VERDANT GNOSIS is a poetic rendering of the Latin expression, Viridis Geniii, which refers to the collective spiritual intelligence of our botanical environment. Viridis means ‘green, verdant, growing’—all that is lush and nourishing; while genii is the origin of the words ‘genius’ and ‘genie’—the spirit, daemon, or guiding intelligence of an entity. Viridis Genii—the verdant gnosis—is thus the spiritual path of working with the intelligence of living nature.Within this second volume you will find a selection of international authorities on the Green Way, ranging from professional plant alchemists, shamanic herb-masters, to bioregional animists. Herein you will learn the ways in which you can communicate deeply with the mysterious intelligence of the plant kingdom, breaking down the barriers of anthropocentric thinking that separate humanity from nature.The second volume of Verdant Gnosis: Cultivating the Green Path presents selected articles from presentations at the second annual Viridis Genii Symposium, which will be held at the Still Meadow Retreat Center in Damascus, Oregon (3–5 June, 2016). For more information on the symposium, its featured presenters, and workshops, please visit the Viridis Genii Symposium website.
—Catamara Rosarium, Marcus McCoy,
and Jenn Zahrt, PhD
Gaia Sophia and the Emerald Path
Transmission of Esoteric Plant Knowledge in the Twenty-First Century
—Daniel A. Schulke
Funerary Trees, Folklore, and Practices in Grief and Mourning
Man-Dragon, Man-Root, and the Witch:
Mandragora and Ginseng as Plant Allies
—Jesse Hathaway Diaz
Devil’s Club: Sacred Cascadian Medicine
Beyond the Mundane and Medicinal: Magic in the Woods
Baltic Amber in Myth, Medicine, and Magic
—Gail Faith Edwards
On the Importance of Keeping a Poison Garden
Controversy and Conversion:
Astrological Considerations for Potent Herbal Workings
—Jenn Zahrt, PhD
From the Introduction
This book is the second volume of the Viridis Genii Editions series. In 2015 we set a precedent and galvanized a community: never before had a symposium been held that focused on the ethnobotany of magic. Between July 31 to August 2, 2015, practitioners and students from around the country and globe gathered in Damascus, Oregon to share in verdant gnosis. Attendees enjoyed a keynote speech, eight additional lectures, and nine hands-on intensive (optional) workshops—all on various topics concerning the green arte. Everyone who attended collectively deepened their awareness and understanding, delving further into the mysteries of the verdant gnosis. A witches’ market was formed at the heart of the event, where select practitioners could showcase and sell their wares to fellow practitioners. Shamanic performance artist and Tuvan throat singer Soriah topped it off with an incredible performance. Curanderas gave limpias, Quimbandeiros gave readings, and multitudes of green threads wove an abundant tapestry of networking and community over the course of the weekend.
The symposium and this anthology, composed of work by select speakers at the symposium, give diverse voice to the Viridis Genii itself—a spirit of myriad form that has many secrets and many more faces. The humble messengers of the green spirit have again expressed themselves here through the continued traditions and practices of masters and explorers, its guardians and garden tenders.
The works assembled in this tome give the Viridis Genii voice and share in its mysteries, so that those mysteries may perpetuate. This volume begins with Dan Riegeler’s passionate keynote meditation on the green arte magical and the Viridis Genii, as a movement, lifestyle, and salve for our planet’s current woes. The following article by Daniel A. Schulke then reveals the importance and history of the transmission of praxis and knowledge of our green arte. Then, Corinne Boyer, a Cascadian folk magic and medicine practitioner, gives the Viridis Genii voice in the relationship between humanity, death, and the green gifts’ work in death’s dark soils. From there, we delve into Jesse Hathaway Diaz’s extended meditation on two roots of much power and mystery—North American ginseng and the man dragon, mandrake—a powerful second contribution to this anthology series.
From the vast expanse of indigenous North America, we return again to the realm of Cascadia, as Jon Keyes recounts the Cascadian legends and ethnobotanical history of Devil’s Club and articulates his own personal praxis as a healer. From these brushy thickets of Oplopanax , we then turn to the gifts of trees, with Karl Feret, who speaks of wood, magical tools, and the many established relationships throughout the world with the tall ones. Turning our attentions then from wood to stone, Gail Faith Edwards provides us with a comprehensive arcana of the magic and medicine of one of the world’s oldest voices of the green spirit: the fossilized blood of the trees, which takes the form of the stone known as Baltic amber.
Turning from ancient history to the immediate present, Urtica reminds us that the best time to plant a tree is “five years ago,” and gives us an urgent and ecologically imperative look at the localization of the speaking and healing plants that have assisted humans in learning the great depths of the Viridis Genii’s mysteries. Urtica stresses the importance of growing our own poison garden and suggests how we might do so with greater ease, for the benefit not only of ourselves, but of the planet itself.
Our anthology wraps up with an impassioned look at the oft-misunderstood practice of working with plants from the stance of astrological correspondences in magic and medicine. Here Dr. Jenn Zahrt immaculately details methods from throughout the centuries and gives clear guidelines to the practitioner who knows that in each blade of grass, stardust dwells.
Keeping with the precedent set by the first volume, this edition of Verdant Gnosis features an illustration by Morgan Singer. The piece of Baltic amber found at the beginning of Riegler’s keynote contribution functions as a visual emblem for many of the themes woven throughout this volume, most explicitly Edwards’ piece on Baltic amber itself, but also, more evocatively, the other traditions preserved and furthered here.
It is with a humble pride and reverence to this great green work that we transcribe and transmit the voices of those who work with the Viridis Genii. With each volume of this anthology and each year that the symposium grows, it is our hope that the green mysterium tremendom grows, as do those who seek to perpetuate it in their own garden of dreams and magic.
& Jenn Zahrt, PhD
April 20, 2016