What does it mean? Well, spiritual herbalism means that we acknowledge the inherent spirit and personhood of plants; just as our ancestors have done since the beginning.
Why is this important? When we honor the spirit of plants, we enter into conscious and respectful relationship with them- and this is what our tradition of herbalism is all about. We don't look at the herbs as 'things that do this when we take them' or 'this herb for this illness'. Rather, we do work which leads to deep and immersive personal connections to the plant allies we connect with and pass that on to each person we serve in the apothecary, in our medicines, and in our classes.
Why is spiritual herbalism different? Most 'herbalism' that abounds on social media, in books, and even in clinics is allopathic in nature. This means that those working that system look at herbs as things which cause a specific effect in all bodies, and they work with herbs in a 'this herb is good for this illness' type of way. While that system can be effective, it's usually a 50/50 chance that it'll work for the body it's being work into. Spiritual herbalism takes into account the phytochemical and biological aspects of the plants as an adjunct to what we consider to be the real power of plants- their spiritual effects. We work to understand the personalities of the herbs, their temperatures, energetics, movements in the body, effects on different personality and body types, and the way they unfold both wisdom and medicine in the being. This is the ancient way of working with herbs- and one which weaves both the magic and the medicine of our plant allies into one thread of wellness; what we call the greenthread.
Is this religious? No. Religion is based on dogma and set expectations, beliefs, acceptable experiences, and pontification. Spiritual herbalism is about personal experience, the cultivation of relationship, and the ceremony of plant work. It is called spiritual simply because we honor the spirit of the plants as non-human people and we work with the fullness of the human being in our healing work. While each person who carries spiritual herbalism as a work may ascribe to a religion, spiritual tradition, or set of spiritual practices, they are not mutually exclusive. The power of spiritual herbalism is in its radical celebration of pluralism. We see the teachings of plant spirits in all indigenous pre-colonization and pre-conversion cultures across the world and are working to revive them where we are able. Our practices and teachings of spiritual herbalism are rooted in the pre-conversion and pre-colonization ways of our European ancestors, specifically those of the Celtic Isles of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. We honor where your spiritual herbalism comes from and love sharing in experiences, wisdom, stories, and recipes!
How does it work? In the hands and hearts of each person who spends the years upon years it takes to become a competent spiritual herbalist, the work always expressed in unique ways. Some may work with the rhythm of the heartbeat, patterns on the face or fingernails, or natal astrology chart to enter into the big picture of being. Others may rely on the plants that 'speak up' for a client or follow the unwinding words and movements of a client as their spirit calls out to the spirits of the plants that can best help them in healing. Each qualified and experienced spiritual herbalist brings many years of study, experimentation, experience, and work to their everyday interactions with plants and humans. Over time their styles evolve, shift, and change- and ideally they will have a toolbox overflowing with options to serve each type of person they encounter in a way that honors that person's uniqeness, sovereignty, and authenticity.
How does someone learn spiritual herbalism? Our ancestors taught that what we do is more important than what we think. We learn spiritual herbalism by directly engaging with the spirits of the plants, by making medicine, gardening and harvesting, watching the sun and moon dance, watching the fires of stars burn in the night sky, listening to the stories told by rushing rivers, and wrapping up in the spiral cones of power that permeate hills and mountains. Our yearlong spiritual herbalism program taught by Herbalist Josh Williams is one of the only programs of its kind in the world and focuses on cultivating deep personal connection to plants while offering a reliable clinical foundation for the work. You can find more about our school under the 'learn' tab. For now, go find a tree that welcomes you, sit, and share in intentional breath. The conversation begins...
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The information and products provided on this website are educational in nature and are in no way intended to replace the medical or mental health advise of a licensed professional. Consult with your doctor before adding herbs to your wellness plan. The statements presented herein have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any specific illness.