Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Flower Essences for the Christmas Season — Holly

The Holly addresses the age-old dilemma of how to harness the useful thrust for survival and fighting for justice we depend upon and still have a kind and loving heart. Kindness tends to vanish in the wake of war and yet there are times that try the soul, especially when the limits of tolerance and fair play are breached by others putting their personal single-minded desires ahead of what works best for all concerned.

“I’m taking that for myself. I don’t care what happens to anyone else” is the rallying cry of the sickness that takes hold when Holly is most appropriate. When a person’s dignity has been imposed upon too many times the lust for revenge can overtake the personality. But when hate turns the natural impulse for creative action into violence and rage the Bach Flower repertoire offers a solution: turn to a force larger than yourself and return a feeling of wholeness into the world.

The Holly plant comes into the celebration of Christmas mostly from the pagan European tradition of using a wreath of Holly to crown the nature King who dies with the waning light from Summer Solstice until December. Then, with the culmination of the Winter Solstice (now usurped by the celebration of Christmas), the pattern is reversed. A new king is born. Light comes back into the world at the Savior (Sun/Son King)’s birth and hearts are then filled with gladness, love and celebration.

The Holly is the Crown of Thorns. Its leaves are stiff and come to a series of sharp thorn-like points. The Holly plant is thick with these leaves and is like an impenetrable fortress. It is a fierce survivor and can live even in the harshest conditions. In Druid iconography a glyph of the plant is used to say “I am a battle-waging spear” but in Flower Essence Therapy the battle it is most used to help with is the one that rages within the human heart. Can you develop the inner Divinity to understand the vexations of human existence to the extent that you can remain forgiving under the harshest conditions?

The Holly plant is not just about pain. The thorn-like projections of the leaves are not defense. They also serve to tighten and reshape the growth pattern of the leaves so they twist and refract the light from the sun into the dark almost walled off hedge-like structure of the plant itself. Light from the outside world is thus reflected inward so the plant can thrive even in the darkest recesses of the deepest forest.

The person who needs Holly most is the one who no longer loves themselves. They feel unloved, lost and alone in a world that doesn’t “respect” or “care” for them.They’re angry, envious, jealous, and vengeful and attempt to correct this grief they carry in the most murderous of ways—by attempting to project it out in order to hurt or “correct” others instead. The Bach Flower Remedy Holly is used to heal the heart, to allow it to access the deep peace that comes from feeling safe and loved despite what one faces in the world around. It enables the person to regain compassion for themselves and the desire to give and receive this compassion and grace with others.

Dr. Bach considered Holly to be one of the most important remedies in his collection, universally applicable to a wide variety of situations. Everyone feels unloved from time to time, lost, abandoned, angry and shut off from others. There is also a need to be truthful when it comes to meeting out justice—truthful about the motivations coming from oneself and seeking the truth about what comes from outside. This is not the same as “blind justice”. The truth the Holly plant speaks comes from nurturing the depths of the soul and commanding the justice that comes from compassion. Inner peace, essentially, automatically translates into goodwill. That’s the message of the Holly—peace on earth, goodwill towards men—and that’s the meaning of the season of Christmas as well.

I use Holly in my only Christmas-inspired flower essence aromatherapy formula. It’s called “Peace and Goodwill” and it’s designed to heal the heart so one can feel loving, at peace, and compassionate with oneself and others once again.

I also use it in my "Open-Hearted Loving" formula which I highly recommend for anyone wanting to soothe the grief covered by rage that occurs, say, in a nation divided by politically-fueled ideology, in family relationships and love affairs, in the workplace, or anyplace where love is not what the message has been . . . but needed to be. Heal from that and heal the world. That's what Holly, the spirit of Christmas, is all about.

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