Ginger Lily helps us through the Dark Night of the Soul

Ginger Lily, also called Kapoor Kachri, helps us through the dark night of the soul and replaces Palo Santo, which is critically endangered.

Kapoor Kachri (Hedychium spicatum) is commonly known as spiked ginger lily and is native to China, the Himalayas, Thailand and Ethiopia, where it grows in moist soil and shaded areas in mixed forests. It grows to about 1meter tall and has green leaves and elegant, white flowers with orange sexual organs and receptacle. Its Latin name Hedychium comes from hedys meaning “sweet” and chios meaning “snow” and refers to the white flowers that have a strong, floral scent.

The essential oil is distilled from the roots and widely used in perfumery where it is referred to as ‘ginger lily oil’.  There is also an absolute of ginger lily, which is prepared from the blossoms, and while this has a mystifying floral aroma, it lacks the earthiness of the essential oil made from the root. Meanwhile, the root essential oil carries within it the mystifying, light-filled aroma of the blossoms.

We love this oil because it has everything we were looking for in an aroma that brings together the earth, the roots, the dustiness of decay with the spice and pungency of a deep soulful fragrance. This layering of scents works really well with the alchemical stage mortificatio. Up until finding Kapoor Kachri essential oil we were at a loss to find a replacement for Palo Santo essential oil that symbolized the light of new life that rises from the dirt and decay. We had come to a decision that the Palo Santo tree (Bursera graveolens) is too endangered, at risk for extinction, for us to use, teach about or sell Palo Santo essential oil. For us, Palo Santo was the perfect aromatic ally for the mortificatio stage and we had spent several years unsuccessfully searching for a replacement.

What a relief to finally find an oil that has a similar energy. Everything has a cycle and at some point, everything that was once valued must die, fall back to the earth and decay. This holds true for nature, and also relationships, habits, beliefs, ways of being, values. It is often a painful process to allow a part of us to die with as little struggle as possible, to let go of something that we put a lot of energy and investment into. We need to remember that without decomposition in nature and in our psyches, there will be no humus for the new growth to be nourished on. Without going through the decay, often called ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ our psyches remain stuck. Mortificatio is a natural and necessary stage to go through for us to reach Separatio and Conjuctio, to heal and evolve and complete the alchemical cycle, which brings a transcendent perspective. We need to go through the dying stage to be reborn psychically.

Kapoor Kachri reminds us of this. Its layers of aroma create a beautiful relationship between a deep earthiness and a sparkly aliveness, that seems hidden at first and then bursts forth. Smelling it, we are simultaneously pulled into the dark earth, while at the same time made aware of the myriad of fresh life sparks that come from it. What hits me most about this oil is the movement that it generates. It is in the movement that we find solace. As long as there is movement there is life. It is when stagnation comes upon us that illness sets in. A healthy death, be it the ultimate, physical death or the stage in the cycle when parts of us die psychologically, involves movement and new life of some sort – Kapoor kachri really does hold this message in its aromatic signature. Kapoor Kachri reminds us that in the darkest night, is the seed of the new sunrise.

So, if you are struggling with letting go of something, or a part of your life is falling away and its painful, this oil is here to support you and to help the psyche transit through this stage with as little resistance as possible. Its gently sedative action helps us to allow what is finished to decompose by muffling the anxiety and encouraging us to be a witness rather than fighting against this necessary transition. When we feel lost in the dark night of the soul, it reminds us of the hidden seed of light and new life and the promise of what is to come.

We’ve also decided to rename the oil Ginger Lily Root (Kapoor Kachri), to distinguish it from the absolute and since Kapoor Kachri is a bit of a tongue twister for many of us.