Herbs and Spirit Power
by Gail Faith Edwards

Excerpt from Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs

Our bodies come from the body of Mother Earth and to her body we will return. "Earth our body, water our blood, air our breath, and fire our spirit."

We are made of the very same substances as plants and our lives are intricately entwined with theirs. In addition to sound health, physical vitality, and a sense of well-being, plants offer us intelligence, love, and spirit. Some are able to transport us to deeper realms and open our wild hearts to communications with nature. These are the magical and spiritual plants.

Plants profoundly affect our mind and spirit. I believe that the herbs, trees, and flowering plants actively support our growth and spiritual development. Some plants seem to occur solely for the purpose of changing our consciousness and expanding our capacity to love. Thus, earth-honoring people everywhere include these sacred herbs in their ceremonies and their lives.

Spirit is a radiant star within each of us, an inner core directly linked to the inner core of the earth and the heart of nature. From spirit, life's purpose and intention emanate, and innermost power flows. Spirit is divine and unique within each of us. It is beyond the limitations of time, space or belief. It is our most authentic self. Opening our wild hearts is about cultivating spirit in relationship with herbs.

The body is not the opposite of spirit. To feel spirit power is to be completely alive. And to do so we must fully inhabit our earthly bodies and our senses-not just sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, but also intuition, direct knowing and the ability to empathize with and to love others. These innate wisdoms of the body are the speakers through which all of nature communicates with us.

As humans we possess a deep yearning to understand all that nature embodies and to move in harmony with the natural world around us. To contemplate nature is to become familiar with the Goddess and her ways, for in nature, She reveals Her deepest mysteries.

The Goddess has many names and faces. She is creator, nurturer, healer, protector, defender, source-of-life, and source-of-all-knowing. She fosters respect and reverence for the sacredness of all life. Even as death-wielder, destroyer, and mother of destruction, the Dark One, the goddess represents the awesome cycle of birth and death. She is the wheel-of-life-ever-turning. She is the springtime bud and fully opened flower, the fallen leaf and the dormant root. The Goddess personifies all aspects of womanhood and is a model for women's psychic wholeness. With Her help women discover their incredible strength and intrinsic beauty.

For me, herbs and spirit and the goddess are intimately entwined. Earth is a living, intelligent, generous, and loving being. She is Gaia, primordial Goddess, and Mother of us all. When I open my wild heart I resonate with the immense power, wisdom, love, and healing energy streaming from the core of Her wild heart. I welcome and absorb Mother Earth's great power, and pray that I will use it well.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Within the power of the word lies the secret of creation-creations of a relationship between self and spirit. I was taught to speak my prayers aloud so that Great Spirit can hear them, to claim my prayers openly, to pray with my whole heart. I make it a daily practice to offer earnest prayer. I thank my guardian angels, the Blessed Mother, my spirit guides and helpers, my ancestors who are always with me, and the spirits of the land I inhabit. The way I pray may be as simple as singing a song while I cultivate or gather plants, or proceeding with focus and intention while making medicines. Spirit power is present and available at every moment via prayer.

Prayer can channel intention, acknowledge the presence of spirit, and create meaningful connections between the natural world and spiritual realms.

Sometimes I prepare for prayer by anointing myself with oil, choosing an aroma that will heighten awareness, deepen my breathing , or enhance my intuitive skills, I might put a drop of lavender oil on my forehead to open my insight and intuition, rose oil on my heart to open my feelings, or St. John's wort oil on my tailbone to help ground me.

I create a sacred space when I pray. One way to do this is by burning herbs, allowing the smoke to shift the energy, to clarify my mind, or help elevate my consciousness. This is called "smudging." The smoke from the burning herbs carries away unwanted or stagnant energy. When I smudge indoors, I leave a door or window open for the smoke to flow out. Smudging creates a space that is open, comfortable and ideal for spirit work.

Let us anoint ourselves in spirit now; sacred herbs are burning. Let the smoke carry our prayer to the seven directions and invoke the presence of the Goddess.

Facing east, we invoke the power of the air, the grace of morning light, the energy of beginning, the power of illumination. We offer a pinch of vervain, taking a bit between our fingers and sprinkling it eastward. We call upon the goddess Kuan Yin, Asian mother of compassion, who hears and answers the cries of all hearts, who carries the pearl of illumination and pours fourth a stream of healing waters. Bless us with you spiritual peace.

Facing south, we call upon the power of fire, of the noonday sun, the power of will. We offer a bit of myrrh and call on the Greek goddess Hestia, guardian of the ancient hearth. It is spiritual communion that rises from your flame. You give us the gifts of warmth and the fire beneath the pot. Warm us with your eternal flame.

Turning now to the west, we call on the energies of water, and the power of love. We invoke emotion, courage, healing. We call forth the quiet lull of twilight, of transition, and of letting go. We offer frankincense. Our breathing deepens and our consciousness lifts into spiritual awareness. We call upon the ancient Semetic goddess Hokhma, wisdom, she-who-knows-all. Teach us about the structures of the universe, beginnings and endings, and the patterns of time. Bestow upon us your temperance, sense of justice, and strength.

Facing north we invoke the power of the earth. We call upon the power of midnight, the essence of dark, deep winter. Here we honor spirit, silence, prayer, dreams, magic and creativity. We offer a single oak leaf, symbol of perseverance and tenacity, tools of the north. We invoke the American Indian goddess Asintmah, Earth Mother. She wove a fireweed and willow blanket to cover earth. She sang holy songs to ease the pain of earth's labor as she gave birth to us all. As you were with earth in the beginning, please be with us now, Asintmah. Sing with us and bless us as we give birth to new parts of ourselves.

Breathing deeply, we watch the smoke flow up above our heads and call on all that is above. The unborn generations, who will walk the earth long after wear are gone: join us today in creating the future you will enjoy.

Lowering our smudge, we call on all that is below. Ancestors, all who have gone before us, walk with us, inspire our words and deeds that they may express beauty, truth, and health. Let your blessings ripple deeply from the past to the present.

Bringing the burning herbs to our hearts, we call on all that lies within our wild heart.

We are in sacred space together now. The place of spirit power, dreams, prayers, and shared secrets. A space of transformation and change, a space of unfathomable depth and limitless potential. Nowhere and everywhere, within and without, beyond time.

I have some prayers for you. They are spilling out of my prayer basket and trickling into your wild heart. Hear them and they will grow like nettle shoots in the spring:

I pray that you come to trust in your own spirit power. I pray you can put the power of prayer to work for you in your daily life.

I pray that the Goddess, in her many names and incarnations, comes into your life. Allow her to inspire your days.

I pray that you understand that herbs are not drugs. They carry powers and properties not measurable by scientific means. They are gifts from Great Mother Goddess intended for your spiritual, emotional, and physical sustenance. Herbs will assist you greatly along your life and spirit path.

I pray that you open your wild heart and learn to listen to the herbs. They are important friends and allies and have many secrets to share with you.


Burning dried herbs, or smudging, is an ancient method of nourishing the spirit and invoking the scared. People around the world burn herbs during ceremonies. I feel instantly reverent when I smell frankincense which was burned in Catholic church during my childhood. Many cultures believe smoke from burning herbs clears unwanted energies and carries prayers to the Great Spirit. I know people who smudge before important meetings and others who smudge their house each day. Sometimes I smudge in the morning as a blessing on the new day, in the evening to relieve accumulated stress and tension, or at night to inspire dreaming.

Any very dry herb, flower, bark, resin, or root will burn, but some are more aromatic than others. Some scents are known to have certain effects, but you don't need to be an expert. Just go ahead and burn some herbs in a fire-proof bowl or shell, or light up a smudge stick. See what you like. Experiment. What smells good to you? Burn well-dried sprigs of your herbal ally.

When I smudge, I let the smoke go over and around my head and I inhale the aroma. I offer some smoke to my heart area, around my back, and down my arms and legs. I pay special attention to parts in my body holding tension or in special needs of nourishment or healing. I offer a prayer of thanksgiving each time I smudge. I let the smoke carry my prayers to the heavens.

Some of my favorite herbs for smudging are:

Lavender- to attract high, calm, clear energy
Mugwort- to inspire dreams
Rosemary- to protect form "bad" dreams
Sage- for healing, clarity, cleansing
Vervain- to increase power of prayer
Peppermint- to inspire dreams of prophecy
Cedar- to release emotions
Juniper- for clearing
St. John's wort- for protection
Hyssop- to clear, shift energy