Black Spruce: When Situations Become Overwhelming

Oct 13, 08:42 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

The past week has been very difficult for several of my clients and friends, who have been hard hit by business or personal crisis. They have found themselves in situations that are so emotionally overwhelming that they are barely able to function. Each of these situations has occurred because of something or someone that is completely beyond their control, and they feel disempowered and burdened by grief.

When crisis shuts someone down, I reach for a powerful yet vastly underutilized essential oil: black spruce. Spruce is a relative newcomer to aromatherapy, and is of particular interest because it is distilled from the branches of a native North American tree.

Black spruce (Picea mariana) has numerous traditional uses in Native American culture, where the pitch or fibers were used as binding or sealing agents in the construction of dwellings, canoes, weapons and tools. Similarly, black spruce has a binding effect on emotions which have become scattered and uncontrolled due to crisis. When an individual can begin to gather up and sort their emotions, they are able to view the crisis from a clearer vantage point.

Spruce resonates strongly with the Survivor archetype. Survivors can often fall into Victim archetype when under duress, and victims are disempowered people. This oil boosts self esteem and self confidence while banishing feelings of helplessness. Black spruce can impart both spiritual and emotional fortitude, allowing the victim to take back their power. It is particularly effective when combined with Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica), whose Arabic name, kedron, is associated with unassailable spiritual strength.

Those who are in crisis are often physically exhausted, and spruce is useful for asthenia, lack of energy and nervous tension. It protects the lungs (the organs of grief in traditional Asian medicine), guarding against colds and flu that can suddenly overpower someone who is tired and distraught. 

The energetic qualities of black spruce reach out to individuals who are mired in despair, suffering and guilt. Regular use of the oil encourages formation of healthy boundaries, allowing a person to operate from a place of strength while having to negotiate with those who normally disempower them.

Lastly, spruce is associated with the need for forgiveness and acceptance of the part one has played in the crisis situation. Once an individual has recognized the need for self forgiveness, they can proceed to heal their grief by introducing essential oils such as rose otto, bergamot, benzoin and vetivert.

Using black spruce as the primary note in an aromatherapy blend for ovewhelming situations provides a gentle and subtle form of healing. It combines beautifully with flower essence remedies such as Five Flower (Rescue Remedy), star of bethlehem, elm and centaury. The clarity, grounding, energy and confidence provided by this oil are restorative and empowering to anyone in crisis.

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