All ancient and indigenous peoples insisted their knowledge of plant medicines came from the plants themselves and not through trial-and-error experimentation. Less well known is that many Western peoples made this same assertion. There are, in fact, two modes of cognition available to all human beings--the brain-based linear and the heart-based holistic. The heart-centered mode of perception can be exceptionally accurate and detailed in its information gathering capacities if, as indigenous and ancient peoples asserted, the heart's ability as an organ of perception is developed. Author Stephen Harrod Buhner explores this second mode of perception in great detail through the work of numerous remarkable people, from Luther Burbank, who cultivated the majority of food plants we now take for granted, to the great German poet and scientist Goethe and his studies of the metamorphosis of plants. Buhner explores the commonalities among these individuals in their approach to learning from the plant world and outlines the specific steps involved. Readers will gain the tools necessary to gather information directly from the heart of Nature, to directly learn the medicinal uses of plants, to engage in diagnosis of disease, and to understand the soul-making process that such deep connection with the world engenders.
Stephen Harrod Buhner is an Earth Poet and senior researcher for the Foundation for Gaian Studies. He lectures throughout the United States on herbal medicine, the sacredness of plants, and the intelligence of Nature. He is the author of nine works of nonfiction and one book of poetry, including the award-winning The Lost Language of Plants and Sacred Plant Medicine. He lives in Braintree, Vermont.
A Note to the Reader Introduction Systole Of Nature and the Heart Prologue to Part One Section One: Nature 1. The Nonlinearity of Nature 2. The Self-Organization of Life 3. The Energetics of Life Section Two: The Heart 4. The Physical Heart: The Heart as an Organ of the Body 5. The Emotional Heart: The Heart as an Organ of Perception and Communication 6. The Spiritual Heart: Aisthesis Diastole Gathering Knowledge from the Heart of the World Prologue to Part Two Section One: Veriditas 7. The Door into Nature 8. The Necessity for Acuity of Perception 9. Feeling with the Heart Section Two: The Taste of Wild Water 10. Gathering Knowledge from the Heart of the World 11. The Pregnant Point and the Mundus Imaginalis Section Three: The Fruitful Darkness 12. Depth Diagnosis and the Healing of Human Disease Interlude 13. The Importance of Rigorous Self-Examination and the Necessity for Moral Development Section Four: Grains of Sand from Another Shore 14. Reading the Text of the World: The Geography of Meaning and the Making of the Soul Epilogue Appendix: Exercises for Refining the Heart as an Organ of Perception Bibliography with Commentary: The Wisdom of the Earth Poets Notes Index