Rose and garlic offered to Greek gods. Fennel seeds and coriander, hieroglyphically scribed on ancient Egyptian tombs. Frankincense, sage, and Palo Santo—burnt throughout the world as incense to purify and protect alters, sacred circles, and churches. Hallucinogenic Ayahuasca vine consumed in South America to induce altered states of consciousness.
Herbal medicine is a system of medicine that utilizes seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, and/or flowers of plants in healing. It is a key ingredient in numerous belief systems, in order to enhance and manifest spiritual development.
For centuries, people have been looking into their teacups to find answers in their tea leaves. These brews and herbs have always held a spiritual energy, a vibrational frequency that is in tune with our body and psyche. When time is taken to make a soothing cup of herbal tea, this ritual begins an agreement to go within. Thoughts are softened and the voice of intuition can now be heard. In this way, a harmonious connection with the spiritual realms is achieved.
When using herbs to connect to the spiritual realms, healing follows. Or, actually, it would be more accurate to say: this process of connection is the healing itself.
Our very life originated from the natural world: from the sun, air, plants, and waters. Deep healing is about homeostasis: coming into balance with the world that sustains us, the world that gave us life in the first place.
Deep healing can come in so many ways. We can use herbs to purify the body, relax the mind and nervous system, stimulate the senses, enhance meditation, support dreamwork, facilitate astral travel, and heal emotional wounds. Indeed, amazing feelings can occur as a result of releasing deep-seated emotions or having quieted the ever-constant chattering monkey mind. Likewise, respite from pain allows space for new growth and spiritual progression. All of these benefits are accessible with these truly remarkable plant beings.
The method of absorption is personal choice—there is no wrong way. Every herb has medicinal and magical properties that can be accessed in many ways. There are numerous possibilities, such as: rubbing creams, oils, salves, inhaling essential oils, soaking in a bath amongst petals, or drinking herbs as teas, decoctions, infusions, or as a cordial or wine.
Spiritual awakening for some occurs through consuming mind-altering plants. These sacred plant initiations have been used since the ancient world. Under the guidance of a shaman or guide, these entheogenic herbs (e.g.: Ayahuasca, psychedelic mushrooms) produce a range of altered states. It has been proposed by several authors, such as Terence McKenna, that embarking upon these voyages may have played a substantial role in the development of the primitive human imagination. It is one of the most powerful and rapid methods to awaken Kundalini. (Kundalini is an energy located at the base of the spine, which exists in every body, usually in a dormant state.) When successful journeying occurs, the results are literally life-changing. Nothing will ever be the same again.
Indeed, this idea of the life-changing nature of herbalism applies to all forms of spiritual awakening. Once the door has been opened, it doesn’t close. Even if you try to jam the door shut, it won’t work, as energetic whispers will now sneak through the gaps no matter how tightly you try to reseal it.
One approach that I personally embrace is the Buddhist approach to health and healing. There is an emphasis in Buddhism upon spiritual strength, oneness of body and mind, the value of altruistic compassion, and of enhancing the natural vital energies inherent in life. The use of herbal medicine helps me to facilitate this awakening, to no longer be a sleeping sheep, and it is amazing. As a spiritual warrior, I trust that everything will become apparent, and I am excited about all the things herbs and plants still have to teach me.
Please stay tuned this blog for future articles, where I will discuss the use of specific plants, such as mugwort, to facilitate dreamwork and other journeying arts.
Amanda Jones is an Herbalist and Naturopath (HM Dip, Nat Dip, BA HONS), currently practicing in the UK. She blogs about herbal medicine as a path for spiritual growth, as well as a method for healing trauma, anxiety, and addiction.