Buchu for the animus

Agathosma ciliaris / Bergboegoe (Afr) Photo: http://www.newplant.co.za

The fragrance of buchu is strong, wild and I would like to call it an “inner male” or animus aroma. Carl Jung described the animus (or a woman’s inner male) as positive energy that represents empowerment, the capacity to engage in and fight for what she wants, and the assertion of the live force.

My initiation into buchu was facilitated by the late Eps Joubert, an eccentric and passionate mathematics teacher and nature lover from Bredasdorp.  He is also known as the “father” of the Foot Of Africa Marathon and his lasting gift to athletes from over the world is the fynbos route in the Bredasdorp mountain.

If I had to select one plant for introducing a visitor to South African fynbos fragrance, it would be the green, minty and fruity aroma of the Agathosma species.  Agathosma betulina or round-leave buchu played an important role in the Khoisan culture, and have been used for cosmetic and medicinal purposes since early days. Brandy tinctures (“boegoebrandewyn”) for stomach problems and vinegar infusions for washing and treating wounds are early Cape remedies.

The Khoisan’s close relationship with buchu includes this fragrant plant being an agent of both physical and mental transformation.  During initiation rites for girls reaching puberty, buchu was sprinkled on standing water to pacify the “watersnake” or “rainbull”.  Its invigorating and stimulating properties were also utilized in rituals to “wake up the body”. For an interesting article about buchu as presenting the “life force” in the Khoisan tradition, please visit africanaromatics.com.

Buchu essential oil with its intense and overpowering fragrance should be used with care, but in times when you want a strong, blackcurrant or Bourgenons de Chassis flavour in you home or life, it is perfect.  As a men’s cologne or facial wash for teenagers it may create a balance between “pacifying” and “lifting up”!

After experimenting with buchu essential oil in soap making and solid perfume, I came to the conclusion that this fragrance I would keep close to my body (as in a Khoisan tortoiseshell powder compact) but not directly on my skin.  And used daily in an exfoliation soap, it might keep the “inner man” alive and happy!

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