Arthur Bailey (1933-2008) was a very special person in my life. He was my step-father and my teacher/mentor for life in general, and in particular for my work with dowsing and flower essences.
Arthur was fascinated by flowers at a young age and found a mentor in George Ringer, husband of his grandmother’s housekeeper in Cumbria, England. Grange-over-Sands held a special place in Arthur’s heart throughout his life, based on these early childhood memories of roaming the woods and fells with George.
As he grew older, he was drawn into the sciences and excelled in these subjects. He became an engineering scientist and chartered engineer. Eventually, he became a Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bradford University in the UK.
Arthur Bailey joined the British Society of Dowsers and was their President for seven years. He had the reputation of being “a rogue elephant”, being very clear about simple true facts which could be proved, rather than pseudo-scientific theories.
He belonged to a group of mystics and scientists and there he met the great healer, Bruce MacManaway. Bruce recognised the healer in Arthur and encouraged him to work in the field of healing and dowsing. His reputation grew quickly and people came to see him from far and wide.
I love the fact that Arthur was such a cynic and yet a true scientist as well (a rare combination, it seems). He tried out dowsing and in his own words, he was amazed and quite shocked that he could do it.
He spent many years studying dowsing and trying to find out how it worked. He conducted dozens of tests, many of them double-blind tests, and had consistently good results. He worked with map dowsing, dowsing for mine shafts and looking for water and pipes, among other things.
I love his stories about these tests! Some of them are really very funny.
In his final conclusions, he said that he could not find any currently known scientific reason why dowsing worked, but it does. Before he died, he talked a lot about the new quantum physics science and said he thought there might be answers there. Unfortunately, he didn’t have time to investigate this further.
It was early on in his dowsing career that Arthur began finding flower essences. He found the first six in his garden using dowsing in 1967.
Over time, the way that Arthur found his essences changed. As he grew more in touch with his intuitive side, he found that he simply felt drawn to a particular flower and would then make an essence and sometimes he made them specifically for certain people.
He used his intuition to work out what the flower essences were for. Sometimes he would have dreams that would give him answers, and sometimes he would just sit quietly with the flower and allow it to tell him its secrets.
As Arthur opened up to the contrasting world of mystic scientists, healers and dowsers, his relationship with his then wife, Barbara became unsustainable. They finally parted in the late 1970s.
A few years later, he met John Garrie, who would be his meditation teacher for some years.
Chris was already working with John, and inevitably they grew closer over time.
In 1986, they finally decided to marry. It was at this time that Arthur bought the house next door which eventually became the Ilkley Healing Centre.
Arthur’s work with John Garrie was profound and utterly life-changing. As with many gurus of the time, the work was challenging and at times disturbing.
Eventually there was a huge personality clash with John and after a series of problems, Arthur decided that he didn’t want John to be his teacher anymore.
This was a deeply traumatic event in Arthur’s life. He had put his whole trust in his teacher and he had received what amounted to a severe zen blow which left him both angry and bereft.
It took Arthur several years to work through this and finally come to accept and understand that we are all human. He came to feel compassion for John as a human being and was able to feel gratitude to him for the incredible work that he did.
This process opened Arthur to even greater sensitivity and the essences that he made after this time were profound and of a deeply spiritual nature.
Arthur Bailey was a man of very many talents. Throughout his work with dowsing and essences, he continued to work with his electronics. He developed lighting units, pumps and various other electronic equipment . He also developed an electronic stressbuster, used for neutralising geopathic stress.
Sometimes the energy lines that run through the earth cause problems for the people who live on them. This is known as Geopathic Stress. People can suffer with a variety of problems from general stress, unhappiness, lethargy and sometimes to more serious illness.
Arthur travelled the length and breadth of the country to neutralise geopathic stress. He did this by putting metal rods in the earth. As the travelling became more taxing, he put his mind to developing the stressbuster which could be used instead of putting metal rods in the earth. This proved to be excellent and of course could be posted out rather than travelling for sometimes hundreds of miles.
He could mend anything, and he never threw anything away. We constantly teased him about that! The cellar and garage bulged with things – broken kettles, car parts, bits of wire and metal…
He loved the physical work of making things. He helped Chris to develop her pottery and did a great deal of work fixing kilns and making things work properly. He and Chris worked as a team in so many of these projects.
And he was a wonderful and very creative cook, making delicious soups, jams and marmalades.
Arthur loved the sun, and he and Chris often went on holiday together to the Mediterranean. They loved Greece and Cyprus in particular. They enjoyed walking in the hills, relaxing by the pool in the sun, eating the local food and drinking the local wine. Some of the essences in the Bailey range were collected on this holidays abroad.
I hope I have managed to convey how firmly grounded in the physical world that Arthur was. He was one of the most down-to-earth people I have known. From such a wonderfully rooted place, working with the more unusual aspects of life such as dowsing became very normal and common-place. There was no mystery involved.
That is very precious to me. Dowsing and flower essences are not esoteric and mysterious in my life. They are just there, easy and accessible to use. Like pulling a loaf of bread out to make toast, or checking for emails.