On Twitter today, fellow author Tom West (@TomWestAuthor) asked me, “Have you ever thought about writing a book about orchids?”
Even though I have somehow managed to raise amazing members of the Orchidaceae family, including a Paphiopedilum Haynaldianum that I recently made into a natural healing remedy, I still consider myself a humble beginner.
In fact, I can hardly pronounce the names of most orchids and could not tell you anything useful about fertilizer or anything you might hear at an orchid society meeting.
I admit that over the years well-meaning friends have given me books about how to raise orchids, but they sit unread on my bookshelf.
I recognize that this may indeed be useful information, but I have another way of thinking about the subject.
Here’s the truth: I use natural healing techniques to raise my paphpiodeliums, cattleyas, cypripedioideae and phalaeonopsis.
I use the same approach with my orchids that I do with my medical intuitive healing clients.
Here’s a few suggestions about how you can use natural healing methods with your orchids:
- Environment is the most powerful factor. Whether you are an orchid or a human being, you can not thrive in the wrong environment. The truth is no one is brilliant enough at cultivating, coaching or healing anything to compensate for lack of an organism’s basic necessities. I am always pointing out to my clients that you could take the most vivacious cultivar in my studio, put it in a dark room without fresh circulating air or water and it would die. Similarly, humans somehow expect they can go without enough sleep, movement, nutritious food or affection and expect to be healthy – it just doesn’t happen that way. Orchids thrive on natural light. My healing studio has giant glass windows that extend practically from floor to ceiling. I have tried raising them in other parts of my home, but the fact is they prefer to be in my studio. To put this in terms of a human, a person needs a home and work environment that is clean and uncluttered with natural light and temperate climate. I remember once seeing a shocking photographs of humans living in cages in Hong Kong. We in the U.S. don’t even treat our dogs that poorly. As a human, if you are neither happy nor healthy you have to ask yourself whether your surroundings support you or hinder you.
- You can’t assume anything. You have to ask what an organism needs. I could read every book ever printed on orchids, but the fact is that we are each biochemically unique. Some like to be watered every other day, others prefer to dry out between waterings. I do with my orchids precisely what I do with my clients: I ask for guidance. This involves a true prayerful attitude, setting one’s ego completely aside to ask deeply from one soul to another. No matter how smart I think I am, no matter how many courses I have taken, no matter how many years I have practiced the art of healing, there is no substitute for asking in that moment. “Do you need water? Do you need to be rotated? Do you need to be moved to another spot?” I ask, I listen and I respond. It’s as simple as that.
- All living beings respond to your vibration, so the orchids and people around you can only be as happy or as healthy as you are. This point was pressed home to me a few years ago during a painful divorce. As most people experience during this traumatic life disruption, I struggled to keep a positive outlook. During this time, a phalaeonopsis that had bloomed continuously for five years previous to this developed mealy bugs – the worst possible pest. The infection spread throughout the community. I had no choice but to relinquish my treasured friends to the compost pile. I asked advice from my dear friend Don Dennis, who raises orchids for flower essences on the Isle of Gigha in Scotland. “It’s like the difference between somebody saying bad things about you and somebody throwing flames at you,” Don explained. As I have healed from my divorce, the new cultivars that I brought in to replace my old friends have thrived. Just ask any mother who has gone through her divorce how her kids did during that time. Just ask any pet owner what happened to her dog or cat while she suffered from cancer. If you want the beings you care about to thrive, you have to take care of yourself.
- Use quantum physics to your advantage. In science, a well-documented phenomenon is the observer effect. Simply observing anything changes the outcome. Whatever you place your attention upon magnifies. Whatever you expect the outcome of the experiment to be will actually become the outcome. This is scientific fact. If you notice how well a plant or a human performs, they will do more of that. For example, I always begin my healing sessions with returning clients by asking them what is going well. We begin on a positive note and continue upwards from there. If, on the other hand, you pay attention to every imperfection, you will see more black spot, more root rot, more drug addiction, increased misery and magnified pain (depending on whether you are focusing your attention upon an orchid or a person). The first thing I usually do when I go down to my healing studio is admire my orchids. I notice which ones are unfolding, which ones are turning, which ones are stretching towards the light – even when they are fading. Just this morning, I gently picked up the final bloom dropped by my Paphiopedilum Haynaldianum and placed it carefully outside in my garden, a silent ceremony of gratitude.
- Everybody needs a friend. I pointed this fact out to a yoga friend of mine who raises orchids at her home in Asheville and she laughed at me. Then when I visited her kitchen, I pointed out how certain ones were naturally growing towards one another. It was as if even though they were different species, they were growing in harmony together. I currently have two lady slipper orchids in the same long pot side by side. I have two cattleyas, once the same plant that I divided into two pots, side by side. I can’t explain why this works, I just notice that this is the case. I watch my orchids reaching towards one another as often sometimes as they grow towards the sunlight.
- Love is the most powerful factor. I promise you, the more you love anything, the better it will perform. Recently, I was at a Sam’s Club store in Florida. There was a large crate of half-dead orchids. I could literally feel their discomfort – the lack of water, the absence of attention, the chemicals and artificial lights that they were struggling with. “I’m sorry,” I said to them silently. There was nothing I could do. There they were, some of the most beautiful organisms on the planet with no one there to take good care of them. As I wrote in my recent Amazon No. 1 best seller, What Is Healing? Awaken Your Intuitive Power for Health and Happiness, when you truly love someone or something, you will know what it needs. As I related in that book, I was once torn apart by a former chief executive officer who advised me it was not professional to talk about love in a business setting. His wife had been depressed for over 20 years before becoming my client. Somehow the fact that she was getting better in my care upset him so much he had to come over and chew me out in person before informing me my services were no longer necessary.
- Form a long-term relationship for best results. My chartreuse cattleya, Brassolaeliocattleya Hsinying Greenworth, recently bloomed for the sixth time, producing not just one, not just two, but three breathtaking blossoms. All good relationships are give and take. In my healing practice, I work with clients who have been with me for so long I can’t exactly remember when they started. I have worked with one individual through two pregnancies, a surgery, a divorce and a change of business. Of course, I make mistakes and end up throwing my share of orchids in the compost pile, and some clients get what they need in even one session and feel that they are done. But what I find is that when I commit myself to studying an orchid carefully, I become familiar with its rhythm and can enjoy its resting and restorative time as much as its flourishing.
- Celebrate the mystery. The truth is that no matter how much I love my orchids nor how carefully I pay attention, they are always surprising me. Among my most prized specimens is a Paphiopedilum Fairieanum. This cultivar was rediscovered in 1957 after almost a century of its reported disappearance from the natural habitat. What’s especially special about this little plant is that its blooms look like a smiling face with a giant halo above it. Unfortunately, after receiving it as a gift for my birthday two years ago, I put it in the wrong pot. I knew it was in the wrong pot (see item number one), and managed to correct my mistake. Every day I watch it, waiting for signs of improvement. “I haven’t killed it!” I think to myself thankfully. It’s as if this one friend wants to make me take my time to get to know him. Other days, I think I know what’s going on and all of a sudden I walk over and exclaim about another orchid, “There’s a bud! How did that happen? I thought I knew everything that was going on!” And still, this blessed event comes upon me, following its own internal guidance about when to appear. I remember years ago preparing to do a healing on a client who I had known for 10 years. I received the guidance that I needed to meditate for one hour before her session. And so I did. After meditating, I understood that she had experienced polio as a child. I thought I knew so much about her, and yet I did not know this had been the case! When she arrived, I told her my guidance. “That’s true,” she confirmed. “My mother told me I had a mild case of polio as a child.” There are layers and layers and layers and layers of truly getting to know someone. The mystery never disappears.
What is healing? Healing happens when we surround ourselves with the highest vibrations possible.
Orchids are the most evolved flowers on the face of the earth and provide an excellent environment for healing, which is why I fill my studio with their transcendent beauty.
Hi there. I find this article very interesting and informative. Everything that has life has a vibration and we are a part of it but a lot of people are unaware of this fact. I have been cultivating orchids for three years and I live in a temperate climate and I am able to cultivate vandas which is not known for flourishing in a temperate zone but giving them what they need and sticking to it and paying close attention to them breaks the stigma of Vandas being hard to care for. Yes, they need a lot of attention compared to other orchids and that draws me to them even more. Have a great day!
Hi Amiel, So wonderful to connect with a fellow orchid grower! Thank you so much for reading my blog. Stay tuned for more beautiful orchid pictures! Catherine Carrigan