Sunday, June 30, 2013

How to Make Flower Essences

These remedies cure, not by attacking disease, but by flooding our bodies with the beautiful vibrations of our Higher Nature, in the presence of which disease melts as snow in the sunshine.   -Dr. Edward Bach

Flowers have long been the subject of contemplation and adoration. While gazing into a flower, one glimpses the divine mystery of life. Vibrant colors and intoxicating fragrances are one of the blessings of creation. Flowers are given as gifts to express love, friendship, celebration, and sympathy. As the highest expression of a plant, they also represent our highest potential as people. Flowers symbolize individuality—our ability to blossom with unique gifts, talents, and personality traits.

This sentiment is shared by many. Eckhart Tolle speculates that flowers have played a major role in the development of human consciousness. As he points out in A New Earth, “Flowers were most likely the first thing they [humans] came to value that had no utilitarian purpose for them, that is to say, was not linked in some way to survival. They provided inspiration to countless artists, poets, and mystics. Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live. The Buddha is said to have given a ‘silent sermon’ once during which he held up a flower and gazed at it.”

In their book Flower Therapy, Doreen Virtue and Robert Reeves discuss the healing power of flowers: “Mother Nature is a healer, and one of her most powerful gifts comes in the form of flowers…As Heaven’s masterpieces, flowers are Divine vessels of healing.” For each flower in the book, Virtue lists one or more archangels that work with and through these blessed blooms.


What are Flower Essences?

California Wild Rose
Flower essences are homeopathic herbal medicines that carry the subtle vibration of individual flowers for emotional, spiritual, and psychological healing. For example, the beloved Rose is a flower rich with ancient symbolism. Giving roses to express our heart’s affection is no random act; a flower essence of California Wild Rose opens the heart chakra, dispelling apathy and allowing us to give ourselves more fully to our vocation and relationships. Another example is Yarrow, a specific remedy for environmentally-sensitive people who need added protection. By energetically knitting any gaps in the aura, Yarrow helps one face the outside world with stronger personal energy.

Western history tells us that flower essences were originally developed in the 1930s by the visionary Dr. Edward Bach, who believed flowers possessed a plant’s greatest spiritual virtue. However, Aboriginal people of Australia were crafting flower remedies long before that. Some believe that flower essences have still more ancient origins in the lost civilization of Atlantis.

One of the benefits of working with flower essences is that you can use any beloved bloom, whether it is medicinal, ornamental, or even poisonous. This is because the final essence contains very little of the actual plant matter, and instead delivers a tiny, homeopathic dose which works on an energetic level. Flower essences allow access to plants that might otherwise elude all but the most expert herbalists, witches, and shamans. This is how I work with Datura (also called Moonflower), a magical but deadly psychoactive plant that has roots in ancient mystical rituals. Because the flower essence is so diluted, I experience no hallucinations or ill effects, but I do get to connect with the plant’s energy and personality.

On a personal level, flower essences were my very first experience with herbal medicine. My mom has used them since I was a child, and I recall sitting with her many years ago and talking about a problem I had. I couldn’t say no to anyone, and I often ended up doing things I didn’t like or giving away favorite possessions. She tested me for flower essences using a pendulum (see technique below) and made up a blend for me. Within weeks, I was better at standing up for myself. This is just one example of many issues and tendencies that flower essences can heal.

Creating Flower Essences

Making your own essences is a highly rewarding process. Flower essences are very subtle, so learning how to tune into these energies can be a life-long journey. The more you develop relationships with plants founded on respect and reverence, the deeper your capacity will be to accept the multi-layered teachings of our green allies.

St. John's Wort
Take a walk in the woods, mountains, or meadow to discover which flower catches your eye. Sit with your floral friend for a while, and quiet your mind. As you meditate, notice any impressions or messages that come to you. Notice the color of the flower; does it relate to a specific chakra? Does the plant itself remind you of anything? Notice where it grows, and see if the environment relates to a particular life situation. If you had to guess, what healing gifts would this flower essence give? When you find a plant you connect with, gather one or more of the most pristine blossoms you can find. Offer gratitude for what you’ve taken; say a prayer, sing a song, or leave an offering. This is part of the ceremony, so do whatever feels good to you.  

Place these flowers in a small container of purified water. You need very little of the mother essence to create a lifetime of flower essences, so think small. I like to use tiny glass cups, bowls, or shot glasses. Keep in mind that anything written on the glass can imprint on the essence, so it's best to choose something plain. Leave the container in the sunshine for a few hours, until the flowers have faded. Remove the flowers and preserve the water by adding an equal amount of brandy. This is called the mother essence. Following the homeopathic tradition, it is now time to dilute.

Flower Essence Altar
To create stock flower essences, add only two drops of the mother essence into another one-ounce dropper bottle, and fill with equal parts water and brandy. Cap it tightly and shake vigorously, hitting the bottle against the palm of your hand many times to potentize the medicine. This is an important step that gives you time to set intentions for this flower essence. This is your chance to ask the flower for healing, give the essence Reiki, or otherwise energize the medicine.

Indian Paintbrush
Repeat the process, taking drops from the stock essence and adding them to another dropper bottle. Fill with equal parts water and brandy, and potentize the bottle by shaking. This bottle now contains the medicine water that you will use. To create a blend of essence, add four drops of each stock essence to the medicine water bottle. It is best to shake the medicine water at least a few times before each use, as well. Take four drops, up to four times a day. You can take the drops directly under the tongue, or add to water.

Using Flower Essences

To learn what each essence has been used for, it is helpful to read up on Dr. Bach’s 38 flower remedies. He was a true visionary of his time, and he outlines each plant deeply. Since then, the Flower Essence Society has created a line of essences that is expanded to include many other flowers. They published Richard Katz and Patricia Kaminski’s book The Flower Essence Repertory, which profiles numerous flowers to help you determine how to use your essence. Matthew Wood is an herbalist who often uses flower essences and homeopathic doses of plants. His writings illuminate the personalities and signatures of each plant, so his books are well worth a look. I also recommend Doreen Virtue’s Flower Therapy book for further guidance and inspiration. Of course, only you can feel how each flower resonates with your own energy. Cultivate connections with the plants, and ask for insight into what they can help you heal. Trust your intuition.  

Wood Betony
Another method of choosing flower essences is to use a pendulum. (See my previous entry and scroll down for more information on pendulums.) Hold the pendulum over each bottle of essence, preferably with the label obscured from view to keep your mind from making the decision. Ask for a yes or no answer to determine if you need the essence. By using divination, you may discover a need for remedies that differ from what you would have picked out. This is especially useful when creating a blend for yourself, as we are sometimes blind to our own psychological tendencies. It is recommended to blend only two to four essences at a time, to avoid muddying up and confusing their specific actions.

Flower essences are for those who desire to experience the spiritual essence and energy of a plant. All matter is a form of energy, so treating our energetic nature can ultimately heal on the material level. While these high-vibration remedies are subtle, the changes that unfold can be profound.