Several years ago, during one of my travels to Africa doing research about herbs and herbal medicine, one of my teachers and mentors said to me: “do you understand the language of plants? We shall spend this afternoon communicating with plants and getting some herbs”. My initial reaction was one of shock, wondering how this could be possible.
It was the first time that I had come across the concept of the language of plants. I then said that I looked forward to that. We went on a trek into the wilderness, where I could not spot another human being or a dwelling of any sort in the area, just plants; my lesson started.
The lead person in the group said me “look at this tree, it is not a common tree, its leaves have got good medicinal properties”. He explained in detail what the menial properties were and what they treat. He then gave me instructions, before plucking or cutting any part of a tree or plant, always request the tree that you can have some of its leaves/part for medicinal purposes, do not just cut or pluck, trees have a type of consciousness.
When you harvest, do not forget to thank the plant that you harvested from. He then went on to say that the herbs work better when they are harvested this way. The addition to my learning curve was that there are ethics in harvesting herbs, and that his knowledge had been learnt by these individuals spiritually, not through formal institutional education. During my formal learning I also learnt a similar thing but from a different source: being ethical with regard to sourcing of herbs.
Several years later, through research text, I came across the concept of The Doctrine of Signatures. The Doctrine of Signatures means that a plant that looks like a disease, organ or person can heal. For example, Equisetum arvensis (Horsetail) looks like horse hair, so it is good for hair. A further example is that snake medicine looks snake-like, the long flower Raceme looks like the spine of a snake.
A sweet potato looks like a pancreas, sweet potatoeshelp to balance blood sugar. The cells of our bodies look like onions; onions are good for removing toxic waste from the body.
A walnut looks like a human brain, walnuts a helpful in brain function; Kidney beans look like human kidneys, they heal and help kidney function.