Latin Name: Castanea sativa
Group: Second Nineteen
Emotional Group: Despondency or despair
Emotional response: Utter desolation
For those moments which happen to some people when the anguish is so great as to seem to be unendurable. When the mind or body feels as if it had borne to the uttermost limit of its endurance, and that now it must give way. When it seems there is nothing but destruction and annihilation left to face. [Bach: Twelve Healers and Other Remedies 1936]
But in the darkest hours, and when success seems well-nigh impossible, let us ever remember that God’s children should never be afraid, that our Souls only give us such tasks as we are capable of accomplishing , and that with our own courage and faith in the Divinity within us victory must come to all who continue to strive. [Bach: Collected Writings]
For a time of terrible anguish and despair when we are at uttermost limits of endurance, there appears to be no light or love left in the world, nothing but destruction and annihilation left to face, utter desolation, unable even to pray, the ‘dark night of the soul’. [Barnard: Guide to the Bach Flower Remedies]
Sweet Chestnut prefers a light and well-drained soil (especially sand) but it is tolerant of most conditions except for lime.
Sweet Chestnut grows in many parts of Britain although only in the south does it do well and seed itself in the wild. Elsewhere specimens have been planted as ornaments in parkland.
Each of the previous emotional states has its difficulty; each represents a particular pain or problem to overcome. Combine the worst of all of them, amplifying the feeling to the greatest intensity, and we arrive at the last of the 38 Bach flower remedies: Sweet Chestnut. There can be no doubt but that Edward Bach himself felt great anguish. Nobody could describe it succinctly without knowing, intimately, what the experience was:
…when the anguish is so great as to seem to be unbearable. When the mind or body feels as if it had borne to the uttermost limit of its endurance, and that now it must give way.
Nora Weeks mentioned that Bach suffered from a ‘virulent rash which burned and irritated incessantly’ throughout June and July but that was a small, outward, physical symptom of the mental and spiritual distress with which he was struggling. The Sweet Chestnut state, he wrote, is for ‘when it seems there is nothing but destruction and annihilation left to face’. The very light of life has been extinguished: it has been called the dark night of the soul.
Many of the remedy plants have been described in terms of light (all plant life works to mediate light on earth), and the theme of darkness and light most strongly characterises this remedy. There is something subterranean about the Sweet Chestnut state, a depth of feeling like the oppression of underground mines where sunlight never enters. Yet, even in the darkest labyrinth there is a luminous thread of meaning which guides the soul, here that thread is lost. The point has been made that overcoming difficulties leads to the evolution of soul qualities and that remedies of the Second Nineteen are concerned with this process of turning suffering into learning; and, that the boiling method, using fire from within the earth, speaks of this transformation. So here, with the last of the boiling remedies, we witness a final darkening of the light as soul-flame certainties are extinguished by materiality and suffocation of the spirit.