Does this look familiar?
Blue Penstemon: Penstemon azureus
Gentle courage. Risks of the heart.
This flower represents introspection, night sky, moon, stars, and Goddess energy. It essentially reflects the inner workings of reality as it starts to be made manifest within the self at the point of courage; [not] courage with regard to breaking through things in a harsh way, but rather the courage of the self to [risk] new things in a gentle and exploratory way. It basically signals you and welcomes you to take risks of the heart, love, and openness.”
from High Sierra Botanicals Website: Flower Essences Descriptions
The blue penstemon image used at the top of my blog was taken during my second year at OCOM, on a summer hike to Angel’s Rest, a vantage point 4,000 feet high in the Columbia River Gorge.
I captured several different flowers in the summer light, such as red columbine, fireweed, mock orange, and tiger lily; but this image literally yelled at me to pick it for my blog headline. Because the little trumpets also look like mouths singing, yelling, or literally drinking in or eating the air and sunlight, I found this to be an appropriate image for this forum of self-expression. Aren’t they cute? I like their fangs.
In reading the description provided in the quote above, I was struck by the parallels between the symbolism of this plant and the state of mind that I was in when I took this picture. One of the biggest hurdles that I had to overcome in acupuncture school was letting myself become more vulnerable and open; to allow myself to be
healed in order to become a healer.
My BA in Cultural Anthropology, as well as my entire left-brain oriented upbringing, has instilled a monstrous (and appreciated) cynic within me, which analyzes every problem from every perspective. I am a master of relativity, cultural and otherwise. I have a great ability to see problems and create solutions, so often times I find myself looking at everything as a puzzle to piece together. Yet all of this analysis, planning and even synthesis sets up a lovely way for me to think that I’m getting closer to the meaning behind things, while creating an inherent opposition between myself and this “meaning.”
At OCOM we start right away with Qigong classes and we are encouraged to take up a regular meditation practice, or at least something that allows us to center ourselves so we can find an empathetic state easily. During these first classes and during my practice at home, I often found myself completely puzzled as to why I would be crying or humming/singing to myself spontaneously during meditations. I chalked it up to pent-up emotion and
possibly frustration that I had to engage in a practice that I didn’t understand and had no real idea how to do… but as I practiced more, I noticed a tightness and pain that felt like a big lump in my throat. I began to notice it all the time; eating breakfast, talking with friends at a bar, riding my bike, brushing my teeth- this was becoming ridiculous! But slowly over time it changed, in fits and starts. Gone one day, there the next; gone one hour, there the next…so I finally asked my Qigong teacher what was going on with this strange sensation.
Metaphorically speaking, my throat chakra was blocked; my ability to both express myself in the world, and to recognize the reality as a whole rather than a problem to be solved. It was like I had a little blue penstemon flower in my throat, yelling with all its might, telling me to just experience the beauty and pain and inspiration of the world around me, rather than try to grow it in a petri dish. Telling me that I do know my own truth, but in order to know this truth, I must also act on and express it in the world.
When I finally stopped distancing myself from my own experience of life with over-analysis, I was able to find a stronger voice, a more clear voice, a voice no longer double-guessed (most of the time). For me, it took courage to say, “I do know this, I know these truths about myself and my relations.” After a lifetime of dismissing my own perceptions as merely relative and only meaningful in analysis, the simplicity and power of this acknowledgement floored me.
I felt like a doorway had been opened; I felt like running down a hillside as fast as I could go, and also like floating in a lake staring at the sky for hours. No, I wasn’t on any mind-altering substances, although my being was definitely altered. A new pathway of action opened up for me; different choices could be made, and I could view myself in a different, more honest and compassionate context. I didn’t expect healing to feel this good!
Of course this kind of healing is a lifelong process, and is actually no more than the experience of living. Nature offers us examples constantly; the messages to be found in any functioning ecosystem are endless. I enjoy bringing some of the symbols and metaphors that nature provides into my acupuncture practice, in order to provide another way for people to visualize ideas and actions. I realize the importance of the simplicity of truth in the treatment room; simply acknowledging, not rationalizing or judging. This is the place where change happens.
For further reading on flower essences, you can check out a few different companies online. I am not going to attempt to figure out how the flower essences work; they just do. You have to try them for yourself to decide.
3 Flowers Healing provides an incredible number of local Oregon flower essences, sustainably crafted in the Columbia River Gorge.
She has a special page devoted to the meaning of the Penstemon family: Penstemons: Freedom is the word.
Flower Essence Services (FES) also creates amazing flower essences and oils. The link takes you to the page which describes Dr. Bach’s original definitions of flower essences from Britain. FES creates a fantastic line of seasonal oils, which help align yourself with the changing energy of the seasons using a mixture of flower essences, essential oils, and herbal flowers.
Camilla Blossom of 3 Flowers Healing provides descriptions of the flowers I mentioned in this article (these essences are available on her website).
Fireweed Flower Essence: I create myself anew. Strength to rebuild after deep change or burnout, new start. Ressurection.
Mock Orange Flower Essence (Philadelphus lewisii): I am one-of-a-kind. Being your unique self, one-of-a-kind, originality, self-acceptance, innocence, OK to be different.
Red Columbine Flower Essence (Aquilegia Formosa): I correct and adjust my wiring. Divine will/personal will, disperses energy fluctuations (energetically sensitive, geopathic stress), beauty.
Tiger Lily Flower Essence: Creating is my power. Wild feminine co-creative/sexual power, channel raw instinctual energies, empowerment, self-esteem, menopause, anger, balanced polarities (masculine/feminine within), relationship balance, path of gentle strength, chakra 2 (sacral).
Red Clover Flower Essence (Trifolium pratense): Understand emotions, calm emotional struggle, stabilize self, anxiety, group panic, mass-hysteria, overly influenced by outside influences, spiritual emergency, meditation, counselors remedy, liver/gallbladder.