Some people are gifted with the ability to hear a plant talk, or to hear Angelic beings talk about plants. Some simply sense or intuitively know what a plant’s medicinal or healing qualities are. Others, when holding their hand over a plant or holding the plants leaves or flowers in their hand, feel the plant’s properties within their body. When I first tried this method, I could immediately feel the energy of a plant. Matt, an herbalist I studied with, would have us hold different plants and share our experiences. It was interesting as we began to share what each of us was experiencing. The more I did this, the more expansive my experiences got. What seemed uncomfortable at first, became a way to communicate. Just opening the door to the experience began this process. I could feel if a plant had heating or cooling sensations or calming effects. At times, I felt uplifted by the plant. Once when holding raspberries and “tuning in,” I could feel the energy in my abdomen and intuitively knew they contributed to supporting women’s reproductive health including pregnancy. There are many more ways of communicating with plants. For the most part, all of these are strongly guided via one’s intuition, observations and perceptions.
Thirty years ago, I studied with Herbalist Matthew Wood for a short period of time. Matt introduced me to the “Doctrine of Signatures” which speaks of “Plant Signatures.” Some call this the language of the plants. The Doctrine of Signatures speaks to the art of knowing, understanding and seeing patterns and shapes in and around the plants. These patterns/characteristics give clear clues to the inner medicinal properties of a plant. I had used herbs for a long time, but it was Matt’s teaching that inspired me to see and feel herbs with all my senses and to listen to my intuition when approaching a plant or holding a plant in my hand.
A plant signature can “look like” its healing purpose. For example, kidney beans are shaped like a kidney. Eating beans, strengthens the kidneys, acts as a diuretic and protects against gravel in the urine.
If you look at a red tomato cut in half, you see four chambers, just like our heart has four chambers. Tomatoes help heart health, blood and circulation.
Another example would be walnuts. If you look at the shell, it looks like a brain or skull.
If you look at the whole inner walnut, it looks like the brain’s hemispheres. Walnuts are the number one nut for brain health. If you look at a half of walnut in the shell, it also looks like the intestines in our abdomen. Walnuts help with intestinal parasites.
When you cut into a carrot, the inside of it looks just like the human eye. Carrots bring us Vitamin A which is necessary for eye health.
Plant Signatures are much more than any single physical characteristic, although some single characteristics are obvious such as the ones I mentioned above. There are many clues that speak to the actions of plants. The color of the plant can give us insight of different properties, energy and actions, i.e. orange and yellow flowered plants can be heating and excite the energy in our body. Purple and blue can be cooling. Color can also address conditions. Certain white roots and white flowers can speak to bone and ligament conditions. Also, different colors carry different vitamins.
Some plants have knubs or swollen joints where the leaf connects to the stem. This can be a signature for swollen joints and joint problems. Whether the plant grows in the sun or the shade will also offer information. Sun loving plants may bring “drying” properties for when we have excessive “dampness” in our body. (Dampness can be conditions such as excess water or phlegm, or edema, or a dampness in an organ). “Drying” plants can help dry up the dampness. If a plant likes shade, it may bring cooling properties to its healing. This may help conditions such as too much heat in the body, fevers, arthritis, etc.
The shape of the flower head, the direction it points to, the placement and shapes of the leaves, their rhythm on the stem tell a story about a plant, even plants that grow around it can contribute to this story. Once you begin to notice the subtlety, you begin to see more and more. I always enjoyed learning about plant signatures. The more time I intentionally spent with plants, I better understood them, and my awareness grew, but my life took a different path and I never really gave this study the ongoing dedication it needed to practice as an herbalist. I use herbs to my great benefit. I am so grateful for their gifts and I am also grateful for the master herbalists who have dedicated their lives to grow in knowledge and practice to help others.
Throughout my life, as I became more aware of the interconnectedness of all life, my intuition became more alive. For me, this is the holistic view. Everything speaks to us..
Although the signature of a plant reveals much to us about the many gifts they offer, I believe plants are far more than prominent characteristics, signs and patterns in the environment that they grow in. They are wise spirits whose Blessences give beyond what any of us truly understand. They do not grow by themselves in nature. Devas, Angels, Insects, the Sun, the Moon, rain and on and on, all paricipate in the growing of plants and flowers. Whether we believe it or not, we too are constantly receiving from nature.
Close your eyes and try to imagine a world without trees, without plants and without flowers. What does it feel like? How does it impact your experience of life?