A Course in Bach Flower Remedies – Lesson 8

Other Diagnostic Techniques

There are two other diagnostic techniques which I want to show you. Both of these are very useful and can be used for diagnosing for your self or for others.

The first is the Repertory and the second is Dowsing.


The Repertory

A Repertory lists every imaginable complaint, state or mood with the corresponding flower remedy. There are various Repertories available. There is the The Bach Remedies Repertory which is specifically for the Bach Flowers. Perhaps the most useful I have discovered in print format is The Flower Essence Repertory which is published by the Californian Flower Essence Society. It covers all of the Bach Flowers plus 100 other essences from the Californian Flower Essence selection. This book is really excellent. It has very good descriptions of each of the remedies, as well as two pages of categories with everything from Abandonment to Alcoholism, Confidence, Empowerment, Grief, Hate, Inertia, Learning Difficulties, Motivation, Paranoia, Pregnancy, Self-Esteem, and so on. The categories in this book are both positive and negative, which gives you a lot more scope for choosing remedies.


How to use the Repertory

Write down all of the issues or categories which you think might be relevant. I’ll use an example: Someone asks you for a remedy to help them to give up smoking, or some other addiction. First of all, you look at the person as a unique individual, and choose the remedies that describe their individual personality or their unique response to the problem.

For example, if they have told you that giving up smoking is making them feel irritable, then select Impatiens first, or if their mind is working overtime, White Chestnut. Or you might notice that they seem like a very highly-strung and opinionated person, so choose Vervain.

Then, in the FES Repertory, look up these categories: Addiction, Habit Patterns, Change, Empowerment, Healing Process, Cleansing, Transition, and so on.

I’ll look up Addictions. Now, I only take notice of the remedies which I have available, and I ignore all the others. So here we have five Bach Flowers to choose from. The Repertory specifies how each remedy relates to addiction. For example, Agrimony is for the person who uses drugs and has a cheerful facade. Aspen is for the use of drugs to dampen sensitivity. Chestnut Bud is specifically for breaking repetitive patterns, Olive for depletion of the body and mind by long-term use of drugs and Star of Bethlehem is for psychic burn-out from drug abuse.

When we look up the remaining categories, we will find more remedies to add to the list. Crab Apple for cleansing, Walnut for transitions and Larch for confidence.

What we need to do with this list next is eliminate those remedies which don’t apply. This technique can be a bit time-consuming until you get the hang of it, but it is a good way of getting to know all the remedies, and it helps you not to miss anything important.



The other diagnostic technique is dowsing. Some of you may find this a bit unusual, but it’s a useful technique to know for those of you who are interested.


The Principle

The principle behind dowsing flower remedies is the same as searching for hidden water or minerals with a divining rod. But the dowsing instrument we use is a pendulum.


Value of Dowsing

What we are doing with dowsing is contacting the more hidden or unconscious factors that may be difficult to diagnose in a more normal way. This is where I think it’s greatest value lies. It’s a diagnostic tool that can bypass the limitations of your own biases, beliefs and lack of knowledge.


Indications for Dowsing

And if you prescribe for others, you will find that there are times when you feel very unsure which remedy is needed. Or, it may be totally inappropriate to ask questions or delve too deeply into a person’s life. Over the years, I’ve been asked to prepare remedies for people with an absolute minimum of information. The person might not want to talk about their emotions, or might not be able to.


Case Study

As an example, I was once asked by an elderly shopkeeper for a remedy. We were talking over the counter and he was very shy. He told me what his physical complaint was and how much it was bothering him. He certainly wasn’t able to go into greater depth, given how public the place was and how unsure he felt about asking me for help. But he was desperate. I certainly observed him and thought about his situation and had an idea of one or two remedies he might need, but in a situation like that I will always go away and dowse the remedy, or at least confirm my own feelings with dowsing. So, in an example like this, dowsing helps you to respect the person’s privacy when this is important.


Dowsing for Children

I have also found dowsing particularly useful for prescribing for children. Sometimes, a parent has asked me to make a remedy for their child or teenager, and it isn’t possible for me to see and talk to the child directly. Very small children cannot even express how they feel, and parents do not understand everything about their children.


A Small Child’s Emotions are often a Reflection of the Parent’s

The other very important thing to remember with children, and I’ll go into this in more depth later, is that a small child’s emotions are often not their own, but a reflection of the emotional state of those close to them, especially the mother. I have experienced this time and time again with my own children. I have dowsed them a remedy, and thought ‘that’s strange’ because some of them will very accurately describe my own emotional state. This is not a coincidence. Other practitioners have also found that the remedies needed by a child are often those needed by the parents.


Dowsing is an Objective Tool

So, dowsing can be very helpful in sorting these sorts of complexities out. It is an objective tool, if you put your rational mind on hold, because it can be very difficult to be objective if you are prescribing for your own children.


Absent Remedies

Dowsing is also very useful if you are asked to prescribe a remedy for someone at-a-distance, and you are unable to see them in person.


Limitations of Dowsing

Before I go on, I’d like to mention that dowsing should never be used as a substitute for acquiring a thorough knowledge of the remedies. When we dowse a remedy, it means that we cannot adequately explain why that person needs those remedies. And if the person can’t understand what their problem is, then they can’t consciously work on it. And it’s the increased self-awareness which comes from understanding your problems that can be a very important part of the healing process.


Need for Moderation

So, if you do use dowsing as a diagnostic technique, do be moderate with it. If you come to rely too much on dowsing, it can interfere with the development of your own intuitive and perceptive faculties. But if you use it appropriately and moderately, it will confirm your intuitive hunches, and therefore help you to develop your intuition. And there should come a time when you will rarely need to use this technique, because you will know the remedies so well and your intuition will also be well-developed.


Other Dowsing Tools

Shortly we will look at how to dowse with a pendulum, but first, I’d like to just mention some other dowsing tools.

You can also dowse with a set of flower essence cards or photographs, or with the body. Dowsing with the body is called muscle testing or Applied Kinesiology. Quite a few chiropractors use this technique for diagnosing.

The Cards as a Dowsing Tool: Now, even though we can use a set of cards directly to select a remedy, we aren’t using them as a dowsing tool, because we are conscious of what we were choosing.

To dowse with cards, we would shuffle them and pick some out without looking. It would be a blind process. I don’t normally recommend this technique, but it can prove an interesting exercise, and you will be amazed at how accurate the results can be.

Dowsing with a Pendulum: The basic requirements of a pendulum are that the material is natural, not plastic, and that the pendulum be symmetrical. If it is asymmetrical, it will lack balance. The pendulum also needs to be hanging from a small length of thread. Now, some people dowse over each remedy bottle, or write down all the names of the remedies, and then dowse each one. I think this is unnecessary and far too time-consuming. What I generally do is use a DOWSING CHART, which is basically just a circular diagram with the names of the remedies inserted.

I think it’s also important that your pendulum has a distinct point, so that you can see where it’s pointing to on the dowsing chart.


Explanation of Dowsing

This may seem like a mysterious process. I remember when I first watched someone dowse with a pendulum many years ago, it looked like total mumbo-jumbo to me. I thought this guy was crazy. I must admit we were in a class and he was using it to try and work out the right answers in a test. But it wasn’t a good introduction for me. It turned me off this method for years, until I visited a very well-respected naturopath who used the pendulum in front of me to dowse the Bach Flowers. He told me he usually had to leave the room when he dowsed, because most people thought he was a weirdo.


A Scientific Ancient Technique

I have since researched and practiced this technique for many years, and I now believe that it can be used in quite a scientific way. It’s actually a very ancient technique that has been around for centuries.



There are various theories as to how it works, and the one I’ve opted for is that it is a way of communicating messages from our higher intelligence through the nervous system, via the sensitive nerve endings in our fingertips. Others explain it as a form of communication between the sub-conscious and conscious minds, which is probably a slightly different way of saying the same thing.


The Process of Dowsing

1. First, you need to determine how the pendulum responds for you, because this can vary from person to person. So, ask a question which you know requires a YES answer, such as, “Are the shoes I am wearing now black?” For me, the pendulum swings clockwise for YES, and anti-clockwise for NO.

2. One of the most important things with dowsing is that you need to be in a calm, relaxed and neutral state. Never dowse if you are feeling emotionally upset or biased in any way. You need to be in a detached state of mind. It is essential when you are dowsing that you let go of your own prejudices, because the dowser can affect the pendulum through his or her own strong thoughts or feelings. You can even prove this to yourself with an interesting exercise. Let the pendulum swing in a certain direction, say clockwise, then see if you can ‘will’ it to move in the opposite direction. When you see this happening, it is a very clear message that if you let your own thoughts get in the way when you are dowsing, then your results are not going to be very accurate.

3. Now, take some time to concentrate on the person. Picture them in your mind, reflect on what you know of their situation. Say a little prayer if you like, or ask your higher self for help and guidance in choosing the right remedies.

4. Place your feet flat on the floor, not crossed.

5. Hold the pendulum cord lightly between your thumb and forefinger, making sure that your arm doesn’t touch the table.

6. Now, using the Dowsing Chart, ask the pendulum to show you which flower remedies are needed right now for yourself or the other person.

7. First, allow the pendulum to move around the circle in the center of the wheel.

8. Ask “Which remedies does X need right now?” After a while, the pendulum will begin to swing in a straight line. Wait until it settles. You need to be very patient. You will soon see that it is pointing to two remedies opposite each other.

9. Go to one side and ask: “Is this the right remedy?” and then do the same with the other. The pendulum will answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Then repeat the procedure until you have no more than six or seven remedies.

10. Sometimes, the pendulum may stop dead after only one or two remedies. This is telling you that this is enough. You can always confirm this, for example, by asking: “Is this enough?” I have even known the pendulum to refuse to move at all, indicating that it isn’t appropriate to prescribe a remedy at that time.

11. When you have written down all the dowsed remedies, ask the pendulum: “Is this the right combination remedy for X at this time?” This step is designed to confirm the diagnosis. The response will usually be yes. If not, you will need to go through the procedure again.

12. If you are dowsing, you need to feel confident about your ability. It’s not a good idea to redowse or use dowsing to check someone else’s prescription. You will nearly always get a different response, and this will affect your confidence in the technique and in your ability. Have faith that your dowsing is correct, and know that your ability will improve with practice.

-by Candy Hillenbrand


Next lesson we will look into how the remedies work and their therapeutic action