Gifts of the Magi

NativityJanuary 6th is noted throughout the world as the Epiphany, the Feast of the Three Kings. In many countries, the day is considered a holiday. It is the oldest of Christmas feasts and is in remembrance of when the magi found the Christ Child in Bethlehem after following a star.

The kings are said to have brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus, the newborn king. These gifts are symbolic and meaningful.

The rarity and enduring quality of gold represents immortality. In ancient times, it was a gift for a king, signifying their strength and power. In particular, the gift to Jesus recognized him as king of his kingdom, one that cannot be destroyed by earthly powers.

Frankincense, or olibanum, is a plant-derived resin from a desert tree. It was used in the time of Christ for medicinal purposes and also incense in temple rituals. Frankincense was an expensive import since it was not native to Israel. The magi’s highly valued gift of frankincense to Jesus recognized his role as a priest.

In ancient times, myrrh, which also comes from a tree resin, was more valuable than gold because it was only found on the African continent. Myrrh was used as an analgesic and for embalming. The gift foretold Jesus’ future of suffering and death. When Jesus was on the cross, he was offered myrrh with wine. He also was anointed with it after his death.

Egyptians are known to have used the extracts from plants such as these in aromatic treatments, beauty products, food, and religious ceremonies. There are more than 200 references to them in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.

Essential oils of frankincense and myrrh continue to be valued today. Frankincense is used  by many to treat aging and dry skin, warts, moles, skin tags, age spots, respiratory problems, and jaundice. Resins also are burned during worship in the Catholic Church.

Myrrh currently is thought to support the immune system and aid in healing skin conditions such as athletes’ feet, chapped and cracked skin, eczema, ringworm, wounds, wrinkles, and fungal infections as well as asthma, bronchitis, coughs, gum infections, mouth ulcers, and sore throats. Aromatically, the essential oil is believed to promote spiritual awareness and emotional release.

Essential oils, which have no fatty or oily components, are highly concentrated liquids distilled from flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and the seeds of plants. They are rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and beneficial to health and vitality. One drop of peppermint essential oil in a glass of water is the equivalent of approximately 20 bags of peppermint tea.

Check with your doctor before using essential oils to learn if they are appropriate for you. They are not FDA regulated.

(Thank you to Sue Olmos from Young Living Essential Oils for information on the properties and biblical references of many oils.)

©2016, Mary K. Doyle

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