Essence Basics

A Brief History of Flower Essences
How Flower Essences Are Made
How Flower Essences Work
What to Expect from Flower Essences

A Brief History of Flower Essences

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A review of the life and work of Dr. Edward Bach and his discovery of the Bach Flower Remedies

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Though flower essences have been used for thousands of years in indigenous cultures, it wasn’t until the 1930′s that the British scientist, physician and homeopath Dr Edward Bach brought the use of flower essences into the awareness of western culture. Searching for a way to help his patients resolve underlying emotional and psychological issues that he felt preceded or contributed to their physical illnesses, through intense and inspired research he discovered that the essence of different flowers provided them with the balance and healing he was looking for. Dr Bach’s research led him to develop a set of 38 flower essences to address various states of emotional and mental stress and disharmony, as well as the now widely used Rescue Remedy which is a composite of five of the 38 remedies.

In the early 1980′s, a few flower essence forerunners began to expand on Dr Bach’s earlier discoveries. The couple Richard Katz and Patricia Kaminski established Flower Essence Services and began researching and developing essences made from flowers growing in California where they lived. A fire fighter began developing the Alaskan  Essences from flowers in the Alaskan wilderness, and from Australian flowers came the Australian Bush Essences.  Before long, like the hundredth monkey phenomenon, essences were being developed all around the world. Today there are numerous companies that offer a wide variety of flower essences to choose from.

The emergence of new flower essences in the 1980′s came about in response to the growing and changing needs of people living in a much faster-paced world facing many issues not confronted by people in the era of Dr Bach. Issues around gender, sexuality, self-esteem and self-acceptance, communication skills, emotional healing, clearing mental habit patterns, expansion of consciousness, spiritual practice, right livelihood–to name a few!–went beyond the scope of just the Bach Flowers. Though I deeply value and use the Bach essences, the addition of the nearly 200 other essences I use in my practice broadly expands the scope and subtlety of issues that can now be addressed through the use of flower essences.

How Flower Essences Are Made

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The first flower essences were dew gathered from flowers in the early morning.

Flower essences are made from the infusion of a chosen flower cut into a clear glass bowl filled with pure water that is set outside for a few hours in full sun. The water then holds the energy pattern or vibration of the flower. Equal parts brandy (as a preservative) and the infused water become a “mother tincture.” Drops from a mother tincture are added to smaller bottles of water and brandy to become a “stock bottle.” Stock bottles are the bottles available for purchase on-line and in stores, and are the bottles used by flower essence practitioners. Two drops from the stock bottle of each chosen flower essence is added to the bottle that becomes a “dosage bottle” or flower essence formula.

How Flower Essences Work

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After 25 years of experience with flower essences, when I’m asked how flower essences work my answer remains the same: I don’t know. This is because as vibrational remedies, the essences do not work by biochemical action, rather on subtle levels that are beyond the grasp of what we can see or touch. It is commonly understood now that everything in the universe carries a vibration–colors have a certain frequency, each sound has a different frequency, the organs in the body vibrate at different frequencies–that all matter is a physical manifestation of vibrational frequencies. The theory is that the frequency of the life energy of a particular flower affects the frequency of the life energy in people, helping to bring vibrations that are out of balance back into balance. I find this to be true.

Some say flower essences work in ways similar to the synchronizing effects of tuning forks. The analogy that works best for me is fast becoming outdated–that of turning the dial on a radio to just the right spot so the static that was disturbing to the ear is eliminated, thus fine-tuning the vibration of sound so the pure tones can become music to the ear and touch the soul. Similarly, flower essences fine-tune one’s inner experience. In a sense they are preventive medicine because they balance out emotional/mental/spiritual disharmonies that might otherwise eventually manifest as physical illness. But it is the experience of the balancing itself–the inner shifts and the life changes that result from those shifts–that after all these years still amazes me about how flower essences work.

What to Expect from Flower Essences

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Sometimes people experience immediate, dramatic change when taking a flower essence formula, but generally the experience is more subtle and gradual. I liken taking flower essences to receiving a full body massage. During a massage a particularly tight place in the body might release immediately, but usually there are patterns of holding underlying the presenting problem that need to be worked on over time. Although a massage practitioner will focus on the areas of the body that are most contracted, the whole body will receive some attention so places holding slight tension can also be released.

Similarly a flower essence formula will contain essences to pay particular attention to while taking the formula  (see Why the Pendulum), along with other essences that help  bring the whole being into balance. Though flower essences are effective even when the person taking them doesn’t know what the essences are working on, working consciously with the essences helps change take place more noticeably and more quickly. Some people experience the change as a felt internal shift in their body and/or psyche. Others notice that they are behaving differently in the world and experience their lives in a new way. As each formula is specific to each person, the experience of taking flower essences will be specific to each person as well.

While it is certainly helpful to take just one flower essence formula or to take the essences only periodically, the most lasting change comes from taking them consistently over a period of time. This allows the essences to gently and surely transform the cells back to a natural state of balance and to fine-tune one’s vibration into a resonant harmony.

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