Contrary to what its name may suggest, tea tree oil has no connection to the tea tree, Camellia sinensis, from which varieties of white, green and black tea are produced, except by mere misunderstanding—disappointing, I know. This misunderstanding, or misnomer, originated with Captain Cook, a British explorer, and his men. When they landed on Australian shores in 1770, they—like any true Brits—set about finding a tea plant from which to pluck their afternoon tea. What they found instead was Melaleuca alternifolia, an astringent and sterile smelling member of the Myrtle family. They, naturally, attempted to use these leaves for tea, only to find the taste a bit too bitter and a bit too much like medicine. But they dubbed the plant tea tree, and later learned of its medicinal and ceremonial powers from the local aborigines. Tribal stories from the area state that there are magical lagoons, with tea tree plants growing around them and leaves falling in the water, which can cure any number of physical or spiritual ailments. Since that so-called discovery, the tea tree plant has been farmed en masse. Reaching maturity in two years’ time, it is highly renewable—quickly becoming a favorite ingredient in many natural soaps, lotions, deodorants and disinfectants.
From shaky Western beginnings, tea tree oil is now a key member of the medicine cabinet: application to wounds, certainly with some kind of carrier oil (almond, apricot, jojoba) or water dilution, can provide protection against a variety of bacteria, viruses and fungus. As a natural alternative to other immune system stimulants, tea tree oil supports and strengthens the immune system. Digestion is not recommended because of its strength and astringent effect on skin and membrane. But it can be effective as an inhalent for clearing up congestion, phlegm, and other symptoms of the common cold. It has also been show as having some effect on acne, cold sores, head lice, insect bites, and staph boils.
Somewhat new to magic, tea tree oil has enjoyed a quick celebrity in a variety of uses and intentions. The oil can be burned or rubbed onto the body in cleansing and protection spells, and even for dispelling dark entities; these methods can also be use to cleanse and protect items, rooms or even the whole house. As a medicinal decongestive, it may also aid in the spiritual de-blocking of energies and charkas. To encourage strength, the attainment and holding of, apply a few drops of tea tree oil to a favorite talisman or amulet, and wear that item for long period of time—or at least until it feels right.
Tea tree oil holds the energy of protection and purification—a necessity in any household, for medicine or magic. And due to its popularity, tea tree oil may be found at many local institutions for a reasonable price, though may I suggest supporting The Original Oil Shop, who so generously supports our Novice’s Grimoire. Thank you for our time together here; until next week Novices, stay studious.
Smith is a cookie connoisseur, moonlight meanderer, and aesthete at large. His work has appeared in 13 Experiments, Folio, Stone Soup Review, SLUG Magazine, Salt Lake City Weekly, and CATALYST Magazine. He earned his BA in English from The University of Utah and currently writes from a room with many plants.
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