Although I had worked with flower essences before, I can't say that I really understood them until I made my first essence in my own backyard. Intrigued by Matthew Wood's description of Easter Lily essence in his wonderful book Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers, but unable to find it in the stores at the time, I decided to make it myself. What I learned that warm, sunny morning has changed my life and opened up a beautiful and magical path for me.
What is the "essence" of a flower? It has been called by many names in many cultures: chi, life force, Spirit, the inner nature of the plant. I like to keep my mental baggage light, so I use the neutral term "energy" to describe what I feel when working with essences. When you buy a bottle of flower remedy, there is no material trace of the plant in the bottle (unlike an herbal tincture). Much like a homeopathic remedy, all that is in the brandy and spring water that makes it an essence is a kind of "energetic signature", a memory of the personality or aura of a medicinal flower. Tracing this life energy from flower to bottle to person, seeing how the flow of life force can bring about such profound change and healing -- that's the lesson I learned from Easter Lily.
Flower essences should not be confused with "essential oils" as used in aromatherapy. Essential oils are concentrated chemical constituents from herbs, collected by a distillation process. When applied to the skin or inhaled, it has a powerful, but mostly chemical, effect on the body and mind. An essence, on the other hand, is the concentrated energy of the plant; its effects are primarily energetic or "auric", not physical.
Although knowledge of the healing powers of flowers and herbs goes back many centuries, the modern story of flower essences starts at around 1928. That was when Dr. Edward Bach, a homeopathic doctor, retired from his London practice to the countryside to research a new kind of medicine. Until his death in 1936, he sought out the 38 remedies that now bear his name. In the last 20 years, much research has been done to discover additional remedies around the world. I use over 200 flowers in my work, but there are many remedies available I have hardly even heard of!
To make my Easter Lily, I followed the "sun infusion" method developed by Dr. Bach. I placed a clear, glass pan (mine came from the cooking utensil section of the grocery store) on the grass in my yard, poured spring water into it (just enough to cover the bottom), and placed 3 easter lily flowers in the pan. This needs to soak up the heating rays of the sun for 4 or 5 hours, from early morning until around noon. What happens when you do this strange operation is truly an alchemical miracle.
Let's trace the life energy from the flower to the bottle to the person. The life force in a plant is intelligent: it equips the plant with all the wisdom it needs to grow, reproduce, and respond to its environment. Each species has its own type of genius that gives it a characteristic shape, color, life cycle, ability to thrive in certain environments (and not others), even its medical qualities. An easter lily looks the way it does because its energy pattern causes living matter to assume this shape; a different plant is responding to some other pattern. The flower, in particular, is the most vibrant expression of this energy, since the plant is putting all its energy here to complete the reproductive act and continue the cycle of life. When the flowers are placed in the water under the sun, this energy is baked into the liquid, preserving a memory of the flower's personality, and becomes an essence.
When this bottled essence is taken into the human body, the energy is released into your own energy field (the aura) and causes it to change. Something new is added to your aura; old patterns in the aura are rearranged and released. Each essence is experienced, in human terms, as a psychological or emotional force, a new psychic "theme" to integrate. For instance, Easter Lily essence deals with resolving the tension between sexuality and spirituality, purifying the body and its drives. Another flower, Mariposa Lily, deals with the experience of warm maternal love and support, etc. If you have a lack or imbalance in the theme represented by some essence, it will help you reorder your experience into a new balance. In this way, the flowers help us heal old emotional wounds and uncover our true selves. Each flower has its own lesson to teach our souls.
Being sensitive to auras, I'm fascinated by this flow of energy. When a person takes an essence in my presence, I can feel the amazing shifts in their auric field start the moment the drops touch their tongue. The aura around the Easter Lily as it baked in the sun was simply beautiful: two pearly white hemispheres around the pan. You could feel the energy of these globes with your hands; sitting inside them, you could feel the healing power of this flower. Flowers are astounding alchemists.
As the afternoon came on, the Easter Lilies let me know, "We're tired now -- can we stop?" I bottled up the charged water, taking a drop or two on my tongue to test the energy. Even the dew under the pan was turned to essence! As I set down the bottles in my room, the spirit of Easter Lily filled the entire room with a loving presence. I had learned so much that morning. It was a very beautiful day.