The appearance of the Doctrine of Signatures (Doctorine of Correspondences) in
tradition cuts across cultural boundaries. Evidence of the application of this tradition
appears in European, Native American and Oriental history. Further support may be found
in rich allusions in mythology, remembering that these are works of agrarian peoples, and
remembering the primary importance which is placed upon vegetable foods and medicines
Dismissed as superstition at the turn of this century as “Heroic” medicine replaced the earlier, long-standing traditions of natural medicines, the Doctorine of Signatures has been unrightfully dismissed without being subjected to the empirical processes of science, whereby experimentation is applied to verifying or disproving a particular proposition.
This does not alter the fact that traditions already employing the Doctrine of Signatures have made inestimable contributions to medicine, and continue to do so. Nor does it alter our inestimable debt to previous peoples for even a few of these medicines.
Likewise, the medieval world-view of Christianity, of a “macrocosm and microcosm”, wherein plants naturally reflected the bodies of mankind may be dismissed as well, but for its’ astonishing holographic flavor, it remains remarkably modern, if ignored.
Today, a deity that provides food and medicines and then wisely and kindly labels this providence in a language of symbols, that cuts across all cultural language barriers, is virtually unheard of!
There reaches a depth of applying symbolism to decoding the clues that the Doctorine asserts exist, going beyond mere scattered examples, and even beyond mere simple correspondences, where plants and their traits can suggest remarkably philosophical ideas.
Somewhere in this depths, one may be compelled more and more to ponder the nature of the process. Dozens of theories might be applied to the “uncanny coincidences” that go beyond mere resemblances and labels to nearly promise us, consistently, that the remedy to what ails us may be literally right beneath our feet. (Such “unbelievable” occurances have been things which I have witnessed time and again.)
Failing to be able to distinguish between a deliberate benevolent intellegence in plants or nature’s forces, an uncanny ability of mankind to unconciously survey his natural enviroment and transform his ailments into whatever is best served by what is around him, or even to exert a possibly supernatural influence himself on the natural environment- the germination, distribution, and vitality of the plant kingdom- we must err on the side of caution as we approach the issues of conservation.
There is no plant we can assume that we can afford to lose.
Any specie, or even subspecie or variety of plant may hold not only essential medicinal material, but even insights essential for the survival of the human race. There are indeed plants which, through conjuctions of symbols, cut right through the red tape of human emotions and mixed feelings on issues with an incomparably razor-sharp logic. There are indeed plants whose designs are so lavish that the intent ceases to matter, as the power of inspiration they possess prevails. Not merely the inspiration of poetry, but inspiration in all feilds of endeavor, all of the way to designing real practical spacecraft. The absurdity of such a suggestion ceases to matter, because in applying such inspiration to the drawing board, IT WORKS!
Nor can we dismiss the great tapestry of ideas woven for thousands of years by persons before us. If their hearts were first and foremost where we might logically assume them to be, we can scarely possess a full or real understanding of our ancient past, of our treasured literature, without understanding the view of the natural world that these authors possessed.
Even the Bible does not merely mention herbs thousands of times, the style with which they are referred to is both that which other ancient texts use, and one which goes even further into exploring the significance of providence in the natural world as it pertains to the traits of plants.
Signatures also convey properties of plants relegated to the Occult, and the so-called Occult (much of which can be explained by science) which science need only assume are challenging, not impossible, nor forbidden, to explain, and proceed towards investigation. It has been the domain of occultists, and historically they have done so even at great personal risk, to preserve these understandings and to render them available for mankind.
Certainly, with the wealth of tentative explanations that apply to this tradition of “concidences” we cannot ignore these urgent messages to us, regardless of our belief systems or lack of belief systems, nor can we afford to.
The investigation of the properties and characteristics of each member of the plant kingdom is a crucial part of the task of veryify this most incredible of questions. And the investigation may lead us even deeper into our understanding of human problems, even so deeply that we find the master keys to transcend them.
Rather than try to present examples and arguments here, for indeed, the evaluation of the correspondences of a single one of even the most seemingly bland and simple plants could fill a volume of work. And some, in the ancient past, may have already.
Without even leaning in the direction of tentatively presuming the science of Correspondences or Signatures to be true, there is a great and all-important work that any and all of us can contribute to, for often, the answers to the clues can be found in the unique and individual experiences and perspectives we enjoy as human beings. From any child whose lavish imagination can highlight for us the resemblances of plants to other things, to the most educated persons whose technical expertise is required to investigate deeper, there is a part for us all to play.
Suffice it that the Doctrine of Signatures is the most urgent message imaginable that we must make every conceivable effort to save and to preserve each member of the kingdom of nature; signatures are not only borne by plants, but by animals as well, and even further, Signatures are also expressed in which animal bearing what traits is interacting with which plants and in what way . (The “mere” fact that a certain plant is eaten by a Panda bear, whose numbers are threatened, may advise us that the plant has agents which, or whose cousins, promote fertility in human beings who are most hard-pressed to enjoy such abilities.)
There is plenty of freedom for discussion and consideration in the section of the Doctorine that applies to signatures of habitat and prevalence-- the Signature that is supposed to have indicated to humankind that willow, a source of aspirin, is effective as a pain reliever is that it grows in environments which are particularly cold and damp, conditions that aggravate rheumatic pains- and much can be devoted to resolving the apparent anomalies between where the Doctorine suggests remedies to be found beneath one's feet in a situation, or where it implies the remedy, or the plants whose Signatures illuminate it, is to be found on the opposite side of the world.
The prevelance of the Dandelion is one example of a possible prevelance Signature; when a plant occurs with this level of tenacity and commonality, Signatures imply it is because the plant has a contribution to make with an urgency proportionate the the insistence of the plant.
Indeed, Dandelion is a plant with a remarkable spectrum of uses. Likewise, there is a degree to which the Kudzu vine could be controlled simply through recognition and employment of its noted economic value. There is a formidable list of "troublesome" plants that belong in this category.
Thus the Doctrine of Signatures not only strongly implies that we will neither be successful in the eradication of invasive plants, nor will we want to be, until we either effectively utilize the plant material in question, or recognize the statement it is trying to make, or both.
From this point of view, there is no reason to believe that any amount of preventative measures, no amount of herbicide, no matter how horrendously huge, that will warrant the promise of success in such goals.
It implies that the origin of invasiveness in plants is not horticultural ignorance, or the mere importation of so-called exotic plant material, it implies that the cause of invasiveness is ignorance the areas of ethnobotany or economic botany, as well as negligence on the part of humankind to tend to, not so much nature, as negligence of humankind to correctly attend to themselves and one another.
If this is so, it is not an oversight we can afford to make.
Besides being the cutting edge of applying the holographic paradigm of science, which
addresses that the incredible effects used in creating astonishing optical illusion with laser
light may occur in physical processes throughout the universe, the Doctrine of Signatures
may be the final and ultimate wake-up call to exercise true, sincere, personal, and passionate effort in
conservation of the world around us.