The “rational” viewpoint says that ancient peoples found out what plants did through trial and error. This is what WE say THEY did.
Yet what all the ancient people say is that they learned from the plants themselves as well as in visions and dreams.
Stephen Harrod Buhner shares in his book, The Lost Language of Plants, how an ancient man might have searched the forest for plants to stem bleed from a wound, using trial and error, eventually finding that the amazing yarrow, Achillea millefolium, did so. Certainly, it could be a possibility…
But Buhner goes on to the following example to point out the ludicrousness of this trial and error idea.
Throughout the world, in addition to many other medicinal uses, artemisias are used to ward off negative influences, bad energy. As an example, Melvin Gilmore quotes a Dakota Indian of North America regarding Artemisia ludoviciana that it serves as a ‘protection against maleficent powers; therefore, it was always proper to begin any ceremonial by using Artemisia in order to drive away evil influences.
So, here we have a man in the forest again, perhaps just walking along minding his own business, and he encounters negative influences, maleficent powers. He is quite afraid (as anyone would be) and begins looking for a plant to help. He holds yarrow up toward the negative influences but it fails to work. Grass, nothing. Marshmallow, no. Cherry leaves—no effect. Panicking now, he rushes through the forest trying more and more plants, until, finally at the last minute, he grabs an Artemisia and holds it up toward the negative influence. The negative influence dissipates. Artemisia wards off negative influences. He shares the information and this use of Artemisia enters his people’s cultural lore. By a similar process, it enters the knowledge base of all other cultures on Earth.
For trial and error to be the method by which this plant information was gained (and not visions or dreams or talking plants), it must be assumed that negative influences, maleficent powers, exist. Most scientists will not concede they exist, much less that they can be perceived, still less that a plant can ward them off. Yet throughout the world the vast majority of cultures identified this action of Artemisia uniformly.
When I read this passage, I laughed out loud. This cannot be explained rationally in the standard way. Instead of dismissing natives and indigenous people across the world as ignorant and superstitious, why don’t we instead seek to learn this forgotten method of learning, the lost language of plants?
I enjoy looking at scientific studies about plants. However, I realize that the entire framework on which they stand is incomplete at best. Science is a human institution therefore corruptible by biases, dogma, politicking, emotions and more.
Sure, the IDEAL of science is flawless, but the humans that conduct it are flawed. That’s why we look at ancient wisdom too. After all, it’s called wisdom for a reason. As an example, there is very little science done on pine pollen. Some would say “There is no science on it, therefor it can’t work.” No, science is a lagging indicator. Lack of “proof” doesn’t mean proof of lack. Personally, I would love to see more vindicating what we know it is great for. Until that time, personal experience and anecdotal evidence will have to do. The combination of seven herbs that makes up Athena formula has never been “studied“. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Besides, a study may say something is effective or not.
But this is only a road sign to guide you. There’s always the flip side of the statistical significance in each study. It doesn’t tell you whether or not anything will work for YOU as an individual. For six or seven out of ten people that take pine pollen, they can feel the effects of the plant. And some potent effects that can be! Probably even more so for the tincture version. (For the few that don’t, that’s what we have our 365 day empty bag or bottle guarantee.)
That first-hand experience is what is important. It’s the only thing that actually matters to you. Ancient wisdom is just another sign post. When that wisdom comes from nature itself, I don’t know about you, but I’ll trust it more than fallible human institutions.