Rosemary: Cardinal Oil for Upward Direction

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There are 4 major directions when working on clients: Upward and Outward corresponding to Yang energy (as with Rosemary and Lavender), Inward and Downward- correlating to Yin (as with Myrhh and Spikenard)

To understand the directionality of Essential Oils, it is important to know the temperature and the depth that oils will penetrate into the body – or in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Wei, Ying or Yuan levels. It is also important to understand how and where the plants from which the oils are obtained grow.  Understanding these basics help us to accurately predict and anticipate the desired effect. As this is the first blog in a series, we will begin with the Upward direction.

The cardinal oil for the Upward direction is Rosemary. Rosemary’s temperature is warming. It enters the Ying level, the level of self or ‘I.’ This is the place where we can begin working with Emotions, Blood and Internal Qi. 

One way to remember the function of Rosemary is to consider its origin. Since it is indigenous to the land near the sea, it is thought to assist in balancing out its surroundings by absorbing the moisture from the terrain - making the environment less damp, less ‘muddy’ and firmer. Using this as an analogy, we can say that Rosemary essential oil will have a similar affect on the client. Rosemary will help the client become less soft, less passive and more assertive. This is also reflected in the way Rosemary grows in an upward and then outward direction. It is associated with the Masculine, the Yang. Its energy is Moving and penetrating.

Generally, oils that are warming will have the ability to penetrate into the organ level and stimulate this energy upwards. They are also more drying. Keep in mind that oils that go to the Ying level must move through the Wei level – and will necessarily have an impact on the Wei level as the energy moves through.  And the inverse is also true; any release of energy from the Ying level will to pass through the Wei level on its way out.

Rosemary in particular has the function to tonify the Wei Qi - the most external level of energy that is our defense against External Pathogenic Influences. This not only includes Wind, Damp, Dryness, Cold or Heat, but also people in our daily life that may be toxic to our health and situations that we find ourselves that elicit a “negative” emotional response. Rosemary will assist us in developing Personal Will and assist us in breaking the attachments from relationships that are no longer serving us providing the space to enter new ones.

In other words, Rosemary will assist in building the defense of clients, building resistance (Wei Qi) to external influences and assisting them with the ability to say no. This in turn will enable the Spleen Qi to properly Transform and Transport food, and ingest positive external events into nutrition for the body.  As energy is transformed with the use of Rosemary, Self-Assertion (Healthy Liver Qi) in the world and clear decision-making is another major effect. With that said, Rosemary will build and contribute to the character integrity. Again this happens through its ability to raise the Yang, tonify the Qi, and transform Dampness - enabling the creation of healthy personal boundaries.

In Chinese Medicinal Theory when the Spleen is healthy, it will ascend energy, and prefers dryness over dampness.  When the Spleen has a deficiency, the body will generate dampness/heaviness that impedes the proper flow of energy in the body.  Here we see a direct correlation with the Ascending and Warming function of Rosemary to the Spleen: Rosemary raises energy and assists in Maintaining Dryness, or Transforming Dampness with its warming function. This is also a correlation to where it grows. As it is often found to grow near the sea, it functions in balancing out damp conditions. This is similar to what it will do upon inhalation and application to the body.

A simpler way to understand this is to remember that heat rises and heat dries. First let’s define what it means to raise energy as it applies to massage therapy. As we know, basic massage techniques will increase circulation and increase sympathetic activity. The clear direction is upward strokes. For complimentary reasons, Rosemary is one of the best oils to use before a sports event like a cycling or running event, or any cardiovascular exercise. For this purpose, it may be blended with Frankincense and Lemongrass to help decrease or prevent injury while at the same time eliciting more endurance for cardiovascular exercise.


By: Marc Gian, L.Ac, LMT

March 7, 2019

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