INTRODUCTION TO A PAGAN PHILOSOPHY OF HERBS
(The following was compiled from several sources on the Web.)
Herbs are "Magick". They have been the primary source of medicines for people of every culture and were considered magickal or spiritual by many of them. An ancient earth based spiritual belief system concerning herbs appears in many ancient cultures and civilizations such as Celtic, Chinese, India, and Native American philosophies just to name a few. Their religious beliefs shaped their view and relationship with the Great Spirit, and the relationships between their citizens. This was a belief system which also demonstrated a wholistic view of illness, and utilized herbs according to religious belief.
You could say that an earth centered-nature religion still permeates herbalism today. We believe that herbalism is part of the RELIGION of NATURE, representing a balance of mind, body and spirit and relies on an intuition as well as science.
Pagans work with Nature, respecting and worshipping the spiritual forces they observe. Nature is perceived as the domain of the gods and of spirits. Nature religions teach a philosophy of divine linking between all of the earth's inhabitants.
This philosophy recognizes that humanity and the rest of creation can become aware of the "oneness of creation".
Herbalism is one vehicle we can use to express
the oneness of creation, and foster the divinity of nature.
The art and science of herbal medicine is, for many people, the realization that we are ALL A PART OF GAIA. - The Earth. We teach that The Earth is a living entity with senses, intelligence, memory and the capacity to act.
Ayruveda, an Indian Science of Health, declares the Hindu concept of oneness: "...people everywhere, are beginning to understand concepts like Gaia, the ONENESS of the organism of earth. This happens by Pitta, the force of the intellect, or Vishnu the preserver (a Hindu god), who keeps balance on earth between the spiritual and demonic."
In The Elements of Herbalism by Hoffman, it states: "Healing is a Gaian quality, as it is a personal expression of balance and wholeness. The relationship between healing plants and people, can be seen as Gaia in action----the context of ecological embrace." Herbal healing is "an expression of very real and practical links with Gaia, there is an activation of ecological cycles for healing. A unique opportunity is created by the simple act of taking herbal medicines----such healing, goes beyond the treatment of pathologies and alleviation of bodily suffering-rather, it is in the realm of the transcendental, the ineffable transformation that comes through the touch of the Great Spirit.
According to Cunningham's Wicca-a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Wicca is a "religion, centering around reverence for nature, as seen in the Goddess and the God. The Goddess is nature, the Universal Mother. The God is the consort of the Goddess."
In The Roots of Healing-A Woman's Book of Herbs, it states: "We understand that the primary "LIFE FORCE" of earth is contained within plants. We trust in earth's healing abilities, and therefore, have continued to call upon herbs for nutritional, medicinal, and spiritual help. Our reverence for the mysteries of birth, life, death, and renewal, guides us to live in harmony with nature, closely following her rhythms. We are connected to changing seasons, the weather, and the cycles of the moon----We are known in our communities as herbalists, midwives, witches, nurses, and wise women----We have continued to practice our healing arts despite centuries of persecution by religious organizations, governments, and medical establishments----Over time, I realized that a presence of unconditional love was emanating from earth herself through herbs. This presence, I came to realize, is divine female wisdom, the great Goddess."
We believe our religion is a positive, shamanistic, nature religion, with two main deities honored and worshipped in our rites: the Goddess (the female aspect and a deity related to the ancient Mother Goddess in her triple aspects of maiden, mother and crone) and her consort, the Horned God (the male aspect). Witchcraft is considered, by many, to be both a monistic and pantheistic religion. In simple terms, it is a positive nature based religion, preaching brotherly love, and harmony with, and respect for, all life forms. It is very similar to Native American spirituality."
to the late Scott Cunningham, "Earth is a manifestation of divine energy,
and reveals her secrets 'to Wiccans', who listen to the earth. To be outdoors,
is to be in the temple and surrounded by sanctity."
To Summarize: Witchcraft is the Natural way of looking at the Earth and all its inhabiatants. Herbcrafting is the Natural way of helping to keep the balance.