Plants and trees have held a central role throughout time in almost all of the world’s spiritual, healing, and visionary traditions. We seem to be absolutely mystified by plants, and it appears that we have always had the calling to work with them as allies for our health, well-being, and happiness. Today, I’d like to share a little bit about the three worlds of herbs and how these three worlds can add extra power, potency, and potential to the medicinal plants we work with every day. This information is heavily influenced by ‘word tree’ wisdom from cultures and traditions across time and land. This is one of those profound topics that seems to pop up all over the place regardless of whether or not two cultures ever interacted with one another.
The World Below
All plants have their roots in the soil. Hidden from our eyes, the roots dig deep into the earth where they find water, minerals, and nutrients for their growth. The roots of a plant connect it to the planet and give it stability so that it can grow tall and heavy without tipping over.
The world below is related to the past, our ancestors, and where we’ve been. The soil itself is made up of what was once alive. Leaves, flowers, flesh, and other materials go through the process of decomposition and become the nourishing soil that sustains all life on this planet.
When we work with plant medicine, we are working with our shared past. We are connecting with the ancestors, all who have walked this land before us, and all ideas that have sprouted, fruited, and returned to the earth.
The World Above
On a sunny day it’s always fun to watch the leaves of plants reach for the sky and turn towards the sun. Plants stretch and grow to get closer and closer to the endless sky above from which they are given light, rain, wind, sun, and moon. As a plant reaches up to the sky it creates a bridge between the world above us and the world below us which is why plants and trees have been viewed as maps of the universe, or the axis mundi, since time immemorial.
The world above is related to the Divine, our potential, our future, and our dreams. It is in the world above that a plant produces its flowers and fruits – the very fruition of its life path. At the crowns of plants we see their destiny and meaning come into bloom, and we see their true colors shine forth.
When we work with plant medicine, we are working with our individual and shared potentials. We stretch towards our personal goals and also strive to make the entire world a more beautiful place for everyone to be.
The World Between
The stems of plants connect the world above to the world below. They remind us that we are always standing between two primordial cosmic forces, and that we a;ways have access to a full array of dynamic potential. At the stem and stalk the plant becomes a bridge that lets us look up, down, and all around. The ancients saw the stalks, stems, and trunks of plants and trees as a representation of the center of the universe around which all life dances.
The stalk of the plant is the here and now. It relies on the potential of the future and the wisdom of the past to make this moment beautiful. It stands strong and reaches up and down at the same time. It embodies presence and is authentic, pure, and confident.
When we work with plant medicine, we are stepping into the here and now. We are taking accountability for our health, happiness, and growth, and we are participating in the process of creation instead of just watching it unfold around us.
As you work with healing herbal tea and the plants that infuse us with their potency and blessings, consider these ideas and let the wisdom, gratitude, and awe steep within you as your herbs steep within your cup.