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I believe, in the practice of herbcraft, that it is very important to be in relationship with with plants and the preparations you're using.  It is more or less universally acknowledged by people who make their own medicines that they "work better" than those purchased commercially (by commercially I mean "mass produced", and am not so much referring to handcrafted remedies made by diligent, intent-laden herbalists).  This is likely because of the intention put into the remedies as they were being created.  In gathering herbs, your intentions define your integrity, and affect how "open" the plants will be in helping you.  In medicine making, intention potentizes the remedies you create.  And in the use of herbs, whether by you or in the making and giving of a remedy to another, intention can have dramatic affects of the results obtained.


I don't think I could possibly overstress the role of intention in herbcraft (or in life, for that matter...).  Intention is everything.  It is really important to understand that the way in which we do things impacts what they will do for us.  If you are using an herbal remedy, you can make it work better by consciously intending it to be effective.  Taking a moment before drinking a cup of tea or taking a dose of tincture to ask for its nourishing and medicinal virtues will increase both your body's ability to assimilate and distribute the herb's medicine, and also the herb's ability to send out its medicine power to you.  This phenomenon extends, as I mentioned, even into making remedies for others.


I remember once that a friend of mine was rotating his shoulder, and each time he did so, am audible clicking could be heard.  I had given him some Solomon's Seal tincture a week or two before this, and was kind've surprised it hadn't taken care of the problem.  I asked about whether it was helping, and something in the reply I got made me believe that if the tincture was being used, there wasn't a whole lot of belief being given to it to help it do its thing.  I got the bottle, held it to my breast and offered it a prayer, or made a request of it, or invoked its medicine... whatever you want to call it, and then had my friend take 5 drops.  He did, and rotated the shoulder and... no click.


Now, you would think that this'd be a moment for an amazed reaction, and a startling realization about the power of intent, wouldn't ya?  Well, that's not quite what happened.  He simply couldn't believe that had worked, and he proceeded to spend the next ten minutes rotating his shoulder in every which direction, till, finally, it clicked again.


So, two times in one afternoon, we see how intent manifested its focus.


It should be noted as well that doing things intentfully can qualitatively change their effect.  As an example, tobacco, smoked intentfully as an act of prayer, is profoundly healing.  And drinking coffee will have a different affect on the body depending on how it is consumed: if we wait till its just cool enough to guzzle, and then gulp it down from our travel mug while zipping in and out of traffic, the very manner in which we are consuming it is reinforcing and potentizing its stimulating affects on our body.  But if, on the other hand, we brew up a nice strong cup of mocha java around a fire while out camping, and breathe deep the aroma and savor the flavor of each slow mindful sip, the affect of the coffee, while still being innately stimulating, will be much more easily assimilated by the body, and not affect us in such a jarring manner. 


Really, this should be no surprise... pretty much everyone knows that how consciously we eat our food affects how we can digest and assimilate it.  The same goes for using herbs.


You can also use intention to access the more etheric or spiritual virtues of herbs.  If you are using herbs in "spirit doses", you should be consciously focusing on the aspect of the herb you want to manifest.  For example, if you are chewing Calamus not to protect yourself from the sick people you're surrounded by, but to deepen your perspective and perception, you should be making that a conscious intention.  Or, perhaps you want to use Plantain as a drawing agent, but for a fear you want to draw out of yourself, and not a splinter.  Again, make a conscious request/prayer/invocation/spell/whatever... what you call it is less important than that you do it.


So... when you make your tea later today, or unscrew the dropper from your tincture bottle, take a moment to inhale the aroma, soak in the hue and savor (or consciously and intentfully grimace at) the flavor, and offer your appreciation, intention and gratitude for the medicine that together you make.


jim mcdonald

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