Laura Aversano, we learn in the Publisher’s Preface, is “a plant empath, a voice of the ancients, a window into the soul of the world. … [Plants] speak to her [and] seem to clamor for her attention. … She hears them and converses with them. She receives their wisdom and recites it simply, without adornment, for your benefit” (p. xii).
The wisdom Aversano gives us in this book is primarily from the tribal nations of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Both these ancient tribal people and people today are Earth Keepers, those who listen to Mother Nature and do ceremonies and rituals to heal the earth and work on behalf of humanity. Earth Keeper wisdom is presented in the early chapters of the book. It concerns calling in the spirits and each person’s “spirit walk” upon the earth. Aversano tells us about dreams and visions, about the mystical properties of rain, about animal medicine, and about the meanings of the four directions of the medicine wheel. Sidebars in these early chapters give us not only Native American wisdom, but also a sonnet by Edna St. Vincent Millay, quotations from Malidoma Somé and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a verse by Alexander Pope, and Proverbs 3:19 from the Bible. Wisdom is not culture-specific.
As interesting as these chapters are, however, there is one troublesome issue. As she writes about generic “man” and the “animal and other kingdoms,” the author falls into the trap of hierarchy. The Creator is on top, then “man,” then the animal kingdom, then the plant kingdom below. The author points out that “man” “owes respect” to the four-leggeds and that “humans receive their energy from the animal kingdom in the lower realms of nature. … The animal spirit,” she writes, “is meant to bridge the world for humans to enter into alternate realities” and “every human is protected by the lower forms of nature that reside in the spirit world” (p. 18). While it may not be necessary to be politically correct all the time, in today’s world, many readers prefer a vocabulary that talks about the entire human race and about realms that do not have kings. We who practice pagan spirituality—we who “worship the ground we walk on”—understand that everything is connected and works together in the on-going creation of the world, and if we talk about a “ruler,” the language is only metaphorical, as when we say that Venus “rules” love.
In chapters 5 through 41, we learn about the divine nature of plants and plant spirits and their healing properties. There is an index of physical healing properties with topics from Adrenals to Yeast Infections, and an index of spiritual and emotional properties with topics from Abandonment to Worry. As in the popular herbal books, there are color plates and each plant is also illustrated with a nice black and white photograph and its Latin name is given. Aversano also opens each chapter with a brief plant spirit prayer (“Oh, gentle angel [of lavender] with light of spirit, come dance upon me. Wrap your wings around my soul and send unto my heart the light you hold” p. 116) and her own experience with the plant. Her vision of lavender is a young mother sitting in a sunny garden and nursing her child. The mother places a sprig of lavender in the child’s hair “and the two of them become bathed in this effervescent lavender light.” Next come paragraphs on the spiritual and emotional properties of the plant (“Call upon [lavender] when you are healing from a broken heart. … It aligns the heart chakras of partners for eternity [and] is nourishing for one’s energy field” p. 118). Finally, the author gives physical healing properties. Lavender tonifies the lymphatic system, soothes sinus inflammation, helps to heal minor burns, strengthen the kidneys and other glands, and alleviates the discomfort of indigestion and menstrual bloating.
This is an interesting book with a nice metaphysical tone and helpful information on how to use plants and their spirits for both physical and spiritual healing.
~review by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D.
Author: Laura Aversano
Swan-Raven & Co., 2002