This blog post is a love letter to Frankincense Neglecta, and a thorough explainer as to why I chose this specific species of resin to incorporate into Elastic Heart.
Frankincense Neglecta is a lesser used form of Frankincense as there is an absence of Boswellic acids. Only a select few types of Frankincense contain these medicinal compounds - but that doesn’t discount the remaining species of this beautiful tree from making a big impact on our physical, spiritual, and emotional well being.
Frankincense Neglecta is a type of resin collected by women of the Samburu Tribe in Northern Kenya. The vendor I’ve found has formed a relationship with these women to get fair wages for this labor, and in doing so have allowed more autonomy and resilience within their lives. By utilizing ingredients that are fairly traded and sustainably harvested, I believe we open a gateway to an energetic conversation that allows for support and healing on both sides. You and I will likely never come into physical contact with those who first hold these plant materials, but these resins connect us in ways outside of space time.
While myrrh is typically associated with the Moon and all things lunar- Frankincense is associated with the Sun. I don’t often casually mention astrological significations because I have so much to say to lay a proper foundation before I begin. Those writings will come in time.
But for now, remember that the Sun corresponds with the constellation Leo- the Lion. Often regarded as royalty, bravery, kingship and the most theatrical displays of these traits, the sign of Leo also corresponds (for my work) to the heart and lungs by way of the diaphragm. I’m often inspired by medical astrology to guide me in the weaving of plant spirits for these symphonies. For a blend that is about a strong heart in the face of difficult changes and despair- a heart centered resin seems appropriate. Centuries of use across cultures, religions, and mystical applications would tend to agree.
As I searched for the perfect species of Frankincense for this blend, the vendor of Black Frankincense Neglecta added a specific footnote in their description that caught my eye. They mentioned that infused into oil, this resin has a unique and almost instant calming effect on an anxious heart and mind. Much like a genetic cross between a conifer and a Boswellia, the ability to open the chest both physically (by helping to break up phlegm and soothe nasal passages when sick) and energetically (calming the anxiety and feeling sad due to illness). Upon trying this myself, I found it to be an accurate assessment.
Absolute perfection for my purpose, and understandable that such a resin would have an emotional effect on the heart space. This is one of the many reasons why we want to work towards removing gender based thinking when understanding astrological concepts. No one would, at a Western first glance, associate the tender heartspace with that of a masculine kingly lion. And yet, it is exactly that from which a brave heart in the face of change comes. Not all heart based feelings are feminine or lunar my friends! And strength does not come from a lack of emotionality.
So too we can understand alchemically why such an ingredient would be beneficial to us in any blend aimed at protecting and strengthening our resilience during times of emotional trial.
This resin’s structure as interwoven with the surrounding earth is particularly of interest to me. When a tree is wounded, the resin seeps from the wound and covers the exposed, vulnerable portions. The antiseptic, anti fungal, and anti inflammatory properties of many tree resins makes more sense when you realize that they are a physical act of protection, healing, and defense. Much as our own blood and immune system kick into overdrive when our skin is broken, trees weep resin to heal themselves from natures inevitable destructive cycles.
This resin by nature is mixed with a good amount of other environmental materials when collected. Unlike the prized, almost clear vibrant green, silver, and red tears of Hojari Sacras, All types of Black Frankincense are deeply intermingled with bark, sand, dirt and grit from where they reside. "White" resins are often the result of a first effort to cover a brand new, deep wound. Black resins, alternately, may deal with the aftermath or micro cuts of these over time. Their darker color possibly comes from additional elements of nature having mingled with the tree wound. But this, as above so below, with every physical action becomes a signifier for our hearts and spirits.
Grief, fear, uncertainty, trauma, all leave our hearts open and vulnerable to whatever is naturally happening nearby. Sometimes those energies are of support, community care and love- sometimes those energies are cruelty, fear and anger.
Much like the process of grieving, this is not a beautiful resin. It’s dirty and messy. Often the “Black” and “White” forms of the same Frankincense resin are the result of primary large wounds vs long term, repeated micro wounds that are required to heal over time and time again.
The first time we experience grief or heartbreak, it feels huge. Deep cuts require huge life shifts to accommodate them. Over time, those shifts are needed less and less as the wound heals. Upon repeated injuries, there is more scar tissue to battle. Perhaps the cut isn’t as deep or as painful this time. Perhaps it’s never as big of an injury as the initial wound, but a thousand daily reminders of discomfort we learn to navigate with grace. Our sensitivity lowers as we heal, and a more nuanced approach to these pains and new injuries are required. This, in my belief, is a key element to understanding the ways different types and grades of resins can be useful. It is also why I so often mix both black and white versions of resins to create more wholly supportive blends in my work.
I have just found a source for White Frankincense Neglecta and will be interested to see how the next batch of Elastic Heart feels when this combination has been added. Currently, I’ve accompanied Frankincense Neglecta’s resin infusion with what I call “Paradox Copal,” which is a combination of both White Copal and Copal Negro ritually infused in Jojoba oil. I keep this oil blend separate and add it to Elastic Heart’s recipe in order to balance out the necessary paradox we find ourselves navigating while grieving. Anger, pain, shame, fear, joy, relief even are only some of the simultaneous feelings that coexist during liminal space emotional states like greif. I believe that both symbolically and physiologically that combining Black and White versions of these sacred tree resins allows for us to fully engage with these spaces and navigate them with more grace.