Above at the Walmart ’tent city’:
A report by Amy Branum, edited by Jann Garitty
We organized to create an emergency healing clinic for the survivors of the Camp Fire who had relocated to the Chico area. Made up primarily of my herbal students at the Wild Temple School of Yoga & Herbal Wisdom, a group of eight of us gathered donations and prepared herbal formulas to offer. The flower essences were of immense value. In order to disperse it among more people, we applied spray applications of the Flourish formulas to the wrist/pulse points, added them to tinctures, and to hot cups of tea. We gave these formulas to adults, children and also pets who were clearly suffering as well.
The group of Camp Fire survivors has undergone immense traumas that most Americans have never known. Not only did they lose everything in a matter of hours, but they also carry the emotional burdens of losing family and friends. They carry in their memories the countless tragedies that were experienced as they tried to escape the flames.
Community pop-up clinic
Because of the situation, time spent with most people was short, and often we had to rely on our intuition as they weren’t able to sit down and talk. Most were visibly in a very fragile place. However, there were enough who immediately began crying as soon as they tried to talk. We would offer them a spritz of the essences on their wrist and within seconds, they would calm down and begin to talk from a more centered place. Many people said nothing. We would explain what we had to offer, and they would point to a remedy or ask quietly for it, and that was it. I believe that people were so in need of emotional assistance, that they came to see what we had, but were not in a place to yet process or even voice their needs. They had literally driven through flames and watched people get out of their cars and run. I believe many were still in shock. One young teenage girl, came up to us who was visibly anxious. I don’t think she spoke at all and was holding herself tightly in a ball. She was with her mother and I was explaining to them about the different Flourish formulas. Once I explained to them about the remedies, the girl just pointed with a shaky finger to Fear-Less. I offered it to her, she nervously nodded her head and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief once it was in her hand.
The Yarrow Environmental Solution (YES) was another essential formula for this day, as the air was very smoky and we had to wear face masks. Admittedly, there was a time in the morning that we tried to not use our masks to make conversations easier, and we all regretted that. Our throats and lungs were burning and heavy after only a short time. We used the YES for our own health and gave it to people who were suffering with breathing problems and asthma. Many spoke of how their children were not recovering as quickly as they had hoped, and many were living in tents with no filtration at all from the smoke. The YES was greatly needed.
When we returned three weeks later, people seemed different; things had settled in and they were trying to re-establish their lives. People were asking for anything anti-depressant. We were seeing the long-term effects and people experiencing PTSD as a result of the whole trauma. Many were either numb or not motivated, or they were experiencing insomnia from the nightmares. We heard many more stories of escaping through the flames. Some people had to hunker down while the fire passed over them, wondering if they were going to die or not. They told us of how their animals were traumatized as well, that they are now jumpy, scared, and on guard.
The Post-Trauma Stabilizer was amazing at this point; we would see instant shifts, like they would instantly lighten up or relax a little bit after they used it.
The Illumine also helped at that point, as many were experiencing depression. People would typically say, “I feel a little lighter now…”
While we were constantly busy, during the second clinic we were able to talk more deeply with people, holding space for their grief and fears, and finding remedies that best fit their needs. At this point, many people had come out of the initial shock and were trying to cope with it as best as they could. There were many who were realizing the effects of the PTSD, and many who were fighting depression. Again, we saw instant relief as people would go from free-flowing tears to a place of feeling more accepting and saying “Wow, I do feel better!”
It was interesting that many came to us with no knowledge of what we were offering, or even what to ask for. They were simply desperate for some relief, and we were humbled with the changes that we witnessed with the formulas.
One woman came up to us and as she was talking, she started crying uncontrollably and couldn’t talk any more. We gave her some tissues and I asked her, ‘Can I offer this to you right now?’ We gave people the opportunity to try the essences by spraying it on their pulse points and also by spraying it in their tea. This woman had lost her house, her whole family lost their houses, everything—she was in absolute grief. She had to step to the side because she was so upset. I gave Post-Trauma Stabilizer to her by applying it to her wrists, and a few seconds later she went from crying uncontrollably to being able to calmly drink her tea. She slightly shook her head, looked at me with surprise and said, “Wow, that really helped.” Within a couple of minutes, she was able to talk with us in a more centered manner.
After hearing so much and taking in so many emotions, I was able to experience the relief of the Post-Trauma Stabilizer myself. I was explaining to one woman, ‘You can just spray it over your face.’ I showed her by spraying it on my face and I instantly felt 10 times lighter, I said, ‘Oh my gosh, I must have needed that!’ I think I was taking on so much energy from talking to and listening to the survivor stories all day, that I needed the remedy, too.
The healing effects of the Flourish formulas
During that second trip, one month after the fire, Post-Trauma Stabilizer was the one that people would most strongly respond to and instantly say, “I feel so much better.” Some people told us, “I’m going to go see my property today. I definitely need this.” So, they were very grateful for having that tool to take with them when going to see their property, which would be completely burned to the ground.
People were more than happy to have the Flourish blends added to their herbal formulas, though we gave full bottles to those most in need or helping families. While we still used all of the formulas, this second time the Post-Trauma Stabilizer and Illumine seemed to be the most needed.
A client who survived the fire with whom I have been working had to drive through the flames and could not escape them. They were lucky to find a place of green grass to park and wait for the fire to pass over them. She does not talk about any more details than that, but she has been using the Post-Trauma Stabilizer and used it before going back to her property. She anticipated that she and her partner would get emotional when there and they were worried about how they would react. After viewing everything burned to ash, they felt surprised and amazed by how well they did. At the time of the fire, they had to just leave, and hadn’t been able to pack anything up. They expected to be upset, but they felt steady and were able to accept it all; “We can handle this…”
The woman is feeling much better now. She had had constant anxiety, she had no motivation and there was a heaviness on her and her husband when she first came to see me. The Illumine was good for her: she reported that it seemed to help. After a week of using Illumine, she was feeling much better and motivated again.
I believe that these Flourish formulas have been absolutely critical in helping people to deal with the traumas of the Camp Fire in the most healthy way possible, and I am extremely grateful that FES was willing to donate them.
About Amy Branum
Amy Branum is an herbalist, Ayurvedic practitioner, flower essence therapist, and mother with a deep passion for plants, their medicine, and the profound transformations they can inspire. Amy holds a bachelors degree in Biology and has been working with herbal medicine since 2000. She currently teaches the herbal programs at The Wild Temple School of Yoga + Herbal Wisdom. She maintains a clinical practice, Lasya Wellness & Vitality, in Grass Valley, CA, to help clients of all ages to achieve their fullest potential of happiness and well-being with herbs, flower essences, diet, and lifestyle.
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