It is our great honor to write a forward to Dr. Laura Cutullo’s new book, Fiori Californiani Per Animali.
First we must begin by offering our warm praise to Dr. Laura Cutullo for her pioneering work toward integrating flower essence therapy and professional animal care. We have long admired Dr. Cutullo’s research and healing insights shared through our international teaching and research organization, the Flower Essence Society. This especially includes our personal meetings when we've been in Italy, where we have taught our certification program sponsored by Unione Floriterapia. Dr. Laura Cutullo’s deep devotion for healing, and especially her wise and compassionate insight into our animal companions, shines through her every word and deed, and remains an enduring impression despite the many miles that separate our daily work and lives.
When the Flower Essence Society was founded nearly four decades ago in 1977, our core purpose was to develop a worldwide teaching and research network that could further the work of Dr. Edward Bach (1886-1936). Dr. Bach initiated his understanding of flower essence therapy against formidable cultural obstacles. Although Dr. Bach received acclamation for his work as a medical doctor and homeopath, his subsequent discovery of 38 flower remedies to specifically address mental and emotional levels of wellness met with little professional acknowledgement or encouragement. At that time, the role of mental and emotional states as significant factors in illness and disease was virtually unrecognized by the modern medical establishment. Nevertheless, Bach had the courage to work independently, frequently on a pro bono basis, serving the rural population of Wales as he perfected his research and developed his original case work. Furthermore, we should always bear in mind that all of Dr. Bach’s primal discoveries for these new medicines developed during the challenging conditions of suffering and anguish known as the Great World Depression.
After his untimely death in Sotwell, England in 1936, the legacy of Dr. Bach’s research was conservatively maintained for several decades, known only to a relatively small circle of practitioners scattered throughout the world. It was not until the 1970s that a new generation could “catch up” to the prescient vision of Dr. Bach. This was especially so on the west coast of California, where innovative therapies such as those taught at the world-renowned Esalen Institute began to shape a new cadre of healing values. The explorations of social pioneers like Abraham Maslow, Jean Houston, Fritz Perls and Stan Grof proclaimed a broader vision of self-actualization, transcendent experience, and enhanced human potential when body, soul, mind and feelings were integrated and coherent. It was in this milieu that the Flower Essence Society was founded in 1977 by Richard Katz, who had included the Bach flower remedies in his curriculum for alternative health practitioners in the California Bay Area in the early 1970s.
As more practitioners began to incorporate the Bach flowers in their healing work, a worldwide network grew, in turn facilitating new research questions and discoveries. In this manner, the Flower Essence Society not only continued its investigation of Dr. Edward Bach’s original remedies, but also expanded its inquiry into new arenas based upon the questions and needs of an emerging generation of healers. In the region of California, one finds a condensed microcosm of the major geographic conditions mirroring the earth as a whole: ocean, desert, fertile valleys, woodlands, savannahs, foothills, mountains and rain forest – thus providing a rich, diverse opportunity for new plant research. After four decades, the Flower Essence Society is now recognized throughout the world for its professional standards of research, including the original Bach remedies, as well as over 150 new flower essences that address the evolving paradigm of body and soul consciousness in the new millennium.
One of the most important and gratifying aspects of the Flower Essence Society's research is not only what has developed for the well-being of the human community but also for the healing of animals. When Dr. Bach was alive, very little attention was paid to the reality of the soul life of animals. In fact, the entire medical/cultural matrix was still influenced by the mechanistic philosophy of Descartes, who attributed the behavior of animals to mere reflexes of sensation and perception, what he termed the “bête-machine.” Based upon this “scientific” rationale, the belief prevailed in Bach’s time that animals were soul-devoid and thus incapable of genuine suffering or emotion. Since animals contained no soul identity, the professional contemporaries of Bach’s time viewed laboratory experimentation on animals as expedient for the advancement of medical science. However, Dr. Edward Bach called for a new ethic regarding our consciousness of animals. He wrote in his seminal work, Heal Thyself:
“...when we realize that Love and Unity are the great foundations of our Creation, that we in ourselves are children of the Divine Love, and that the eternal conquest of all wrong and suffering will be accomplished by means of gentleness and love, when we realize all this, where in this beauteous picture are we to place such practices as vivisection and animal gland grafting? Are we still so primitive, so pagan, that we yet believe that by the sacrifice of animals we are enabled to escape the results of our own faults and failings?...”
In our time, impressive studies about animal emotions and the inherent dignity and value of animals appear with increasing frequency in the press, spanning from prestigious scientific journals like Science, Nature, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesto the New York Times, Psychology Today, Scientific American, Time and The Economist. Although it may seem incredulous to those us who are deeply devoted to animals and intimately mindful of their inner states of being, it is nevertheless noteworthy as a scientific/cultural milestone that in 2012, the Frances Crick Science Conference of prestigious members who convene annually to sanction the latest scientific advancements, presented their official conclusion that animals do indeed possess consciousness, presenting a landmark paper entitled, The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals, at the University of Cambridge, England.
Nearly a century later, external science is now catching up with the moral vision of Dr. Bach, as well as the therapeutic insights that practitioners in the Flower Essence Society network have established for over four decades: that animals have extraordinary and profound states of soul-being; and because of such consciousness, flower essences can be used with great success in treating animals and their human companions.
The reader of Dr. Cutullo’s book will be able to discover all of the practical details regarding particular essences and their therapeutic qualities. Speaking from the vantage point of theFlower Essence Society's decades-long research, we would like to close by highlighting four core principles implied by the new healing paradigm of flower essence therapy for animals. These principles have profound implications, not only for our successful professional work as healers and caretakers of animals, but also for the very dignity and integrity of our lives on planet Earth:
- Transition from a paradigm of animal exploitation to one of compassionate insight – The very act of using flower essences for animals represents a paradigm shift of untold dimensions. Instead of asking how animals can be exploited, harmed or made to suffer for human beings, flower essence therapy requires an exact reversal. In order to rightly use flower essences, practitioners now must see the animal in its own sphere of consciousness. Only by such perception and sensitive attunement can flower essences be selected and used successfully.
- Opening Human Heart for Inter-Species Communication – In order to be a flower essence practitioner for animals, we are actually learning a new skill as human beings. We are required to reach beyond the abstract confines of intellectual language toward a universal form of communication through the human heart. In short, animals cannot “tell” us in our language what they need or why they suffer. If we are to help them, we are instead the ones who must evolve by developing a language of the heart that learns to sense and feel the inner reality of each animal.
- Animals as Teachers – The very act of healing animals allows them to become teachers and mirrors for our own consciousness. For example, a caretaker may learn to observe that his or her personal stress, anger, or fear directly impacts the well-being of an animal companion. Our human state of consciousness begins by seeing animals as objects to be cured or tamed so that their behaviors are pleasing to us. But in the process of deeply working with and listening to animals, we often discover the reverse: that animals are a doorway to seeing a deeper truth about our own soul life and resulting behaviors.
- Weaving the Web of Life – Using flower essences with animals leads us a step closer to communion with the great spiritual web of life. Because flower essences require that we step outside the egotistical paradigm of making other sentient beings revolve around our needs or desires, we gradually come to a more spiritual, self-less participation in the universal life fabric that permeates all sentient beings. In short, we have the opportunity to become a more living part of Divine Creation. This original vision of St. Francis, the great patron saint of Italy, takes on a dynamic living ethos in our time, when flower essence therapy is practiced with our animal brethren at its deepest levels of compassion and insight.
We extend our immense gratitude and praise to Dr. Laura Cutullo for her pioneering work that leads us all forward with wisdom and love.
Patricia Kaminski, Director
Flower Essence Society
Nevada City, California