Friday, July 27, 2007

A Consumer's Right to Know About Essential Oils and Oil Blends

Wise Weeds Botanicals is celebrating its 15th Anniversary in 2007.

Known as “the Wise Weeds Lady” to many people over the years, I have been blending essential oils, cosmetic grade fragrance oils and herbs to make my herbal healing, mystical, magical and spiritual oils for even longer than the establishment of Wise Weeds in 1992.

I’m a certified medicinal herbalist, transpersonal hypnotherapist and Reiki practitioner who has taught herbalism, aromatherapy and other healing practices in a variety of venues, including a community college, many adult education programs, Barnes & Noble bookstores,gift shops, beauty spas and salons, festivals and many other places. I've appeared on radio,cable and network television shows over the years, as well as been featured in newpaper articles.

Over the years, I’ve learned more and more about safe practices using oils. I’ve also seen how many vendors sell their products via false advertising, whereby they confuse the consumer
by promoting oils as being essential oil based, when they are not.

A Consumer’s Right to Know What S/he is Buying

As a consumer, you have a right to know what you are buying. I make no bones that I use cosmetic grade fragrance oils in some of my blends. Unlike many others on the market, whether ignorant or greedy, I do not call my blends “essences” thereby giving the impression, but not the reality, that certain oils are essential, plant-based oils.

There are some spiritual practitioners who value only actual essential oils and/or herbs in oil blends. Their reasoning is that the plants imbue the product with a type of natural magic that cannot be found in synthetically based products.

While I myself tend to follow this belief, on a practical level, certain scents are NOT generally available, except as synthetics. For example, Gardenia Absolute is rare, hard to obtain and VERY expensive. Rose Otto is more readily available, however, it is still extremely expensive. It is virtually impossible to obtain a natural Lilac fragrance. So I will use synthetic versions of these oils in blends. But, again, I don’t hide the fact from anyone, nor do I try to mislead anyone.

If you’re buying a one-dram bottle of rose oil essence for $5.00, it’s not the real McCoy. Believe me, I've had people insist they had found a "bargain." Well, you get what you pay for.

On the other hand, if someone has infused rose petals into oil to get the scent, the oil blend will not be an “essential” oil, but it may be a wonderful treat. I used to own such an oil many years ago, and the scent was delightful and quite magical. But it was not an essential oil, nor had it been sold to me under that guise.

What actually are essential oils?

The essential oils of herbs contain their concentrated energies. An essential oil usually bears the aroma and/or flavor of a plant, although the intensity of the scent may be overwhelming compared to what you're used to the plant smelling like.

Found in Various Plant Parts

Unlike fixed oils, essential oils are volatile. This means they evaporate rapidly at room temperature, whereas fixed oils, such as vegetable or motor oils, are more stable. Chemically, essential oils consist of a complex mixture of 30 to 100 or more compounds.

The oils themselves are found in various plant parts. Peppermint, patchouli, basil and geranium oils are derived from their leaves and stems. Clove oil comes from flower buds. Jasmine, rose and tuberose oils are derived from the open flowers. Essential oils are also derived from the seeds, wood, bark, roots, needles and skins of various plants.

Herbally-Infused Oils

Herbally-infused oils are different creatures than essential oils. An herbally-infused oil consists of plant material that is infused into a carrier or base oil. This base oil takes on the medicinal qualities of the herb, and can often be used either by itself or with another vegetable oil for massage therapy or as the base for an herbal salve.

I, myself, will often include some herbs in certain oils blends, taking a cue from certain hoodoo and voodoo traditional blendings of spiritual oils.

More often, I make herbally infused oils with a direct medicinal usage in mind. For example,
Hypericum oil consists of the fresh flowering tops of St. Johnswort infused into olive or some other carrier oil. Comfrey infused oil forms the basis of comfrey salve, used for healing.

And, of course, my Banish Pain oils consist of a combination of herbally infused oils and essential oils to help reduce or eliminate inflammation and pain.

To check out my oils in my webstore, you can go to

essential oils, healing oils, hypericum oil, magical herbalism, medicinal herbalism, essences, perfume, parfume, magical oil blends, pagan, wicca, witch

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Tarot Readings at The Office in Urbana, IL

If you are one of my "friends" at myspace, or have looked at my weekly calendar, you already know I'm reading tarot cards at The Office in Urbana, IL on Tuesday nights, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Wasn't sure about going in the night BEFORE 4th of July, just because I figured a lot of folks might be at fireworks and all.

Well, I enjoyed myself tremendously AND I think the people who came in for readings had a blast, too! It was well worth showing up on July 3rd.

The Office is a cool place to do reads because it's casual, without being raunchy, the food is good and the service is friendly. So there's a fair amount of joking with the "regulars," however, anyone can feel at home there.

Also, if someone comes in for a reading and has to wait, not only is there good food to choose from, with some dinner and drink specials, but there are also two pool tables and four dart boards available. This is a fairly large venue, so you don't feel like people are breathing down your neck (unless you want to line up at the bar!).

It's also a nonsmokers' delight. If you are a smoker, there are tables outside where smoking is allowed.

While I really had fun, I also do take reading for people seriously, in the sense that I do read what the cards say and how intuition inspires me at the moment. Everyone was very nice, and most, but not all, were "virgins," that is, my reading for them was their first. Hopefully that first experience will encourage them to seek out more guidance for themselves in the future.

If you're thinking of coming out for a read, make sure you sign up on the sign up sheet at the bar. At one point, we got a little backed up. We're not real formal, and one fellow had JUST had his dinner arrive, so I read someone else while he ate and it all worked out fine.

It's best to arrive BEFORE 9 p.m. for a reading, although the last couple of weeks I have stayed beyond 9 p.m. Pretty much, if I'm up to it, I will read until everyone has had their "turn" so to speak.

Hope to see you there, in spirit if not in person.