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Healing Guidance from Flowers and Plants
OUR LONG HISTORY WITH PLANTS
Animals and human beings have lived a life of natural interdependence with the Plant Kingdom since they first cohabited on our planet. They are multi-faceted and offer us many gifts. They have served humans as a primary source of nourishment and have also been used for heat, shelter, clothes, weapons, and medicine. Plants were and still are used in ritual ceremony. Certain plants are believed to contain sacred and magical powers as well as natural medicinal properties.
In the history of plants and human beings, a relationship between people and plants has been formed. There is a way of relating with plants, of talking and being with plants, that is different than what is understood by the body of modern scientific knowledge. In this other way of relating, each plant speaks to us through what is called a signature. A signature is defined by the type of soil and climate a plant lives in, by its physical constituents and makeup, by its color, smell, and taste. You could think of a plant's signature as its unique expression of life.
This expression shows the personality of the plant. Just as people choose to live in certain climates such as the desert, plains, or mountains, plants grow in harmony with the climate in which they live. Desert plants require a certain ability to withstand the heat; mountain plants adapt and find their sustenance in the cooler climates. Plants express themselves through the shape of their roots, stems, and leaves and the shape and colors of their flowers. As you read this book, you will come to better understand these plants as whole beings, their personalities and their ways, their medicines and their gifts. As you take the time to look at them, to experience their wisdom and connect with their nature, you may soon discover new places within yourself.
EXPERIENCE ONENESS WITH PLANTS
Plants have wisdom to share. By joining in relationship with a plant, merging your spirit with the plant's spirit, the strength of the plant's core essence can be found and revered.
Experiencing oneness with a plant is a sign that you have reached a high level of intimacy with yourself that will only continue to open and deepen. This level of intimacy and personal growth creates an inner availability which will allow you to fully embrace and unite your own spirit with the nature spirit of the plant or flower. As you experience the nature spirit of the plant, you may experience energetic vibrations, openings, releases, and teachings of its wisdom. The power that you may experience as you connect with the nature spirit of the plant will help you discover a profound and multidimensional relationship with yourself.
You can learn to call upon the nature spirit of a plant. When you do, you will merge with its energy, taking on how the plant feels, grows, moves, breathes, lives, touches, responds, communicates, gives, and receives. Becoming one with a plant's essence, you hear the plant's voice—its songs, messages, and exaltation when its flower is at its peak.
Allow yourself to surrender to this great mystery of life. Prepare yourself for an extraordinary journey, a journey that calls in the innate wisdom and power of the sacred medicine of the plants and flowers. Hear their voices, sing their songs, speak their truths, and live as One with all Creation.
Flowers and Plants and Our Chakra Energy Systems
Flowers and plants are energy systems. The energy each one emits comes from its color and essence. Each gives off distinct vibrations of sound and light. Plant spirits can speak to you through color and sound vibrations specific to each energy center within yourself. I've learned through sitting with plants over many years that the colors of the flowers, as well as the whole plant personality, have a direct correlation with the colors of the chakra energy centers of the human body. I will explain a bit about the chakras here. If you are interested in taking your study further, please refer to the section later in this book entitled, "The Seven Chakras and Their Colors: A Pathway of Wholeness", pp. 91.
The word "chakra" means "wheel of light" or "circle and movement." It refers to the subtle energy centers within the body, which actually serve as storehouses of all the various powers within our being. These energy centers relate to the gross body and its functions and are associated and connected with the parasympathetic, sympathetic, and autonomic nervous systems. The energy centers are also associated with the colors of the rainbow.
The ancient spiritual traditions of Eastern and Western mysticism, including Christianity, all recognize such an energy system. Most recognize seven major chakras or energy centers (power storehouses) within the body. For the sake of simplicity, I have focused on these seven major energy centers, although I do believe there are other energy centers within the human body and in the Light itself that is all around us. Chakras, as a universal energy system, bridge the gap between the lower and upper bodies of energy or between our lower and higher selves.
The lower three major energy centers or chakras relate to your personality self—your physical-emotional-mental makeup. This includes the way that you live, act, and function in the world. The upper three major energy centers or chakras relate to the awakening and transformation of your higher consciousness. All of the chakras interrelate and respond simultaneously with each other. Together and individually they comprise an integrated energy system. As you become more aware of yourself as a person who functions as a whole system of energy, you will experience a newfound relationship to yourself and to the world around you.
When I sit in silence with a plant, I resonate with the plant's wisdom and its healing properties. I notice the way it moves in the wind, its color, shape, touch, taste, and the environment in which it grows. I take on how the plant feels, grows, moves, breathes, lives, touches, responds, communicates, gives, and receives. The plant or flower has a way of relating to me that makes me feel connected to it, becoming as One with it. Through this experience, I receive guidance as to what energy center in the body the plant resonates with and how certain parts of the plant or flower resemble human nature.
Let's take the example of Indian Paintbrush. This fiery reddish-orange plant is semiparasitic, lacking a well-developed root system. Its roots grow from and depend on tissues of host plants, such as sagebrush or oak, to supply water and nutrients. Indian Paintbrush's dependence on other plants is a demonstration of its low vitality, physical weakness, and depletion of energy. The host plants that Indian Paintbrush thrives on don't appear to suffer greatly from sharing their nutrients. Yet once the Indian Paintbrush's vital force is "grounded" by burrowing its root system into the roots of the host plant, it has made a breakthrough from survival to the freedom of growing into its own creative and vibrant form.
The roots of the Indian Paintbrush burrowing into the roots of other plants, in addition to its reddish-orange fiery colors, represent both the first and second chakra energy centers. Indian Paintbrush may help you to understand and identify your own roots, where you came from genetically, and also help you understand the roots that connect you to your own spiritual heritage. From this vantage point, you may become aware of certain life patterns you have created over time.
The brightly colored reddish-orange bracts of the Indian Paintbrush give off a highly artistic and passionate energy. By sitting with this plant, or by taking in its essence, you may feel a sense of emergence, warmth, and vitality. You may choose to take in this energy as a way to help you support your own needs for survival and to help you eliminate any parasitic relationships you may have with others. Indian Paintbrush may increase your awareness of any relationship in which one person is too dependent upon another. It may also bring to your awareness the times in your life when others have helped you survive and thrive.
Each of the chakras is also associated with a color. The movement, light, color, frequency, and vibration of each energy center influence your relationship to each energy center and to yourself as a whole person.
People have appreciated and responded to different colors since the beginning of time. You choose certain colors for the clothes you wear, the paint on your walls, your furniture, living room curtains, bath towels, kitchen wares, car, and even the foods you eat. We are surrounded by color. By becoming familiar with colors that are associated with the spectrum of the rainbow and the chakra energy centers of the body, you will begin to notice some very basic things about plants, nature, colors, and yourself. For example, when we pay attention, it seems natural for plants that are in the red, orange, and yellow color range to exude a warm, stimulating, and vibrant energy. They generally appear to be more connected to the earth and to our personality self—to our roots, our emotions, and our thoughts. You can actually feel this resonance as you look at them. The flowers in the blue and purple spectrums seem to be more connected to the sky. When you look at these flowers and pay attention to their colors, it stimulates a sense of inspiration, insight, vision, and clarity. These colors are cooling, like a breath of fresh air, and seem to take you to a deeper place of self-reflection based on intuition and insight. The pink color associated with the heart rests in between both; it engenders feelings of a mildly warm place. These colors are very soothing to the heart. The color white, associated with the energy center on the top of the head, gives a sense of purity, cleanliness, sacredness, and connectedness.
By no means do you have to be expert at understanding chakras to work with the flower cards. But you might want to think about the energy centers within your body, as well as the colors associated with them, as you begin to experience the wisdom of the flowers. It will deepen your experience of these gifts from Nature's bounty.
How to Use the Voices of Flowers Cards
The Voices of Flowers cards that accompany this book offer us another way of learning the messages from the plants and flowers. They can be a wonderful tool for self-reflection and self-discovery, helping you plant new seeds of awareness and open new doorways within yourself.
In this chapter I will suggest several different ways to use the cards, but I also invite you to find your own best ways of working with them.
Working with the cards should be a sacred and ceremonial experience. When I do a flower card reading, I like to create a relaxing and pleasant environment first. I usually do these readings either sitting or lying down to free the feeling of clutter in my mind, sometimes spreading a blanket outside if the weather allows. I keep a special cloth to spread the cards on and light candles to bring a feeling of peace. I recommend that you find a place where you can get quiet and create some sacred space. If you are in the middle of a busy day and do not have the time to create your preferred space, then prepare the space in your mind through visualization and imagination. What's important is not the particulars of your setting, only your ability to find a quiet place where you won't be interrupted and your intent to create some sacred space for the wisdom of the flowers to speak to you.
Through this ceremonial relationship with the flower cards, you will be able to access the wisdom of flowers and plants. The more you work with the cards, the more deeply you will come to understand how the flowers and their colors and qualities relate to your whole being. And the deeper you will come into relationship with your body.
Using liquid flower essences during your readings can enhance your experience of the different vibrations of the flowers. Of course, you will still receive tremendous benefit using the flower card deck on its own, but if you choose to enhance your practice by using the essences, you will find information about how to work with them on page 102 and how to order my Living Flower Essences in the Resources section.
THE BASICS OF A FLOWER CARD READING
When you are ready to use the cards, prepare your space and begin by asking yourself, What is my intent? What is my presenting issue? What message from these magical flowers would serve me now? If you don't have any special concerns in the moment, you can simply be in the silence of your mind.
Now take a look at the card deck. You'll see that each card shows a flower and its primary quality, which is the basic attribute of the flower. Study each card one by one. As you choose a card, notice how it relates to your own energy patterns. Look at the picture of the flower and notice its colors and personality. Notice how the flowers express themselves and pay attention to which flowers you are attracted to. The flowers, their colors, and their messages will help to stimulate your entire energy system. Read about the flower's primary quality and allow yourself to capture a sense of that quality. Take that feeling deep inside yourself.
Choose one or two cards that you are especially attracted to and look them up in the book. Read the Voice of the Flower and the Insight associated with that card or cards. Imagine the flower talking to you. You may want to read out loud, then close your eyes and listen to the wisdom of the flower with your heart. Take several minutes to allow yourself to take in the flower's message. If you are using flower essences, take three or four drops of the flowers you are studying before you read about them. Take in the experience and pay attention to subtle energy or emotional changes you may experience.
You may choose to work with one flower for several days or longer. Remember you have the freedom to choose any flower, any time. Follow your heart's desire. You will find similarities among the flowers and the affirmations. Through conscious repetition, the power of words and thoughts will become seeded in your memory. This allows you to manifest a state of consciousness that can alter your life forever. The flowers, as all of life, come from one source. Trust your process.
Another wonderful approach is to share a card reading with a friend or to choose a particular card spread with your partner. When you pair up with another, you can either create an intent together or work with separate intents.
If you aren't drawn to one particular card, you can also choose a card from a shuffled deck. After you shuffle the cards, simply lay them face down and choose a card drawing on your own intuition. I like to try to feel the energy of the cards when I do this. I place them in a circle and lightly place my hands above the cards and without touching them, rotating my hands clockwise. I then choose a card by its energy. Be assured that the magic of the cards will attract you to the exact message you need at the time.
You can also take your reading further by reading the Energy Impact or chakra correspondence for the flower you choose. (You can read more about the seven chakras on page 91.) Note which chakra energy centers are affected by the plant. Then read the Affirmations for the flower you are studying. Read them one at a time. Repeat each one aloud. If you like, you can write down the Affirmation and carry it with you, or place it on a mirror or in a special spot where you will be reminded of it throughout the day. Use the Affirmations as often as you wish throughout the day and before you go to bed. If you are working with essences, take a drop of the essence as you repeat the Affirmation.
USING THE CARDS FOR DAILY INSIGHT
Another way to use the Voices of Flowers cards is as a daily meditation tool. Ideally you would go to your sacred space for a few moments each day, someplace where you can listen to your heart. Then simply choose a card and let it be your guide for the day. Carefully look at the picture of the flower and its primary quality, and then place it in front of you. If you have the flower essence for that flower, take a few drops. Then close your eyes and imagine the energy and color of the flower embracing you and filling you. If you are focusing on healing a particular issue that relates to a certain chakra, bring the energy and color of your chosen flower into that energy center in your body. Let yourself be imbued by the presence of the flower as fully as possible. Then open your eyes and remember this experience throughout the day, holding the flower's message in your heart.
Excerpted from VOICES of FLOWERS by Rhonda M. Pallas Downey. Copyright © 2006 Rhonda Pallas Downey. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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List of the Flowers and Their Primary Qualities
Foreword by Rosemary Gladstar
May She Always Walk among Us by Veronica Vida
CHAPTER ONE Healing Guidance from Flowers and Plants
CHAPTER TWO Flowers and Plants and Our Chakra Energy Systems
CHAPTER THREE How to Use the Voices of Flowers Cards
CHAPTER FOUR Card Spreads
CHAPTER FIVE The Flowers: Aster to Yucca