Summer may be nearing its end, but late-season blossoms and the butterflies that cherish them abound. We tend to think of spring as the time for blooms and butterflies, but my favorite time for a cool drink on a late afternoon porch is this time of year, when the silent colorful butterflies and noisy, hectic wasps and bees pulse the landscape to life. There is a certain awe in sitting beside a butterfly bush or a porch edge bursting with tiny white thyme blossoms while dozens of such flutterbies hum and hover all around, taking little notice of the human presence among their bounty.
Like most people, I enjoy the sight and scents of my garden. But when a shamaness in Peru performed a flower shower cleansing ritual on me, I discovered another way to appreciate my garden. She and her daughter had made buckets of fresh flower water that morning, then showered our group one at a time with the vibrant water and her blessings. It was rejuvenating, energizing, and I loved the feel and scent of my skin as I went through the day. She had her own recipe for colors and types of flowers based on her ancient shamanic heritage, but we can make flower water for ourselves to match our personal preferences and a desired effect. While we still have flowers in our gardens, I thought now would be a good time to share her simple technique for making a flower water ritual.
Flowers and herbs have a variety of healing and nurturing properties, some are edible and can be added to drinking water or salads, but others can be toxic when consumed or put on the skin, so you need to do your research to be sure the flowers and herbs you choose are safe for your flower water. It is also important to use the water within a few hours of making it, since its properties will fade and eventually it will sour. You can, of course, buy flowers for your water, but you need quite a few flowers to get a strong essence, which is why making combinations from your garden, especially at the end of the season, is ideal. One of my favorite combinations is lavender blossoms and stems with new and fading roses and hips. Sometimes I’ll add rosemary, sage, or mint, as well. You could also enhance your water with tinctures or essential oils, as long as they are safe for the skin. Here’s a basic recipe and ritual outline that you can tweak.
Flower Water: (You need a couple of large pots.)
· Prepare a large bowl or pot of flower petals and pieces.
· Fill another large pot (like a pasta pot) with filtered or spring water.
· Bring the water to a boil, then turn it off.
· When the water has been off the heat for about two minutes, pour your water over your flowers and gently stir. Let the flowers steep in the water until it cools.
· At this point, you can leave the flowers in the water for your ritual, or strain them out.
Flower Shower Ritual:
· You can do this ritual bare skinned in your shower, or wear a bathing suit and do it outdoors.
· Prepare your space with your water and a large cup with a handle for dipping and pouring.
· You may also want to beautify the space with music, candles, or other special features.
· Set your intentions for what you want to cleanse away (heavy emotions, bad feelings, fear, illness, whatever feels right).
· Set a second set of intentions for what you’d like to receive (joy, forgiveness, health, courage).
· When you feel you have established your intentions, open your space with a slow breath taken in and out in a state of gratitude.
· Now dip your cup into the water and begin pouring it over your body, moving from one area to the next until you have rinsed your entire body.
· You may wish to start with your head and hair and work your way down, but you can begin anywhere and move along as feels right to you.
The important thing is to pour every cup with awareness—that this is a beautiful and healing process. You’ve already set your intentions, so you don’t need to keep trying to think about them. Rather, release them to the Sacred and let the flowers bless you with their gifts. Observe the water, the scents, textures, sensation of being washed and quenched with their beauty. Love them the way butterflies love their pollen and hummingbirds love nectar.
When you are finished, I suggest you lie down or sit in a quiet place while you let your skin dry. You might have to remove some flower bits, but try to leave your skin unwashed at least overnight. When I do this, I can’t help but imagine myself taking on the colors and attributes of the flowers. I like to imagine my skin and body being nourished into its cellular depths by the beauty and freshness of the flowers. But it’s okay if you just like the way it smells.