What would the world be without leaves of plants? And what would the plant be without leaves? Simply to say: NOTHING – impossible to think otherwise as much as we cannot think of the Earth without air, a human being without lungs or a fire without heat. The Green Leaves are the global lungs of our planet – their breath bestows the most vital energy to all living beings on Earth.
We can also call the leaves “solar batteries” of Mother Nature, because they drink, store and transform Sun light in the most fascinating way and use this light – not only for photosynthesis to breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, but also for multiple pathways inside the plant’s own living structures. No wonder that numerous essential oils stem from the leaves and their incredible dynamics of transformation.
The threefold structure of Nature – a universal principle
The ancient wisdom of humanity divided the plants into three different levels
First: The roots – naturally connected to the earth. From there they absorb water and minerals, the latter with the help of tiny little fungi called “mycorrhizae” which form the underground network of the so called “soil food web”. They are a “symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant. The term mycorrhizae refers to the role of the fungus in the plant’s rhizosphere, its root system. Mycorrhizae play important roles in plant nutrition, soil biology, and soil chemistry.”
And important: contrary to the other organs of the plant, the roots hide away from light. Most of them would die if exposed to light for too long. Essential oils from the roots naturally carry the earth element in them and thereby help us to ground and harmonize our energies. This expresses itself also in their biochemistry showing richer presence of denser compounds such as sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols for example.
Second: The blossoms – they are naturally connected to the light – and not only to the light but also in a very subtle way to the invisible “astral environment”, the realm of “pranic” energies, of colours, fragrances etc. Actually, the famous German poet and Nature scientist J.W. von Goethe was not wrong when he said that the blossom is nothing else than a metamorphosis of the leaf.
Of course, in its effulgent energy and transformational skill the blossom is the one which carries the burden and joy of attraction, seed production, procreation… which means also shorter lived in its existence, but also much more capable of expressing the creative skills of Mother Nature: Infinite playfulness and richness of elements of beauty – thanks to endless varieties of perfume, shape and colour. Also, this finds its echo in the essential oils of the blossoms which are amazingly abundant in biochemical richness and fragrance – often highly seductive and even aphrodisiac for the human psyche.
Coming to the third: The leaves – are mostly “right in the middle” between the root and the blossom. They do not occupy this place by coincidence of course. Nature loves to play with the threefold pattern of the Universe – and where there is an opposition, as between the roots and the blossoms, there must naturally be an intermediate agent who passes the informational flow from one to the other, imbibing itself with both of the opposite values.
In the ancient knowledge of Alchemy the leaves are understood as an element of “Mercurius” the mediator, the one which is in the middle and knows how to connect. Whereas the roots represent the value of “Sal” or the mineral world, and the blossoms the element of “Sulfur”, the one which stretches out to the “other realm”, understood as the “astral” level – which can also extend to a higher level of plant evolution, for example to the animal kingdom (insects etc.).
The root of the plant is striving to get nearer to the matter fields (minerals, earth) of Nature. The blossom of the plant can be understood as nearer to the astral (consciousness) fields of Nature – nearer to its transformational energy fields. And the leaves, fluctuating between the two, are the main initiators and organizers of the “here and now” in their creative intelligence of opening up with their wide “fans” to the light and “metabolizing” the light in rhythms of vital inhalation and exhalation.
Yes, leaves are the light givers, and they are the connectors between the gravitational (root) and anti-gravitational (blossom) principle in Nature. But they are not less “desirous” to link themselves to the finer strata of energies, let it be environmental or cosmic.
“Plants ‘eat’ so to say cosmic and stellar energies. It is with their leaves that they suck in the vital forces hidden in the waves of light, store them in their tissues and – by allowing themselves to be ‘eaten’ – transmit these vital forces to other creatures.”
Wolf-Dieter Storl, Pflanzendevas
We are often not fully aware of the power of essential oils stemming from this inherent vital dynamism of the leaves and their subtle connection with “Prana” or the “intelligent life force” of creation. Wolf-Dieter Storl describes it in his beautiful book on Plant Devas:
“Plants transmit to us the primordial sound or mantra of the Universe and thus offer life to us. Plants are able to connect the here and now with the beyond. In the sacred language of the Vedas, plants are called Oshadhi (Aushadhi). The meaning of this word is “OSA” (burning transformation) and DHI (vessel). In this sense plants are considered vessels for creating a metamorphosis of the cosmic fire.”
Wolf-Dieter Storl, Pflanzendevas –
cf. also Vasant Lad / David Frawley, “The Yoga of Herbs”
Glory to the Leaves and their essential oils
Everything absorbs light on Earth – and of course sunlight is the most important energy charger on our planet – visible and invisible waves which foster life in their unique mixture of frequency bands. Also, the chemical composition of essential oils is influenced by the various qualities of light available in different geographic zones of the Earth. Leaves are major agents for making the enormous richness and varieties of essential oils available.
What would we do with our own existence without the magic of plant photosynthesis allowing the leaves to absorb sunlight and carbondioxide, combining this with water from the roots and sending out an infinity of energy and biochemical impulses of growth to the inner realm of the plants’ existence? Yes, truly: Sunlight is the universal „mitochondria“ of the worlds – vibrating in every nerve, every fibre of the plant with memories of the first impulses of creation through all eternities!
And photosynthesis, the „synthesis or combined transformation through light“ is only possible thanks to the leaves! Chlorophyll is the “green master engineer“ in this process – capturing the energy of the Sun and transforming his light into biochemical energy. Chlorophyll, this enigmatic “sorcerer of transformation” captures light particles and thereby gets into such a high state of energy that the molecules of water (H2O) are split. Only through this process oxygen can be released into the atmosphere. In a second reaction, carbon dioxide (CO2) is then absorbed from the air and synthesized into glucose and starch – with the help of the remaining hydrogen atoms from the water – creating the famous carbohydrates that are the basic building blocks of life.
Through this process, the leaves of the plants – at the atomic and particle level – are able to transform inorganic molecules into organic ones. Quite a miracle indeed! And this “plant factory” of carbohydrates through the leaves is the basic centre for all life processes on Earth.
As Wolf-Dieter Storl says:
“Photosynthesis builds up between 100-200 billion tons of organic matter every year.“
Wolf-Dieter Storl, Pflanzendevas
To summarize: From oxygen, hydrogen and carbon the plant will create its “skeleton” or hardware, according to its specific genetic code. But only in certain cases, the glucose or starches etc., which it has created with the help of the sun, will be transformed into essential oils. The plant will store these in specific glands – and even „consumes“ them to a certain degree if it lacks sunlight due to sudden climatic changes.
And who would think of all this when we eat a salad or any part of a plant? And who would think of this when we are inhaling a Clary Sage oil that in a sense we fuse with cosmic energies via Nature’s alchemy and power of transformation?
We can empower ourselves endlessly by allying ourselves with Nature and her wonderful gifts in the plant kingdom. What is written in the ancient texts of India on the “Siddhis”, about the special powers that humans can acquire?
The powers are revealed at birth, or acquired through plants (‚oshadhi‘), repeating sacred words, austerities or Samadhi (Janma osadhi mantra tapah samadhi jah siddhya-yah)
Patanjali, Yoga Sutras, Chapter 4 4.1
Leaves not only breathe – but they can also protect
Of course, when we think of leaf oils, we immediately associate ourselves with the respiratory system. So many essential oils stemming from leaves are wonderful helpers for our bronchi and lungs. Myrtle, Eucalyptus, Niaouli, Cajeput, Rosemary, all the Conifers, Tea Tree, Bay Laurel etc. Leaves are natural signature givers for our breathing system, with no doubt. And as already mentioned, most of the aromatic treasures of essential oils are stemming from leaves.
But leaves can also include other features. Normally, most of the water for a plant is provided by the roots. But also the leaves absorb water to a certain degree from rainfall, dew, and atmospheric humidity. This is not always the case…
The Cistus plant, for example, is special in this context. Breathing is one thing, and Cistus does it perfectly well. But with its labdanum resin-like substance on the surface of its leaves, Cistus protects itself against dehydration – a major threat under the hot sun around the Mediterranean regions.
It is these leaves which are distilled to yield the precious Cistus ladaniferus essential oil – a powerful wound healer in aromatherapy. It is not surprizing to understand the antiseptic and wound-healing effects of Cistus ladaniferus leaf oil. The “epicuticular leaf wax“ on Cistus not only functions as a modulator for water balance in the plant and thereby protecting the plant against dehydration, but the essential oil (linked to the plant wax) further adds an important anti-microbial defence to this.
In terms of „signature reading“ this capacity makes us understand the strong protective “screening capacity” of Cistus oil for wound healing including its efficiency to build up a shield against bacterial or fungal infections on the human epidermis.
Another example of leaf protection is the Lotus. The “Nelumbo” is famous for the so-called “Lotus effect”. This is nothing else than a self-cleaning or surface protective effect of the very special leaves of the plant,
“a result of ultrahydrophobicity as exhibited by the leaves of Nelumbo or lotus flower. Dirt particles are picked up by water droplets due to the micro- and nanoscopic architecture on the surface, which minimizes the droplet’s adhesion to that surface.
Ultrahydrophobicity and self-cleaning properties are also found in other plants… and also on the wings of certain insects.”
In ancient India the sacred Lotus was always considered to symbolize “invincibility”. The large leaves exposed to constant water and its impurities are protecting the plant due to its impenetrable leaves – a natural “kavach” as the Vedic philosophy describes it. Meaning: an invisible armour for natural defence. Maybe it is not too far-fetched to consider the Lotus blossom oil also in this context as a powerful protective plant oil – stemming from the intrinsic shielding energy of Lotus as such…
The essential oils of leaves represent very special dynamics within the rich world of plant medicine. The evolutionary pattern of the leaves was to help make our planet inhabitable in the beginning of life on Earth by clearing the atmosphere from toxic gases and creating a condition for all respiratory processes of life. Meaning also: for all “spirit-processes” of life, namely allowing to rise, encouraging to grow, helping to connect etc. In their ascending and horizontal dynamics – opposite to the descending force of the roots and the ascending force of the blossoms – the dynamics of the leaves in itself serve as a natural vortex or energizer allowing the interchange of polarities to happen and thereby functioning as a mediator and receptor of cosmic and earthbound energies.
Leaves, with their mainly 2-dimensional structures, often large and “receptive”, allow maximum exposure to solar, lunar and stellar forces. As „eaters“ of sunlight and as the carbohydrate transformers via photosynthesis – the magic “synthesis of light into matter” – they represent the “mercurial” messenger value in Nature. This is a powerful process of energy.
Considering all this, we may associate ourselves in so many different ways with the numerous essential oils from leaves and on the one hand observe (or admire?) their immense variety and on the other hand also learn to trust – on a common basis of understanding – that the leaf oils will never leave us without an answer.:)