Journeying with Shamanic Herbalism


Plants are all around us. True connection with the plants and herbs that we wish to work with means cultivating an awareness of their energetic bodies, silencing our minds and allowing their ethereal music to fill us with riches deep in our bones. Working with herbal medicine means so much more than attempting to reap their benefits as though they were inanimate tools. When we open our hearts to plants as living entities, we enter a sacred relationship that truly opens the doors of perception. 

As Kiva Rose reminds us in this poetic introduction to the world of sacred medicine, developing this kind of relationship with the plant world takes time, discipline, and focus, just like any form of art. Here is a short excerpt from her potent treatise on opening one's heart to Gaia:

If it is the highest and the greatest that you seek,
the plant can direct you.
Strive to become through your will,
what without will, it is.


Come with me into the juniper woodlands, into the green world where the garden still grows wild. Feel in your body the wild canyon gales of the sacred southwest, the river lapping at your feet and the soft mud rising up between your toes. Move with me as if the mother were holding you to herself, as if you are being embraced by emerging light and damp earth… as it is, and as you are.


Know in your bones, in that small, hollow space between your ribs that you are the beloved of both land and water, born to feel the ecstasy of the fecund earth as well as the death throes of each being. We are all living extensions and sensory feelers of the body of the earth, of our mother Gaia. We are the poets and priestesses of this fertile, verdant wildness. There is nothing so fulfilling as the love of the land, of being not so much filled, but opened, as a conduit for the force and rush of energy and light, this is what we are born to be, and an integral part of each our individual purposes and callings.


Look! The plants are all around us, the brilliant orange flowers of Yerba de la Negrita, the fierce spikes of Agave and grandmotherly arms of the ancient Cottonwoods. these vibrant green beings are some of the very first peoples. Not only do they provide the air we breathe, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, but they have the ability to provoke a wide range of feelings, reactions and states of mind. From the tongue tingling tastes of plump mango fruits to the gently protective properties of milky oat tops to the sensual evocation of the red rose to the reality shifting shamanic powers of the salvias and the poppies, the plants move us, tantalize us, heal us and sometimes irritate us like nothing else.


Shhhh, listen… deep within us, somewhere much deeper than ears or skin we can sense and hear the songs and speech of the green ones. Since before the first ceremonies and the first healers, we learned from these ancient teachers, and dreamed of their subterranean world of roots and soil. As with our ancestors and the indigenous peoples across the world, we use the plants in medicine, ritual and pleasure.


You can read the rest of her powerful essay over at Bear Medicine Herbals.


Image: "Lysergic Summer Dream" by Martina Hoffman







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