The Theosophy of Dr. Edward Bach

“Once we realise our own Divinity, the rest is easy.”
Dr. Edward Bach, 1886-1936,
discoverer of the 38 “healing herbs,” now popularly known as the Bach Flower Remedies

Bach Flower Therapy is a very popular form of holistic and natural medicine, which bears some similarities to the better known and older system of homeopathy but also numerous significant differences. It is not the place of this article to explain or describe the Bach system’s 38 flower remedies or flower essences themselves; this information can be easily found online by anyone interested.

We are also not endeavouring to promote or advise the use of this or any other particular form of therapy or treatment. In our own personal experience, the Bach Flower Remedies can work and can work in a remarkable, powerful, and unexpected way. However, our experience, like that of many others, is that they rarely work in a reliable, consistent, dependable way, even when well chosen and correctly administered. They are prone to sometimes producing an effect and other times doing absolutely nothing. This is even the case with those produced by the “Healing Herbs” company, which follow precisely Edward Bach’s original method, and which are widely reputed to work better than those from the main and most prominent (Nelson’s) manufacturer.

It may be that this is due to no particular fault of the flower remedies; perhaps the system as a whole is just too much “ahead of its time.”

In each flower remedy bottle, the actual material amount of the therapeutic substance amounts to a mere two drops, the rest of the liquid simply serving as carrier. Those two drops are themselves taken from an ultra-dilute preparation of which the first step was the heating of flowers in spring water – whether by sunlight or boiling – and then discarding the flowers to leave behind only their vibrational or energetic imprint on the water. So right from the beginning of the production process, this is a very “ethereal” form of medicine, for want of a better word.

It is also directed almost entirely at the mind and emotions, believing that once they are healed, any physical conditions will naturally improve.

Nonetheless, there is an inevitably physical side to the therapy: the drops have to first be physically ingested and enter the physical body. Once there, their quite ethereal and subtle presence has to be (1) registered, (2) responded to. Humanity is still at such a profoundly and densely physically material stage of its evolution that many bodies – and perhaps especially those whose “materiality” has been accentuated by the effects and ravages of prolonged serious health conditions and diseases – are unable to either register or adequately respond (or both) to such an impulse.

The greatest effectiveness and usage of these remedies may therefore lie in the future, even millennia from now, by which time human and physical nature should be very different. The aforesaid is of course only a theory and should not be taken as authoritative.

But this article is not really about that. It is about Bach’s spiritual philosophy and to show how very close and similar it was to Theosophy.

Apart from his frequent speaking of “God” and calling the Deity by the anthropomorphic terms “He” and “Him” etc., a student of the original Theosophical teachings could easily mistake many of his sayings as coming from the writings of Theosophical co-founder William Q. Judge. They often bear the same style, simplicity, and practicality, not to mention the same type of language, terminology, and idea. For reasons unknown, Bach always avoided revealing the ideological source of his beliefs and philosophy. To a Theosophist, however, it is very clear that Theosophy must have been his primary spiritual inspiration. It is known that he was a freemason but it seems unlikely that he could have got this philosophy from 20th century masonic lodges.

In his philosophical writings, the most well known of which is the book or pamphlet “Heal Thyself: An Explanation of The Real Cause and Cure of Disease,” the main themes can briefly summed up as:

The unity and divinity of all life, including the inner divine nature of every human being, and the importance and practical value of living in harmony and unity with our soul and Higher Self, which involves living a conscious, elevated, reflective, and compassionate life.

Bach’s healing abilities were not confined only to the remedies he discovered and prepared but also expressed themselves through touch, laying on of hands, and what could be considered “mesmeric passes.” His principal colleague and assistant Nora Weeks wrote, “I was once suffering from a severe attack of bronchitis, he passed his hand once over my back. I was immediately well.” It was his intuitions and psychic perceptions that led him to the right plants and when it came to treating patients with the flower remedies, “he could tell with one look at the sufferer, the negative difficulty, the hidden fear, resentment, jealousy or whatever they might be suffering from and name the Remedy for their healing.”

Nora Weeks also reported that “he did remember, although it meant little to him, certain details of his past incarnations. He had always been a healer. Once he saw a picture of himself preparing bottles of healing herbs. So precious were these bottles that they were placed on a shelf and must be so little touched by hand that the labels with the names of the herbs were stuck to the shelves below. Another time he saw himself plunging into a river to cleanse himself completely, physically and mentally, from his last patient before seeing the next one.”

The associated subjects of reincarnation and Karma – considered by Theosophy the two most important truths for humanity to accept and understand – only very rarely appear in Edward Bach’s writings, however, but he certainly believed in their reality and importance. When mentioned by him it was usually as a hint, rather than an overt statement, for example: “It may not be the errors of this life, this day at school, which we are combating; and although we in our physical minds may not be conscious of the reason of our suffering, which may to us appear cruel and without reason, yet our Souls (which are ourselves) know the full purpose and are guiding us to our best advantage.”

A casual reader of some of his quotes might assume that he was a religious Christian of some sort but although he did indeed have great love and reverence for Jesus Christ he was by no means a Christian in any ordinary or traditional sense of the word.

He once wrote, “The general and rapidly increasing interest exhibited today for knowledge of superphysical truths, the growing number of those who are desiring information on existence before and after this life, the founding of methods to conquer disease by faith and spiritual means, the quest after the ancient teachings and wisdom of the East – all these are signs that people of the present time have glimpsed the reality of things.”

He wrote reverently of “the Lord Buddha” and mused, “How far have we of the West wandered from those beautiful ideals of our Mother India of old times.” His booklet “Ye Suffer from Yourselves” took its title from a line in “The Light of Asia,” Sir Edwin Arnold’s poetic rendition of the life and teachings of Buddha, thought to be the favourite book of H. P. Blavatsky and still used and published to this day by the United Lodge of Theosophists.

Aside from his preference for using such terms as “The Creator” and referring to “God” as “He, Him, His” etc., Bach’s philosophy was almost entirely indistinguishable from that of Theosophy, the teaching expounded at the end of the 19th century by the Russian woman named Helena Blavatsky, who founded the Theosophical Movement and which soon spread around the world. In a book titled “Homeopathy, Healing and You” the author Vinton McCabe observed, “At the same time [as discovering which flowers to use as remedies], Bach was developing the philosophy behind this healing system, one that was based both in the homeopathy of Hahnemann and Paracelsus and in the Theosophy of the time in which he lived.”

Incidentally, H. P. Blavatsky, or HPB for short, had written at the end of her first book “Isis Unveiled” that “There are occult [i.e. hidden, obscured, secret] properties in many other minerals, equally strange with that in the lodestone, which all practitioners of magic must know, and of which so-called exact science is wholly ignorant. Plants also have like mystical properties in a most wonderful degree, and the secrets of the herbs of dreams and enchantments are only lost to European science, and useless to say, too, are unknown to it, except in a few marked instances, such as opium and hashish.”

One of the ideas most prominently brought forward in Theosophy is that there is a hidden Brotherhood of spiritual Masters, great Teachers, adepts and initiates into the sacred Wisdom of all ages, and that these Masters of Wisdom – both incarnated here on Earth and working from higher realms – are endeavouring to help humanity by progressively enlightening it with increasing impartations of divine truths. Theosophical and the subsequent New Age literature sometimes refers to this collectivity of great sages as “The White Brotherhood,” “white” referring to the quality of light, rather than having any racial significance.

This is the explanation of the origins and inspiration behind Bach’s own repeated mention of the White Brotherhood:

“It shows the way by which the White Brotherhood work, amongst us, not by miracles, not by apparitions, but just leading us, if we are willing to be led, by every-day affairs.”

“Let us remember also that our standard of idealism again is relative; to the animals we must appear as veritable gods, whereas we in ourselves are far below the standards of the great White Brotherhood of Saints and Martyrs who have given their all to be examples to us. Hence we must have compassion and sympathy for the lowliest, for while we may consider ourselves as having advanced far above their level, we are in ourselves minute indeed, and have yet a long journey before us to reach the standard of our older brothers, whose light shines throughout the world in every age.”

“And so come out, my brothers and sisters, into the glorious sunshine of the knowledge of your Divinity, and earnestly and steadfastly set to work to join in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness, uniting with that great band of the White Brotherhood whose whole existence is to obey the wish of their God, and whose great joy is in the service of their younger brother men.”

The Bach Centre, in their foreword to the 2009 electronic edition of “Heal Thyself,” added a brief explanatory note about the term “White Brotherhood” seeing as it can indeed sound like a racist slogan to anyone not familiar with Theosophical ideas. The Bach Centre wrote, “We would like to make it clear that the use of the term had nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour or race. Dr Bach found every form of racism abhorrent. He used the word ‘white’ to refer to spiritual light, and the ‘brotherhood’ was that set of spiritually enlightened people – of both sexes and drawn from all races – who worked for the benefit of humanity.”

Bach believed that he himself was being led and guided by that Brotherhood and spoke at times of inwardly receiving “messages” to guide him in his work and discoveries. Whether those were from some of the Masters or instead from his own soul, which Theosophy calls the Ego, would be impossible for us to say.

There is a large amount of spiritually themed and inspirational statements that could be shared here from Bach’s writings but we are just providing below a choice selection. All of these and more can be found in the “Collected Writings of Edward Bach,” a book edited by Julian Barnard and available from Healing Herbs in Herefordshire, England.



“Man has a Soul which is his real self; a Divine, Mighty Being, a Son of the Creator of all things, of which the body, although the earthly temple of that Soul, is but the minutest reflection: that our Soul, our Divinity Who resides in and around us, lays down for us our lives as He wishes them to be ordered and, so far as we will allow, ever guides, protects and encourages us, watchful and beneficent to lead us always for our utmost advantage: that He, our Higher Self, being a spark of the Almighty, is thereby invincible and immortal.”

“We must realise that the short passage on this earth, which we know as life, is but a moment in the course of our evolution, as one day at school is to a life, and although we can for the present only see and comprehend that one day, our intuition tells us that birth was infinitely far from our beginning and death infinitely far from our ending. Our Souls, which are really we, are immortal, and the bodies of which we are conscious and temporary, merely as horses we ride to go a journey, or instruments we use to do a piece of work.”

“The Universe is God rendered objective; at its birth it is God reborn; at its close it is God more highly evolved. So with man; his body is himself externalised, an objective manifestation of his internal nature; he is the expression of himself, the materialisation of the qualities of his consciousness.”

“The next great principle is the understanding of the Unity of all things: that the Creator of all things is Love, and that everything of which we are conscious is in all its infinite number of forms a manifestation of that Love, whether it be a planet or a pebble, a star or a dewdrop, man or the lowest form of life. It may be possible to get a glimpse of this conception by thinking of our Creator as a great blazing sun of beneficence and love and from the centre an infinite number of beams radiate in every direction, and that we and all of which we are conscious are particles at the end of those beams, sent out to gain experience and knowledge, but ultimately to return to the great centre. And though to us each ray may appear separate and distinct, it is in reality part of the great central Sun. Separation is impossible, for as soon as a beam of light is cut off from its source it ceases to exist. Thus we may comprehend a little of the impossibility of separateness, as although each ray may have its individuality, it is nevertheless part of the great central creative power. Thus any action against ourselves or against another affects the whole, because by causing imperfection in a part it reflects on the whole, every particle of which must ultimately become perfect.”

“We must steadfastly practise peace, imagining our minds as a lake ever to be kept calm, without waves, or even ripples, to disturb its tranquillity, and gradually develop this state of peace until no event of life, no circumstance, no other personality is able under any condition to ruffle the surface of that lake or raise within us any feelings of irritability, depression or doubt. It will materially help to set apart a short time each day to think quietly of the beauty of peace and the benefits of calmness, and to realise that it is neither by worrying nor hurrying that we accomplish most, but by calm, quiet thought and action become more efficient in all we undertake. To harmonise our conduct in this life in accordance with the wishes of our own Soul, and to remain in such a state of peace that the trials and disturbances of the world leave us unruffled, is a great attainment indeed and brings to us that Peace which passeth understanding; and though at first it may seem to be beyond our dreams, it is in reality, with patience and perseverance, within the reach of us all.”

“In the development of Universal Love within ourselves we must learn to realise more and more that every human being, however lowly, is a son of the Creator, and that one day and in due time he will advance to perfection just as we all hope to do. However base a man or creature may appear, we must remember that there is the Divine Spark within, which will slowly but surely grow until the glory of the Creator irradiates that being.”

“What we call ‘love’ is a combination of greed and hate, that is, desire for more and fearing to lose. Therefore what we call ‘love’ must be IGNORANCE.

“Real love must be infinitely above our ordinary comprehension, something tremendous, the utter forgetfulness of self, the losing of the individuality in the Unity, the absorption of the personality in the Whole.”

“And what greater is there amongst all the Noble Arts than that of Healing. And what more befitting to the Brotherhood of Man than, like some of the Orders of Old, to carry ease to those in pain; solace to those in trial or distress; and comfort and hope to all those afflicted.”

“The whole essence of life is to KNOW our Divinity; that we are unconquerable, invincible, and that no hurt can ever stop us in the victory which we are winning in the Name of our Great Master.”

“Ever remember the injunction which Christ gave to His disciples, “Resist not evil.” Sickness and wrong are not to be conquered by direct fighting, but by replacing them by good. Darkness is removed by light, not by greater darkness: hate by love: cruelty by sympathy and pity: and disease by health.

“Our whole object is to realise our faults, and endeavour so to develop the opposing virtue that the fault will disappear from us like snow melts in the sunshine. Don’t fight your worries: don’t struggle with your disease: don’t grapple with your infirmities: rather forget them in concentrating on the development of the virtue you require.”

“We should strive to be so gentle, so quiet, so patiently helpful that we move among our fellow men more as a breath of air or a ray of sunshine: ever ready to help them when they ask: but never forcing them to our own views.”

“We, as children of the Creator, have within us all perfection, and we come into this world merely that we may realise our Divinity; so that all tests and all experiences will leave us untouched, for through that Divine Power all things are possible to us.”

“Our soul (the still small voice, God’s own voice) speaks to us through our intuition, our instincts, through our desires, ideals, our ordinary likes and dislikes; in whichever way it is easiest for us individually to hear. How else can He speak to us? Our true instincts, desires, likes or dislikes are given to us so that we can interpret the spiritual commands of our soul by means of our limited physical perceptions, for it is not possible for many of us yet to be in communion with our Higher Self. These commands are meant to be followed implicitly, because the soul alone knows what experiences are necessary for that particular personality.”

“We can judge our health by our happiness, and by our happiness we can know that we are obeying the dictates of our souls. It is not necessary to be a monk, a nun, or hide away from the world; the world is for us to enjoy and to serve, and it is only by serving out of love and happiness that we can truly be of use, and do our best work. A thing done from a sense of duty with, perhaps, a feeling of irritation and impatience is of no account at all, it is merely precious time wasted when there might be a brother in real need of our help.”

“The way to set about to do this work is to practise exquisite gentleness: never by thought or word or deed to hurt another.”

“Cruelty is a denial of the unity of all and a failure to understand that any action adverse to another is in opposition to the whole, and hence an action against Unity. No man would practise its injurious effects against those near and dear to him, and by the law of Unity we have to grow until we understand that everyone, as being part of a whole, must become near and dear to us, until even those who persecute us call up only feelings of love and sympathy.”

“The teachings of religions, if properly read, plead with us “to forsake all and follow Me,” the interpretation of which is to give ourselves entirely up to the demands of our Higher Self, but not, as some imagine, to discard home and comfort, love and luxury; very far from this is the truth.”

“In all things cheerfulness should be encouraged, and we should refuse to be oppressed by doubt and depression, but remember that such are not of ourselves, for our Souls know only joy and happiness.”

“Thus every personality we meet in life, whether mother, husband, child, stranger or friend, becomes a fellow-traveller, and any one of them may be greater or smaller than ourselves as regards spiritual development; but all of us are members of a common brotherhood and part of a great community making the same journey and with the same glorious end in view.”

“Thus teach people, as children of the Creator, the Divine individuality within them which is able to overcome all trials and difficulties; help them to steer their ship over the sea of life, keeping a true course and heeding not others; and teach them also ever to look ahead, for, however they may have gone out of their course and whatever storms and tempests they may have experienced, there is always ahead for everyone the harbour of peace and security.”

“Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of materialism is the development of boredom and the loss of real inner happiness; it teaches people to seek contentment and compensation for troubles in earthly enjoyments and pleasures, and these can never bring anything but temporary oblivion of our difficulties. Once we begin to seek compensation for our trials at the hands of the paid jester we start a vicious circle. Amusement, entertainment and frivolity are good for us all, but not when we persistently depend upon these to alleviate our troubles. Worldly amusements of every kind have to be steadily increased in their intensity to keep their hold, and the thrill of yesterday becomes the bore of to-morrow.”

“Man has so come to look upon the body as himself, that it is difficult for him to know that it is but an instrument. He has even taken the teaching of re-incarnation in the wrong way, because instead of that convincing him of his immortality and the unimportance of a body, he, instead, becomes a little proud of his several lives, and what he has been and what he has done.”

“While lower forms of life, such as bacteria, may play a part in or be associated with physical disease, they constitute by no means the whole truth of the problem, as can be demonstrated scientifically or by everyday occurrences. There is a factor which science is unable to explain on physical grounds, and that is why some people become affected by disease whilst others escape, although both classes may be open to the same possibility of infection. Materialism forgets that there is a factor above the physical plane which in the ordinary course of life protects or renders susceptible any particular individual with regard to disease, of whatever nature it may be. Fear, by its depressing effect on our mentality, thus causing disharmony in our physical and magnetic bodies, paves the way for invasion, and if bacteria and such physical means were the sure and only cause of disease, then indeed there might be but little encouragement not to be afraid. But when we realise that in the worst epidemics only a proportion of those exposed to infection are attacked and that, as we have already seen, the real cause of disease lies in our own personality and is within our control, then have we reason to go about without dread and fearless, knowing that the remedy lies with ourselves. We can put all fear of physical means alone as a cause of disease out of our minds, knowing that such anxiety merely renders us susceptible, and that if we are endeavouring to bring harmony into our personality we need anticipate illness no more than we dread being struck by lightning or hit by a fragment of a falling meteor.”

“All true healing aims at assisting the patient to put his Soul and mind and body in harmony. This can only be done by himself, though advice and help by an expert brother may greatly assist him.”

“Disease is solely and purely corrective: it is neither vindictive nor cruel: but it is the means adopted by our own Souls to point out to us our faults: to prevent our making greater errors: to hinder us from doing more harm: and to bring us back to that path of Truth and Light from which we should never have strayed.”

“Disease is the result in the physical body of the resistance of the personality to the guidance of the soul. It is when we turn a deaf ear to the ‘still small voice,’ and forget the Divinity within us; when we try to force our wishes upon others, or allow their suggestions, thoughts, and commands to influence us.

“The more we become free from outside influences, from other personalities, the more our soul can use us to do His work.”

“Health is, therefore, the true realisation of what we are: we are perfect: we are children of God. There is no striving to gain what we have already attained. We are merely here to manifest in material form the perfection with which we have been endowed from the beginning of all time.”

“Health is our heritage, our right. It is the complete and full union between soul, mind and body; and this is no difficult far-away ideal to attain, but one so easy and natural that many of us have overlooked it.

“All earthly things are but the interpretation of things spiritual. The smallest most insignificant occurrence has a Divine purpose behind it.

“We each have a Divine mission in this world, and our souls use our minds and bodies as instruments to do this work, so that when all three are working in unison the result is perfect health and perfect happiness.”

“It is no use in the present time just to say ‘Don’t be afraid,’ or ‘Don’t be ill.’ It is necessary to tell them why they are afraid, why they are ill, and to give them the antidote.”

“In addition to this, those beautiful remedies, which have been Divinely enriched with healing powers, will be administered, to open up those channels to admit more of the light of the Soul, that the patient may be flooded with healing virtue.

“The action of these remedies is to raise our vibrations and open up our channels for the reception of our Spiritual Self, to flood our natures with the particular virtue we need, and wash out from us the fault which is causing harm. They are able, like beautiful music, or any gloriously uplifting thing which gives us inspiration, to raise our very natures, and bring us nearer to our Souls: and by that very act, to bring us peace, and relieve our sufferings.

“They cure, not by attacking disease, but by flooding our bodies with the beautiful vibrations of our Higher Nature, in the presence of which disease melts as snow in the sunshine.”

“Healing must come from within ourselves, by acknowledging and correcting our faults, and harmonising our being with the Divine Plan. And as the Creator, in His mercy, has placed certain Divinely enriched herbs to assist us to our victory, let us seek out these and use them to the best of our ability, to help us climb the mountain of our evolution, until the day when we shall reach the summit of perfection.”

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In closing, it ought to be acknowledged that sometimes it is part of our Karma – our self-created destiny through cause and effect, action and reaction – to be unwell or afflicted with illness or even sometimes to die from it. Not everything can be healed or cured, though of course it is usually worth trying.

Similarly, it is neither medically nor Theosophically true that healing of the mind and emotions is guaranteed to result in healing of the physical body, despite Bach apparently believing so. Sometimes that will indeed happen but other times there is just no chance of it and one has to be realistic and pragmatic, both in terms of pathophysiology and understanding of the Law of Karma. But even if one’s Karmic “lot in life” is to be physically sick, it is still the case that one’s mental attitudes towards it can be wholesome, healthy, calm, and even positive.

William Judge wrote in a letter: “Philosophy as well as religion has always taught that the soul is purified and strengthened by suffering, and it is sometimes well to suffer. If we could know the action and operation of Karma we would see that by suffering pain in sickness bad Karma is worked off . . . Those who know and recognize this fact are cured thereby of the mental distress which is so large a part of the evil of bodily suffering, and this is for them a “mind cure” on a higher plane than the physical, for then they can bear their sufferings with calmness and resignation.” (emphasis added)

And from H. P. Blavatsky’s article “Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination” come these words of hope:

“Half, if not two-thirds of our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears. Destroy the latter and give another bent to the former, and nature will do the rest.”


This article may have raised more questions about various things. Please make use of the site search function (the magnifying glass symbol at the top of the page) and visit the Articles page to see the complete list of over 300 articles covering all aspects of Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement.

If you are interested in Theosophical perspectives on health and medicine, you may like to read

Theosophy on Epidemics, Pandemics, Medicine, and Vaccination

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