The pinkish-purple, bell-shaped flowers of the spikenard plant grow in the Himalayas of China, India and Nepal. I’m guessing it was from India that the fragrant distilled oil of this plant came to be used by Mary of Bethany when she washed Jesus’ feet (St. John 12) Spikenard, or Nard oil is very thick and aromatic, producing an earthy/musty scent; one can imagine the effect on the senses when she opened the clay, or perhaps alabaster, container to anoint his dusty feet.
I found it interesting to note that spikenard was also one of the essential oils used to produce incense to burn in the Temple of Jerusalem. According to Jesus’ own words, it must have also been used along with myrrh to cleanse and prepare bodies for burial.
Even today, women (and perhaps men, too) use this essential oil to scent and moisturize their hair and scalp and to promote feelings of tranquility and warmth. It is especially recommended by some aromatherapists for use in emotion pain, such as loss and grieving.
Perhaps some even use it to call to mind Mary’s humility and devotion to Christ as she let down her hair in the fashion of a servant.
Thank you, O Father of Lights, for Your gifts that bathe our senses in memory and worship of Thee.