We had our April showers, and we’re still having showers now that it’s May, but that’s life on the Oregon coast!
Happily, we also have the May flowers that the old rhyme promises, in a growing palette of the blues of Iris and Red Root, the yellows of Chamomile and Meadowfoam, and the pinks of fruit trees like Apple, Plum and Quince.
When I think about the energy of flowers, in Nature and in healing, I think of the anthroposophical scientist and philosopher Ernst Lehrs. In his book Man or Matter: Introduction to a Spiritual Understanding of Nature, he writes about the different energetic principles in plant growth, based on his studies of the works of Goethe.
Lehrs discusses the principle of levity, which draws the plant upwards in its growth, but which also carries within it the counterbalance energy of renunciation, in which levity is once again withdrawn into the plant. He writes:
While progressing from leaf to flower the plant undergoes a decisive ebb in its vitality. Compared with the leaf, the flower is a dying organ. This dying, however, is of a kind we may aptly call a ‘dying into being’.
Life in its mere vegetative form is here seen withdrawing in order that a higher manifestation of the spirit may take place.
He compares this progression to the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, dying into its new being as a butterfly, and to the changes that the growing human undergoes as metabolic processes in the fetus give rise to the nervous system, which can then be the receptacle for consciousness.
The flower is created by the energy of levity, the upward pull of the forces of light, whose influence is seen manifest in the delicate, translucent structures of the flower, so different from the opaque density of root and leaf. And, at the top of the plant, at its apex in the flower, that pull from the eternal, light-filled level of being becomes so strong that the very molecules of the plant fly off and away on the breeze as scent, drawing in the creatures that plant needs to carry its being into the next generation of its kind.
Once pollinated, the plant’s energy contracts into an inert, durable seed, perhaps the most Salt-level plant structure, all physical protection and material strength, guarding the Mercury intelligence inside it as it sleeps, waiting for the conditions of soil and rain to awaken it into being so the cycle can start anew- Salt structure of seed opening to allow the growth of root and sprout sparked by Mercury’s electric intelligence, the plant stretching upwards and outwards as it expands into its full being of light, drawing in the lightest creatures of the air with its Sulfur level aromatics to enlist them in its reach towards the next generation.
That intelligence, imbued by the scent and expressing itself as the plant’s gesture towards the eternal, is the Sulfur level of being, residing in the essential oils and carrying the blueprint of each plant’s highest medicinal and energetic gifts. Some of these become Spagyrics which draw on the plant’s aromatic properties in direct ways, such as our Magisteries, while others are more about the plant’s energy of light and expansion. Here are some of our favourites:
Lavender is a classic aromatic herb, loved for its wide array of healing properties and balanced effects. Sweet and pleasant, yet also strongly medicinal, it is a good choice for all sorts of imbalances in all sorts of people!
Our Lavender Magistery is a lively expression of this Mercurial plant, with effects on mind and mood that are both calming and uplifting. It’s a good choice to reduce stress and tension in a way that does not sedate the mind, but actually leaves it more clear and sharp.
The scent of Linden blossom is known to anyone who has lived near even just one tree- it is a powerfully sweet, bright, and seductive scent that can fill a whole neighbourhood in early summer.
When we lived in Eugene, there were a few Linden trees planted along our street, and when they flowered, I found it hard to concentrate on anything, so intoxicating was their aroma. It inspired me to investigate this old-fashioned herb and work with it Spagyrically, and I’m glad I did, as it’s a wonderful medicine on its own and a core of several of our formulas.
Linden’s energy is calming and cooling, used medicinally as a tea to lower fevers, and in more concentrated extractions to cool the “heat” of high blood pressure and tension throughout the body. Our Linden Spiritualized Essence is bright and uplifting to mood, and a great anti-depressant, while also relaxing the heart and its Chakra, easing the constriction that is felt there in response to stress, grief, and worry.
Another aromatic plant whose flowers we’re enjoying is Bee Balm, which we’ve known about since we lived in the Southwest, but which we only recently extracted as a Spagyric, as I wrote about in this post.
Bee Balm is also called “Oregano de la Sierra”, or Mountain Oregano, and that is a good description of its smell and taste, and a hint at the antimicrobial medicinal properties its oil carries, much like true Oregano oil.
Like Linden, Bee Balm tea is used as a diaphoretic to induce sweating and break a fever, and also like Linden, it has cooling properties on the subtle levels, as well. It opens tightness and constriction in the heart and gut, and clears emotional heat such as anger or fresh grief.
We find our Bee Balm Spiritualized Essence to have a clearing, Mercurial quality like a fresh breeze dissipating stagnant energy, and it also connects with its aromatherapy uses for regulating spiritual growth and change so that the path is forward but not overwhelming.
Even more cooling, physically and emotionally, is our Hibiscus Initiatic. Made from the vibrant red flowers also used in the tropical drink Jamaica, hibiscus is popular in hot countries because of its cooling effect, and it is also considered cooling to the mind and emotions.
Once this “hotheadedness” is cleared out, Hibiscus sharpens thought and attention and shifts the energy to devotion, making it a beloved companion to the Hindu practice of japa, the concentration on a mantra.
Within the practitioner, Hibiscus facilitates the clear flow of sound from the heart and head into the world as chanting, and once out in the world, this herb helps realization of the purpose of the mantra. This is why in Ayurveda, Hibiscus flower is actually called Japa, as I wrote in this post, and it is offered devotionally to many deities.
We have found our Hibiscus Initiatic to be calming and clarifying to the mind, and at the same time, it makes any sound creation feel joyous and transcendent, from chanting and singing to speech or playing an instrument.
Also in the Ayurvedic pharmacopeia is Butterfly Pea, a vibrant blue flower used throughout east and southeast Asia as a tea, food, and vivid food colouring, used alone and combined with Hibiscus. When we first extracted Butterfly Pea, I wrote about the processing adjustments Paul had to go through to extract its amazing blue hue, as well as the Mercurial balancing properties it has on the mind, mood, and metabolism.
Butterfly Pea is used to support learning, and it has been found to increase levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter of attention, retention, and memory. This neurotransmitter also plays a role in motivation and mood, and our Butterfly Pea Spiritualized Essence can be very helpful in both depression and anxiety, helping to find the balanced state of mental health between those two poles.
Moving out of aromatic and flavour compounds and into the energetic signatures of flowers, one of the plants I feel expresses the reach for levity the most is Sacred Lotus. Revered throughout its native habitat, Lotus roots in muddy, stagnant water, rising up out of the muck and flowering above it, facing the sky and realms of spirit.
As I wrote in this article, one of the signatures of Lotuses (vs. Waterlilies) is the way they hold themselves above the water, leaves and flowers reaching up, staying pure and clean, in the world but not of it like Quan Yin herself.
If you find you need that energy of calm detachment, of compassion tempered with discernment, our Sacred Lotus Initiatic is a good ally. It brings the wisdom of compassion and caring without attachment to outcome, helping you have compassion for those who would benefit, including yourself, which can be hard to achieve. This Initiatic is also useful for many types of meditation, as it creates an energy of subdued but intense attention to whatever is focused on, making it very supportive to mindfulness and related practices.
Our next flower Spagyric, Saffron, doesn’t seem to carry the same upward energetic signature in its growth as Sacred Lotus, but once it is ingested, that quality is strongly present. Saffron is well-known as a spice, with a rich warming taste and excellent tonic properties, particularly for digestion.
Saffron’s Ayurvedic energy is considered Sattvic, or etheric- it is not Earth, Water, Air or Fire, but belongs to the realm of pure Spirit in its intelligence. The only other substance considered Sattvic is honey, also closely related to flowers and the levity of nature and her flying beings!
Our Saffron Initiatic is delicious, with a complex aromatic taste which is both rich and bitter at the same time, with a warm sharp finish. Energetically, the feeling it brings supports the sacred uses of it to clear the Nadis, or subtle energy channels of the body. There are a few Nadi-cleansing herbs in Ayurveda, but Saffron’s unique action in this use is almost entirely upwards, rather than the all-over circulatory movement of Tulsi or Calamus.
Working with our Saffron Initiatic for meditation connects you to higher aspects of yourself or spiritual realms, which is its gift to the Abra-Melin formula for connecting with the Holy Guardian Angel. If that energy is kept within, it is useful for Kundalini or energy circulation such as the Microcosmic Orbit. In my own practice, the feeling it gives me is an upward rush of energy, mood, and mind, followed by the sensation of a flower opening in my crown.
Our final two flowers show in beautiful visual form the open, airy, light-filled energy that we’ve been discussing in this post. Both are in the pea family, as is our earlier friend Butterfly Pea, but instead of the classic sweet pea flowers that many of that tribe have, these two have delicate feathery, etheric flowers which seem barely physical at all.
Calliandra, also known as Hummingbird Plant, is a strikingly beautiful bush native to the tropical Americas, but planted extensively on the West Coast. Its bright red brushy poufs of flowers attract hummingbirds with their nectar, and this plant was an important part of Aztec cosmology because of that association.
The Aztecs told stories of Huitzilopochtli, “Hummingbird from the Spirit World”, who was defeated in a battle to save his people. When he died, a hummingbird sprang up from the spot where he fell, and that hummingbird and all fallen warriors traveled to another realm, where they eat the nectar of Calliandra until their warrior nature is transformed and they can return to the world of the living.
As hummingbirds, they are still fierce warriors eating the fire of the Calliandra flower, but they also absorb the sweetness of its nectar and the light that reflects from their feathers represents the balanced use of power and the warrior energy, which is the lesson that our Calliandra Initiatic carries if used in meditation and mindfulness.
Finally, we arrive at Albizia, one of the most light-filled flowers of Nature, and one which is a very helpful ally for difficult times. Albizia is also called Mimosa, and it is a small tree with native varieties around the world. Perhaps it’s because I know what its medicinal uses are, but to me, its pink feather duster flowers express lighthearted joy and happiness whenever I see them.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Albizia is classified as a tonic to Shen, the well of peaceful, calm strength that resides in the heart.
Shen is the source of the other two treasures of Jing, or creative force, and Qi, or vital energy, and when Shen is depleted, all our systems suffer from imbalance. Unfortunately, much of daily life can disrupt our Shen, especially in these times, from stress and illness to lack of sleep, poor diet, and so on.
Albizia is a unique Shen tonic, since most other herbs with this action are stabilizing and solidifying to the Shen. Spirit Poria helps gather the Shen into a coherent center of strength, and on the extreme end of it, Dragon Bone solidifies Shen energy into a dense core of stability and resolute support; these are allies for those who become scattered, anxious, and frenetic in response to stress.
Albizia moves in the opposite direction- it is uplifting to the Shen, and our Albizia Spiritualized Essence is an important ally for anyone who responds to stress by becoming withdrawn, tired, down or depressed. It lifts the weight of worry that can sit on the heart like a stone, bringing joy and optimism back to the whole being.
This sounds like something we could all use more of right now!