well. Here’s a link that will guide you in the process: http://deathcafe.com/how/.

By the way, I know for a fact that there is a Death Cafe happening in Olympia. It usually meets on the last Wednesday of the month, at the Obsidian Cafe, 414 Fourth Ave. E. – in Olympia. They have a Facebook page as well: https://www.facebook.com/olympiadeathcafe/.

I will be teaching a class later this month on “joyful transitions” and one on the essential oils and transitions in early February at the Brilliant Moon in Shelton. Please contact them for details. (360) 868-2190.death cafe, Olympia

This conversation is to be continued, and we welcome your stories, questions and comments around these topics.


Bringing Death Back to Life: A Call to creative transformation for our times

During the last 100 years, says Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi, our culture has “pathologized” death by taking it into the hospital. We have done ourselves a real disservice by separating, or “compartmentalizing” death – and endings – away from life; and this has been taking its toll on our society. There is a tremendous focus on and bias toward youth and beauty, not to mention image; and we have become dishonoring of the aging process and the grief process, too, for that matter.

Furthermore, due to the consciousness shift taking place on the planet, the issues of death, change, endings, and transitions have become even more pronounced. In a sense, at this time we are each going through our own transformative letting go process of one kind or another.

I sometimes say that it’s as if the entire world is on Hospice. And we have so much to learn from those who are going through severe change – like those who are dying, and those who work with the dying. If we can maneuver deep change by letting go of what no longer serves us, I believe this is the key!

Therefore, I would encourage you find new ways to bridge the gap between life and death.

Here are some suggestions I have to get started:

Since everything starts on the energetic level, you might start by visualizing and praying: Invite death, endings, and grief to become a more natural and friendly part of your life. You might even extend this intention out into your family, community, and the American society at large.

Find places and people in your life where and with whom you can speak more openly about these matters. Since aspects of the entire world is “on hospice” these days and many people are going through all sorts of transitions, it need not be so difficult to find ways to talk creatively about endings, letting go – of old ways, beliefs, and the “stuff” that no longer serves us. Sharing and expressing the grief that resides in our being these days is so important, too. I’ll be writing more about the Death Cafe worldwide movement (see www.deathcafe.com) also – a very significant emerging movement for our times.

For some time now hospices, palliative care programs, and midwives all have been helping to create new avenues to integrate life and death back together again. If there is any way you could support these programs or people, I strongly encourage you to do so.

You might consider becoming a volunteer at your local hospice. Hospices are always looking for new volunteers; and I can guarantee that however long your commitment, you will learn so much about yourself and be transformed by such an experience that you will never regret it. It’s a wonderful investment in yourself and your future. See my most recent book, The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? to read more about the gifts that I have received through the last 20 years of hospice ministry.

Finally, I invite you to reach out in new and courageous ways to someone in your life who’s going through a transition of some kind. You could begin by praying for them or asking them how you could support them. Consider this a learning opportunity for yourself and see how you might grow from a situation you normally would avoid or choose not get involved in. See yourself being transformed by a new experience!

These are just a few pointers for you to begin thinking in ways that could help you begin a process of transformation with courage at this time. Clearly, change is needed and stands knocking at our doorstep. I encourage us all to open the door and welcome it in!

Also, please let me know other ideas you might have along these lines, to help bring death, and endings, back into our lives – where they belong.

The Rev. Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund is a United Church of Christ minister, author and longtime hospice and bereavement counselor who has published The Last Adventure of Life: Sacred Resources for Transition and The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready? She can be reached at dancingheart22@gmail.com. She continues to write and is getting ready to publish her third book in 2016. She is always looking for opportunities and places to speak and teach.

The brilliance of the Heartdeath cafe, Olympia


How Shall We Grieve in Tumultuous Times?

We live in a culture where expressing grief is not honored in meaningful ways. We live in a society that’s awkward around the subject of death & dying, as well as grief. We have “bereavement leaves” in the workplace that last for three or four days.

We use words like you need to “get over it,” and “keep busy,” and maintain a “stiff upper lip.” It’s almost as if we encourage each other to turn a blind eye and ear to our true feelings. So it’s no wonder that we call the expression of grief “grief work.” It is indeed work to express our feelings in our culture where it is not easy to do something that’s actually quite a natural process.

Having acknowledged that, I now would like to invite you to imagine with me what it would be like to be living in a totally different culture, where expressing grief is encouraged and honored. I’ve been reading some material by a woman named Sobonfu Some — her name means “keeper of the rituals” — of West Africa whose tribe, the Dagara tribe in Burkina Faso, actually encourages their people to let go and grieve whatever no longer serves them.

As a child, she remembers when a friend of hers died and she was asked the question, “Have you grieved enough? Have you cried enough?” rather than “Aren’t you finished crying about that yet?” The belief among the Dagara Tribe is that hanging on to old pain makes it grow until it can smother our joy and creativity; it even could have the potential to kill us. So it’s always a good thing to be let go and release. 

Wouldn’t it feel liberating to imagine living in a place like that – to imagine that kind of encouragement and permission to grieve?

I have heard it said that if all the women of the world could cry at once, the world would be healed, we would have peace in an instant! I believe this might be true. Certainly, if all of us who needed to cry and grieve and release “old stuff” could do so when necessary, we probably wouldn’t be fighting each other so much. We wouldn’t play the blaming game, the shaming game so much. Rather, we might take more responsibility for our own pain and work to let it go.

So, as we consider our grief and the memories of those we have loved, I want to invite you to grieve in any way that you can, today and in the days ahead! I want to invite you to be really good to yourselves in these grief-laden, sometimes intensely pain-filled days – even if not in your world, in other parts of the country or in the world at large.

May you find, and even create time to be sad, to look at photographs of your loved one and remember, even cry your eyes out, if you need to. May you honor the things and people and places that your loved one loved, and do things that will help you to honor and remember them. May you find creative, safe ways in which to release your feelings of anger, rage, denial, sorrow, and loneliness – like writing in a journal, going for long walks in the beauty of nature and letting Mother Earth know about your pain, seeking out a support group or a counselor, and really delving into and embracing your pain and sorrow – and all the other emotions that go along with it.

One of the things I find myself doing as a bereavement counselor is giving people permission to grieve the way they need and want to. I’ll never forget a phone call I made years ago to a woman who had just lost someone very significant in her life. She said that her friends were urging her to get out with them and “do things.” But she said that all she felt like doing at the time was to stay in bed and eat ice cream. I suggested to her that probably what she needed to do for at least the next little while was to stay in bed and eat ice cream! If that’s what felt good to her, that’s what she deserved to do for herself. We all sometimes need this encouragement to follow the guidance that our intuition is already bringing us.

When you are dealing with any kind of grief, I recommend doing at the very least the following four things:

  1. Receive the GOOD STUFF that others have for you; and ask for what you need.
  2. Go Inward – this can potentially be a time of great transformation and empowerment for you.
  3. MOVE your Energy. This will help you move your emotions, too. Go outside, or to the gym if you prefer, and get your body moving. This will help your emotions flow, too; plus it will help you simply feel better.
  4. Let your Emotions OUT – however you do it, find creative ways to cry, weep, wail, get angry, express your frustration, whatever you need to do. This will help you feel better, too.

If you go to the “Books” Page of my website, Change with Courage Books Page, you’ll find a Grief Pointers sheet that you may download for free.

This conversation is to be continued, and we welcome your stories, questions and comments around these topics.

Published in Mason County Journal: 10/15/15