Intuitive Herbalism is a book which demands a different kind of book review. Because it is a different type of book. It demands you approach it differently
Don’t expect to pick up this book and ‘learn herbalism’.
Expect to pick up this book and be challenged, changed, and have a fire lit under you.
I really had to force myself to finish this book – because as with every other time I’ve read it, by half way I am just way too inspired to keep reading. It makes me get outside and be with the plants. But that’s a good thing.
A VERY good thing.
And when I started writting this book review I just couldn’t do the usual ‘this is what I liked’ and ‘these are the bits I wasn’t fussed’ about.
Just look at the cover.
Really look at it.
How could I ever start to review where that artwork takes you to?
Even if you never open the front cover but just gaze at that image I’m confident you will have changed the way you interact with herbs and approach the art of herbalism.
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I’ve returned to Intuitive Herbalism many times over the last couple of years. It’s very skilfully written and it describes the kind of relationship which I believe a witch should have with the plants they work with magically and medicinally.
Too many books focus on the exact plant to use for this, that or the other that might be wrong with you. All too often they push you to the local herbalists to pick up a small packet of ready prepared dried herb.
They tell you the dosage. The preparation method. The way to administer it.
And whilst that works – in a sort of witched up doctorish sort of way – it reallys lacks SOMETHING.
But they also go way too far, way too fast. Jumping in to curing ulcers with chickweed before you can even recognise it growing in the corner of the garden you keep forgetting to weed. And certainly before you have even said hello to it.
Its not really what I consider to be the heart of witchcraft.
For me herbalism is an absolutely central part of witchcraft. One of the foundational pillars.
But I didn’t get into this game to learn lists of herbs to do this or that. Or learn lists of any correspondences for that matter.
Herbalism as Part of a Wider World View
This book is about SO MUCH MORE THAN PLANTS. It will open doors for you in so many ways.
If you are interested in real, down and dirty, practical witchcraft which is about spirit intercession and working with the powers around you, then this book will help you.
Working with plant spirits can seem like a nice gentle introduction to working with spirit.
And yes, it is a good way in. Its easily accessible.
But its not gentle.
Its life changing.
The Life Changing Magic of Marie Kondo has nothing on the Life Changing Magic of Talking to a Dandelion.
And Intutitive Herbalism is a deceptively gentle introduction into a different way to approach the use of plants and herbs.
It places dreaming, intuition and experience at the forefront of importance.
But, and this is critical, it does not pander to the new-age ‘I experienced it so it is true’ delusions which often go hand in hand with intuitive approaches. It calls out that Bulls**t.
Nicely of course. This is never a book which jars with you. Its non-gentleness is not found in its approach but in its results. And Intuitive Herbalism is a book which will deliver results.
But lets get back to the “telling you how it is” part of the book.
It begins by telling you quite directly that working with plants is not about what you can gain from the pant. That’s not how relationships work.
But how often is this EXACTLY how we approach magical work? Which qualities of this plant can I use? What gifts can this goddess give me? What lessons can this animal teach me? Imagine how many friends you would have in the human world if that was the approach you took to meeting new people.
It then reminds you not to assume you know a plant just because you sat with it for half an hour.
Again, who amongst us is not guilty of this to some degree? But no matter how powerful a meditation or an interaction is, its just a moment in time. Just a tiny slither of what actually exists. Its not an externally all pervading truth. It is true right and here and right now. But that’s it.
Next the Author encourages you to recognise projections of your own mind, but to follow them and work with them, recognising them as attempts of your imagination to make sense of the spirit world.
And this bit is game changing.
Read those sections extra carefully. The Hall of Mirrors is the chapter where this really jumps out, but the message is weaved throughout the book.
Read the words over and over until they really sink in.
And apply to every single area of your magical life.
What does this book Teach You?
The first time I “finished” the book Intuitive Herbalism I was underwhelmed. I had approached it as a standard herbalism text book. After a few chapters I put it down and forgot about it.
I got distracted by my garden for a few weeks.
I also acquired quite a few house plants.
And my kitchen herbs suddenly took over my windowsill. And every dish I cooked.
But the book stayed on the bedside table unread. The book which had called to me so strongly seemingly hadn’t really resonated enough with me to even read to the last chapter.
The same thing happened the second time I read it. I think it was the third time I read it that I actually got to the very end.
Each time I enjoyed reading it. It uplifted me. I felt a connection with it in my heart. But I was left thinking at the end ‘what do I know now that I didn’t before I read it’?
But then I realised. Then I got it.
I was approaching this as a book.
I was expecting THE BOOK to teach me.
And I’d missed the point entirely.
Because actually, it’s not a book it’s a guide.
A guide which moved me through a journey I’m not sure I realised I was on.
That’s just how it was for me – it could be entirely different for you. I was going through huge changes in my practice when I picked this book up the first time, and so my experiences are in part a reflection, a projection, of my own inner changes at that time.
It was true in the moment. But this time when I read it it was different. More obviously powerful and game changing.
Go in without expectation. Expect only your own experience.
I think the person who left the first review on Amazon had a similar experience as me though:
Beautifully crafted book but didn’t really contain enough information for my needs.
I hope this person had the same subtle experience I had. That the vast shift in perception undergone just wasn’t recognised.
Because this isn’t a book which gives information. Herbalism isn’t about information. Witchcraft isn’t about information.
Its what you do that counts.
The Hearth of Brighid Magical Book Club
This is my initial review of the book Intuitive Herbalism ahead of our month of discussion and study. If you would like to read along with members of the Hearth of Brighid then please join us over in our facebook group. Or check out one of our previous Books of the Month
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