A publication of the
World Wide Essence Society
previous page next page
This page sponsored by:|
©2000 by Alexis Rotella
As a creator and practitioner of flower essences, I was attracted to the idea of Plant Spirit Medicine, even though I had no idea how it was practiced. I thought using flower essences WAS Plant Spirit Medicine. After graduating from The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture and studying with Eliot Cowan, however, I understood that the two, while having similarities, are very different.
Eliot Cowan is a Five Element acupuncturist and author of PLANT SPIRIT MEDICINE. He studied with J.R. Worsley, founder of several Western Five-Element schools. After practicing acupuncture for a time, Eliot found a Huichol Indian healer who agreed to teach him the art of Plant Spirit Medicine as practiced in Central America. To this shamanistic training, Eliot added the diagnostic skills of Five Element Acupuncture. He realized that Plant Spirits know all about the natural law of Five Elements since they live it and change through the five seasons--late summer being the fifth that is unrecognized in most element systems.
The major part of Five Element acupuncture is in listening to the pulses, which tell us where there are blockages between meridians. Eliot discovered that needles were not necessary --that Plant Spirits were eager and willing to do the work. Every person has a basic constitution which dictates which meridians he or she is to be treated on. Instead of needling specific meridians, Eliot found that it is possible to find Plant Spirits that are akin to the five elements and to send that particular Spirit to the patient. Plantain, for example, might be the correct treatment for a person with a Metal constitution.
What each Plant Spirit does is unique. In Plant Spirit Medicine, we are trained to determine what each one specializes in by taking an underground journey to the Spirit of the Plant in question. In trance, we ask our power animal to take us to the Spirit of a particular plant.
When we are taken there, we respectfully introduce ourselves, say that we are from the Upper World, that we are there to learn about that Plant Spirit's medicine in order to help Humanity. The Plant Spirits are generous and most often cooperate. After establishing a relationship with a certain Plant Spirit, we bring back that knowledge into the Upper World and use it in a clinical setting.
Although Eliot shares some of his own insights with students, we are all encouraged to develop our own relationships with plants and not be couch-potato practitioners, i.e., not to just use the medicine handed down by our teacher. Several practitioners may travel to the same Plant Spirit and be given different uses. The healing of Plant Spirit Medicine depends upon what relationship we have with that particular entity. We can take someone else's perception, try it out and see if it works in our clinic, but that's the fast-food variety of healing.
Herbologists and practitioners of Plant Spirit Medicine around the world teach that the plants in our own region are a hundred times more powerful for us than those from far away. The wild herbs and flowers that grow in our own back yard are the most powerful and are there for a reason. While it's interesting to learn about flower essences from Alaska and Australia, people relate better to the dandelion or thistle that grows near their back porch.
The amazing thing about Plant Spirit Medicine is that it actually works. It's humbling in a clinical setting to know that all we need is to call upon a Plant Spirit and ask it to do a certain transfer of energy for the patient. Immediately the pulse changes. If we diagnose the person's constitution correctly and ask a plant representative of that element to enter a person's being, the person will immediately feel more like him or herself. Patients feel like they have been heard, perhaps for the first time in their lives. Plant Spirits are exceedingly generous and want to help humanity because their life depends upon ours and vice versa.
When I made flower essences years back, I did consciously call on the spirits of the plants to help me make the essences and understand their healing purposes. Many--maybe even most--essence makers do that today. My training with Eliot Cowan helped me to take this process of connecting and communicating with the plant spirits even deeper. I learned how to form sustained relationships with particular plant spirits and to make them my healing partners.
If you would like to learn more, you can read about the journeying process in Eliot's book, PLANT SPIRIT MEDICINE. I would also recommend that you attend workshops by Eliot or other Plant Spirit Medicine practitioners if they come to your area.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis K. Rotella is a five-element acupuncturist and plant spirit medicine practitioner in Arnold, MD. She is owner of The Jade Spring Health Center and specializes in a variety of needleless techniques including Plant Spirit Medicine, Colorpuncture and Korean Hand Therapy. She is author of THE ESSENCE OF FLOWERS (Jade Mountain Press, 1981) and a number of books of haiku and other forms of Japanese poetry. Check out her web page or to learn more about her writing, search her name ALEXIS ROTELLA for various web links.
EDITORS' NOTE: One delightful way to enhance your journeying skills might be to pay a visit to Debra Cortese, the artist who created the plant spirit images that decorate this page. The iris gnome and the fiddlehead fairy shown here are but two whose likenesses she has captured.