FEP22 Spirit Medicine with Sarah Holmes

Join Kathleen and Rochana with special guest Sarah Holmes, Clinical Herbalist, Herbal Highway Co-Host, and Teacher at the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine.

We chat about how she incorporates flower essences and “spirit doses” of herbal tinctures in her practice, and we go deep into conversation about the interconnectedness of mind/body/spirit, how spirit medicine works in the physical, and conversely, how physical issues can affect the spirit.


Find Sarah Holmes at the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine

On Insta: @blueotterschool

The Herbal Highway Radio Show on KPFA – and excellent episodes for herbal support during the pandemic: Part One and Part Two

Show Transcript

Kathleen Aspenns:
[00:00:43] Welcome back to the podcast. It is a real treat today. We have a good friend, Sarah Holmes, with us today to share with you on the podcast. She’s been in private practice as a clinical herbalist since 1998, and she offers consultations in person and by phone as a clinical herbalist. She works with individuals to support them in regaining and maintaining their health through herbs, diet and flower essences. She addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual from an energetic perspective and believes strongly in the interconnectedness of mind, body and spirit. She is trained in both Native American and Western herbalism, and, with Karyn Sanders, created and founded the Blue Otter School of Herbal Medicine beginning in 2003. In addition to the programs at Blue Otter, she travels and teaches at other schools and conferences. You may have heard her as a co-host of the Herbal Highway on KPFA Public Radio. That program has been going since 1998. It is an incredible asset to the herbal community. You can also find that as a podcast. So welcome. Welcome to the show. We are so happy to have you here.

Sarah Holmes: [00:01:54] Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here with the both of you.

Rochana Felde: [00:01:58] Welcome, Sarah. 

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:02:03] And so we had a little bit of a conversation going ahead of time. And my real interest is to hear how you see that interconnection between herbs and flower essences. And I’d love to hear how you work with those on that continuum in the world of healing.

Sarah Holmes: [00:02:23] It’s endlessly interesting to me, really, that topic. And so there’s a place where… Well, it’s not just one place. I think there’s a lot of places where essences and herbs come together and they’re part of the same medicine. You know, first of all, they’re all from plants. So there’s that piece where we’re finding that connection of them all being together and they all carry vibration. So there’s this level of dosing that alters the vibration. So, for instance, if I’m formulating, I’m putting in plants where I want their physical action and where I want more of an energetic action. And so that depends on how much I’m putting in as a ratio between all of those. And so the essences are the least dense, if you will, vibration. And so I will oftentimes within a formula have plants that are working on a physical level. There’s more of them physically in the formula. And then I might have one to four drops of a given essence. Also in that same bottle. And I use the tinctures in that way, too. I might put one or two drops of a given plant tincture also in a formula to bring it to not the physical level, but the spirit level of that plant, the vibrational level of that plant. And so then there’s this interesting place where I use flower essences and drop doses of tinctures in a similar way within a formula or by themselves. And within those two, there’s some differences as well.

Rochana Felde: [00:04:17] So some of our listeners may not know that herbal tinctures can be used in this way, this vibrational way, that’s similar to how we use flower essences. And it’s called a spirit dose. And I find that that’s really interesting. How would you compare the difference between, say, a spirit dose of an herb and it’s correlating flower essence?

Sarah Holmes: [00:04:46] That’s that’s a piece that’s really interesting and I feel like the plants are still teaching me about that. And I do want to say that the plants that I have in there at larger doses still, of course, have vibration and still have their personality and energy as well. It just often manifests a little differently, I think is what happens. So what’s really fascinating to me is this crossover place between drop doses of tinctures and flower essences. And of course, that can vary from plant to plant because we have what are called  low dose plants where a single drop is actually a physical dose. Plants that are very toxic. So there are exceptions as there are with everything in life. But I’ve had not only in my practice but in my teaching over the years, because we’ve had hours and hours of plant meditations that I’ve held and conducted in classrooms. And we’ll do those plant meditations with a single drop of a tincture or a single drop of a flower essence. And some people can respond differently to the plant. Some people find the vibration of a flower essence to be more easily accessible. And some people find a drop dose of a tincture more easily accessible. So it’s kind of an interesting place. And some people find both of them very accessible.

Sarah Holmes: [00:06:23] You know, so I think there’s a lot of factors there. And I don’t think there’s any like, oh, this person is more or less evolved. I don’t think it’s that at all. I think it’s really about how we are each beings of energy, too. And so what resonates within each of us is going to vary a little bit. That’s to me, a part of the beauty of all these different modalities of healing is that there’s something that’s going to resonate for everybody. And for some people, many modalities resonate for them and others, they’re just trying to find their one place. And so I think some of it also is a matter of familiarity. So it’s like what my energy feels like and what I’m used to in the energy fields around me is going to influence what I notice or what I can feel coming in from, say, a flower essence or a drop dose of a tincture. So there’s that place, so. But within a formula, say, for a client. It just depends on the medicine I want for that particular person. And do I think they’re going to resonate more? You know, I’m trying to think… It’s mostly I have this whole range of essences I’m using, whether they’re flowers or gems or environmental essences or drop doses of tinctures. So all of that’s in my apothecary and all of that’s what I’m drawing from. And then the particulars. Sometimes I do feel like, oh, I really want a flower essence for this person, or sometimes I really want a drop dose of a tincture for this person, and that’s that real individual place of what I’m feeling is going to resonate most for that person. 

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:08:30] And it’s something that’s probably changing over time as well. You’re working with somebody over a period of time to help align their health and maybe at one season or a different season, they might have a different response. Does that sound right?

Sarah Holmes: [00:08:45] It does. I think it really can change for people over time. And yeah, it’s hard to say. I mean, there’s this part of my brain that really wants to draw these sweeping conclusions about, okay. “These are the people that essences are going to work profoundly for. And these are the people that drop doses of tinctures are going to work profoundly for.” And it really isn’t that simple. I have to say, you know, I can speak to my personal experience of years ago. It was harder for me to feel a flower essence if I took, say, just a drop of flower essence. But at that time, what I noticed was I would feel it over time. I would feel it cumulatively where more often I would feel the drop dose of a tincture more immediately. And that’s changed for me over time. As I said, I think as they’ve become more familiar and also as I’ve become more familiar to myself, as we all hopefully do as each year goes by. So there’s this place of everyone’s experience that’s really different.

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:10:00] Yeah, and it’s kind of cool how that premise of it working over time, you know, having been in the founding principles of Flower Essence therapy based on Dr Bach’s work. It was all about taking something over a period of time. And, you know, I loved his phrase of how they work like snow melting in the sunshine. Where, you know, you don’t really see it happening, but it’s happening when you look back over time. So sometimes we look for a kind of a.. as Western minded people we love to look for that magical “boom” over the head and a change. And in fact, healing is much more organic than that, I think.

Sarah Holmes: [00:10:47] I do, too. And absolutely, most people and myself included, if I’m going to be honest, we want that big experience, right? We really do. And I’ve seen essences give that to people in a single dose. And most of the time, that’s not what I see. And I think that’s one of those gifts that essences offer is that gift of patience and that gift of belief, because if you didn’t believe it at all, you wouldn’t even bother to take it. Right. So even people that are more skeptical about this vibrational level of the healing. If they’re taking it, then there’s at least a kernel of belief there or they wouldn’t even bother. And that’s what I’d like to nourish and nurture, is that kernel. And for some people, they’ve got the whole cob coming in right there, there with it. But we just want least to nourish and nurture that kernel of belief.

Rochana Felde: [00:11:46] I like what you are saying about the herbs. When you know, using herbs medicinally, as you would as an herbalist, how it also has a spirit effect as part of it. It’s all part of the plant. You know, a lot of times we try to define these differences between flower essences and herbs and essential oils and all of the things that can be made out of the plant. And you know, I’ll hear myself explaining a lot when I have to do these nutshell explanations that, you know, the herb is affecting your biophysical chemistry and the flower essences typically more on that emotional spiritual spectrum, except that’s just such a black and white answer that doesn’t really speak to what plant allies are really all about when it comes to that. You want to talk a little more about that?

Sarah Holmes: [00:12:49] I would love to. It’s a good point, and it brings me back to that original part that Kathleen pulled out of my bio about mind, body and spirit. And I think that phrase has gotten so common in the last few years that people don’t even really hear it or don’t even really think about it. And I think the spirit piece gets dropped out a lot. So to my way of viewing the world is that we’re spiritual beings. And right now we’ve got this physical body also. But our physical body is energy like everything that’s material is. Energy is vibrating as electrons and everything else that’s vibrating and moving. And there’s an energy field around every being, every living being as well. So our physical bodies are energy, too. They have an energetic to them also that goes way beyond hot or cold or those really kind of rudimentary constitutional definitions of energy. So there’s this place of… Even when I was teaching physiology to my students at herb school, I was still always trying to bring it back to the magic and the energy of our physical bodies also. And this is just the densest form of our being at this time. And so that physical energy and what’s happening within the body is just as important and just as much about the energetics as what’s going on in our hearts and what’s going on in our energy body as well.

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[00:48:22] This podcast is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. We are not physicians and do not diagnose, prescribe or treat medical conditions. Please consult with your own physician or healthcare practitioner regarding the suggestions and recommendations made by the hosts and guests of the Flower Essence Podcast.

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FEP21 Exploring Anger

April 15, 2020