Saturday, August 21, 2010

Musing On What I Do with My Writing about Flower Essences

Of late I've been using my life experience to elaborate on what I've been learning about flower essences. Nothing wrong with that. But it's starting to feel-- and Paul started to comment about it -- that I may be relying on the "here's a flower essence for you" tag ending too much. It starts to feel like every post is a natural "drug" ad and it wasn't intended that way. It's just that I do use the flower essences to work with spiritual and emotional lessons in my life quite a bit -- not as a "drug" addict but as a teaching tool. I use the flower essences to examine my life in a strange but inventive context.

What do flowering plants have to offer as a teaching tool and where would I ever get the idea that they could? At a Flower Essence Society training.

You see, I've always been interested in how indigenous people discovered which plants to use for their health and well-being. And, for that matter, how does my cat know? That's actually even more interesting. How do chimpanzees in the wild know to eat a particularly unappetizing plant they usually avoid to rid themselves of parasites? Trial and error is, of course, the usual answer from those in the scientific community. But there's a lot more going on than meets the eye -- especially when you talk to human beings in those indigenous tribes I mentioned.

When people live deeply connected with nature they pay attention to relationships and draw conclusions based on characteristics they notice over time. Professional botanists are taught to recognize the same things. What do yellow flowered plants that grow in specific types of locations with a particular characteristic leaf structure have in common? Could they be called a 'family"? Could aspects of that same family be used as an indication of what the plant is used for? Yes, it seems to be true that if you recognize a pattern in nature repeated over time often enough you can fairly well expect that in many cases similar properties will hold. That's a scientific testing it out point of view. . . and it's hubris, I think, to think that native people, our ancestors, didn't have the capability to do the same--especially if that was their particular talent and role in the community.

Of course, native peoples didn't have the scientific instruments (and mindset) we currently hold in such high authority. We attempt to understand how something ticks by breaking it apart. We separate an entity from its environment, dissect it in a lab, isolate its chemical constituents in a beaker, and attempt to use what we discover as the basis of our understanding alone. It's sort of like isolating a group of people on a deserted island with a particular task in order to win a prize and calling that "reality tv" when the parameters of that experiment have all been artificially constructed in the first place! It's not reality tv—it's constructed, "limited reality" tv. And that's not the context native people even have the opportunity to choose when determining what plants to use for their health and well-being.

© Copyright 2009 Sheryl Karas
Instead they look more for associations that repeat, and include the context--the environment, for example, or the belief system the person holds as another -- as indications to help them decide how to proceed. So, for example, folkloric associations have been made for certain types of yellow flowered plants like the Dandelion. The most simplistic explanations focus on how the color appears to mimic the jaundice yellow in the face of a person with compromised liver function. So, folklore insists you can use Dandelion for liver health. That happens to be true, by the way! But there's a lot more to it than that. The yellow color does seem to indicate one thing but the entire structure of the plant, how it grows and how it adapts to its environment is even more essential. The Dandelion doesn't just mimic the color in the person's face who needs it most. Its whole way of being--its tenacity and ferocious style of interaction with other elements in its environment— can be seen as reflection of the emotional//physical patterning the person with a tendency towards liver issues tends to adopt! (I did a talk on this topic where I go into a lot more fun detail. You can watch a video of that talk here.)

I realize as I'm writing these blogs that I haven't been spending nearly enough time getting into the heart of that and that has to change, I think, over time. I was skeptical of this point of view at first. Of course I would be -- I didn't grow up with this sort of belief system at all! But after seeing it proven to me over and over and over in that first Flower Essence Society training, and then proving it even more directly through exploring it myself, I came to the conclusion that we need this kind of understanding back in our lives. We're disconnected from our sources of health and empowerment in so many ways in our current society. But if I could pass on the concepts needed to help people make informed and enlightened choices I think I'd be doing more than just selling flower essence aromatherapy products. I'd be a teacher, I guess—a book writer—which, when it comes to coming up with items for this blog, is much more of what I had in mind.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Wonderful blog. It is so alive! I know what you mean by writing the same old stuff and turning your posts into ads. I like to mix it up and put quotes from the flower manuals, responses to letters I've received, research updates and that kind of thing. But, as the old saying goes "if it is interesting, people will love to read it" Keep up the good work!
Brendan