Herbs make brilliant teachers. The more I learn directly from herbs through deep listening and plant communication, the more I’m noticing some repeating patterns. Firstly, all plants when you meet them at a core level – at the level of spirit – will teach you about unity consciousness. Secondly, the deeper you work with herbs, the more they will put you in touch with your ancestors. Possibly its due to the time we’re living in – where the ancestors are ready for healing and we have the time and luxury to do this deep inner work.
Herbs are often easier to develop communication with as they have been in relationship with humans for hundreds of years. If not in our current lifetime, somewhere in our ancestry there will always be people that knew how to work with herbs. Their lives depended on it!
You will definitely have an affinity with the herbs that were used in your own ancestral lineage. And these are the best herbs to start developing relationships with and to practice plant communication. These are the ones we know in our bones, they are in our blood. Possibly forgotten, but ready to be remembered. The more we learn about these ancestral herbs, the more honest and grounded will be our interaction with other herbs/plants from different areas.
Developing solid relationships with a few of your ancestral herbs is a great way to begin a deeper relationship with plants. Then you can start to branch out and learn about the herbs that surround you, to develop ‘new’ relationships so to speak.
The Plant You Need
There’s an ancient adage that states ‘the plants you need will always be right there when you need them’. This can be twofold – either they’re in your blood and you’ve developed an inner relationship and so can access their medicine at will; or the plant will literally be growing right there in the physical when you need it. There’s no need to look farther than that, to transport exotic herbs from jungles or arid deserts because they contain a specific ingredient, power or effect.
There will always be a much more relevant plant with similar properties growing near you, IF you really need it.
Every herb has a personality, a soul, just like we do. So when we meet this soul/personality of the plant, we can see how it works. This being-ness of the plant will ripple through all of its physical ‘actions’.
When you learn or use a plant solely from a constituent understanding, it is kind of like learning about the minerals or chemicals that make up our human body and how they work. This is totally relevant and valuable, but it misses out on the organizing factor – the soul of the plant. Who it is. The way it works. Just like our personality/soul modifies the way our chemicals interact and work in our body to create similar, though very unique outcomes in the way we look, feel and act.
Old Style Herbalism
Meeting and learning from a herb at its soul level or at its core, is to see and know its personality. From this you can see the wisdom it has gained from the conditions it has survived and evolved through. And these are how it can help and guide us – to evolve through similar energy shifts if they are in resonance with our own struggles.
This is not new herbalism. This is old herbalism. Ancient wisdom. The use of plants has been learned through deep listening, direct wisdom, direct communication with the plant devas/souls over millennium. And while we have loads of knowledge now documented from these old insights, what we are missing when we learn purely from past knowledge is the evolving nature of plants and their power to help us evolve within the current circumstances.
I like to use a threefold circular model to describe the layers we can tap into when learning with a plant. We can learn purely superficially about its body, or we can get right into the center, the core of its soul essence and its spirit.
Imagine the symbol of the sun – a circle with a dot in the center. Then add a circle between the dot and the outer circle, so you have the central dot with two rings around it. The central dot represents the spirit – the bright light of the sun that shines out through both the rings. The spirit is the unified vital force, the chi, qi, spark of life within all living beings. It ripples through and brings life to the body. The spirit is not differentiated – it is the same in all beings whether human, animal or vegetable. It is Unity.
The middle circle represents the soul. The soul is the personality, what makes us different to each other, what makes you you. This is the color, the differences that make us unique and individual. Each plant species also has a soul – what we call the plant deva.
And finally, the outer ring represents the body. This is the physical matter.
Now each of these is not separate, the spirit flows through the soul and the body, and the body is impacted by the spirit and soul and vice versa.
Treating the Core not the Symptoms
The idea of treating holistically, is to treat the spirit, the vital force, qi, the dot at the center. When we treat from the center, the body and soul heal themselves, no need to do anything directly for them. This is how acupuncture, homeopathy and any true holistic medicine works.
However, the colors of the soul (through symptoms, emotions, mental patterns etc.) guide us to the resonating principles that will lead us to the spirit. We use plants that have a similar resonance or vibration/color to the imbalance and the plant can guide us back to the higher resonance of that vibration. Kind of like tuning forks. This will ripple through to the body (the peripheral ring).
One of the biggest differences between western medicine and holistic medicine is the direction of treatment.
Western medicine has a ‘do for’ model of care. It treats the peripheral circle – the body, without taking into account the soul and spirit/life force. It may get rid of body symptoms fast and furiously, however all dis-ease originates at the soul or spirit level, so unless it is dealt with here at the same time, the problem will either return or be pushed deeper into the body to come out at some later date. Symptom easing is short term pleasure, long term pain. The quick fix culture.
Holistic medicine works in a very different manner – by treating from the center outwards. This is an empowered model – in which the body is supported to heal itself. The opposite to ‘do for’. Because this requires real change within the soul, this can take a little longer depending on how ready the person is!
Herbs can be used in either of these ways. The herbalism being currently taught is very western medicine based, treating from the outside in, in the ‘do for’ old paradigm patriarchal way. Old herbalists however, knew how to match the energetic signature of the plant with the energy and personality of the person and their ‘dis-ease’ and in this way used herbs in the empowered ‘support the body to heal itself/healing from the inside out’ way. Flower essences also work in this holistic manner.
Remembering the ancient ways of herbs is to reawaken long forgotten aspects of ourselves. As we do this, the ancestors come forward for healing. With each layer of deep inner healing we move through, we create space to move forward and truly evolve. While we are unconsciously recreating the patterns of the past, we stay stuck in a never ending cycle of repetition. It is only through learning from the past, taking its wisdom and releasing the rest, and then using this wisdom in new ways that we truly evolve.
This article first appeared at the authors blog @WildFlowerWalker and is used with permission.
Heidi Wedd runs various circles and online courses in shamanic herbalism, herbal alchemy, plant spirit communication and flower codes. Author of ‘Wild Flower Walker: A Pilgrimage to Nature on the Bibbulmun Track’, she is passionate about reawakening and deepening our innate connection with Nature. Her history is deeply embedded with plants, herbalism, homeopathy and midwifery. www.wildflowerwalker.com