Shoot, it’s no surprise that Sounds True has interviewed Eliot Cowan of Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants. Sounds True seems to be moving along with me rather synchronistically lately. I like every interview Tami Simon is doing. There are several on Beyond Meds now. See: Sounds True posts
I recently did a post that included some details of my experiments with plant medicine. Here it is on Mad in America. Eliot Cowan’s book had just been recommended to me by a friend and so I had also recommended it in that post. I’ve not bought it or read it yet. Clearly, I need to.
For the record, I do not ingest plants that are traditionally considered hallucinogenic anymore and have not since I was a very young woman. I do, however, have a sensitivity such that I seem to have such relationships with plants that aren’t generally thought of in that manner. I tend to feel the energies of the foods I eat and really everything I put in my body, so that is no surprise to me, but it’s not something most people talk about. It’s been a wonderful thing to connect with plants that are helping me heal. Many plants as ordinary as chamomile work for me in this way.
I generally do not recommend traditionally hallucinogenic plants for folks who have histories with extreme states (psychosis or mania, to be clinical). This is mostly because folks with access to those realms of the psyche generally don’t need additional help getting there with the use of these sorts of entheogenic plants and it can backfire pretty badly for that reason.
What is the active ingredient in plant spirit medicine? Eliot Cowan tells us that the answer is friendship. In this edition of Insights at the Edge, the author of Plant Spirit Medicine: A Journey into the Healing Wisdom of Plants speaks with Tami about engaging in a friendship with plant spirits, and compares the act of connecting with plant spirits in your local area versus working with the spirits of plants from distant places. Tami and Eliot also discuss “great teacher plants” such as marijuana and the plants from which ayahuasca is derived, offering some of the dangers and potential benefits associated with these plants. (73 minutes)
See also: The Shamanic-like nature of consciousness (a collection)
Update: I finished listening to the above interview after this post went up. I want to write a brief post script now. What I learned in this interview was both astonishing and deeply humbling. I need to come into right relationship with the plants I’ve engaged with over the years, long before I had any awareness of the deep significance of their impact. Anyone who has ever engaged with any of the plants that are categorized as hallucinogenic, including marijuana and tobacco (these are all plants that are considered sacred teachers in shamanic traditions) might want to listen to this interview for what I found to be very important and helpful information.