Healing With Plant Spirit Medicine

Could the potency and mystery of ancient shamanic healing with plant spirits provide medicine for the illnesses?

The shamanic view is a deeply spiritual view in which the questions of health, illness and healing are always seen as involving spiritual dynamics. The natural world is seen as having great awareness and wisdom and offers profound help in seeing what’s needed and also supplies it.

Conventional western medicine, and also many modalities seen as “alternative” but still based on a western approach, draw upon the capacities inherent in a western view of how the world works, which, you could say these days, is primarily mechanical. The human body is seen as a kind of mechanism and if something is missing an attempt is made to replace it. Or if something is not functioning properly, an effort is made to repair it in a mechanical way. Even in the case of mental or emotional illness, the popular view these days is that it all relates to brain chemistry and can best be dealt with by introducing certain chemicals into the brain in order to alter its functioning.

Consider the way a health condition is assessed. The western approach might include producing x-rays or taking blood tests. But shamanic healing is based on an entirely different view of how the world works, what a human being’s relationship to the world is, what illness is all about and what kind of resources are available for healing. In shamanic healing, the healer may find himself or herself primarily informed through dreams, which give access to capacities in human beings that we normally don’t have when we’re awake. Therefore, comparing a western modality to shamanic healing, the approach to bringing relief can come from very different directions.

Whether you live in a mountain cabin or a city loft, the healing power of plants—not merely their physical medicinal properties—offer us the gifts of a deeper wisdom to resolve challenges in our own healing journey and restore balance. This is Plant Spirit Medicine—an ancient medicine that produces healing purely through good relationship with the natural world.

Plant Spirit Medicine gives paramount importance to the spirit, the mysterious core of our lives. This mysterious healing weaves into our relationships with ourselves, our loved ones, community, ancestors, worldview and the forces of the divine natural world.

Like a guitar with one string out of tune or a computer with a virus, even a small dissonance can change the functioning of the whole.

Classical Chinese medicine teaches that the balance of energies is health and that imbalance is illness. And what we refer to as the symptoms of the illness are messengers that call attention to the imbalance and sometimes very forcefully create situations where the person realizes there’s something to be attended to.

Many people these days are deeply unsatisfied with the work they’re doing and find that they have to live a life that is out of balance with human nature. That can and does create illness—for instance, something like an ulcer. That’s not a metaphor. It’s a real physical illness. I think almost anybody could agree that an illness of that sort is an expression of stress in your life. In other words, there is a cause of the symptom that is not purely mechanical and it has to do with a person’s life being out of balance. Too much stress.

When your heart is touched by the medicine of a plant spirit, you feel the love and wisdom of the natural world which brings about balance. When balance is achieved, symptoms will disappear and harmony is restored.

We all yearn to be free of illness. And we long to feel connected—to our spirit, to each other and to the natural world. Might it not be worthwhile to consider our relationships with Plants?


Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker