Flowers have captured our attention for millennia, whether as tokens of love, cosmetic and perfumery agents, offerings in burial rites, or the numerous other ways in which their beauty has held meaning and purpose. Yet, their reverence throughout history has not been limited to the sensual qualities of their colors, shapes, or fragrances. It has also extended to their sacred healing properties.
Natural remedies made by infusing the flowering part of a plant in water — referred to in our modern times as flower essences or flower remedies — have been used for thousands of years by many cultures, including those in ancient Egyptian and traditional Asian societies as well as by Australian aborigines. Thankfully for those of us who are looking for ways to expand our self-care routines in pursuit of greater well-being, flower essences have been gaining in popularity and accessibility.
Since these remedies include the word "flower" in their name, people often confuse them with essential oils; yet, unlike aromatherapeutic oils, flower essences do not have a fragrance. They are infusions made from the flowering parts of plants that capture their signature energetic imprint in water, which is then used as a base for the remedy.(1) Rather than acting on a physiological level, flower essences — similar to homeopathics — are thought to work vibrationally on our subtle energy bodies.
Flower essences bolster mental and emotional well-being. Each flower addresses a pattern of constitutional temperament, characteristics, and qualities, helping to bring our emotions and mental states back into balance, thereby alleviating personal triggers of stress. They are inexpensive additions to a self-care regimen aimed at overall wellness.
You may be wondering what this has to do with astrology. Years ago, when I was doing research for my book Planetary Apothecary,(2) I was quite struck by how the descriptions of many of the essences seemed to have a correlation with different zodiacal patterns. A few examples: I read of Buttercup flower essence being indicated for inspiring an inner sense of self-assuredness that would translate into a reduced need for outer recognition, and I then saw how this might correlate with some expressions of the sign of Leo. When I researched Pink Yarrow and its ability to help forge energetic boundaries within those who relate to others through empathy, I immediately reflected upon its potential benefit for some Pisceans.
My years of research and writing about flower essences, as well as designing custom formulas for astrology consultation clients, have shown me not only how these two systems align, but also how incorporating flower essences can further meet the goals of astrologers who want to use our sacred art to inspire the well-being of others.
As noted above, the healing essence of flowers has been recognized and used by numerous cultures for thousands of years. If we track the genesis of nature-based alchemical healing in recent centuries, we can find two notable examples. It has been suggested that both the 12th-century Benedictine abbess, Hildegard von Bingen, and the 16th-century astrologer and physician, Paracelsus, worked with the dew collected from flowers and plants — one way to make these remedies — in their approach to healing.
In modern times, it is the early 20th-century English physician, Dr. Edward Bach, whom many credit with the rediscovery and popularization of flower essences. In his extensive search for a more holistic approach to healing, one that reflected the interplay between mind and body, he discovered 38 different essences now called the Bach flower remedies, each of which addressed a specific mental or emotional state. Many people are introduced to flower essences through the use of a popular Bach formula known as Rescue RemedyTM — a combination of five flowers that is used to alleviate acute stress.
With the Bach flower remedies as the contemporary foundation of this healing system, later 20th-century healers turned to creating other collections from flowers grown in their native areas, which they believed would address additional pictures of mental and emotional dis-ease. Two of the more well-known collections include: Flower Essence Services, a California company founded in 1979 by Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz; and the Australian Bush Flowers, developed by Ian and Kirstin White in the early 1980s. There are now scores of other remedies available, created from flowers across the globe; in fact, Clare G. Harvey's book, The New Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies,(3) includes information about more than 25 systems of flower essences from all around the world, including North and South America, Australia, Japan, Thailand, and India. There are also people around the globe making these vibrational elixirs on a smaller scale. There are likely thousands of flower essences, reflecting the cornucopia of botanicals worldwide.
Let us now further explore how flower essences accord (work in harmony) with astrology, and how we can use them in our practice with clients.
We can use flower essences as support when working with astrological timing techniques, such as transits and progressions, which allow us to understand the personal developmental cycles that a client is working through at any given time. We can then provide our clients with knowledge of these subtle energy remedies to help them mitigate personal challenges and to encourage them to investigate opportunities for deeper learning and understanding.
For example, a client who is having a Neptune transit to Mercury may notice that their intuitive mind is developing and may seek to foster and guide this process. In this case, we may suggest Star Tulip, a flower essence that supports inner listening, the cultivation of quietude, and the ability to access reflective insights, notably in dreams and meditative states.
Or perhaps we have a client who is experiencing a powerful Saturn period and needs support moving from one stage of life to another. Known as the "link breaker," Walnut is helpful when we are shifting into a new way of being and want to detach from the influence of expectations put upon us by others, or previously by ourselves, and embrace a deeper level of our own authority.
Additionally, flower essences may be useful as support when navigating various periods. For example, we regard the retrograde cycles of the personal planets — Mercury, Venus, and Mars — as opportunities for re-evaluation, times that may be better for reflection and retracing our steps rather than taking new action. Yet, with many people still inclined toward a "doing" orientation, mustering additional patience to wait for the right timing would be a great boon. For this, we could turn to Impatiens, a Bach flower remedy that inspires more patience and connects us to the natural rhythms of time.
To help you better understand the synergy between these two sacred healing arts, below you will find two flower essences for each of the twelve zodiacal signs. Since I currently work primarily with the Bach flowers and remedies from the Flower Essence Services (FES), the essences I've included come from one of these two systems (indicated in parentheses below).
Please note that the inclusion of a flower essence under a particular sign doesn't necessarily mean this is the only sign with which it has accord, nor that these essences are the only ones that would support the sign's constitution. These are offered as examples for your further consideration.
Impatiens (Impatiens glandulifera): Aries natives don't necessarily list patience as one of their strong suits. Sometimes a "now or never" orientation can catalyze things getting done at a rapid speed, but this can also cause stress and strain. Impatiens flower essence counters impatience by encouraging a more harmonious flow with the natural rhythm of time and the pace of others. (Bach)
Tiger Lily (Triteleia ixioides): Aries's assertiveness allows for the expression of will in the pursuit of a goal. Yet, at times others may perceive this fiery assertiveness as aggressiveness, which could diminish their desire to cooperate and provide support. Tiger Lily flower essence channels the will toward collaboration with others, while still allowing for a sense of individual contribution. (FES)
Chestnut Bud (Aesculus hippocastanum): Taurus has an affinity for routines, deriving great comfort from the security that arises from knowing what comes next. The need for a regular rhythm is sometimes so essential to Taurus that it fosters deeply etched habitual patterns, some of which may be health-giving, while others may not. Chestnut Bud can help to break the vicious cycle of self-defeating habits, whose comfort comes only from the familiarity of the action itself. (Bach)
Hound's Tongue (Cynoglossum grande): Earthy Taurus is drawn toward the material world, which colors its worldview. While being a master of the mundane can have its benefits, if one's orientation emphasizes physical reality to the exclusion of the more subtle realms, a sense of dullness and heaviness in mind and body can emerge. Hound's Tongue encourages the infusion of imagination and intuition to yield more holistic thinking. (FES)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus): Gemini collects facts and figures and is enthused by all kinds of information. Yet, having a facility for collecting data doesn't necessarily mean it is always easy to translate and communicate it in an organized way. Cosmos, a great flower essence for public speaking, can forge a clearer channel between thoughts and the spoken words used to express them. (FES)
Madia (Madia elegans): With so much attraction to mental activity, Geminis sometimes resemble intellectual butterflies, moving from this stimulus to that. Although this can satisfy the inherent curiosity associated with the sign, it also tends to inhibit the ability for deep concentration. Madia flower essence improves focus, helping to reduce distractibility and inattention. (FES)
Honeysuckle (Lonicera caprifolium): With a reverence for history and tradition, Cancer is infused with a nostalgic bent. While Cancerians can derive emotional comfort from the past, they sometimes have the tendency to get stuck in it, which can distract them from living in the present. Honeysuckle flower essence releases the pincer grip of what has come before, opening up a greater ability to be more fully in the here and now. (Bach)
Mariposa Lily (Calochortus leichtlinii): Ruled by the Moon, Cancer is connected to the mother and the expression of maternal consciousness. Sometimes this connection can be stifled and in need of support so that one can feel more cared for, especially by oneself. Mariposa Lily flower essence helps a person to embrace the past, inspires forgiveness of one's personal mother, and promotes a deeper connection to the Divine Mother. (FES)
Buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis): Leo often looks for outer recognition to stoke the inner flame of self-value. Yet, when the external world is the main or only source of validation, inner worth becomes vulnerable, as it is overly dependent upon the applause of others. Buttercup flower essence is good for amplifying self-assuredness and the ability to experience one's own inner light. (FES)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus): With the Sun ruling Leo, there's a connection between this sign and a sense of egoic radiance. Yet, if ego expression is not in balance, natives can experience either low self-esteem or self-aggrandizement. Sunflower bolsters internal solar energy, allowing for the radiation of a healthier and more balanced sense of self. (FES)
Pine (Pinus sylvestris): A common tendency of Virgo is to hold oneself to a very high standard. When the goal is impossible to attain, as it often is, this can lead to self-condemnation and reproach. Pine flower essence is noted for inspiring self-acceptance and forgiveness and the release of excessive self-criticism. (Bach)
Rock Water (solarized spring water): Asceticism may be one of the manifested qualities of Virgo. A striving toward betterment, including one's health, can often make Virgo quite rule-bound. This can lead to a sense of restriction that strangles the flow of joy. Rock Water encourages one to honor the spirit rather than the letter of the law, allowing more flexibility and receptivity. (Bach)
Scleranthus (Scleranthus annuus): Librans often weigh and reweigh their options before making a decision, since they fear that they will choose prematurely or wrongly. While putting things on the scale is inherent to the Libra nature, it can sometimes leave natives swirling in an eddy of indecision. Scleranthus flower essence is indicated for deepening decisiveness and inner resolve. (Bach)
Scarlet Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis): An affinity for harmony over discord can cause Librans to be instinctively repelled by emotions, such as anger, that feel disruptive. If this results in the suppression of naturally occurring feelings, it can lead to passive-aggressiveness and/or untimely blowups from built-up feelings. Scarlet Monkeyflower essence allows for the embrace and clear communication of a full spectrum of feelings. (FES)
(Ilex aquifolium): Scorpio is a passionate sign; its natives are drawn to a deep reservoir of feelings and attuned to the emotional undercurrents of those around them. Because of a strong need for intimate connection, jealousy and suspicion can arise when Scorpio perceives that it is not the object of another's desire. Holly flower essence can allay isolating feelings by helping to transform a perspective of exclusion to inclusion, and an orientation from scarcity to one that recognizes the stream of ever-present, abundant love. (Bach)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum): With an affinity for the intense and powerful, Scorpios can embrace sexual liaisons as a dynamic route to profound interpersonal emotional connections. Yet, if there is a feeling of sexual shame — whether from past experiences or perceived societal standards — this arena may be cordoned off from the whole of life, seen as needing to be clandestine or secretive. Basil flower essence helps one to integrate sexuality with spirituality, releasing the need to have physical intimacy be separate from emotional connection. (FES)
Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sagittarius has an affinity for seeing things from on high, a perspective from which it seeks meaning, and strives to craft a broad-based understanding of life. Still, life does come with trials and tribulations, and even Sagittarius needs that extra reminder to not let these challenges jostle it out of seeing the bigger picture. Sage flower essence offers additional encouragement to see things from a wider perspective and thus to access the inherent wisdom in life experiences. (FES)
Vervain (Verbena officinalis): With ardent enthusiasm and a zealous nature, Sagittarius leaps into action toward the attainment of visions, which often includes the sharing of ideals with others. Sometimes this can lead to setting overly optimistic goals and/or attachment to beliefs, which can create stress, exhaustion, or nervous tension. Vervain flower essence can help one to stay connected to impassioned pursuits, while remaining aware of one's limits and the benefits of practicing moderation. (Bach)
Vine (Vitis vinifera): Autonomous Capricorns may express their authority by leading others. But too much persistent self-reliance can lead to a myopic vision of what others are capable of and a disregard for their unique abilities. Vine flower essence serves as a reminder that delegating is not the sign of an ineffective leader but of a powerful one who can successfully inspire others. (Bach)
Oak (Quercus robur): Dutiful Capricorns often feel that they can do everything on their own, not needing (or wanting) help from others. Although this can be a pathway to attaining their achievements, it's often exhausting and sometimes isolating. Oak flower essence offers a reminder that even Capricorn has limits and that accepting these reflects strength rather than weakness. (Bach)
Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum): Aquarius has an impressive mental orientation, an ability to stream networked information and insights. And yet, for some, there is an emphasis on living through their minds without a concurrent balance of being grounded, which can lead to nervous tension and/or frustration from not fulfilling their visions. Lady's Slipper flower essence helps to ground the higher mind, integrating upper and lower chakras, enabling one to more clearly walk one's path. (FES)
Quaking Grass (Briza maxima): Aquarius is socially oriented and often finds that being a part of a collective fosters a much-desired sense of connectivity. Yet, group dynamics sometimes come with challenges, as people struggle to find their place. Quaking Grass helps Aquarians to find an important balance: to maintain their individuality while honoring the collective, remembering that they are part of something larger than themselves but also that they themselves can make a significant contribution. (FES)
Aspen (Populus tremula): Pisces can be highly sensitive to others' thoughts and feelings, which if registered on an unconscious level may lead to a sea of emotional unease and vague anxiety. Aspen flower essence bolsters the ability of the conscious mind to sift through the impressions to which it is connecting, so that one doesn't unconsciously take on the fears and apprehension of those around them. It helps to support both clarity and a feeling of psychic protection. (Bach)
Pink Yarrow (Achillea millefolium var. rubra): Empathetic Pisces can readily identify with the suffering of others. And while the caring and compassionate nature of these natives is one of their greatest gifts, an overly sympathetic orientation can have them merging with others in a way that may disturb their emotional well-being. Pink Yarrow flower essence helps to maintain the experience of a loving awareness of others while fortifying personal boundaries. (FES)
Flower essences can be used either orally or topically. If you want to use them orally, the recommended dosage is usually two to four drops of each essence four times a day. Some people like to take them right from the bottle. They can also be added to a glass of water. A more cost-effective way to use the flower essences is to put the drops in a one-ounce dropper bottle filled with filtered water, from which the recommended dose can be taken. Counterintuitively, diluting a flower essence in water will not dilute its potency.
The topical application of flower essences is wonderful for people who avoid alcohol (which is used as a fixative in many flower essences), including children. The flower essences can be applied directly to the skin, either on the pulse points or specific acupressure points. One convenient way of using them to is to add the flower essences to a mister bottle filled with water. You can then spritz yourself and your environment several times a day.
You can find flower essences in holistic pharmacies, natural food stores, online resources, and through practitioners who work with this system of healing.
References and Notes:
1. Flower essences are described as "… the life force of plants collected from the energy field or aura of the plant," in Donna Cunningham, Flower Remedies Handbook: Emotional Healing & Growth with Bach & Other Flower Essences, Sterling Publishing, 1992, p. 26. Like homeopathy and other forms of vibrational medicine, flower essences are healing agents that work on a subtle energy level, rather than strictly biophysical one. (For more information, see the Richard Gerber book listed below.)
2. Stephanie Gailing, Planetary Apothecary, Crossing Press, 2009.
3. Clare G. Harvey, The New Encyclopedia of Flower Remedies, Watkins Publishing (London), 2007.
If you'd like to learn more about flower essences and astrology, here are some books I would recommend:
Bach, Edward, M.D. The Essential Writings of Dr. Edward Bach: The Twelve Healers and Heal Thyself. Random House (London, U.K.), 2005.
Bellows, Warren. Floral Acupuncture: Applying the Flower Essences of Dr. Bach to Acupuncture Sites. Crossing Press, 2005.
Damian, Peter. The Twelve Healers of the Zodiac. Red Wheel Weiser, 1986.
Gerber, Richard, M.D. Vibrational Medicine: The #1 Handbook of Subtle-Energy Therapies. Bear & Company, 2001.
Kaminski, Patricia, and Richard Katz. Flower Essence Repertory: A Comprehensive Guide to North American and English Flower Essences for Emotional and Spiritual Well-Being. Flower Essence Society (Nevada City, California), 2004.
McIntyre, Anne. Flower Power: Flower Remedies for Healing Body and Soul Through Herbalism, Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, and Flower Essences. Henry Holt and Company, 1996.
Scheffer, Mechthild. The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy. Healing Arts Press, 1999.
Sellwood, Debbie. Centaury for Virgo, Rock Rose for Pisces. Polair Publishing (London, U.K.), 2007.
Starck, Marcia. Healing with Astrology. Crossing Press, 1997.
Lavendar-Rose oil: Public Domain CC0, by Devanath via pixabay.com
Bach essences: Public Domain CC0, by stux via pixabay.com
Impatiens: Public Domain CC0, by nero235 via pixabay.com
Honeysuckle: Public Domain CC0, by Stevebidmead via pixabay.com
Holly: Public Domain CC0, by Antranias via pixabay.com
Lady's Slipper: Public Domain CC0, by StillWorksImagery via pixabay.com
First published in: The Mountain Astrologer, Apr/May 2016
Stephanie Gailing, M.S., is a wellness astrologer who weaves together astrological insights, flower essence therapy, dreamwork, and compassion-based coaching. Author of Planetary Apothecary: An Astrological Approach to Health and Wellness and Stellar Kids, Stephanie counsels clients, teaches workshops, writes about holistic well-being, and crafts custom-designed flower essence elixirs. Based in Seattle, she frequently travels to New York City and works with clients all over the world. You can find more about her and her work at her website:
© 2016 - Stephanie Gailing - published by The Mountain Astrologer
24-May-2018, 16:06 UT/GMT
|Explanations of the symbols|
|Chart of the moment|