What are Flower and Energy Essences?
Paracelsus, a wandering doctor and medical writer of the 15th century, wrote about having been taught the medical uses of dew by the Sufis of Constantinople. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th century mystic who wrote extensively on medicine, as well as writing poetry and music and being an accomplished artist, also recommended the use of dew for healing. Dew was also harvested for use in alchemical processes. Because it would be impractical to harvest dew in large amounts, the manufacture of flower essences mimics the way dew is formed.
The first commercial flower essences of modern times were made by Dr. Edward Bach, a British physician, in the 1920s. Dr. Bach had been working at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, researching and preparing new homeopathic medicines, when he was inspired to leave his family, his career, his everyday life, and go in search of a new healing modality for the benefit of humankind. He spent the next few years travelling around the English countryside, sensitising himself to the plants and flowers by drinking the dew that formed on them in the mornings, and preparing his Bach Flower Remedies. In his lifetime he developed 39 Remedies, plus the Rescue Remedy, a mixture of five different plant essences, which is widely used for shock. Since Dr. Bach’s, time many other systems of Flower Essences have been developed.
How are Flower Essences made?
Most Windy Hill Essences are made according to the ‘sunlight’ method laid down by Dr. Edward Bach. Some are made as ‘live’ essences – by exposing a bowl of water to the plant in situ, usually by nestling the bowl among the branches or stems.
A clear glass bowl is filled with spring water, and the chosen flowers are carefully laid on the surface of the water. The bowl is left in full sun for between 2 and 4 hours. The flowers are then filtered out and the remaining liquid is bottled and preserved with brandy.
We don’t pick rare or protected flowers, and we try to use plants that grow far from roads and pollution.
How are Energy Essences made?
The Shifa Energy Essences were made by energising water in a shrine or an ancient holy place. Usually, I am guided intuitively to make an energy essence at a particular place, and at the time I often don’t know why. Later, when I research the history and symbolism of that shrine, and the myths and stories traditionally associated with it, I often find a correspondence between them and the information that I receive when I do my ‘tuning-in’. I believe that synchronicity is part of the binding fabric of our universe…..
How do Flower Essences work?
Nobody really knows exactly how these gentle medicines work, but we think that an ‘energetic signature’ of the plant is transferred to the water in the bowl, and energised by the sun. Of course some physical substance is transferred too – aromatic oils and other chemical components of the plant – but flower essences are basically subtle, energy medicines, not measurable chemical products like essential oils.
In the last few years there has been a lot of research into the idea of the ‘memory of water’ – which some believe may be the mechanism by which energy is transmitted in homeopathic medicines. Researchers such as Masaru Emoto with his work on water crystals, and Jacques Benveniste, have both shown that there is something at work here, that water is an extraordinary substance, the nature of which is not fully understood.
All the major religions of the world use water for cleansing or benediction. The priest prays over water to impart holiness; holy words are placed in water to give it healing qualities; certain rivers and wells are considered to have divine or health-giving properties. This is the realm of flower and energy essences.
The adult human being is about 70% water, and if water has a ‘memory’ then our history, all our personal experiences, both happy and sad, are held in our bodily fluids. When the ‘energy signature’ of the flower or energy essence is absorbed into the energy system or the vital fluids of the taker, perhaps it resonates with this water and change can happen. The body has great wisdom, and if left to itself it will try to revert to health and healthy patterns. Flower and energy essences may work with this process in the subtle body, or energy system, which according to Dr. Edward Bach (and many others before and since!) is where ill-health begins. Bach believed that all disease originates from incorrect mental and emotional attitudes which poison the system.
Why do we use alcohol in making the Essences?
The energised water contains some plant substance, so a preservative must be used. Dr. Bach preserved his Flower Remedies with brandy, and many in the international Flower Essence community have continued this practice until now. Some practitioners and producers prefer to use vinegars, glycerine or other preservatives, but I still prefer brandy. The Lebanese Essences(now known as Mawasem and Shifa essences) are preserved in local brandy from the Bekaa valley, whereas UK and European-made essences are preserved using French brandy (36%). Go to: ‘Choosing and taking your Essence’ for more information on ways to take the essences without taking the alcohol into your body.