Flowers to the Rescue
No matter how uncertain times are, one thing never changes: the lore of flowers. Ancient Romans celebrated Flora, the goddess of flowers, in a special ceremony known as Floralia. And Victorians turned to the Language of Flowers (floriography) as a way of expressing forbidden desires through a secret mode of communication, whereby each variety of bloom signified a specific meaning. That old cliché, “stop and smell the roses,” could be seen as a lesson in mindfulness by way of the sensual, as it gives once dulled senses the chance to reawaken. Likewise, to solely appreciate the visual appeal of a rose, lavender or jasmine, is akin to placing an exquisitely carved box on a shelf. Without ever opening it, you'd never discover the riches that lay inside.
Here are a potpourri of ways to experience the magic of flowers...
Herbalist and certified aromatherapist, Dominique Caron, is the founder of Apoterra Skincare. When formulating plant-based serums, creams, and scrubs, Caron says, “I gravitated towards using a lot of flowers because of their powerful skin benefits. Healing, calming and regenerative, each flower has its own unique properties.”
There are different processes for extracting the goodness from flowers. And somewhere between oils and essences, are absolutes... Caron says, “The heat involved in making essential oils can destroy some of the more delicate components found in fresh petals. The process of making an absolute is more gentle on these delicate components, creating a more complete oil.”
Even though Caron had never been impressed by rose, while studying aromatherapy she did a 180 and fell in love. Caron describes smelling rose absolute as “experiencing a comforting hug,”and cites studies that show inhaling rose can help reduce stress and boost confidence. And in skincare, rose’s antioxidants help protect skin from free radical damage and premature aging. And if that’s not enough, according to Caron, rose may also help with transepidermal water loss, and improve skin barrier function.
*A note about potency: Caron says it’s crucial to source fresh oils, because “floral oils are more prone to oxidation than resins and roots. If you take two products, whether it be an oil or a natural skincare product, that have the exact same ingredient list - if one is fresh and the other is years old, the fresh one will be much more effective,” Plus, according to Caron, an oxidized product might also irritate your skin.
Floral essential oils can be combined or used on their own in everything from aromatherapy to skincare. Caron says they “can be helpful for anxiety and calming emotional turmoil.” Crafting an essential oil from petals is an extensive process. And according to Caron, one single drop of oil may contain the essence of countless blooms, which is why it’s so potent.
Nature Witch, Sabrina Rose Nelson often integrates the curative properties of blooms into her potions and elixirs. One of Nelson’s favorite ways to work with blooms is by making flower-infused oils. How do you do it? Nelson’s says, “fill a mason jar up 1/3-1/2 full with any dried flowers. Then top with an oil (olive, avocado, and sweet almond are all good choices), and leave in the sun for at least two weeks. Then strain, re-bottle, and enjoy!”
Nelson says, “Working in the realm of flower essences means opening yourself up to small shifts. They can be very gentle, loving tools for grounding into your body and protecting your energy.” Nelson loves yarrow and says, “it supports you in strengthening your boundaries and avoiding unwanted energies. And I love California poppy for cultivating self confidence and trust in your magic.”
In 1932 London surgeon Dr. Edward Bach recognized the far-reaching potential of flowers for mind/body wellness. After becoming frustrated with western medicine's approach of treating the symptoms but not the individual, the progressive young doctor who had been diagnosed with cancer, turned to plants for answers. Bach experimented on himself, and eventually came to formulate his Bach Flower Remedies: 38 essences crafted from flowers and plants that are still widely used today. Don’t confuse oils with essences. While essences and oils are both products of flowers, essences are not made with oil, usually unscented, and taken orally for energetic/wellness reasons. In contrast, essential oils are usually made through a distilling or cold press process, and maintain the exquisite aroma of each bloom.
Craft your own teas from fresh or dry buds and petals. Depending on the flower you choose, if the flower is more aromatic, you may wish to combine it with herbs, green or white tea, as is often done with Jasmine and rose. More delicate buds like chamomile and white clover work well on their own. Nelson enjoys making her own floral sun teas. How can you do it? Nelson says, “place a pinch of each of the following (or whatever flowers you have) in a glass jar: rose, lavender, lemon balm, linden, lemon verbena, and hibiscus. Then fill the jar with water and place in the sunshine. Leave it there all day, and strain and enjoy at night! This one is delicious with a swirl of raw honey.”
Naturally, a green witch like Nelson has strong feelings about certain flowers, “lavender, feels like such a wise and magical presence that reminds me of my mother. Clover is another one I love, particularly for its benefits on the lymphatic system. Finally, I adore yarrow for helping me remember my strength and maintain clear boundaries.”
Waters & Hydrosols
Floral water can serve as a nurturing skin booster that also refreshes the senses. For instance, rosewater quenches dry skin, reduces inflammation, and may also soften fine lines. Lavender is antibacterial, antiaging, and anti-inflammatory, but may be too strong for sensitive skin types.
*When using flowers in skincare make sure you don't have allergies. Check with your doctor, and do a patch test beforehand.
One cup rose petals (Organic)
1 cup distilled water
Optional 1 Tbs witch hazel
*Note: always keep hands washed when making skincare products.
Thoroughly clean petals by soaking in water. Then combine water and petal in a covered saucepan. Bring to a boil. Then slowly simmer for 30 minutes – 40 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Then shut off flame and let it sit covered for an hour. Add a Tablespoon of witch hazel to help preserve. Store in the fridge in a dark glass bottle. Alternatively, without witch hazel, store frozen in a silicone ice cube tray. Use as needed. Without witch hazel or added alcohol, rosewater should last about 7-10 days.
Imagine wearing a string of handmade beads on your neck fashioned from rose petals... Check out this terrific video from Astar's Place, and discover how to craft rose clay from a few simple materials, and mold it into beads. The process is easy but a bit time consuming, as it can take several days for your clay to reach the proper texture. Once the process is complete, you'll be left with a truly unique artisan piece. And when you wear it, the warmth of your body releases the subtle scent of roses on your skin.