An excerpt from
Entering Hekate’s Garden
Entering Hekate’s Garden can be ordered here
The Garden of Hekate, the great Mother Goddess from whom all the world flows, is the spiritual home for the practice of pharmakeia, the ancient art, craft, and science of plant-spirit witchcraft. This practice uses botanicals for corporeal purposes, the crafting of magical formulations, and the art of transcending. It is a holistic art transmitted by Hekate and her witches for our use today. Enter her mysteries with the spirit of beginning—the spirit of the crossroads that we enter when we answer the call of Hekate to return to the practice of holistic plant-spirit witchcraft.
Hekate is the Triple Goddess of magick, medicine, and mystery. She is also the Mother of all practitioners of plant-spirit witchcraft. One of her daughters, the goddess Circe, is the mistress of plant-spirit medicine. The other, Medea, is the mistress of the Poison Path. Together, these three form the Triple Goddesses of our craft. Circe and Medea balance each other and represent the creative and destructive natures of the Green World. Connecting to the Triple Goddesses, and to other deities, botanicals, spirits, and correspondences, is natural for witches. It is unnatural and unhealthy when we deny ourselves these associations. These spirits, forces, energetics, and correspondences are as vital to us as air. As we are born knowing how to breathe, we come into this life hard-wired for connection. We are attuned to our souls. The knowledge flows freely within us, and between us and the external world, seen and unseen.
Reclaiming the practice of pharmakeia is a homecoming. We hear it in a whisper from Hekate, discover it in an unexpected key, marvel at it in a spell successfully cast. When we experience the feeling of being in flow, we have attuned ourselves and our souls. We are connecting to the spirits who work in our best interests. Our souls are recovered and our shadows healed, to become trusted companions rather than adversaries. When we begin the dance of the pharmaka, we enter into our truth and wholeness, confronting the illusion of separation that comes from the acts and laws of man. When you are ready to destroy this illusion, then you are prepared for pharmakeia.
The Green World has its own laws and masters. The plant spirits are ruled by the cycle of life-death-rebirth. They follow the principles of nature. We become attuned to the verdancy—the synergistic experience of the fiery soul that lives within all creatures throughout the Green World, also known as the Anima Mundi.
Pharmakeia is the holistic practice of plant-spirit witchcraft that incorporates the corporeal, the magical, and the spiritual. There is no division between the three. Pharmakeia breaks down the illusion of separation and reveals how the verdant world reflects the duality within us. Allopathic medicine, mainstream healthcare, would have us believe that plants only treat the physical self. Yet the truth is that this is a recent development in the practice of pharmakeia. If we open our spirits, minds, and hearts, we can hear the call of the Anima Mundi. Heed Hekate’s call to enter her eternal garden.
The illusion of separation occurs when we separate magick from medicine. Allopathic healthcare has completely divorced spiritual aspects from practice. It’s something I ran into in my career as a health researcher. Only over the past few decades has the role of spirituality been taken seriously within mainstream healthcare, but there’s still a long way to go before the sacred green fire is truly embraced yet again in mainstream treatment protocols. As you grow in your practice of pharmakeia, it becomes apparent that there is no separation between applications—botanicals work on the corporeal in conjunction with the spiritual. This is part of your reconnection to the eternal abilities of the witch as a practitioner of “medicine.”
Recognizing botanicals for their medicinal properties—as the materia medica that they are—deepens our understanding. All plants are medicine. Witchcraft consists of working with medicine to heal whatever is broken and to create that which is whole. Shallow practice that avoids the true nature of botanicals as medicine prevents successful witchery, leaning more toward wishcraft than witchcraft. The green fire burns bright—intimidating for certain, but holding so much power.
The word “medicine” comes from a Latin root word meaning “remedy” and the “art of healing.” To the ancients, medicine was holistic rather than reductionist, as our modern mainstream healthcare system has become. Traditional systems of healing around the world, on the other hand, treat the whole person, including the spirit, when there is dis-ease. This is the path of pharmakeia.
Our society is suffering more and more, with ever-increasing amounts of pharmaceuticals being forced down our throats. While this sort of medicine may at times be necessary, it rarely treats the underlying spiritual ailments that give birth to their corporeal symptoms. Children who may be undergoing an awakening of their psychic abilities are force-fed drugs that may harm them forever. Adults who are in the grip of sadness are denied comfort and given pills instead. While there are many well-intentioned professionals in mainstream healthcare, the mechanism driving the whole system is profit, particularly that of pharmaceutical corporations.
When the patriarchy took hold of medical practice, the prime objective was to silence the healers who refused to conform. The long road from pharmakeia as the holistic practice of herbalism to what we now think of as “pharma” began when medicine was taken away from the healers by men of power. But now, we reclaim the power of pharmakeia as our right. It is our true medicine.
Practicing True Medicine
To banish, to connect, and to protect. To heal. To make ourselves whole. To share our healing with others. These are the skills of the botanical witch. This is our true medicine. It is through reconnection to the pharmakoi that we find our true power. Cleansing and protection through plant spirits are the two basic techniques of pharmakeia.
To understand how the magic of botanicals works, we turn to their origins and properties. Practitioners of pharmakeia seek to understand the underlying forces at work so as to strengthen their practice. Like Circe and Medea and all our witch ancestors, we find our strength in knowledge. Like us, plants are borne of Hekate. As such, we are remarkably similar. We are the soul made into body. The spiritual as corporeal. Our DNA is almost identical to that of plants. Botanicals were the first exhalation of the Mother. We rose from them with her second breath. In the physical sense, we evolved from the Green World and are interdependent with it. The pharmakoi nourish us as we sustain them. They are the true medicine. Healing is the work of the pharmaka, the practitioner of holistic witchcraft herbalism.
Pharmakeia has been corrupted by profiteers so much that even using this ancient term to describe the practice of witchcraft as medicine is confusing. Contemplate that for a moment. The original definition of the word pharmakeia is both “medicine” and “a spell or potion.” The original practice of pharmakeia was thus holistic, meaning that there was no separation between spirit and body. How different modern pharmacology would be if this approach had never been abandoned. Our spells and potions are healing. Not only do they reduce suffering; they create abundance. That is true health. The pharmakoi are the plant teachers, the over-spirits of each individual plant. We work with these spirits in their many forms, from imbibing their pure energy to consuming them. Pharmakeia is the medicine of life.
Pharmakeia is the merger of the scientific and the sacred. It is remembering that this is what medicine is, and that witches have always been the stewards of this power. Hekate as Anima Mundi, the World Soul, is infused in all life. Her fire runs through all of creation. Spiritually, this is known through experience. Physiologically, this is found in the carbon that infuses all life. Scientifically, we know that botanicals contain vital nutrients like antioxidants, stimulants, and vitamins in their corporeal selves. Spiritually, the same vital nourishers are found in their etheric beings. When we practice witchcraft as medicine, we summon both the physical properties and the spirits of the plants.
Witchcraft is the medicine that heals the spirit and nourishes the soul for those who walk this crooked path. It’s not found in a pill or in a ball of light, but in the pungent scent of herbs, in the wild energy of the natural world, and under the pale moonlight. For centuries, our true medicine has been suppressed by others who sought to silence us. Now the time has come to reclaim it.
Entering Hekate’s Garden is available at redwheelweiser.com
Cyndi Brannen, PhD, is a spiritual teacher, trained energetic healer, psychic, and herbalist. Merging her training in shamanism, tarot, past life work, meditation, and psychology, she teaches and writes about better living through witchcraft. Visit her at www.keepingherkeys.com
Entering Hekate's Garden
Reawakening the Heart of WitchcraftThe Magick, Medicine & Mystery of Plant Spirit Witchcraft