Wednesday, 19 July 2017
Flower Essences revisited; and a few thoughts about dabbling vs serious study (of anything)
The flower essence posts sure are popular, and there have been some questions from readers, so instead of answering them each privately by email, I'll try to cover more ground here in a post.
First off - no, I will not supply them to others. Yes, I did mention to a couple of you that there is a local shop sorta interested in buying my tinctures, oils & essences, but that's a bit different, it's in bulk so I wouldn't have to deal with the time & expense of filling little bottles and mailing things out.
Besides, I haven't yet decided if I could, in good conscience, sell essences at all. Maybe I shouldn't even have opened my mouth to that shop owner that I make them; I still see essences as intensely personal concoctions, best made from one's own flowers. Tinctures & essences are very different animals.
Essences work more on an energetic level than tinctures and since energetic issues are so incredibly variable, I can't say (nor can anyone else, I'd think) with any certainty, what kinds of effects any one flower essence would have for any one person.
I'm beginning to see working with flower essences the same way I see working with something like the Tarot.
There are dabblers and there are those who approach the subject with deep respect. Not reverence, exactly, but something close to it.
I'm not a dabbler, I never have been. I don't take myself seriously, but I take the work seriously. So if someone else wants to dabble with the essences or with the Tarot, that's fine, that's their call. But I won't .. let me rephrase that .. I just can't reduce the teachings I'm getting from any of my flower essences down to a few lines, any more than I would offer a few lines to explain the meaning of one of the Tarot cards. Each Tarot card is a book in itself, if taken seriously. So too (I'm coming to see) is each flower essence.
There still exist in this world something called the Mysteries. There are arts, highly esoteric, some ancient, some not so ancient, that are part of the exploration of human consciousness, ways to understand and express our place in the Universe. Many, many people are drawn to these arts but not many have the .. capacity (for lack of a better word) to handle them.
So it is that we have lots of flashy, surface stuff for everyone to have fun with. Auto-generated 'tarot card of the day' sites to tell your fortune. Pre-made medicine bags of trinkets to attract money or love. And yes, flower essences that promise to connect us to our angels or rid us of bad habits. Whatever it is, there are many ways that those who consider themselves 'seekers' can find what they think they're looking for.
And that's as it should be. The flash and sparkle keeps the wannabe's occupied so the serious students can get on with the work, undisturbed. It's called redirect, and it has been around as long as there have been Mystery schools.
The word "occult" actually simply means "hidden". Modern usage has come to associate it with magic, witchcraft, satanic rites and the like, but the medical usage of the term (like when they test for 'occult blood' in the stool) is correct. If something is considered occult, it is because it is there but not obvious unless you know how and where (and why) to look. That's how 'occultists' themselves define the word, too.
By that definition, there is an occult aspect to working with the flower essences, just as there is with the Tarot (or yoga or herbalism or any religion or the creation of music or art for that matter). That hidden aspect we're discussing here comes from the flowers/plants themselves, and, importantly the interaction between specific flower and specific human. I stress this relationship all the time when I talk about medicine plants, it is even more pronounced when working with the essences.
So really, it's up to you how you want to work with essences, just like anything else with a whisper of Mystery to it. You can take the surface route and probably have some fun with them, maybe even some benefit if you're willing to put in the personal work. After all, even the most crassly commercial versions of the essences can be used as tools for looking under the hood of our psyches, (who are your personal angels? Why do you want to contact them?) Or, you can make your own essences from your own flowers and open a door to something more.
IF you make your own, take it from me, you're going to want to learn as much as you can about 'signatures'.
If you've known me for long, you'll know I don't mind tossing out snippets of information here and there, or directing folks to other writers, but I don't have the time, energy or inclination to hold anyone's hand. So have at 'er in your own way but don't expect much out of flower essences (or any other spiritual pursuit) if you don't want to put in the work.
By the way - my study of Tarot (and the pre-requisites that have to be studied to understand the Keys) has been ongoing for 30 odd years. Some years it's been intense study (many long hours, well into the night, every night, for months on end), some years just enough to 'keep my hand in' (many hours, well into the night, for a few nights once a season or so); I still consider myself very much a neophyte. My studies of the medicine plants, probably 20 odd years now; (there's lots of overlap between the two) and I know I've barely scratched the surface just of the plants that grow around me.
As we study any of the Mysteries (here I include herbalism) there are many points along the way where we can go madly off in the wrong direction. Dabbling can be more dangerous than serious study; better to put something aside than continue on blindly. Better, too, to understand that we often can't find the answers we're looking for because we're asking the wrong damn questions in the first place. We have to be willing to shift our perspectives as needed.
For example, there ARE herbs that function as antibiotics or antifungals, and they have their place. But more importantly, there are herbs (often the same ones) that, used correctly, will heal tissues so that they are no longer so susceptible to infection. Most people using herbs today are still stuck in the Western medical paradigm of kill, kill, kill the invaders. That's missing the point of what herbs can do for us, and if killing pathogens is the sole aim, we're better off using the big guns, the meds themselves; they're more effective.
If we take the example of the Tarot, we find that even those who study it for years will often still see it as a fortune telling device. They're still dabbling. Shuffle the cards, lay them out asking "what shall I do about such & such?". That would be all well and good as long as you then take the 'answer' and use it to gain a new perspective, knowing that the random drawing of cards is simply that, random. It's that we use them as a tool to shift our minds out of a rut of thinking that matters.
If we want to be told 'what to do' about a situation, it's a dangerous thing to let random pieces of cardboard with pretty pictures on 'em guide our actions. That's what dabbling will get you.
What the study of the Tarot (and its prerequisite studies) is for is to teach us different ways of thinking. We learn to make non-linear associations, so that we can see the 4 of discs/pentacles, think of the base of a cube, maybe, so that brings to mind solidity, then the planet Saturn comes to mind and from there, bones (structure) and from there we might ask ourselves about necessity.
I know that might read like meaningless gobbledygook to you, (and that wasn't even strictly 'correct' in accordance with the Tarot) but it's the sort of thinking required of us sometimes. It is important to understand that we are quite capable of thinking ourselves into dead ends with linear thought. A plus B does not always equal C in real life.
So - Associative thought processes are just different enough that we can find new angles, look at our own thinking processes and so understand ourselves differently. As long as we use tools like the Tarot (or the flower essences) to examine our thinking (and therefore our motives), we won't be tempted to ask pieces of cardboard (or other humans) to tell us what to do.
In my experience, people who dabble in one interest after another are dabblers on the whole. It's not until we throw ourselves headlong into something (live it, breathe it) that we can learn from it, not just about it, but from it. And that can take a lifetime.