I spent the Sunday of last week in the wild and wonderful grounds of Offshoots Permaculture Project. It’s a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while, and I was there to learn something I’ve wanted to learn for a while: how to make a flower essence.
When the day is sunny and the flowers are abundant, I often pick a bloom to add to a glass of water in the sunshine. It’s a simple way to add a little more magic and beauty to the everyday. Making an essence involves going deeper. I always ask permission before picking flowers, but I have to confess I rarely take the time to meditate deeply alongside them, communing with them and learning from them, unless it’s for a specific piece of work.
Jackie, our inspirational teacher, held the space for a grounding, nourishing and beauty-filled day of meditation with the flowers. She guided us through exercises to shake off our overly critical, analytical inner voices and allow our intuition to come through, feeling our way to the flowers that called to us.
So many times, I caught myself pulling away from this connection to analyse and criticise – and, ultimately, doubt – this process, only to reconnect with the flower and feel a deep sense that I was on the right path. As a druid, my spiritual path is centred on connection and relationship, and this workshop really helped me deepen my awareness and practice of both.
The flower that I chose – or that chose me – was a meadow cranesbill growing wild in the middle of the gravel path, a beautiful weed with gently cupped five-petal flowers standing tall on slender stems. I could almost see its energy, what Bobcat would call its nemeton: an archway of blue-purple fading to pure white light. I spent the longest time just looking at its petals, with their translucent veins tracing arched patterns that brought to mind cathedral windows. Sitting by the flowers felt like sitting in a simple, timeless chapel of sun-warmed stone, with the faintest trace of incense from a long history of devotion: the chapel is quieter now, but still a living place. When my attention wandered, the flowers called my attention patiently but insistently, over and over, back to this meditation. It brought to mind songs which I had forgotten ever knowing, and as I sang them to the flowers, the sense of connection was overwhelming: as though we were both present, in the chapel-space of its nemeton, sharing inspiration and insights and ideas.
The long pointed seed-pods which give this plant its common name, cranesbill, brought to mind tongues and pens, outward communication. I still find it challenging to bridge the (self-created) divide between my intuitive, emotional life and my writing. How can an experience like this be expressed in words?
Jackie guided us through the process of creating a mother tincture from our flower-and-sunlight infused water, and using this to create a stock essence – the dilution which can be taken as drops directly on the tongue. We each took our individual remedies and sat in silent meditation for a while, feeling their effects, before sharing as much of our insights and experiences as felt comfortable.
At home, I succumbed to the temptation to confirm my experience by looking up what others had to say – but there is so little written about meadow cranesbill as a remedy or essence that I found myself referring back to my own experience again. Floracopeia offers an essence made from its close relative, the wood cranesbill (geranium sylvatica), which aids us in overcoming self-doubt and self-criticism; while the Crystal Herbs essence of Cranesbill – though it is not clear which one – supports the development of ‘an attitude of single mindedness, both spiritually and mentally’. I felt elements of both these messages in what the flower had to teach me, but there was so much more besides: it called me to have the confidence to develop my spiritual practice, to understand the wisdom of discipline, and to bridge that divide between inspiration and expression.
I spend (or waste) so much time shrinking back from inspiration, keeping to the reassurance of the intellectually defensible. Taking the essence at home made me reflect again on my experience: the whole day was about learning to trust my intuition, and my relationship with this flower taught me things that I needed to learn.
If you spend time with the meadow cranesbill – if you feel called to sit with this flower – your experience might have a similar quality, but it will also be unique to you: shaped by what you bring to the flowers, and what the flowers can help you bring to the world.