Turning to the plant world for healing began as an alternative to allopathic medicine and morphed into a wholistic and spiritual practice three decades ago. Herbs became my allies as they aligned my thoughts for healing my body and mind. My dad was a landscaper and tended the cognizant, alive spirit in plants, but my practical brain lacked confidence to fully embrace this esoteric notion.
Then I discovered Findhorn Garden book and empirical knowledge became tangible proof. In 1962, Peter and Eileen Caddy moved with their three young sons and their friend Dorothy Maclean to a caravan park in the coastal village of Findhorn, in northern Scotland. Feeding six people on unemployment benefit was difficult, so they grew vegetables on the sandy and dry ground. In her meditation, Dorothy discovered she was able to intuitively contact the overlighting intelligence of plants – which she called angels, and then devas – who gave her instructions on how to make the most of their fledgling garden. She and Peter translated this guidance into action, with amazing results. In the barren sandy soil, they grew huge plants, herbs and flowers, most famously the now-legendary 40-pound cabbages. Word spread, horticultural experts came and were stunned, and the garden at Findhorn became famous and it is now a burgeoning community, ecovillage and retreat center.
I love the word plant deva in addition to faeries or dryads for the tree spirits. I began to work with the plant devas in my Magickal practice. In my book, Faeries Guide to Green Magick in the Garden, I chose my favorite plant allies to demonstrate Animism – the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence – all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork, and even words—are animated and alive. I incorporated herbs into every spell I wrote or ritual I performed.
But, I hadn’t heard the term Ritual Herbalist until my friend, Kris Knapp, used it to explain the validity of my herbal allies practice to my sons. They were complaining that since I do not have a multi-year degree or certificate of herbal studies that I wasn’t really qualified to talk about herbs.
Ah, but you see, a Ritual Herbalist reminds us of the Magick of empirical knowledge. This wisdom is gained by interacting with the Spirit World of plants in conscious conversation. Sitting with plants, listening to their vibrations, seeing their smells, and instinctively knowing how to match their energy with the trials and joys we face – slowly, every day, we learn.
A Ritual Herbalist bonds with her plants, whether she grows them or simply whispers her secrets to them. A Ritual Herbalist is one who matches vibrations with plant allies for manifestation. Are you a Ritual Herbalist? Do you believe in Animism? Do you sense the personalities of different herbs, plants and trees?
If so, then please join me in conversation about our plant allies at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium on Monday, May 31. In this 75-minute class I will discuss what it means to be a Ritual Herbalist to me and ask for feedback from the class. I will talk about the different personalities evident in the flora world by using examples from my own backyard: horsetail, lilac and dandelion, and more. I will discuss the Findhorn Foundation. We will close with a guided meditation to empower the Ritual Herbalist in us all.