If like me, you find yourself increasingly tuning into the mystical, unseen energies and rhythms that pervade the earth, sea, sky—indeed the universe—herbs may prove to be far more significant than you ever thought. For a start, just to become more aware of the natural world and its cycles is a life-enhancing tool, and, perhaps, a portal into a parallel magical universe.
The medicinal use of plants and the history of herbalism is undoubtedly as old as the history of humanity. The classical writers only recorded the use of four plants for magical and medicinal purposes: Mistletoe, Vervain, Selago and Samolus. By correlating archaeobotanical records of the plants that grew at the time of the ancient Druids in their source-lands of western Europe with the writings of contemporary herbalists such as Dioscorides, and the references to herbs in the old Celtic tales, we have been able to build a pretty good idea of the medicinal plants the ancients have used, such as Valerian—which is prized for its calming effect.
Supposedly more potent than its Echinacea predecessor, Orangeroot, a perennial herb in the buttercup family has anti-inflammatory and (gulp) laxative properties. It’s also feted for slaying UTI’s and easing muscle-spasms, which is how I've recently come to be using it—for muscle spasms that is (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). But why? In part, due to its high concentration of the chemical berberine which effectively eradicates bacteria, fungi and prevents E. coli from binding to urinary tract walls. Fyi it’s sold as Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) and manufactured as a tincture.
Goldenseal is bound to Venus and Fire, and is known as a herb of attraction, often used in rituals and candle magick. In today's culture which worships molecular biology, the lists of details on plant molecules, enzymes, coenzymes and so forth, have nothing in common with our direct experience of a plant. This is because, for any kind of healing to happen, it must contain an element of individualism, for it is a piece of yourself, your own psyche or soul mixed with that of the plant you are using, that lends itself to the 'working'.
I hope like me, when introducing a new herb into your daily repertoire, you make a lovely act of it—for it's the essential oils in fragrant plant materials, the aroma molecules, that can transport us, make us think we are walking in nature, exuding a connection to the plant and ourselves.
Think of using herbs for a subtle, yet very real energy that help manifest change.