Ruth Toledo Altschuler joins us for our 50th show!
As a returning guest of the podcast and partner in the Flower Essence Conference, you’ll most likely be familiar with the incredible depth of insight Ruth has in Flower Essence Therapy. She has been a practitioner and educator for over three decades, and has a unique combination of experience unparalleled in the field.
In this episode, we talk about understanding flower essences in the context of their botanical families.
When we are able to group essence plants this way, patterns emerge that can help us to find the right essence faster for a given concern.
And when we apply the observation of the plant signature, we can better see the distinctions of their healing qualities within their family.
This plant-centric system of learning about flower essences is something the three of us resonate deeply with, and we are honored to work with Ruth on new educational offerings (stay tuned!).
For now, enjoy this lovely conversation.
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Impatiens – Bach
- Heather – Bach
- Mariposa Lily – FES
- Showy Lily – Flora of Asia
- Star Tulip – FES
- Alpine Lily – FES
Healing Herbs founded by Julian Barnard, our recommended source of Bach Flower Essences (available in the US from FES). See the vast range of free online educational materials, and his excellent (dare we say essential?) books:
Welcome back, flower lovers. We are here for what is to us a very special episode. It is our 50th episode. So essentially our golden podcast anniversary, and we couldn’t think of who we wanted to celebrate more than with Ruth Toledo Altschuler. We have been so excited to be working with Ruth over the years and especially in the last year. It has been such a beautiful flowering of flower essence therapy awareness and we’ve together as a team, Rochana and I and Ruth have created the flower essence conference this spring and we are developing online courses for bringing the community together of flower essence lovers and to really bring out even more education and awareness and helping give flower essence lovers like yourself the tools that you need to really practice at a high level.
So I think many of you who’ve listened over the years know Ruth because she’s been on the podcast at least two times before this, maybe even three. And Ruth has been a leader in the field of flower essence therapy since 1989 she’s been in practice. She’s certified by The Flower Essence Society, and she is a native of Brazil and developed flower essence therapy as a widely accepted modality there. Her work in bringing forth education and opportunities for practitioners to develop their skills there in Brazil, for decades she’s been doing research and developing educational content. The beauty is that the fruition of flower essence therapy in Brazil is such that it is accepted by the National Public Health, it’s taught at university level. And Ruth has been so important in bringing that up to the level it has. And so it’s really a delight for us to be working and co-partnering with Ruth on bringing that to the United States and honestly to the world because everyone can join us. We’re really happy that you’re here today, Ruth. And we’re going to be talking about Botanical Families.
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [00:03:02] It is my honor, and also it is my joy because this flourishing of flower essence therapy in the realm of the English-speaking world, I mean, this growth, this expansion is something that I’ve always hoped would happen and since I’ve been residing more on this part of the world and more connected to these communities over the last few years after commuting between the US and Brazil for many years, I’m so happy to be part of really bringing what we have acquired in Brazil as far as this expansion of flower essence therapy. It’s just a joy to be witnessing it happening now within the realms that we are connected with. So thank you so much. Yeah.
Rochana Felde: [00:03:57] We could not be more thrilled to have you on and to be working with you with the school for flower essence studies and some of the amazing learnings that we’re co-creating. And it’s such a beautiful meld of all of our experience and our different perspectives and our different studies with the plants, all the different kinds of plant studies that the three of us have done with different ranges of plants. And then personally, especially you with all of the study you’ve done over your years, with all the different ranges and bringing in, synthesizing all that information together. And I just wanted to start out and be curious about how that really started for you and how that came about.
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [00:04:49] Yes. So I was already being really called by the plants. It was a time in my life that I wanted to learn and know everything about plants. And I didn’t really know why. And at the time, I was fortunate to have a mother-in-law who was a landscape designer. So I had access to her libraries and I could ask her all kinds of things. And I was involved in a different activity that took me in some travels, but I chose to travel in the spring and because I went in the spring to the Netherlands and I was so fascinated with the flowers, I met a person who gave me a book about the Bach flower essences. But I wanted to tell this story because it started with this connection with the book, and right after, with another book in which I started reading about the essences and their descriptions. And this, I think, is what usually captures every one of us. That’s how we begin. We all start reading. And I can’t, of course, forget how the impact of reading about Impatiens was for me. So I read about Impatiens and that line about, Oh, this person can’t wait for someone to finish a phrase and they will interject and jump in and complete that phrase, oh, this is me. So I was quite enraptured by these descriptions and the whole range of descriptions of the Bach flower remedies. And I had been very much called by the plants, but I wasn’t yet really making the correlation of that because these descriptions were very much mental descriptions, they were very much mental patterns, and sometimes even very critical of the people who would have these personality traits. It seemed like you would be describing these horrible personality patterns.
So as much as this was interesting and helpful and really useful to have these keywords and these key patterns in detecting how to select an essence that could help a person, and I was already myself benefiting from the effects and the results of the essences that I took, it was only in 1991 when I went to take my practitioner training at Terra Flora in FES, and I started to learn in the garden, amidst the plants, with the plants, and from the plants and from my teachers, Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz. And then that’s when– what happened was, for instance, even though they didn’t– or maybe they did have the actual Impatiens plant growing there. But that’s when I saw, that that presence of that plant that grew so fast and prolifically in the summer with all these seedlings that it projects out and all of that, which was certainly something that Dr. Bach was watching happening, but it wasn’t described in the writings that he left behind. And then the presence of that flower suspended in the air in that pale mauve color. And this really, I feel, brought me into a state of reconnection with this greater whole of the web of life of which we are a part. So understanding the quality of the essence through the gesture of the plant and through the actual way that connecting ourselves through the plants reconnects us and pierces that separation made all the difference.
However, there was an added layer in the evening lectures. Richard Katz will take us into the sections in which he would show us the plants in their interconnection amongst plants’ botanical families. And that’s when I started to see plants that were interrelated and some plants that had come from other places and had adapted in other countries but were related to that, so there were more interconnectedness in the world of the flower essences. And this brings us into much more of an understanding of the qualities of these essences and also of the role that they– of the healing way that they impact us in making us realize our interconnectedness in so many ways.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:10:36] Like you, the essences really came alive for me because of that– I predated my interest in flower essences with a degree in horticulture science. Plants have always been a source of solace for me long before I knew about essences. Just to understand them and for me, it’s really been interesting because horticulture is about the science of growing things, of giving them the environments in which they can thrive. And so for me, plants were always like, so interested in new varieties and the families and the interrelationships between them, but as much as anything, it’s about finding out what they want, what they need in order to thrive.
And so when essences came along for me later on and learning about, like we all start with a little tiny brochure and the two-line description, which is very judgy sometimes like you said. Nobody wants to cop to that. It’s not a nice experience to think like I’m a whatever person, but to get to know the plant behind that little brown bottle, to get to really experience the presence of the plant, it’s just like, Oh, I see it in its whole self, not in the snapshot of the challenging situation. I can see how it helps me to harmonize that part of myself that might be experiencing that challenging personality trait or behavior trait and to recognize, Oh. And it also relates to these other plants that also ripple out into the same overall dynamic of the challenge state.
And so Impatiens, it’s so interesting that it was Dr. Bach’s first essence because it really does have that very cardinal water energy, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s like it starts things and it has no fear of jumping into new things. So there’s some quality about that being the initiating essence in the world of essences, don’t you think?
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [00:12:49] Absolutely. And it was my first flower essence, the first one that I had to take, right? Yes.
Rochana Felde: [00:12:58] I love what you’re both saying about that experiential aspect of learning about and from the plants. And for me, it was also that way. I started getting into herbalism a long time ago, and it didn’t really come alive to me until I started growing some– or wildcrafting some of my own herbs making my own herbal medicine. And in the same sense, with flower essences, I had decades ago run into the Bach flower remedies in the health food store and read the little self-questionnaires and thought, wow, I was just so fascinated and enthralled by it and the checkboxes, but it was such a mystery. And why would one plant have this quality versus another plant? And then when I started getting into– when it really called to me, it was the plants that called to me in the place that I lived where I had been able to grow a lot of plants and there were a lot of wild plants around me, and that’s what made flower essences come alive to me. And in those first years, in the beginning, I didn’t even want to work with anyone else’s essences or read about them from their books. I just wanted my own experiences and I really went down that path of plant communication and making flower essences and researching them. So that’s what made it really come alive.
And even if I don’t do that with every flower essence or plant that I work with, just having done that with the ones that I have or the families or there’s something from the same genus or the same family, it gives me more insight. It gives me that insight into something that maybe I don’t have the opportunity to ever see live in the wild or in a garden. And I can now also look at pictures and start to even virtually kind of get more of that sense of a plant because I did that practice and had that experience. And I don’t know– and I know with Ruth, you offer this amazing group share every month showing your beautiful photography, which is such a wonderful part of what you do, your history, you have a background at doing photography. And capturing the essence and the energy of that plant and bringing it to life in a photograph is another way of helping to communicate that. I’d love you to talk a little bit more about that because we’re so used to it now working with you sometimes I– but I want to bring that out because it is really a unique piece of what you bring to the flower essence community.
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [00:16:03] Oh, thank you so much for bringing this up. Before I talked about this, I want to say that I have so much appreciation for the synergy of the collaboration that we have, the three of us in the projects that we’re doing. And I need to say some– this is something that I never mentioned as we go along, but I’ve never been a person who actually really grows plants beyond when I was like seven years old that I had my Rose plants by the window. So I had always been someone who had walked and enjoyed and been amongst the plants and had a great connection being amongst the plants, but I was not someone who really grew plants. And I always felt that this was a limitation that I have, and that’s something that I admire so much in many of my friends who actually have that as part of who they are and what they do.
But now that you bring up photography, it actually makes me know that there’s a piece that I bring that is my own unique way. And I think what has been a role that I’ve played is this ability to connect information, to transport information, to be a bridge of information between levels, between people, and between realms. And so the ability to capture the image is something that I’ve learnt as a photographer, it was really important for me to get that moment when the human individual really expressed their essential beingness, and I would be there watching while I was doing these portraits, which I did for many years professionally, for those singular moments where that essence is being transmitted visually. And I know that is very much what I do with plant photography as well. And it’s something that is kind of inbuilt in me and it’s also part of what I do in my work with clients when I’m really attuning to their essence and listening to what they’re transmitting. But this is this ability to capture it through imagery. And I also love to edit the images. So oftentimes I’m digging out and finding images by other good photographers whom I like to appreciate and honor with the credits. So I love putting together the presentations that really transmit and convey the closest we can have to the experience of being with the plants, but sometimes showing things that with the naked eye we don’t see.
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [01:00:23] Well, that we’re so grateful that you are here in this world at this time. You are needed, and your awareness is so much needed. So, thank you. Thank you for your curiosity, for your interest, for your passion, for your involvement in this work, for your commitment, allow flower essence desire to learn within yourself to guide you. And come on over, be with us in these co-creative circles that we have been putting together and will continue to as we go. There will be many opportunities for you to be with us as a community. And this is one of the special ones, the Botanical Families in Flower Essence Therapy.
Rochana Felde: [01:01:20] Wonderful. So we’ll of course put links in the show notes to your open circles that we were talking about, Ruth, and also the Botanical Families in Flower Essence Therapy course that is coming up starting, what’s the date that we’re starting?
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [01:01:40] September 15.
Rochana Felde: [01:01:41] September 15, if you want to join. And all of that information will be in the show notes. So thank you, and thanks for joining us, Ruth. It’s been a pleasure, as always.
Rochana Felde: [01:01:56] Thank you.
Kathleen Aspenns: [01:02:01] 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.