Thursday, January 10, 2008

Flower Essences: Part 1

I wanted to write a post about my recent positive experiences with Flower Essences. As part of the program at NAIMH, we got some beginning education on Bach Flower Essences, and fun field trip to make our own essences from some wild spring flowers. We had a fabulous teacher who gave us very clever ways of remembering the 38 original essences.

Flower essences are such a handy tool to use with clients when you start running into emotional issues, past traumas, insecurities and other "stuff" that you as an herbalist and not a therapist, aren't really equipped to deal with. They are gentle, easy to give (blend with tinctures, or make into nice fragrant sprays with essential oils), and so, so helpful in working through the myriad emotions of the human experience.

Also, extremely helpful for you, the healer, in dealing with YOUR stuff. Cause your stuff ALWAYS comes up in the face of dealing with other people. I use some flowers for grounding before and after a meeting, for strengthening my personal emotional and psychic boundaries, and for clearing the space. Not to mention insecurities, self esteem, sadness, guilt, and overconcern.

I've known about flower essences for years, since way back when I studied with Rosemary Gladstar at Sage Mountain, and I've even spent some time making essences from the flowering plants of the Sonoran Desert. Rain kissed manzanita flower essence, and sunny california poppy were just a few. But even though I made some essences, and learned about them, I didn't put them to use very often.

Most recently I've been using them on myself and my partner with great results. Especially since I was gifted by a very sweet family member with an entire bach flower essence kit, with all 38 essences and a bottle of rescue remedy. It's much easier to work with them when you have an abundance of choices.

A few weeks ago I made a formula for myself with Mariposa Lily, Wild Rose, Elm and Honeysuckle. It was the new year and I was feeling sort of overwhelmed with the fact I have two theses to write, longing for my more pleasant times in the Sonoran desert, wandering the hillsides, feeling embraced by the loving earth. I was feeling sort of stuck and apathetic about doing anything I was needing to do ( both in terms of assignments for school and in taking care of myself. Darn that holiday gluten fest!)
I've been taking it for two weeks, and I feel so much more at peace. I've started writing at least one thesis, and decided on the topic of the second ( finally!) and am more fully present with what my current life situation is asking of me.

Flower essences are subtle, and people who aren't familiar with them or sensitive might assume they aren't working, but I've felt it work within 24 hrs, or less. I once took some wild oat flower essence this fall, when I was feeling a bit confused about the direction I wanted to go in with my life and my herbal calling. Between 8-5 i took the essence, and on the way home in the car found myself sobbing, because I KNEW in my heart what I wanted/needed, but getting there is not going to be so easy. That was pretty fast!

Some people will make formulas with the essences, using multiple essences, even up to 9-10. My personal preference is to work with one at a time, or a formula of no more than about 4-5 essences. I just feel like you can't work on EVERY issue all at one time. Some things will come to the fore if you look carefully, and things can be dealt with in small chunks. I think the healing works deeper and better that way.

Making your own flower essences is very easy and inexpensive, and is so uplifting and establishes a deeper level of intimacy with your landscape/earth, and the plants you are working with.
I'll save the making of essences for another post. But most are available commericially at any health food store these days, and there are lots of books with indications. But I really suggest taking the essences alone, before reading about them, and see what they do for you, personally. Each person will react to a given essence in a unique way, which reflects what they most need from a certain flower at that time. Group provings of essences made in the field are quite remarkable! I'll save that for another post as well.


MaDonaVerde said...

So Susun hasn't scared you out of using them ;-) LOL

Seeing as how I still use and love them also, curious from someone else's POV who is familiar with Susun's work how you feel about her POV that you can just as well get these kinds of "spiritual" element from the plants when you take in the infusions or tinctures or just sit with them etc.

I get her point, but sometimes hard to articulate exactly *why* I still feel that FE's are such an important part of the healing resource spectrum.

Part of it - for me, anyway - is that
a) they don't interfere with other drugs/modalities as the actual herb substance *might* - depending on what plant is used etc. and you can't overdose on them or give the "wrong" remedy.
b) definitely easier for using with children and pets or in other situations where administration of herbs in gross forms (ie infusions or tinctures etc.) might be difficult/impossible
c) good for plants that you don't want to use/too tricky to use in material form
d) good for plants whose spirit energy is useful but what you have access to in material form is limited (ie with an endangered plant etc.)
e) For people who aren't shaman's with years of plantspirit training under our belts and don't so readily talk with the fairies etc. ;-) - a way for people to really see that plants DO have spirit that can affect us. Kind of almost a gateway form of therapy that allows people to see that energy medicine really does work etc.


Shamana Flora said...

Well, I definately agree that you CAN get similar spirit properties from whole plant medicines, and just sleeping with the plant, sitting with, or using it in an amulet. BUT why should you cut yourself off from another way to use the healing power of the plants? Your reasons stated I agree with completely. There is also something very sweet, gentle and at a higher vibration using just the flowers. It is a different energy, for me, in my perception. SImilar, but not the same.
they are also very convienent when you want to align with a plant energy /spirit whose essence you can't make yourself ( this is a whole NUTHER can of worms) but, sometimes you feel called to a plant that isn't growing in your garden or even your region.

I've really only just begun to use them in ernest this year, and frankly, I was skeptical when we first started learning them, but wanted to give them a fair shot before I chose not to use them. But since I've used them ( other than rescue, which I've still not seen proof of myself) I've seen them WORK amazingly, quickly, and wonderfully, for myself, and my partner, and clients.

I dont always agree with susan on a lot of points. I just dont see the value in cutting off an avenue to use for healing, if it works. we're all different, and different things resonate for different people. just like some foods are good for some, and not for others.

MaDonaVerde said...

>>>There is also something very >>>sweet, gentle and at a higher >>>vibration using just the flowers. >>>It is a different energy, for me, >>>in my perception. SImilar, but not >>>the same

Exactly. It's that "similar, but not the same" aspect that I can't quite articulate beyond that. Sometimes I need the flower essence, sometimes the same plant tinctured in Matthew Wood - style drop doses, sometimes the infusion etc etc. I can still *feel* the plant working with me, but they're all a bit different/touch on different things as far as the *spirit* stuff is concerned.

And yes - the part about using plants that aren't local to you but still call is HUGE.

>>>I dont always agree with susan on a lot of points.

Hee. Me neither. I do love that she gets people to think about things in different ways - whether you end up seeing it from her POV or not. It can sometimes be hard when you're learning from someone with a strong personality or very vocal POV etc. to really sort out what you really believe on your own - especially when it conflicts, KWIM?

One of the things that I do love about FE's as well is that they are low impact on the plant and SO easy/inexpensive to make, so that once you're in to them, it's a very DIY friendly modality (especially when compared to something like homeopathy etc - love that too, but I'm not likely to stand around all day shaking things unless I'm at a belly dancing fest or something LOL).

Results-wise, there's a local woman who was a psychologist for many years, thought FE's were complete hocus pocus. Went to England on a pleasure trip and had some issues that needed dealing with. Her friends there finally convinced her to try FE's and she was shocked at how well/quickly they worked.

She came home and started using them in her clinical practice with her patients and was equally as shocked when people who'd barely budged in months or even YEARS of psychotherapy started making LEAPS in just days/weeks of FE use.

She subsequently ditched her psych practice and opened an FE shop.

Not that they are a *substitute* for psych therapy/counseling etc., but they really are an awesome starting point and/or adjunct.

Shamana Flora said...

That is a great story! I also like the DIY quality that flower essences have. Once you learn to make them, you could make anything you want.
so has susan actually USED FE? I am kind of opionionated and vocal myself, so usually I have no problem making my alternative opinion heard, or at least strong within myself. That is why i think it is best to learn from many people and ways. then you can pick what resonates for you, instead of being a "so and so" minion. This happens with any charasmatic and knowledgeable teacher. The students often lose sight of their own knowledge and parrot the teacher.

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~