The Healing Power of Plants
Some relationships appear to us as an evidence, something that was meant to be, and the relationship with Severine is one of them. Under the heavy sun of August, we spent a few days together in her beautiful home in the French Alps, taking pictures for her new project, “Herbes Vives”. I had the strong feeling to meet an old friend. Time stopped. Summer felt everlasting while we enjoyed inspiring talks, baths in the lake, diners under the grapevine and laughs with her daughters. Severine created her own world surrounded by the poetry of plants, honoring her intuition, her vision and her voice. I am sure this interview will inspire you and bring you massive expansion.
Since childhood, you have felt very connected to nature. Can you tell us a little about your life as a child?
“I had a simple childhood, where love was simmering in pots for large tables.
Between vines and lavender, old roses and olive trees, I have learned to prune trees, the harvest of fruits and plants, saw the golden shine of oil pressed before my eyes and felt the intensity of the perfume of lavender, picked for hours under the sun of Provence, burning at the distillery of Nyons. In my native Alps, the woods and waterfalls were the places I loved to be the most, exploring, meditating.
I come from a family that always shared a deep connection to the Earth. My ancestors have a particular history, of nomadism and resistance. I have roots from Eastern countries, bohemian blood. My first decoctions in the kitchen of my great-grandmother Gabrielle, a healer, were the imprint of this life.”
Life eventually took you to other places, but you always kept a very strong connection to nature and plants. How did this connection manifest itself?
“Like many people of my generation, I became an adult in a world that was no longer keeping its promises. It is the decryption proposed in my first book, a manifesto. I was attracted to mythology, plants, stones and yoga - kept like treasures on the family’s shelves. An interest in serving the major issues of our time awakened during my first exciting professional assignments. Yet, a certain inner discomfort was growing, until a serious accident happened when I was 22 years old, that marked the beginning of a deep quest on the meaning of my life. Nature kept me standing in the most difficult moments and kept my instinctive and wild nature alive. Wherever I was, I had the irrepressible need to walk in the forest, to bathe in the springs and the waterfalls, to find the ocean, the mountain, the desert, the wind, and plants, to give life to my body.
Today, the imprint of my actions in the world has evolved by learning to fully be present, with awareness, sensitivity, and in synergy with Nature. With responsibility, humility and courage.
Like you already suggested, we are "Guardians of Vision". Your One Oneness project is essential to resonate on this profound vision.”
To return to the world of plants finally allowed you to return to your own essence?
“Yes. My healing path brought me back to what always has been within me.
I have received in inheritance Nature, plants and trees, caring people, writing, poetry, dreams.
My spiritual path is a return to the roots. To my land.
Here, I have my medicine sanctuaries, near the lake, at the top of the mountain, in the forest where I go to take care of the Earth.
Mother Earth is the Great Creator, Initiator and Magician.
There came a time when I accepted to no longer know, to let the great Intelligence of Life unfold, and to listen to what Nature, trees and plants had to teach me.
To listen to Nature and to carry her message into the world.
Nature is medicine. She became my medicine and my service to the world.
Through my project “As we are”, I offered guidance to leaders to connect to their true nature, to find harmony in their responsible and conscious contribution to the world. My main project “Herbes Vives” is about offering this healing art through plants. Two manifestations for the same intention: find our essence by connecting to Nature.”
Could you tell us more about the healing power of plants and your personal experience with it ?
“Plants are living entities, and have their own intelligence. There is a very great resonance between us, humans, and plants. We are the link between Earth and Heaven, just like trees, connected to the seasons, adapting to the evolution of our environments, of the cosmos.
Chlorophyll has a composition really close to the composition of human blood.
Having explored the human psyche as much as traditional medicines such as Ayurveda, traditional chinese medicine and shamanism, I see the obvious links between the spirit of a plant--its form, manifestation and virtues--and the harmony that a plant can bring to the human body and mind. Each plant can be like a totem, an ally with its own resources and energy. With their most subtle elements, plants harmonize the human body like a garden its environment.
Let me share a personal experience. I was transfused at the age of 27 after a serious accident. Eighteen months ago, I started to take nettle on a regular basis, a plant that is a great healer. Nettle cleans the blood, nourishes and remineralizes my body deeply. In addition to infusions, I also worked on each chakra, harmonizing them with specific species of plants, in association with crystals energy - both powerful integrative medicine. I can feel that everything is in balance again.
In my practice, I am working more and more with the subtle. Simply by being in contact with plants, I know that they guide me towards harmony and teach me about my past experience. Today, I am more aware of why imbalance has occurred.”
Plant medicine is still very little known. In our Western societies, most of us are not aware of this knowledge, due to the lack of transmission. How in your opinion can we reclaim this knowledge, which was for a long time the basis of our medicine?
“In Europe, we share ancestral culture: Celtic, Druidic, Greek. Our traditional shamanism comes from the forests and sacred herbs, just like Native Americans have their healing plants, so do we. But we have lost our practice, after an important witch hunt and the advent of a materialistic, rationalistic and scientific society. Because I had to deal with vital physical traumas that led me to explore other ways, I have learned to trust myself. It takes a certain dose of courage. My experience with shamanism allowed me to connect with the great and wonderful knowledge of Anima Mundi.
During my first journeys to the drum, the language and universe of plants have opened up prodigiously: names of plants and remedies have been transmitted to me by the Spirits. It is an inexhaustible and valuable knowledge accessible to us, medicine women - a treasure to support our healing art. All of our everyday plants grow close to our homes. These are our native plants. It is essential to find a holistic wisdom as a woman, a knowledge of plants to share with our families. Of course, there are important plants, the master plants, the plants of the goddesses that require special and demanding expertise.
Behind all of this, there is the need to rediscover our own personal power. Vandana Shiva fought for the sovereignty of woman and nature all of her life. I find myself fully invested in this need to consider and respect nature and human beings as a whole, with wisdom.”
For people who do not have the opportunity to grow their own plants, where would you suggest them to get quality products that respect the plants and their virtues?
“There exists in France, a tradition of gatherers, traditional herbalism. Today, social media and internet make it possible for them to be visible and accessible, even if they are living secludedly in regions like Vercors or the Drôme. Again, it is important to make conscious choices, to consume less but better. Less essential oils that over consume raw materials, less essential oils from polluted area of the world, prioritizing local production. I love the smell of Palo Santo, but I live in Europe and it is not a local essence, so I avoid buying it, just like sage. However pine resin, rosemary and lavender are herbs that have been used for millennia in Greek traditions to purify, embalm the body and perform rituals.
While traveling, we always have the opportunity to connect to surrounding Nature, native plants and visit small local markets allowing gatherers to live and be respected in their work. In every city of the world, there are parks, ancient trees and beautiful gardens. I remember in May this year, an exposition of the roses of the garden of the Royal Palace in Paris, while they were flowering. I could never have such variety and quantity of roses in my garden. It was beautiful and wonderful, accessible to all Parisians.
To have plants at home, aromatic plants on your balcony, is a way to connect to the living world, to Nature. The more we become aware of her, the more we will respect her. Our connection to Nature is an healing act.
Earth is an anagram of Heart”
Could you share with us your daily use of plants?
“The Earth nourishes us, carries us, teaches us, heals us. It is essential to offer her our attention, our respect, our awareness, our rituals.
I am connecting with her daily. I regularly go to my medicine places, in Nature - even if I have my medicine wheel and plants in the garden - to do rituals, to thank her. I often happen to discover new species of plants in the wild and everyday I am amazed by the beauty and resilience of Nature. She makes us visible, alive. I eat plants every day; in soup, infusion, every dishes I feel like decorating - because they are beautiful, nutritious and bring so much life within us. For the past 2 years, I have been focusing on a diet based on certain plants like nettle, savory, rose, wild carrot and fennel, and I have created my own macerated oils for self care. I have reduced vegetables in my garden to grow the plants I favor the most.
In my practice, I work with essential oils and hydrosols provided to me by two gatherers from the regions of Vercors and Drôme, both sharing a conscious approach. I hope to get an alembic soon to make my own distillations and hydrosols, to create more subtle elixirs and unique soulful scents.
Marie Curie considered science a great beauty and a laboratory, a place of wonder. The vegetal universe is of immense poetic beauty. My studio and garden are places of permanent creation and wonder.”
Healing with plants is the heart and intention of your new project “Les Herbes Vives”. Can you tell us a little more about the project?
“My first step planted its seeds in the garden, in summer 2016, with my daughters: I wanted to reawaken this tradition. In 2017, during shamanic journeys appeared this need to manifest this vision: to find our essence, our true nature in contact with Nature, to share the precious Medicine of the Earth. Transmission based on experience is at the heart of the current “Herbes Vives” project, rehabilitating ancient knowledge and returning to the Earth, while integrating it into a contemporary dimension. Medicine means Art of Healing; with remedies and potions, but also with attention and awareness. Medicine is sharing the same root as Meditate. There is no other Medicine than that of the Earth. Even modern apothecary drew resources from the ancestral world of plants, before it became industrial and chemical. I want to federate a community of Medicine Women around plants and Medicine of the Earth. Share and bring life to our knowledge.
My next steps for 2019 will be to travel and share experiences and knowledge on nomadic life with women from here and elsewhere and to collaborate with online transmission formats, like One Oneness to share about the Spirit of Plants. I am also currently working on a beautiful book, and feel called to work on a documentary on the renewal of plant medicine to pass along the knowledge of healers!
In the long run, I would like to be able to create an holistic medicine center, an inclusive and supportive space that would promote plants, gifts of the Earth, in the “plate & cup", that would have a local herbal tea room on site - to allow women living in exclusion to find a social network, to connect with their community, to bring a fair contribution to the world. In this sense, I feel like a Guardian of the Earth, responsible to share an inheritance for a more sustainable future. Like plants, we live in a subtle ecosystem that we need to preserve, listen to, connect with, with attention and awareness.
Because everything is there.
With Gratitude, Laura, Gratitude for your project One Oneness.”
Séverine is a medicine woman based in the North of the French Alps. Her current work is shedding lights on the unconditional Oneness existing between us and Nature, dedicated to women. From medicinal plants to traditional medicines, with the knowledge gifted from past experiences and her sensitive nature, her vision is manifesting itself through “Les Herbes Vives”. A project dedicated to heal women and promote self care with the aspiration of creating a new concept of Art & Herbs store offering her own elixirs and herbal blends that will open in spring 2019.
She is offering group healing ceremonies, 1:1 and collective sessions, and healing quests in her medicine space - to help and heal, supported by plant medicine.
She is also a poetess, celebrating the beauty of life. Her second book, “Herbe en vie” explores holistic health through poetry, infused by her love for plants and the vegetal world and will be available soon.
With deep love, opened heart, we are connected to the Earth, creating and celebrating her beauty.
ONE MINUTE INSPIRATION WITH SEVERINE
1. Rituals for self-love? Sleeping as much as I need, oil massages
2. First thing you do in the morning? Being grateful for Mother Earth and for life. Capture the light from sunrise on the top of the mountains
3. Favorite self-care routine? Walking everyday barefoot on the earth and drinking spring water in my garden
4. Rituals to rest and regenerate? Forest or lake baths
5. Tools for self-healing? Dreams and listen deeply to Mother Earth. Plants.
6. One limiting belief or body imbalance you are still working on? Compassion. Tell myself « I am enough » when I think I can do or be more.
7. Favorite place to cultivate inspiration? Oceans, mountains, trees. Immensity and beauty.
8. Your Guardians of Vision ? Mother Earth
Interview: Laura Vendescoeur
Photos: Laura Vendescoeur
Editorial Assistant: Wilma Koch
Translation: Christina Jade
“Each plant can be like a totem, an ally with its own resources and energy. With their most subtle elements, plants harmonize the human body like a garden its environment.”
“Medicine means Art of Healing; with remedies and potions, but also with attention and awareness.”
Practical content to expand your vision
THE HEALING POWER OF PLANTS