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Spikenard For Transformation

November 17, 2016 , , , , ,

Nardostachys jatamansi

Nardostachys jatamansi




Spikenard has been used for centuries as both a healing and a ceremonial plant.  It is mentioned many times in the bible.  In the Song of Songs  4:13-14, the bridegroom sings of spikenard:

Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates
With pleasant fruits,
Fragrant henna with spikenard,
spikenard and saffron,
calamus and cinnamon,
with every kind of incense tree,
with myrrh and aloes,
and all the finest spices.

The most well known biblical reference to spikenard is found in Mark 14:3-9, New King James Version

The Anointing at Bethany
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.

6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

Many people know the phrase the poor will be with you always, but few know the context or the meaning.  Mary Magdelene was preparing for Passover with Jesus, attending a seder at Simon the Leper’s house in Jerusalem.  She anointed Jesus’ feet with spikenard then dried the excess oil with her hair.  This is symbolic at many levels.  She was devout sitting at his feet, but she uncovered her hair, which a Jewish woman would not have normally done.  This business annoyed Judas, a guy known for stealing from the poor box.  Judas wants to know why she did not sell the spikenard and put the proceeds in the poor box so he can steal it.  Jesus explains that she is anointing him for burial.  There is some discussion about whether it was his feet or his head or both that she anointed.  This was not the main issue.  She used a great deal of fragrant oil and then went around with it all in her hair as a human incense.  This act was extremely unusual and divinely inspired.  You notice Mary did not make it into the last supper paintings, but she has been depicted anointing.

Mary Magdalene at Bethany

Mary Magdalene at Bethany

Pope Francis has used the spikenard in his coat of arms because in the Catholic church it represents Saint Joseph.

Pope Francis coat of arms

Pope Francis coat of arms

I like to wear some around my neck and shoulders when I feel I need to transform anything.  I also love to fragrance my home with it, especially during winter.  Although I guess it is an Easter symbol, I find the deep notes that linger in the air uplift my spirit in the darkest days.  I buy a high quality  essential oil, run a diffuser in my home, and also take it with me to the steam room for another way to feature it. I learned about spikenard kind of late in life, but am happily impressed with the results when I use it.  It is a deep root note in perfume that holds the bass note long after the high notes have evaporated.  Not everyone will love the smell as a single note, but with some mixing it works for most tastes.  I am fond of mixing frankincense, myrrh and spikenard together, which are all very deep notes.  I feel it lingering in the air. I like to saturate my home for full effects.  Do you use essential oils, gentle reader?  Aromatherapy is powerful medicine, often with deep historical meaning.  The physical potential is excellent, but the symbolic and magical significance of spikenard can take you to a new place.

What do you think?

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I have never heard of this plant before… and it sounds amazing.I do recognize the blossoms but I think they were featured in professional floral arrangements and not in any of the gardens I have seen.


Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

November 23, 2016

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