Theme and Plot Essences:
A New Paradigm for the Essence World
By Lila Devi, Founder/Director of Spirit in Nature’s Flower Essences since 1977
(originally appeared in Vibration Magazine: The Journal of Vibrational and Flower Essences, Feb 2003 issue)
Flower essences are often described as vibrational medicine, holistic therapy, or more metaphysically, bottled affirmations. Yet the standard terms for explaining the application of the essences themselves are quite limited. Dr. Bach reduced the human personality to “types” and classified personalities according to his flower essence line, creating “type remedies.”
In her book Flower Remedies, Christine Wildwood notes that “Bach observed that the way a person behaved when unwell is often a key to the type remedy.” A fine doctor and a sensitive healer who pioneered the subtlest of healing sciences, Bach was nonetheless influenced by his medical background. Physicians are trained to see pathology. Health of the complete organism is invisible to the medical model, in which an ailing organ is often treated in isolated fashion with medication or by other means, or surgically removed. This dynamic applies to the realm of psychology as well; most therapists focus on their clients’ dysfunction and how to return them to a functional status.
I was recently told this true story. Upon meeting for the first time, one flower essence practitioner said to the other, “Oh, you’re just an Agrimony type,” indicating a person who hides mental torture and worry behind a mask of false cheeriness (agrimony is the yellow flower pictured on this page beween sections of text). The other practitioner took offense to this assessment of her character, and understandably so. There is no greater insult to human dignity than to be labeled by our faults — which is the basis of the type remedy concept. Almost as an aside, we learn that the Agrimony type is also an optimistic, peace-seeking individual. The type remedy model reflects a mixed bag of both positive and negative personality traits, based on a strong identification with one’s faults.
In The Essential Flower Essence Handbook, I present two new paradigms: theme and plot essences. Every living thing possesses life force, expressed through its unique personality. Inherent in each personality is the presence of at least one positive, predominant quality, such as love, kindness, or peacefulness. The THEME ESSENCE supports and strengthens this core trait. (The theme essence construct is generic to any flower essence and any essence line. Whereas essences from different lines will often parallel each other, rarely is there an exact duplication.) Referring back to the Agrimony type remedy, its theme essence equivalent is the Spirit in Nature’s Cherry Essence. Here is the optimist who is basically cheerful, remaining even-minded through life’s eternal roller coaster of ups and downs.
The PLOT ESSENCE paradigm is closer to the type remedy concept by definition, with one key distinguishing factor: plot essences do not define who we are, but rather illumine the path we need to take to achieve wholeness. Put another way, we have plot essences, but we are our theme essence. The need for an essence or the lack of a particular positive quality in our lives indicates a plot essence usage; the predominant presence of an essence’s positive qualities in the personality suggests a theme essence.
A plot essence addresses the need to learn a specific lesson or tackle a certain challenge. Thus, a person who expresses Agrimony’s negative qualities could be called either an Agrimony plot or the Spirit in Nature’s equivalent, an Apple plot. Apple Essence (apple blossoms shown along the left and right margins of this page) helps one transmute worries, fears or doubts. It usually addresses health-related fears in particular, but it is also indicated for unhealthy attitudes that create inner conflict and weaken the aura, thereby inviting in the unwelcome guest of dis-ease.
Does this mean we need never take our theme essence? Not at all! Sometimes we grow by reinforcing our positive strengths. To paraphrase one of my correspondence course student’s papers on the subject, “If we understand the theme essence of the individual, we can understand that any imbalance can be assisted by giving his/her theme essence. Also, the theme essence can be given without having to figure out the client’s negative problem.”
What does all this mean in down-to-earth terms? With permission to comment on a delightful article on type remedies in this same issue, the author Ivory Phoenix calls herself a Water Violet type. With admirably unflinching honesty, she describes herself as “capable, brainy, but rather aloof.” Translating this self-portrait into the theme/plot paradigm, we could re-label Ms. Phoenix as having a Water Violet pivotal plot essence — meaning this remedy encapsulates major life lessons she is needing to learn.
Or, we could give her a theme essence. Ivory’s writing style exudes self-confidence, her personality shining through in a gutsy and delightfully outspoken way: a perfect portrayal of the Pineapple theme in the Spirit in Nature’s Essences range. These themes are totally entertaining. Their self-assuredness is refreshingly healing to others, and it is said they go to themselves for a second opinion. In the essence chapters of The Handbook, I list famous people who typify the various essence themes. What do such stars as Madonna, Sean Connery and Miss Piggy have in common? They are all listed as Pineapple themes, along with a few paragraphs profiling John F. Kennedy.
As Ms. Phoenix pointed out, people don’t change that much in a given lifetime. “Why, you haven’t changed a bit!” is a common phrase used by old friends meeting after decades of separation. Consider that statement in light of the saying that life is too short. We want to ask ourselves where to put our energy and focus: on correcting our unlimited flaws or enhancing our existing strengths? This question leads us back to the theme essence paradigm.
One further comment on Ms. Phoenix’s experience with her Water Violet type remedy bringing up so much pain as she cleared through her issues. I rarely — and I mean almost never — get this kind of feedback from people taking the Spirit in Nature’s Essences. I often liken the taking of an essence to walking into a room and turning on the light: flip the switch and the darkness disappears. In taking an essence, the process of returning to wholeness is one that can happen quickly. It is an experience of celebration, not crisis, and need not be painful. This is based on the truth that we already are perfect, we already are balanced: a philosophy that, according to over 25 years of documented case histories, filters through people’s experiences with the essences. The theme essence, then, is who we are in a state of rest — “a human being and not a human doing.”