What are Bach Flower Essences?
Pioneered by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930’s, a flower essence is a liquid preparation imprinted with the etheric pattern of a particular flower. Like a homeopathic remedy, the liquid – usually spring water with a little brandy added for preservation – contains little or no detectable chemical substance of the flower from which it was made. Instead, the liquid maintains the vibrational pattern of the flower. Well, what does this mean, exactly?
To understand flower essences (also called ‘flower remedies’), you can imagine that all things are made up of vibrating energies – modern physics and eastern mystics both confirm this – that there are no finite particles, but instead repeating, dynamic energy patterns. Material objects are made up of huge amounts of energy really, as Einstein had shown with E=mc2, where the amount of energy (E) is equal to the mass (m) of an object times the speed of light (c – a very big number) squared. Now picture a beautiful red rose – bright, colorful, vibrant – the Rose has a particular energetic pattern, one that is repeated in every other red Rose (though not exactly, but very close). There are energy frequencies that are particular to the red Rose that are different from all other flowers. The vibrations that make up a Rose are faster than many other flowers (Rose is considered a very high-vibration flower), and these vibrations are woven together in a particular way. Now imagine any other flower – a Geranium for example – it’s vibrational patterns are different from the red Rose – slightly slower perhaps, and woven together in a different way. It is these vibrational patterns of each flower that give them their particular characteristics – color, shape, smell, texture, and the like.
Now, somewhat like a sound from one source can make a material across the room vibrate with sound energy (as your eardrum may vibrate from the plucking of a guitar), flowers can cause water to vibrate with a different sort of energy. It’s not so much a sound, or even light (though this is closer), but ‘etheric’ energy – the very essence of the flower has a vibration that is imprinted upon the water in which it is placed. The water, being made up of vibrational energy itself, retains some of the vibration of the flower that was soaked in it. This etheric imprint is stored in the water, and can actually be transferred from the water at a later time to other objects (or beings) also made of vibrational energy.
So, what does all this mean to us?! Well, Dr. Edward Bach held the notion that the source illness or disease was emotional in nature. And when one ponders what emotions really are, one can conclude that each emotion is a particular energetic state of being. All emotions seem to have a particular energy – love, despair, anger, fear, appreciation – one can consider each of these a different energetic pattern. Dr. Bach considered negative energetic states, negative emotions, to be the source of disease in the body, a theory supported by much of the world’s healers. Dr. Bach also thought that these energetic states can be transformed, and that one of the transformational methods he discovered was the use of the vibrational patters of flowers – it was then that Flower Essence Therapy was born.
Through years of research and study, Dr. Bach developed a system of therapy using the vibrational patterns of flowers, imprinted into spring water, to transform the emotional vibrational patters of human beings. He showed through numerous case studies that flower essences, properly selected and applied, can be effective in treating the negative energies which underlie most disease states. Further, one need not have an illness or disease to realize the benefits of flower essences – flowers can be used to assist in transformation of any negative emotional state, be it temporary and transitive, or a more ingrained long-term pattern. (Flower essences do not transform positive states into negative ones, as flowers are not thought to contain negative energies themselves).
Dr. Bach’s 12-7-19 Categorization Method
Dr. Bach categorized the original 38 flower essences he discovered into 3 categories to assist in their application. The categories are the ’12 Healers’ which reflect and transform our essential nature, the ‘7 Helpers’ to assist with chronic conditions, and the ‘Second 19’ that relate to more immediate traumas or difficulties. Here we will consider the Twelve Healers and describe the properties of each essence. The Seven Helpers and the Second Nineteen will be considered in Parts II and III of this article.
The Twelve Healers were designated by Dr. Bach as the flower essences that help the individual transform the source of discord at the very core of their being. These twelve essences are meant to address the twelve archetypal groups of humanity; the twelve primary personalities as Dr. Bach saw them. Some have gone so far as to relate these to the twelve signs of the Zodiac (a reasonable relationship it seems), though it is unclear as to whether this relationship was drawn by Dr. Bach himself.
These twelve essences are an excellent starting point for any journey into flower essence healing, as it is often times our root ‘disharmony’ or karmic imbalance that is the source of much or perhaps all ‘dis-ease’ in our lives.
The Twelve Healers:
Impatiens – As the name of the flower implies, this essence addresses a tendency toward impatience; these individuals have difficulty with the flow of time. Their minds are often far ahead of the present moment, and with this they will deny themselves full immersion in the beauty around them. The individual needing Impatiens may be truly lonely, always being ahead of those subtle human exchanges which bring the richness to our collective human experience. Many find Impatiens to be a relatively ‘fast acting’ flower essence, feeling more at ease within minutes of essence use.
Gentian – Those in need of Gentian flower essence are too easily discouraged when setbacks occur. They may live with an omnipresent feeling that things are not going well, and may doubt the possibility of their own healing. Gentian can bring about a more positive outlook – perhaps with the feeling that one is ‘good enough’. When things do not go exactly as planned, instead of being overwhelmed and disheartened, one can see the lessons in the circumstance, perhaps rebounding with more wisdom and strength than before.
Mimulus – This essence is the core remedy for known fears in everyday life. Those needing this essence can be hypersensitive to common events which will elicit an out-of-proportion fear response. The fear may be found in the physical body centered in the solar plexus, which may churn with anxiety. Mimulus flower essence helps bring courage to these individuals, bringing the strength of the higher Self to the personality so that they may find joy and exuberance in their lives.
Clematis – The Clematis flower essence type is a dreamy one; there is insufficient interest in the immediate moment of daily life. The individual may have a strong inner life – the abilities to dream, visualize and imagine are well developed, but the manifestation into the physical world is not strong. Clematis can help bring a warmth to the bodily incarnation, such that the individual can channel their great gifts into the here and now.
Agrimony – The Agimony flower essence type tends to hide more deeply rooted pain or ailments behind a cheerful façade, both inwardly and outwardly. They may make light of their own suffering, or try to ignore it all together, when really there are patterns and feelings which need to be addressed for personal growth and healing. These individuals may have been raised in strict environments, which may not have allowed the expression of such troubles. Agrimony flower essence can help them find inner peace, by allowing the connection to true inner conditions, acceptance of these conditions, and subsequent transformation.
Chicory – Filled with self-pity, and the ‘nobody appreciates me’ attitude, the Chicory flower essence type squanders their light by demanding it from others. A guise of seemingly loving behavior can be used to manipulate others into feeding somewhat selfish needs. The Chicory essence is considered important for clearing loving energy pathways so they may be directed outward and given freely. May be particularly helpful with children who have a pattern of negative behavior for demanding attention.
Vervain – The lesson of Vervain flower essence is one of balance. The individual in need of Vervain may be extreme, over-bearing, and very strong – perhaps inflexible – in their ways. Though their energies are high, the single-minded efforts of the Vervain type can result in stress, when given situations where flexibility is required. This is where the mind-body connection can be lost; the mind can be so strongly committed to a particular action, it may no longer consider the long-term effects to the physical being. Vervain flower essence brings grounding and earthly balance, allowing these strong-willed individuals the flexibility necessary to manifest their great intentions and efforts.
Centaury – The flower essence for those who cannot say no. The Chicory essence type finds their reason for being in the service and acceptance of others. The result is no true value of self, and the spreading thin of personal energies. There is the recurrent theme of personal boundaries being overstepped, because the will to create and enforce those boundaries is weak. Chicory flower essence strengthens the value of one’s self, supporting the notion that one’s life in and of itself is of importance. The idea that one must truly be honoring and respectful to one’s self first, before others can be served, is reinforced – It is then that personal healing can finally be initiated as a powerful force.
Scleranthus – The personality in need of Scleranthus flower essence is marked by indecision, confusion and hesitation, often wavering between two choices. This inability to decide the best course of actions for one’s self can be physically and emotionally draining – this mental energy is used repeatedly examining a situation rather than manifesting the best choice. The world can be a difficult place for such individuals, as there are limitless possibilities in which to get lost, never really making headway. Scleranthus will help these individuals define themselves and their world, summoning the strength to form an inner resolve. This allows a great release of energy to be happy and manifest one’s chosen work.
Water Violet – This important flower essence is about the opening of the heart. Those in need of this essence may be functioning quite effectively in society and within their familial relationships, however, the deepest parts of these bonds are avoided. Whether due to childhood experiences, karma brought to this life from the past, or other situations, the individual has constructed a barrier preventing full integration with the human family. The true warmth of love and companionship should be utilized to further one’s growth – Water Violet flower essence supports this transformation.
Rock Rose – This is the flower essence for great fear. Unlike Mimulus, which is indicated more for a fear which manifests as being ‘timid’, Rock Rose addresses terror. It is often indicated in traumatic events (as a component of Rescue Remedy) or for specific instances where a reaction of overwhelming fear is inhibiting further growth or healing. If one has been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, for example, and one is overcome with the fear of death, this fear will inhibit any healing process that may take place. Rock Rose brings courage to those most in need.
Cerato – Cerato flower essence types do not trust their own hearts, minds or instincts; instead they seek the advice of others, and rely on this advice to direct their lives. This almost certainly creates an imbalance, for it is only by honestly listening to our own inner voice that we may walk the path to true physical and emotional wellness. While seeking advice is certainly important in most of life’s circumstances, the Cerato type uses this advice as a crutch. Cerato flower essence will encourage one to listen to one’s own inner wisdom and facilitate spiritual growth in this respect.
This concludes the summary of the ‘Twelve Healers’ – the flower essences Dr. Edward Bach considered key to transforming root personality imbalances. As a physician, Dr. Bach believed that one or more of these imbalances was to be found associated with the illness of each patient, and that if these imbalances were addressed, the conditions necessary for healing may successfully arise. Of course one does not necessarily need to be outwardly manifesting a state of dis-ease to find benefit in these flower essences; through bringing balance to any person, they may further their personal development and heighten their life’s experience.
In the next part of this article, we will look at the ‘Seven Helpers’ – Flower essences Dr. Bach considered useful in chronic states of illness.
Misty Rae Cech is a naturopath and yoga teacher residing in Boulder, Colorado. She is owner of the Ananda Apothecary, a dispensery
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