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One of the critical elements of the new paradigm of plant medicine is that there are more and more practitioners are incorporating the psychological, emotional and spiritual levels of being in their clinical work. I think this is an essential component of healing that cannot be overlooked, especially if we want to be holistic practitioners- for we are not just our bodies, and indeed, our psyche and soul directly influence the nature of our physiology.
After interacting with thousands of herbalists across the world that either currently do, or want to, incorporate psychology into their work with plants, what seems to be almost universal amongst them is a lack of system that adequately encompasses our psychological structures and relates them to the remedies they work with.
If we are to work with the psyche, it’s important that we have a system, a way to organize our understanding of the psychological structures that unites them to a greater pattern in the natural world.
In fact, one the oldest models of psychology in the world does just that. And that model is astrology.
One of the coolest things about astrology is that it provides a holistic understanding of the human psyche and how its underlying structure is the same as the very solar system in which we dwell, uniting the macrocosm and macrocosm.
According to astrology, the underlying structure of the psyche is based on a pattern of 7- the harmonic pattern of nature- which is also the premise of our perceptions of visible light (7 colors in the visible light spectrum) and sound (7 primary notes on the musical scale). These are represented by the 7 inner planets: the Sun, Moon, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury. We all have each of these planetary forces within us, through at different stages of development, embodiment and modes of expression.
When you are working with a person and they are expressing things they deal with in regards to their mind, emotions or spirituality, it is important to pay close attention to the specific words they say and how their expressions relate to the planetary qualities. This indicates where their vital force is stuck, is deficient, weakened, and in need of support. It is often true as well, that these particular planetary patterns affecting the psyche are also affecting the physical body.
In this way, astrology provides a direct link between the physical and psychological levels of being, allowing you to see the underlying pattern behind both of them, and treat them from that place.
The power of astrology lies in the fact that it is a natural system of psychology, one that is rationally based and intellectually sound. But because it is a pattern based in nature, it is in accordance with the heart and thus the intuition. Many practitioners will focus solely on their intuition in order to assess what’s going on for a person psychologically or emotionally as well as to guide their remedy selection. And while that’s totally valid, it’s also nice to have a system that lines up the intuitive heart with the rational intellect, so they can work together in harmony.
Astrology is in my opinion, an incredible tool for any herbalist to learn, not only in its application towards understanding a person more holistically, but also the plants you work with, how to prepare them more effectively, how to compound them into formulas, administer them, and have a sound therapeutic model. It helps to bridge the body, spirit and soul into one cohesive system that ultimately makes you incredibly more precise and specific in your work with plants.