As Above, So Below. This is the concept of why astrology works. What is going on in the starry heavens is also going on here on earth, in our lives. However, the refraction of light from the stars doesn’t stop with us, it goes on within us, and upon and within other entities we share this earth with. I’m specifically talking about plants – but this concept also includes animals, minerals, and more.
I struggled for years to study astrology. Memorizing planet and sign meanings felt like hammering my head against a wall … with no give. One of the ways that finally clarified this field for me was the use of herbal allies.
Using a plant that is associated with a planet or sign (or both) to better understand those energies is not a new idea. It comes from the ancient practice of alchemy. As an alchemy student, one of the first things I was encouraged to make was seven elixirs called spagyrics. Getting into the science and art of spagyric creation is more than this article can cover. Instead, I want to focus on why these seven potions are encouraged as beginner steps.
Each of the seven potions relates to a day of the week and that day’s ruling planet. The idea is that making these then ingesting them, one for each day, in meditation on that planet’s energies, will align the user with that energy. In doing so, they will develop an understanding of that planet and balance energies within themselves — a spiritual evolution of sorts.
One does not need to be an alchemist or have lab equipment to do this practice. You can tap into herbal allies and the energies of planets with as much ease as brewing a cup of tea.
Seven Planets, Seven Plants
In Hellenistic Astrology, the seven planets are Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The outer planets (Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) weren’t discovered until much later and move so slowly that their effects are largely generational and national rather than personal. Many astrologers recommend focusing on the inner seven when getting started.
When choosing a plant that corresponds to a planet, you have options. Many turn to the tried and true Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs or Nicholas Culpeper’s associations. I dug deeper to figure out exactly why it was that an herb was associated with a specific planet. Turns out there were a few different reasons, depending on the herbalist making the assignment. Some based it on the Doctrine of Signatures (that is, how a plant looks, shaped, colors, etc was believed to give a hint as to its association and purpose) so that yellow blossomed St. Johns Wort was associated with the golden Sun. Others focused on organs of the body, each belonging to a specific planet, and how they reacted to the herbs (an herb that quickens the nerves would then be associated with Mercury for example). Then there were associations we were not given any reasoning for at all and still more that contradict other writings.
So how do you choose?
I think its important to take a breath and remember that like us, plants are effected by all of the planets so they are sure to inform you about them in some way. The key is to be open to the message.
Sajah Popham of The School of Evolutionary Herbalism recommends going out into nature and asking the plants themselves. This works if you have an understanding of herbalism and foraging already or a great garden.
For those that feel stumped, here is a short list for each planet.
Disclaimer: only ingest herbs that you know that you are not allergic to. Check with your health care professional before starting any herbal regiment especially if you are taking medications, are pregnant/nursing, or have any illness.
Hemp (including CBD)
To tap into the energy of the planet, create a tea or tincture (herb steeped in alcohol for 2-6 weeks then strained and taken by the drop) of the chosen plant. Meditate on the plant and ask it to reveal what it knows about the associated planet.
On the day of the week associated with that planet, take some time to sit with your herbal preparation, ingest it, and meditate on the planet and its energies.
Do not go into this expected huge epiphanies and visions. Instead, take note of how the herbal preparation makes you feel, if you have any thoughts or experience any omens on that day. Its also good to keep a journal during this time including any dreams you have. What might not seem all that interesting at the time might be revealing later on.
Allow yourself to take time and invest in a relationship with the plant and planet. Its through these friendships that deeper wisdom can be foraged than any book can give.
[Written by December Fields-Bryant.]