When it comes to herbalism, Intuitive Herbalism is a part of an overall spiritual practice.
It should be noted that when you are learning herbalism for the medical properties, or for what to ingest, sticking to the traditional wisdom is vital – we do not want people eating poisonous plants or endangering their health!!!
Intuitive Herbalism comes to the fore with the Spiritual practice, when one is learning to contact the Plant Deva, or Plant Spirit.
The Webster dictionary definition of Intuition is as follows:
1a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference
b: immediate apprehension or cognition
c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
2: quick and ready insight
To intuit is a practice which is difficult to explain, but widely understood. Similar to when someone asks how you know you are in love – you simply know.
When it comes to Spirit communication, intuition plays a major role, because the communication usually occurs outside of regular channels, which can lead many to doubt their experience.
Without the physical vibration to reassure us, many of us wonder whether or not an experience is “real.”
I personally feel that applying the first six Hermetic Principles of the Universe can be helpful here, to deepen our personal understanding of what Intuitive Herbalism is and how it can affect our magical practice.
The Principle of Mentalism
“The all is mind; the universe is mental.”
“In a certain sense, the Universe is itself a living mind; one that is connected to all other minds. As such, every action you take and every thought you take is an interaction between different aspects of the mental.” – Source
This first Principle highlights the importance and power of our mind, something which is the foundation of much of our spell casting within Witchcraft. It is also relevant to my personal understanding of the Universe as a “Spiritual Ecosystem,” which I have, at many points, compared to the neural network of the human mind.
The human mind is defined as the activity of the physical brain, neurons firing within it creating reactions that we perceive and are very real to us but completely (at least currently) singular in the experience.
We cannot show someone else our memory as we experience it. We can relate it to them, create something physical or vibrational to pass along a message of it, but that is the limit of how we can express it.
Intuition then, is a gut feeling actually located within the conscious mind. The Brain-Gut if you will, and can be tapped into by the consciousness of other spirits, other minds, within the Spiritual Ecosystem – and thinking plants can’t have as high a level of consciousness in the Ether as humans – is simply human hubris.
The Principle of Correspondence
“As above, so below, as below, so above. As within, so without, as without, so within.”
At the heart of the Principle of Correspondence is the idea that there are constant links between the mental, physical and spiritual planes. Consequently, if we want to understand the patterns we see in our lives then we must look at all of these aspects.
Implicit in this Principle is the acceptance that we cannot access all planes of existence. However, Hermetic practitioners tend to believe that a keenly honed sense of intuition can help us tap into aspects of the higher and lower planes. – Source
Intuition is implicit within the Principle of Correspondence, it is the vehicle through which we travel to other planes of existence.
It also can be helpful in intuitive Herbalism when we consider correspondences of energetic vibration of plants that has been learnt over time by human beings, that a well-known aspect of a plant within Herbalism may actually be telling of a plants’ spirit nature.
I have come to understand that Plants and Trees (as well as all other forms of life) tend to have both singular energies and personalities, and are connected to the “All” form of their type.
So, for example, there is an “All” consciousness of Dandelions that one can tap into that connects all Dandelions which links their commonalities; this is where I believe the common threads or correspondences come from as learnt by Witches over the centuries, which is also connected to the sharing of this knowledge by humans.
This forms a web of information shared by Plant Spirit and Human Spirit alike through many different mediums; Spiritual contact, constant use over time, reaffirming of these ideas by spiritual practice, the passing of information through books etc.
The idea of blowing on a Dandelion to grant a wish is so entrenched in Folklore that it bypasses one heritage and is an incredibly common experience connected to childhood worldwide (at least, to all climates in which Dandelion grows).
This is incredibly useful to the Spirit of the Dandelion, ensuring the continuation of its heritage, and is deeply rooted in the human experience of childlike wonder that it connects us back to a state of believing which is crucial for magical practice.
The Principle of Vibration
“Nothing rests; Everything moves; Everything vibrates.”
Those who are experienced in working with the Law of Attraction will likely already be very familiar with something like the Principle of Vibration. To put it simply, all things carry their own unique energy, on all planes of existence. In fact, even the smallest particle in the universe has a vibrational frequency that impacts on things around it. Crucially, this Principle tells us that high energy things are magnetically drawn towards one another, and are attuned to them on a basic level. – Source
Vibration is the key to attuning to and feeling the energy of different spirits within the Spiritual Ecosystem.
To continue with the Dandelion analogy, a singular Dandelion will have its own personality and vibration but will also vibrate with the energy of the ‘All,’ of Dandelions.
I find that as humans, we might intuitively ascribe feelings, colours, ideas and emotions to each particular energy and then seek to explain these to others, which is why, for example, we attribute its energies to Jupiter and the element of Air.
One magical property of Dandelion is given as Divination, especially Spiritual messages – likely at least one thread of this knowledge being tied up in the idea of blowing on a Dandelion to make a wish to influence the future.
Thus we come to understand something about the energetic vibration of Dandelion as it has impacted on us as a species.
The Principle of Polarity
“Everything is dual, everything has poles and everything has its pair of opposites; Like and unlike are the same; Opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; Extremes meet; All truths, are but half-truths; All paradoxes may be reconciled.”
The Hermetic Principle of Polarity tells us that all things in our lives have an opposite and that the resulting contrast is part of what gives our narratives meaning. For example, without knowing what lack feels like, it is difficult to focus on and appreciate abundance; the polarity of life’s experiences helps us to avoid taking things for granted.
This Principle is also often taken to mean that everything has a dual nature. – Source
I feel that the Principle of Polarity best explains why we struggle against the idea of Intuitive Spirituality, and for our purposes, Intuitive Herbalism.
The human need to put things into categories and understand the world through duality is rampant, with people keen to ignore the idea of all truth being half truth. If we understand ourselves and the world around us by contrast, then we can easily fall into the trap of deciding what is “real or not,” based on limiting conditions.
If we reject our intuition, as the world often teaches us to do, because we have decided it is not real, then we can reject the spirits of the non-human beings.
We see them simply as food, pests, fuel or resources, and this can truly lead to travesty.
Think again of the noble Dandelion, with its incredible plethora of physical, medicinal, herbal and magical properties… reduced to the symbol of a garden weed that is a “blemish” on the human construct of a perfect lawn – a lawn which serves little to no value to the ecosystem as a whole.
The Principle of Rhythm
“Everything flows, out and in; Everything has its tides; All things rise and fall.”
One of the major things we can learn from the Principle of Rhythm is that everything is in constant motion. There is a pattern to the changes we experience. Everything goes through cycles that move from birth to death and then rebirth.
This Principle applies just as much to the Earth’s seasons as it does to our bodies. – Source
I am sure that anyone familiar with my work is overly familiar with how I feel about Death cycles within life at this point.
For Intuitive Herbalism the idea of our experiences changing and shifting in rhythm with the Earth is helpful to connecting to the messages of Plants who are governed by these cycles.
That is to say their messages, their medicine, and their magick can change depending on what the season is, where in their life cycle they are, their current biological mission – whether to grow, to spread seeds, or to die off and decompose.
This changes depending on the type of plant or tree we are learning about, and is often overlooked in favour of the ‘all’ correspondences that I mentioned earlier.
The Principle of Cause and Effect
“Every cause has its effect; Every effect has its cause.”
Sometimes just called the Principle of Causality, the Principle of Cause and Effect describes the way in which all of our actions and experiences relate to other events. In other words, every action instigates a reaction, and nothing should be viewed in isolation. In addition, there is no such thing as pure luck or chance; there is a reason for everything that happens to you. Hermeticism often encourages people to become more active agents in their life. Essentially, you become the “cause” more often than the “effect”. Decide what you want to do and be. The, plan out the precise steps you need to take to attain those goals. – Source
There are two primary ways that Causality can effect on Intuitive Herbalism immediately – the effect that Human action – as a collective – has on the understanding and energy of plant spirits, and the changes to the understanding of a particular plant based on our own personal actions and interpretations.
Human collective behaviour can often be negative, and have a major impact on the spirits of the ecosystem.
Would Dandelion always have been as rebellious an energy as it is without human beings designating it a pest and trying to eradicate it? I suspect that the history of the Spirit of Dandelion has been shaped by the essence of resistance.
Dandelion will happily work with Witches and those who recognise its brilliance and worth, and pay it the proper respect, which is not always the case with other spirits.
I have encountered Tree Spirits which are enraged, and disrespected land spirits can cause human beings all sorts of problems. This is a direct consequence of ignoring the spirits of other creatures because they do not behave the same way as humans in their sentience.
Assuming that we on a personal level seek to be understanding and respectful of plant spirits, our understanding of their energy is still impacted by our personal choices and actions.
We may feel drawn to a particular plant and cultivate a spiritual relationship with that energy on purpose. We have chosen to exalt that particular energy and seek it out, for reasons of our own – preferences, relevant memories, personal agendas or necessities… and that impacts on our interpretation of the energy we intuit.
All of these elements must be remembered when we connect with and seek to understand a spirit that is other to us – they are not us, and yet we interpret them through our particular lens.
This is not a universal spiritual truth – it is our truth, a half truth.
(I will not be including the Principle of Gender for plant spirits because I feel it is important to move outside of this when engaging with plants.)
Hopefully through the laws of Hermeticism we can begin to understand our intuition and its role in connecting with the Spiritual energies of plants – a relationship with whom helps our magic, our understanding of the world, and as such, with ourselves.
Many blessings, Starlet
The Starry Eyed Witch