Medicinal plants and their effects
Medicinal plants have been used for the prevention and treatment of physical symptoms of illnesses since the earliest days in human history. For several decades, herbal medicines have also been used in psychological situations of crises since they can stimulate and support transformation processes. This raises a number of questions.
What is the connection between a medicinal plant and the psyche of a human being? What is the connection between the signature, meaning the outer form of a plant and its effect? Which plant principles have an effect on the body and which on the psyche?
In order to answer these questions, we must understand what is the relationship between the spirit, the soul and the body in the different kingdoms of nature.
Spirit, soul and body – information, energy and matter
Spirit, soul and body can be defined in different ways according to the context. In this text, we refer to a hermetic, alchemical definition that is valid for all things and living beings, not only for the human being.
According to this definition, there are as many kinds of “spirit” as there are life forms, since spirit means the idea, the plan, the meaning which is the basis of a thing or a living being. Therefore, each mineral, each kind of plant and animal and each human being has their “own”, specific spirit. Thus, the spirit represents the individual and unique aspect of a thing or a living being which expresses itself in its body. Between the spirit and the body there is, however, the connecting principle, the soul, which takes up the impulses of the spirit and transmits them to the body in a formative way.
We can also call this trinity information, energy and matter. With the term information we mean a spiritual principle, which wants to get into a form, and which thus shapes matter into a physical form. However, energy is required to shape a form. This means that energy corresponds to the soul, i.e. the connecting and intermediary principle between information (spirit) and matter (body).
How do the spirits in the different nature realms differ?
Each life form is characterised by its specific spirit, as we said. If we are to understand the differences and similarities between the nature realms, we must firstly differentiate the various kinds of spirit and secondly, we should consider how far the spirit (and the soul) in question are integrated, i.e. incarnated in the body.
The human being is the only living being on this planet in which there are two spiritual principles, the human spirit and the divine spirit, which we will talk about later. In the divine spirit of the human being, all the characteristics of the original information, of the logos, are contained as a potency. The differences between people come about through a different structural configuration of these characteristics.
In the human spirit and in the group-spirit of animals, on the other hand, and in the archetype of the plants, not all the features of the Logos are present, rather only some specific characteristics, which are very much in the foreground.
Consciousness and form depending on the incarnation of the spirit
The degree or extent of the “incorporation” of spirit and soul determines the consciousness as well as the form of the body and the soul. Therefore, we want to have a closer look at this question in the three nature realms of human beings, animals and plants.
1. The human being
The soul as well as the human spirit are both completely incarnated in the human being’s body, so that a person does not only have a consciousness, but also a self-awareness. He can look at himself from the outside like a stranger. In the human being we must, as we said before, differentiate between two kinds of spirit and soul; the human spirit and the divine spirit. The human spirit consists of three parts. All human beings have the first part in common because the human being is a higher kind of animal in his biological manifestation and has, like all animals, a group-spirit, which regulates the functions of its kind and of his self-preservation.
The second part of the human spirit consists of the personal experiences, insights and moral concepts of a person. The third part consists of the essence of the prenatal experience. The first two parts of the human spirit are usually called the human I, the third part the subconscious.
The divine spirit, on the other hand, determines the individuality and uniqueness of a person. The problem in connection with the divine spirit consists of the fact that, in the present state of development of humanity, it does not have a suitable body in which he can express himself yet. Therefore, he sends his impulses into the natural, human soul. This is the reason why in the soul there is a mixture of contrary impulses.
Why does this result in a problem? The divine and the human spirit act from completely different dimensions. The human spirit has the task to conserve and to optimize the human body within space and time. The divine spirit, on the other hand, works from a dimension outside of space and time. The natural consciousness is tied to energy and matter and is, therefore, limited by space and time. The spiritual consciousness, however, is unlimited since its origin lies in pure information, which neither has an energetic nor a material carrier.
When the limited is mixed with the unlimited, there is a tension, a conflict. The cause of this is neither the natural nor the spiritual consciousness, but a mixture of the two.
Through the mixture of the spiritual and the natural principles the three fundamental “temptations” of human behaviour happen, which are the cause for absolutely every conflict within the human being as well as between people. These are:
– an excessive striving for possessions,
– an excessive striving for recognition and honour,
– an excessive striving for power.
Our striving for possessions, recognition and power, as such, is not a problem since these three are vital for the natural human being. Only the excess of them creates the well-known problems of violence and evil that we all know. The excess comes about when the natural consciousness, which is limited by space and time, tries to realise the impulses from the hidden sphere of a space-and-time-less consciousness. Thus, the egocentricity that is necessary for our survival becomes hypertrophic and leads to a psychological, social and ecological catastrophe.
2. The animals
The soul is more or less incarnated in the animals, which means “inside” the body. Therefore, particularly the higher animal species have a consciousness, not only in the sense of instincts, but also of feelings and partly of simple concrete thinking processes. The spirit, which is also called group-spirit, is not incarnated in the animals, but it is outside of them and encompasses all the animals of the same species. Therefore, the animals of a species are not individualised like the human beings, but together they form a single individual, so to speak. There are exceptions, like pets, which can reach a limited individualism, which does not come about from themselves, but through a transmission of characteristics of the caregiver. The group- spirit gives the physical body and the individual characteristic behaviours of the animal species their form.
3. The plants
The spiritual principle of a botanical species works on a plant’s body from the outside and characterises its form. The spiritual principle of the plant species is called an archetype or the essence of the plant and it corresponds to a cosmic structure or constellation. During the germination of the seed in the humid earth, the genetic material, the DNA, is focussed on the corresponding cosmic constellation and a subtle, energetic bond between the plant and the archetype develops. This bond connects the plant with its archetype during its whole life and so it can be called the soul of the plant. The archetype as well as the genetic information, the DNA, work closely together when a plant is formed.
What is the difference in the function of these two characterising principles? The DNA contains the genetic information for the formation of all the substances, which are necessary in metabolism and for the construction of the body, and the archetype “builds” the outer form of the plant from these substances.
So, the outer form is not characterised by the genetic information, as science proclaims, but through the archetype.
For this reason, it is clear that the archetype of a medicinal plant, i.e. the essence of this plant species, is expressed in its physical form, i.e. in its signature. Therefore, it is possible to find out about the spiritual and soul mode of action of a plant on the basis of its plant signature. In the second part of this article we shall describe an example of the connection between the essence and the signature. From that we can recognise the correlation with the human spirit and the healing effect of the plant will become clear.