"...When you no longer know how to go further, let the plants tell you, the plants that you let spring up, grow, blossom, and fruit within you. Learn the language of the flowers...They are the stairsteps of transformation, of purification, and of healings from the wrongs and woes of the world." (Albert Steffen, Journeys Here and Yonder)
What does the word "essence" mean to you? To me, it is the spirit or heart of something. In Latin, "essence" translates roughly to "the what it is". Perhaps other words come to your mind to describe it. Now add the word "flower" to the discussion. "Flower essences are gaining worldwide professional recognition for their significant contribution to holistic health and wellness programs," according to one authority. Just what are flower essences, and how are they useful? To gain a better understanding of this subject, I consulted a well-worn and beloved comprehensive guidebook that Lisa keeps at her desk and kindly let me take home in preparation for this blog. It's called "Flower Essence Repertory", written by authors Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz.*
According to this respected authority, flower essences are subtle liquid extracts, generally taken in oral form. Each essence is prepared by selecting a specific type of fresh herb or flower, placing it in a jar or bowl of water, and allowing it to steep/infuse in the sun. It is then diluted and preserved with brandy. "Quality preparation requires careful attention to the purity of the environment, the vibrancy and potency of the blossoms, celestial and meteorological conditions, and sensitive study of the physical and energetic properties of the plant through its cycle of growth," the authors explain.
How are flower essences useful? They are used "to address profound issues of emotional well-being, soul development, and mind-body health." Rather than being of direct bio-chemical benefit, such as how teas and tinctures generally work, flower essences are vibrational and "work through the various human energy fields, which in turn influence mental, emotional, and physical well-being." The authors explain this another way by likening the action of flower essences to our human response when we hear a moving composition of music or when we see an inspirational piece of art. You may even think of how you feel upon experiencing a breathtaking landscape or scenic view. These things stimulate and stir profound feelings within us which then affect our breathing, heartbeat, and other physical states. "These patterns do not impact us by direct physical or chemical intervention in our bodies. Rather, it...awakens an experience within our own soul similar to that which arose within the soul of the creator of the musical or art form...The life forces conveyed by each flower essence resonate with, and awaken, particular qualities" within us. Interesting, isn't it?
To give you an example, I turned to "Soul Issues: Categories and Themes", then I turned to the subject of "Grief", something I have personally been dealing with for some time. Among the list of suggested flowers to consider for grief are Bleeding Heart, Dandelion, Honeysuckle, and Borage, all of which happen to grow profusely in my garden each year. I pick "Borage - uplifting and renewing the heart with courage; heart balm for grief". That sounds nice, so now I turn to the "Qualities and Portraits" section regarding Borage. It lists cheerful life forces, buoyant courage, and optimism as positive qualities associated with this flower. It goes on to say, "Borage is an excellent heart remedy, especially for the feeling of heaviness in the heart...at times when the soul experiences too much grief, sadness, or other adversity, the heart can become contracted and heavy. We call this feeling discouraged or disheartened...Courage is not so much connected to grit or strength, but to a condition of buoyancy in the soul which helps it to rise above, rather than sink into the weight of discouragement or depression. Borage flower essence helps the heart to experience this ebullience and lightness, filling the soul with fresh forces of optimism and enthusiasm. It is an excellent all purpose balm and toner...when the soul needs upliftment and encouragement."
Reading this profile makes me smile because Borage happens to be a prominent plant in my pollinator garden and brings me such joy to admire (see how pretty it is in my photo), and to watch the bees happily feed from it throughout each summer and autumn. Borage is also an edible plant and the blooms are lovely in a fresh salad of greens. I have always loved it!
So whether it means nibbling on the peppery tasting flowers while strolling through the garden, taking a tincture, or perhaps making a supportive flower essence from it (or both), it's such a joy and comfort knowing that in whatever way we may individually choose to tap into the benefits of our plant friends, they are always here to support and guide us.
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"Flower essences work best when they are part of an overall program of health enhancement, which includes good nutrition, proper exercise, healthy relationships, involvement in work and community, artistic expression, and consultation with a variety of health practitioners and modalities, including medical care when appropriate." (P. Kaminski and R. Katz)
* All quotes are taken from the book "Flower Essence Repertory" written by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz, published by The Flower Essence Society