Vetiver essential oil captures the raw, primal power of Spring. Dams bursting, icicles snapping, streams overflowing their banks, buds swelling, eggs popping.
Think of the ancient god Pan, goat-horned, cloven-hoofed, pipes-tootling chaser of giggly forest nymphs– from whose name the English word “panic” is formed– and you’re getting a whiff of the real essence of Vetiver essential oil. Think Stravinsky, Nijinsky, and the scandalized audiences at the first performance of “Afternoon of a Faun.”
This is no ditsy little floral or sugary confection. Vetiver essential oil is a wild grass native to India, and the potent fragrance is extracted from the root of the plant. The pungent, “rootsy” aroma is often compared with those of Patchouli and Sandalwood.
Professional “noses”, or people who develop fragrances, describe Vetiver essential oil as earthy, woody, smoky, and pleasingly heavy, with notes of leather and amber. Vetiver essential oil is a complex fragrance, with more than 100 identified separate olfactory notes. As the fragrance warms on the skin and interacts throughout the day with the wearer’s personal body chemistry, specific notes of a Vetiver essential oil-based fragrance emerge and become dominant.
These qualities make Vetiver essential oil a core ingredient in many men’s colognes, notably Dior’s classic “Eau Savage“, a name which references the release of tensions stirred by this robust scent.
The fragrance of Vetiver essential oil affects the wearer on a profound energetic level. Part of the reason is that the fragrance is very slow to fade. In many perfume blends, Vetiver essential oil is used as a stabilizer or fixative, as well as an anchoring element of the fragrance.
Many aromatherapists and alternative wellness practitioners regard Vetiver essential oil as a life-stabilizing fragrance, based in part on the habits of the plant itself and the properties of its powerful essential oil.
Vetiver essential oil often is recommended by aromatherapists for anyone experiencing an identity-crisis, including a tremendous personal loss, such as the death of a loved one, or any other experience which seems to “uproot” one’s sense of who one is and where one belongs. Of course, this can also literally be applied to relocation of home, loss of a home, or loss of a job or personal property.
In many subtropical regions where Vetiver is now grown, including Haiti and Java, the plant is used for erosion control. For instance, Vetiver is planted among hedgerows to keep the formation of the plantings secure. Vetiver is also drought-resistant, and is perennial. The plant forms thick networks of roots which literally “keep it all together”, and this analogy may apply to the wearers of the essential oil of Vetiver.
In many parts of South Asia, the aroma of Vetiver has particular local resonance. Mats woven of the fragrant grass are often hung in doorways and kept damp in hot summer months, to add a refreshing scent and repel insects. Vetiver is also made into sachets, syrups, and used to flavor drinking water, especially in summer months.
Vetiver essential oil also is recommended for anyone seeking a higher level of personal authenticity. A massive trend underway in America, long called the “melting pot” where ethnic assimilation was the goal, is the rediscovery and re-claiming of one’s personal family background and cultural history. Authenticity also goes beyond the identification of genetic markers, and so Vetiver is an appropriate essential oil for this quest because of its grounding properties.
This distinctive, lingering fragrance always pulls the wearer back down to earth, and back to center, defying artificial order and liberating a more authentic truth. Although perfumers often use this ingredient in the creation of masculine scents, it’s fair game for women, too, especially a woman who wants to assert and own her fierce inner warrior-spirit. If you’ve been feeling flighty, distracted or skittish lately, consider adding Vetiver essential oil to your shower or enjoying this oil in other forms, especially as we move toward Taurus, the most grounded Earth Sign of the zodiac.