The journey of the wounded healer is central to the work of AromaGnosis. The more I advance on my journey, the more I realize that ancestral healing is a pivotal part of the wounded healer’s journey in the modern world.
Many people suffer from a feeling of not fully belonging, a lack of connection within themselves. As an herbalist and aromatherapist, I have worked deeply for years now to help people reconnect with nature, with the plants and trees. But the journey did not, as I had imagined, stop there.
Three years ago, I left Europe to come and live in New Mexico. I left behind the flora that I had become so attached to and that I knew so well. I was surprised at first that I did not, as I had imagined, feel the impulse to go out and learn all the new desert plants. Of course, the ones I needed came to me. Somehow, I felt I was on someone else’s territory and I needed permission and also, I felt the plants were asking me to go deeper into connection in a different way.
Plants have strong ancestral lineages themselves. Studies have shown they even look after the young and the elders of their own species in a conscious way. I had a strong feeling that the plants were asking me to unearth and heal my own ancestral story. What better a place to find myself in than New Mexico where the Native culture is still very strong. This land that has been a place where the ancestors have been worshipped for thousands of years encouraged me and held me as I undertook this journey.
I felt especially drawn to my maternal line for two reasons. First, I had sensed since I was a young child that there were some deep secrets in that thread. Second, I feel that the mitochondrial DNA that is passed down only though the maternal line holds what is being called ‘the rising feminine’.
We hear a lot these days about the ‘rising feminine’ or the ‘feminine rising’ and I feel this force that is making itself felt in the world is coming from our maternal lineage. There is a golden thread of remembering that weaves its way through all the women in each of our maternal lineages. It holds the stories of all those women, the mothers and grandmothers for many, many generations.
Unfortunately, many of those stories passed down through the mtDNA thread involve women being repressed, their identities changed or hidden. It involves them being killed for being witches, sold, beaten, colonized. It is these women, our ancestral mothers, who are rising. Rising to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be named, to take back their rightful place,and to be healed.
I could not ignore the call. The journey has taken me both inwards and out into the world. It is intense and magical. It is a journey that I am not taking alone. I am accompanied byother women in my ancestral line. This journey is for myself, my ancestors and for all women. Each of our journeys involves a personal lineage and a collective. I believe these journeys need to be taken for global health.
Many people ask me what they can do if they do not have any information about their lineage. I tell them that our bodies are wise, they know. I have found that in untying the knots and following the thread inwards, my body tells me when I am on the right path. Like a lynx in the woods at dusk, I sense and smell my way. I use oils that help to liberate cellular information. I use ritual and offerings to invite help and accompaniment from my healthy ancestors. Our grandmothers and great grandmothers have co-created this healing journey. They are working with us. They are the rising feminine.
I have found that the material information that backs up my ancestral story always comes when it is needed. When I have a hunch about something and travel inwards to explore, I often find the right information arrives simultaneously to back it up. It is important of course to at the same time search outside in the world, to knock on doors and start to investigate.
A few years ago, I would not have believed that I would have been able to discover my Assamese great-great-grandmother and even have a piece of her beautiful Assamese handwriting. Now I know, anything is possible in these journeys.
I travelled to India to trace my ancestral story. I came back with aromatic medicines that mend the broken threads. The attars that we offer on the cathysattars.com website are these healing scents. They are the magic that mends, that reminds me I belong.
In France, where I spent 25 years of my life, the word for ‘smell’ is also exactly the same word that means ‘to feel’ or to ‘perceive’. In ancient Egypt, the Gods’ sweat was perfume. Scent has always been linked to the divine, to the sacred. I have found that it is scent that is the invisible link that enables me to connect, repair and nourish the relationship with my ancestors and their homeland. By working with these ancient ‘out of the world’ aromas, the scents stitch the years of pain and separation back together again. They also give me a sense of belonging. They anchor me in my ancestral lineage.
It feels so good to work with the scents that I know were familiar to my great-great-grandmother and her children. I was the first one of my maternal line not born in India. My mother held the guarded secret of our ancestry and now the attars unlock it.
These sacred and ancient attars enable me to heal my ancestors. My ancestors were poor, from the low castes, but now, every day I consciously anoint and massage them with these precious scents. Scents that they could only dream of using as they smelt them waft past in the street. Now they enjoy them through me. I honor my ancestors and slide into my place of belonging, wrapped in an aromatic veil of rose and mitti attar.
And I have to say, it is not just the attars, but the slowly deepening relationship with Moosa Khan, the man behind the alembics. A man with his own ancestral story of attar production through generations that is part of this weaving and healing and coming home.
It is through these beautiful attars that I heal myself and the past and feel I belong. The belonging becomes my earth, echoed by the mitti attar made from the earth of India. Once I feel I belong, then I can shine. And when I shine, my ancestors shine with me. We are one and we are healing. These are the gifts of my birthright: Rose, jasmine, mitti, tuberose, and others. With the help of these beautiful plant beings, I am able to transform the inherited pain into a sense of belonging. It is with this sense of belonging and renewed continuity that the past, the present and future generations are healed. With these ancestral scents I can repair. I can mend the broken stories and remember the deep, ancient gifts that flow in my blood. It is through these beautiful Indian attars and oils that I can honor my ancestors and reconnect to myself, to nature, and to the world.
That is the story behind Cathysattars.com. If you were wondering why Cathy Skipper is selling Indian attars, now you know. I am bringing something home, a scent of belonging. I warmly invite you to discover an aromatic story with many parts waiting to be discovered.