The very long, cold, wet spring season might have been a drag, especially here in the UK with the lockdown conditions preventing us from meeting up socially inside, but one of the magical things that occurred in nature to lift our spirits was what seemed to be a gloriously long bluebell season.
I’m living once more in the house where I grew up, across the road from what the locals have always called ‘Bluebell Woods’. Whenever I popped back to Wilmslow over the years to visit my mum and dad, I would take a walk down the pretty woodland path that hugs the upper edge of a small, steep-sided valley, with a stream snaking along the bottom for a few hundred metres until it meets the River Bollin.
In April and May, the most magical time to visit, your senses are bombarded. At first, the pungent smell of wild garlic rises up to meet your nose from where the plants cascade their greenery and white flowers down to the water on the steeper, shadier slopes. But further along the path, in the less vertiginous areas, the woodland floor is swathed in a stunning sea of indigo haze and a heady scent hangs in the air released from millions of native bluebells.
Carefully tiptoeing through the flowers so as not to damage them, I love to find a hidden spot to sit and simply immerse myself in the peaceful and calming energy of these beautiful plants.
English native bluebells v Spanish bluebells
Hyacinthoides non-scripta, otherwise named common bluebells, English bluebells, British bluebells, wood bells, fairy flowers and wild hyacinth, is an early flowering plant that naturally occurs in the UK, where, according to the Woodland Trust, we have over half of the world’s bluebell population.
The English bluebell can be easily mistaken for the other commonly occurring bluebell called Hyacinthoides hispanica, or Spanish bluebell, which was introduced here in the early 1900s as a garden plant, but escaped into the wild. They look quite similar, but where English bluebells have narrow violet-blue (sometimes white) bell-shaped flowers with tips that curl back, distinctly drooping stems, narrow leaves and a sweet scent, Spanish bluebells are less delicate, have wider leaves, paler blue, pink or white flowers with spreading, open tips, upright stems and no scent.
The native bluebell is actually under threat from the vigorous growing Spanish variety, which can outcompete it for resources like light and space. And the two species can hybridise easily, which changes the genetic structure, diluting the characteristics of our beautiful native species and weakening it. So if you fancy planting bluebells in your garden, go for the native variety to help prevent the spread of the more invasive interloper!
How to create a flower essence
During lockdown I’ve been doing a lot of ‘dabbling’ with all kinds of creative projects and learning experiences, and one thing I wanted to have a go at was making a flower essence.
Given my love of bluebells and the woods I grew up playing in, it seemed the perfect flower to do my first experiment with, to celebrate the arrival of spring and to see if I could capture something of the energy I feel when I spend time amongst them.
Flower essences were first discovered by the originator of modern alchemy, Paracelsus, in the 1500s, later developed by Dr. Edward Bach, who created and advertised the first range of flower essences in the 1930s.
Essences are solar infusions of the flowering part of a plant. When left to infuse in the sun’s energy, the beneficial properties and life force of the plant are drawn into the water, which, when taken as a self-care remedy, supports the mental, emotional and spiritual body in a variety of ways depending on the unique attributes of the plant used.
As I was researching how to make a flower essence I discovered that there are many ways, but the guidance that I felt most resonance with was to follow your intuition and follow the call of the plant.
The procedure for making some flower essences is to pick the petals of the flowers and float them on the surface of a container of water to be infused by the sun (or you could use the full moon). But as bluebells are protected in the wild in the UK by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and you shouldn’t pick or uproot them (or trample over them), I took a jar of freshly fallen rainwater with me to the woods and placed it in a protected spot amongst the bluebells to be imbibed with their energy.
* You could use fresh or bottled spring water, but not distilled or regular tap water, as it needs to be pure, free from chlorine and other additives, and contain life force.
I sat and meditated, connecting to the devas of the plants and the woods, and asked for their permission and support to create the purest essence for the highest good. I tuned into their energy again and let it fill me as I focused on this intention. The feeling I had was of such inner calm, and also a playful kind of innocence and nature magic. And with such a profusion of flowers all around me, there was a sense of real abundance.
THIS is what I wanted in a bottle!
I left the jar of water with its lid off for the flowers to do their thing, with the aim of returning the next day to sit and channel a message from the bluebells. But all the next day there was torrential rain, so the water was infused for a longer time, and when I went back there was such a pure, clean energy that added to the atmosphere.
I sat down to tune into the bluebells again, my eyes open in a soft gaze while I wrote down the following message from them…
“We offer you an experience of a peaceful heart and mind; a freshness, magic and purity, playfulness and innocence.
We encourage you to connect with us whenever you are in need of inner calm and a fresh, sweet and playful vibration to lift your serious or heavy thoughts.
We help you connect with your higher perception and the playfulness of the Devic Kingdom where you may find respite from the demands on your human spirit and lose the seriousness of your thinking mind, which arrives so busy and tense, to leave softened and light.
One cannot stay in sadness for long when your heart is open to our pure and soothing frequency.
Our display is preciously short-lived, but heralds the return of the warmer months and abundant growth, colour, beauty, scent and bursting forth of all that has been waited for.
We offer hope, positivity, joy and readiness for all that is to come.
We invite your inner child to come out and play, to lose your worries and concerns for a while, and in the space made in your heart and mind, as you let go into childlike wonder of nature’s beauty and wisdom, the answers that you seek to create a calm and peaceful sense of being may come to you.”
I thought those words were lovely. I thanked the devas and took my jar home.
This essence is known as the ‘mother essence’, which you filter to remove any particles, and pour into a clean, dark glass bottle.
The instructions I followed said to add brandy. The only spirit I had was gin, so I raided my dad’s Courvoisier Cognac, an un-drunk Christmas gift that I found at the back of a cupboard from a century ago. (It turns out that this is a pretty high quality tipple, so even better for my flower essence – but, shhhhh… don’t tell my dad!)
I have since discovered that you can also use vodka, which is good to know if you don’t like the taste of brandy. And if you don’t want to use alcohol you can use a good quality apple cider vinegar, but you’ll need to keep it in the fridge and use it within a year.
So to the mother essence you need add an equal measure of alcohol or vinegar. The alcohol spirit acts as a preservative and to anchor the subtle essence vibrations into the water. A 30ml bottle should be large enough because you only need to use a few drops of the mother essence in each stock bottle. The next thing to do is label it. Write mother essence, the date, what it is, where you collected the flowers from, the energy of the essence and any other important information.
You can make a stock bottle by putting up to 10 drops of the mother essence into another 30ml dark glass bottle and top it up with alcohol, or half alcohol and half spring water.
Label and date the bottle and write down a synopsis of the properties.
If you make it properly and store them in a cool, dark place, away from electricity and other energy sources, the mother essence and stock bottles should keep their potency for up to ten years.
Flower essences work on a subtle vibrational level to effect change and encourage balance. They can work quickly sometimes, or you could have slow and gentle change over time. You can expect subtle shifts in your energy, thinking, feeling, your sleep patterns, dreams, how you eat, work and create. They are not biochemical medicines, and work on a similar premise to homeopathic remedies.
To use the essence take four drops under the tongue, four times a day, prior to eating or at least one hour after, or you could put them in your bath, rub them on your skin or mist them into the air.
But does it work?
With all my ‘dabbles’, I’m experimenting to see what happens; to play without expectation, to learn and try something new, and be in the moment through a mini creative project. The end result is only part of the experience, and if it is a big fat failure, then I still had a lot of joy making it.
Either way, I discover something about myself.
So I wasn’t sure what to expect with my bluebell essence, or when I’d get to properly test it because I’d been feeling pretty good for a while.
However, a couple of days after I’d made it, two friends shared about the stressful situations they were experiencing in their lives, and I had my own tense family ding dong.
I quickly made up some bottles and sent them to my friends, and I started taking the drops myself.
One friend told me that the essence makes her feel joyful, I’m waiting to hear back from the other, who has been taking it for the past week, and when I used my own drops I managed to stay pretty peaceful within strong boundaries. It seemed to help me stay vulnerable while speaking my heart-felt truth to my family about a matter that none of them agree with me on, but I needed them to hear and respect my point of view. It felt really empowering.
I’ve carried on taking the drops, firstly to manage the vulnerability hangover, but also because I just feel so good – and I have loads of it, so why not!
I’m left with an amazing feeling of peace and harmony, I have loads of energy, I’m enjoying writing again after being blocked and out of flow, and I have a real lightness of spirit that makes me want to play more and find the next ‘dabble’.
Maybe all this positivity didn’t just come from a flower essence – I’ve been doing a lot of healing and transformation work – but the joy it gave me to make it made it so worthwhile, and it’s a lovely thing to have on hand when you’re feeling tense and you want a pick-me-up to create more peace and lightness in your heart and mind.
If you fancy having a go at making your own flower essence I can totally recommend it. In doing so you really open yourself to an enchanting connection with nature.
Obviously bluebells only have a short season, and it’s now June as I’m belatedly writing this article for my blog, so the blooms are long gone. But nature is limitless in its inspiration, and you can make essences from many kinds of flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees. You could even infuse the essence of gemstones or crystals into spring water, or if a beautiful place in nature holds a special kind of energy that you want to capture, why not try that?
There is no limit other than your imagination, so open your heart to the spirit of Nature and her devas and ask them to show you. This is about playing, having fun and letting your intuition guide you.
It goes without saying, however, that if you are going to pick flowers using the solar infusion method to make your essence, where the flowers are in direct contact with the spring water, make very sure that the flowers you are choosing are not poisonous and are safe to use.
If you feel inspired to make your own essence after reading this, please do comment below. Let me know what you tried and how it worked out. And if you liked what you read please share. 😁