Our very own Kassia Meador sits down with her soul sister, Paula Ferraro—an alchemical artist and creator of essential oil skincare and wellness line, Scents of Awe—for a chat about embracing nature, rejecting fear and raising butterflies for a better tomorrow:
Kassia Meador: What initially inspired you to start working with essential oils?
Paula Ferraro: I am a mother now and, before that, I worked with children with chronic illnesses. Working with essential oils has a solution-based motivation for me: I was inspired by my love for the children with whom I was working and by my own pregnancy to empower myself with healing solutions for treating and preventing chronic illness.
My passion for preventative wellness was a response to the lack of empowering options within the current allopathic medical system. I was disillusioned by the intentional deception and manipulation tactics that are often used in marketing products to consumers. I started to research and find solutions for treating everyday issues, and discovered amazing options for simplifying skincare with ancient, tried-and-tested plant medicines.
I'm such a DIY person. I love having an understanding of options accessible to me, so I don't have to outsource my intuition and everyday needs to anyone else. Essential oils are an outlet for me to empower myself and create medicinal solutions to ailments and prevention.
In general, but especially as a mother, it feels really good to be educated and create solutions that are harmonious and holistic. There’s such a vast knowledge base in nature: The further I explore, the more I become one with my surroundings, the more I see that we’ve always been nature. The disassociation with nature throughout our society has been very destructive to our health, to our awareness.
To me, essential oil is raw nature and the lifeblood of the plant. Plants are our ancestors; they hold ancient survivalist wisdom in their composition, and they teach us about resilience and thriving in this world. The medical aspect of their wisdom is so effective and protective. It is a great honor and privilege to work with plants, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to inspire others with products that offer solutions to everyday needs.
KM: How have the experiences of becoming a mother and working with essential oils impacted each other?
PF: When you come into motherhood, you crave grandmother’s wisdom most. There are so many questions and new challenges to face; being responsible for another life is intense. So much of the journey is pure instinct, but there is a process of refining your intuition and that takes some experimentation.
Still, it doesn’t feel great to experiment with your child and guess and hope. To go off-grid and do things yourself requires education and practical solutions. When I discovered essential oils, it was an epiphany. Suddenly, I understood that these plants are my ancestors; they are my grandmother’s wisdom. Luckily, through the global brain of the Internet, all of this beautiful information is at our fingertips.
Yet, there’s still so much fear surrounding pregnancy and life in general these days—so many things that could potentially go wrong for which we are constantly trying to prepare. So, many women are educating themselves on how they can take their pregnancies into their own hands and have empowering birthing experiences. Giving birth is a powerful and heroic act of deep surrender, one that activates primal core strengths and brings you beyond the threshold of anything imaginable. This sacred rite of passage is a cosmic mirror into how we live our lives and prepares us for the sacrifice of service to the future in the journey of motherhood.
For me, this was an opportunity to stand up to the Western model and break through the fears being projected onto me and my baby. Fear-based perspectives don’t resonate with me, but being prepared, educated and equipped with solutions does. Fortunately, we’ve never before had this much information on the most harmoniously healing options throughout the ages cataloged and accessible to us all. Medicines that I can create for myself and my daughter utilizing both scientific and ancient wisdom is a step toward sustainability for me.
I also use my own intuition because believing is one of our most powerful, healing medicines. Whatever it is you believe about your healing really has the power to help. When I'm making my own food and medicines, I'm putting all my love and energy into them. The process I’ve developed has contributed to a profound shift in my consciousness. Each essential oil has its own ephemeral spirit and esoteric healing properties, but, on a scientific level, they’re also very effective. All essential oils are antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory etc. I believe that every ailment is treatable in some way with plant medicines.
For my daughter, we’ve been able to treat any health issues with superfoods, adaptogens and essential oils. This has required a lot of research and diligence to go deep and understand the functional processes of the body, but it’s been very empowering. It’s a powerful gift we have in nature, and I love inspiring others to empower themselves with these incredible solutions.
KM: Why do you prefer “traditional” over Western solutions?
PF: Pharmaceutical drugs work within an “active ingredient” model, whereby they target specific plant molecules to change the chemical structure. I believe that when you manipulate that incredibly complex model that nature has proven over millions of years, you’re losing the balancing, harmonizing and “multi-targeted” healing properties.
What I love so much about plant medicine in it’s complete form is that it stimulates while it calms and works in a sophisticated way that focuses on balance. I have a deep passion for understanding illness, disharmony and trauma and identifying root causes of issues that often go untreated. I'm always looking for bigger solutions—looking holistically at ourselves and the environment to find a harmonious connection point. Chronic pain and suffering do not feel necessary in this life, and I envision a future where we cause no harm to our environment, but do reap the medicinal benefits of cohabitation.
Naturally ingesting these plants gives you that vibration; the ancient knowledge imprints into our genetic expression which is largely coded by everything that we bring into our bodies. It's really an epigenetic boost, giving our cells an opportunity to vibrate at that level. Incorporating these balancing properties into our daily regimes improves our whole body wellness. Plants and oils are a really good place to start to understand how your spirit and body can work together for total well-being.
KM: So the quest to empower yourself by refining your intuition and researching health and wellness led you to starting Scents of Awe? I want to hear that about that.
PF: I largely started this line for my daughter, myself and my family and friends. I was so inspired to find solutions. Switching out something as simple as a deodorant for essential oils can help cleanse toxins you’ve absorbed all your life using toxic products. The chemicals in everyday household and beauty products wreak so much havoc on our endocrine systems; the overall harm is unthinkable once you start to understand how connected everything is. You can make your own toothpaste, deodorant and body balms with simple superfoods and inexpensive ingredients like coconut oil, baking soda and salt. These types of DIY products are effective and boost your immune system.
With a little reeducation, we can cut our costs of living down considerably too. My intention is to create products for the public that are beautiful, inspiring, effective and enhance the experience of “going natural.” In applying these precious essences, you also get amazing medicinal benefits, along with magical inspiration and emotionally lifts. It’s amazing that we can detox systemically with a foot cream and reverse sun damage with a face cream and even heal and cleanse wounds with one single drop of essential oil. We can balance our bodies and align our senses by incorporating these products with meditative and restorative rituals. It’s all about inspiring people to take their health into their hands and become educated.
KM: We live in a time when people want products that are more sustainable, organic and holistic. With wellness increasing as a trend in pop-culture, do you think some skincare companies are misleading people about their ingredients and processes?
PF: My whole approach is really about empowering people to take an investigative approach to everything they’re consuming. The tricky part is that so many ingredients can be hidden on a label. It really comes down to, “Can you make that yourself? Is it safe to eat?” Because everything you put on your skin goes straight into your bloodstream. Sometimes a chemical can be even more dangerous to put on your skin than into your mouth due to the way your body absorbs it.
KM: The good news is people are more concerned and focused on wellness, consuming products and foods in a healthier, more sustainable way. When we were growing up, people weren’t really focused on these issues. Do you think we’re all better off now and getting healthier by the day?
PF: It’s hard to know: Was it more toxic then or now? Now, we have a surplus of toxicity from every angle. There’s just so much unconsciousness around chemicals and so many people have chronic underlying issues. Over-toxicity is a major threat to all life forms, and we are certainly not exempt. I think, in many ways, it’s an internal example of what’s happening externally on the planet.
As you start to empower yourself, you get cleaner and cleaner. You can see something new emerging within you. We’re all starting to see it: The more we care about what we put in and on our bodies, the more we reconnect with ourselves, with nature and these bigger issues. If we look at our parent’s generation, there are so many chronic illnesses, sleep issues, big underlying health issues. We must look deep within ourselves now and study the cycles to find the solutions. Now is an exciting and inspiring time to be alive. There is so much mystery to live. Now is the moment for an all-hands-on-deck approach to balancing and healing our collective trauma and finding a sustainable way to thrive together in this world. I love thinking of new ways that we can combine our resources for a better step forward into the future. That’s why I'm raising butterflies.
KM: Tell us more about the butterflies: What got you into raising them?
PF: I found out that Monarch butterflies could disappear in my lifetime. To me, it was shocking and unthinkable that that could happen. I felt a need to do something to raise some awareness around that. They are inter-dimensional beings who go through one of the biggest transformations that occurs in nature. They can speak to our species about how we’re transforming at this moment in time, a time where we need to transform. Connecting with the butterflies is connecting with this ancient transformation process.
Getting close to that from a Shamanic perspective, going on that journey with them, releasing, reemerging, the beauty of that first flight. It’s so inspiring for our future generations. The Aztecs believed that Monarchs were the reincarnated souls of all their past loved ones. The Day of the Dead celebration coincides with the arrival of the Monarchs in Mexico, and they are welcomed, revered and celebrated as ancestors. I feel like we should be doing that with all species—celebrating especially the many who have become extinct on our watch. Animals have so much wisdom to teach us and so much medicine to share about their ways, how they surrender and rise above, and how they sacrifice and journey together to survive and thrive.
KM: How do you “Live The Process” in your life?
PF: My purpose—the role I feel called to model—is to be a consciousness activator. I love to inspire people and share what I have learned. That’s why I called my brand, Scents Of Awe. Complete awe is what I felt when I discovered the incredible power of plant medicine.
A study recently found that being in awe is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory states of being. It’s all about surrendering to the higher order of things and sensing our place in the great mystery of life. Our deepest interested are captured when we’re blown away by new experiences and find our role in the solution. My process is one of surrendering to my calling to commune with nature through the oils. I surrender all of myself in order to do the best I can for my daughter and all species and future generations. They are relying on us to make changes so that they may know the beauty of living life on earth. A great place to start is investigating everything we are consuming and adjusting our lifestyles to focus on what matters most. We must find our own roles in living harmoniously with all species and creating more habitat, consuming less and more responsibly and activating more consciousness within to understand the profound interconnectedness of everything that is and ever was and hopefully will someday be.