Flower Essences for the Holiday Blues

The holiday season is a time to celebrate the joys of family and tradition, as well as deeper spiritual mysteries. It can be a mixed blessing, however, even a time of despair, for some people. All too many souls come from dysfunctional and non-loving families -- the thought of "going home for Christmas" hardly seems like joy to them. Some people fall into depression, alienated from the happiness all about them; suicide is quite common now. Others feel put off by traditions they can no longer connect with. Whatever the reason, this can be an emotionally difficult time of the year. However, flower essences can provide precious help. At the risk of sounding like a New Age Scrooge, let's look at the dark side of this "Festival of Light" and the floral helpers that can assist us.

"Deck the halls with boughs of holly" takes on a new tune when essences are considered. Holly is one of the most important remedies discovered by Dr. Bach. It's theme is love, pure and simple. It also relates to what I call the "perversions of love" such as hate, envy, and jealousy. Many of the family feuds and problems that mar this season's get togethers could be healed by this essence. Perhaps the true message of love that we celebrate now could be easier to accept if we all had a little Holly in our hearts.

As individuals and families grow older, holiday traditions can fail to keep pace. The death of a family member during the year can be poignantly felt all over again at Christmas time. It may be difficult to let go of a loved one and work through the grief of their passage. Flowers such Bleeding Heart and Sturt Desert Pea can help release the pain of these separations, while Forget-Me-Not is useful in keeping their memory alive in a healthy manner.

Similarly, as children grow up and leave the home, the first holiday season on their own can be a time of loneliness and depression. The lack of family contact as others are celebrating the warm family womb can be devastating. While there are numerous essences appropriate to depression, several are worth highlighting. Gorse is for despair and resignation, a sense of deep hopelessness. It moves one towards a feeling of faith and optimism. Sweet Chestnut is for even darker states of mind, when it feels like one has reached the end of their endurance. Sunshine Wattle also produces a sunny outlook when things look bleak. If the person is suicidal, Cherry Plum or Waratah can get them through the crisis without harming themselves or others. Sometimes the inner pain is less profound, a kind of alienation from all the celebration, an inability to get into the "holiday spirit." Tall Yellow Top or Sweet Pea may give you a sense of belonging, again. And if you keep a smiling face while suffering inside, Agrimony can bring your inner and outer worlds into better harmony.

No family on earth is perfect, but some definitely produce more anger and resentment than love and acceptance. Such a setting is hardly the place to relax and feel at home. Many essences address these harsh emotions and other "petty" issues, but Dagger Hakea tops my list. It resolves the tangled web of resentments towards loved ones, allowing forgiveness and concern to take its place. I would also recommend Impatiens, Fuchsia and Scarlet Monkeyflower for anger. Calendula and Snapdragon can soften those who dish out their abuse verbally, while Star Tulip makes you a better listener. Willow is for resentments from feeling unfairly treated, a kind of "poor me" syndrome. Unloving relationships between parents and children can poison the family for life. Consider Baby Blue Eyes or Red Helmet Orchid when dad is involved, Mariposa Lily or Dog Rose (from the Bush remedies) for mom. And of course, Holly for everyone!

There's a curious relationship with the past that comes with the holidays, as we celebrate family ties, our ancestors, and the larger religious traditions of the past that were passed on to us. Year after year, we try to recreate a nostalgic past (that may have never existed in the first place). Family members subtly fall into the same roles they played as kids, even though they are adults with kids of their own now. Honeysuckle is useful for this "stuck in the past" trend. Teenagers may rebel against seemingly old and chidlish traditions, rejecting the spiritual overtones of the season. Saguaro and Red Helmet Orchid can foster an appreciation of these old ways in the present time. On the other hand, sometimes the "old time religion" is worth rejecting. Making a break with the past can be healthy, although it's generally accompanied by feelings of guilt and uncertainty. Purple Monkeyflower can give the courage to explore new spiritual dimensions and create new rituals for honoring the past.

Too often, the only holiday spirit people display is the urge to power shop. I, for one, am tired of hearing how many shopping days are left, as if the ringing of cash registers is drowning out the choirs of angels. When an overly materialistic approach to living blots out the life of the spirit, reach for remedies like Angelica, California Poppy, and Bush Iris. They remind the soul that the best things come from within, not from a store. Lotus acts to reconnect us with our spiritual roots, a reminder that we are truly brilliant souls in human bodies. Yerba Santa (Spanish for "holy herb") opens up the heart, giving the child within a place to be born in our hearts. And Lily of the Valley softens up a crusty, hardened heart, allowing the light of love to pour forth. It's enough to make ol' Scrooge feel like a kid again!

I certainly hope you have none of these problems, but please accept these healing gifts of the spirit if you need them. May you be reborn in love and light in these holy days.