Gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh

No doubt many of you have been preparing for Christmas by purchasing gifts for your loved ones. Our very first example of gift giving at Christmas was from the Magi. After their years-long trek to find the Christ Child, they presented Him with the priceless gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

As an aromatherapist, I’ve studied the essential oils of frankincense and myrrh more in depth, and I realize how valuable — and useful — these gifts were to Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents. Let’s explore the interesting history of these two botanicals.

Frankincense, Boswelia carteri

In the ancient world, frankincense, a resin from a small, shrubby tree, was once considered more valuable than gold. Merchants traded it extensively along the Frankincense Trail and the Silk Road. In Christian tradition, frankincense was used by the Israelites in their worship of God. In Exodus 30, God gave Moses a new recipe for Holy Anointing Oil that was reserved only for the Tent of Meeting and the Ark of the Testimony. Additionally, Aaron and his sons (the priests) and many articles inside the Tent of Meeting were anointed with it. Frankincense was part of that recipe. It has long been considered a sacred oil in many cultures.

Besides it’s religious history, frankincense possesses medicinal properties that make it a healing oil. It would have been a powerful medicinal substance for Mary to treat her family with during the years they were traveling. Frankincense is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anxiolytic, a nervine, vulnerary, and an immune enhancer.

When blended in a cream, it is wonderful for skin conditions of all types. As an inhalant, it helps to dry up congestion in the lungs. When used in a cream or salve and smoothed over a wound, it enhances healing after sutures have been removed. It blends well with myrrh, lavender, lemon, Roman chamomile,and helichrysum. The ancient Egyptians used it to treat everything from head to toe, and they used frankincense to make kohl, the black powder Egyptian women painted on their eyelids. Before the day of modern antibiotics, frankincense and myrrh were the primary antimicrobial, antibiotic substances.

This was a valuable gift for Jesus’ family. Besides using it medicinally, they could have also sold it to
finance their trip to Egypt.

Myrrh, Commiphora myrrha

You may not be as familiar with myrrh as you are with frankincense, but myrrh was once again an incredible gift to bless the young family with. Myrrh comes from the needles, trunk, stem, and branches of a small, shrubby tree. In the Old Testament, myrrh was also part of the recipe of the Holy Anointing Oil. Additionally, it was used in a recipe for powder placed in front of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting. People used to wear pouches of frankincense and myrrh around their necks as perfume and also to benefit from their medicinal properties.

Beauty Treatments

In the book of Esther in the Bible, Esther received 12 months of beauty treatments before she was presented to King Xerxes. The first six months of treatment was with oil of myrrh. I’ve always wished I knew exactly what the formulas contained!

The most interesting fact I found about myrrh is that when the soldiers were preparing Jesus for crucifixion, Mark 15:23 tells us that they offered Jesus wine mixed with myrrh (probably to buffer the pain), but He would not take it. Jesus wanted to fully experience the cross. It is significant that myrrh was part of the beginning of His life and the end of His earthly life.

In aromatherapy, myrrh is know historically for being an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, endocrine regulator, and a vulnerary. It is wonderful for periodontal disease. It’s healing for the respiratory system and also for assorted skin diseases like ulcers, athlete’s foot, eczema, and acne. Myrrh blends well with cypress, frankincense, geranium, juniper, lavender, mandarin, patchouli, sandalwood, Scotch pine, tea tree, and vetiver.

I am amazed at how perfectly God provided for the needs of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus with the gifts of
(gold), frankincense, and myrrh.

Recipe for Today

If you’d like to try frankincense and myrrh, here’s a recipe you can mix up using either an unscented cream or oil.

Frankincense and Myrrh Skin Oil

Update: Or~ I found a blend that contains frankincense, myrrh, cedar and vanilla that will be a cheaper option because it’s all combined in one product. You can check it out here:
Frankincense & Myrrh Synergy Blend

If you go with this option, simply add 36 drops of this blend to your cream.

Directions: Mix the synergy of all your essential oils together first. You can use a small shot glass or other glass or ceramic vessel. Don’t mix them in plastic. Stir the synergy into the cream or oil and mix well. Once the synergy has been mixed into an oil or cream, it can then be stored in a plastic or glass container. Smooth onto skin as needed. This is a 3 percent dilution, which is intended for adult use. Pregnant or nursing women should consult with a doctor before using products containing essential oils. Check WebMD for information on specific drug interactions or chronic illnesses that you may have before using essential oils.

I’m sure you’ll find that frankincense and myrrh are wonderful oils to have and use just as they were for Mary and Joseph over 2000 years ago. It may be that you want to follow the example of the Magi and give a gift of the Frankincense and Myrrh Skin Oil or Cream to someone special this year.

Merry Christmas!

Just a note: *This post does contain affiliate links. I do make a small profit if you purchase any products through my links. I only link to products I use myself, have heard are reputable, or are on my own want-to-try list. If you do choose to purchase a product through my link, thank you so much.




What Am I Missing?

Mary at Mahseh working away!
Mary at Mahseh working away!

I looked over at Mary furiously typing away, hunched over her keyboard eyes locked on the screen. I had been in the same position myself for the last 90 minutes sitting next to her at the desk. We were at the beautiful Mahseh retreat center having been blessed  to find this secluded haven on Lake Bruce in Indiana. With a new study launching in just a few months, we pushed our minds into high gear, brainstorming ideas.

Our desk nestled in front of a bank of windows overlooking the lake, and I glanced up transfixed by the scene in front of me. Unnoticed by us, God was mixing his palette of paints and dusting his sky canvas with gorgeous hues. Crimson reds blended with tangerine oranges as the sun sank in a fiery ball.

“Mary, look!” I said and pointed out the window. She looked up and gasped, bleary-eyed from her work. While the sun dropped below the horizon, we both soaked up God’s latest masterpiece.

“We almost missed that,” Mary said. “God plunked us down in the middle of all this beauty, and we almost missed it because we were so focused on our work.” She made a bug-eyed look and stared at her screen in a perfect imitation of us over the last few hours.We both giggled at how funny she looked, but the irony wasn’t lost on us.

I wonder how often we go through life oblivious to the gifts God gives us.

We run furiously from task to task, missing people in front of us, nature surrounding us, and the strains of music wafting through the air. God created us with five senses and all too often we forget to use them. We need to remember to pause throughout our day, look up, and notice the intersection of the sacred and the everyday. Because it’s where these two meet that we find the fingerprints of God.

Where have you seen Him today? Share your sighting below.Sacred and Everyday




Walk Like an Ephesian, Day Eight: Give and Get

PresentIf you are a Christian, God has given you special gifts and talents. God gives us gifts so we can give to others. Imagine how God would feel if we hid His presents under a bushel basket or never used them. 

To do the study Give and Get, please click on the link!

“Image courtesy of anankkml/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.




Sacred Everyday #5 Columbian Nativity

512px-The_Nativity_SuchomlinOver the weekend, Mark and I were sharing pizza with friends, talking about our family Christmas traditions. One of our friends is from Columbia, and I asked him about how they celebrated Christmas in Columbia when he was a child. It’s so interesting to learn what’s important in other cultures.

In his village, Christmas Eve is the big celebration, marked by fireworks, special food, attending mass, putting up a small outdoor tree, and exchanging gifts. “The gifts, however, don’t go under the tree,” he said. I looked at him waiting for the explanation for this and was touched to hear this memory:

“In our village what was important was the Nativity. All the families would make their own Nativities. We went outside and gathered moss and other materials to build our own nativities. Then we took the time to put it all together. The tree was not the focal point of Christmas, the Nativity was, and the baby Jesus was the reason why we had gifts. We put our gifts around the Nativity, and we exchanged gifts because of Him.”

What a wonderful Sacred Everyday moment. How blessed he is to have years of building nativities with his family that engraved on his heart the real reason for Christmas.Sacred and Everyday thumbnail




The Gifts of the Nativity Podcast

Nativityornament, editedWhat can we learn from those God called to play a part in the birth of Jesus? Mary, the Magi, the shepherds, Joseph, and Jesus all have important gifts to give us as we seek to understand their roles in the story of the Nativity. Join Mary Kane and Jane VanOsdol of OnlyByPrayer.com as they explore The Gifts of the Nativity in today’s podcast. Prepare your hearts for Christmas as you delve more deeply into the birth of Jesus. Be sure to download your free viewer guide. This podcast is available as both an MP3 and in video format.

To listen to the MP3 audio version, click at the top of this post.  To watch in video format, click below.