From Dr Bach to Perelandra - a summary of the history of flower essences.

From Dr Bach to Perelandra...

Seventy Years of Flower Essences.
We have come a long way.....


A exciting journey, that continues onward.....



It is traditional in a manual of this type to give some sort of background summary of  “what has gone before”.  I was initially tempted to skip this, because  “surely it has all been said before”,  and if someone wants to know about Bach Flowers or “New Perception”, surely they would be better to go direct to the source and read some of the many excellent books on these topics.


But, I have changed my mind, for a number of reasons:





Dr Bach Was Not The First!


It has generally been accepted that the therapy of using the energy of flowers, transferred to the human body via water, was originated by Dr Edward Bach.  While it is true that Dr Bach was the first to come up with, (at least in the modern era), a number of the components of the technology, he was not the first to use vibrational healing from flowers.


Thanks to the efforts of our colleagues in Western Australia, Vasudeva and Kadambii Barnao, the following has seen uncovered.


In one of the video training modules from the Australasian College of Flower Essences, there appears on camera an Australian Aboriginal man who tells his story of how, when he was a boy and seriously stricken with polio he was healed by the old people of his tribe.  He was taken into the bush, and buried up to his neck in a pit dug in the earth.  Under him were placed many wild flowers, and under the flowers were rocks that had been heated in a fire.


Steam from the flowers passed over his body as he lay buried in the ground.  At the end of the day, he was dug out of the pit, and his polio was healed.  He could walk!




The other example of the use of flowers for healing is from South-East Asia.  A Buddhist monastery has a large garden with hundreds of flowers.  People go to the monastery for healing, and the monks go around the garden intuitively selecting the flowers that they know will help the person.  The flowers are then floated in water, sitting in the sun, and the person is given the water to drink.


Both of the above examples pre-date Dr Bach by hundreds or thousands of years.  The Aboriginal method is the equivalent of the Bach boiling method of essence preparation, and the monastery example is obviously the same as the sun method.  The innovation that was added by Bach, was the bottling of the water that has been energised with the energy from the flowers, and the preserving with brandy, to make the therapy more convenient and “portable” for use in our modern society.


So the real legacy of Dr Edward Bach was the development of the healing technology so that it is practical for everyday use within our culture, (where it is not convenient for us to be buried in the ground for a day!), and the popularisation of this powerful healing method, with the Bach Flowers “Rescue Remedy” being sold over the counter in pharmacies and health food stores all over the world.


I am not going to repeat here the well-known the story of Dr Bach's life, as this has been very adequately done by many others.




For a number of decades following Dr Edward Bach, his Bach Flowers proved to be very adequate.  The set of thirty-eight flowers covered all of the common human emotional states:  with these remedies a skilled practitioner had all the tools that she needed.  Humanity was on a relatively slow evolutionary path.  Right through the 1930's, 40's and the 50's; the pace of change was very slow.


But, once we entered the 1960's, and the post-war baby-boomer generation (my generation), entered their teens and began to assert their independence from the beliefs, attitudes and dogmas of their parents and grandparents, we entered the period of ever-accelerating change with which we are now so familiar.


To remind you how different things are today, from how things were in the 1930's to 1950's, I will list just a few of the many major changes:


To read about my own personal experiences of these attitudes towards sex, sport, and conformity, during my childhood in the 1950's, I refer you to the appropriate sections of the story of my life, The Modern-Day Alchemist.




As the consciousness of humanity evolved over the decades following the time of Dr Bach, a few pioneers, following in his footsteps, began to make flower essences in various places around the world.  Two of the better known examples of these essence sets are the “Australian Bush Essences”, and the “Californian Essences”, (neither of which I have had personal experience of using).


Mary Garbely, as she appeared on the back cover of her book. In 1984, with the release of Mary Garbely's  “New Perception of New Zealand” flower essences, our country entered a new era in natural healing.  Mary's initial set of forty essences, from Abelia to Wild Fennel, brought a fresh energy, an energy firmly rooted in the South Pacific.  For many of us, it was time to cut our energetic ties with Europe, and to strike out confidently on our own.


And with the publication, in 1990, of Mary's book  “A New Perception, Flower Essences of New Zealand”, we had, in one handy volume, all of the information that we needed.


Mary's little book, just as it was that day in 1992, in the Nelson Public Library. In Mary's Introduction to her book, she tells how she first discovered flower essences by reading about Dr Bach and his work in an article by Nora Weeks in the book “Harvest of Light”.  “I read the article and was certain of my direction.  I never looked back.  From then onwards, everything written, spoken or thought about became part of an essence approach”, says Mary.




My own discovery of flower essences was similar to Mary's.  In the 1980's, I was vaguely aware of the Bach Flowers, but had felt no energy resonance with them, so I had never tried them, apart from occasional use of  “Rescue Remedy”.  Then, one day in early 1992, browsing through the books on herbalism in the Nelson Public Library, I saw it.  Mary's little book.  I picked it up, opened it at random and began reading.  I stood transfixed, rooted to the spot.  This was it!  This was what I had been looking for!  I must have stood there for at least fifteen minutes, unable to stop reading, before I finally took the book to the library's issues desk.


In that life-defining moment, all my plans for studying herbalism, and of becoming a medical herbalist were quietly dropped.  This was my path, beyond a shadow of a doubt.


Soon after this life-changing discovery, I moved from Nelson to Wellington, and, within a few days of arriving I saw a notice advertising a workshop:  “Flower Essence Workshop, with Mary Garbely”.  I rang the phone number, which was answered by someone named Lisa,  (Yes, the same Lisa who is now my close friend and associate).  For a more in-depth insight into this story of how I discovered essences, read the appropriate sections of the story of my life, The Modern-Day Alchemist.




Mary, seen here at the Flower Essence Celebration, September 1995. Sitting in the room at that workshop, in July 1992, with somewhere around twenty other people, listening to Mary describe how to make an essence, I had a feeling of coming home.  It was not a matter of thinking “This is my path.”  It was more a feeling of comfort and belonging.  A feeling of “belongingness”.  A feeling of at-one-ness with myself.


All that was now needed was to buy a set of the  “New Perception Essences”, learn to use a pendulum, and go for it!




By early 1993, I was “going for it”.  With my new set of seventy of Mary's essences, and my pendulum, I began treating myself, my flatmates and friends, my flatmate's cats, anyone or anything willing!


Dill flower essence, one of those wonderful seventy essences of Mary's. I used the  “New Perception” essences intensively right through 1993 and into 1994.  I came to really know most of the seventy of them intimately.  Dandelion, for stress, especially muscular rigidity.  Dill, for regrowth and regeneration, bursting forth with the energy of vigorous new growth.   Wild Fennel, for the repelling of negative energies.  As I think of each one now, I can feel its energy really clearly.


These essences of Mary's became a part of me.  Like Mary, I took on an “essence approach” to all of life.  And I also came to believe that this set of seventy essences was all that I would ever need, for the rest of my life.


Until, in early 1994, I discovered  “Perelandra”.....



Click here to go to the story of Perelandra,  the huge influence that this had on Peter, and how it eventually led him on the path to the birth of the New Millennium Essences Project.






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