When many people begin exploring the world of magic, myth and legend one of the first places they turn to is plant magic. There are hundreds of resources on plant based practices, herbalism, and the creation of botanical preparations for both healing and ritual. Some people are interested in the chemical components of plants, others look to their astrological and elemental correspondences or the large body of plant folklore. There are numerous authors that write on the many different facets of plant based practices, and there are still many that are yet to be explored. New ways of working with ancient plants are being revealed and practitioners are finding that there are new plants waiting to be discovered and worked with. The practice and process of esoteric herbalism is about exploring the subtle nature of plants and how they can be worked with in a ritual setting. Plants can open us up to new insights about ourselves and the world around us, and act as magical catalysts that enhance our own working through their unique combination of energies.
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Esoteric or occult herbalism is like many other arcane practices with a colorful array of existing practices and correspondences that can serve as a starting point for the synthesis of something new. Practitioners seek to connect with and understand the subtle currents working around them and how investigation and partnership with these currents can lead to greater understanding.
Plants communicate in an energetic and symbolic language that reflects the inner workings of our Universe. By utilizing chemical, spiritual or symbolic connections plants are able to assist us in accessing varying states of consciousness and vibration. Calling upon these distinct forces and intelligences in a focused manner aids us in manifesting our goals.
Over time through repeated use certain plants have accumulated large collections of lore surrounding them, and have become known as spiritual allies. These stories and correspondences feed the collective spirit of these plants allowing them to grow in power and presence. This is passed down through their genetics, and through the histories and oral traditions of mankind. The occult or hidden nature of these plants is what the esoteric herbalist seeks to uncover.
There is a devotional aspect to the practice of green sorcery, and different roles have different rituals attached to them that allow them to form intimate connections with the plant kingdom. The roles of gardener, alchemist, and magician are wrapped into one connected practice within the realm of esoteric herbalism. This brings a more complete understanding of the beings that populate the natural world. Working with plants physically, chemically and spiritually create a triune connection between the plant and magician.
The practice of the green magician often takes place outdoors in the cultivated garden or wild. It is here that one begins to initiate their communication with this realm, making offerings to the land to accept their seed. Libations are made to living plants and plots of soil. Daily visitation quickly forms an intimate bond between the land and its steward, experiencing the subtle changes that take place on a daily basis throughout the seasons. One also comes to an intimate understanding of the cycles of Sun and Moon and the important role they play. These energies effect how the subtle forces of the plants interact with one another and the energies they contain when harvested.
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After getting to know the individual plant spirits there will be some that you feel more of a connection too, and other that seem to want to go about their business in private. It is common to gravitate to certain plants in the wild, oftentimes they continue to influence your thoughts after going indoors. You will find yourself unconsciously returning to these plants, and unintentionally discovering them in a while. Pay close attention to the plants that seem to reach out to you in this way. Research their uses and medicinal properties and see what wisdom they have to offer you. We often are drawn to individual plants who have medicines that we are in need of.
Individual plant spirits will tell you their rituals and how they should be used in magic. These messages usually come in ideas and flashes of inspiration that seem to come out of nowhere. Complete systems of practice can be built around a specific plant or specific group of plants. Learning the astrological and elemental correspondences of plants as well as their medicinal properties and growing habits can help one discover more about the plant’s spiritual properties and how they can be used.