Heidi Smith joins us on the podcast to discuss her new book, “The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance”, and the practice of Flower Essence Therapy. Our wide ranging conversation touched on her passion for social justice, reclaiming feminine consciousness, and her collaborative approach to healing trauma.
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Mimulus – Healing Herbs
- Protection Flower Essences from Delta Gardens – Angelica, Rue, Pennyroyal, Yarrow
- Celandine – Delta Gardens
Heidi’s spiritual teacher Jane Bell of Presence of Heart
Rochana Felde: [00:00:37] Welcome, Flower Essence friends. It’s Kathleen and Rochana back, and today we have a very special guest with us, Heidi Smith, the author of The Bloom Book. And if you haven’t seen this book, it is beautiful and just an amazing representation of all the facets of working with the vibrational essences of plants. Heidi is a psychosomatic therapist, a registered herbalist, and a flower essence practitioner. In her private practice, Moon & Bloom, Heidi works collaboratively with her clients to empower greater balance, actualization, and soul level healing within themselves. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and as I mentioned, she is the author of The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance. And I have to say, I wish we discovered this book before we did our favorite book episode because–
Heidi Smith: [00:01:41] That’s okay.
Rochana Felde: [00:01:41] –it would definitely be on the list.
Heidi Smith: [00:01:45] Aw, thank you.
Rochana Felde: [00:01:45] Welcome, Heidi.
Heidi Smith: [00:01:45] Thank you, Rochana.
Rochana Felde: [00:01:46] We’re really glad to have you here.
Heidi Smith: [00:01:50] Yeah, I’m very happy to be here too. Thanks a lot.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:01:54] So we were really delighted to see your book pop up. I saw it on the Sounds True podcast. I’m like, “She’s got a book. That’s so great. There’s a book coming out about flower essences,” because as you know, you’re really one of the first in this kind of this current iteration of sharing flower essences to the world in a much bigger way than they’ve been known in the US anyways. So how did that come about, if you don’t mind sharing?
Heidi Smith: [00:02:24] Yeah. So there definitely are so few books on flower essences. And it’s funny, when you posted the podcast about the books, The Flower Essence books, I recognized literally everyone because there’s only like, I don’t know, 12 resources. So that was part of the invitation for this book. I was approached by a publisher to write a book about flower essences and it hadn’t really occurred to me to do something like that. But I thought, “Okay, well, this would be a really good exercise for me to see what would it be like to create a book proposal.” So I did that and it went very well and I got a deal. And that publisher, the first publisher, was actually not my existing publisher. It was a different one. So it wasn’t Sounds True. And that was kind of a difficult situation because it was not a good deal. And I did not have an agent at that time. And so I actually needed to dissolve that contract. And then I went back and reformatted the proposal, found a phenomenal agent, and that’s how I got connected with Sounds True who are amazing. And I’m so grateful to be working with them. And that is how the book came to be. And they were psyched to be working with flower essences because Tami Simon, as you might have heard on the podcast, she is a huge fan of them. And so they were really into the idea.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:04:06] Sounds like a really great outcome, even though it was a funny little entry, right?
Heidi Smith: [00:04:10] It was. Yeah. There was some funny, like karma burning up in that situation, I figure.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:04:16] Yeah. So it goes. How do you get involved in flower essences to start with? Can you tell us a little bit about your stories so our listeners can get to know you a little better?
Heidi Smith: [00:04:27] Sure. I was in graduate school studying mental health counseling and at that time I had been working with my spiritual teacher, Jane Bell, not Jane Bell of Alaskan Essences.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:04:41] I know.
Heidi Smith: [00:04:41] Different Jane Bell.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:04:42] We have different Jane Bells.
Heidi Smith: [00:04:45] Yes, Jane Bell of Presence of Heart. And in our work, we were looking at the ancient Egyptian mysteries or looking at the divine feminine or looking at focusing, which is a type of psychosomatic integration. And so I had already been very much introduced to a more alternative mystical way of thinking about healing. And so when I was in school, it was a much more Western approach. And I loved school. It was great. And my husband now, my boyfriend at the time, gave me this book called Vibrational Healing by Gurudas. You’re familiar with that book, right? So that book was extremely out there for me at that time, but I just read it and felt like, “Wow, this is it. This is the bridge between the counseling and the plants and the vibrational nature of reality. Like, I just know this to be true. I have to figure out a way to study this more formally.” So that was kind of my introduction.And then around that time, I had been introduced to the Bach essences by a friend of mine, and he had given me Mimulus. That was my first ever flower essence, Mimulus, which I feel like is probably a common one for people to start off with, right?
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:06:24] Yeah, I think so.
Heidi Smith: [00:06:27] Yeah, so. And I didn’t understand what they were, really how they worked at that point, but I’d started– I was still in that place where, like, I need to know and I need to control for it to work. And so that was kind of my first experience of just doing something that I didn’t understand, but I trusted it in a way. And so I was very keen to find any opportunity to study flower essences after the Gurudas book and the Mimulus experience.
Rochana Felde: [00:07:04] Amazing. And yeah, did that happen before your herbal studies or after or during?
Heidi Smith: [00:07:13] Yeah, so well, I discussed in my book the kind of the impetus to a really rapid period of awakening for me started when my brother committed suicide in 2007. And so like many seekers who are confronted with existential pain and confusion, that was the doorway for me. And so that’s when I was given Mimulus. That’s when I found Jane, my teacher. And it was a few years before I went back to school. And then after I finished my counseling training, I decided that instead of continuing on to be licensed or to get a Ph.D., I didn’t necessarily want to be associated with the medical-industrial complex in that way. And I instead wanted to study more indigenous traditions of plant wisdom. And so that’s when I found my flower essence teacher, Claudia Kiel and I enrolled in the ArborVitae School of Traditional Herbalism, and that’s a three-year program, so. And that included more flower essence training in it. And so that was between 2013-2016,’17. Oh, yeah, 2014-2017. So yeah, that training was really so life-changing for me.
Rochana Felde: [00:08:52] I wanted to mention so you’re a registered herbalist and listeners might not know what that means. And herbalism is not a licensed profession in the United States, but there is one organization, the American Herbalist Guild, that does provide, what they call, a registered herbalist designation. And it takes a while. It’s quite intensive to get that designation. Not everybody has that. So I wanted to mention that.
Heidi Smith: [00:09:28] Thanks, Rochana. Yeah, I appreciate that. I earned those letters.
Rochana Felde: [00:09:31] Yeah.
Heidi Smith: [00:09:34] But I’m grateful.
Rochana Felde: [00:09:34] It’s not a weekend class, in other words.
Heidi Smith: [00:09:36] No. It’s more rigorous than that, and I’m really grateful that there is an accreditation available so that, yeah, that’s something that you can– that’s one option you can pursue if you’re wanting to be an herbalist.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:09:52] Yeah. And I was just really struck and touched and delighted in reading your book, how much credit you give to your teachers and how you talk about the lineage of those who you studied with, because that’s something that I’ve kind of noticed sort of culturally, is a lot of people have just sort of present themselves as knowing something, but they don’t talk about the people who came before them and they don’t express that. In my mind, I think there’s a certain piece of a colonialist attitude to them, right? “We just walked in and I own this now.”
Heidi Smith: [00:10:33] Right.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:10:33] And that is something that you talk about in your work as well, the de-colonializing these sorts of medicines.
Heidi Smith: [00:10:41] Yes, that is really important to me. I appreciate you bringing that up. I do feel like as white settlers, we have to be very cognizant of where we’re accessing information and what we’re disseminating. And it is the tendency, the capitalist tendency to just take and to not give credit. So I wanted to be really thoughtful about that and and offer a more de-colonized look at flower essence therapy and also herbalism. And also, I just really appreciate the work that my teachers and the people before me put in, because I think that we get to enjoy a much easier climate in which to practice this work. And there was a lot more density and judgments and it was just more challenging for people. Even like 10 years ago, this book would have not even existed, .
Rochana Felde: [00:11:46] Yeah, I think people are really much more ready now than they have been to take in this information. And what I appreciate so much about your book is it’s not just like a manual or a list or a repertoire of the flowers and what they mean in a paragraph. You go very deep into the process of healing. And with that, the nature of duality, it’s so deep. There’s so many places that it explores. And in every page, I turn it and I’m like, “Yeah, that’s right. That’s it.”
Heidi Smith: [00:12:27] Yeah. Oh, that’s great. Yeah, I went pretty deep. I didn’t know how it was going to come out, but that’s what came through. So I just went with it.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:12:41] Yeah. I think we were both in the same position when we were reading it. You don’t know what you’re getting into and then you start reading it, you’re like, “Yes, yes, she has it. She’s got it.” It’s so exciting to see that happen and to see you explain it so well and get, like you say, such a depth to it. It’s so much of the literature is really skimmed surfaces and yours is really thoughtful and brings a lot of clarity and depth to the practice of flower essence therapy. And can you tell us a little bit about your process of working with your clients, maybe who your clients, what they look like first, not maybe look like, but the clients you serve and how you work with them with the flower essences?
Heidi Smith: [00:13:27] Yeah, my client base is– I’m so humbled by my clients. My practice is a huge part of my life. And my client base does skew towards people who identify as women. I do serve a number of women of color. I aspire to be a safe and empowering guide and helper for all people. And I kind of blend my experience into a unique offering. So my intake is very expansive. I like to ask questions about physical health and emotional health, spiritual beliefs, any supernatural experiences to get a very holistic picture of someone. And I like to work very collaboratively with people. I like to facilitate empowerment in the healing process because I believe that we all hold the ability to come into balance and to heal. And I’m not really interested in reinforcing some kind of hierarchy where, like, “I’m the healer and you’re the person that needs to be healed.” And yeah, together we discuss what is the point of our work together? What is the purpose of our coming together, and how I can be of service? And so a general session can look very much like a traditional therapy session. There’s time to process and talk about what’s emotionally coming up or presenting for someone. And then part of the session could be dedicated towards doing the focusing, wherein I lead us into a kind of a guided, meditative state. And we are basically just present with whatever is arising and it’s very client guided and illuminating. And then we might also discuss actual plans, or some people need more structure. So I really like to give people the opportunity to take the work from our sessions into their week so that they continue the work on their own, and that is where the flowers are such a gift because the work can keep going and they can access healing even if we’re not speaking.