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Let’s face it, people want deeper levels of healing these days. Most are starting to realize that a physical symptom in the body is actually and oftentimes directly influenced by the mind and emotions. Some are even thinking that maybe their physical symptoms are there because of their psychological and emotional state!
This is revolutionary to say the least. Because for a very long time we have always thought of the body and the mind as separate- that they are distinct entities and couldn’t possibly influence one another. Not only do most of experiences contradict that kind of thinking, but modern science does now too. It is showing that the body and mind are in fact not separate, but are 2 ends of one spectrum.
I love how Osho described it when he said that “the body is but the most dense form of the mind and the mind is the most subtle form of the body. They are a continuum, a spectrum- they are one thing.”
So if we think about herbal medicines within this context, we could infer that because a plant is working upon the body then they are also working upon the mind. From flower essences and plant spirits, to spagyrics and other alchemically prepared medicines (and by alchemically prepared I mean done according to the western tradition of real alchemy), many herbalists are starting to address their clients psychological and emotional well being with plants.
But from what I’ve gathered talking to literally hundreds of herbalists across the country, many of them feel a bit lost as to how to approach having a system for working with their clients psychology with herbs. Most herbalists will rely on their intuition in this regard- focusing on tuning into their higher guidance system, spiritual allies, and inner wisdom to understand what is going on as well as what the appropriate remedy is.
PLEASE don’t get me wrong- this is a completely valid and powerful method of working with clients and plants if it is done truly and honestly (IE you are out of the way!). But many other practitioners want to address psycho-spiritual dynamics but don’t feel like they have a finely tuned intuition or they want something that has a little bit more structure, a bit more intellect involved.
For this, there is nothing greater (in my opinion at least) than medical astrology. This is one of the most complex, specific and precise systems for addressing the spiritual, emotional, psychological and physiological aspects of healing all in one system!
If we take the 7 inner planets of astrology, we see that they have specific organs, systems and tissues of the body that they rule, as well as generate specific constitutional patterns, psychological temperaments, and hold certain evolutionary functions that help us to evolve on the level of the soul. In short, it is a truly holistic pattern because it sees the wholeness of the person in an integrated way.
Those 7 planets represent the 7 core psychological functions of the human being. The Sun is our essential self, the personality that we shine out into the world. The Moon is our internal world, our subconscious and how we tend to experience ourselves. Mars represents our action and will power, how we move out into the world, whereas Venus represents how that outer world touches us and how we respond- our aesthetic sense and ability to relate. Jupiter shows us our aspirations, goals and dreams, whereas Saturn shows us what kinds of restrictions and limitations we will face in trying to achieve those goals. Mercury represents our communication faculty, our language, self expression and function of the analytical mind.
Obviously this is a grossly generic summary of the qualities of the 7 planets, but the point is that we all have all 7 of them within us, we only represent them differently. When we can learn which of these planetary influences we are excessive, deficient, weak or strong in, we have an essential key for our personal development as well as a good place to start in regards to what herbs we might want to start working with to balance our psyche.
Remember, our psychology isn’t just how we think in our heads- it is so much more than that! The goal is to have a whole psyche, integrated, complete, not neglecting or rejection certain parts of itself, and also not glorifying and exemplifying another part too much. From an alchemical perspective, our goal is to integrate these 7 layers of the self, these 7 “psychic bits” in a balanced and harmonious way, embodying all of their beneficial and positive qualities because we have healed and transformed their dark sides into the light.
In conclusion, to effectively work within the psychological sphere of our clients it is extremely beneficial to have some sort of blueprint of the psyche that helps to guide our therapeutic approaches, and no blueprint is more ancient, specific, and accurate than the pattern of astrology.
And when we learn to integrate this cosmic pattern of astrology down to our earthly understanding of plants, we truly reach a new level of herbal practice that gets into the true nature of people and plants.