For me, blending is a language of allowing by understanding a material's complexities and how they reveal themselves at each stage of their life—the essence speaks for itself—with no interference. Essentially, I do nothing.
Here, some insights into some of my favorite signatures and sandalwood themes—the foundational fragrance that informs our beloved Kashmir balm.
Sandalwood is a continuously flowering, semi-parasitic evergreen that obtains a portion of its nourishment and water by withdrawing these from the roots of other trees—a parasitism adaptation that compensates for its ability to develop functional roots. It derives sufficient water and nutrients from its hosts to continuously bloom and create large quantities of essential oil, while its green leaves make it capable of photosynthesis.
Sandalwood grows in mountainous dry open areas. It cultivates to a height of 2 to 3 feet and has smooth gray-brown bark, drooping branches, and evergreen or lanceolate, smooth, opposite leaves. The tree's numerous flowers lack fragrance and are small, of various hues (pink, red, violet, yellow), arranged in clusters, and round, black, pea-sized fleshy fruit. Sandalwood essential oil occurs only in trees that are at least 25-years-old, and it's generally harvested from trees between 30- and 60-years-old.
The people of India venerate sandalwood because they believe it emanates a great spiritual radiance and protective energies. They also consider it a symbol of vitality. Sandalwood is used in incense and perfume and is regarded as an aid to meditation and spiritual devotion. In Ayurvedic medicine, sandalwood is considered to be bitter, cooling, relaxing, and contracting. It is often used as a poultice for inflammation and various skin issues related to dryness such as aging, dehydrated skin, and itchiness.
Sandalwood has long been considered specific for dry, cracked aging skin (its affinity for aging skin may be linked with the trees' maturity from which the oil is distilled). It is thought to increase elastin and collagen's water retention capacity, improve skin capillary circulation, hydrate the intercellular spaces, and support the connective tissue found there. The oil also stimulates sexual and mucosal secretions and decongests the lymph and venous system.
Following the removal of the sandalwood tree's outer bark, the inner light contained in its oil is no longer obscured by the protective layers that facilitated its existence in the material world. Now the oil's spiritual properties are made accessible. These include an experience of inner unity of mind, body, spirit, awareness of inner soul life, enhancement of higher consciousness and related creativity; relaxation of the conscious mind; and aiding of meditation, prayer, and spiritual practice. This nexus of "heartwood and spirit" also suggests a correlation between sandalwood and Heart Shen, that aspect of the spirit body which resides in the heart.
-Excerpted from Berkowsky's Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils
In Chinese medicine, sandalwood is used to dispel cold and relates to a particular aspect of the warmth process described as Kidney Yang or Fire Kidney. Kidney Yang is said to kindle the fire of metabolism. It sparks the metabolic processes and warms the body. When Kidney Yang is robust, the individual has a strong resistance to cold and other forms of stress, vigorous digestive power, and consistent sexual potency.
On an emotional level, sandalwood oil may prove useful for anxiety, nervous tension, depression, grief, feelings of isolation, aggressive behavior, obsessive worry, insecurity, stuckness in the past, and self-centeredness.
On a spiritual level, sandalwood supports the experience of inner unity of mind, body, and spirit; awareness of inner soul life, enhancement of higher consciousness and related creativity, relaxation of the conscious mind, meditation, prayer and spiritual practice, peace, and acceptance.