Sandalwood

Stillness Unity Being

Sandalwood is a parasitic evergreen tree, growing to a height of nine metres (29 feet), with leathery leaves and small purple flowers. the essential oil is extracted from the tree’s heartwood. Native to southern Asia, most of the world’s Santalum album is grown in the mysore region of eastern India.

The long history of sandalwood in the cultural and spiritual life of Asia cannot be overstated. The wood was carved into furniture, temples, and religious icons, is burned as an incense in Buddhist and Hindu temples, and retains an important place in Ayurvedic, Tibetan, and traditional Chinese medicines. For the yogi it is believed to encourage the meditative state and to enhance devotion to God.

In Ayurvedic medicine sandalwood is valued for its anti-inflammatory, anti-febrile, and anti-infectious properties. Frequently applied as a paste for inflamed skin, it is classified according to Ayurveda as a medicinal for conditions of pitta or fire.

Cool and decongesting, sandalwood oil is primarily indicated for problems of hot, inflammatory, and catarrhal nature, particularly where the intestines, genitor-urinary system and lungs are involved. As a gently sedating analgesic, it also helps to relieve pain.

Sandalwood oil is outstanding for intestinal and genitourinary conditions that require a cooling, astringent effect- as in cases of “burning” diarrhea, mucous colitis, and vaginal discharge of a yellowish color. Mildly anti-infectious, it may also be combined with lavender, tea tree, and geranium oils as a part of an ointment for hot, “burning” cysts.

Sandalwood oil, in addition, is useful for respiratory mucus and infection- especially when a soothing, demulcent effect is required. In cases of bronchitis involving a “think”, harsh and painful cough, sandalwood may be combined with oils of eucalyptus and geranium. In very low dilution it may also be employed as a gargle for sore throats.

An excellent oil for the skin, sandalwood may be used for dryness, irritation, itching, and inflammation, and is helpful for both eczema and psoriasis.

Sandalwood oil’s influence on the mind and Spirit relate at a basic level to its cooling, calming and toning effect on the nervous system. it may be used effectively for hot, agitated emotional states that lead to headache, insomnia, and nervous exhaustion.

Sandalwood’s subtle properties are equally reflected in its traditional use as an aid to meditation, prayer, and spiritual practice generally. Its “divinely sweet”, soft balsamic, base-note characteristics evoke the Element Earth at its most sensual yet deeply tranquil. Clarifying and stilling the mind- and refreshing and overheated body- sandalwood oil reconnects us to our primordial sense of being.

The paradox of sandalwood is that while at can encourage states of “higher” consciousness, it does so not through any sort of other-worldly effect but by bringing us back to our essential self, to a more immediate awareness of palpable like itself. Whenever we over-invest in seeing specific outcomes to our efforts- especially out of a neurotic need for security- sandalwood oil helps to re-establish an acceptance of reality as it is.

Sandalwood actually frees it as a creative source, always present in the here and now. It is perhaps for this reason that it has been associated, in terms of the symbolism of the Tarot, with the Empress- the universal womb in which all manifestation is gestated, and the Great Mother of Ideas.

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