Address to Brazilian
Flower Essence Practitioners Conference
by Richard Katz and Patricia Kaminski
Directors of the
Flower Essence Society, Nevada City, California
Without Dr. Bach, none of us would be here today. Therefore, in order to take the next developmental steps for flower essence therapy in Brazil, or decide what its classification should be for legal, professional, or moral reasons, it is important to hold the life of Dr. Bach and his founding vision in our hearts. This will be the central purpose of our message today.
In Bach's treatise Heal Thyself he stated, "Disease is in essence the result of conflict between Soul and Mind, and will never be eradicated except by spiritual and mental effort." Bach knew that healing included more than eliminating illness. He was an experienced medical practitioner who encountered the suffering of many people, including the devastating casualties of World War I. Dr. Bach's lifelong devotion to medicine led him to understand that healing is connected to the soul's sense of meaning and life purpose, especially our ability to love and serve others in freedom.
He taught that we must cleanse the inner landscape of the soul from fear, anxiety, anger, despair, stress and mental obsession so that the soul's true flowers can bloom on that sacred ground of the Self. Freedom is the most important soul blossom—the light of knowing who we truly are, the courage to follow our life path, and the radiance of love when we cultivate nurturing relationships with family and community. Even the most dire physical suffering and the portal of death itself belongs to the soul's garden, presenting an opportunity to learn and evolve beyond our current temporal condition. As Bach wrote, "Disease is in itself beneficent, and has for its object the bringing back of the personality to the Divine will of the Soul."
Bach's healing approach differs fundamentally from modern medical practice. Let us consider two key differences clearly in our hearts and minds: first of all, contemporary medicine does not acknowledge the reality of the soul. Instead, it sees emotions and thoughts as random by-products of genetic and biochemical processes. This scientific reductionism explains phenomena by what can be materially measured and calculated by instruments of technology. Thus the human being is defined according to a standard function of bodily parts, as though he or she were a machine or a computer, rather than a soul-endowed being with freedom, and blessed life purpose. By contrast, Dr. Bach asks us to perceive the full soul-spiritual dimensions of the human being, and to take this into account in all that we do in the name of healing.
Secondly, modern medicine's solution for healing is one of palliation and manipulation. This contrasts strongly with the developmental and transformative vision of Dr. Bach. Whether the symptoms are physical or mental, the promise of today's medicine is that drugs or surgery can eliminate the symptoms. To be sure, there is a real role for this kind of heroic medicine in emergency or urgent situations with acute distress. But to heal more latent or chronic conditions, we have to also understand what is happening at a deeper level. For example, if we only manipulate the brain chemistry to relieve depression, we may indeed see surface results. But this does not mean that we have addressed the fundamental cause of depression, nor have we empowered the soul to witness itself, to learn, and to move forward. For Dr. Bach, suffering was a message and an opportunity for change. As Bach wrote in Heal Thyself, "No effort directed to the body alone can do more than superficially repair damage, and in this there is no cure, since the cause is still operative and may at any moment again demonstrate its presence in another form."
Bach knew that such a radically different way of healing called for remedies that could work at a deeper level of the body-soul, differing fundamentally from pharmaceutical drugs, or even traditional herbology or homeopathy. Let us keep in mind that Dr. Bach first trained as a medical doctor, who was honored in his specialty field of immunology. He then went on to become a highly successful homeopathic practitioner with a lucrative and prestigious practice on Harley Street in London. Yet, he willingly sacrificed professional prestige and monetary success to return to the village people of Wales and England, and to walk the fields of his Celtic ancestry to find new remedies.
Dr. Bach considered flower essences an entirely different classification from either traditional medical substances or homeopathy. He found a way of working with plants that could speak to the deeper levels of the human soul. He captured the living soul presence of each plant by working directly in Nature's laboratory, and communicating with the elemental forces of Nature. As Dr. Bach wrote in a 1930 article in Homeopathic World, describing his preparation method, "Let it be noticed in this that the four elements are involved: the earth to nurture the plant: the air from which it feeds: the sun or fire to enable it to impart its power: and water to collect and to be enriched with its beneficent magnetic healing."
This method involves something sacred that is missing from the modern pharmaceutical approach. In Dr. Bach's medicine-making, each plant is approached as a unique being within the living matrix of Nature. One must be dedicated enough to find the place where the highest expression of each plant emanates, at the cosmic moment of its blossoming—a precise window of time that may only be two or three days in the whole year of the life cycle of a plant. Furthermore, it is not only the plant itself that is to be located, but also its most precious and unique habitat and the purity of the surrounding elements that nurture the plant and contribute to its "flower medicine." Speaking for the flowers developed at FES, this process alone may take years of searching and waiting for the right conditions. Perhaps most important, is the soul attunement of the one who takes responsibility for the preparation: the qualities of love, respect and gratitude for the plant are necessary in order to reach the dimension from which the plant imparts its true essence. This truth is one that we all know in our human relationships. When we meet someone out of a deep recognition for who they are, and what lies in their inmost soul essence, that human being will respond to us, and show us something of his or her soul gift. Dr. Bach realized that the same healing principle is true with plants, and he sought to move the responsibility for making medicines to a completely new arena, one that does not view the plant only as a material or chemical formulation, but rather as intrinsic expression of the living being of Nature.
It follows then, that if these new preparation methods indicated by Dr. Bach are carried out with real devotion and care, we will have a new kind of substance; one deserving of a new classification in healing. In fact, the Flower Essence Society, headquartered in Nevada City, California, has conducted careful research for over one quarter of a century, collecting cases and conducting interviews with practitioners throughout the world. These practitioners have scientific training and professional qualifications in a wide spectrum of the healing arts, yet they have consistently noted that when flower essences are selected with sufficient knowledge and consideration, they bring a completely new aspect to the client's healing, one that reaches into a unique and precious strata of the soul. In short, when medicines are created from the realm of Nature's soul,they heal in a unique and remarkable manner within the realm of the human soul.
To fully appreciate what flower essences bring to us, we are challenged to develop a new living science that goes beyond our materialistic paradigm. Standard methods of assessment will not necessarily show us these differences, any more than we could understand the great genius of an artist simply by measuring his or her DNA.
We can compare our experience to how we encounter music. We can all agree that music affects us, though we cannot weigh what takes place on a scale! A vibrational pattern is carried through the wavelengths of sound. It becomes the vehicle for a transmission of consciousness from the creator of the music to the receptive listener. To the extent that the music resonates within us, it can stir our feelings, and bring greater harmony and wellbeing to our bodies.
Flower essences operate by a similar principle of resonance. Through the careful way in which they are made, each one carries a distinct imprint or archetype of the flower's most essential qualities. These vibrational qualities impact with aspects in our own soul. Furthermore, the effect will have a different resonance for each individual recipient, in the same way that some of us might be healed by soothing lyrical music; some might require the order and symmetry of classical music, while others will benefit from lively upbeat music that energizes and stimulates. For example, if a person with pronounced fear and hesitation about various challenges in daily life takes Mimulus, this fear will be brought to consciousness through the resonant pattern that is activated. This awareness then provides an alchemical opportunity for the individual to begin a process of understanding and transforming that fear. On the other hand, if someone does not exhibit the specific kind of fear that Mimulus heals, the flower essence will have negligible effect, since it does not "speak" to the inherent resonant need of the soul.
This fundamental difference distinguishes flower essences from allopathic drugs. Pharmaceutical substances typically have the same biochemical impact in the bloodstream, regardless of the individual involved. Therefore, standard pharmaceutical doses are prescribed for the safety and efficacy of the remedy.
Flower essences also differ significantly from
homeopathic remedies. The very term "homeopathic" is derived from the core axiom
that these substances have their effect because "like cures like." Homeopathic
remedies are "proven" when the symptoms of a remedy are produced
in an otherwise healthy person, because in such a situation "like
is not meeting like". For example, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann "proved" quinine
as a homeopathic substance for malaria, by noting that it relieved the
symptoms of malaria in one suffering from the disease, but in one who
was otherwise healthy, some of the main pathological symptoms of malaria
were suddenly made manifest, or "proven."
Bach, who was an accomplished and well-recognized homeopathic doctor, was clear that his new work should not be classified as homeopathic. In an article to his colleagues in Homeopathic World, Bach wrote, "The genius of Hahnemann realizing the nature and reason of disease, used like remedies, which, by temporarily intensifying the illness, hastened its end. He used like poisons to repel the poisons from the body. But having contemplated where his genius left us, let us advance a step further forward, and we shall see that there is even a new and better way."
Bach wrote further, "If a patient has a mental error, a conflict between spiritual and physical self will result, and disease will be the product. The error may be repelled, the poison driven from the body, but a vacuum is left, an adverse force has gone, but a space exists where it has been situated. The perfect method is not so much to repel the adverse influence, as to draw in its opposing virtue; and by means of this virtue flood out the fault."
In some countries there has been an unfortunate and misguided attempt to place flower essences under the aegis of homeopathic medicines. This has served a practical marketing strategy, since homeopathic remedies are more easily imported for regulatory purposes, whereas flower essences are generally unrecognized by health authorities. While such a classification may be convenient for short-term purposes, it greatly restricts and distorts a true understanding of flower essences. In Germany, for example, where flower essences have been classified as homeopathic, they have been difficult to obtain without a doctor's prescription. Many who would benefit from flower essences are prevented from obtaining them, due to these false legal and professional barriers. Furthermore, this unwise classification has opened up a black market in transporting flower essences illegally through the borders of other countries, a practice that prevents the flower essences from being as transparent, pure and widely accessible as Dr. Bach intended them to be.
Moreover, the new resonant principle which Dr. Bach discovered for flower essences means that they have a unique self-regulating property. A wrong remedy is ineffective because it does not produce a significant resonant impact, but it is not harmful in the same way an overdose of a chemical drug can be, or the wrong homeopathic remedy can be. Dr. Bach's pioneering vision was to bring flower essence therapy to a far wider group of individuals, including both lay persons and professional healers. He felt strongly that healing should be deeply integrated throughout all of human society, and not connected only to monetary wealth or professional prestige. In fact, at the end of his life, Dr. Bach was severely censured by the medical board of England and threatened with revocation of his license because he was not working through the proper approved professional channels for the development of his flower essences. Dr. Bach responded to the medical board that if his license was revoked, he was willing to henceforth no longer call himself a doctor, but simply a herbalist.
Our many decades of research through the Flower Essence Society have shown us that indeed flower essences are a very important aspect of home care. Every parent is truly the first and foremost healer in their homes. It would be unthinkable to deny flower essences to home care practitioners. At the same time, flower essences are very precise tools, that can be used with skill by qualified therapists who address deep-seated issues such as depression, anger management or career and motivation issues with their clients. Flower essences are like the paints or colors that an artist might use. We can all agree that there are highly developed artists who use such tools with the greatest degree of precision, but this does not mean we would deny their access to others who create in more modest and simple ways.
We have not yet developed a worldwide license or agreed-upon standard of professional training for those who are working in a deeper way with flower essence therapy. But if we do so, we shall have to realize that no single current profession provides adequate training in itself for the qualities Dr. Bach outlined for this new healing modality. This is because no current profession accounts for the view of the human soul and the soul of nature in the full manner in which Dr. Bach outlined it. Whether we are medical doctors, naturopaths, homeopaths, acupuncturists, veterinarians, psychologists, nurses or other types of practitioners, we all have to stretch outside our "comfort zone" in order to successfully use this new therapy. We have to acquire the humility and soul courage to encounter and learn something completely new about healing, as Dr. Bach himself did.
The Flower Essence Society has worked for decades to teach the successful use of flower essences. Through our experience, we can point to several fundamental qualities that a competent flower essence therapist should develop. The most important over-riding quality is the self-awareness and emotional maturity to be able to be fully present for the needs of the client. This includes a compassionate understanding of the client's suffering; a thorough knowledge—both theoretical and experiential—of the qualities of the flower essences being used and the living realm of nature from which they come; and a working knowledge of the process of soul transformation, including methods of enhancing the effect of the flower essences such as body work, dream therapy, art therapy, and counseling. One of the most important components of training practitioners involves the ability to recognize the fundamental transformative stages that flower essences engender, and the terrain of the soul that is explored when flower essences are used with in-depth consideration.
We would like to share one real case so that we can consider how flower essences work in a transformational manner when skillfully guided by a good therapist. As we listen to this case, we can note how different questions are asked in this therapy, and how the process is guided in a manner that is distinct from traditional medicine or homeopathic medicine. The full documentation of this case was presented by a certified practitioner of the Flower Essence Society. Many other cases like it are published in English on the Flower Essence Society website (www.flowersociety.org). All practitioners attending this conference are warmly invited to submit their own research regarding flower essence therapy to our Society. Please be assured that we can translate into English your original Portuguese writings!
A young unmarried man in New York City came for flower essence therapy at a difficult time in his life. He was attempting to become a successful playwright, but dissipating most of his energy on alcohol and drugs. He was unemployed, and about to run out of his government support, with no prospect of a job. He was gifted in acting and writing, but was unable to bring forth his talents. He was given a combination of Larch, Hornbeam and Lotus to help him gain confidence, energy and a spiritual orientation to his life.
After one month, the therapist noticed that he walked with more confidence and even his handwriting on the evaluation form had more clarity and definition. This is the first stage of flower essence transformation, some initial release and relief of his presenting symptoms. Many might conclude that the therapy could be ended here.
However, the therapist knew from her training and soul diagnosis, that there were further dimensions toward which to guide the client's soul healing. She began talking with him about his alcoholic parents and gave him the goal of weaning himself from alcohol and drugs. She guided him in various writing assignments that enhanced the themes of his flower essences. Major essences during this period included Larch for core soul confidence, and Agrimony and Baby Blue Eyes to open his self-awareness about his inner feelings, especially in relationship to his father.
During the early part of his therapy he had a near "black-out" experience on an overdose of pain pills, and this served as a wake-up call. Although it took some time, he felt less and less drawn to substance abuse, as he shifted his energy to finding employment and toward engaging his creative writing. A second stage of flower essence transformation had begun, one that included significant levels of realization and recognition about dysfunctional patterns. For the first time, he was able to see these traits as an impartial witness, even if they still held emotional power.
As this young man gained greater confidence and stability, he was able to plunge more fully into his creative work. As is so often the case, his creative expression was also a pathway to his further therapy. He was inspired to complete a play about his childhood experiences with an alcoholic and criminal drug-dealing father and alcoholic mother. At this deeper point of therapy, he was able not only to witness his negative soul traits, but to glimpse the profound karmic connection between his current self-destructive behavior and his soul wounding as a young child. This third level of transformation held many painful moments as he re-visited the tender and vulnerable moments of this childhood. He experienced an emotional catharsis by which the power of the past to rule the present was significantly purged from his psychic identity.
The therapy continued with several different combinations, culminating with Wild Oat, Scleranthus, Blackberry, Morning Glory, and Larch, his archetypal remedy. All of these essences reinforced his renewed self-confidence and helped him to manifest his life's work with decisiveness and clarity. He was able to finish the play, kept sober, and found ways of manifesting the financial support he needed to continue his creative work.
His therapist summarized his progress as follows: "He has taken the pain and shame of his childhood abuse and turned it into art, thereby discovering and identifying its purpose. He has elevated his disturbing childhood into a holistic view of his life's plan and contribution to community."
This fourth stage represents a culminating aspect of flower essence therapy. The soul's wounds become portals through which healing light can shine forth to the world. What has previously held the soul back, becomes a gift for future manifestation. Such a transformation goes beyond the palliation of symptoms or removal of pathology. The end goal of flower essence therapy is not that we "fix" the client, or return the client "back" to a previous state of consciousness. Our ultimate goal is to enable the client to birth entirely new parts of the Self, by transforming obstacles and challenges. This is a profound alchemical soul process of converting darkness into light, as the great prayer of St. Francis teaches us: where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon...darkness, light....
Cases like these demonstrate how flower essence therapy is truly sacred work. Thousands of practitioners have testified to our Society that they have led clients toward new vistas of human potential, that would otherwise be unaddressed.
In the Native American culture there is an ancient wisdom that can inspire us. When the Council of Elders sat to make fundamental decisions for their people, they had as their guiding ethic, not only to consider what was good for themselves in the short run. Instead they had to imagine the impact of their decisions for at least seven generations into the future. If a choice was a good and worthy one, it had to continue to have a beneficial impact well into the future.
In the spirit of this native wisdom, we will not end with answers but rather with some fundamental questions. It is our prayer that these questions be lived in the heart of each one here:
* As we contemplate how to develop flower essence therapy, what can
we do to insure that the real truth and intention for this therapy lives
* Will we have the courage, like Dr. Bach, to break new ground, and to take risks, even if that means forgoing easy answers for classification or convenient marketing strategies?
* How would we develop flower essence therapy in the country of Brazil
if we considered the impact of our decisions for seven generations?
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