We welcome Ruth Toledo Altschuler back to the podcast as we record a session for our upcoming Flower Essence Alchemy event.
The three of us share our early life experiences in trying to access emotional sanity by connecting to the plants, animals, and the elements of Nature.
Using the analogy of “reforesting ourselves” after processes of internal deforestation have happened, we explore the concept of re-bonding with the earth so that we can become more fully whole and embodied beings. And we share the flower, tree, and gem essences that are key for this grounding re-connection.
Flower Essence Alchemy begins April 17th! 🌎🌬️🔥💦✨🌸
This Earth Week, explore the elemental forces of flower essences and vibrational remedies and their regenerative influence on essence creation, formulation, and potent self-care.
Flower Essence Alchemy is an illuminating online event with flower essence experts sharing deep wisdom on the relationship between the elements, the essences, and ourselves.
📅 Starts April 17 | LIVE Panels on April 22, 2023
Register before April 17 for 30% off!
Check out the website for all the details and to register.
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
Flower Essence Alchemy Earth Week Intensive
“To create fixed ideas, it is necessary to cut down the forests of diversity that we have within us.
From children full of creativity, gifts and talents, we are gradually transforming ourselves into deforested adults, fragmented people who cultivate only what they were taught would be right.
Based on a lot of pesticides, they cultivate exhausting work, destructive habits, a life of appearances, little by little making infertile the interior soil that was once inhabited by so many living creatures.
It is the interior deforestation, the devaluation of the nature that inhabits us in the name of a life separated from the whole, a life of a Modern Human Animal who thinks that the Human Being is something more special than the Living Being.
Almost everyone goes through this deforestation. In the times we live in, it is very difficult to find someone who was created to be a Forest.
Most of us are raised to be open fields where monoculture can exist.
But the Forest resists in me and in many of us. A wild call inhabits our hearts and from time to time it howls. I’m listening to my inner forest and I’ve already stopped clearing what’s left of it.
Now I work to reforest what I allowed to be destroyed in the name of trying to fit into a broken lifestyle.
Only Nature can save us.
Reforestation is necessary.
Abandon fixed ideas, understand that the dear people who taught you to live that way were also deforested by other people who had also lost their internal forests.
To reforest the inner life is to break an entire vicious cycle.
It’s opening new doors for your ancestry to heal through you.
It’s allowing your descendants to have much more freedom and awareness than you can have in this lifetime.
It’s discovering a life with more purpose and joy.
Those who reforest themselves, reforest the world. The spirit of the forest is alive in you. May you hear the call.”
The Inner Fish documentary
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:00:10] Welcome back, flower family. It is really good to be with you here today. Today is a special episode of the podcast. Ruth Toledo Altschuler, Rochana, and I are going to be sharing our presentation from the Flower Essence Alchemy of Intensive. This event begins April 17th and we will be having beautiful content all that week and then having live interactive panels on April 22nd. We are really hoping that you join us as we are exploring this elemental forces of flower essences and vibrational remedies. Today we’ll be sharing our personal experiences of sustaining emotional sanity and vitality through connection with nature and our vision of this for the future. How can we as human species re-encounter intimacy with nature for re-creating and co-creating our direction into the future?
I have a little excerpt of a piece by Lorena Shakini, and this is translated from Brazilian Portuguese, and I’ll have the full text of this in the show notes and in the general notes. But I wanted to read a little piece of this which will set the tone for what we’re going to be talking about today. “To create fixed ideas, it is necessary to cut down the forests of diversity that we have within us. From children full of creativity, gifts and talents, we are gradually transforming ourselves into deforested adults, fragmented people who cultivate only what they were taught would be right. It is the interior deforestation, the devaluation of the nature that inhabits us in the name of a life separated from the whole. A life of a modern human animal who thinks that the human being is something more special than the living being. To reforest the inner life is to break an entire vicious cycle. Those who reforest themselves reforest the world. The spirit of the forest is alive in you. May you hear the call.”
Ruth Toledo Altschuler: [00:02:53] And so I think I’m the one to begin today. And I will be talking at first about a part of me that I feel and I know in my cells that has always stayed wild, that has remained wild. But just before I talk more extensively about that, I’m going to just give you a little snippet of why this was so important and why this was a lifeline for me. I did experience birth trauma when I was born and a very difficult bonding situation. And I was one of those kids that was born in the early 1950s where children were not supposed to be held, only when they were going to be fed. And so I was kept in a dark room crying for hours and hours, and I couldn’t sleep. So I was kind of a traumatized child, very shy, who had a lot of difficulty making friends. And only in my early adolescence, I began finding my way around socializing more easily and all of that. So this part of me that stayed wild was really a lifeline. It was something that I feel really saved my life.
And I want to tell you a little bit about that because ever since I was a child, I really wanted to be in water. And actually, more recently, I watched a documentary called The Inner Fish, and I totally identify with that. And so what happened was that I had these grandparents who really loved providing opportunities for us to do sports and do physical activity in nature. And they were very close when I was growing up in the beginning, in the first years, and they would take me to this place that was a beach where they created this little house that my father actually helped to design and build, including solar panels that he built there as well. That was the kind of person my father was at the time. But they created this house that was right in front of the beach near the Atlantic Forest. And this beach was very unexplored and undeveloped at the time and it was very safe. And so shortly before that time, I had learned how to swim in the swimming pool right in front of the house where we lived. And I was really able and capable to be safe in water. And so my grandparents trusted me and they knew that I was okay, that they could let me walk and they could let me go into the ocean. I remember my grandfather watching me with his binoculars, but they would let me go on my own and I would spend hours dancing in the water and swimming. But also when I wasn’t in the water, I would walk through that beach all the way to the end. And at that time it was safe. I don’t think it would be these days, but I spent a lot of time alone in nature and I loved looking at the plants. There was that Mimosa Pudica that you touched and it would close and some other plants that I was totally passionate about, but mostly being in the water and experiencing merging with the water element and being totally at one with water. And so this was really a lifeline because it kept me also in my body and I trusted my body and it kept me really sane because I had that. And you will know more about that as we go along. But that’s the piece that I wanted to start off with.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:07:21] I’ve spoken about my crazy childhood before. I was born into a fundamentalist doomsday cult. And one of the main tenets among many other craziness was really the repression of women for sure, but the repression of anything that wasn’t this experience of by full obedience to authority. It was supposed to bring you some level of happiness. It’s like you were supposed to know that by being obedient to God’s laws and the hierarchy as it traveled down, it was supposed to bring you some level of peace. And growing up, I could always feel even before I could even understand, that there was this profound disconnect between people’s faces, their masks and their actual interior experience. My father, when he would come home, was a very, very different person from the person I saw at church. He was very sociable and very friendly and very outgoing. And he would come home and the wall would come down and his anger would emerge and he’d isolate. And so there was this profound disconnect in how we were supposed to be acting and what was really going on. And nobody would talk about it. There was no conversation about it, no discussion about the emotional state.
And being outside in the garden was really the survival strategy. To just be– we had a pretty big garden, not really a garden, really more of a yard. My dad did like to grow fruit trees, so we had fruit trees and there were some nice, beautiful old trees there. And that was a place of sanity for me. That was a place where I could be sort of outside of the realm of control and obedience and really feel like myself. And at some point I really realized how much animals also created that experience for me, to be around animals, to be with them. And when I started to get a little bit older, pre-adolescent, I became the absolute typical horse-crazy girl. I collected the little models with my babysitting money and I was just desperate to be around them for reasons I couldn’t explain. And when I got a little bit older, I saved my money and purchased a few riding lessons and I thought my whole world would change, but it was just a few riding lessons. But just being with them was so beneficial. And I ended up sort of weaseling my way into cleaning stalls and hanging around the barn. And there was a pony there who had been outgrown who I got to spend time with. And that experience of being in the heart place of a horse, when you are in your body and they are always in their bodies, and together you are completely in the moment, embodied in the moment, but exquisitely sensitive to the experience of the world around you, to awareness of what’s going on around. And that was a way for me to start to find a way into my body.
And many years passed when I wasn’t able to be with horses for a lot of reasons, and in my mid-twenties, a new friend told me about a horse who was in desperate need of rescue. It was a really terrible situation. And I just felt so compelled to get involved. And so I rescued Ali and in just a few months of spending time with that great spirit mare and being with horse again and being in that union place, it helped me remember a part of who I was. I was able to reconnect to a memory of somebody that I knew I could be. And her great heart and great– she gave me such courage that I was able to get out of an abusive relationship. And that was such a gift. I mean, she rescued me. I can’t say it in any other way than that. And the connection to animals has always been a source of rescue for me.
Rochana Felde: [00:12:06] Thank you both for those stories. And there’s so much that I resonate with. I also was born with some trauma. I was premature by two weeks and so I had to live in the preemie ward cut off from my mother for the first two weeks of my life. It was the late sixties and they allowed her to visit me once a day. So I did get some breast milk, but otherwise it was sugar water from the nurses.
And I grew up in this environment where spirituality was highly valued, but emotions were not. And attention on the body was shameful. And it stemmed from an alternative spiritual organization that my parents joined in the sixties in San Francisco. And the beliefs that filtered their way into our family dynamic, combined with some traditional religious beliefs, ended up really teaching me how to spiritual bypass really well and not value– my emotions were not valued in my house at all. And I remember being chastised for laughing too loud or being too emotional or things like that. And as the oldest child of six kids, it was a very chaotic environment with two neurodivergent parents. And there were a lot of things that just didn’t didn’t make sense to me. What did make sense was physical activity and going outside nature. I loved being on the playground and doing gymnastics and all sorts of crazy stunts and exploring the trees and the plants in the yard where I lived. But I really started to kind of lose that grounding as I got older and the spiritual part got more– as I became a teenager, things became more chaotic and I didn’t understand my parent’s spirituality because everybody in the group was totally messed up. And so there was this constant spiritual elitism that was at play that this was better than anything else, and the only way to connect with God, and etc., etc., and so much of a higher level and yet everyone in that group, somebody was always going through a crisis. The adults that I saw around me were not– it just didn’t mesh, it didn’t seem to make any sense. And so I really rejected that as a teen. But then I kind of quickly got sucked into the new age, the New Age Movement and all of the doctrines that that had. And really, what I’ve learned now through this lifelong process is that I replaced one kind of spiritual bypassing with another kind of spiritual bypassing based on positive affirmations and completely believing all of that for a long time.
And I started working in very mental occupations, becoming a systems analyst and a computer programmer and this male-dominated corporate environment where I, as a neurodivergent person, had to adopt this mask to act like everyone else and to compete. And I really started losing more and more of my connection and any kind of feminine power I might have once had, that was completely suppressed. And I really started losing my soul. So by the time I was 30, I was at the peak of my career doing cutting-edge development work for a firm in San Francisco during the first tech boom Dot-com. But my personal life was a total and complete mess. And within a year from that I was widowed by my husband who was an alcoholic and died of liver failure. And that marked the beginning of a lot of years of just absolutely excruciating grief that I had just no tools to deal with. I just didn’t even know that– I mean, none of the things that I had worked with before were doing anything for me except journaling, which probably saved my life initially.
And then it was the plants. And when I started to reconnect with the plants, and it was more beginning with the herbalism and aromatherapy and then I started hearing more and more of the call. Flower essences, I started dabbling with those, but it was once that I really moved out back into a very natural environment and was able to finally spend time in the country every day and connect with nature in a really deep way that my whole world changed. And I felt it change as I sat with the plants in the process of making essences and doing that attunement with the plant. The attunement part is where the healing really came from for me, not really so much the end result of the essence. It was sitting and attuning and feeling that the plant be its total whole and complete self and it was completely accepting of what it was and there was no worry for the future or bemoaning the past or what it was or what it could have been, or that one part was great and the other part wasn’t. It was a complete integrated whole being the plant and totally just like okay with itself, which to me in the way that I grew up, it felt like a revelation and it was like a revelation every time. And no matter what plant it was, which might have had a different spin on what its message was, it had that same kind of underlying energy of being complete, being whole, being itself, like utterly and completely and truly itself. And when I felt that and could feel that message from the plants, to me, that’s sort of, it’s like my lifelong learning. It still is. I’m not like healed. It’s like it’s an ongoing process. And every time I work more and more with the essences, the plants and the elements, which we can go into more as well, there’s that shedding of those things, all of those beliefs, all of those– that thing that we made up in our head about ourselves that’s not true, being able to chip off another layer of that and get to like the true essence of who we are. And that’s what feels so important to me and why working with nature to me is just– it’s just key. There’s just no other– that’s what it is. Well, that’s what works for me.
Rochana Felde: [01:04:22] This has been incredible. I feel like this might be a good place to end. It feels so very complete to me and I feel so much more connected to you both through this sharing. And I hope that people watching and our listeners will connect to some elements of these stories and know that nature is here for you as Kathleen was just saying. We love our flower essences and they are such helpers on this journey, but also the bigger picture of nature and the elements is part of that journey, I think it’s a critical part, and so I hope that you find where it can help you in your journey.
Kathleen Aspenns: [01:05:21] If you have a parting thought, Ruth, I would love to hear it.
Speaker4: [01:05:24] Yeah. I really feel that from fragmentation, we can all eventually start reconnecting into wholeness. And that’s going to be the time when we’re able to rethink the project of the human species, because the way it’s going, it’s really self-destructive and self-annihilating really. So it requires a population of whole beings that can resonate that wholeness with one another. So I really invite everyone to go into this deep journey of healing for themselves and always feeling how wonderful it is to re-encounter this sense of re-integration, belonging, and wholeness. So I really encourage you to be part of this and to spread the message, because a lot of people are doing this work out of a very intellectual approach, and that makes us much more like we’re still fragmenting, we’re still dividing, we’re not creating wholeness. And so it’s only from more wholeness within that we can help create more unity and integration in the world.
Kathleen Aspenns: [01:06:58] This has been beautiful. Completely agree. Thank you.
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