At first glance, you might think Heidi Smith’s new book is just another pretty botanical guide. But as soon as you dive in, you realize pretty quickly that The Bloom Book: A Flower Essence Guide to Cosmic Balance is so much more; within the first few chapters, Smith touches on everything from dualism to chakras to trauma. “I felt it necessary to lay out my therapeutic orientation because, if we are talking about healing in terms of energy, vibration, and consciousness, I need to spend time helping people really get these terms,” says the New York-based psychosomatic therapist and registered herbalist. The result is a gorgeous, illustrated guide that not only gets deep into the healing power of plants, but also hits on something much larger: how we’re all connected. “There is much truth to be found beyond the dominant systems that pervade our consciousness,” Smith explains. “I wanted to honor the field of flower essences by writing from an intersectional and decolonized perspective.” Here, Smith shares how we can all use this wisdom to help not just ourselves, but each other and, ultimately, our planet as well.
In a nutshell, describe your work and why you do it.
I’m a helper, herbalist, and healing artist. I empower people to come into their highest and most balanced selves with the help of the plant kingdom. I see healing as an interconnected and co-creative process. I no longer feel a separation between how I am healing myself and how healing is happening for my clients, the collective, the plants, the animals, and the Earth—I feel it all dynamically co-occurring. The Earth is asking us with increasing urgency to come into balance immediately. So, I am very clear in the purpose of my work and feel a great responsibility to be of service at this time.
How did you get called to this practice?
Like many in the healing arts, I was motivated by my own trauma and cosmic inquiry into the healing world. I always knew I wanted to create a holistic practice, but wasn’t sure how it would unfold in the beginning. I asked for help from the Universe to be shown how to be in alignment with my soul work and things started opening from there. I think if you are open (and in a position of privilege) to being led in your passion, things can unfold in magical ways. The guidance and timing aren’t always clear or what I would prefer, but it’s always exactly what it is required for my growth, and the transmission of my work.
"Wisdom wasn’t created by white colonizers; there is much truth to be found beyond the dominant systems that pervade our consciousness."
One of the things that’s most striking about your work is how multi-faceted your approach is—you share so much in your book about consciousness, spirituality, mysticism, and more. Why did you feel it was important to lay this foundation before getting into the plants?
I felt I needed to spend time helping people really get these terms because they are not part of our general vernacular. On a frequency level, the book and myself together are a form of alchemy that has its own frequency, and ultimately, people are connecting with that alchemical frequency. So, I felt it important to share more about what informs this foundation because it’s all interconnected.
The guidance of the book was very clear in that if we are going to discuss healing, we have to get into what we believe, because that has a huge impact in how we feel and how we heal. Wisdom wasn’t created by white colonizers; there is much truth to be found beyond the dominant systems that pervade our consciousness. I wanted to honor the field of flower essences by writing from an intersectional and decolonized perspective. Not only do I feel it is a moral imperative to conceptualize reality outside of oppressive paradigms, but in order to truly understand the power of this medicine one must expand their own consciousness.
"In order to truly understand the power of this medicine one must expand their own consciousness."
How do you define divine feminine consciousness? What’s a simple way we can all connect with this?
I define divine feminine consciousness as a paradigm of awareness that applies ancient, sacred feminine wisdom for the purpose of healing and transformation. Because the feminine has been denigrated for millennia, we are guided towards reclamation of the feminine in order to support cosmic balance. Much of what I share in this book is wisdom that has been protected and transmitted through various lineages of the divine feminine throughout history. The divine feminine invites us to remember the language passed down by the goddesses, priestesses, deities, neteru, devas, bodhisattvas, curanderas, witches, and wise-women healers. The masculine/feminine polarity occurs in nature and is necessary for creation. Some of the energies of the feminine are: embodiment, compassion, creativity, connectivity, intuition, and receptivity. Cultivating practices that strengthen these energies within and around us is one way to enhance connection to the divine feminine.
Tell us about how you’re currently using essences to care for yourself. What plants do you feel currently drawn to and why?
I am regularly working with one or a few flower essences. Right now, I am taking some time off to re-evaluate how I’m being asked to use my voice and my visibility to be of service. A flower that is assisting me in this inquiry is Celandine, an essence from Delta Gardens. Celandine is a beautiful yellow flower that blooms in the Northeast in early summer. It has these little antennae that correlate to its healing signature to connect to higher inspiration and communication, and to clear blockages to inspiration.
“Flowers represent a branch of plant medicine that is specifically concerned with our consciousness and evolution. To connect with their essence catalyzes the blossoming of our own healing and spiritual journeys.”
Herbs that feel important right now are those in the immune, adaptogenic, and nervine classes. Reishi and Tulsi are two that have so many healing actions. I have been waking between 3-4am lately (always a sign that my liver needs attention), so in addition to dandelion, I have been taking a CBD tincture when I wake up and it helps me go back to sleep. And, I just ordered Prismatic Plants Good Night CBD Tincture and am excited to try it.
What book most changed your perspective?
Flower Essences and Vibrational Healing by Gurudas was the book that started it all for me. It was one of those experiences where the book finds you, so magic. It was like a huge neon arrow saying “yep, here you go!”.
You’re based in NYC—what do you do to stay connected to nature in the city?
The city has many gifts; community and opportunity being two that are energizing for me. However, overall the vibration of the city is difficult on my nervous system, so staying connected to nature is imperative. I’m a fan of walking in my neighborhood, where I visit certain trees. I like to go to Prospect Park with friends. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is fantastic. Luckily, we have giant Sycamore, Linden, and fig trees surrounding our apartment, and I really feel the way they ground me, my animals, and our space.
What's a flower essence you recommend newbies starting with?
I like to start with the first chakra up with new clients. The first chakra is our connection to the Earth and it is where we feel safe within ourselves. I like to focus on safety and grounding, which is the necessary foundation for healing work. When we feel safe and grounded, it’s easier to be present and in our bodies, making a range of positive healing outcomes more possible. Trees, by nature, are very grounding and I often call upon red cedar to assist with this. Protection essences help us to feel safe, and I will frequently use angelica, which creates a sealing around the energy field and connects us to the angelic realm.
"The Earth is asking us with increasing urgency to come into balance immediately."
Secret (or not so secret) favorite New York City treasure?
In late spring of this year, just as things were starting to open back up, I was walking in Prospect Park with a friend, north of the long meadow. I came across these two incredible trees. I had never seen flowers like these before, they were so enchanting. Later, I discovered the tree is called Silverbell. Sitting under it felt like fairy chimes transporting you to another dimension. I will definitely return next spring to spend time with them.
If you had a billboard, what would you want it to say?
Love and be yourself.