Alison Bastien is a Certified Childbirth Educator and Certified Professional Midwife who has lived and worked in Mexico since 1982. The following is a report from her in regard to her experiences working with flower essences in her practice. It has been slightly edited for presentation. Read more about Alison here.
The Holly helps to address the often unspoken fear that there isn’t enough love to go around now that someone new is coming, that perhaps one is no longer loved as much, or wasn’t good enough and so the parents needed a new child, etc. The Willow helps to address and move through the feelings of “no fair, now everyone is with the baby and not me…” and other similar thoughts.
Many issues come up for pregnant women and so it is difficult to generalize about the experience of pregnancy and the use of flower essences. But for example, I may recommend Star of Bethlehem when a mother realizes she hasn’t quite processed her previous birth, that actually it was a lot more traumatic than she had allowed herself to acknowledge. But now that she faces going through labor again with her next baby, issues and feelings surface which she would like to clear so as not to bring old trauma to a new experience.
Elm or Oak is also a mother’s friend, whether she is a first-time mother or has a house full of children and/or is juggling children and a career. Elm is useful when a woman feels so overburdened and overwhelmed with it all, for example, at 6 to 10 weeks postpartum when many return to their regular lives plus having a newborn baby to care for. Oak helped a mother with two little boys who then gave birth to a Downs Syndrome child. She knew this wasn’t a temporary overload; and, like the mighty Oak, she was going to have to stand strong and constant as support, and be a loving presence for many years. Olive or Aloe Vera helps mothers a few weeks after the holidays who haven’t gotten enough sleep or support, and they are just exhausted on all levels.
I often recommend the Monkeyflowers:
Scarlet Monkeyflower is used for women who feel unsupported but are afraid of their husband or family’s anger if they ask for help, and/or are afraid of the depth of their own anger if and when they finally speak out their frustration.
Pink Monkeyflower is for those who feel shame at their own loneliness or neediness during or after pregnancy, wishing they could open their hearts more deeply to their partners, but are already so vulnerable that they are unsure that it is safe to do so.
Sticky Monkeyflower helps women who come for fertility counseling and are unsure about how to be in relationship on a personal level.
Issues of loneliness, grief, anticipatory anxiety, exhaustion, and disconnection from the Divine Feminine are themes I see often during pregnancy and postpartum, and I am grateful for the help of flower essences. These issues are not as freely discussed or addressed as a normal part of our experiences in motherhood, so there is also sometimes involved the element of Pine or Larch—guilt, low self-esteem or blame.
Sometimes I will be asked for a flower essence “for depression” or “for anxiety” and as I listen to the situation, it turns out someone was robbed, or their partner left them suddenly, or they were abused verbally or physically, and I realize depression or anxiety isn’t really the issue. They are more like side effects, as it were, of the anger that has nowhere to go (Cherry Plum, Scarlet Monkeyflower) and the frustration, impotence and unfairness (Willow) that they feel. Sometimes White Chestnut is helpful as they obsess on their feelings, or the event, and Star of Bethlehem for the trauma. Sometimes it’s not so much the experience as it is the reaction it brings up for them that needs to be addressed.
For this reason, “taking the case” teaches us to expand beyond our ideas and judgments about how people “should” respond in different circumstances. Instead, we may aspire to be more like the flowers themselves—simply present, grounded, offering our gifts if someone’s looking for them; fine if they are not. One can learn more about oneself from every session as well, and, in turn, “bloom” and reflect the many aspects of the human spirit as one sits before ones “clients” (or sits before the Repertory looking at aspects of oneself).
Mexico is more than the media portrayal
I have been stocking in the shop—as well as working with in my private practice--the flower essences for nearly 25 years here, and I definitely see that they are much more widely accepted and understood in the last seven or so years than previously. Many of the local therapists and psychotherapists send their patients to the shop to have their prescriptions filled utilizing Bach and/or FES essences, and there are many practitioner trainings pertaining to flower essence therapy in the major cities. There are practitioners who use it in conjunction with kinesiology, reiki, and other modalities as well.
I have an undergraduate degree in anthropology/psychology, am a Certified Childbirth Educator and a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). I went to college in Humboldt County, California, back in the late 1970s, and it was there among the tall redwoods that I really became aware of the spirits of the plants. I spent a lot of time in between classes sitting in a Redwood grove, my back against the trees. And in retrospect, I feel like something really seeped into my spirit as well, during those years in the woods.
I also teach classes in midwifery, childbirth education, and what I call plant-spirit-medicine. In this class, we look at what I call the 7 octaves or vibrational levels of essence which the plants share with us: from physical presence, teas and tinctures, oils and aromatherapy, homeopathy and then, the seventh level, as flower essences.
People often are seeking “real” Mexican or indigenous information regarding health issues, and I usually fall through the cracks as a resource, as I am between the worlds, between the cultures. I work with people from all over the world, literally, as well as a base population of Mexicans and ex-patriots from North and South America. I like it that way, because here I am able to meet people in their human-ness, not so much in their cultures, except as to how that reflects on their souls and their ability to be at home on the planet and in themselves. Again, this is something I love about flower essences; they are not culturally dependant and the appreciation for plants and flowers is truly universal.
Flower essences are our most “forgiving” form of plant medicine in that they will work with anyone, anytime, regardless of their beliefs, dietary or lifestyle habits, race, gender, age, or whatever other medicines or remedies they may be taking at the time. They return us ever so gently to ourselves in flower. We are not here to “use” the essences to “fix” people, so much as to enjoy watching one another unfold.
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