The Spiritual Significance of Frankincense and Myrrh

For thousands of years, frankincense and myrrh have been prized for their spiritual properties and used in sacred rituals. These ancient aromatic resins have an enduring legacy and remain highly valued today for meditation, prayer, and connecting to the divine. But what accounts for the timeless spiritual allure of frankincense and myrrh?

Frankincense and myrrh possess unique psychoactive compounds that have long been associated with heightened consciousness, introspection, and accessing mystical states. Understanding the history of their spiritual use and exploring ways to harness their mind-altering properties can enrich modern practice. Examining their scientific properties also sheds light on how these oils elevate focus and awareness.

Ancient Spiritual Traditions Surrounding Frankincense and Myrrh

Frankincense and myrrh have been burned as incense and offered as sacred gifts across religions and cultures since ancient times. In Ancient Egypt, these resins were presented to honor Ra and various deities, burned at temples and used in burial embalming to bless the journey into the afterlife. In Ancient China, frankincense and myrrh smoke carried prayers to ancestors and gods at family and state altars. In Ancient Mesopotamia, bundles of these resins were burned in offerings to deities. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used frankincense and myrrh as part of their religious rites.

In the Old Testament, frankincense and myrrh were specifically designated for temple offerings to God. The smoke was believed to rise to heaven, carrying prayers and petitions. When presented to the infant Jesus, the Magi’s gifts of frankincense and myrrh acknowledged his divine nature. Early Christian churches also used frankincense and myrrh incense during ceremonies and formal blessings. In fact, most religions–from Hinduism to Wicca–have utilized these aromatic resins in rituals and formal rites.

Purification Symbolism

A key symbolic aspect of frankincense and myrrh spiritually is purification. Burning these resins was believed to sanctify spaces, cleanse negative energy, and create an elevated atmosphere. Frankincense and myrrh smoke represents prayers and offerings rising pure to the heavens. Many faiths continue using frankincense and myrrh to purify places of worship like churches, temples or mosques before public ceremonies.

Aid to Prayer and Contemplation

Frankincense and myrrh have also been integral aids enhancing prayer and contemplation in most religions. Their sweet, earthy fragrances have long been believed to help link human and spirit realms. Burning these resins during prayer intensifies focus, grounds awareness, and seeks to make divine connection more tangible.

Frankincense and Myrrh’s Psychoactive Compounds

Modern research has started unraveling why frankincense and myrrh have maintained their popularity for enhancing spiritual practice. These oils contain unique psychoactive compounds that stimulate specific regions of the brain when smelled or ingested. This accounts for their long association with enhanced mystical awareness and inward focus common across faiths and cultures. Understanding their scientific properties offers insights on using them.

Frankincense Compounds and Effects

Frankincense contains sesquiterpenes like alpha-pinene and limonene that can cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate the limbic system which controls emotions, behavior, and long-term memory. This can deepen introspection, reminiscing, and connectivity to one’s past. Frankincense also contains incensole acetate, which modulates anxiety and activates TRPV3 channels in the brain, making users more sensitive and attuned to sensory stimuli during spiritual activities like meditation.

Myrrh Compounds and Effects

Myrrh essential oil contains sesquiterpenes like furanodiene and curzerene which stimulate the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system, releasing dopamine and serotonin for an uplifted, focused state ideal for prayer or meditation. Myrrh also contains eugenol which calms systemic inflammation for relaxation, and cuminaldehyde which reduces anxiety. This compounds enhance spiritual practices by relaxing the body and focusing the mind.

Frankincense and Myrrh Usage for Meditation

Frankincense and myrrh can be used in various ways to enhance meditation and inward reflection. Their aromas create an atmosphere conducive to quiet contemplation.

Diffusion Techniques

Diffusing frankincense and myrrh essential oils is ideal for meditation spaces. Ultrasonic diffusers work best to vaporize the oils and disperse their aroma throughout an area. With diffusion, participants get the benefits of these centering aromas without needing to directly burn the resins. The diffusion method allows oils to be blended and their fragrances calibrated for specific meditation sessions.

Topical Application

Applying diluted frankincense or myrrh oil to pulse points can also have a focusing, relaxing effect before meditation. The oils absorb into the skin, enter the bloodstream, and their compounds travel to the brain for psychotropic benefits. Favorite pulse points are behind the ears, the temples, wrists, and bottoms of feet. Adding frankincense or myrrh to massage oil enhances awareness and calmness.

Burning Raw Resins

Burning raw frankincense or myrrh resins with charcoal discs or an incense burner can set an ambiance for meditation. The smoke’s movement, scent, and the act of burning engage the senses fully. Set aside meditative time to just observe the burning resins as a mindfulness exercise.

Ways to Incorporate Frankincense and Myrrh Spiritually

Frankincense and myrrh are versatile oils that can enhance personal devotionals as well as group ceremonies. Here are some ideas for leveraging their spiritual resonance:

Personal Prayer Enhancement

Diffusing frankincense and myrrh during home prayer times like meditation, yoga, or devotional journaling establishes a sacred atmosphere. Their aromas enhance focus, reflection, and connection to the divine.

Congregational Ceremonies

Include frankincense and myrrh smoke or oils in group ceremonies to unify consciousness and intention. Censing communal spaces purifies the energy and aligns the environment with the ritual.

Creating Dedicated Spiritual Space

Demarcate personal sacred space for spiritual practices using frankincense and myrrh. Diffusing their oils or burning the resins distinguishes this space from the mundane through sensory cues.

Home Altars or Shrines

Place resins or oils of frankincense and myrrh on home altars, shrines or personal devotional spaces. Their presence instantly connects the area to millennia of mystical traditions surrounding these spiritual botanicals.

Focused Group Meditation

Diffuse frankincense and myrrh essential oils in rooms used for group meditation, yoga, or retreats. Their aromas help synchronize energy and deepen focus on inward contemplation or guided visualization.

Across centuries and cultures, frankincense and myrrh have maintained their popularity for enhancing spiritual connection and introspective practices. Their unique psychoactive properties stimulate the mind and flavor sensory experience in ways ideal for prayer, meditation, or focused rituals. Honoring the ancient heritage surrounding these oils, while also applying scientific insights on their compound effects, promises to enhance their spiritual potential moving forward.