The relationship between plants and human health, plants and spirituality, or human health and spirituality has been known for thousands of years, yet only in recent years are researchers beginning to fully understand the depth and complexity of this topic, as well as the interrelatedness between all three groups. Within every issue of Spiritual Botany Magazine we hope to incite interdisciplinary discussions in order to explore these relationships in much greater depth.
In honour of our first issues, we are asking readers to share their thoughts or opinions on how botany (the science of plants) is connected to spirituality, consciousness, and human health by submitting a brief quote (300 words max, see examples below) to Praveen Saxena (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Praveen Saxena (Editor-in-chief, Spiritual Botany Magazine)“I believe that the most important dimension of spiritual botany is its inclusiveness of nature and understanding of the interconnectedness of its elements. Humans have co-evolved with plant species which sustain life on this planet through synergistic interactions with light, air, water, and organisms within the confines of earth and space. Not only do they provide food, feed, and fiber, plants also have a unique power to enrich our life experiences by modulating our mind, senses, and consciousness. Thus, it is not surprising that plants are loved, respected, and worshipped across cultures and have been used as metaphors and symbols of purity, compassion, and spirituality. Ancient scriptures of many civilizations symbolize the universe as a tree, often an upside down tree, whose roots represent eternal truth, immortality, and the highest level of consciousness. The lotus plant is revered as a metaphorical characterization of human race with roots, leaves, and flowers representing different stages of the spiritual journey and enlightenment through meditation. While the profound effects of medicinal plants in achieving an altered state of consciousness and overall well being are known for millennia, the evidence of the benefits of mindfulness on human health is beginning to emerge. In near future, advances in biotechnologies and computing may allow us to ask interesting questions such as “can plants improve mindfulness? Is there a synergy among medicinal plants, mindfulness and spirituality that may help reduce the severity of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain related disorders? In sum, in panoptic view of spiritual botany, plants are the strongest link between nature and humans and a multidimensional medium to explore consciousness, spirituality, and health.”
Christina Turi (Managing Editor, Spiritual Botany Magazine)“The connection between plants and humans has been on-going, and it is not surprising that our physical and psychological health has for many years relied on the use of medicinal or spiritual plants. Early medical texts such as the Papyrus Ebers (1550 B.C.) list hundreds of medicinal plant uses and formulations. Similarly indigenous cultures have passed on their medicinal knowledge either orally or through written works. Human curiosity towards the healing properties of plants has also contributed to how we understand our own health and the surrounding environment. Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) believed in the principle of the four humours, whereby an unhealthy body is caused by an imbalance in humours [blood, phlegm, red bile, and black bile] and recommended the use of various treatments including medicinal plants to correct bodily imbalances and expel offending humours. Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) believed plants possessed a ‘psyche’ or ‘soul’ that is nutritive, while his successor Theophrastus (371-287 B.C.) went on to become ‘the father of botany’ through important writings such as ‘Enquiry into Plants’ and ‘On the Causes of Plants’. Paracelsus (1493-154) adopted and expanded the Doctrine of Signatures, a paradigm which believes that plants will reflect a specific body part in order to incite their therapeutic use for those body parts. Regardless of the scientific validity (or lack thereof), these teachings as well as others have contributed to how humans and cultures perceive themselves as well as the environment. Thus, it is not surprising to me that a large portion of the developed and developing world still relies on plants for improving their livelihood and health through the application of plants for traditional, complimentary or alternative medicine, ceremony, spirituality, religion, etc”