Sunday, November 15, 2009

Frankincense and Myrrh....

Frankincense and myrrh is just one of those fragrance combos that remind us of  Christmas because both of those are mentioned repeatedly in the Bible. These were expensive back in biblical times, used for many things. In the scriptures, it is included with gold as gifts to Jesus by the wise men, showing their importance.

"On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh." 

Matthew 2:11

Frankincense is a resin from a deciduous tree  that is a low twisted, thorny shrub without a central branch. Today, almost all frankincense comes from Somalia, where the trees grow along the coastline, without soil, growing out of rocks. Frankincense is harvested by a deep cut made into the bark and a 4 to 6 inch strip is peeled off. A milk-like juice exudes from the plant hardens when exposed to air into "yellowish tears". These tears are then scraped off and harvested. When burned, frankincense is very fragrant and was used in worship as an offering to God.

Myrrh is a resin also, pale yellow in color. It eventually dries to a brown/black and comes a large shrub or tree found in East Africa, Yemen and the Red Sea countries. There are ducts in the bark, which fill with a granular secretion that drips when the bark is wounded or has natural fissures. The myrrh drips from the bark, forming irregularly shaped grains of resin. Dried myrrh is hard and brittle with a bitter taste.

Myrrh was one of the ingredients of the holy anointing oil and also of incense. Myrrh was valued as a perfume as well as for its medicinal properties. It served as local anesthetic and was given to both mother and child for postnatal care, perhaps one reason the Wise Men brought it to Jesus. Jesus was also offered myrrh while being crucified on the cross.

The Wise Men brought items that had great worth. Although we don't consider these two resins as valuable in this day and age, they still have symbolic worth and smell delightful, which is one of the reasons I've included these two fragrances in one of my latest soaps.

Each soap is a generous 4 oz plus size with just a small dusting of copper and gold cosmetic mica for added elegance.

"Who is this, coming up from the desert like a column of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense..."
Song of Solomon 3:6