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Seven Herbs: Plants as Teachers Paperback – January 29, 1993
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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"In fine inspired prose Matthew Wood teaches us the personalities of seven common herbs and the corresponding human personalities for which they provide benefit. Seven Hearbs: Plants as Teachers synthesizes insights from the teachings of Paracelsus, the science of homeopathic medicine, and the stories of the Bible to help us understand how the nature that surrounds us teaches and heals us. After reading this book, you will find it more difficult than ever to seperate the science, art, and spirit of healing."
- Dana Ullman, M.P.H.
"Matthew Wood in his book has succeeded in integrating information in a manner which is rarely seen in contemporary writing. Starting with the works of Bohm, Paracelsus, Hahnemann, Burnett, and Bach, he has studied long and hard and has created a work that is far greater than the sum of its parts. This book belongs in the library of healers of all persuasions."
- Julian Winston
About the Author
Matthew Wood is a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild, and has maintained a private practice as an herbalist for twenty years. He lives and practices at Sunnyfield Herb Farm in Minnetrista, Minnesota.
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The format is based on the pedagogical concept of the Ojibwe Grand Medicine Lodge, where students advance through seven stages or grades, each of which centers around one plant. However, the exact plants and medicinal lore involved are not shared outside Ojibwe culture (Wood is not Ojibwe) and maybe there is no one left alive who even knows all of it. So instead of the original seven Ojibwe plants, Wood provides seven American plants that have emerged as important in his own practice; and instead of the Ojibwe medicinal lore, Wood interprets seven chapters of Genesis and relates these stories to the plant teachings. Another important factor to consider is that this is really a book about homeopathy, not traditional herbalism.
If you identify as a Christian homeopath or herbalist I bet you will really dig this book. Even if you don't agree with Wood's take on the scriptures, his views are interesting and you will probably find them thought-provoking.
If you are not Christian and/or not especially interested in Biblical literature, you might just want to skim those parts or else be really patient and try to view them as heuristic models.
I liked the uniqueness of the approach. This particular work was written almost 30 years ago and I think Wood's approach and understanding of the plants have evolved and become more holistic since then. As I mentioned, at the time this book was written Wood was obviously more a homeopath than herbalist: For example, at the end he insists that of the seven stages discussed, you can only be in one at a time and therefore only need one of those plants at a time. Using only one plant at a time, which is linked to a very specific set of physical, psychological, and emotional characteristics even down to the patient's appearance, is characteristic of homeopathy. However, elsewhere he says that the stages are cumulative as well as sequential and thus all exist at the same time. Hmm. This is not a book that can easily be used to diagnose yourself; at least, I found that more than one of the chapters/plants seemed to potentially apply to me, so I wouldn't self-treat just based on what's in this book.
In the final analysis, I think that tying the herbal-medical teachings in with lessons from Biblical literature is a brilliant model IF you assume the audience was raised fully immersed in and conversant with Christian theology (especially of a Protestant variety)--because the particular lessons embodied in those Bible stories are culturally-specific. I don't happen to embrace those particular moral values, and am skeptical that plants do. So I felt like the herbs were being forced to fit the Old Testament exegesis, and that doesn't quite work for me. It was certainly interesting and I will probably keep the book as a reference, but it's not in my opinion one of Wood's better works.
See if you can get this from the library, instead.