Today I’m thrilled and super excited to be interviewing the amazing Alena Hennessy. Alena has released one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time, the healing guide to flower essences.
Ashley: So flower essences are only part of your journey. You really combine the beauty and I think soft, gentle energy that flower essences share with us along with some creative expression and art.
I’m wondering if you can tell everyone a little bit about your journey and how you got here today?
Alena: Sure. Well, I have been an artist and been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I was also a tomboy nature girl. I grew up in Florida and so I spent all the time outside in the parks and just riding bikes. So I fell in love with nature at an early age and just have always been drawn to painting botanicals and animals and other things. I was a commercial artist for a long time and doing well with that. Selling to galleries and catalogs and whatnot.
I came to a point in my journey where I wanted my art and my purpose in life to have more meaning. To be more connected to the mystery.
So I studied at the school here in Asheville about 12 years ago, and that is when I learned about herbalism and flower essences and energy healing. From here I became a far essence practitioner. Then a few years ago, my mom and I collaborated and made this Oracle deck called mysteries of love Oracle about animal totems and flower essences. And the publisher found me and was like, do you want to do another book? And I already had three books out on painting. At first, I felt too busy to do it, but then she approached me again in the spring. I was like, sure, I will do it. And so that is how this came about.
Ashley: I love that. And we were just chatting before we started our interview and you actually did the amazing piece of artwork that is behind you right now. I love that you can kind of see a lot of those influences and elements coming through in your artwork. It is so expressive and it is really enjoyable.
In regards to the artwork in the book, you said it was a collaborative effort with someone quite special. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Alena: Sure. So my mom has been a fine artist since she was in university. When she was raising three kids, she kind of put that to the side. Now, she’s pretty much in retirement, so she has more time to draw and paint. She moved up to Asheville a few years ago and we collaborated on a few projects, first being the Oracle deck and then this book. My mom painted and I did everything else — the writing, the design behind the subject matter. And some of those cute, whimsical illustrations. And she did the main, more classical painted illustrations of all the flowers. So it was another collaboration.
Ashley: It’s such a beautiful project and it is so exciting to see it come to life. So let us dive into your book a little bit, obviously, it is all about flower essences. This is something that I have been working with for just about a year now. And my background is actually in botany and horticulture, even though I am a crystal person now. So I love plants and flowers. The essence was something that really spoke to me. And I think they did the same for you with your journey into urbanism and flower essences and becoming a practitioner.
Can you give a brief introduction and understanding of what flower essences are and why we might want to work with them?
Alena: Sure. They are amazing. I find that deep healing happens in the subtle realms and the energetic realms and with our emotions and that is what flower essences are about. So they are very gentle. There are not any side-effects you might experience because it is on an energetic, emotional, spiritual level. So it is homoeopathic. Sort of. I mean if you want to look at it in terms of putting a name on it, it is a more homoeopathic sort of modality.
They are infused with water, sunlight, and some preservative like Apple cider vinegar or Brandy. And so they are through the sun or even the Moonlight and it is through that magical intention and the mystery, which our rational minds cannot fully understand. So we have to trust the experience with flowers.
But I will tell you the more you work with them and the more you listen to them and observe them, you really begin to receive their messages. Each flower has a doctrine of signatures, so to speak, that addresses certain emotional imbalances or things that we are dealing with on this earth plane that are very challenging. The flowers are kind of this magical gift from the universe to offer us support.
Ashley: So just like crystal essences or gem elixirs, flower essences are basically imprinting that vibrational energy from the flower into the water itself. Then mostly we are taking these internally, but you do give a few other ways to work with them in your book, which I find fascinating.
So what else can we do with flower essences other than just take the drops internally?
Alena: Yeah. So like anything, when you are working with the magic of plant spirit medicine it is an energetic imprint, so you can put it into your lotion, your bathwater. And I find that being intentional about it and creating a ritual around it is important.
Ashley: I have to ask as a side note because you are an artist.
Have you ever incorporated the flower essences physically into a painting?
Alena: I have done rosewater and that sort of thing, but no. I would love to do that though. I will have to try it soon because you are not the only person that has asked me that.
Ashley: I wonder how that would guide the creative process if they were incorporated.
Alena: I talk about taking Iris or Indian paintbrush ones that really inspire creativity before painting, before doing art or creating or crafting. So I imagine that would be amazing. Or if you had a certain intention around a piece, yeah. It would only help that creative process and help support you.
Ashley: Beautiful. So in your book, you discuss the 38. I believe it is an original flower essence that was created by Dr. Bach. So for those who are brand new to this…
Who was Dr. Bach and what were these 38 essences?
Alena: So he is from England and he was a traditional doctor around the 1920s. He kept noticing that, as a true healer would, people were coming in uneasy dis-ease okay. And that it was an emotional spiritual condition that was causing these afflictions. He was noticing that his traditional allopathic medicine was not getting the core of it. He was a seeker, so obviously, he was in tune with something else empathic.
So he went out into the woods and spent some time alone. There, he discovered that these flowers, these 38 original essences, and this is really how the Western flower essences were discovered. They were used in other more mystical Eastern traditions. And even in other saints in Europe. But he broadcasted it to the Western world and was the one that introduced it in terms of this more mass appeal.
He started treating his patients with these essences based on just meditating with them, setting them on their doctrine of signatures. For example, if you look at the bleeding heart flower, it literally looks like a heart that is bleeding down. And so it is for heart healing. It is for loss, for grief, for a breakup. Very effective by the way.
He started treating his patients in a more homeopathic, holistic way and the results were wonderful.
And so he had a vision, he a message. And that is how they were created. The most popular of his is the rescue remedy, which you can find in so many health food stores and even give it to your animals and your pets. But they are powerful though. I have worked with a lot of different ones. And I will say that there is really something there about the ones that he worked with. They are some of my favorites.
Ashley: So Dr. Bach, I think we can say it would be safe to assume that those 38 essences are going to all be based on European plants because of where he lived. So what’s your opinion about the modern practice, the really recent, modern practice of flower essence therapy, working with what we have around us and working with some traditional flower essences.
Alena: I am totally for it.
As long as they’re safe and not poisonous, you can work with any flowers around you.
In fact, I recommend that the flowers that grow around you, sit with them, meditate with them. Those are very powerful and you can look up what they mean, through my book or online. You can also just ask the flower to tell you what it is there for. It is also a wonderful practice for trusting your intuition and yourself as your own healer. So absolutely work with the flowers around you and in your area.
I have gone on hikes with people before and we’ve spent all day making our own essences and just listening to them. And what happens when you do that is the whole experience is healing. You know, it starts with that – going out on a hike, it starts with you visiting a garden or going outside on your land or wherever, and the ones that are blooming around you usually can be very correspondent to the energy. So pay attention to them and always ask permission from them to be used for medicine. Sometimes they will say no, but oftentimes they will say yes, because they, they are happy to provide that.
Ashley: So do you think that what we may need actually does really shift seasonally with what is in bloom in our location? Obviously, things will bloom according to our climate, but also the specific weather. If you get an early warm smell, you might find that your tulips are up a little bit early, that kind of thing.
Do you think that there are certain times a year when we need those medicines more than others? And that is why these flowers present themselves?
I mean, obviously, we can continue to work with an essence outside of the time that the flowers are blooming. But do you think that there is almost a stronger need for them during those times where the flowers are actively blooming?
Alena: I do. I mean I think it is ultimately about being connected to the earth and the wisdom of the earth and the healing power of nature. So anything that is an expression of that is going to be in alignment and as well as you mentioned, like following your own intuition.
So for me, I just went through a big transition with the loss of my pet and I know exactly which essences work for me. I have been so busy. So I bought them and had them shipped in because I have a relationship with them. So the relationship is I think, twofold — there are the ones around you, and then the ones that you experiment with, and you will find an allyship with certain plants and flowers. Everyone is going to be unique with that. If you are going through a grief process, there are many for grief, but there might be one that is going to energetically really point you in the right way. And that is the mystery.
Always making your own is very healing because it means that the process is going to start as soon as you start making them.
Ashley: Absolutely. So, okay. I have to say Alena, one of the things that I love about this book is how you’ve made it so simple. You have a great introduction to flower essences as well as how to prepare your own. So if you are looking for that step by step, definitely check out Alena’s book.
Then you’ve also broken the essences down. You’ve kind of grouped them into some of their core purposes and you have them for things like anxiety, for boundaries, for grounding and healing for clairvoyance. So many things that I think many of us are looking to connect with or enhance our lives. And just like we work with crystals, this is another layer of this energetic vibrational medicine that we can incorporate.
How did you decide that that is how you wanted to categorize this reference section for the different essences?
Alena: Well, there are just so many essences. Hundreds of them. And so many different wonderful makers create them. So I just felt like these themes are what we are seeking to heal as a collective right now like anxiety, boundaries, clairvoyants. So it just came to me to organize them in that way. And also each one has a unique energetic expression of healing in that category.
Let us say if it is for grounding, there might be one that is more about just slowing down and meditating and getting in the present moment. And another one might be really healing more of a traumatic experience, but it is still going to be about balancing and grounding. So it just sort of came to me that they needed an organization, and these are the themes that are really alive and important for everyone right now.
Alena, can you tell everyone a little bit more about how they can stay connected with you and find out everything about what you have coming up in terms of books, blogs, online courses, and retreats.
Alena: Thank you. Yeah. So if you sign up for my newsletter on my website, you can get the updates, but I have my online course, a year of painting, which is my most popular one. It’s open for registration now. We start the new year with intentional painting and it is just a really supportive international group. And then I have also done international retreats all over. That is paused due to this year, but I do have workshops here on my land. And then hopefully the international retreats will be opening back up and I will do that more selectively because I am just loving being at home right now and working at home.
Ashley: Amazing. Alena, thank you so much for coming on the show today, sharing your wisdom and your knowledge and your sweet spirit.
Alena: Oh, Ashley is such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much.