Friday, January 4, 2013

Clearing with aromatic plants

"Medicine and magick started as aspects of the same activity and gnosis - they only are separate if you make them so." -- Mitch Bebel Stargrove

The medicinal and magical actions of a plant are inextricably linked. Medicine is just a specialized form of magic -- ``the art and science of creating change in conformity with Will`` applied within the realm of the human body. All magic operates within this same universe of matter and energy we inhabit, and so it stands to reason that the physical properties which we use to identify the medicinal actions of a plant can also be used to understand and describe that plant`s more esoteric gifts.

Aromatic plants exist in most every ecosystem.  They release volatile oils into the environment that help to kill airborne pathogens, protecting the plants (and the other plants around it) from infection.  Aromatherapist and herbalist David Crow coined the phrase ``community immunity`to describe the ecological function of these volatile oils.

These plants are easy to identify.  When you rub their leaves between your fingers they release their potent scents (and the scent will likely linger a bit on your skin.)

When ingested (whether by chewing on the leaves or taking a tea or a tincture or absorbing them through the skin in a bath or by burning the plants and inhaling the smoke), plants rich in these volatile oils:

-- Combat infection in the tissues they come in contact with

-- Irritate the mucosa (some mildly and some more severely) promoting the secretion of new healthy mucous and thus breaking up congestion

-- Help to carry other medicines more efficiently through the body when included in formulae

Not surprisingly, most cultures use the aromatic plants growing in their environment ceremonially to clear stagnant emotions and protect, clear the mind and heart, and protect against spiritual contagions such as rage, envy, jealousy, and resentment (known in many traditions as the evil eye).   Whether burned as smudges, infused in bath water, or carried as talismans, these plants can be powerful allies in clearing the way for magical work by dispersing unwanted energies from in and around a witch.

Aromatic plants with a nauseatingly bitter taste like Wormwood and can serve to root out deeply festering energetic infestations.

Oily, aromatic roots like Angelica and Osha, with their spicy, earthy scents, stir what sleeps in the deepest waters of the unconscious, opening the way to dreams and visions.

Sweetly aromatic plants like Sweetgrass help to nourish the heart and settle parts of us that have been upset by grief or pain.

It is essential when working with plants, however, to remember that they are not inert objects, but living entities -- not ingredients in ritual preparations, but active partners in the magic being done.   Treated with respect, over time a plant will reveal more of its character to you and offer itself more deeply in your work.  

But it all begins with meeting the plants around you and engaging them with your own senses.  And the aromatic plants, filling the air with their scent, are ready to begin sharing themselves with you.

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