|Our Lady Star of The Sea|
The Myrrh tree is native to the Red Sea coastal regions of Yemen, Somalia, Eritrea and eastern Ethiopia where trade in gum resins created a robust economy in the ancient world. Myrrh was used in medicines, wine and Jerusalem temple worship for shemen (anointing oil) and incense. Myrrh created an olfactory link to the divine aroma of the Ruach Hachodesh or Holy Spirit. Aroma has the ability to bypass the brain's thalamus by traveling dedicated pathways to the olfactory cortex for instant processing. The olfactory cortex is embedded within the brain's limbic system and amygdala where emotions are stored. That is why a particular aroma can become intimately entangled with memory and trigger instantaneous emotions.
Myrrh of the Sea, must be what is known today as ambergris. Ambergris was also harvested in the Red Sea region by
Linguists have determined that the word Ambergris is derived from the Arabic word anbar which means granaries. In the 13th century, the suffix gris (grey in the romance languages) was added to distinguish the product from fossil amber. Fossil amber is tree resin recovered from ancient forests either by simple collection or mining. It can also be found washed up onto beaches and may be the reason it became associated or confused with Myrrh of the Sea. Fossil amber is also used in perfumes and unguents. It can be cut and polished to become a beautiful a gemstone.
Electrum was the classical name for fossil amber and has an etymological connection to the word for sunbeam. According to myth when Phaeton, son of Helios, was killed his sisters became mourning poplar trees and their tear drops fell into the ocean to become electrum. Pliny the Elder in The Natural History cites sources well aware of its true origin; "Amber is produced from a marrow discharged by trees belonging to the pine genus... is the fact that it emits a pine-like smell when rubbed, and that it burns, when ignited, with the odor and appearance of torch-pine wood."