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Getting Lost (and Found) in the New Forest

by Sheila Hicks Balgobin(more info)

listed in flower essences, originally published in issue 258 - November 2019


An Unexpected Invitation

I had the unexpected pleasure of being invited to co-lead a weekend retreat in the New Forest at the beginning of October.  Little did I know that I would find myself while lost in the woods!

At the request of a fellow psychotherapist and New Yorker (we grew up only a few miles from each other but met here in the UK recently!), who liked the way I used essences and other natural means of healing in my therapy work, I agreed to co-lead the weekend and facilitate the making of a group essence as part of my workshop.


Getting Lost in the Forest


The weekend was sponsored by the Mindfulness Network for People of Colour (MNPC) and billed as a chill out weekend, focused on the healing to be found in nature.

I was excited about the workshop; although I had participated in the making of a group essence before (at a long ago Gathering), this was the first time I was in charge of the process! But then I realized – I had been shown what to do in a dream years before!

Prepared by a Dream

Some seven years before, I had a vision about making a group essence: I could see the circle of people surrounding the bowl of water and myself saluting the four directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky.  Although I hadn’t had any intention of making a group essence at that time, the memory always stayed waiting within me….and resurfaced when I was asked to participate in the weekend.

I had never visited the New Forest – and my first contact with the Forest, during an inspection trip in late August (when it was still quite warm!) was a cool, green and refreshing experience which stayed with me for several days after the visit.

Finding Ourselves While Lost in the Forest


Feeling the Energy of a ‘Baby’ California Redwood

Feeling the Energy of a ‘Baby’ California Redwood


The group was small; only 10 of us in total.  While only some were counsellors and psychotherapists, we were all seeking to allow nature to heal and restore some part of ourselves.  Walks in the woods, meditations, physical activities and free time were all designed to allow everyone time and space to process whatever feelings came up as we wandered the Forest.    

Even the weather cooperated – forcing us indoors (rain!) on Saturday during the day, our activities were re-arranged to use that time to go within and be with ourselves.  Later on that day after the weather cleared, everyone was tasked with walking in the Forest and bringing something back which embodied the energy of the Forest for them, which would be used in the making of the group essence.  What people brought back was ordinary and yet amazing at the same time; among the items people contributed were:

  • Unusually shaped rocks;
  • Leaves and twigs covered in Spanish moss or lichen; pieces of a California Redwood;
  • Feathers from migrating birds;
  • Horse chestnuts in their spiky coverings; acorns and pine cones.

Two members of the group reported seeing a deer during their walk and wondered what they represented - I replied that Deer energy generally represented issues about trust, which prompted some thoughtful looks.


Walking in the New Forest

Making a Group Essence


Raising Our Energy, Making an Essence

The making of the essence was a magical experience – after the group had meditated and chanted to raise our energy, I prepared the space for the making of the group essence: just as in my vision years before, I greeted the four directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky; I also welcomed the Spirit of the Forest to participate, as evidenced by the items everyone brought back from their walks.  The items were placed around the bowl of water to make the essence – without realizing, it, we placed the items around the water to form the shape of a heart!

The energy was raised further still – candles, incense and a sound bath which washed over us and the essence in waves of sound.  Bells, seed pod rattles and chanting all penetrated deep within each of us, as well as entering the heart of the essence.  It was an unforgettable experience.

I had always known that this essence would be special – but I never would have guessed how much powerful energy would go into it!

I left essence was overnight; preparing fresh candles and incense to light in the morning, in the final hours before decanting the essence for everyone to take home.

Meeting the Forest and Ourselves


Walking in the New Forest

Walking in the New Forest


Even before the essence had been distributed to everyone, it appeared to be at work already – in a feedback session after the making of the essence, one of the participants shared a shift of some deep feelings within her – which was physically evidenced by her Forest offering; the spiky-covered shell on her horse chestnut had opened, revealing the nuts within.  There were others who also shared their stories and reported deep shifts as a result of being in the Forest and alone with themselves.  They had transmuted various deep wounds into instruments of power – it was humbling to hear their stories.

The New Forest Group Essence – Preliminary Thoughts

I couldn’t wait to get home to start taking my own bottle of the essence -- and while I am still waiting for feedback from the members of the group (and I could use more professional assessments – anyone up to proving the essence?), what I have experienced so far is a greater connection to nature, which was only to be expected, but I’m sure there’s more to learn (I’m not naming the specific properties given to me by the essence, so as not to prejudice anyone who proves it!).

What I can say that, as the essence was made in early autumn during a waning moon, the energy of the essence reflects the physical surroundings.

Whatever else I learn about this group essence, I already know that it is a powerful healer in its’ own right and it was a privilege to have been present at its’ creation!


“I speak for the lost inner children and guide them home.”


New Forest Aug 2018

New Forest Aug 2018


I must pause a moment here and say thank you to my two helpful provers – who used quite different methods to provide me additional info!  Thank you, fellow BFVEA[1]  members Helen Ward and David Bland, for using dreams and dowsing, respectively, to get a more complete picture of what this essence wishes to do. I’ll be sharing David and Helen’s impressions throughout this article, with their kind permission.

In fact, I have to thank Helen for the essence’s motto above  – when I read the phrase in her report on the essence, I immediately felt it was the right phrase to capture the message of this essence.

Power in the Water

As an intuitive, I automatically feel the energy in people, places and things – and this essence felt very powerful from the moment it was made; but it was a strong, deep and gentle power and I couldn’t wait to prove it properly and find out what message this essence had to share.

The mother essence was made using red shiso, which I find not only holds, but amplifies the energy of the essence in it – as well as being accepted by virtually everyone I work with, as it has no alcohol.

Whenever I prove an essence, I meditate with it first – holding it in my hands as I tune in.  I first give thanks for what it has to teach me, bonding to it by touching it to my third eye and heart.  I then ask it to show me the positive and negative aspects of people who use the essence….and then the work begins!

The Message was In the Making

What was the message of this essence?

After having asked to be shown what the imbalanced emotional state would require this essence, I waited….and waited.

Interestingly enough – I waited for the ‘negative’ reaction – i.e. how would a person feel when they require the essence for balance – and didn’t feel one!  This is the first time I’ve ever experienced this with an essence and wondered why…I would get an answer, I had no doubt, but wasn’t sure when!


A Horse Chestnut echoing the opening of a heart

A Horse Chestnut echoing the opening of a heart


Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I had already been given the answer to the negative aspect of the essence – during the retreat itself.  It is now that I realize that the signs of the lack of balance that the Forest essence was meant to address was shown graphically to us all….one participant’s offering from the forest was a huge, spiky horse chestnut, which was closed; after the making of the essence, the spiky outer shell had opened and the nuts could be seen inside.  The woman herself admitted that she had been a bit defensive and closed (spiky, even!), but somehow, she felt something opening inside her, wanting to be shared.  And there were similar reactions among all the members of the group (including me), though none quite so visible.

What I noticed over the weeks for myself was that a rather knotty personal relationship became clearer (and was subsequently kicked to the curb!) as I decided to stand firm in my truth – just like the beautiful trees of the Forest.

I found myself even more drawn than usual to walking outdoors in nearby parks, touching trees and quietly greeting them as I walked, listening to inspirational audiobooks and getting my 10K steps in at the same time.  I found myself shedding old notions, relationships and habits during those walks – it was autumn and it seemed the old was dropping away with the leaves falling to the ground….how appropriate! 

I had learned a lot about this essence so far, but I just felt that there was a LOT more to come; this essence was too powerful .  It was time to call for a bit of help via  BFVEA’s Essence magazine!

Further Research

What impressed me the most about the assessments done by all three of us – Helen, David and myself – all seemed to be expressing the same thing; Helen even unknowingly echoed the sentiments of one of the attendees – experiencing “dark, prickly energy” when she began to take the essence.

David’s summary following dowsing was amazing – this essence is so powerful – and yet gentle – that it appears to combine well with most other essences.   It also appears to speak to fear;  I noticed during my own proving that fears about leaving certain relationships, habits, etc. behind started to melt away, as I probed deeper to understand what the fear was about.  David and Helen both had something to say about fear and this essence, as well. 

In David’s final assessment, he wrote:

“It works upon the emotion of fear and can be taken with Bach essences mimulous, cherry plum and rock rose, only one Bach essence with the group essence using the characteristics of explanation of Bach, using three drops of each essence in a 30ml bottle.  The group essence can be used on its own for fear but is most effective with the Bach essences.  It will support people with spiritual sickness (i.e. people who have “lost heart”!).

“I think it works deeply through the heart to allow the person to gently see through the layers of protection to what is waiting to be revealed there – potential, passion, something very important, important enough to be hidden away for safe-keeping. This essence is useful in the run up to key moments of transformation and allows the barriers to start dropping, ready for emergence.”

Helen’s conclusion came at it from a slightly different angle, but nevertheless the message was clear – this essence helps give us a “strong heart”, to “take heart”:

“…I see the essence take up residence in my heart. It is first and foremost a heart essence (I then remember reading about the heart shape around the bowl when it was made!). My heart glows warmer and stronger; its power is the most important thing.”

I feel that the strength and gentle power of the Forest comes through very clearly – enabling people to stand tall and straight in their truth; able to look up to the sky instead of down at their feet.

There’s Healing in the (Sea) Water


Isle of Wight and The Needles

Isle of Wight and The Needles


Helen’s dreams mentioned water and sea creatures – and I wondered about that, but then I remembered – the morning following the making of the essence (and before I decanted it for people to take home), we spent the morning at the beach.  The sea was calm and flat and we could clearly see the Isle of Wight a short distance away. 

As we clambered over the rocks, we passed families fishing in small pools, swans serenely swimming in the midst of the people and a peaceful, relaxed attitude reigned.

Some of the pebbles and bits of driftwood and other small items (including swan feathers!) ended up in the display around the essence before I bottled it  – how interesting that even this bit of energy was incorporated as well!

Finding Oneself in the Forest

There is more to come from this essence I’m sure – it’s already taking on a life of its’ own; since dowsing with the essence, David has combined the Forest essence with two of his own essences – Comfrey and Lesser Celandine – to create General Wellness.  This combination essence, David reports, can be used to support people:  physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I can’t wait to try it myself –he added that it was also supportive for those who are grieving (strangely enough, that seems to be something I need at the moment; there are no coincidences in life!). 

I would never have guessed that a chance invitation to co-deliver a weekend retreat and workshop would give me such a magnificent and unexpected gift – and at such a crucial time in my life and work.  But there’s a Brazilian saying that sums it up perfectly – “God writes straight with crooked lines”!


1. British Flower & Vibrational Essences Association (BFVEA)

Acknowledgement Citation

Articles originally printed in Essence magazine of the British Flower & Vibrational Essences Association in the Winter 2018-19 and Spring 2019 editions.


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About Sheila Hicks Balgobin

Sheila Hicks Balgobin IFPA BFVEA, is The Dream Detective – a 5th generation Dreamer with the gift of dream interpretation.  She helps clients improve their sleep with simple techniques and tools as well as teaches people how to interpret and use their dreams to create their dream lives (online or on retreat). Sheila can be reached at: or via her website

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