Plant Spirit Medicine is a powerful, subtle and profound healing modality
Founded as a synthesis of Traditional Five Element Chinese Medicine and shamanism, Plant Spirit Medicine calls on the spirits of native plants to help us heal by restoring balance, flow and vitality to our body, mind and spirit. Through my Plant Spirit Medicine healing practice I’ve learned to see people as beautiful, miraculous systems. I work with people when they are in their radiance, ignited by their life purpose and moving forward propelled by their passion and vision. I also work with people when they are stressed, overwhelmed and fully out of balance. To whatever extent I am allowed to listen deeply, share the gifts of the plant spirits and make a difference, I am deeply honored. In my healing work, I call on the spirits of plants to bring healing to the spirits of people. Over the years I have gathered a fascinating perspective of our human ailments and our challenges as a people.
Root causes of spiritual illness
It is no wonder so many of our people are hungry, in pain and lonely. I am not referring here to physical hunger. I am not necessarily referring to physical pain. And I am not talking about being lonely as in not able to find a date. I find that as a people many of us are hungry for real meaning, for meaningful rituals to help us make sense of this life experience. Rituals that resonate with who we truly are. Rituals that nourish us and activate us in body, mind and spirit. The pain we experience is ultimately the pain of separation. The loneliness we experience is a longing for connection. Why are these symptoms so powerful and pervasive in our people? Because we were never designed to live this way. As spiritual beings inhabiting (for a little while) bodies, our most precious form of nourishment is spiritual nourishment. As rational animals we have a foot in the kingdom of Nature and a foot in the arena of “man / others.” We need this sacred triad in order to thrive. This means we require spiritual nourishment, Nature, and community in order to be well.
The painful disconnect I witness in our people
Nowadays most of us live in cities or suburbs and we work in structures of stone and metal that rise up in isolating wonder … these buildings are designed with cubicles and partitioned walls instead of gardens and central fires. We have little or no consistent contact with Nature, so we fell and live as if were separate from Nature. Particularly in the United States, we are a busy and independent people, each in his or her home or apartment, minding our own business or snooping incognito on computers. We don’t generally eat our meals together but rather on the go, prepared by someone else, with little visibility to the sacrifice of the animal or plant who is giving its vital force so that we may live. It is no wonder that our (spiritual and physical) health as a people is very much compromised. How do we begin to heal in body, mind and spirit? We heal first and foremost by paying attention to our basic needs. In my view, as you know by now, these needs are: spiritual nourishment, contact with Nature and connection with others.
The nourishment of Spirit as antidote to our hunger
Our hunger as a people is a hunger for meaning. We are hungry for a way to have all this make sense. We are hungry for a deep, resonant, activating awareness of who we are; why we are here; where we are going. This hunger is not permanently satisfied by books, by religion (necessarily), or by studies. It is not an intellectual (mental) decision. This hunger only gets satisfied when we find ourselves moved, resonating and established in our answers to these 3 questions. Once we know who we are, why we are here and where we are going, and we KNOW this in our hearts, then peace reigns in our kingdom and we find that Divine has our back. Our long ago ancestors had these answers. When a child was going to be born, the shaman of the tribe would do ceremony and speak with the spirit of the child to find out why he or she was coming. This was done so that once that child was born the entire community could pull together in support for that person. He or she would be named based on his or her purpose for being born, and all manner of rituals, help, teachings and support was given to that child so he or she could step powerfully into their life purpose.
For the most part, we have lost all those rituals. We have replaced them with poor surrogates. And in our hearts and spirits we feel there’s is a different way to live. And we try to placate that hunger, our hunger for spiritual nourishment, with food, drink, work, shopping, and all manner of other addictions. What to do instead? It may sound too simple, but here it is: We can ask God / Divine for help. We can have courage and be aware of how we are compensating for this deep hunger and need. We can do our work identifying who we really are, why we came into this earth this time around, and what our work is. We can light a candle, find a teacher, meditate, cultivate our direct line of contact with Spirit.
The healing power of Nature as antidote to our pain
We are beings of Nature. We are not separate from Nature. All the elements of Nature live within us. They animate us in a sacred cycle, the dance of the elements. We know we need Air, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth to live and to thrive. When one or more of these is out of balance, depleted or too abundant in us, our bodies let us know by presenting symptoms, by manifesting pain. In this sense it can be said that the body, when presenting symptoms, is the messenger of our Spirit. Cultivating right relationship with Nature and these five elements, and as I do in my Plant Spirit Medicine work when I call on the spirits of Nature to intervene, can be hugely healing in re-establishing the right balance: the healthy and harmonious dance of these elements. At the most basic, a walk in Nature, a swim in a natural body of water, speaking from the heart with others, and other such practices can help us listen, be more aware, cultivate the right perspective and become free of pain. In this way we begin to deeply realize that we are in fact part of Nature and slowly and surely our pain of separation begins to dissolve.
The strength and warmth of community as antidote to our loneliness
We were meant to live with others, to break bread with others, to work with others, to witness and learn from one another, to embrace one another, to support and teach and coach and celebrate each other. We are social beings, we are designed to thrive in tribes, communities, groups. Our ancestors hunted and gathered together, planted together, tended to their children together. Nowadays we’ve become too independent, zealously resourceful on our own. As a generation of Do-It-Yourselfers, we are lonely. We feel that sense of loneliness most acutely when faced with death, illness, things not going the way we want them to go. We experience that loneliness as a loss, (of course because we were never designed to go it alone) and the emotion this calls forth in us is obviously grief. A grief whose expression, if we dare honor and feel it, would seem to go on forever. And we must feel it. And we must allow it to flow and course and wend its way through us and cleanse us … so that we can more truly see. Once we realize and honor our longing, small steps go a long way to help us begin to reconnect with something real: our people. Connecting with like minded people in honest direct ways so that you allow yourself to really be “seen” is a wonderful way to support healing. Gathering around the warmth of a fire and witnessing what’s going on in your life and the lives of others is in fact balm for our souls. Meeting a friend for tea is a beautiful way to create space for depth and real contact. Having the courage to allow your partner to see and feel your joy, your pain, whatever is moving your heart any given moment … are all powerful practices to build community and be and feel more connected.
Having the courage to heal with Plant Spirit Medicine
Yes, it requires courage and honesty to engage in your healing. This is not a healing modality for sissies. It requires being willing to feel and see that we are hungry for deeper meaning, for a way to make sense out of life, for profound, meaningful ancestrally based rituals. It requires openness to the spiritual nourishment which can begin to appease that hunger.
It requires humility to begin to approach the healing power of Nature, to listen, to ask, to give it time and to begin to walk, sense, respect and heal in new ways. This awareness, this love and respect translate into love and respect for us in the Natural world. As we walk and see and listen and respond to Nature in this way, we begin to see that we are It and It is us … and we begin (we as humans and Nature Itself) to have each other’s backs. This dance of right relationship is profound, moving, and heartbreakingly beautiful. We begin to appreciate that Nature does sacrifice for us, taking our pain, our cares and our suffering, renewing us — taking care of us as Nature’s children, which of course, we are.
It requires love and compassion for yourself and others to be able to show up in a real, authentic way in community. To be witnessed, to be seen. To exchange the banner and shield of loneliness for a spark, at first, then a torch, then a blazing heart that adores and honors everything and everyone with whom it comes into contact. And a connection like that is like alchemy. It is transcendental. It transforms our pain and suffering, our loneliness and hunger. It transforms our life and all the lives we touch. And if it sounds too good to be true, fear not: I see it happen often in my Plant Spirit Medicine healing practice.
This gorgeous human kaleidoscope of emotion and life never ceases to amaze me. We are, indeed, as Shakespeare’s Prospero pronounces, the stuff that dreams and magic are made of. We are all doing the best we can. And we are for certain, all in this together!