Flower Essence articles, interviews, information, stories & anecdotes
from Creature Comforters®, the English Flower Essence Company
from Creature Comforters®, the English Flower Essence Company
UNVEILING SPEECH TRANSCRIPT
Dr Edward Bach (or ‘Bark’, as some pronounce his name) lived here in Cromer from 1930 - 1934.
He lived in two Cromer residences: one in St Mary’s Road, the other here in this house. This was his favourite because it overlooked the sea.
He was born of Welsh parentage in the Midlands in 1886. We understand that he must have visited Cromer in his earlier years as we know that he had a very great affection for this seaside town.
Dr Bach was a respected medical Doctor, Homeopath and surgeon who became disheartened with some of the poor results of medicine at the time.
After much observation and research he concluded that a patient’s mental state was very important to their ultimate recovery. Therefore, he set himself the challenge of finding a natural method to help make people calm and happy as, in this way, he believed it would aid a faster and more sustained recovery.
Looking to his great love of nature and the outdoors he found a number of wild flowers that he felt could be used for emotional healing. Thus he developed a new method to utilize the healing properties of these flowers and created 38 gentle healing preparations - The Bach Flower Remedies.
Dr Bach is famed internationally for his Flower Remedies. Many people have heard of Rescue Remedy™ – one of Dr Bach’s most popular and famous Remedies – used for helping to calm stress and anxiety.
In many countries around the world the Bach Flower Remedies are now the natural medicine of choice, for treating emotional issues in people and animals, as they are gentle, effective and affordable.
Dr Bach did much of his groundbreaking work during those 4 years that he lived here in Cromer.
It’s understood at least nine, of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies, were made in the surrounding countryside, some of which he made from wild flowers growing on what is now the golf course in West Runton.
From this house, where he lived, he had a good vantage point overlooking the sea and the lifeboat station. He greatly admired the bravery of the lifeboat men as they tackled the rough seas – risking their lives, saving others.
On one famous occasion, in December 1933, Dr Bach witnessed the heroic rescue by the legendary Henry Blogg, and his crew, of two men who - for 2 hours - had been clinging to the wreckage of the Sepoy.
Apparently Dr Bach went to his kitchen, here, and quickly blended a mixture of his Remedies.
Then, as the first sailor was brought ashore, he rushed down the gangway and gave the half-drowned man some of his newly created remedy.
It is said that, after taking this, the sailor made a quick recovery.
I have always wondered if that’s why Dr Bach called his mixture “RESCUE” Remedy –
as it was used in that sea rescue!
In 2006 – on what would have been his 100th birthday - the Bach International Conference was held here in Cromer, at the pavilion theatre. It was attended by speakers and delegates from 32 different countries around the world.
Dr Edward Bach is clearly an important figure in the history of Cromer and we are pleased to report that 87 years on, from his time in this town, his Flower Remedies remain as popular as ever.
Jo and I have been working in this field for many years so it is a privilege to be asked here today to have this wonderful opportunity to honour his life and work.
We unveil this plaque and, in so doing, remember his legacy –
the vast number of people and animals that have been gratefully helped worldwide … and the many who will continue to be helped in years to come…
Written by Vivien Williamson and Alice Digby
© 25th February 2017
Flower Remedies/Essences are a simple and natural method of healing through the personality, by means of the essence of wild flowers. This method was discovered in the 1930s by Edward Bach (correctly pronounced 'batch' or, idiomatically, 'baych'). Dr Bach is now perhaps most famous for his Rescue Remedy™. This method of treatment and the thirty-eight remedies which comprise its pharmacopoeia were discovered by Bach, a renowned physician, who practiced for over twenty years in London as a Harley Street consultant and bacteriologist.
He studied medicine at the University College Hospital, London, where he was a surgeon. Despite the success of his work with orthodox medicine he felt dissatisfied with the way doctors were expected to concentrate on diseases and ignore the people who were suffering them. He was inspired by his work with homeopathy but wanted to find remedies that would be simpler and solely to treat emotional states. So in 1930 he gave up his lucrative Harley Street practice and left London, determined to devote the rest of his life to the new system of medicine that he was sure could be found in nature.
Abandoning the scientific methods he had previously used, he relied instead on his natural gifts as a healer, and used his intuition to guide him through the meadows and lanes of the British countryside including Wales, Oxfordshire and Cromer in Norfolk. He would suffer the emotional state that he needed to cure and then try various plants and flowers until he found the one single plant that could help him. One by one he found the remedies he wanted, each aimed at a particular mental state or emotion. He found that when he treated the personalities and feelings of his patients their unhappiness and physical distress would be alleviated as the natural healing potential in their bodies was unblocked and allowed to work once more. In this way, through great personal suffering and sacrifice, he completed his life's work.
Dr Bach spent much of his time studying the Flower Remedies whilst living in the English seaside town of Cromer in Norfolk, where he discovered many of his remedies on the Cromer cliffs. (Cromer is also the home town of the English Flower Essence Company Creature Comforters).
Dr Bach's wish was that everyone, whether medically trained or not, would have the means to use his healing system of Flower Remedies. He was also keen to develop a straightforward pharmacopoeia and simple method of production so that they could actually be made by anyone too (by following his precise instructions). Therefore, it is well known, by Dr Bach literarys, that he would have commended - nay celebrated, the situation we have now, over seventy years after his death, where there are dozens of small, independent Flower Essence Companies, all over the world, making and selling the remedies ~ just like Creature Comforters UK. This is said to have been precisely Dr Bach's wish.
Dr Bach passed away on the evening of November 27th, 1936. He was only 50 years old, but has left behind him a lifetime's experience and dedication, and a highly respected system of medicine that is now used all over the world. He also gave us the, now famous, Rescue Remedy™ which is used by many throughout the world including actors, musicians, politicians, 'celebrities', the military, doctors, vets, Olympic sports men and women and members of the Royal family!
© Creature Comforters 2009
1. P. Chancellor (1971) The Handbook of the Bach Flower Remedies. Hillman Printers
2. Bach Directory (2004)
By a steep, cobbled slipway that leads to the beach, sits a row of tall Victorian terraces inhabited by artists, holidaymakers and fishermen. Nestled amid the row is an unremarkable dwelling with a dark green, iron door. There seems nothing extraordinary about this house except that, unknown to most, it was once, between 1930-1934, the residence of a very special man. A man who has influenced thousands worldwide; someone who has inspired hundreds of books, written in many different languages, and myriad websites, articles, leaflets, brochures and journals. An inspirational, some say visionary, doctor, homeopath and surgeon who - through great personal sacrifice and dedication - pioneered a new, alternative system of treatment that went-on to be revered around the world by those seeking a different, natural way to heal emotional problems.
His name was and is Edward Bach and, whilst living here in the Norfolk coastal town of Cromer, he began his ‘journey of research’ into what became known as The Bach Flower Remedies.
Having used, made and prescribed Flower Remedies, for the larger part of my life, I feel extremely privileged to live just a 15-minute walk from Dr Bach’s former residence and in the town he inhabited when discovering many of his Remedies. A quaint, traditional seaside town; to the casual observer there’s nothing particularly remarkable about Cromer. It has the obligatory pier, a modest promenade and a few (formerly) grand hotels. In wintertime it’s quiet, sleepy and windswept (or gale-swept), in the summer it’s all ice cream, windbreaks and holidaying families, probably just as it was in the 1930s when Bach lived here.
There are some fine places to be found in and around this town, on the wild, sandy cliffs and grassy green hills. Places that Dr Bach himself walked whilst looking for plants and flowers to add to his growing range of remedies. I’d like to take you to one of those places, a special one, just over the way from my home...
The delightfully named ‘Happy Valley’ is an area of mown park and wild scrubland, watched-over by an elegant lighthouse and bordered by the open sea to one side and woodland to the other. A favourite place for dog-walkers, it’s where I take my dog, Simba, early each morning. If you climb the steep ridge, out of the valley, you’ll be met by a wonderful view overlooking a wide expanse of sea. Sometimes the sea is bluey green – tropical looking, other times it’s dark, rough and angry. But it is here, during the late summer, that the cliffs are blanketed in a profusion of Gorse, as far as you can see. There’s a nicely positioned bench nearby and a perilous long, windy path, cut out of the cliffs, leading to the beach. So, although this is a public place, this little patch still feels secret and special – the flowers positively inviting you to make a remedy from them.
It is well documented that Bach made at least nine of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies in and around Cromer and that his Clematis Remedy was made from the flowers on these banks, but could this be the precise spot? Perhaps, back in the 1930s, this is where the first ever Clematis Flower Remedy was made? Perhaps those very plants I use to make my Clematis are the descendents of those that Bach himself used? It’s impossible to know, but it’s nice to wonder or even daydream; as those requiring Clematis are prone!
This otherwise fairly ordinary town of Cromer is a place that inspires me like it inspired Edward. A place where many of the first discoveries were made, and the sequence of unplanned events happened, that helped enable Edward Bach to create something very special – a gift to the world.
© Copyright 2010 A Digby and J Stevenson
4 Brunswick Terrace, Cromer, England.
The dwelling to the right of the cream coloured house was Dr Bach’s residence in the 1930s
One of Dr Edward Bach's homes, whilst he lived for four years in the seaside town of Cromer, was at Brunswick Terrace, on the slipway. The view from house had a good vantage point overlooking the sea and lifeboat station and from here he, like his neighbours, would often have seen the boat going out to rescue those in peril.
On one famous occasion, during a ferocious storm in December 1933, Dr Bach witnessed the heroic rescue by the legendary Henry Blogg, and his RNLI crew, of two men who, for two hours, had been clinging to the wreckage of the sailing barge - The Sepoy.
When the half-drowned sailors were brought ashore they were "delirious, foaming at the mouth, almost frozen, their life despaired of".
Upon witnessing this dramatic rescue it is said that Edward went to his kitchen and quickly mixed a concoction of his flower remedies. He then rushed down the gangway and gave the first rescued man some of his newly created remedy.
Before the man had been stripped of his clothing and wrapped in warm blankets he was "sitting up, in his right mind, and asking for a cigarette". Was that that seemingly impromptu concoction the birth of the now famous Rescue Remedy - a blend of Star of Bethlehem, Clematis, Cherry Plum, Impatiens and Rock Rose.
I have always wondered if that's why Dr Bach called his mixture 'Rescue' Remedy - as it was used in that famous sea rescue.
© 2010 Alice Digby (revised 2017)
The photo of a field of flowers, on the front of the bottle, was taken by Alice in a field that's a few paces from Dr Bach's former home - here in Cromer, Norfolk, England.
Made the way Dr Bach intended
Edward Bach - a fascinating insight
by Jane Stevenson and Alice Digby
We’re all familiar with the famous sepia photograph of Dr Bach posed at a slightly oblique angle, in a crisp white shirt looking rather ‘smart’, both intellectually and sartorially. That he was a well educated, cerebral man is without question, but what about his lifestyle, habits, reputation and appearance outside of his professional job as a physician? Those who knew him paint a portrait that somehow belies that famous photo, a fascinating insight into the real Edward Bach.
Back in 1988 I was interviewed for small local magazine North Folk about my experiences as a Flower Essence Practitioner. Following its publication a local man called Archie Wright contacted me to say he had known Dr Bach when he lived in Cromer, North Norfolk. It turned out that Archie lived at Thwaite Common just a few miles from my home at the time in Ingworth. I arranged a meeting with Archie and asked along my friend and business partner Viv. I didn’t know what to expect, how well he knew Bach or even if he’d be able to recall those days - 50 years earlier - with any clarity, but I was exited at the opportunity to spend some time with someone who actually knew Edward Bach.
We arrived at a little cottage at the foot of a loke, near the Common, which I knew well as I’d lived there myself, previously, for several years (but I’d had no idea that, all that time, a friend of Bach’s had lived just a short walk from my house!) Archie welcomed us in, he was an elderly Norfolk man, must have been in his 80s, and was warm, friendly and clearly couldn’t wait to tell us about his dear friend Dr Bach. For him, I believe, it was nice to have another chance to reminisce about ‘the good ol days’, and to two people who really, really wanted to hear his stories. Viv set the tape to ‘record’ and I took some sketchy notes which is just as well because, when we got home, we found the tape hadn’t recorded. And so this account is taken from those (often barely legible) notes and from memories of that meeting with Archie, over 22 years ago.
Bach would happily spend time with “poor people” including making friendships with the Romany gypsy community, in Archie’s words: “Real gypsies”. He told of how Bach would meet the travelling gypsies at the Belle Vue pub, which Archie ran. “He would sit with them in the bar and they would exchange knowledge on herbal remedies and natural cures, "He was extremely knowledgeable, with a very active mind, yet associated with the poor.” When the gypsies passed though they would always ask ‘Has the doctor been in recently?’ One of them was a character caller Jimmy Milton who lived in a horsebox and who Bach would visit. Archie did think this amusing and a bit unusual and I suppose he had a point. When you think about it, it’s unusual for someone of Bach’s stature, a doctor - nay a Harley Street surgeon - to regularly socialise with people of a ‘lower class’, let-alone build close friendships with them. It seems, at this time in his life, Bach sought acquaintances that were mostly about friendship and the pursuit of knowledge and never about social convention or ‘what was expected’. “He didn’t like hierarchy at all,” said Archie, “when he had money he’d give it to down-and-outs or spend it right away.”
Now, with the knowledge of his prestige as a surgeon and when we look at that formal sepia photo, it’s hard to imagine that, certainly during his time in Cromer, he is said to have looked more than a little dishevelled. Indeed in Archie’s own words he “Looked like a tramp.” With “very fair – blonde, un-groomed hair” (which Nora used to cut; “he never went to the barbers”); open shirts; flannels; tatty tennis shoes - always worn without socks; and a big old Mac “that he would sleep in”, he probably fitted in very well with Cromer’s artists, gypsies and local hobos! Archie, his friends and, it seems, much of Cromer, were clearly fascinated by this prestigious London doctor known as ‘Teddy’, evidently he was pretty hard to ignore. People in Archie’s posh saloon bar used to say (either disparagingly or affectionately, you decide): “That old doc, look at him; looking like a shambles.” A doctor wasn’t supposed to look like that, especially in those days. They were ‘pillars of the community’ expected to be suited and booted.
"That old doc, look at him, looking like a shambles"
Archie burst into laughter when he told the peculiar story of how Bach made a pair of trousers for himself. Apparently, rather than buying a pair of trousers, like most people from his class (actually most would probably have them specially tailored), Bach decided to make his own. Fair enough, you might say, nothing particularly odd about that. Except that Bach elected not to use a standard pattern of a mans’ trousers, nor to copy the pattern of some of his own trousers. No he made a pattern from Miss Tabor’s fashionable slacks! Retelling this story had Archie and me in, excuse the pun, ‘stitches’. After all, women’s trousers in the 1930s, of the very few who wore them, looked very different to men’s. It does indeed show another intriguing aspect to Bach’s character. A bit rebellious? A bit of a maverick? An eccentric? Or perhaps - being someone so able to tune into his feelings (something essential to discovering and analysing the emotional effects of the Remedies) - also meant that he was unusually in-touch with his feminine side!
Archie said that Bach ate healthily and that, yes, he enjoyed his pipe and pint (he was known by some as ‘Tobacco Ted’), but that he was also known for his watercress sandwiches and enthusiasm for foraging in hedgerows for berries, herbs and nettles to eat. Archie also said: “Teddy and Mary were thought of as queer because they were vegetarians!” Bach clearly had a strong constitution and Archie was amazed at how he was never ill “not even so much as a mild cold” and this is despite the fact that he wore those old tennis shoes, without socks – “even in the snow. Teddy’s chest was red raw from the elements in the winter months, but still didn’t get ill.” The fact that Bach was never ill was something Archie returned to throughout our conversation.
Amused yet mildly worried looks were exchanged at this depiction of Bach - with his unconventional habits and ‘tramp-like’ appearance. Might it suggest to some (particularly sceptics) that he had ‘lost his way’, or worse, ‘lost his mind’? In my opinion no. But there are countless artists, philosophers and scientists throughout history whose ‘genius’ could be said to be on the edges of madness, (or if not that then many were certainly accused of this at the time, by people unable to appreciate the vision). Such visionaries have enriched the world and taught the world. And Bach himself gave birth to a new system of healing that has helped thousands, probably millions, of people and animals throughout the world so, in a sense, does it matter how it came about? But I reiterate – all accounts of Bach, both personal and literary, confirm that he was of sound mind if, on occasion, eccentric. Perhaps it’s as simple as this: Bach was able to express himself in the relative freedom of a Norfolk town, liberated from the stifling conventions, restraints and responsibilities of London life as a surgeon. This is all speculation of course but 1930s Britain should be put into context: this was a time, between the Wars, when a few progressives were experimenting with new ideas. I say ‘new’, but their ideas were often about looking back and re-learning old customs such as herbalism. Following widespread mechanization in the Industrial Revolution plus the recent horrors of WWI (for which Bach was a casualty medical officer at UCH) for some it was often about a deep-seated craving to ‘get back to nature’. So although some of Bach’s behaviour seemed and seems a bit wacky compared to much of the population at the time (and certainly compared to his professional peers) it certainly wasn’t abnormal.
In some ways those 1930s ‘radicals’, like Bach, were the first hippies. You could say, for Bach, it wasn’t ‘flowers in the hair’ – it was flowers in the bottle! Never mind the peace, love and revolution of the 60s, that handful of special folks, in the 30s, had planted the seeds thirty years earlier. Their ideas were effectively put on hold for WWII but, thankfully, grew again, and bigger, in the 50s, 60s and to this day.
Another solid indicator that Bach was of sound mind is the fact that, despite the unconventionality, he was rational, reliable and responsible; this is confirmed throughout the conversation with Archie. Though of a logical scientific background he was experimenting with other therapies, as all pioneers must. And his dedicated research into this brand new medium, Flower Remedies, inevitably meant that he lived unconventionally and looked unconventional - total immersion was absolutely necessary.
In keeping with his love of nature, Archie told me how Bach would make pieces of furniture out of found pieces of wood. He would collect fallen boughs and branches to make small tables, chairs and simple ornaments (some of which are now on display at Mount Vernon – the place Bach lived after his time in Cromer). Clearly someone with a working knowledge of woodcraft, he also showed Archie how to make a wheel for a wheelbarrow. But Bach’s aesthetic interests weren’t just limited to the traditional; “He was interested in new architecture” … “A man of his time.” Bach also owned a small cottage, outside Cromer, for which he drew up plans for “an unusual chimney stack” which he asked Archie to build for him. Unfortunately I didn’t get the details of that cottage from Archie, but I would have loved to see that chimneystack to see what made it so unusual.
Bach still had, or made, time for recreation and, from Archie’s account, he certainly knew how to enjoy himself. Whether it be in the pub, or enjoying time in his ‘permanent hire’ beach hut which, after leaving Cromer, he would return to for several months each year, or in the ostensibly conformist aspect to Bach’s life - his membership of the Masons. Unsurprisingly, given the secretive nature of the Masons, information on this area of Bach’s life is limited. But Archie did say that Bach was given the Masonic moniker ‘Royal Ancient Order Of Buffalos’ and that he was a founder member of Bath Lodge by the pier in Cromer, “A poor man’s Masonic!” Bach would attend meetings there and it seems his presence and influence was important as ‘Bath Lodge’ was jokingly called ‘Bach Lodge’ (for Bath to rhyme with Bach one assumes his name was incorrectly pronounced as in Johan Sebastian’s and not as it should be, as in - batch). According to Archie most Masonic Lodges weren’t the mysterious, sometimes slightly menacing places often portrayed: “Nearly every other village had a lodge in those days”. It seems they were more like glorified pubs. At Bath Lodge: “More often than not they were used as a place to get-together for ale drinking and a sing song … Teddy, especially, used to enjoy that – he was fond of a drink, although,” he insists, “I only saw him properly drunk once.” It’s because of the Masons that Archie and Bach first met. In 1922 Archie had been in service at 93 Harley Street in London. His main job was as a footman but whenever there were Masonic meetings, held at that address, Archie was employed to welcome members and serve drinks. From what we’ve learnt it seems apposite that Bach should befriend a ‘mere’ footman. Archie fondly remembers how they met again, years later, when Bach walked into the Belle Vue pub in Cromer to find Archie behind the bar: “It was wonderful to see him ... we reminisced about our past together in London.” Bach did eventually give up the Masons but Archie didn’t say why and there didn’t seem any controversy. Who knows, perhaps he needed all his focus for the Remedies he was discovering.
"Doctors said he was 100 years ahead of his time"
Throughout our conversation some uncanny personal connections with Edward Bach kept coming to light. It is well known that Bach found many of his first Flower Remedies in the banks and meadows in and around Cromer, Archie explained how Bach would make-up his remedies in his Cromer home of Brunswick Terrace. He also told of how Bach looked for Gorse on Thwaite Common and discovered Water Violet at Scarrow Beck. I hadn’t been aware of this before and was personally moved to hear it as, years previously, I’d made Remedies there. Scarrow Beck is a little brook, just 7½ miles long, that takes in a spring just outside of Cromer, runs through the Blickling Hall estate (where I make several Remedies), and ends in the village of Ingworth (my former home). Also, in the 70s, I had lived in a remote little commune of cottages called The Lowlands. We would walk to nearby Scarrow Beck to swim at a clearing and the only access is via the long lane that runs through The Lowlands – a route Bach himself may well have taken. Archie also told of Nora Weeks would go looking for remedies on her loop-framed bicycle, just as I had done (it was our only form of transport!) Unknowingly I’d made my Bach Flower Remedies in some of the same spots she and Bach made theirs. It occurs to me that, quite by accident, I have lived in three places that were in some way or other important to Edward Bach: Thwaite Common, Scarrow Beck, and now Cromer. I must admit that gives me a slight shiver down my spine. A nice shiver mind!
Bach would use his remedies and preparations on his friends including once when Archie had an eye infection. “The ordinary doctors couldn’t do anything for my eye, so I asked Teddy if he could help ... he gave me some drops and they cured it.” He continued: “Teddy could see how someone was, and what was wrong with them, just by looking at them – it was almost as if he could X-RAY people!” Archie and his friends weren’t the only ones full of praise for Bach’s abilities, or ‘gifts’, as Archie exclaimed: “Other doctors said he was 100 years ahead of his time.”
As we were coming to the end of our fascinating conversation Archie movingly described the impact that Edward Bach had made on him: “I’ve met many, many people in my time, I’ve been half way round the world, but I’ve never met a man like Teddy.”
"I've never met a man like Teddy"
I had always intended to arrange another meeting with Archie but as the years passed it sadly never happened. I have always regretted that. However, what I learnt from Archie that day, back on the 16th of January 1989 was not at all what I’d expected. It revealed Edward Bach, Teddy, as someone with charisma and charm, blessed and burdened with visionary gifts and eccentricities. But it also exposed someone with foibles and passions that, somehow reassuringly, meant he wasn’t just the almost saintly figure he’s often portrayed, no in many ways he was just a regular man.
© Copyright 2011 Jane Stevenson and Alice Digby
Experiences of an Animal Practitioner
by Jane Stevenson, founding owner of Creature Comforters UK and Advanced Practitioner
with contributions from A. Digby, dog trainer and deputy manager of Creature Comforters UK
Published in the BFVEA ESSENCE JOURNAL - Autumn 2013
It is well known within the essence community that flower essences can help address the emotional and behavioural problems of animals in much the same way as they do people. And now a growing number of vets and trainers endorse them as a way of gently helping a wide range of problems, by this natural, non-chemical means.
But in what way, if any, does the application of this therapy differ between people and animals, for example, when selecting essences, should one consider an animal’s display of emotion, such as jealously, as equivalent to that of a jealous person?
As a Flower Essence Practitioner specialising in the care of animals for over twenty years, I find a different approach is required when providing consultations for animals. Of course one needs first to understand that animals are sentient beings that do actually have ‘emotions’ and not just that they display ‘behaviours’ (that their responses are purely instinctive - without the need for contemplation). Zoologists, such as Aubrey Manning, assert that there are two main aspects to animal behaviour, the physiological and the psychological[i] and both should be considered and defined. Naturalist Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man[ii] of the differences between the emotions of humans and animals, that they are ‘only in degree and not in kind’. From my experience in practice I have also found this to be true. Therefore, yes an animal can feel the primeval emotion of jealousy (as every pet owner knows!) but can your average pet feel the more complex variant - envy, which entails feelings of resentment and sometimes malevolence? And can our pets experience more sophisticated and perhaps less instinctive emotions like compassion and empathy?
That classic chewed-slipper situation!
Let’s take this familiar scenario with your pet dog:
You return home to find your dog has chewed your slippers. She has that ‘guilty look on her face’… but is that actual ‘guilt’? Is she feeling a sense of regret for what she has done? Is she concerned about how her actions may have upset you and how her chewing your best pair of slippers made you feel? Can she empathise – does she feel compassion?
Yes she may be feeling worried. Worried about what punishment she may receive. She may be aware – from your actions – that you are cross with her. She may fear how your mood will affect her, and she’ll fear how her actions will affect your actions but, in my opinion, she won’t be concerned with how her actions have made you feel. Therefore, a flower essence such as Pine (which is for feelings of guilt) would not be applicable in this nor any scenario related to animals because, to feel guilty, you have to be capable of feeling compassion for another. This dog is more likely to need an essence like Aspen, Rock Rose or Mimulus (ones for fear), and perhaps even a dose of Chestnut Bud, to help her learn from her mistakes.
My personal detective
What’s a typical essence and what’s not?
In my experience, when dowsing, there are a small group of essences that are frequently indicated for animals for a range of problems. These are mainly ones for fear (Mimulus, Rock Rose), traumas (Star of Bethlehem), and nervous aggression/energy (Impatiens, Vervain, and Cherry Plum). Equally, however, there are other essences that, in twenty years, have never come-up when I’m dowsing for animals. These include some which, to me, seem evident including Beech, Hornbeam, White Chestnut, Pine, Willow and Cerato, and some which are less obvious like Centaury, Red Chestnut and Sweet Chestnut. It appears that the essences which are virtually never applicable to animals are ones where a degree of self-analysis or self-awareness is experienced by the patient. Self-analysis is a skill to which most animals are incapable. We have already discussed Pine essence, and why I believe it is not applicable to animals, but let’s consider some of these other examples.
There are anomalies, however, where essences which - from their description - don’t quite seem applicable to animals but which are indicated as applicable in my dowsing. Heather is one such essence and is described for people who are prone to brood over their own problems and talk incessantly about them. This is an essence which comes up surprisingly often when I’m dowsing for animals. I had puzzled over this and, after poring over the case studies where Heather has been used, I have come to realise that when used for animals Heather is primarily for obsessive behaviour where an animal becomes fixated over objects or irritations.
Understanding the emotions of animals and the function of flower essences
So being a Flower Essence Practitioner has not only enhanced my understanding of the various nuances of the function of each essence, as in the case of Heather above, but it has also been an education in the differences between the emotions of people and animals. Having, in my own way, studied animal behaviour over the years, I have concluded that, yes, they are capable of a surprisingly wide range of emotions, but by no means are animals able to feel the complete spectrum of human emotions (the only exception to this may be animals with large brains and more sophisticated survival strategies such as apes). This viewpoint could be seen as controversial, either that ‘of course, animals can feel every emotion’, or conversely, ‘animals only work on instinct’. Neither is true, in my opinion. To believe one or the other is, excuse the pun, barking up the wrong tree! Your average pet is incapable of emotions requiring self-analysis, deliberation and contemplation such as revenge, envy or compassion, but they are capable of feeling the more primeval emotions of rage, jealousy, devotion and fear. Perhaps their emotional scope is simpler in relation to their level of intelligence or perhaps it is because animals have different motivations to us - ones to do with hunting and procreation, in other words – survival. But there’s more than that; to survive, or to make survival worthwhile they, and we, also seek the emotions of love from companionship, and of joy from play. Darwin observed that even ants play ‘like puppies’. One might ask, what is the point of an ant ‘playing’, what is the purpose? The answer might come: to make life worth living. Even insects, it seems, like to have fun!
Not only do we have anecdotal evidence that animals can and do feel conscious emotion but also, when writing of cats in 1992, veterinarian Bruce Fogle[iii] wrote ‘both humans and cats have identical neurochemical regions in the brain responsible for emotions’ as evidence that animals must feel actual emotions and not that they just display instinctive, physiological reflex behaviours. In conclusion, I believe our emotional responses are comparable to those of animals but not always equivalent. If chosen carefully and with consideration of the differences between us, select flower essences can be a wonderful healing tool for the emotions of all creatures that inhabit the Earth.
By Jane Stevenson
I am a BFVEA Advanced Flower Essence Practitioner and the owner of a Flower Essence Company, ‘Creature Comforters UK’. All essences referred to in this article are made by Creature Comforters to the precise, natural and traditional instructions of Dr Bach.
[[i]] Manning, A (1979). An Introduction to Animal Behaviour. London: Edward Arnold
[[ii]] Darwin, C. (2004). The Descent of Man. London: Penguin Classics
[[iii]] Fogle, B. (1992). If Your Cat Could Talk. London: Doring Kindersley
© COPYRIGHT 2013
So why use flower essences for animals?
Anyone who has a pet or works with animals knows that they can suffer with emotional as well as behavioural problems. They can experience a similar range of responses as us: fear, rage, stress, sadness, bereavement, jealousy etc. However, there is little in the way of conventional help for animals experiencing such emotional problems.
Traditional allopathic treatments used to support nervous animals (for instance) can sometimes present them with the unwanted side effects of drowsiness or lethargy. This is where flower essences are different because they can gently soothe an animal, without masking their true nature.
Qualified practitioner Jane Stevenson has over 26 years experience using flower essences to help people. She began in the 1980’s by providing individual consultations for people with emotional problems, and found this pure and natural remedial method to be extremely effective and rewarding. She is a founding partner of ‘Sun Essences’ who make a range of essences including the Bach Flower Remedies. The company has built into one of the principle English flower essence companies in the UK. However, over recent years, Jane found that she was treating more and more animals with flower essences and so the flower essence company: ‘Creature Comforters’ was born (formerly: Sun Essences for Animals). Her love of flowers and affinity with animals culminated in the development of a unique collection of flower essence blends, designed to alleviate the key emotional and behavioural problems experienced by animals. Jane is now dedicated to helping animals: working closely with vets, trainers, animal sanctuaries and the RSPCA. ‘Creature Comforters ’ is based in Cromer, Norfolk, where Dr Bach lived and worked during the 1930’s, and Jane feels privileged to continue this important work so close to its original roots.
She says: “I formed ‘Creature Comforters’ because I found that many animals were suffering simply from surviving in the unnatural environment of 21 century living, and I wanted to provide some help for them.
“We have developed six unique flower essence blends designed to alleviate the key emotional and behavioural problems experienced by animal s.” Through many years experience as a practitioner and using analysis of case studies (using various essences on different animal behaviour traits) Jane has developed the optimal combination of ingredients for each blend.
Firstly there are the ‘constitutional’ blends of, Courage, Balance and Mellow. These are blends which are for ‘personality’ types, or for an animal’s innate temperament. For example, an uncourageous cat may be intrinsically timid, submissive, nervous or insecure, and may be apprehensive in the company of strangers.
By Jane Stevenson of Creature Comforters
By the early 1980’s I had many years experience as a Flower Essence Practitioner and was well-used to the remarkable healing properties of the remedies when used on people. However, at that point, I had little experience of using the remedies to help animals.
One day my 6 year old daughter Hannah came rushing into my kitchen shouting anxiously: “Mummy, there’s a hurt bird outside”. I rushed outside to find a robin who was motionless and barely breathing. I held the poor little bird in my hands and we both watched, helplessly, it was lifeless with its neck bent and head on one side - it looked like it had a broken neck, it was barely breathing. Hannah was really upset and I felt sad that I had no means to help the bird. Then I remembered the ‘Rescue Remedy'. It was worth a try, so I put a couple of drops onto its beak. Hannah and I waited for a couple of seconds and then watched in astonishment as the bird twitched, opened its eyes, lifted its head and went "cheep" "cheep"! So we put it in a box with some hay and gave it several more doses of Rescue Remedy over the next few hours. Hannah and her sister Tara dug up some worms from the garden. Over the next week week kept it warm in the box in our sitting room and gave it food, water and Rescue Remedy every day.
I am convinced that was the same robin whom we nursed back to health. Magical!
Living deep in the Norfolk countryside we would find injured wild animals (birds, rabbits, pheasants etc) in the fields and on the lanes. And my neighbours would bring me any injured animals they found to use my ‘magic remedy’. From that day on I would always use my version of the ‘Rescue RemedyTM’; ‘Comforter Essence’ to try to help revive these animals, and, depending on the severity of the injury, it usually worked. Remarkable!
Looking back I now realise that that experience with the robin was important: it made me appreciate how powerful the remedies are for helping animals, and this inspired me to specialise in flower essence therapy for animals, and some years later I formed my own company for this purpose: Creature Comforters.
© Copyright 2007
The art of divining
Dowsing was traditionally used to locate underground water, minerals, gemstones and hidden objects by means of a divining rod (a Y shaped twig) or pendulum that either ‘moves’ or ‘swings’ at the appropriate point. To this day dowsing is widely used by water companies as an optional way of locating underground springs, and building firms use 'dowsing rods' to locate underground water pipes.
Despite thousands of years of (as yet, scientifically unexplained) efficacy using this technique, this dowsing method still has its skeptics. Such skeptics believe the dowsing apparatus has no special powers but simply amplifies small but otherwise imperceptible movements of the hands, which has long been established to be the ideomotor effect. However, supporters of this technique say the dowser has a subliminal sensitivity to the environment, perhaps via electroception, magnetoception, or telluric currents. Whatever the explanation, I have found dowsing to be an extremely accurate way of prescribing the correct combination of flower essences for my patients, be they humans or animals.
This method is especially useful for diagnosing the correct remedies for animals as they are, of course, unable to tell us how they feel. Using a sample of fur, mane or feathers from the animal in need, I first dowse over the sample to gather the animal’s ‘energy’ (from the time the sample was collected). By an unknown means this somehow ‘collects’ a memory of the emotional state of the animal. I then suspend my pendulum over my entire range of ‘Mother’ flower essence bottles (over 75 in total). I make sure that I don't subliminally influence the dowsing process in any way, instead I use natural electroception, magnetoception, or telluric currents for diagnosis. When my pendulum dangles over the correct remedy it vigorously swings in a clockwise direction which indicates this remedy is needed by the animal.
For instance, it may swing over the Honeysuckle bottle, which is used for people who yearn nostalgically for the past and have little interest in the present. Alternatively ‘Honeysuckle’ is used for animals who are either pining the loss of an animal/human companion, or are unable to overcome a past emotional trauma.
I always keep a record of the remedies each of my patients have had and in hundreds of case studies, with animals and people, my human patients and pet owners have, on countless occasions, said that my ‘diagnosis’ is remarkably accurate. I can’t, however, take full credit for this as it is the extraordinary and ‘mystical’ technique of dowsing that is the real hero!
© Copyright 2007