Throughout time there are people who not only see nature, but can feel and witness the energetic properties of plants, and in the path of healers and shamans, communicate with the spirit of plants directly.
I think that it is only natural that the more one immerses oneself in the healing qualities of nature, the more intriguing and complex the picture and nature of nature becomes.
There is a school of thought I belong to that says everything is connected and that energy can pass between us. The 16th century physician and alchemist, Paracelsus called this the Archeus. Scientist in the 21st Century may call this quantum physics. Just look how the attitude of one person can change the mood in an entire room. Or the moments when a tree looks scary, or kind, or wise, or your mood affects your pet. You pray for a break in the rain for an important meeting and the clouds clear as if just for you.
As a child I used to see streams of light, of energy pouring into and out of trees and animals. Instinctively I would use this energy to try to ease lameness in my horse or to send love into my cat. These images were sometimes only fleeting, but they were there. And I never spoke of them. Over time and as an adult I would still have that sight from time to time – in a forest, catching the eyes of a dog in a car as it drove by. But mostly I was living an urban life cut off from nature by concrete.
I have completely changed my life in the past few years. I left the cities of Europe and returned to the countryside of Hawke’s Bay and now I am fully immersed in working with the healing attributes of nature. I can feel my relationship with the healing plants I use deepening. When I select plants to work with I look for their medicinal benefits but I also look at the nature of their inherent energy and how it can also wind its way into the things I make. I am seeing those trails of energy again. I am sensing the character of a plant. I am connecting with plant spirit.
Often now, when asked to make certain items for customers I let the plants tell me how they want to be used (and sometimes if they want to be used at all). I worked in this way recently making an anointing oil for grief.
This way of working with plants is nothing new. It has been done throughout time. More recently people like the 20th Century doctor Edward Bach have made it more visible in our society by developing his range of 38 plant essences remedies. The popular Recue Remedy is a blend of five of these essences.
Bach was a successful doctor in the early part of the 20th Century. His research work led him to recognize there were clear personality types that related to various patterns of health and he felt emotional imbalance had a big part to play in the development of physical illness. He also felt that working with the energies of specific plants could help harmonize these imbalances.
The way a plant grows, where it grows, what it looks like, the colour of its flowers and other characteristics can help determine what uses it may have in healing and in energy work.
The herbal tradition of ‘Doctrine of Signatures’ comes in to play here. This is where the way a plant grows, where it grows, what it looks like, the colour of its flowers and other characteristics can help determine what uses it may have in healing and in energy work. So walnut for example looks like the brain and indeed it is very good for brain function. This brain-like nut is protected by a hard shell. The tree itself is also quite protective of its space and you will find few plants growing underneath it (or any worms in the soil around it). Bach saw this ‘pushing away of other life forms’ and the brain signature as indicators that energetically walnut may help provide protection from outside forces and also help free us from old thought patterns.
Plant essences capture this subtle plant energy which can then be used in a variety of ways from drops to put under the tongue, to inclusion in products to absorb into our skin.
I trained in Bach Flower Remedies at the school located in his old home in Herefordshire in England. But now I am continuing this way of working with plants in my own way. I have really come to know the character of the different plants growing on the Archeus property and so I am gradually building my own repertory of plant essences to work with for healing and well-being. See my blog on Hawthorn.
This process of meeting and coming to know the energy of plants is called attunement – where we feel the living forces of nature, rather than just see them as a physical object.
The more I deepen my relationship with the healing and energetic qualities of nature (this is not limited to flora) the more I feel my craft as a healer deepens.
I am reminded of the Einstein quote that I used to use a lot in presentations when I worked for the United Nations; ‘Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better’.