Down to Earth with Vetiver and Angelica

As the earth begins its slow movement towards Spring, we can feel the stirrings of the earth in this time of new root growth. We are contemplating how to nurture the seeds that are sprouting in our lives. Lately, we are turning to earthy roots of Vetiver and Angelica for inspiration in our process of growth. 

Botanical drawing of an Angelica plant with a Vetiver root basket and scented balls.

Botanical drawing of an Angelica plant with a Vetiver root basket and scented balls.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) is a grass that grows in the tropical climates yet instead of spreading throughout the ground below as many grasses do, Vetiver roots grow straight downward. It is from this part of the plant that we obtain its medical and aromatic properties, as well as the volatile oil. The roots are dug, dried, then chopped and soaked in water to create the oil which may take up to 24 hours!  For us, it is a superior oil for pulling us back to earth, or maybe as the root growth suggests, help us dig deeper into the nutritious soil of our lives. 

Angelica Root (Angelica archangelica) oil, is also grounding but in a different way. The Angelica plant's most distinguishing feature is its burst of flowers that grows out of its leaves and creates a majestic canopy above the plant. In its first year it produces only leaves and the stem can reach six feet high. The second year sees the umbrella shaped burst of flowers in the summer which yield seeds that also create an oil. 

The scent of the root oil is also deep like vetiver but also contains a sweetness that propels us to venture forth on the next expansion of our journey. 

Together in equal proportions they make a light and airy scent as the tenacious vetiver holds back the etherial angelica. Use for meditation, wear in a necklace, or use in inhalers. Caution as Angelica is phototoxic so avoid skin use if you will be going out in the sun. 

As you move into new projects this year, use these oils to help keep you planted on the earth while still reaching towards the sky. 


Tidbits from Tony Burfield's Second Edition Natural Aromatic Materials- Odours and Origins, coming out this year:

Vetiver (java type) - Red-brown to deep brown viscous liquid. Odour is heavy sweet woody earthy­ reminiscent of roots and wet soil with a rich undertone of precious wood. Long-lasting.  Dry-out is woody-earthy and creamy with a slight smoky aspect.
Angelica Root - It is a pale yellow to brown oil, usually darker than the seed oil, with a­ pungent, heady, fatty, liqueur odour with some fruitiness, and peppery aspect. Dry-out is tobacco, fatty, spicy/cumin-like.