by Elly van Ekelenburg

Editor’s Note: FES-certified practitioner Elly van Ekelenburg of Venray, Holland, illustrates a deeper way of understanding how flower essences can impact the soul life. The typical therapeutic model is case oriented and based on short term outcome. However, flower essences have deep archetypal potency – stimulating layers of healing that continue to impact the life biography and cannot be summarized as a single case. These various levels of soul identity are outlined in the MetaFlora approach to flower essence therapy.

In the following essay, Elly explores how the archetypal healing qualities of Mariposa Lily have addressed issues involving her family of origin, her own bodily healing, her vocation as a healer and finally a deeper understanding of her spiritual identity.  

This article has been edited for flow of English language and summarized in some areas.  

In the following essay I will write about the connection I discovered between Mariposa Lily, Holy Mother Mary and Mother Earth through many years of encountering the healing archetype of the Mariposa Lily, within myself and in my clients.

Family of Origin – A Devotion to the Blessed Mother

My family religious background was Catholic. My parents intended our family to be good Catholics, contributing honorably to our community. As oldest of seven girls I helped with the care of those sisters who were born after me. My attitude regarding the Catholic Church centered mostly around the external rules made by the  Church authorities.

However, I also experienced in my family of origin a sincere devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary. As a family we learned to pray to her for help during an illness, or during any trial, including our school tests and so forth. We lit a candle in the sanctuary of the Church devoted to the Blessed Mother, or in our home at our private altar.

Breaking Away from My Family

When I became an adult with my own independent thinking, I had many doubts about these rituals and beliefs. The most challenging life event in my early adulthood was the loss of my boyfriend, Jan, who was killed in an accident. My parents liked my boyfriend because he played with my sisters, danced with my mother and spent much time in our home and family life. However, my parents did not know that Jan’s father was a very harsh parent and that Jan had run away from home for a period of time before we met. At the funeral, a remembrance card was distributed that divulged this information. My parents were outraged that Jan would have been disobedient to his family. In our small Catholic village this transgression seemed paramount and stood in the way of my parent’s compassionate response to me during my time of grief. 

In this very time when I needed the support of my parents so strongly, they abandoned me. I felt that I lost not only my boyfriend but also my parents during this time. I was so distraught that I had many suicidal thoughts. However, something prevented me from acting. Instead, I made a decision to light a candle to Blessed Mary and pray for her intercession. If my soul disposition was not able to improve, I resolved to leave the Netherlands to join my aunt who was a missionary in Indonesia. It was during this time of intense soul pain and searching that I met Jan’s friend, Hans. We formed a soul bond sharing our grief and pain about Jan’s death. Soon, we discovered a deep love for each other. Although my parents did not agree with my choice, we got married and are still to this day happy life partners.

A Numinous Experience of Mariposa Lily and the Mother Archetype

As my life progressed, I lost connection with Christianity, but still there was a feeling in my heart for Blessed Mary, and I would pray on occasion to her when things were difficult.  When I discovered flower essence therapy, a whole new world opened to me that brought me in touch with my soul. I learned to respect Nature and began to recognize my own capacities to work as a healer with flower essences. After some years working with essences for myself and clients an invitation came from the Flower Essence Society to participate in their educational programs. I always had a longing to go to California and decided to attend the Practitioner Training.  I was seeking answers to many healing questions, including my own personal struggle to become pregnant and being unable to do so.

The FES program opened up my deep connection with the flowers and Mother Nature, helping me to find hidden creative forces in myself. The high point of the class came during our field trip to experience preparing a flower medicine. Richard and Patricia did not know what flower would show itself, but during the trip to the mountains a mother deer and baby crossed their path. They knew then that Mariposa Lily, the archetype of mothering and maternal healing forces, was the flower that called to be prepared.

Making the flower essences of Mariposa Lily was one of the most profound moments of my life. I had assumed that this flower was speaking to the other  students of the class  who had  children in their lives, and I knew I would never have children.
While I was meditating with the Mariposa Lily during the preparation something wonderful happened. A voice welled up deep within me: Elly, please do not lose your contact with children. This message impressed itself deep into my soul and made everything sacred. With a deep respect and inner peace I went to sleep that night. During sleep I woke up and “saw” a spiritual being in a blue robe looking at me. She said: I will take care of you. This experience was beyond that of a dream, it was vividly real.

With astonishment, I realized that this spiritual being resembled the Blessed Mary. Patricia asked me to write about my experience to help other childless women know that they could also be in touch with Divine Mothering forces through the Mariposa Lily. I have now been a flower essence therapist for almost 25 years and Mariposa Lily is one of the essences I use very extensively. I have especially used this flower for children who have traumas or challenges with their mother, during pregnancy or birth, or for any abusive situation during childhood. Mariposa Lily shows us that this mother archetype of nourishment and nurturing can come not only from one’s personal mother but from Mother Earth herself who is providing our home here on earth.

My connection with Mariposa Lily gave me a strong “knowing” sense about Mother Earth as the larger matrix of life for all human beings. She is the feminine aspect of the Universe that gives all living creation not only home, shelter and food but also the spiritual sense of belonging. She lets us know that we have one Mother in common who takes care of all of us. Mariposa Lily is the holy essence that brings this awareness into our Heart and Soul whenever we experience a lack of mother love. This leads to a second healing quality, that of being able to nurture ourselves with this mothering creative force.

Using the Mothering Forces of Mariposa Lily in My Therapeutic Work

Even though I had no children, I had the opportunity to help other women become pregnant. When my first client came with this issue I thought perhaps I should tell her to find another therapist. Then I remembered my spiritual experience in California with the Mariposa Lily. My own creative nurturing forces came out of my heart and I felt happy to help her. I was able to work successfully with this woman and “my” first baby was born. Mariposa Lily helped me to develop this healer-quality so that I could heal my own pain of not being a mother and help other women become pregnant. Now all these years later, there are many babies that I have a special bond with – they are a little bit my “own” babies because I have helped them come into the world.

As the years went on, I developed a renewed interest in Blessed Mother Mary. During holidays I always felt inspired to look for a church or chapel where I could light a candle in devotion to her, and pray for help or nurturing in all ways possible. As time went on, I realized that the spiritual forces emanating from Mariposa Lily, Mother Earth and Holy Mary are all very similar and have much in common.

In 2005, Patricia came to the Netherlands to teach. We went the day before the workshop to Handel, a little village in the south, and visited an old chapel devoted to Holy Mary. Patricia enjoyed the trip and the walk through the park behind the church with many statues and  an ancient well with holy water. We took some of the water and the next day Patricia opened the workshop with a blessing of this holy water with Mariposa Lily and Splendid Mariposa Lily flower essences infused in the well water.  As this holy water was passed around I could feel its special blessing. It renewed at an even deeper level my understanding of Mariposa Lily and the Blessed Mother.

Re-discovering the Madonna of the Rocks

In April of 2007, there was another soul development. I was able to join a group of people, going on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in the South of France for a week. I discovered that the cave where Bernadette had her meetings with Holy Mary, was a sacred place with the strongest, most positive energy I have  ever felt.

Then one of the women leading another group declared that Lourdes was primarily intended as a place for woman who had children because Mary’s spiritual mission was that of a mother. I had to leave the group and started crying, feeling a deep pain that went all the way into my womb. I wondered if this pain would ever end, the sense of feeling left out because I was not a mother?

Lourdes is situated in  Pyrenean foothills, in southwestern France. When Bernadette Soubirous reported her spiritual encounter with the Blessed Mother in 1858, Lourdes developed into a major place of Christian pilgrimage.

I found an old candle on the road. I took the candle and placed it on a rock and decided this rock will stand in commemoration for those who have no children. I lit the candle and in that moment the male guide arrived. He had also been upset by the woman’s remarks for he felt that the woman was saying that men are “only fathers” and therefore also excluded from the Mystery of the Blessed Mother.

I remembered how Mariposa Lily grows in the rockiest most desolate places and is called by many practitioners the Madonna of the Rocks. So on that rock in Lourdes another part of my soul was opened. I felt the communion of Mother Earth and Holy Mary and I knew that this mystery belonged to all of humanity, not just those who were the mothers of physical children.

Full Circle:  A “Grand” Mother of My Own Making

This experience also brought deepened insight for an illness that I had suffered the previous year.  I had an intestinal blockage that was life threatening. I endured examinations with many doctors and time in hospitals to resolve the problem. Finally the cause was found: scar tissue due to an ovarian tumor I had when I was 25 years old. The tumor was the reason I was not able to conceive children. During menopause the scar tissue became more active. I was finally able to resolve my illness through the help of an osteopath who used massage to treat the scar tissue.

I realized that this illness developed during menopause because it signified for my soul a new level of pain and loneliness  - not only would I never be a mother but also not a grandmother. It is typically the role of grandmother that eases the identity crisis when menopause signals the end of one’s reproductive years.  Just as I came to this realization, a book came into my life entitled, The Ways of My Grandmothers. This book was originally intended for my friend, Lynx, a Native American who lives in California and is also a flower essence healer and maker. It teaches the Native American perspective that there are all kinds of Grand Mothers, including how we minister to the earth and to other people’s children.

The experience in Lourdes closed a circle in my life biography. My early childhood was in a large Catholic family. I needed to leave this “old form” of spirituality and find my own way, even though it was not easy. Then I experienced the pain of not being able to be a mother, and finding a new way of being a mother-healer for others through the Mariposa Lily. Finally, my soul was led back to my early childhood spiritual connection with the Blessed Mother and a renewed commitment and understanding through my experience in Lourdes. Even the recent suffering in my physical body is now understood in a new light and I gladly face the future as a Grand-Mother of my own making. The circle of Mother Earth, the Blessed Mary and the Mariposa Lily feels like one complete whole.

About Elly Van Ekelenburg

Elly Van Ekelenburg lives in the town of Venray in the Netherlands. She has been an FES certified flower essence practitioner since 1989. In her practice, which she began in May 1985, Elly utilizes flower essences, hands-on healing, and psychological counseling. Elly has taught flower essences classes at her home since 1991.

Write to Elly




[ About FES | Online Repertory |Class Offerings | Research & Case Studies | Interviews and Articles]
[ What's New | Publications | Membership | Find a Practitioner | Members' Pages | Home ]


P.O. Box 459, Nevada City, CA  95959
800-736-9222 (US & Canada)
tel: 530-265-9163    fax: 530-265-0584


Copyright © by the Flower Essence Society.
All rights reserved.