REVIEW: Seven Herbs – Plants as Teachers

By Mindy

Summary: Philosophical and spiritual healing journey of an archetypal life path that connects herbalism, the Bible, and the medical teachings of the Ojibwe Native American tribe. Incredible insight into the mind of a flower essence practitioner.

Written three decades ago by master herbalist, Matthew Wood, “Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers” is a pioneering work on present day herbalism. A philosophical and spiritual exercise by which almost random-seeming plants are partnered with biblical stories, this book offers insight into the thought process of homeopathic and flower essence practitioners.

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The book is a quick read in some ways. Only 124 pages of well-spaced text, I easily completed it in a few sittings. Three introductory chapters (“Plants as Teachers”, “The Seven Guideposts”, and “Herbs and Healing”) set the stage for the mental excursion through seven separate yet intertwined allegories based on the Old Testament’s Book of Genesis.

The basis for this book is Native American lore, namely teachings of the Ojibwe tribe (which Wood had the pleasure to study with) “that there are seven steps on the path of life”.  Wood illustrates each of these steps, which he dubs “Guideposts” with a plant and a story (and in particular a person or people) from The Book of Genesis. The claim is that each guidepost most be completed in order for life to be fulfilled and completely experienced. Each guidepost is highly archetypal and generalizable, thus describing the universal pathway of life.

The healing arts are then integrated into these individual journeys. Matthew Wood assigns the use of each of the seven plants (as a flower essence I believe) as a support for clients that are stuck at, or working their way through, these phases of life. He documents his thought process, how to recognize what guidepost a client is experiencing, and the successes of his herbal recommendations.

“Seven Herbs” is a short book, and a quick read. But, it is a book that I could not absorb thoroughly my first time through. Even as I was reading it, I understood that I would need to read it again. It is a philosophical, spiritual, mental, and emotional journey through the world of plants. An introduction to flower essences, homeopathy, and shamanism. An odd intermingling of the bible, herbalism, and Native American traditions. It is a book that cries to be read over and over again, with the promise that it contains deep wisdom for those who want to see it. I strongly recommend it to those who are considering adding flower essences to their herbalism practice.

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The Walking Herbalist has no affiliation of the authors or the publishers of this book at the time of the writing of this review. We purchased our own copy of this book for our own private use. This review is simply here to help our readers put together their own herbalism library, and other than possible commissions as an Amazon.com affiliate, we receive no compensation for this. 

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