In a world where technology often dominates our lives, there’s something very special about connecting with nature and the ancient wisdom it holds. In this article we’ll unpack the mysteries of plant wisdom and cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation for the green wonders that surround us, often hiding in plain sight.
Affiliate disclosure: This article contains affiliate links* for books that I find to be helpful and relevant on the topic of plant wisdom. As an Amazon Associate, I may make a commission on qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you!
Table of Contents
What is plant wisdom?
“Before there were herbalists, there were plants. The plants were here on this Earth far before humans and their wisdom is far beyond our own limited human understanding. They are the ones who know how to heal sickness, how to mend and restore health. They know how to nourish and feed life. They know how to adapt and evolve, and have witnessed the ages of life on Earth. Their brilliance and intelligence is vast and profound beyond comprehension.”
–Sajah Popham, founder of Evolutionary Herbalism
Simply put, plant wisdom is a special type of divine and universal knowledge, understanding, and wisdom which is woven within the fabric of people, plants, and even planets. More specifically, plant wisdom is a type of non-verbal language through which plants communicate their messages to us.
Plant wisdom isn’t visible to the naked eye, but it can be accessed by those of us who are willing to listen and observe the hidden messages and patterns through symbolism and critical thinking.
Where does it come from?
Plants, with their silent grace, have been our steadfast companions and herbal allies for millenia, offering us not only sustenance, healing, and beauty, but also profound teachings that can enrich our lives.
How fascinating is it that so many different groups of people living on completely different continents around the world (before the era of technology) happened to lean on the same plants (or similar local variations of the same plants) as remedies for the same ailments? This can be explained by the concept of plant wisdom and the work that our ancestors did to cultivate a deeper understanding of how plants and people are connected.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to learning about plant wisdom; indiginous healers from many generations past did much of the “heavy lifting” for us, and sadly many were afflicted and oppressed for it. Countless people were hanged, persecuted, and even burned at the stake for embodying and sharing what we now know to be true about plant wisdom and the innate healing potential of plants.
- For more on how this ancestral trauma has impacted us in modern-day times, I invite you to read about the Witch Wound here.
But still, knowledge of this ancient wisdom has prevailed and stood the test of time, passed down through lineage, and remains accessible to us nowadays. Needless to say, their sacrifices have paved the way for the modern-day cutting-edge knowledge of herbs that so many of us can now access in seconds, on demand.
Tuning into plant wisdom through your 5 senses
Plants can teach us patience, resilience, and the art of surrendering to the natural cycles and seasons of life.
But on another level, what most people don’t notice right off the bat is how plants hold specific patterns and signatures which may serve as clues to how they can help us.
Stop and take a moment to notice the unique constitutional energetics, colors, environmental habitats, and divinely constructed symmetrical patterns within each plant – and how its attributes may correspond to certain aspects of human health on the physical, mental/emtional, or even spiritual level.
Do you think it’s a coincidence that walnuts in their shells sp closely resemble a human brain inside of a skull? Or that the big, soft leaves of mullein, with its fine brush-like hairs, resemble the lobes of lungs with cilia? Or that ginger rhizomes happen to look a lot like a stomach?
(For more information on the concept of plant signatures, make sure to read about the Doctrine of Signatures here.)
- Disclaimer: the Doctrine of Signatures is not 100% accurate/reliable, and should never replace evidence-based practice. But it’s very interesting to note all the correspondences! Having this deeper understanding helps us to become better healers and patients, as it helps us to think more critically and read between the lines.
Clinical research on the benefits and uses herbal medicine for human heath is just now beginning to confirm what our ancestors already knew to be true many hundreds of years ago, as demonstrated in indigenous “folk herbalism” practices and ancient traditions.
Indigenous traditions: connecting back to our roots
Indigenous cultures across the globe have long revered plants as allies and guides. Their deep-rooted wisdom can teach us a lot about sustainability, respect for Mother Earth, and the importance of living in harmony and alignment with nature.
From the smudging of sage to cacao ceremonies and psychedelic mushrooms, to the traditional practice of seeking out natural remedies via the community “medicine woman” / “medicine man”, plants have always been regarded as sacred beings that hold profound teachings and the ability to connect us with our inner selves and the spiritual realm.
By embracing and honoring ancient traditional ceremonies and practices with reverence (versus with careless recreation or a superficial desire to keep up with new age trends), we can deepen our understanding of and relationship with the plants, planets, divine source, and with ourselves.
Consider studying the history of indigenous traditions and folk herbalism practices as a foundational element of your herbal medicine path, even if you’re primarily interested in clinical herbalism (herbal medicine in clinical practice).
Reverence and sustainability best-practices
In this era of environmental awareness, plants beckon us to adopt sustainable practices and become stewards of our planet.
By embracing ethical/sustainable harvesting and organic farming/gardening, reducing our carbon footprint, recycling, and supporting other eco-conscious initiatives, we can contribute to the preservation of our fragile ecosystems.
It’s also important to practice asking plants for consent before harvesting or wildcrafting. This is something that gets easier with practice, and something I learned from all of my herbalism mentors on my way to becoming a clinical herbalist.
I hope you found this article helpful, informative, and enlightening! To learn more about all things plant wisdom and herbal medicine, make sure to check out the following resources:
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer*
- Evolutionary Herbalism: Science, Spirituality, and Medicine from the Heart of Nature by Sajah Popham*
- Native American Herbalist’s Bible by Cheyenne Allen*
- My favorite herbalism books for beginners
- Types of Herbalists: Which Resonates Most with You?
- What are Plant Allies (Herbal Allies)?
- Alchemy and Herbalism Part 1- The Science and Spirituality of Herbalism
- Alchemy and Herbalism Part II – As Above, So Below: The Macrocosm and Microcosm in People and Plants
- Alchemy and Herbalism Part III- Spiritual Herbal Pharmacy
Plants remind us of our interconnectedness with all life forms, urging us to make conscious choices that promote a healthier, more sustainable future for many generations to come.
Set the intention to embrace the beauty and healing power of plants, and recognize the wisdom they graciously offer.
Cultivate more reverence and appreciation for ancient indigenous traditional practices.
By reconnecting back to our roots and paying more attention to the subtle patterns and messages woven within the fabric of people and plants, we can begin to live in more synergy and alignment with nature.
May we all lean into the incredible teachings of plant wisdom and cherish the bond we share with the living beings that sustain us all!
XO – Jenna