motherhood, mental health & mormonism


putting essential oil on feetFor the last 10 years or so, I’ve been a casual user of essential oils for cosmetic, meditative, and health purposes – I’m not the type to empty out my medicine cabinet or quit going to the doctor or anything, but I’m still a huge fan. If nothing else, they smell nice, but they really do seem to work in many cases. Recently I was introduced to a large EO company based in Utah and invested in a basic family kit. I’ve been very impressed, but I’m not 100% convinced that the massive price hike is worth it. I’ll probably stick to cheaper (but still topical-grade) oils for now. See the bottom of this post for my favorite practical uses of essential oils.

One benefit of drinking the MLM kool-aid has been the great resources and education the company offers, and I got really excited about using the oils on my kids in ways I’d never considered before. I usually hesitate to medicate my kids except in extreme cases – fever over 104, allergic reactions, infections requiring antibiotics, etc. So my kids have been delighted to get so much attention over any small ailment.

When something does happen I put oil on the affected area if possible, but in many cases it’s just safest to put it on their feet – I don’t want the baby to touch it and get it in his eyes, and sometimes I don’t have time to look up proper application. So on their feet it goes. The term for this in my house, coined by the prolific 1-year-old, is “feeties.” As in Mom! I have a tummy ache! I think I need some feeties! Then they know I’ll come running with the peppermint and ginger oils and administer the most loving, tender belly rub they’ve ever known and, of course, an extra anointing of their little feet for good measure.

labor_of_loveAn admired mystic friend once told me that a woman’s labor of love transfers actual healing energy from person to person and even person to object. Something about physical contact with a powerful, spiritual woman is contagious and uplifting. She told me this before I’d even started thinking about female spirituality and feminism but it appealed to me – especially struggling with domesticity as I frequently do. All these menial tasks – washing windows, scrubbing floors, bathing babies, and brushing hair – had the potential to heal and bless others. So I started trying to do these things with mindfulness and a meditative focus on blessing the things I handled every day, whether it was my children or my home, and I felt vaguely but noticeably empowered in my womanhood.

Another female mentor, a clinical psychologist who taught my meditation class, taught me that we have the power to heal others physically through focused meditation. I dabbled in it, not sure what actual healing energy would feel like, but instead using my love for someone as a focal point and “sending” that to them. I’ve noticed that when I do so, the palms of my hands tingle like they’d fallen asleep or something. I found this VERY interesting, but didn’t know what it meant. I had still never considered myself having priesthood potential, so I didn’t think about it very hard.

So last week when my 4-year-old got a nasty case of nighttime croup attacks and I didn’t know whether to take her to the ER or not, I busted out my oils and doused her in everything I could think of. Marjoram on her back, peppermint and eucalyptus on her chest and neck, orange and clove on her feet for an immunity boost, and lavender on the back of her neck to calm her down. She fell asleep, but was still struggling to breathe, so I kept putting oil on her. As I did so, I prayed and directed all my assumed healing ju-ju at her, trying not to panic. While I was rubbing a couple more drops of eucalyptus on her feet, a worried tear slid down my cheek and landed on her little toes and I suddenly remembered the story from Luke 7 of a woman washing Christ’s feet with her tears and anointing his feet with expensive oil – probably Frankincense or Myrrh, judging by tradition. Both were expensive and used for their fragrances as well as their healing properties. It was a common practice back then, women have used oils to heal their loved ones for millennia.

This realization gave me a sense of awe and joy as I lay next to my little girl for the rest of the night. As I did, her breaths came more easily and the horrible barking cough disappeared entirely. I felt connected to the women who came before me just as I had the night I could feel their suffering and sorrow, only now I could feel their love, pride, and empowerment. A long sought-after piece of the puzzle of female spirituality fell into place for me, it was a wonderful moment.

The next day I was putting some clove and orange on the baby to help him avoid catching the virus from his sister and I turned to my husband with a wry smile. “Look! It’s the anointing…” I paused, dropping two fragrant beads onto the baby’s back and beginning to rub them in with firm, loving strokes. “… and the laying-on of hands!”

He smirked at me and rolled his eyes. Don’t judge – he’s really very supportive of all this, he just thought I was being sarcastic. And at the time, I was. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder – could this be part of the female priesthood? When I think about it, I get the first – and ONLY – burning of the bosom I’ve experienced in several years. I really think we’re on to something here.


So in case you’ve landed on this post looking for practical help with essential oils, here are some applications that have brought me actual success with essential oils:

For headaches: Lavender, peppermint, and marjoram on the temples, forehead and neck. Works OK for migraines too, at least it takes the edge off if I catch it early enough.

For sinus congestion: Eucalyptus on forehead and sides of the nose. Follow up with peppermint for serious congestion. It’s not oil, but I also seriously recommend using a Neti Pot. I have a deviated septum (which causes frequent severe sinus infections) but I haven’t needed to use a decongestant medication in almost 5 years thanks to this regimen.

For croup: Marjoram and eucalyptus on the back, chest and neck. Really, really works, especially preventatively before bed if you think they might have an attack. Add frankincense during an attack for faster results, add peppermint and lavender to soothe a panicked patient. Cold-air humidifier is recommended too.

For babies who won’t sleep: Lavender on the feet and blankie. This works best for me if they’ve already been asleep for awhile and you just want them to go back to sleep. It’s actually pretty amazing how well this works. With some conditioning too, can help reinforce the pre-bedtime routine, but I try to reserve it for the middle of the night wake-ups.

For depression: inhale Bergamot or any other kind of citrus (orange, grapefruit, etc). Snaps me out of those acute, spiraling funks.

For anxiety or insomnia: inhale Lavender and/or spruce. Mmmmm.

For grief or self-pity: inhale Ylang-ylang, rosewood, and geranium. These are also great to pull me out of bad mommy days – they make me feel both nurtured and nurturing. I’ve taken to wearing them as perfume because, let’s face it, I have a lot of bad mommy days.

For prayer/meditation: inhale Sandalwood.


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