2 MHP - The Four Pillars
The primary symbol used throughout The Hermit’s Grove depicts four pillars. I first encountered the concept of the four pillars of medicine in a compact but powerful book, Occult Science in Medicine, by Franz Hartmann. I spent years studying this book and continue to do so when working with students in the advanced levels of The Master Herbalist Program. My students in The Mystery School of The Rowan Tree Church are also required to spend time with this book.
When I first read the book, having only recently embarked upon my own pursuit of metaphysics and occult sciences, it spoke so clearly to me that my original copy remains at hand by my desk. I refer to it often and, in fact, the information contained in it greatly shaped the two major educational programs I established: The Master Herbalist Program and The Mystery School. These four pillars are:
Philosophia: The word ‘philosophy’ translates from the original Greek as a ‘love of wisdom.’ In the context of this pillar of medicine, the wisdom we seek comes not only from studying written texts but also from observing and studying “the mysteries of Nature for the purpose of gratifying scientific curiosity.” Franz Hartmann also writes that “the whole of nature is a manifestation of truth.”
As a Master Herbalist my learning never ends, whether I am on my knees in the soil working in my gardens as the Wheel of the Seasons circles around me or engrossed in the newest scientific information being made available. [Photo taken by Laurie Niemi in Minneapolis ca 1980]
Astronomia: Within The Hermit’s Grove the knowledge of astrology is used to better understand the individual in a completely holistic manner. The knowledge of astrology in its higher form allows us to understand the emotional, psychological and psychic components of the person, thus better able to see how the individual may manifest illnesses and other afflictions. Working to remedy imbalances and tendencies toward self-negation, learning how a person handles stress or anger, better understanding a person’s emotional worries is of great value to the healer. [photo by Carl Alstad of me when I worked at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in 1980 as an astrologer]
Alchemie: From the time I asked for (and received!) my first chemistry set in 1955, I’ve had a desire to understand the underlying energy of physical substances. In The Master Herbalist Program the advanced work (and work of a spiritual healer) is to move beyond the confines of an herbal remedy based solely upon remedial principles. Rather remedial work is expanded to incorporate the energy of the herbs. Hartmann speaks of Terrestrial Alchemy, that work which encompasses the “whole science of chemistry.” Then there is Celestial Alchemy, which seeks to work with the spiritual components of both the patient and the remedies. Lastly there is the Alchemy of the Astral Plane which includes, as Hartmann writes, “spiritism, hypnotism, witchcraft and sorcery: all of which things are superstitions if believed in by those who know nothing about their laws, but realities for those who know the laws by which such phenomena take place.” [My first chemistry set was so amazing … but so limited. I had no idea at that age that what I really wanted was an alchemy laboratory!]
Fideles: Hartmann wrote that “Virtue means power. He goes to state that “The true physician as well as the real priest is ordained by God,” along with “Medicine is much more an art than a science.” Other ‘virtues’ which Hartmann states include this: “The true physician does not brag about his cleverness or praise his medicines or seek to monopolize the right of robbing the patient… There is knowledge which is derived from man, and another knowledge which is derived from God through the light of nature. He who has not been born to be a physician will never succeed. A physician should be faithful and charitable.” Hartmann stresses the spiritual and moral nature of the healer as an essential component of one’s work. I can only concur. Just as I am known, internationally, as a Master Herbalist, I am also known as a Wiccan Priest. I am both priest and healer and cannot separate the two. Those whom I wish as students are those who seek knowledge motivated by a love of wisdom. They are humble, a word which shares the same root as ‘humus.’ Their growing knowledge of herbal work based upon these Four Pillars will allow them to see the divinity present in all of the herbal world, in all of Nature.
The Hermit’s Grove is a faith-based organization, part of The Rowan Tree Church. We strive toward living our Highest Ideals and the Four Pillars are our foundation. Both logos for the pillars were drawn by Takya Weed.