On this episode, Rochana and Kathleen welcome Nicholas Pearson back to the podcast to talk about his new book, Flower Essences from the Witch’s Garden—Plant Spirits in Magickal Herbalism.
We love the way he combines the building blocks of plant spirit herbalism with flower essence therapy, alchemical principles, traditional lore, and modern magickal practice.
Join us for a fascinating discussion touching on these topics and more. There is something for everyone!
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Rescue Remedy aka Five Flower Formula
- Clematis – Healing Herbs
- Star of Bethlehem – Healing Herbs
- Foxglove – Alaskan
- Lemon Balm – Delta Gardens
- Stinging Nettle – Alaskan, Delta Gardens
- Periwinkle – Pacific
- Potato – Alaskan, Delta Gardens
- Walnut – Healing Herbs
- Yarrow – FES, Alaskan
- Rue – FES
- Star Magnolia – Chalice Well, Flora of Asia
- Southern Magnolia
- Night Blooming Cereus – Jane Bell Essences
Rochana Felde: [00:00:38] Welcome flower friends and essence lovers. We are thrilled to have Nicholas Pearson back on the podcast. He joined us last year to talk about gem elixirs on Episode 35 and he just released an amazing new book, Flower Essences from the Witch’s Garden: Plant Spirits in Magickal Herbalism. Nicholas is a Flower Essence practitioner and researcher whose love for plants grew alongside his love for the mineral kingdom. Best known for his work with Crystal Healing and Reiki, Nicholas is also a practicing witch and a cultist. He’s an internationally acclaimed presenter and an author of several books, including Crystals for Karmic Healing and Crystal Basics. Nicholas lives in Orlando, Florida. Welcome back to the podcast, Nicholas.
Nicholas Pearson: [00:01:30] Thank you so much to both of you for having me back. I’ve been so excited for today,
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:01:36] Us too. We’re really glad to have you on the show again.
Rochana Felde: [00:01:39] Yeah. And just to start out, so this book is just an incredible compilation of so many elements bringing together, not just witchcraft, the building blocks for working with plant spirits. And I wanted to maybe just start off talking about that a little bit more. What do we mean by some of the terms: witch, Wicca and working with plant spirits. And who is this for? So who would get the most out of reading this book?
Nicholas Pearson: [00:02:15] That’s a great place to get started, and I want to start with that little last piece like, who is this book for? Because I’m imagining maybe the primary audience for The Flower Essence podcast might go, Witchcraft isn’t my thing, but let’s think about what this book has as far as tools and toolbox go. It is written in such a way that my own personal practice sees and feels a great sense of continuity between flower essence therapy and traditions of alchemy and occult herbalism and indigenous medicine. And these are all kind of, we’ll say, like little tributaries to the great big stream that is plant medicine, plant spirit medicine, herbalism as a whole. And if we look at them in context, we start to build relationship with our plants in a new way. So, yes, of course, the book is written for, we’ll say, a witchy audience, but it’s also written for people who practice all kinds of plant healing, plant medicine, and, of course, flower essence therapy.
So, the word witch means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and I’m sure there’s no soundbite I can give that satisfies everybody. But for me, just speaking as Nicholas, a witch is someone who walks between worlds, someone who is a bender and shaper of realities, someone who is consciously seeking a relationship with the spirit world, and someone who performs intentional acts of co-creation with that spirit world to enact change in the world around them. And from a really broad definition like that, we might feel more identified with the term witch than we might have imagined. So, there are lots of traditions that have very narrow definitions. For some, witchcraft is a religion. For others, it is just a kind of set of tools in your spiritual toolbox. And for others, it can be a little bit of both at the same time. One of my teachers describes it as an art, a science, and a spiritual path all rolled into one. So, those are all things that I think about when I think of words like witch.
And for me, magic is the toolset that we use to enact that change. I think Aleister Crowley said it best when he described magic as the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will. And that’s a really big mouthful way to say, it’s partnering with those natural forces, those natural energies or currents that are within us, around us, above and below us at all times, to manifest or create change or enact the power of healing. Traditionally, witches were the midwives, they were the healers, they were the layer out of the dead. They were the first one you went to in the village. They were the ones who sat kind of on the edge and had a foot in both worlds at the same time. And I think a lot of people drawn to the healing arts field, more broadly speaking, probably find themselves in a role that is at least somewhat analogous to that traditional role of the village healer or village witch. So, I don’t want anyone to feel kind of put off by the W word in the title because it’s really just a lens for looking at the same things we’re practicing and then extending the toolbox a little bit more, giving you more options, more approaches to working with flower essences, even in therapeutic contexts that we might not have learned in our general training.
Rochana Felde: [00:05:40] It brings to mind that there’s the saying that, magic is indistinguishable– or science is indistinguishable from magic, I forget how it goes, but if you don’t know– if you don’t have the understanding or have the tools to understand what’s happening and you look at the beginnings of science, and it firmly started with alchemy, and that’s part of what’s in your book. So, I think that anyone who works with flower essences can intuitively know that there’s something magical about them. I mean, we try to describe them from our experiential and our empirical standpoint of how they–we work with clients and how the clients have benefitted from them, and people document that. And that’s sort of how we push the practice of flower essence therapy along on its path and it being a newer modality in complementary medicine. But remembering that– and so we don’t talk about the magic as much, right? And maybe even some are kind of hesitant to even have that as part of the vocabulary about flower essences. But I think we all feel it when we are working with these plants and these vibrational energies. So I love kind of bringing it back around to that part, that kind of root of plant medicine.
Nicholas Pearson: [00:07:15] Absolutely, and let’s face it, if we want to try to explain the science behind flower essence therapy, we can’t. We can demonstrate effects. We can demonstrate that there are results, they are repeatable, they are consistent, there is robust peer-reviewed studies, that evidence is this. But if you ask any of these hard scientists what it is in this dropper bottle that’s creating that change, they don’t know. We can’t quite isolate that.
Now, I think we use scientific and pseudoscientific models to describe what might be happening. We don’t have hard evidence to prove that just yet, but there is plenty of evidence that tell us that there’s something beyond the measurable taking place and that anyone who’s ever made a flower essence, even anyone who’s worked with a single essence long enough to get to know it very intimately will tell you that there is something beyond just the material aspect of it. It is more than just something in water, and there is consciousness, there is presence, there is a spirit to that plant that is kind of stored almost holographically in that liquid. And when we take a couple drops of it, we are in partnership with this spirit or the consciousness, the diva, the oversoul, the angel, whatever words we’re using, it’s pointing to the same kind of thing. And that is the real magic of working with flower essences. The science and the scientific models are helpful for explaining to others, but the raw experience we have every single time is spirit-driven. Even when we’re not aware of it, that’s what’s happening. And we can even look at Dr. Bach’s writings, from nearly a century ago, and they point to the spiritual underpinning, himself, a man of science, a physician, bacteriologist, and homeopath. Like, he had a very clinical kind of brain, but he describes the effects of his remedies as flooding the soul with the virtues of these plants and uplifting our consciousness. And what is that, if not a spiritual experience?
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:09:19] Exactly. Can you share with our listeners a little bit more about where this path of yours intersected, where the flower essences and the magical path have come together because you’re really bringing forth a new type of work and framing flower essences in a new way? And I’m really interested in hearing how these seeds landed and developed into this garden of this new book.
Nicholas Pearson: [00:09:47] Thank you. I’ve always liked plants. From our last conversation, it was really evident that I always liked rocks, but I’ve been totally fascinated by all parts of nature since I was really young. And my grandmother was an avid gardener. And if it didn’t produce fragrant or at least brightly colored flowers, she wasn’t interested, really. So I grew up with things like Tibouchina and Frangipani and Gardenia and all these really resplendent kinds of flowers and just totally fascinated. When I was a teenager, I kind of– I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household. My father was a recovering Catholic, so I wasn’t anything. And when other families did church on weekends, we did the library. So, some weeks it might be rocks and minerals or earth science, but a lot of times it was folklore and fairy tales and world history and religion and mythology. And so I found out that there were people in the modern day who still lived and breathed and practiced these things, who worked with those themes and archetypes and deities. And I had to learn more. So, I found myself perusing the occult section of bookstores very surreptitiously as a kid, because you don’t want to be found out in a small town. And then I found out there were lots of people who actually think this way.
And so I kind of started with like the pop Wicca in witchcraft that was accessible in the ’90s, in the early 2000s. And I really enjoyed the idea of magical herbalism using plants and magic and spellcraft and manifestation. And around the same time, I was starting to explore this and planted my very first herb garden ever. I was also developing signs of an anxiety disorder which had probably been underlying for a long time, but was really coming to head with the pressing changes of going away to school and all the other things we do as young adults when we’re supposed to have our lives figured out. And a very close friend of mine who ran a local metaphysical store offered to give me a blend of flower essences. And I’d never heard of this. And immediately I’m thinking like everyone else does. So is it like aromatherapy? She’s like, no, no, no, think of it as like, it’s almost like homeopathic medicine. It’s like tuning forks for your emotions, for your mental state. I’m like, okay, I can dig that. It’s kind of like what I do with crystals. Everything’s good. So, we sat there and she had like the little fold-out questionnaire like so many of us start with, with the Bach remedies. And I got this little bottle and I started taking it immediately and magic started to happen. There is a powerful medicine in that little brown dropper model, and every time I’d come back to my hometown between semesters or for summer break, she’d load me up with a new blend to take away to school, to last me the month I’d be away.
And I worked with Bach remedies for years that way. And it was quite a long time before I really thought to do anything other than just use those or keep a bottle of Rescue Remedy with me. But some years back, I was really fascinated by the ethnobotany of the region I’m in. I really wanted to learn more about the historic and indigenous and more ritual uses of plants here in Florida. And there’s not a lot of very accessible information about it.
So here I was, trying to collect little bits of lore and learn my landscape and really get to know the flowers, especially of this landscape. It just dawned on me one day, why don’t I make essences from them? If I can’t find the information about how they were used in the past, why don’t I work with these plants and ask them what they’re for? Why don’t I let the plants teach me? And some of the things I started doing with them were a little less traditional when compared to regular aspects of flower essence therapy. And one of my occult teachers is actually a trained herbalist and flower essence therapist and has experience in homeopathy and lots of other things. The man is brilliant, Christopher Penczak, who wrote the foreword to the book and he actually teaches the making and use of flower essences and the mysteries school program in the organization founded called the Temple of Witchcraft. So he also teaches classes on using baneful flower essences made from poison plants. And it kind of planted these seeds. And I started to notice that there were other witchy and occult people who were also trained healers, and so they were familiar with flower essences, and they might use essences in ways that were a little nontraditional, but there was no manual for it. No one had a training guide to teach you what to do other than create a little dosage bottle and take it with you throughout your day. So I started experimenting and working with the spirits of the plants to find other ways that we can make magic because at the end of the day, just like it isn’t the liquid in the dropper bottle that’s making you better, it’s the spirit of that plant. When you are compounding your own incense or dressing a candle with an essential oil, it’s not the material part of the plant that’s doing it, but it’s the animating presence, the animating force that you’re connecting with and drawing through that power. So if flower essences are like a concentrated way to just have that direct access to plant spirit wisdom, why use anything else? If I’ve got that right there and I’ve got a big collection of them, why can’t I use that in my magical herbalism too? And that just was this huge aha moment. And then one day in the shower, I’m like, I should write a book about this. No one’s done it. Why don’t we write a book about this? So I did.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:48:09] 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.