This might just look like a blank scent strip, but don’t let this baby fool you … she holds seasons of wisdom.
My friend noted the other day that we don’t really have good examples of people grieving AND continuing on with life. We tend to compartmentalize it, pack it away for “the right day,” put it on a shelf where it gets dusty and we can go years before our emotions catch up to us.
I want to write a new narrative around grief, at least my own.
Part of why you haven’t heard from me in a while is that about the same time that we launched our Spring Semester, my father-in-law went into hospice after a battle with pancreatic cancer that was only diagnosed in early January.
I was determined to continue on with our students and am so grateful for the grace and support they’ve offered me.
Sometimes it feels like this job saves me.
I’ve been reminded once again of the incredible power that essential oils have on our minds, hearts, and souls.
Before we knew what was coming in 2021, I signed up for the Aromatic Shamanism Mentorship with Aromagnosis and have got to witness within myself, and my classmates, how much profound healing can take place by simply smelling an oil.
It will take too long to explain how/why/what happened with this little scent strip.
Suffice it to say, I’m convinced once again that though diffusers, body oils, and room sprays are just fine and dandy, if you aren’t working with essential oils through simple inhalation, YOU’RE MISSING OUT.
You owe it to yourself to slow down, listen in, and pay attention to everything that’s happening under the surface. This is where the healing happens. This is how essential oils do their magic.
Also, it’s the simplest, most cost effective, most eco-friendly way to use aromatics.
If there’s anything I can do for the world of aromatherapy, it’s to remind us all of this truth.
I know you’re wondering what oil it is that I’m having such an experience with … but I’m going to save that for another blog.
And honestly, it really doesn’t matter what oil it is. Just pick an oil, any oil. Stop, smell, listen, repeat.
Really, pick and oil and go inward. Tell me what you find.
What are you smelling these days? Where is it taking you? Leave me a comment to let me know.
This inaugural recipe of the Inner Sanctum Library also imparts the history of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy. We share this in celebration of how it all began.
In February of 1982, I married my husband, O.V., on Valentine’s day. In the same month, I bought the salon business that I had worked at for a few years. I renamed it Rumors, in honor of Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, my obsession at the time.
Originally, I sold my collection of vintage clothes there, that I had worn and accumulated for years. I called this “Sylla’s Fancy.” (I was later known for this kind of attire—dripping lace, antique slips for dresses, layers of slips showing some lace-up boots. I loved finding something to add to my style of dressing.) Once, my friend Michael’s son (who’s now an adult) told me that when he was still a child, “I thought you were the goddess or the good fairy with your dresses.” So cute.
Pretty soon after opening, I also sold my first aromatherapy products and essential oils. Eventually, my line was called “Rumors Aromatics.” I sold oils, blends, natural perfumes, and Aveda products on the side. I also created a scent bar where my clients could sit and play with oils, to find the right scent or just smell and look.
Being the first in Tampa to offer aromatherapy, I received a bit of publicity, There were many articles and interviews in the papers, and I did talks on local TV news. Early on, my clients thought I was saying that I did “roman therapy,” wondering what the heck that might be. Now, of course, they know more than most people thanks to their early education in what was then a little-known therapy.
Rumors Signature Scent
My signature salon scent became a Rosemary and Geranium blend (recipe below). Clients would just come and sit and relax as they passed by. Others would know that they had been there due to their smiles and subtle scents. Students from the nearby University of South Florida would come to get a “study blend sniffie,” a cotton ball of Basil and Rosemary. They loved getting fresh ones for exams.
I made custom blends for massages, giving clients the remainder to “bring them back” to my table when they used them. Aromatics, aromatherapy massage, and natural facials became the rage as we became a communal gathering place for looking and feeling good. I did consults and helped a lot of people find essential oils.
My first blends included my own personal scent with a Patchouli base. This has changed yet remained the same over the years (so they say). I also made a blend for protection during meditation that includes 33 essential oils; an earthy, grounding blend with Vetiver, Patchouli, Sandalwood. Finally, there’s also the most asked for blend—our famous Rosemary and Rose Geranium House Blend.
Becoming an Aromatherapy Educator
After half a decade of playing around with oils on my own, I wanted to expand my offerings and share the knowledge I had collected. Many were also requesting classes and courses. My first classes were live, but eventually, I created the Aromatherapy Practitioner Correspondence Course for mail-order. In 1989, I created the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy as my official educational arm, separate from the oils. A few years later, after the salon had been open for 10 years, I closed Rumors and quit selling oils.
It became clear around this time that it is unethical (illegal if medical) to make claims and sell products. I couldn’t continue to teach aromatherapy and sell oils at the same time. I had seen too many so-called educational classes in the hair industry that really only wanted to sell products. So, I moved my office and salon/treatment room to my home. From there, I devoted myself to developing knowledge and experience in this field that had become my passion. I remain here today, working out of my home, seeing clients and working in my yarden …
Recipe for the Rumors Salon House Blend:
Use a 1:2-3 ratio of Rosemary (camphor type) and Geranium, depending on the sweetness of your Geranium.
Rosemary helps open up our breathing, allowing for an awakened state, heightened senses, and an alert mind.
Geranium has always been a balancer for me and many others, most especially it seems with hormones. At least, it seemed to help in those days for a bunch of fertile females in close daily contact. We were all at different places in our cycles, so it seemed to balance out those mood swings, emotional outbursts, etc.
Mix to your preference; some Geraniums are rosier (like Rose Geranium from Reunion), and some are less rosy (Chinese type); the other cineole type Rosemary will also work, but my preference has always been the camphor type for mental effects!
This blend still makes those who visited or worked at Rumors remember those days with fondness and fun. We’ll never forget the deep friendships that last to this day.
I’m so in love with Cardamom essential oil right now. Have you ever tried it? Like so many other essential oils, it has several different properties, so there are many different ways you can use it.
But learning about essential oils isn’t just about knowing how to use the oils themselves. To really get to know an oil, we also need to learn about the plant it comes from. Recently, Cardamom taught me a very important lesson (another example of how plants can be such great teachers).
Have you ever thought you knew a plant or oil pretty well—just to find out you were mistaken?
It happens all the time, even to those of us that have studied essential oils for years!
For the Inner Sanctum Library’s Deep Dive on Cardamom, I was so excited because I have a Cardamom plant in my yard.
I even took a video of it to show it off and commented that, “I don’t know if it’s placebo or what, but I feel like I can smell something in the leaves.” Some part of me knew that this was a bit curious, but I brushed it off because hey, it’s a “Cardamom” plant.
There are two lessons to this story.
One is the importance of identifying plants using their Latin names … and the second is that you should always listen to your mother.
I have to joke because she had just gifted me this mug for the holidays. And it turns out, that’s exactly what happened a few weeks later while I was studying Cardamom.
(Side note: My editor also told me that she had to correct the spelling of Cardamon a million times. She finally told me, “You mention in the Deep Dive that Cardamom has a maternal energy, so just remember that it ends in “mom.”)
It’s true. There is a tendency to blame unsafe practices and the overuse of essential oils on these kinds of companies, and that’s not without cause.
But it’s also not the whole story.
In 2013, Sylla wrote a series of blogs she calls, “Confessions of a Vintage Aromatherapist,” and one of those confessions was “I LOVE MLM Companies.”
Given some recent experiences, she decided to write an update on this post. Here it is:
I confess. I’ve said many negative things in the past about the multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that have sprung up in the last 20 years. I don’t like the way they operate using “pseudo” science, promoting extreme undiluted use and daily doses in water or capsules. I’ve accused them and judged them and called them names, and I’ve walked around with my feathers ruffled for some time. But I realized that this toxic anger actually harms me, and I’ve been learning how to release it. In doing so, I’ve come to understand how important this process is to my well-being. I’ve also discovered a few good things about these companies who I’ve treated like enemies, and it feels so much better to think about them in this light. The truth is, I’m actually thankful for them for several reasons.
First, they have been the single most influential factor in the exponential increase of people using essential oils throughout the last 15 to 20 years. I thought we did a good job after 9/11 of spreading the word on how helpful oils can be daily, but these companies get the award for inspiring the most widespread use in the masses. In a way, they’ve stolen my dream. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to help the world through aromatherapy, and these companies are so big now that my education has become a drop in the bucket. I still don’t agree with their methods, but they’re able to appeal to and introduce aromatherapy to people who may not have ever tried it, and thus they have opened a new population up to the oils that we love. This has had a huge impact worldwide, and oils are no longer considered “taboo” or “new age”.
Secondly, I have met some wonderful people who got started with these companies but moved on when they realized something was missing. Many people learned basic introductions from these companies and then became deeper seekers of truth and knowledge without the hoopla and sales pitches. This makes “IPCs” or “wellness consultants” tremendous sources for new students and customers for the educators and essential oil businesses in our field. Sure, some of these beginners may never move forward from where they start, but plenty will, and they are going to need the quality education and products that we already provide. Ideally, we should let go of the idea that it’s “us” against “them” and see that we’re all in this together. One by one, I’ve helped so many students see that education is empowerment, and that we make good choices once we realize what we don’t know!
Thirdly, I’ve found that once these new students have some knowledge to work with, they begin asking great questions. They make us research and look into their claims, and that process can impact all of us in many healthy ways. The whole industry has experienced a growth of knowledge and information in the last few years because of this. They also keep me on my toes. Now, whenever I hear a new claim, I go look at the research for myself, which gives me a good mystery to follow up on. In fact, one company created a fabulous research database that includes many oils and is freely accessible to all.
Another great result is that our students are challenged and intrigued by the things these companies and their associates put out, and they end up following rabbit holes and producing some fabulously-referenced papers that shake things up—something I love to see happening!!!
Finally, because of their financial power, they are able to donate to hospitals, including large donations for wellness centers, so more oils are available to those receiving care. This is a great leap forward into helping aromatherapy become more mainstream in integrative care. And this is big in my book.
More recently, I found the most wonderful set of books that I now use exclusively. And guess what, they are by Dr. Scott Johnson, who is now with DoTerra. I have enjoyed using his earlier book Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to the Therapeutic and Clinical Application of Essential Oils. Scott and I connected over a Facebook post, began conversing, and I realized that I totally missed this book Medicinal Essential Oils: The Science and Practice of Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy because I had my blinders on. Once I reviewed it, I saw what a valuable resource this is for our community. Then I discovered even more, a book called Supercritical Essential Oils: A Companion Resource to Medicinal Essential Oils, which covers all the CO2 extracts and more, including herbal therapy. These two giant books are fully-referenced and are my new go-tos, especially because of the safety data including medication contraindications in detail.
So you can see why I do love these companies and maybe they didn’t steal my dream after all. It wasn’t mine to begin with, and they have helped create my dream by spreading the love of these oils. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to slow down, so perhaps I could congratulate myself for having that dream so long ago, and others who also had that dream, who helped enable this spread. So yes, I am grateful for these companies afterall.
Here’s the one thing I know for sure: If we can find common ground, we have a place to stand together. I believe it’s that act that makes all the difference.
So I want to know, do you find yourself on one side of the aisle or the other when it comes to MLMs in the aromatherapy industry? If so, what do you see as the benefit of coming together, no matter your perspective?
Leave us a comment here to tell us where you stand on this sometimes controversial issue.