The Seduction of Fixing — What Flower Essences Don’t Do!By Andrea on February 07, 2010 — 1 Comment
Written for the Tranquil Planet, Windsor, Ontario, March 2000
Plants talk to me, all the time… and they tell me the most amazing things if I listen.
For the most part, I don’t pay close attention but when I really want some answers, I trust them to give me wonderful guidance and accurate information. This ongoing dialogue has changed my life.
Let me use a personal example.
Recently I was sitting in my meditation room, sad and confused over a misunderstanding with a friend. The sting from our conversation left me slightly paralysed and uncertain about what to do. Then I noticed the cluster of aloe plants sitting on the floor directly across from me. Several plants stuffed into one small pot created a chaotic tangle of long, prickly-edged stems, each green arm a storehouse of healing salve.
In the stillness, I wondered if the aloe had a message for me.
With soft eyes and an open heart, I studied the green cluster, noticing the varied angles of the aloe’s long arms. Extending in many directions, the aloe exhibited a confident fullness that was generous yet contained. I knew they would not offer their juice unless I broke a stem. Finally, when I was very quiet, I heard the words, “Keep reaching out.”
Aloe’s message was astonishingly simple yet potent.
My tendency would be to recoil and withhold my juiciness, or rip myself open and pour everything into a wounded relationship. However, Aloe is not so indiscriminate — it contains its salve while still reaching out. The complete rightness of this message soothed me as I continued my work.
A short time later, the telephone rang. It was my friend, informing me that she had to go into hospital the next day for some unexpected minor surgery. Fresh from the encounter with the plant, I did not pull back or gush towards her. Instead, in the spirit of Aloe, I was able to reach out with easy generosity, and she was grateful.
In the 1500’s Paracelsus suggested to his clients that they calm and balance their emotions by drinking the early-morning dew. While flowers have historically been viewed as a source of comfort, beauty, and healing, flower essences were not formally ‘discovered’ until the 1930’s.
Dr. Edward Bach took an intuitively scientific approach to his explorations with plants. In natural settings, he would elicit a specific emotion such as fear or anger, then note which plants attracted him. He took the petals and put them in water in the sunlight for a few hours, inviting them to release their information and energy. Later he added brandy as a preservative and took notes of how the plant’s energy affected his specific emotion. This elegantly simple method is still used today, though the range of communication with the intelligence of nature has considerably expanded.
So how do flower essences really work?
Most people see their immediate effect on the emotional realm, but their actual potential appears to be far more comprehensive. Current understandings suggest that flower essences affect the body’s electrical system, the mechanism that ‘glues’ our souls to our bodies. Through the principle of resonance, they remind us, at a cellular level, how to fully be ourselves. Acting as nature’s messengers, they offer blueprints for wholeness and balanced blossoming within any environment. Disease always involves some form of disconnection from Life. Rather than fixing isolated components of a living system, flower essences instantly re-wire the disconnected parts.
Used with other healing modalities, they stabilise, anchor and integrate the shifts we make in psychotherapy, chiropractic, Reiki, naturopathy, massage, homoeopathic and counselling sessions. With virtually no side effects, it is easy for lay people to confidently use flower essences for their own self-care maintenance.
When I started using the Bach and Perelandra essences in 1993, I found them effective with minor injuries and emotional blockages. Through daily use, I honed my muscle-testing skills. Gradually, my intuition became more heightened and reliable and my life was no longer dictated by the familiar ‘Two-steps-forward, One-step-back’ shuffle!
In 1995, while still working as a musician and teacher, I started making the Raven Essences.
Inspired by Machaelle Small Wright’s approach to co-creative gardening, I had been exploring my connection with the nature spirits in my tiny urban garden in Maple, Ontario for three years. Gardening this way was a playful experience; I attributed the flourishing plants mostly to good soil and sunshine rather than my co-creative approach.
When a friend asked me to make an essence from my Datura plants, I agreed. The process was so satisfying that I made thirty other essences that summer. I recorded my conversations with the plants in formal definitions, then distributed the essences to any friends and colleagues who would experiment with them.
Meanwhile, I was duelling with a host of inner dragons. One monster took the form of a tumour on my parotid gland that I and others suspected was malignant. The threat of cancer forced me to do a major inventory on many parts of my life. In the search for answers and a cure, I met many healers and struggled to make sense of where my life was going.
Did the flower essences cure my cancer? I will never know… Looking back, I know that the act of creating the essences — listening deeply with my heart, mind and body to nature’s wisdom, opened the doors to a very different future.
Healing came through a willingness to make major changes in my life. Throughout this time, the flower essences supported me through many tiny, critical steps.
I gradually moved away from teaching music to work full-time as a healer and educator with the Raven Essences. Through private consultations, writing and workshops, I began to help others use flower essences as doorways into a gentle and loving dance with Nature.
Was my life a fairy-tale, happy-ever-after story? No, because I still had a lot to learn, and the flower essences kept teaching me…
Working as a healer with flower essences was my next learning challenge. They don’t work the way Advil or even Echinacea does. Flower essences are rarely a quick-fix. They don’t suppress symptoms, they don’t always comfort — in fact, they refused to work the way I wanted them to, as nature’s simple wonder-drugs. Some people did have dramatic shifts, which was reassuring, but other results were frustratingly subtle. At these times, I questioned my ability as a healer, even wondering if I was just selling snake-oil.
Eventually, I began to see that the flower essences were inviting me to view healing in a totally new way — as a profoundly intimate and mysterious process.
What if I wasn’t meant to fix my clients problems? This was a radical thought! What else could I do? and what was my role?
Before I could answer these questions, I had to let go the seductive grandiosity so alluring to all healers — the perception that we can actually heal another human being.
Instead of trying to cure and fix, I began to ask questions.
“What is this body struggling to say? What is Nature offering as balance and information in this situation?”
With a lessening concern for results and an increasing trust in my communication with Nature, I gradually began to find my own way as a healer.
Now as I consult the essences through muscle-testing and intuition, I am assured that nature will give me very precise and supportive information. Combined with the flower essences, this information helps clients see and feel their story as part of a larger living process. That is my responsibility. The rest of the healing dance is between my client and nature!
We are changed by all our relationships. We take for granted the wealth of nature’s abundant messages and resources through all its dimensions — soil, water, air, plants, animals, and our own wise bodies. Instead of using plants to merely six us, which they have so generously done for millenia, our opportunity in these days is to consciously o-create with Nature’s wisdom as honouring ‘equals’. Healing, for ourselves and the planet, lies within the heart of this dialogue. All that is required is our willingness to engage.
This was my first major article about flower essences, written in 2000. For a perspective written nearly ten years later: A Dedication to the Earth.