The Role of Intuition for the Herbalist

When I was little, my mom taught me about the difference between taking action from my head and taking action from my heart.

Making decisions based solely on what our intellect tells us can lead to very practical outcomes but can also leave us devoid of joy and reward. Acting solely from the heart might lead us to impulsive decisions that we later regret.

Fay and Charis Lindrooth
Mom and me

“Let your heart point the way, and your head do the work to get you there.”

That’s intuition, according to the book of mom. For more than five decades, I have relied on her advice, and these skills have proved invaluable in my herbal clinic.

What exactly is intuition?

I searched the word and came up with a variety of unsatisfactory definitions. “The ability to know something without conscious reasoning.” And “a knee-jerk reaction.” Those two sentences lack depth.

If we had a deeper understanding of the physiology that drives the intuitive process, we would see three key points:

🌿Knowledge and experience inform intuition. The more we learn, the more sensitive our intuition becomes.

🌿Intuition is a reflection of the interconnectedness of the world. Physicist Fritjof Capra wrote, “…nature does not show us any isolated ‘building blocks,’ but rather appears as a complicated web of relations between the various parts of the whole.”

🌿Healthy decision-making and leadership are supported by active intuitive processes.

We cultivate intuition by listening deeply… by being present… by cultivating stillness and spaciousness… by tuning into cycles and rhythms around us… by engaging the senses… by spending time outdoors… by learning.

And the herbalist… by getting to know plants.

Herbalist and author Kat Maier offers specific guidance on interacting with plants to boost your skills. She begins with the sense of taste…

Stinging Nettles
Nettle (Urtica dioica)

“When students taste nettle (Urtica dioica) for the first time, one common response is, ‘This is what the color green tastes like.’

The first sip reveals the taste of earth, as nettle has the flavor of minerals.

There is a sweetness to this mineral-rich brew, enhanced by the amino acids that make this a deeply nutritive herb.

Upon further tasting, students notice the presence of salt and a resemblance to the scent of seaweed. (Open a bag of dried nettle and you will discover that it smells remarkably like seaweed.)

Upon finishing the cup of tea, they may discover a need to excuse themselves—nettle leaf is a diuretic. I may mention the maxim “water follows salt,” and now my students can ground this teaching in their own sensual experience.”

~ from Herbal Energetics by Kat Maier

She goes further…

“The sense of smell is hard-wired into some of the most sensitive parts of the brain, including the amygdala, which is responsible for governing emotions, and the hippocampus, which relates aromas to memory.

This means that scents go straight into our limbic system, bypassing mental processing, thereby accessing primal places that hold information not readily available through everyday cognition.

This is the basis of the art of aromatherapy.

Once we know the distinctive smell of an herb, we can determine the elements or pattern the plant may hold.

🌿The aromatic oils of thyme (Thymus vulgaris) or rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) provide the sensation of lifting or awakening, thus bringing the element of air into our being.

🌿The scent of sweet cicely roots (Osmorhiza longistylis) informs us that this plant has building, nutritive qualities.

🌿The bitter aromatics from Artemisia species such as wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) signal a stronger medicine.”

On Saturday, Kat will expand on this, guiding us through clear steps we can take to expand our knowledge of the plants we turn to for healing.

Understanding the nature and energetics of our favorite herbs will open our intuitive faculties, not in a mystical way, but from a concrete physical interaction with the plants.

Join us for a live, interactive workshop,  The Power of Energetic and Intuitive Herbalism with Kat Maier .

I’m curious… tell me what you think about intuition!

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