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Understanding Flower Essences

by Cynthia Alves(more info)

listed in flower essences, originally published in issue 64 - May 2001

Twenty or so years ago, I stood in amazement by a display stand at a mind/body/spirit exhibition. Among those rows of little brown bottles, the posters said, was something for loneliness, an idea that was totally new to me. Spending my last 30p on a little bottle of flower magic, I had taken my first step on a path that has led me to teaching and practising with flower essences.

At that point I knew next to nothing about flower essences. Yet my ignorance was not surprising because flower essences are like nothing I, or most people, have grown up with. Even the idea that to feel OK and think clearly and positively is important to my overall health was something that took me a while to learn as an adult. Similarly, of the countless people who benefit from the commonly available Five Flower or Rescue Remedy™, very few know what they are taking, nor have any clue as to how it – and a vast range of other essences – might benefit them even more. And sadly there are some who, out of the same ignorance, have often 'thrown the baby out with the bath water' believing 'flower essences don't work for me'.

As my own knowledge and understanding have grown, so have insights and my abilities to use essences to ever increasing benefit, and in many more situations and purposes. I believe the greatest insight to be this: that flower essences are not about the stuff in bottles, they are about the plants themselves (or the gem or animal from which an essence may be made). Let us find out where a deeper understanding of them may lead us.

What are flower essences? We are not talking about essential oils, which are the physical oil extracted from plants; nor are they homeopathic. Flower essences or remedies are 'vibrational' essences, of a more subtle form than physical. A giant step for me in understanding this subtle stuff, and why they are not homeopathic medicines, was learning how they are made.

Freshwater Mangrove
Freshwater Mangrove

A flower essence is generally made by floating flowers on water in the sunshine, the power of the sun enabling the water to record the flowers' energy pattern – and I'll come back to this key concept of 'energy pattern'. One aspect of what this means is that the water (H20) molecules change the angle of the 2 Os bonded to the H. When in turn those molecules mix with the water of the human body, they can catalyze the same change of atomic bonding angle. When the flowers have begun to wilt a bit, and the water may look very sparkly, the 'recording' is done. (If you dowse you can check that way if your essence is ready.)

Now strain off the plant material (a coffee filter does very well), and bottle up the water with equal brandy to preserve the water. Put some drops of that into a little bottle of brandy – 10ml or so, and voilà, you have your very own flower essence stock bottle.

Remember that as well as a solid physical aspect, all things have more subtle energetic or vibrational patterns. We know now that atoms are not still and solid, but moving, vibrating patterns of energy. Same with the entity as a whole, be it plant, animal or gemstone – all form we perceive, animate or inanimate. And so for the whole of the vastness of nature of which we are a part. When we can imagine what we observe through our physical senses as vibrational pattern, it will then make sense that everything has different patterns. A group of people from the same race and society have many similarities in their patterns, as well as the individual having a unique pattern. Just so for the plant, mineral and animal realms. We have learned to record these energetic patternings one way by photography, and another way by water.

Red Grevillea
Red Grevillea

We all have experienced that some vibrations of colour or sound make us happy and well. Just so, the vibrational pattern or essence of a plant can have an effect on us. And just as the effects of colours and sounds (including music) vary for different people and at different times, some plants will 'work' better for some people than for others, and at different times. Unlike other kinds of vibrational patterns, it is very rare that we experience adverse effects with flower essences. An essence not relevant for me or for now will simply have no effect.

Alongside this 'energetic' concept, now bring to mind what is common when we are ill, whether physically or otherwise. Something of our nature – that is something of how we feel, think, view life – is out of sorts. By that I mean upset, not itself or 'right', at war within, out of balance and so on. When a person is 'sickening' we say, 'so-and-so isn't quite themself today'. Once I have been able to 'remember myself' I know that either the ill will pass soon (if it hasn't already), or at least that the condition is no longer upsetting. The 'song' of the heartsease or holly or lily has brought me back to my senses, or the subtle memory of sweet pea colour and scent has lifted my feelings and mind just how I needed.

Flower Therapy
by Utpal Das

Flowers have a special place in the life of people. They are an indispensible part of prayers, births, marriages and even death but can also play a great role in maintaining our health.
Legend has it that flower essences were first used for healing some 500,000 years ago in a mythical place called Lemuria. Lemurians knew that the highest concentration of life force in a plant was found in its flowers.
In ancient India, flowers played a vital role in Ayurveda medicine. Dew or flower water collected in the apparatus, and a preservative like glycerin. The whole thing works on the fact that water has memory, and hence it can retain the energy received from the flower for a long time.
If you know the meaning of the sanskrit word used to describe a particular flower you will know where it has to be used.
Flower therapy does not overreact, it balances any disorder in the body. When you fill a glass you don't overfill it.

The ancient philosophies tell us that we cannot enjoy total well-being unless the mind, body and spirit are balanced. The healing power of flowers lies in their 'energy fields' which give them thir unique healing characteristics.
Interestingly, flower remedies can be used as effectively on animals, claims the Ayurvedic doctors. The essences can also be used in agriculture for better growth to warding off pests.

How Flowers Work

SUNFLOWER – can cheer you if you are depressed;
CACTI – helps a person to strive harder;
ASHOKA – for those with trauma and deep-seated sorrow;
DRUMSTICK – for bronchitis as well as feelings of bitterness and resentment. It also reduces the desire to smoke;
HIBISCUS – enhances compatibility between people;
LILY – for those who have misused power. It helps bring remorse and peace;
OLD MAID – to curb sexual promiscuity in men;
MORNING GLORY – helps fight drug addiction.

With flower essences then, I may say that I am using parts of the greater whole of nature that resonate with my individual nature in order to remember and restore myself. That plant may also help me to develop my positive, creative, compassionate view of life. And remember our nature is about every part of every day. This means that the essences of nature can help with every aspect of living. I've used essences to help me finish smoking, and overcome the addiction, and those flower essences did something that neither the patches nor anything else did to help.

For those who are familiar with vibrational anatomy, we may say that the integrity of the etheric body has been restored, and harmony between all bodies regained. Many practitioners who work with energetic systems, whatever the modes of therapy, are finding that flower essences provide excellent support and enhancement for their work. (e.g. cranio-sacral therapists may consider Perelandra's Rose II set to help stabilize and maintain the treatment.) Conversely, flower essence practitioners who are developing their understanding of meridian and chakra systems are able to use that knowledge to apply the essences very efficiently. Sabina Pettitt, who has developed her range of Pacific Flower and sea animal essences, is among the extraordinary pioneers in researching which chakras and meridians each essence particularly addresses.

Southern Crow
Southern Crow

Another approach to understanding comes from Machaelle Small-Wright and her work based at Perelandra, USA. She became familiar with Bjorn Nordenstrom's scientific and medical research with the electrical field of the human body. 'Electrical field' refers to a vast and complex circuitry that permeates all levels of our body – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Extending to all systems, organs and cells, the main 'lines' are by but not the same as the meridian system, and the human's is part of the greater electrical field that encompasses all of nature. Fields within fields…

When Small-Wright applied Nordenstrom's findings to her work, she found that flower essences can be seen as electrical impulses which repair, balance and stabilize our individual electrical system. She also experiences and teaches that it is through this same electrical system that we can use kinesiology to communicate directly with nature intelligences: to learn from and co-create with the experts of form – including with the nature of our body, personality and life structure to help us follow our soul's direction more clearly. Flower essences can then aid each step and facet of such repair and development. For those who benefit especially from a scientific approach, I highly recommend Small-Wright's Co-Creative Science,[1] as well as her works on flower essences and co-creative gardening.

While for some the scientific approach to understanding flower essences will be the most meaningful and empowering, others will make sense of flower essences via an equally valid yet very different way of looking at what they are: 'essence' as the 'spirit of'. We might enjoy that 'essence' is also defined as alcoholic solution – another level of spirit. However, in connection with the plant we are considering the intangible 'something within' that is the most subtle in creation, that endures through and beyond time, and that is connective within life as a whole. In short, we can understand the use of vibrational essences as 'spirit medicine'.

It is not really so long ago that shamanism was one of the main medicines of most cultures around the world. It is now re-emerging as an important means for health, well-being and individual and group development. Some shamans communicate and practise with several animal and plant spirits. For others, only one is needed for all their various rituals and purposes. With a shamanistic approach to life and health, using spirits of nature recorded in water may make obvious sense. The spirit or spirits of nature help humankind heal their own spirit and collective soul, whether one or few essences are all someone ever needs, while others will gain from a large range at their disposal.

For some people, flower and other vibrational essences will help to overcome feeling alienated from the rest of nature, to re-establish a sense of connection. With so many people living in an urban environment, what happens to the human psyche as we become strangers to a sky full of stars, a running stream of clear, clean water, a real fire, dirt that is clean and wonderfully alive – strangers to the basic elements of life on this planet? We may need to find many ways to touch and develop consciousness of our own elemental nature, with the fire, water, air and earth within us, as well as our animal nature.

Using flower essences we can re-discover something vital, something life-giving within. Aspects of our own life and being that had been neglected, damaged or forgotten may be repaired, renewed. We are refreshed, uplifted and inspired. Connections within help us make more meaningful connections without. Any of us, even very young children, can sense an attraction to a particular plant, flower, mineral or animal – even by touching the bottles in a box. We can know intuitively or instinctively, just as other animals do, what can help us.

Whether we need a scientific, mystical or other approach to essences –– and indeed to life – however we come to understand flower essences we will expand our consciousness of our own nature and the nature of life. Each of the different approaches offers different insights about different ways they can be used.

We like to hear success story case studies. As we come to understand flower essences better, in a way that enables us to use them more easily, often and efficiently, and for a wide range of purposes, then those success stories will be the best ones we enjoy the most: about ourselves, our family and friends. And whatever approach has aided us, in the end – or perhaps it is a refreshed beginning – we see that as we have come to understand flower essences, that it is also ourselves, our own nature that we are understanding more deeply, clearly and lovingly.

P.S. Did I really just write a whole article on essences without mentioning Bach once? Wow.


1. Small-Wright Machaelle. Co-Creative Science: A Revolution in Science Providing Real Solutions for Today's Health and Environment. Perelandra. 1997.


Titchiner Rose et al. New Vibrational Flower Essences of Britain and Ireland. Water Lily Books. ISBN 0-953015-80-7. 1997.
Harvey and Cochrane. The Encyclopaedia of Flower Remedies. Thorsons.1995.

Further Information

International Flower Essence Repertoire offer a large range of international essences and books. Tel: 01428 741572;


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About Cynthia Alves

Cynthia Alves is a qualified flower essence practitioner and has been teaching flower essences for 15 years. She is also secretary to Peter Russell, international philosopher and futurist who writes about healing the spiritual roots of our global crises. Cynthia is based in Somerset and is passionate about her allotment garden. She is developing her vibrational essence, co-creative and energetic work in cleansing workplaces and homes. She can be contacted at e-mail:

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