Writing descriptions of flower essences is probably my least favorite job. To distill their very essence, character and action into an easily understood paragraph so that it's usable by other people besides me is something I have to undertake after quite a bit of mustering up. Every once in a while I get somebody asking, "But how do you know... How are you getting all this?"
It's different every time. It's a mad mix of intuition, clues that are dropped around, and always, testing.
It's In the Name
Probably the first thing that hits me is the name. Either the Latin, or one of the common names, there's frequently something there. People knew what they were doing consciously or unconsciously in naming plants using terms like "Love Lies Bleeding" and "Bleeding Heart."
As a Latin example, Hypericum, which is St John's Wort means "over an apparition" and has a long history of use in spiritual protection. To me it tends to solidify courage and authority and I use it for nightmares and spiritually-based fears as well as a few other things related to light and dark.
Another example I've written previously about is how I came upon Malva neglecta for rejection and abandonment.
Very early in the process, I'll write intuitively about the flower and occasionally I'll ask other people to do the same. Then I'll put it away for awhile, hopefully forgetting what I've written until I'm ready to compile all the data on a plant.
The Plant Tells Me
This is my favorite way. I seem to get detailed and to the point information when this happens. Whether it's in a vision/spirit realm travel experience like my California Poppy Conversation or I'm just out in the garden minding my own business and somebody starts talking like Boxwood did this spring thanking me for never trying to control it and make it fit.
Doctrine of Signatures
This is an ancient method of understanding what purpose a plant has. It is unclear when this originated, but we have writings that hint at 131-200 A.D. But it wasn’t until Jacob Boehme's Book "Signatura Rerum; The Signature of all Things" that it became a clearer system, usable by plant people centuries later.
Jacob had a spiritual experience revealing the simple concept that God marked everything He created with a sign. This sign points us to how we can use it for the purpose it was intended.
Jacob was promptly kicked out of town, based on the advice of the pastor there (the mark of any juicy revelation) and later allowed to move back home provided he did not write any more books. (He failed to comply, but I digress.)
Things to observe about a flower to understand its actions are: overall appearance, habitat, color, flower shape, growth habit, unusual characteristics, etc. A really easy example is how I use Onion for bottled up grief, because onions make you cry right?
Doctrine of Signatures rarely gives us the whole story, but it's a piece of the puzzle, and collecting all the clues is what I love so well.
I'll Read Up On It
I'll go through all the folklore, because in every superstition, there's a bit of truth. Herbal legends, historical uses, those writings haven't been sanitized for today's thinking and FDA oversight. In addition, if somebody else has already pioneered it, and I feel like they did a good job, I'll go with it.
Reverse Engineer the Herbal Uses
There is often a correlation with the herbal form, but I see it in hindsight. Milk Thistle is a powerful liver cleanser herbally; the essence form clears out anger which is the emotion that has an affinity for settling in the liver.
Echinacea is known as an immune booster, but in essence form, I use it for childhood emotional trauma, which is a predictor of autoimmune problems later on in life. It's probably not a bad idea to take herbs and essences in their corresponding forms if you are trying to heal physically.
All of the above pale in comparison to plain old testing it out. I have a group of people who are pretty sensitive, prophetic guinea pigs. They get an unknown, they try it and record their experiences. My assistant and I compile all of that and look through the data for common themes. At that point, I'll pull my intuitive writing, and whatever other notes back out and compare and try to condense it all down into something that people can grab a hold of easily.
Image credit: © Can Stock Photo / Mik122