History of Bailey Flower Essences

By Arthur Bailey

As a child I was always drawn towards flowers. I found them fascinating with all their different colours, smells and shapes. To me they were beautiful and somehow mysterious. This love of nature was further stimulated by George Ringer, the husband of my grandmother’s housekeeper. We used to go for long walks in the woods and on the fells near Grange-over-Sands and there were very few flowers or trees that he did not know by name. It was in many ways a magical time.

Then things changed. There was no place in the school curriculum for the study of nature. It was all the three “R”s, languages, science, etc. Gradually these things began to dominate my life. I took an interest in science and found it easy. It was a subject in which I could excel, so that decided my future. I became a scientist and chartered engineer. Eventually I became a Senior Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Bradford University. My interest in dowsing and flower essences developed during this period and it all started by accident.

Early in 1966 I contracted Asian ‘flu. It was a very bad epidemic and the ‘flu was particularly virulent. I was left with severe toxic symptoms that the doctor called post-viral syndrome. Having nothing better to do, I read extensively. It was in one of the books that I read that I first came across water divining. This was in a largely autobiographical book by Beverly Nicholls. Having plenty of spare time on my hands, I tried it out. I had by this time discovered that more than water could be found, and that the general term for the phenomenon was called dowsing.

Not expecting anything to happen, I tried it out. Much to my surprise I discovered that it actually worked. This was finally proved without question when I discovered where the water supply came in from the road and where the tarred-over stop tap was located. I carried out a whole series of experiments, many of which were with the archaeology section at the university. I then set about a serious scientific investigation into the phenomenon – accepting nothing until I had verified it thoroughly. My dowsing worked time after time, both accurately and repeatedly. However, my scientific mind became very worried when I discovered that it still worked when “reason” said it should not. I even did a double-blind test on map-dowsing with complete accuracy. I detected the exact position of drains, water supply, two large stone soak-aways (which, although giving a dowsing reaction, I could not identify) and an underground stream. Very reluctantly I began to accept that there were things that existed that I had not dreamed possible. There was the uncomfortable fact that dowsing even seemed to contravene the “laws” of science. I finally concluded that there had to be at least one more “variable quantity” in the universe (so far unknown to science) for dowsing to be explicable. The problem is that with dowsing one is not necessarily restricted by time or distance. All very puzzling!

It was a homoeopathic doctor, the late Dr Aubrey Westlake, who finally helped me to recover from my post-viral symptoms (ME). I later read that his wife used dowsing to help him in the selection of homoeopathic and flower remedies. This started me off exploring the world of flower essence healing.

I bought a set of the Bach remedies in 1967 from the Bach Centre and, like Mrs Westlake, I dowsed for which remedies to take. It was around that time that I first met the late Major Bruce McManaway. To cut a long story short, he introduced me to laying-on-of-hands healing. I discovered that I could feel through my hands where people had physical problems. Not only that, but their health usually improved when I kept my hands on the places where I felt the reactions. This I found even more difficult to accept than dowsing! Gradually an increasing number of people came to me for help and I used both the Bach remedies and hand healing.

There were times when none of the Bach remedies seemed suitable for a particular client. Yet something inside me insisted that there were flowers that could help them. So early in 1968 I began to investigate other flowers for their curative properties. I started by dowsing over the plants in our large garden. Six of these gave very positive results. Essences were then prepared from them using Dr Bach’s “Sun” method. As I was dowsing by this time for which essences to prescribe, I started dowsing over my own essences as well. I gave them to my clients when my dowsing gave a positive response. Rather to my surprise they helped a great deal, even though at that time I did not know what they were for! All my attempts to discover their properties met with a blank. Dowsing just gave a series of null answers. I realised that I must be asking the wrong questions, but I could not discover the right ones to ask. Certainly they were not for emotional states like the Bach ones.

However, the remedies obviously worked and the range steadily expanded, often in response to a particular client when no other essences were indicated.

I also discovered that some plants, like the Firethorn, gave good results when the fruits were used. For this type of plant material I found alcohol extraction to be the most effective. Indeed, there were some flowers which gave a better result with this method.

Initially I kept my discoveries to myself. This was due to self-doubt rather than secretiveness. However, once they had proved to be effective I began to give the information to others and started to sell the essences.

At this point I spent a considerable time agonising about what to call them. “The Yorkshire Essences” was one possibility – yet the flowers had come from many places, from Scotland to Cornwall. I therefore decided that, as I was taking responsibility for them and describing their properties, I should give them my name.

I had finally discovered the main properties of these “Bailey” essences through meditational insight. I realised that they were for attitudes of mind – how people see and relate to the world around them. They were therefore quite different from the Bach remedies. Indeed, it is our attitudes of mind that give rise to negative emotional states. As the series expanded I realised that there was far more to flower essences that I had dreamt possible. Gradually I came to realise through my own experience that we are all multi-dimensional beings. Therefore when we experience difficulties in our lives the root of our problems may not be in just the body-mind area. We need to take a much broader view.

The present range of Bailey essences is primarily concerned with personal growth and liberation. This does not mean that the essences cannot help physical illnesses – far from it. Yet their main emphasis is that of helping to integrate mind, body and spirit. We need to break the hold of old conditionings and beliefs which can so deny us our freedom. As these old patterns ease away, we need support and insight so that we can find our own true path in life.

Many of us are severely restricted in our freedom to live life as we would wish. These restrictions usually stem from childhood, when the development of true self-confidence is often stunted. As a result we also lack confidence in our innate spiritual natures.

These flower essences help us to open our eyes and see things as they really are; to let go of fears and to discover the real power that lies at the heart of each one of us; to discover more about ourselves than perhaps we ever dreamt possible. As I have discovered for myself, experience is far superior to belief. Beliefs are usually based on what other people have told us, and may be totally untrue. Personal experience, even though it can be misinterpreted, is a far surer path.

If, then, we are to find true happiness in this life, we need to discover our own true worth. It is here that the essences can help, suggesting to us how we need to change. They are not drugs so they do not force change, but they will help us to change if we are ready for change to take place. They are therefore gentle but persuasive in their action.