Watching gardeners label their plants, I vow with all beings to practice the old horticulture and let the plants identify me. -- Robert Aiken
As I stood in the kitchen in front of the spice rack, looking for just the right hint of spice for my latest epicurean adventure, opening jars and smelling my way through the homegrown herbs, rosemary practically leapt off the shelf and into my hand.
I removed the lid and with eyes closed deeply inhaled her warm and piney scent. “Perfect,” I thought. And then I heard a voice: “If rosemary has appeared in your cards today . . .”
It dawned on me in that moment that I might be experiencing something similar to divining with herbs. I was intuitively “pulling” the right herbs off the shelf as one might pull a card from an oracle deck. These herbs were literally talking to me!
And so began Wisdom of the Plant Devas: Herbal Medicine for a New Earth. The messages that came through were ones that the devas had obviously been waiting to share. The copious writing that followed and the ensuing revelations became a catalyst for personal growth and change.
Listen and They Will Speak
While I first heard the voice of an herb deva in my kitchen that morning, shortly thereafter, they appeared in my garden. They sent me off running to my computer, so I could type the messages they were so insistent on delivering. Later, upon reading what I had written, I was astounded. They show up frequently now, when I am working in my garden, and more often than not I have to put everything aside and go promptly to my computer to deliver their timely message.
My fascination with herbs and medicinal plants began early, when I started gathering them in the mountains of North Carolina, where I spent my childhood summers. I have always counted my blessings and know that I am very fortunate to have spent a great deal of time in nature. My parents raised me in a traditional Seminole Indian village, and it was there that I ran barefoot, rode my pony, climbed coconut trees, and fished along the banks of the Miami River. When I was eight, we moved to the rural countryside, where I rode horses through mango, avocado, and lime groves; swam in the ocean; and played in my mother’s award-winning rose garden.
My mother regularly took me to visit other amazing gardens as well, including the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in South Miami, Florida, and the Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I think these places soothed her soul, and when the soul of the mother is soothed, the child knows herself to be in a safe place.
Communing with Nature and with the Wisdom of Plants
My sister left home when I was less than a year old, so I practically grew up as an only child. Like most children who spend a lot of time alone, I developed imaginary playmates, some of which were nature spirits that appeared in various luminous forms. Fairy rings emerged frequently in the acreage behind my house, where the horses grazed and the wild bunnies invited me into their dens to meet their adorable little babies. I have a very fertile and active imagination. I also have the natural gift of clairvoyance and clairaudience, which facilitated my ability to contact the realms of spirit, particularly the spirits of the plants of which I write.
In my twenties I grew herbs like comfrey and red raspberry for use in my midwifery practice, with great success. Over time I developed a kinesthetic relationship with the herbs, sensing their subtle energies and responding to their demands for inclusion in various culinary creations or medicinal preparations. They had been waiting to share their wisdom with me once I learned how to listen.
My practical knowledge of their healing abilities, or even my experience in taste and food combining, took me only so far. The devas of the herbs, however, were challenging me to explore beyond my realm of knowledge and experience. They emphasized that our food is our medicine, and not only for our physical body but also for our spiritual body. Herbs are some of the most powerful allies we have for these times.
Becoming Your Own Healer
As a young woman I wasn’t content just playing with herbs in my kitchen and garden, and became serious about pursuing my studies. I became a midwife and one of the founding mothers of the South Florida School of Midwifery. As executive director of Resources for World Health, I worked with indigenous healers from all over the world. Then I pursued a course of study at the BotanoLogos School for Herbal Studies. While my background is firmly rooted in the European herbal tradition, BotanoLogos opened my mind to the world of medical herbalism and Chinese five element theory.
Presently in my fifties, I achieve inner peace by tending to my garden, playing my guitar, and spending time with my granddaughters. I live in the Appalachian Mountains of my childhood, surrounded by Cherokee ancestral land. It was here that I learned how to shoot a bow, canoe, weave, and gather medicinal herbs. These mountains are some of the oldest in the world, and they boast the widest variety of herbs anywhere on Earth.
When we make a direct connection with an herb and allow it to directly inform us, we become less dependent on looking outside of ourselves and to the experts for advice. Wisdom of the Plant Devas defines how we become our own healers in connection with others who are also their own healers. The premise is one of mutual empowerment and co-creation.
It is here, in the moment, that the making of a story — and the living of it — takes place. The present moment is where the grandest discovery is made and the greatest teaching revealed. May the wisdom of the devas inspire and guide you as together we create a new story and a New Earth.
(subtitles by InnerSelf)
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Bear & Company, an imprint of Inner Traditions Inc.
This article has been adapted with permission from the book:
Wisdom of the Plant Devas: Herbal Medicine for a New Earth
by Thea Summer Deer.
Thea Summer Deer reveals a new dimension of herbal medicine, one where the plant’s spirit is consulted for guidance and healing beyond the physical. Exploring herbal medicine from an energetic perspective, she reveals that by communing with the deva of a plant, we can call on the plant’s physical, psychological, and spiritual medicine and guidance -- without ingesting it or even being in its presence.
About the Author
Thea Summer Deer is a clinical herbalist, singer-songwriter, midwife, and childbirth educator. As a child she learned how to shoot a bow, canoe, weave and gather medicinal herbs. Raised with the Seminole Indians in South Florida until the age of eight, she lives surrounded by Cherokee ancestral land in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina. Visit her website at www.theasummerdeer.com