A Druid Looks at Plants and Planets through Flower Essences
When I began my astrology practice twelve years ago, I felt constricted by the traditional once-per-year contact with the client.
I could see that many clients became overwhelmed by the amount of information contained in the reading. Unless clients have some astrology background, they have few resources to interact with the information, symbols, and possibilities in the chart in a single session. Nor did I want to foster a dependence upon my interpretation of the chart that might keep a client asking for more information of the “what’s going to happen next?” variety. Astrology is a spiritual practice and an art that needs focused attention to be helpful at a deep level. It should be seen as an ongoing exploration, unique in itself and deserving of time and reflection.
I also have a strong connection to the natural world and earth spirit. I have often urged my clients to get acquainted with astrology by watching the sky. Astrology comes alive as we watch the Moon wax and wane and see Jupiter’s bright eye in the sky. When I discovered the world of flower essence therapy, I knew the combination of the healing power of plants along with guidance provided by the stars and planets would help my clients discover the healing power within that is a gift of the natural world.
My acquaintance with flower essences began in 1988 when a friend brought me a little bottle of Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy after I was injured in a car accident. I was lucky to escape the wreckage with only a broken nose, but I was incapacitated for a few days with bruises and torn ligaments in body and spirit. I felt dark holes open suddenly in front of me, and rage would wash over me — a rage not connected to my thoughts. I drank a glass of water with a few drops of Dr. Bach’s potent remedy and was put back together. I would fall back into deep depression and, once more, be rescued by those powerful flower drops.
Flower essences became my friends and companions after that. I studied Dr. Bach’s books and was drawn to the combination of energetic healing with the wisdom of plants and the natural healing that they provide. Like homeopathy, flower essences teach us that "less is more" — a new kind of physics where we come to value and work with the pattern of manifestation before it takes form on the physical plane.
What Are Flower Essences?
Flower essences connect one to the vibrational energy of the plant, rather than the chemical content. Flower essences are not herbal preparations, nor are they essential oils, as used in aromatherapy. The essences are gathered by floating blossoms on spring water and infusing them with sunlight. From here, they are diluted in brandy and water until no chemical effects from the plant are present. The essences work directly with the subtle energy body.
Flower essences are traditionally taken in drops under the tongue. They are also effective in a glass of water, added to bath water, or sprayed in the air. Since flower essences are vibratory medicines, some clients find them helpful even when they are not ingested. People who have a strong connection to energy healing often carry a bottle of flower essence around with them.
When we experience ourselves as part of a network of light and movement rather than separate solid objects, we understand why these simple preparations of flower soul energy can be so powerful. Theories about physical objects as light and energy flow have become part of or our concept of physics. As we embrace energy therapies, such as acupuncture, and as we open ourselves to the healing power of shamanic cultures, we begin to appreciate our own healing traditions. Flower essences provide an effective bridge between the medical treatment of the past and the new, complementary healing methods of the present.
Dr. Edward Bach developed flower essences during the 1930s in England. Bach was a famous bacteriologist and homeopath who had come to the conclusion that illness begins in the emotional body before it manifests in the physical body. He wanted to find a source of healing easily available to country people who cannot afford to go to a doctor. Bach left a successful practice and a teaching position in London to search for a new kind of medicine. Certain that he would find this new medicine in nature, he wandered the English and Welsh countryside looking for inspiration. At first, he used the dew on plants as the essence. By touching the dew to his lips, he could sense the ailments and psychic imbalances that the healing power of the plant was able to address. Later, he arrived at the method of obtaining the essence by floating flowers on spring water and infusing them with sunlight. From this water, he made remedies that had amazing results with his patients.
Dr. Bach discovered that flower essences encapsulate the pattern of the flower, and he developed 38 essences that he connected to various psychological profiles. Bach chose to use the homeopathic method of working with character types rather than physical ailments.
In the 1980s, new flower essences were developed by practitioners all over the world. Energetic plant medicine has blossomed and evolved in many directions. The devic communication made manifest in the Findhorn Garden in Scotland took plant spirit medicine in a new direction. The pioneering work of the Flower Essence Society of California developed flower essences from plants native to that part of the country. As the practices of shamans and herbalists from traditional societies are sought as teachers by Western practitioners, we acknowledge further cooperation between plant and human. There are now thousands of flower essences which are collected and used in a variety of ways. The plant kingdom seems eager to collaborate with humans, to help us heal and evolve so that we may survive in peace and harmony on the planet.
I owe the integration of astrology and flower essence therapy to my Druid studies begun in 1990. As a practicing Druid, I see plants and planets in a network of life and energy, visible and invisible, which includes me and all else in its embrace. Until Druidry gave me the language to communicate directly with the spirits of natural places — trees, plants, stones, earth, and breezes — I had felt a terrible yearning and frustration. I knew the language exists that could connect me to nonhuman creation, but I did not know how to access it. I needed the wisdom and guidance of the natural world but was deaf to the language that I could only sense all around me.
Druidry sees all creation as imbued with spirit and recognizes many realms of parallel existence that are imperceptible to the senses. There is no concept of the superiority or separation of our species. There is no hierarchy in consciousness: a stone, a tree, a dog, an earth spirit, and a human perceive reality from their own viewpoint. Creation is interconnected and interdependent. Humans dwell in a small band of sight and sound and an even smaller range of smell and intuition, yet we can open up to keener perception when we understand our potential for listening, seeing, and sensing. Animals, plants, and minerals also evolve in their ability to communicate and adapt to changing circumstances. Druidry combines a respect for what has gone before with a responsibility to develop creative responses to what is going on in the present.
Plants and Planets: The Doctrine of Signatures
Western healers were astrologers in many societies, and their medicine was plant material. The Doctrine of Signatures, as conveyed by Paracelsus, looks for the correspondence between the physical characteristics of plants and the organs of the human body. As an example, mullein has furry leaves, which gives a clue to the use of this plant for chest and lung ailments: The “fur” is similar to the cilia of the trachea and the alveoli of the lung.
Correspondence between the zodiacal mapping of the human body and plant characteristics is another clue herbalists were trained to observe. Yellow flowers and roots are associated with the Sun; red flowers, leaves, and roots, with Mars. A thistle might also be associated with Mars because of its spikes. The signs and symptoms of the disease — the qualities of hot and cold, dry and moist — were related to the appropriate plants and planets. For instance, fever, because of its heat, and bleeding because of its red color, was associated with fire (heat) and with an excess of Mars. The white flowered yarrow plant, ruled by Venus, (considered a balance for the excess of Mars) is used to staunch the flow of blood and to cool fevers. Chiron used the herb to stanch the bleeding of Achilles. The Latin name for yarrow is Achilles millefolium.
Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th-century social revolutionary, herbalist, apothecary, and astrologer, left us with several herbal guidebooks still in print today. These were the first such texts written in English, rather than Latin, so that the common people might have access to healing from easily available plants. Along with each herb, Culpeper noted its ruling planet. Folk tradition, which had always depended upon plants and astrology, had been devastated by the witch trials, so people were terrified to admit any knowledge of herbs. Culpeper was able to give the tradition back to those from whom it had been stolen.
Here is an example of how the Doctrine of Signatures can be used with flower essences to address a physical ailment. Snapdragon has a tiny mouth that opens and “snaps” shut and was thus a good remedy for a client with Bell’s Palsy, a disease causing pain and drooping paralysis of the head and face. My client had been diagnosed with this uncomfortable malady, which has no medicinal cure, and she was told that it would probably go away in six months to a year. Transiting Mars had just entered her 1st house. I suspected that this entry of Mars into Aries’s house had taken the form of this painful attack on her head and face, parts of the body traditionally ruled by Aries. I gave her an essence of snapdragon, based upon the appearance of jaws in this flower. The pain and paralysis were gone in a few days.
After her Bell's Palsy lifted, my client was then able to carry out some plans for a community group. Mars in her 1st house could now support her personal talents, and she became the head of the civic organization rather than a woman with a painful attack upon her head. The energy and determination of Mars in her first house was transformed by the use of this particular flower essence.
The connection between plants and planets and signs takes a variety of forms, shapes, colors, and even numbers. For example, the Rose family has five petals and thus a traditional connection to Venus. Why Venus? Because, with her five-step cycle as evening and morning star, she has been portrayed as a five-pointed star, the pentacle; the number 5 is often associated with the feminine energy of the Goddess. When Venus is uncomfortable in a natal chart because of sign, placement, or aspect to other planets or is under siege during a transit, flower essences with Venus characteristics can be tried as an antidote. This has to be done very carefully over several sessions, to avoid activating the pattern of resistance to Venus energy.
A variety of Rose-family essences have helped clients who yearn for satisfying relationships but who are discouraged by a history of failed love affairs. As progressed Venus changes signs or houses, it’s not unusual for this despair to lift and for clients to find room in their hearts to try love again.
Water lily blossoms on top of water but has deep taproots that anchor the plant to the bottom of the lake. I used water lily essence with a client who has the Sun and Venus in Pisces. She had terrible pains in her feet, a part of the body ruled by Pisces. This client also has Neptune conjunct her North Node in Libra, which suggests that she needs to listen to her Pisces, Jupiter (ruler of Pisces), Neptune, and Venus (ruler of Libra) voices to move into new territory. The pains in her feet came at a time when she was about to take a “big step.” I believed that this client was not able to trust her Piscean energy to solve problems and feel secure. Instead, she tended to fall back on her South Node in Aries and Mars in Capricorn, often using a sledgehammer where a gentle touch was needed.
Water lily eased the pain in her feet and allowed her to trust herself to make decisions based on feeling rather than a need for certainty. She could explore Piscean and Libran modes of trust and could thus release her reliance on survival methods. As a side benefit, she found that water lily enhanced her sexual desire (Venus in Pisces), which enriched her relationship with her husband. She also set aside time in her busy schedule to meditate. Like the water lily, she opened to her potential to float while feeling the roots deep beneath her.
This is where the invisible director, the soul, makes choices. The chart becomes a stage; the planets, dynamic actors in an endless, cosmic drama — a mythology constantly in the making. The plants connect them to the transpersonal assistance of other realms and to the healing momentum that is within each person. A link between the plants, the planets in the charts, and the issues that trouble us are woven from tradition and intuition in a process that continues to evolve.
- Bach, Edward. Heal Thyself. C. W. Daniel Co. Ltd., 1931.
- Bach, Edward. The Twelve Healers & Other Remedies. C. W. Daniel Co. Ltd., 1933.
- Carr-Gomm, Philip. The Druid Way. Element Books, 1993.
- Culpeper, Nicholas. Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician. Meyerbooks, 1990.
- The Findhorn Community. The Findhorn Garden. Harper and Row, 1975.
- Gerber, Richard, M.D. Vibrational Medicine. Bear and Co., 2001.
- Kaminski, Patricia and Richard Katz. Flower Essence Repertory. Flower Essence Society, 1986.
- Maclean, Dorothy. Seeds of Inspiration. The Lorian Association, 2004.
- McIntyre, Anne. Flower Power. Henry Holt Co., 1996.
- Tobyn, Graeme. Culpeper’s Medicine. Element Books, 1997.
Sarah Fuhro combines her training as an astrology counselor and flower essence practitioner in a healing practice called Star-Flower Alchemy. She is a Druid member of the worldwide teaching Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and participates in the training of Druids. To contact Sarah phone (508) 652-9881; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://sarahfuhro.com.