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The Power of Plant Medicine

And Cultivating Reciprocity

If we can see our body as a wonder, we also have the opportunity to see the Earth as a wonder, and healing can begin for the body of the Earth. When we go home and take care of ourselves, we heal not only our own bodies and minds, but we help the Earth as well ~Thich Nhat Hanh

How do we walk on the Earth?

For as long as we can imagine, plants have given us medicine. Homo Erectus ate medicinal plants at least as long as 800,000 years ago! Throughout history and up to the present moment, plant medicine has woven its way into our oral traditions, including stories, songs, ceremonies. In cultures that created written languages, often some of the first things recorded were how to use plants as medicine (i.e Hildegarde de Binden in Medieval Times). Contemporary western herbalists trace their roots to an eclectic mixture of medicine from the Greeks, some Medieval religous archives, African diaspora, and first peoples of the Americas. Herbalists may also weave their practices from Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM, Ayurveda, and other ancient traditions. There has been a long lineage of plant medicine, and it~s not uncommon to see people today relying on herbs in the same ways that our ancestors did 100 or 1000 years ago. Yet, even with this rich heritage, many of us were born into a society that not only fears Nature but beleives we are separate from it and can dominate it. It is perhaps this one myth that is doing the most damage to our earth today! A culture of corporations repeatedly puts profits, selfish interests and convenience above all else. As a result, toxicants flow through our sacred rivers, plastics choke our sacred oceans, and single-use disposible plastics clog our landfills. The earth's climate is drastically affected. We're on a straight high track of seeing widespread natural disasters like wild fires, drought, species die'offs... But let's not go too dramatic there, point is... These changes affect all of us because we are all a part of the same ecosystem called Earth. We are deeply connected to her, and our health cannot be separated from the health of our planet. In order to heal the wound that is fueling environmental destruction, we must reintegrate ourselves to Nature. We must rightfully see ourselves within this world and not separate from it. We must Be Stewards of the Earth.

Plants offer us a powerful way to restore this connection and balance. Through interacting with plants, we can take practical steps that are healing while also being transformative and joyful (just like the plants are!). Connecting with plants and Nature doesn't require us to travel to a far-off wilderness. In fact, the most powerful connections can happen simply and daily, through the food we choose to eat and the medicine we need to heal, noticing the world around us and being aware of Nature's cycles. How we interact with these plants Matters! If we approach plants with the perspective that this is "free" food or medicine is ours for the taking, we will throw away much of their healing wisdom. If we harvest plants hastily, without awareness of how best to tend them, we will harm the plants, future harvests, even the greater ecosystems of ourselves and the magical potential to wellness and harmony!

The strongest relationships we form are based in RECIPROCITY. In the Andes, Reciprocity is AYNI, to be in right relationship with Life. To be in ayni is to fell one with the most organic flow of Life... the basis for the wellbeing of a person or a village. We know that human relationships that are all-give all-take are the most fragile. One of the most powerful ways to renew our connection to the earth is to practice both Reciprocity and GRATITUDE for the beauty of a flower, the delicious food on our plate, the sun warming our skin, the smell of plants after a rainfall.. - and the healing we experience with the power of plant medicine. Out of this Gratitude, the feeling of Reciprocity often blooms. AS we shift our awareness to see ourselves as part of Nature, to truly realize our lives ebbs and flows are regulated not only by our physical environment, our self-care but also by seasons, and our solar system - as we gratefully experience the bounty offered and recognize our important roles - we become empowered. We see that the Health of this planet is intrinsically connected to the health of our future generations - it all depends on our actions today. > Imagine how this world would look like if we all worked to strengthen our communities in solidarity with the soil, water, air and all of Creation. We can rely on herbs to releive many digestive complaints, address minor first'aid symptoms, support natural detoxification, rejuvenate healthy skin, support oral health, releive musuloskeletal pain and more. You can integrate plants in your daily life, they are our best allies! When you have a hand in making your own medicine - from gathering to processing, infusing to straining - your sense of empowerment becomes an important part of your healing process. You are imprinting your DNA with the magical powers of plants so they can best remember and heal you!

How do we inspire?

a culture driven by consumption and waste to live harmoniously with the Earth?

This was a question I inevitably faced on my herbal path. It was at the gatherings and in circles that I began thinking about “seven generations in mind,” that is, considering how you can meet your needs today to ensure that future generations can meet theirs as well. I wanted to make sure that the way I worked with plants was sustainable and in harmony with nature.

I noticed that when people came together to make medicine, the rhythm of cutting, garbling, and chopping created an Alpha state. This altered state allowed people to tap into different modes of thinking and solve old problems in creative new ways. By creating community and gatherings centered around medicine making, you bring your hearts and hands back into ALIGNEMENT with the Earth, which leads to the development of a NEW CULTURE inspired by sustainability.

Remembering that community is an essential part of herbalism can help you drop into your heart space, slow down, enjoy, and reclaim your sense of calm when starting on your herbal path. When people first discover herbalism, they often feel overwhelmed because they try to “download” generations of knowledge within a short amount of time. My advice is to remember that herbalism is a GENERATIONAL ART. You need time to relax into it, and you might not even learn it all in one lifetime! You are a part of a cultural arc where herbalism is being REVIVED & REMEMBERED after being forgotten for a long time.

“It’s in our bones to harvest the gifts of the Earth and say thank you by creating nourishing gifts that feed life. We bring the Earth into our home, we create healing remedies, and we feed life together.” – Kami McBride

How do we cultivate a Relationship with Healing Plants? In our modern era, it's easy yo feel profundly disconnected not only from nature but also from our ancestores, sustenance, and medicine. The antidote to this cultural chasm is a connection to place. This connection is a web with pulsing threads fastening you to your neighbors, garden, medicine, community, ancestors, children and heritage, which in turn resurrects a SENSE OF BELONGING - a deep knowing that you have a rightful place in this world.

Befriending living plants keeps me close to my roots, literally and figuratively. When I want to know more about a plant, I bring it into my garden. From there we slowly begin the dance of plant-human reciprocity, a friendship of sorts, born of companionable silence throughout the seasons. We become acquainted as I weed around the plants' roots, pick insects and mushrooms around her, and share water with it during dry spells. From her seed-form i take care of her and she nourishes me with beauty and statisfaction, until she makes it to my kitchen and finally in my body she dissolves into emotions and healing energetics. This COMMUNION ultimately brings me to a deep-seated and intimate knowledge of the medicine, and ultimately Myself.

The Earth has medicine for those who can see beyong their eyes.

When the Earth calls you, you may not have the support you need to begin an herbalism program. However, you can honor this calling by meeting up with even a single friend each month to slowly form medicine circles. Find your people, gather together, and celebrate the harvest. Your path will unfold and open to you as you listen to the calling of your heart... were it all begins!

Much Love & Connection, with all my Heart Jaya

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