There are many different grounding oils. In my experience they all have their own tonality and type of grounding that they help us with. In this article, I am going to talk about Mitti Attar. I think it has its own unique and specific relationship to the earth, which helps us to very useful ‘come back down to earth’ and honor it – a much needed invocation in the world today. Mitti Attar grounds us, because it is the ground.
Not only are we in modern society dissociated collectively due to the hours we spend on telephones and computers, staring into screens, but we have also lost the magical and important connection with the earth that we are part of. This disconnection from the very thing that we grow from, live in and resonate with mirrors the way we are disconnected from our true selves.
There is a desire in many of us to find ways of healing individually and collectively, of helping heal the wounds of our world through the microcosm of ourselves. An important way of doing this is to reconnect with our ancestral clans, our healthy ancients who knew how to live in harmony with the world in order to survive . Connected to this is the importance of being more at one with the wilderness, with nature. We need to find the wild within and to do this we need to build relationship with the wilderness. Plants and aromatics can lead us to a new connection with the natural world. One way to begin is by honoring the earth on which we walk – and by this I really mean the earth. So many kids in today’s world are brought up believing the earth is dirty, dangerous and alien. How can we hope to heal our relationship to the environment with a whole generation of city-grown kids who are frightened of soil? And I believe many of us need to look honestly at our own relationship with dirt. Do you have to wear gloves when you garden? How can you feel the soil through the gloves? Do you ever walk bare foot or even better naked outside in nature feeling the earth, the wind, the rain on your but?
We need to re-wild!
And that’s where Mitti Attar comes in. Mitti Attar grounds us, because it is the ground. Mitti means ‘soil’ in Hindi and attar is the traditional perfume of India made by distilling flowers and other delicate plant material, and in this case soil, into pure sandalwood oil. Florian and I were lucky enough to have visited Moosa’s distillery in India’s ancient perfume town Kannauj in Utter Pradesh. There are no signs of modern machinery or tools of any kind. It was breath-taking walking into the steaming distillery. It was truly a moment where I realized that this ancient craft had been going on unchanged for hundreds of years. It was more than an honor to feel it in our cells, to witness the mastery of generations of attar makers.
Mitti Attar is made from baked topsoil which is distilled 8 hours per day into the sandalwood essential oil for at least 15 days. It is then stored in leather pouches to continue to concentrate the magical, delicate aroma of the first monsoon rains on the dry earth. There is an awareness that we need to reconnect with the earth, children need to play in the soil. There are commercial perfumes now that aim to capture the smell of the earth. Perfumers have identified a molecule called ‘geosmin’ who’s name comes from geo for earth and osme for odor and is responsible for the real smell of earth.
“By the time that geosmin was chemically characterized it was well established that its major source in soil was bacteria of the genus Streptomyces. These abundant and complex bacteria grow like fungal molds as a mycelium of branching thread-like hyphae, playing a very important part in the recycling of vegetable matter. Echoing fungal molds, they reproduce by sending up aerial hyphal branches that bear spores. Geosmin is associated with Streptomyces spores, which are present in huge numbers in many soils. We can safely assume that a time traveller visiting the planet as it was about 440,000,000 years ago would recognize the familiar smell of soil, as the earliest land plants collaborated with the first streptomycetes to generate proto-compost.” (1)
I love the fact that the ancient perfumers from Kannauj had thought of distilling the precious soil, of which we are a part, centuries ago. I am very honored that we have this pure Mitti Attar to work with. Mitti Attar grounds us like no other grounding oil, because it IS the earth, it is earth’s perfume. The sandalwood has captured the delicate smell of dried earth. There’s nothing like it. Its magic is in the energetics.
As I smell the precious aroma, I feel myself drop down deeply into my being. Every cell fills with the memory of the earth that is within me. I melt into belonging, belonging to the wild, the wilderness, to the earth. I am called to the wildest places, to remember and reconnect. When I smell this oil, I can’t lie to myself anymore, I can’t pretend my life is everything we make it out to be in our world of convenience, plastic, screens, consumerism, separatism, exclusivity. I am reminded instantly that I am merely earth, I came from it and will return to it.
And that is why Mitti Attar is a beautiful and incredibly precious ally at the moment in this healing journey. A bottle should last a lifetime and only matures and evolves with age. It is an aroma worthy of being on your altar. It’s time to raise the earth to the stature it deserves – EARTH FIRST !!!