The power of the flower
I have been drawn to the magic of flowers for as long as I can remember and recall many sunny afternoons being lost in the perfume of lavender, jasmine, and frangipani… eating the petals of nasturtium, stroking the velvety softness of roses, and many blissful days gathering scented petals for my mother’s potpourri.
I also remember the joy when our fruit orchards would burst into blossom in early spring, the comforting sound of bee’s feeding on their sweetness, the excitement when some of the flowers became rounded fruity fullness ready to burst, and the wistfulness as they would drop their petals, seeds or fruit and return to the earth for sleepy winters.
These days I can get totally absorbed into the blissful process of creating altars, artworks, and mandalas with flowers as offerings to the unseen forces of nature.
Flowers also came to me in a very powerful way when I lived in the Amazon jungle studying Shipibo Curanderismo, the art of plant spirit medicine. Although I had a deep love of the practices I was receiving from my teachers, it wasn’t until I began focusing my learning and dietas on the realm of flowers that the teachings came alive for me in a way that they had not before.
PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR I was directly introduced to the art of making and using flower essences by a wild jungle Passionflower that I met while out on a walk in the Mishana National Park in the Amazon where I used to live/work. In my years of working on that land, i had never seen a wild Passionflower before and was absolutely taken aback by it’s beauty and scent… It’s wild tendrils that felt like they were summoning me into some other world.. it was so magical that I felt reluctant to return to camp that day.
That night I went into ceremony and was very quickly met by the spirit of that flower who asked me to make an essence of it and then proceeded to teach me how as I had never done it before and didn’t have internet access (my method is a bit different from Bach). I went out early the next morning to make the essence and quickly discovered that the Ayahuasca vine was in flower (very rare) and so was our Tobacco (Mapacho)… So I ended making essences from all 3 and began working with them intensely from that day on…
They opened up a whole new realm for me in the world of plant curanderismo and became strong teachers for me on that path. After some time marinading in the world of flowers, my teachers even started to call me “Cielita Flor” which means Sky Flower or Celestial flower. So grateful to Passionflower for initiating me into her delicious world.
What are flower essences and how do they work?
Flower essences are a form of vibrational medicine (similar to homeopathy). Not to be confused with essential oils or herbal extracts which involve working with the chemical constituents of the plant- with flower essences we are working with the vibrational qualities only. Each species of flower carries a unique vibration ― its own information signature. When the heart and mind are open, these vibrations can be perceived as archetypes of energy and meaning.
If you are receptive when you begin using flower essences, your own energetic system starts to entrain to that of the flower and eventually comes into resonance with it.
As this entrainment is taking place, the flower subtly and gently brings your system back into harmony with your own essence by providing a kind of energetic blueprint or design for it to follow.
To me, it feels as if flower essences work directly on the psycho-spiritual centers of the person and help to soften the sense of separateness and alienation from the web of life that many of us feel… they gently remind us of who we really are, by subtly shifting our perception of the world and by bringing awareness to our place within the great web of connections in which we are embedded. Each flower also offers its own specialisation/ qualities to help with specific psycho-emotional imbalances within a persons system.
Flowers speak the language of the heart and frequently pull me out of my linear thought processes and into the world of music, of poetry, art, stories, dreams, and vision. It is in this world where the medicines do their work, where they begin to weave their consciousness into our own with the potential for catalyzing a flowering within our own heart-mind.
When there are mental/emotional blockages, traumas, limiting beliefs and destructive behaviours that are causing imbalances, it is not uncommon for the flowers to bring those aspects into sharper focus within our awareness so that they can be named, held/attuned to and integrated. This process can be very uncomfortable and can take place over varying timelines depending on the person.
Much of the effectiveness of these medicines have to do with your openness to receiving their wisdom (to being entrained), your readiness for change, your willingness and commitment to your own growth (which often means leaning into difficult or painful experiences), your awareness or sensitivity to your inner state, your ability to be honest with yourself and, if necessary, your dedication to applying certain practices that help the flowers affect changes (such as meditation, journaling, dreaming, prayer, movement, spending time in nature etc.)
Although there are no quick-fixes or panaceas in life, flower essences are a subtle yet powerful way to support oneself on the path to balance, harmony, and connection. I cannot help feeling immense gratitude to them for sharing their medicine with us.
How they are prepared
Preparing flower medicines is a holy process for me and has become one of the many practices I use to connect to the more-than-human world. I usually wait until I am ‘called’ by a particular flower (I also work with tree, stone and fungi essences and the process is somewhat similar for all). Sometimes they visit me in dreams, sometimes they are gifted to me, and sometimes I am stopped in my tracks and pulled into an altered state for a timeless moment by the presence of the flower. I then collect suitable water, ideally spring water or rainwater and then head out to romance the flower in question.
Sitting next to the flower, I bring myself into a quiet state and then begin to feel into it, asking for its medicine and communicating my intentions through prayer, song, imaginal visioning, and feeling. If I feel an intuitive ‘yes’ then I sing to it as an offering of my gratitude and love. My songs are generally not learned but spontaneous responses to what I am experiencing in the moment. Sometimes I sing for a long time and we enter into a trance together and sometimes it is just a short song in gratitude.
I then pick the blossom (sometimes several blossoms) to be placed into a clear glass or crystal bowl with the water and then into direct sunlight (or moonlight) for up to 4 hours. Sometimes I sit with the bowl and again sing, or meditate and sometimes I leave it and return a few hours later.
The idea is that the light from the sun or moon imprints the vibrational life force (Qi) of the flower into the memory of the water. I then decant the water into a small amber glass bottle, add a little preserving alcohol (a tiny amount of high-quality brandy or vodka just in case some botanical components are in the essence) to stabilize it, label it and there it is. Every one of my essences has been made in this way, with great love, respect, reverence, and intention.
How I work with flower essences
Various forms of flower energy medicine go back as far as the Egyptians and ancient Greeks (and maybe even further, who knows) but the first historical mention of flower essences as we know them was said to be by Paracelsus (1493-1542), a well-known physician and botanist who used the dew collected from flowers to treat some of his patients.
They were however made famous by Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936) who was a medical doctor, homeopath and nature lover who eventually left his very successful full-time surgical practice in the city to dedicate his time to exploring the field of flower essences. Nowadays the art of flower essences is fairly well-known in the world of natural medicine and is closely associated with homeopathy.
My style of working with flower essences is an intuitive fusion of the ‘traditional’ format proposed by Bach, combined with a strong animistic/shamanic influence.
This happens when I develop a relationship with my essences by entering into Dieta with them, or do a gentle entrainment/attunement by taking the essence every evening before bed and then doing dream incubation or shamanic drum journey practices to call the energy of the flowers into my being. Once I begin feeling the flower enter into my consciousness, I work with their energy by creating art, poetry, and songs in order to deepen my connection.
In my approach with clients, I enter into altered states of consciousness through drumming, singing or entheogenic ceremony and then journey into the imaginal realms to make contact with the specific flower spirits that want to work with my client. I do my best to drop all expectations and allow myself to be guided directly by flowers.
The flowers that want to be a part of the blend will make themselves known to me (i may put up to 4 essences into one bottle for a client to work with) and may take me on a journey or I may consult with them on a treatment plan for our client.
A huge part of my work with these flowers is the weaving of essence with story, dream and archetypal imagery- allowing their spirit narratives to carry their medicine into our awareness. I also find that combining flower essences with supportive practices such as journaling, art therapy or meditation can really help to bring awareness to and amplify their effects.
This practice is ever evolving and I feel like this is really only the beginning. I am excited to see where this partnership leads as I grow and change with the seasons of life.