The Rose – Love, Beauty, Life

I asked the rose, ‘From whom did you steal that beauty?’
The rose laughs softly out of shame, but how should she tell? – Rumi

Why on earth am I writing on roses? Hasn’t there been enough written about them, used in imagery a million times over and poetry galore? My reluctance to write about roses has included my avoidance to photograph them. Don’t get me wrong I adore roses and love to have them in my house and as I’m writing, there is a bunch of blush pink hybrids in a vase standing right next to me. The rose is all too perfect:  it is beautiful with a divine fragrance and is so versatile being used in cosmetics, as perfume, healing, cooking, aromatherapy and as a medicinal plant.  It is an ancient symbol of love and beauty. A sacred symbol in Islam and Christianity.

In Christianity, the five petals of the rose symbolise the five wounds of Christ.

Rosa gallicaThere are over 100 species of wild roses, most are native to Asia, with smaller numbers from Europe, North America, and northwest Africa. The vast range of today’s rose varieties evolved by cross-breeding roses of different varieties and with those traded across continents and countries. Jennifer Potter, horticultural historian, gives us an insight into the cultural history of this beautiful flower in her book ‘The Rose’  that takes us on a journey from Greek and Roman empires, through Europe, the Middle East to China.

In the West, wild and cultivated roses were mentioned to have medicinal properties by the ancient Greeks in De Materia Medica . Prepared in various ways they were used to ease sore eyes, ears and gums, aches and pains, inflammations, wounds or used in cosmetics.

In aromatherapy, rose essential oils are produced from Rosa damascena or Rosa centifolia by steam distillation (Rose otto) or through solvent extraction (Rose absolute).  The latter is the preferred choice for perfumes as this method isolates more efficiently the odorous components of the flower. Rose essential oil has a soothing effect on the emotions and can be used to ease depression or grief, it lifts the heart and addresses nervous tension and stress. Used topically, it is indicated for dermatitis, wounds and wrinkles. It has antiviral and antiseptic properties and research has shown it to be effective to treat chronic bronchitis.

The by-product of steam distillation is rosewater, a floral water which is also known as a hydrolate. Rosewater contains all water-soluble constituents of rose flowers.

A scene in the movie Farewell, My Queen, shows French queen Marie-Antoinette use rosewater on one of her servants to ease itching from insect bites. ‘Interesting’ I thought, ‘must look this up’ …  and indeed rosewater is indicated to be cooling and soothing for itchy skin infections. You can also use it externally for eye infections, burns and take internally to calm anxiety and stress.

IMG_4945One of the wild roses native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia is Rosa canina, commonly known as Dog Rose. For medicinal use leaves, flower petals and the rose hips are gathered seasonally to make tea, fruit puree, jelly, liqueur, wine or rosewater. High in Vitamin C, its rose hips are used to strengthen the immune system to fend against colds, flu and seasonal tiredness.

There is a difference between the fragrant floral water of roses and the flower essence of Wild Rose. The latter is a vibrational preparation of the flower in water without taste or scent. Flower essences are predominantly used to balance emotional states.

The Bach flower essence of Wild Rose Rosa canina is for those experiencing apathy, a lack of interest and ambition. There is a resignation and inner capitulation towards life. Edward Bach writes on the properties of this essence: ‘Those without apparently sufficient reason become resigned to all that happens, and just glide through life, take it as it is, without any effort to improve things and find some joy. They have surrendered to the struggle to life without complaint.’

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? -Mary Oliver 

The positive potential of Wild Rose flower essence is to regain the zest for life, to embrace it fully and feel an inner freedom and vitality.

© Annette Zerrenthin, 2013.

M. Scheffer. The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy. Healing Arts Press, 2001.
Dr. U. Kuenkele, T.R. Lohmeyer. Herbs For Healthy Living. Parragon, 2007.
J. Potter. The Rose. Atlantic Books, 2010.
W. Sellar. The Directory of Essential Oils. Vermillion, 2001.
D. Wabner. Aromatherapie. Urban & Fischer, 2012.

Impatiens – For Our Hurried Lives

Impatiens is a flower essence to bring patience to our fast-paced lives. When we are rushing from place to place like a headless chicken, frenetic getting to work in the morning, the kettle takes ages to boil,  … the driver in front is too slow; … irritable because the train’s running late … the microwave’s not fast enough …the computer’s too slow … the webpage takes ages to load …


For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.  ~ Lily Tomlin


Impatiens flower essence from the Bach Flower Essence range is for people with impatience, irritability, and who react too quickly. For those that are mentally tense, constantly pressured by time, want to finish everything quickly, those that cut off other people in mid-sentence and finish their sentence before they can. If you are driven crazy by people who work too slowly and impatiently take things into your own hands or feel too hurried to meditate then this flower essence is for you.

The positive potential of the essence is patience and gentleness and having the ability to wait for things to take their natural course. It supports alertness, quick thinking, quick acting and independent mindedness but respects the slower pace of others at the same time.

In closing, some interesting facts on the plant. Impatiens glandulifera is native to the Himalayas and also known as Himalayan Balsam or Policeman’s Helmet. In 1839 it was imported from Kashmir to England to be used as a decorative garden plant for those gardeners that couldn’t afford growing expensive orchids. The species name ‘Impatiens’ is derived from its seeding habits with the seed pods exploding when disturbed and scattering the seeds over a distance of up to seven metres. I still have fond childhood memories of gently touching the pods and feel them curl up in my fingers.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin


Change, the only constant


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu

Beginning where I ended my last blog with this quote by Lao Tzu there is a flow taking place that is asking to write on change. It was sparked this week, when I listened to a program about astrological aspects of the current Uranus – Pluto square while initially wanting to write about Bottlebrush flower essence. Co-incidentally, both are about change.

The Pluto – Uranus square is about major changes that are shaking up all aspects of our lives – personal, political, institutional, banking and big corporations.  It allows for old patterns to be released, to clear them, for transformation to take place. Uranus apparently let’s us see new perspectives, allowing for new insights and therefore, to support the letting go of the old.  These planets moved into this position sometime in 2011, setting in motion the wheel of change. It impacted me personally late last year, when I resigned from a permanent job in the media I’ve had for 20 years to set up my own business in complementary health. Not having a regular income has brought with it anxieties, yet at the same time, I’ve never know myself being so congruent with what I do for a living and who I am, my interests and joys in life. Now my life has started to move again, to be in flow, where before I felt stuck and unmotivated, without direction. It is, as if the seed that has been planted a long time ago has taken hold of the earth, is sprouting and breaking through the earth to be seen.

The more often we are confronted with having to change, the more we learn to deal with and respond to constant change. This in turn allows us to be able to handle its dynamics and as a result, be in the flow of life. You can find out more on the astrological aspects when following the links below, while I will highlight some flower essences that can be of support when being confronted with change.


Bottlebrush, an essence from the Australian Bush Flower Essences (ABFE) range, helps you deal emotionally with major changes in life that may include starting school, getting a job, redundancy, marriage, divorce, buying or selling a house, retirement, moving interstate or to another country. Also including the two major changes in life … birth and death.  These events can involve feelings of uncertainty, apprehension or overwhelm. When taking the Bottlebrush essence, it allows a person to flow through life and its changes. It fosters the ability to let go of the past and move ahead into new experiences. Bottlebrush is also part of the ABFE Emergency Essence.

From the Desert Alchemy range, Prickly Pear Cactus encourages adaptability to situations and events in our life. It helps us find a state of active surrender to what is and supports our awareness in being synchronous with the events in our lives. The essence supports the harmony between feelings, thoughts and intuition and resulting in taking action when the time is right. “The strengths, calm and centredness that is fostered within us by Prickly Pear Cactus can allow us to wander the earth and always feel at home.” (Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer in ‘The Alchemy of The Desert’)

You can take Bach’s Rescue Remedy for a sudden shock, emotional upset or in a stressful situation at work or home.

For further reading here are some websites on the Uranus – Pluto square.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin


Chicory flower

Chicory … the girl left behind waiting in vain

Chicory, is a common sight along roads and in meadows in the European summer. The German name for the plant ‘Wegwarte’ (Waiting by the way) emphasizes its symbolism in old folk tales of a girl left behind, waiting faithfully but in vain for the return of her lover.

With its bitter taste, the plant has been valued for its healing qualities for liver and gall bladder disorders, poor digestion, nervous exhaustion, diabetes, loss of appetite.

Chicory can be used as a tea or coffee substitute and its close relative, the endive, is used in salads.

As a flower essence, Chicory helps with behavioural patterns that are characterised by a possessive attitude, tendency to interfere and manipulate, and a feeling of insufficient love and appreciation. Edward Bach compared the positive Chicory state with the archetype of the ‘universal mother’ that gives without expecting anything in return.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin


What’s the difference between flower essences and essential oils?

When first coming across flower essences many people expect them to be scented in contrast to essential oils that are heavily imbued with the aroma of the plant they are extracted from.

Flower essences are vibrational imprints of flowers or parts of plants in water with a small amount of brandy added for stabilisation. They help us with emotional, mental and spiritual imbalances in a subtle, yet powerful way that address the disharmony on an energetic level. In Australia we have a number of flower essence ranges but you may have come across the Australian Bush Flower Essences or Living Essences of Australia ranges. The first range of essences was produced by Edward Bach in the 1930’s in the UK.

Essential oils are most commonly made by steam distilling parts of the plant (flowers, berries, bark, leaves etc.) to extract the aromatic components. The chemical composition and aroma of essential oils can provide psychological and physical therapeutic benefits.

Rose essential oil for example has been found to balance blood pressure and help dry skin on a physical level. It promotes a feeling of wellbeing and happiness on an emotional level and helps mental fatigue, exhaustion and stress.

The Bach flower essence Wild Rose encourages the potential in a person to embrace life, develop initiative, have a feeling of inner freedom and vitality. It has been called the ‘Zest for Life Flower’ by Mechthild Scheffer in the Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy.

Read more on Rose essential oil and flower essences.

© 2013. Annette Zerrenthin