Herbs To Nourish Your Spirit & Enhance Intuition
Herbs have been used throughout the world and across thousands of years for healing the body, fortifying the mind and breaking down the barriers between us and the cosmos. They were oft used within the realms of rituals with their value passed down through generations like gold.
In more recent times those same sacred herbs have been exploited by big business, stripping them down into small more manageable and explainable parts, rendering them nothing more than a pharmaceutical - curcumin anyone, or maybe some berberine? And while sometimes effective for some people, these fractionated and reduced chemicals are destined as only a short term solution. The reason for this is multifactorial.
Knowing something about the probable active constituents of herbs is important; however, herbs are more than just a sum of their constituents. For instance, a herb may contain a constituent that irritates the gut lining but it in turn may contain a constituent that soothes and lines the gut. Extracting just one constituent can render an extract prone to side effects, irritation and or ineffectiveness. This hurts herbal medicine.
In addition, the ritual is part of the herbal experience. Throwing a few pills down your throat with a coffee as you head out the door and into traffic is not paying tribute to the herb and is also destined not to be effective. This is particularly true of herbs which you are using to shift energy in your mood and spirit.
Thirdly and I think most importantly is that in many cases the energetics and spiritual actions of the herb have been forgotten or cast off as mumbo jumbo. These properties are, in fact, very real despite the fact that they cannot be measured in a lab or seen under a microscope. Many of the most ancient documented medical systems outline the spiritual and energetic effects of plants in more reverence than those of the physical actions In fact, physical symptoms were often thought just to be just a manifestation of spiritual and energetic disharmony.
I think one only needs to hear the differing experiences of those who have taken part in shamanic rituals with sacred herbs to understand that herbs certainly possess something that cannot be named or contained. Not everyone is keen on going into the jungle to take ayahuasca or psilocybin but there are some legal herbs which improve receptivity and enhance intuition and feed your spirit without dissolving your ego. Maybe not in such an outwardly obvious way, but if you listen hard enough, you can hear them whispering soothing and encouraging words to your spirit. These are my top picks.
Chaga holds a special place in my heart. The first medicinal mushroom that I ever tried and the one that I continue to love and cherish. From very cold climates, chaga has been used ritualistically by people in Siberia for generations both for cleansing and for health. A slow growing fungi, it contains the wisdom of many seasons, ready to impart to those who imbibe. Chaga decalcifies the pineal gland - a calcified pineal gland affects cognitive abilities, reaction time, judgment, perception, and performance. This is all very mechanistic, so from a spiritual perspective, the pineal gland can also be thought of as the third eye, the ajna chakra or the minds eye. The third eye allows us to reach our spiritual potential and enhances intuition and that sense of "knowing". Of course most people think of chaga as the immune mushroom but its ability to enhance intuitive thought in my opinion is second to none.
HE SHOU WU
He shou wu has to have the best back story - an old, lonely infertile drunk finds the roots of this magickal vine, starts to drink them as a tea and then lo and behold, he becomes young and virile and goes on to have more kids than really manageable. I think this is a pretty epic way of describing its longevity and virility actions. It is interesting also to note that almost all of the herbs which are thought to enhance longevity are also thought to enhance spiritual growth - this is easily explained as a longer life gives more time to nurture your spirit! As he shou wu is thought of as a shen tonic ( spirit- loosely) and a yin herb (receptive feminine energy) he shou wu is thought make you more receptive to spirit, more intuitive and in touch with your creativity. I always recommend this herb to mums who have lost their connection with themselves after having kids. It nourishes deep energy stores depleted by pregnancy and also helps mums to reconnect to themselves after a period of selflessness.
Ling Zhi is the Chinese word for reishi and loosely translates as the spirit herb or the herb of immortality. In many ancient manuscripts it is depicted as the bridge between heaven and earth and was used in rituals to promote spiritual radiance and transformation. From a TCM perspective, reishi is a shen herb which acts to nourish and cultivate your spiritual purpose allowing you to find your true inner self. Some shaman believe that reishi can help to unpack psychic baggage, thoughts and ideas that have been holding back your spiritual growth. Reishi is considered to be one of the best herbs for meditation where it calms and settles the mind and body allowing , in that quiet state, to tap into your spirit. With this increased tranquility, meditation and other spiritual practices become more natural.
HOW TO USE THEM
These beautiful mushrooms and herbs deserve reverence. They deserve a ritual and a process to take them in. I like to add them to cacao and maple and sit with them quietly in the sun taking in their spirit and listening quietly for their wisdom. Its just a whisper but it is certainly there.