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The Victorian Language of Flowers
And What It Reveals about the Bach Remedies
©2007 by CJ Wright
columbineFlowers have spoken to us always. Since the time that the very first flower was plucked and handed to a beloved, we have instinctually understood the meaning behind such a soulful offering. The Language of Flowers (called floriography) became haute couture in the Victorian era. Romantic gestures were accepted or rebuffed, marriages were agreed, and last goodbyes were spoken through flamboyant arrangements or a single stem. Picture this scene in Spring, 1852 -- a parlor in the Wilson home in Victorian London. Lily, desperately in love with Edwin, is in tears because she has seen Edwin walking arm in arm with Beatrice. Her best friend, Iris, enters excitedly with a large bouquet of flowers.

Iris: Lilly, look! Roses from Edwin!
Lily: Roses?! He speaks of love? What does he know of love, he who would betray me?
Iris: Sixteen! Sixteen roses! One for each birthday. And sweet alyssum.
Lily: Oh, sweet alyssum? He thinks my worth "beyond beauty?" (She is enraged now.) Am I so horrid? Am I a hag?
Iris: Angelica, pure and white.
Lily: Inspiration!?! Did my hideous face inspire him to turn away? Is Beatrice so fair that the sun rises solely on her and I am cast aside -- a toad! -- warted and doomed to moonlight? (She raises the bouquet in the air, about to smash it to the floor.)

Send him cruel nettles in response. Add marigolds for more cruelty, and mush plant to remind him of his weakness. Let nightshade speak the bitter truth of his betrayal.
Iris: But, Lily, Beatrice is his sister.
Lily: His sister?
Iris: Yes. Home from abroad. She's to marry Albert Sunday week.
Lily: (Embracing the bouquet) Oh, sweet Iris, what lovely news you bring. Look! (going to the window) The peach tree blooms. (turning to Iris) Send him boughs and boughs of blossoms. Oh, dearest Edwin, my love, my peach, my heart is thine!
This poetic floral language was not confined to lovers, but was used as a way of sending greetings and regards to friends and relatives, as well as responses to floral messages received. The language extended to the meaning of trees, grasses, and herbs. List after list of flower meanings became available, with the meaning of each flower affected by the author's intentions.

How does a Study of the Language of Flowers support The Bach Remedies?

forsythiaSince The Language of Flowers reached full bloom in Dr. Bach's native England, it's not surprising to find many of his flower remedies in floriography lists. Researching their more common names led to the discovery of meanings for all of the original 37 flower remedies. Below are these original remedies, the root causes of discomfort Bach attributed to them, and their most common sentiments in the Language of Flowers.

Many of the meanings mesh nicely while others are opposite or seem disassociated completely. The root cause of discomfort associated with Heather is "self-centeredness and self concern." Is it any wonder that heather's sentiment of "solitude" is so appropriate? Self-centered people are completely focused on themselves, which ultimately leads to rejection or withdrawal, resulting in solitude whether it is desired or not. The remedy Beech is linked with intolerance, yet its sentiment is prosperity. The very nature of tolerance is allowance and equality, an end to frugality of the heart. Opening our hearts and minds to embrace the differences of all people will bring prosperity to our souls. Surely the thankfulness and gratitude associated with agrimony's sentiment will help bring relief from the torture of unauthentic cheer.

RemedyRoot Cause of DiscomfortLanguage of Flowers
AgrimonyMental torture behind a cheerful faceThankfulness, gratitude
AspenFear of unknown thingsLamentation
BeechIntoleranceProsperity
CentauryThe inability to say "no"Felicity (great happiness)
CeratoLack of trust in one's own decisions(Hardy Plumbago) Holy wishes
Cherry PlumFear of the mind giving wayGood education
Chestnut BudFailure to learn from mistakesDo me justice
ChicorySelfish, possessive loveFrugality
ClematisDreaming of the future without working in the presentArtifice, mental beauty
Crab AppleThe cleansing remedy, also for self-hatredIll nature
ElmOverwhelmed by responsibilityDignity
GentianDiscouragement after a setbackIntrinsic worth: "you are unjust"
GorseHopelessness and despairEndearing affection
HeatherSelf-centeredness and self-concernSolitude
HollyHatred, envy and jealousyForesight
HoneysuckleLiving in the pastThe bond of love, rustic beauty
HornbeamProcrastination, tiredness at the thought of doing somethingOrnament
ImpatiensImpatience Impatience
LarchLack of confidenceBoldness, audacity
MimulusFear of known things (Chickweed) I cling to thee; rendezvous
MustardDeep gloom for no reasonIndifference
OakThe plodder who keeps going past the point of exhaustionHospitality, bravery, independence
OliveExhaustion following mental or physical effortPeace
PineGuiltTime, pity
Red ChestnutOver concern for the welfare of loved onesLuxury
Rock RoseTerror and fright(Cistus) Popular favor; (Cistus gum) "I shall die tomorrow"
ScleranthusInability to choose between alternatives(knawel, German moss) Maternal love, ennui (boredom, listlessness, dissatisfaction, lack of interest)
Star of BethlehemShockReconciliation, purity
Sweet ChestnutExtreme mental anguish, when everything has been tried and there is no light leftDo me justice
VervainOver enthusiasmEnchantment
VineDominance and inflexibilityIntoxication
WalnutProtection from change and unwanted influencesStrategem, intellect
Water VioletPride and aloofness(Featherfoil, Feverfew) Fire, warmth, protection, good health
White ChestnutUnwanted thoughts and mental argumentsLuxury
Wild OatUncertainty over one's direction in lifeThe witching soul of music
Wild RoseDrifting, resignation, apathySimplicity
WillowSelf-pity and resentmentForsaken


wow!Perhaps the Language of Flowers and the Bach Flower Remedies are not always perfectly attuned, but the essential meaning of each is to bring a focus to a particular character trait or emotional state that needs attention. Speaking them -- through the flowers -- is a way towards expressing our intentions, healing our wounds, and moving toward wholeness and fulfillment. Flowers speak to our very souls through their essence, their beauty, and their fragrance. They find the words when we cannot. As Bruce W. Currie once said, "When words escape, flowers speak."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CJ Wright is an astrologer and tarot reader, and the author of Year~Seer: The Nine Year Cycle of Life, a guide to using tarot and numerology to achieve your spiritual goals. Based on the Personal Years in your numerology profile, Year~Seer offers specific advice on how to navigate the spiral of cycles we encounter each nine years of our life. Year~Seer is illustrated with the minor arcana cards of the tarot and taps into the correspondences of numerology and tarot. Year~Seer is available from Sacred Oaks Publishing, www.sacredoakspublishing.com/books.jsp. CJ also leads an online astrology group for beginning students: www.groups.yahoo.com/group/ChartTalkStudy. If you would like a consultation with CJ, contact her at yearseer@yahoo.com.

DESIGN CREDITS: This page was designed by Deborah Bier; photos are from Clipart.com.

The World Wide Essence Society does not mean to imply any recommendation of nor give certification to any individuals or companies above. This article is provided purely for informational purposes. We ask consumers to make their own determination as to quality of the services and products offered above. This article is not meant to be advice, and the information is not meant to replace medical or psychological treatment.
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