I keep getting asked if I’ve got Lily of the Valley or Rose of Sharon flower essence. I see where they’re going with this and firstly, no I do not, and secondly, even if I did, it won’t be what you want.
Why not? Because like a lot of other things, common plant names change over time. I very much doubt that the Rose of Sharon of old is Hibiscus syricus of today. A quick dig on the internet says it was neither a rose or hibiscus, but a crocus type, or one of the old species tulips which flower similarly with crocus.
So what about Lily of the Valley or Lilies in general? Lily of the Valley as we know it is not actually a lily at all. And “of the valley” in this case is referring to where particular lilies grow. Matthew 6:26 refers to the "lilies of the field." According to John Chancellor, in his book The Flowers and Fruits of the Bible, the lily Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:28-29 was probably the poppy anemone (Anemone coronaria). From there, there are lots of arguments for other flowers, including the actual lily.
Whether they are of the valley, of the field, or of Sharon, which means “a level place,” they are never of somebody’s garden. The point might be more about the wildflowers where the art of hybridization and the care of man was not practiced. At least that would certainly be the case in point of Matthew 6:26.
Trying to figure out the exact flower usually misses the point of what the scripture was saying anyway, and we may be trying to make a distinction where there was none. And naming certain modern plants using a certain phrase is just good marketing.
However there is something to names. Frequently with flower essences, the name is suggestive of something it relates to. Bleeding Hearts (Dicentra spectibilis) healing heartbreak for example. Throughout the bible names mattered. They weren't the result of flipping through a baby name book until you found something you liked that didn't remind you of someone you didn't like. They had real meaning. The story of the gospel is in the first 10 names, which had to be inspired.
So if we aren't naming a plant after a bible phrase, or the plant's "discoverer," it's more likely to be named accurately. It's also possible that the wrong plant could have the right properties. Maybe because you name it as such, it takes on that identity and healing potential. So if we made a Rose of Sharon essence from the Hibiscus syricus, it might do whatever it is you're expecting it to do. (I'm not sure what that would be from that verse. It's very metaphorical and lovely, but vague.)
One instance where I can say that the wrong plant got the right healing virtue is Hyssop. One day when I was whining for the thousandth time about wanting something a little firmer to stand on in being on the right track with essences, God asked me “What does Hyssop do?”
“Well, it’s for guilt and shame.”
“Hyssop is in the bible.” He said.
I remembered that it was and the first thing I found was where David, post sinning with Bathsheba, killing Uriah and feeling super remorseful, said “Purge me with Hyssop and I shall be clean.” Psalm 51:7 I had a moment where I felt so validated, until I did further research.
Herbally hyssop is also a physical purgative. The problem is that if you look at all the mentions of Hyssop, and it's descriptors and that Hyssop officinalis didn't just grow there, then there is no way Hyssop is Hyssop. Yet that is a plant God used powerfully with me one Passover.
Speaking of Passover, it is the Hebrew month of Nissan and we're heading into Passover. I make special essence blends for each month according to what kind of things are needed for that season. I noticed that I had blended Hyssop flowers with the flowers of bitter herbs used in Passover Seders. (Horseradish, Wormwood.) Their meanings fit perfectly and appropriately for the month, though I haven't done the digging to know the exact herbs used at that time.
And then we have hybrids and cultivars.
Lets get back to man’s interference with cultivation and plant breeding where I started to make a point earlier. Like naming, this can go either way. In Genesis 2, man was charged with taking over where God left off. It’s about bringing heaven to earth starting in one centralized location. It was the first sacred space and meant to be expanded upon, ever outward. God created self-perpetuating organisms and systems that Adam and Eve were supposed to steward and direct. Adam was in charge of naming, and we've established that plant names can give clues to their healing properties.
While it’s not expressly spelled out, I believe that based on the levels of responsibility given, creating hybrids and cultivars can be a God-ordained creative endeavor. Moreover, if you agree with the logic that Satan twists everything of value, you can look at the book of Enoch in which it looks like genetic engineering was going on at least with animals, and was one of many reasons for another overwrite with water in the flood story.
I do use some hybrids as flower essences. I think of them usually as more specific versions of the species. For instance, while all lilies have an aspect of healing some type of feminine issue, different lilies zero in on different things. It’s usually helpful for me to understand the overall species before I go work with a more specific cultivar.
Furthermore, you have a bit of homework to do with hybrids. Who was the breeder, what were they all about, what parents did they use to produce the hybrid? In the case of the Stargazer lily, Leslie Woodruff, the breeder who wanted a lily that would look up and not down, did not keep notes as to the parentage. Other breeders around the world have mimicked it, thus, your Stargazers may have different parents and therefore slightly different properties than mine would have. Sorry, no Stargazer essence here either. Looking for a bit more continuity as Freedom Flowers goes worldwide.
Scripture tells us that the kingdom began in a garden, but it will end in a city built of gemstones. We have a line of gemstone essences made from stones that have supernaturally manifested. We have Sapphire and Emerald and Carnelian which are all bible mentions. However it's even harder to track down accurate stones than it is plants. And like plants, you cant take the translation plus modern names at face value. As an example of the confusion of the translation of the stone names, the fourth stone on the high priest's ephod is called "emerald" in the King James version, "carbuncle" in the Greek translation (Septuagint), "turquoise" in the New American Standard version, and "garnet" in Strong's dictionary.
It is proposed that the colors are most important and that representative stones were chosen for those colors. For instance "Sapphire" in the bible simply means "blue stone" rather than the sapphire we know of. Sapphire is the one that almost everybody who has looked into this agrees is actually Lapis Lazuli.
The Midrash tells us that the stones correlating to each tribe matched the background colors of each tribes banner. Furthermore, we need to look at what stones they would have access to, which would be large enough to engrave a tribal name on, and be soft enough to do so with what they had. In other words, diamonds as we know them are probably out. Working your way through all of that, you can come up with some good guesses, similar to how we have to do with plants. Be skeptical of anybody who emphatically states that this = this.
So, how important is it to you that essences be biblical? I will at least tell you the truth that things are not as they seem. And I'm probably not going to get around to making Lily of the Valley anytime soon unless somebody wants to figure out the timing and the species and put me on a plane to the Holy Land.
What we can do is figure that God made everything for a reason and he said that it was good. Gems and flowers are proving to be more than adornment, they are purposeful. God also tends to put us together with what we need, so even if we don't have access to Israeli wildflowers, it's ok. It's more important to use the right plant or gem for your needs than one that has no relevance to your life other than being mentioned in scripture.
For a little more understanding on the biblical basis of essences in general, check this post.
Image credit: Pixabay/KIMsookhyun, Can Stock Photo / maurus