Magi, Wise men, Three Kings...those figures way at the end of the Nativity scene (I suppose because they were still traveling from afar)... In recent years, this trio (if it was a trio) have become my heroes. Think about it! People probably thought they were crazy following a star to God knows where. THEY probably thought they were crazy after a time. What courage! What perseverance! What joy in the finding!
Listen to my paraphrase of the verses recorded in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 2:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”… they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. [literally, they rejoiced vehemently with MEGA-gladness!]
But not only courage, perseverance and joy...WISDOM! Yes, wise men, remember?
So this year I have come to a new appreciation for the wisdom in the gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I had always heard these symbolic explanations for the gifts:
gold for a King frankincense for a Priest myrrh for anointing, embalming for His Sacrificial Death
But I think our Father God had practical reasons also for moving the three from afar to bring those treasures. And I came to conclude that because of my experience with the essential oil, frankincense.
One day shortly before Christmas, I stopped by my daughter-in-law's house to drop something off there. I had a splitting headache that morning, and I had been suffering with headaches in the back of my head for several days. I asked Cortney (our family oils expert) if she had any essential oil for headaches. After she asked me a few questions, she said I could try frankincense and proceeded to tell me how to use it.
As I drove away, my headache surprisingly started to fade and a deep relaxation started to come over me. Cortney hadn't said anything about relief of stress, relaxation or anything along that line. But when I called her, elated with the results, she assured me that I was experiencing the effects of "frank."
As the days past, I reflected on how smart God was in giving His Son just what He and His human family would need on this earth.
So today, why not learn a bit about the essential oils, frankincense and myrrh, through the words of our family expert, my dear DIL, Cortney Loyd. And then take a look at a couple of her links if you would like to explore further.
You may become a "believer" like me and many others of all ages.
Essential oils have been used for over 5,000 years. Many ancient texts including the Ebers Papyrus and the Bible have documented the use of essential oils. The Ebers Papyrus is one of the oldest known medical documents in history. It is an Egyptian medical papyrus of herbal knowledge dating to 1550 BC and has over 700 formulas and remedies. The Bible has over 600 references to essential oils and/or aromatic plants from which the oils are extracted. Myrrh and Frankincense are the most frequently referenced essential oils in the Bible. According to the Center For Aromatherapy Research and Education, Myrrh is referenced (directly and indirectly) 156 times and Frankincense is referenced (directely and indirectly) 81 times.
Frankincense is known as the “King of Essential Oils”. In ancient times (as early as 3000 years before Christ), it was one of the most valuable commodities, more valuable than gold. It was in such great demand from Pharaohs and Caesars, that the Frankincense Trail was created. This trade route supplied thousands of tons of frankincense from Southern coast of Oman to the Holy Lands, following the coast of the Red Sea. It was approximately 2,400 miles long and caravans up to 6,000 camels would travel this route.
Historical uses of Frankincense include burning of incense in religious ceremonies, to support normal digestion, to aid in gum health, beautification facial masks, cosmetics (the heavy kohl eyeliner Egyptian women famously wore), insect repellent, perfume, salves for wounds. Frankincense is also a key ingredient in the ancient embalming process.
Myrrh is known as the “Queen of Essential Oils.” Myrrh appears with more frequency than any other plant substance in the writings of the Greek physician Hippocrates. Most Egyptian medicinal formulas included Myrrh. Egyptian women wore “crowns” of wax infused with Myrrh. As the wax would heat in the sun, it would cover their bodies with myrrh oil.
Historical uses of Myrrh include incense in religious ceremonies, perfume, health aid, facial treatments, a frequently used spice, an “air freshener", to purify the dead and is also a key ingredient in the ancient embalming process.
Frankincense and myrrh essential oils have many modern day uses, actually too many for this blog post but I will highlight the major ones. Frankincense promotes calmness and relaxation. It is great for skin care. It reduces the appearance of skin imperfections and also helps with healing nearly everything related to skin issues such as sores, burns and cuts. Frankincense exhibits many potential health benefits relating to joint and muscle pain, stomach problems, allergies, asthma, cough, headaches, diarrhea, mild depression among others. It’s properties are believed to support the immune system. More studies need to be made, but many believe that frankincense may have anti-cancer benefits.
Myrrh has properties that are believed to heal dental infections. It also has properties that are believed to treat and heal wounds, prevent infections, help soothe chapped skin, prevent skin aging, promote relaxation, relieves congestion, fights viral infections that cause coughs and colds, stimulates blood circulation and provides relief from inflammation of tissues caused by infections.
Modern medical use of essential oils is a highly debatable topic. You can get on any social media and do a quick search and see how fierce the debate is. Although the debates are sometimes ugly, essential oils are substantially growing in popularity once again. A general trend to move away from synthetic chemicals back to more natural health products have brought essential oils to the forefront. Many are turning to holistic and alternative practices over concerns about safety of synthetics used in modern medicine.
It is important to do your own research and educate yourself before using essential oils. Too much of a good thing can still harm your body, natural or not. Essential oil purity and therapeutic value is vital to essential oil safety and efficacy. There is a range of quality between essential oil manufacturers. High quality essential oil manufacturers will be able to provide, upon request, the purity of their products, country of origin, testing results, sustainability initiatives, and how they grow and harvest the plants. Aim to purchase “therapeutic grade” essential oils that have the scientific botanical name, extraction method, and chemical components.
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