Ceremonial Plant Medicines

Posted by on Nov 14, 2010 in The Mind of Makaira | 5 comments

Ceremonial Plant MedicinesI just wanted to write about a little something that has been on my mind for the past few weeks. It seems to me like indigenous cultures have very different ideas and methods of using plants and medicines than people in many Western countries. For us here in Hawaii, as well as for people in Fiji, the Philippines, and other countries that have used kava for thousands of years, kava is undeniably linked to ceremony. Even when I drink kava outside of a ceremonial setting, I always think about the many amazing ceremonies that I have taken part in as a worship of this marvelous plant and the beautiful people around me. Therefore, even when I have a wonderful cup of kava in the evening on my own or with friends or family after a hard day of work, I think of this sacred plant which is blessing me with its wonderful healing powers.

On the other hand, the pharmaceutical companies that are part of Western medical systems have completely altered the ways in which we view plants and medicine.  Nearly all of the medicines that we use on an every day basis come from a sacred plant.  Aspirin comes from the bark of the beautiful willow tree. Morphine and the other medicines we use to relieve pain come from the charming poppy. But pharmaceutical companies pull the plant apart, remove only the element that they desire, and turn this in to a generic pill or liquid. This completely separates the medicine from the plant that it came from. Based on this, people use the medicine with a lack of respect. After all, it’s just a pill that they take to automatically make them feel better, not a plant that is blessing them with the healing of nature.

Unfortunately, I feel like this disconnect from nature and plant medicines can also be seen in the way that many western people use herbal remedies. People think that if they just buy an herbal remedy and take it, it will make them feel better instantly. Rather than respecting a plant and working with it, they despserately look for one thing that will solve all of their problems.

Now, I know what I’m about to say might sound a little bit new-age-y or strange, but I think that these plants are more effective and more healing when we treat them with the respect they deserve. After all, the kava we drink came out of the ground and ceased its life process in order to help and to heal us, to let us relax, enjoy each other’s company, rest well, and be happy.

I feel that this is what the kava wants to be able to do for us. Therefore, the next time you go to drink some kava, consider carefully the beautiful plant from which it came, a plant which contains so many compounds that heal your body and soul. If you can be thankful for the loving assistance of that plant, you may find that you will have a much stronger, more enjoyable experience when you use it. These plants are not just medicines, they are our allies and our teachers. Even if you don’t have access to traditional kava ceremonies, treat every time you drink kava as a ceremony. I think you will be surprised as to how much more powerful and wonderful your experience will be!

Aloha no,


Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Just like the Native American and the buffalo

  2. Stargirl,

    Thanks for taking the time to write; your post was a joy to read! Yes, it can be so tempting to make it into a tea, but you are 100% correct; above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the Kavalacatones break down and the drink loses all its potency and pleasurable effects.

    The connection to the plant is one of the big reasons my family and so many friends love to share Kava. Without question, we feel the spirit of ‘Awa is very strong, that she’s a playful spirit, and she’s also a particularly powerful spirit, even for those new to experiencing the power of plant consciousness. I think that in the West (Hawaii was only recently “acquired” by the United States and most of Oceania doesn’t share the same religious beliefs and practices) many feel “strange” or “new-agey” for feeling connection to plants, but for us here in Oceania (and many other parts of the world), awareness of plant consciousness is as natural as breathing.

    All the best to you and your new adventures with the ‘Awa spirit! Spend time with your Kava, get to know the best extraction methods for you, and spend time contemplating the pleasurable effects; that is all part of the spirit of the plant speaking to you!

    Aloha no, Makaira

  3. It’s nice to hear your thoughts.
    i’ve only been drinking kava since Christmas, and have pretty much been preparing it all wrong; as I’ve been making hot tea, which destroys much of it’s properties; i’ve recently learned. luckily a few times it has still slightly worked; and was a very relaxing experience.
    while stirring & squishing it for a good hour or so; before drinking it i felt a deep connection to the plant. Intuitively i felt like it’s preparation was supposed to take time. I don’t consider myself new agy, although I do consider myself spiritual, as i feel all human beings are, (or should be in their own way) and feel sooooo very lucky to have discovered this plant. It has magical properties, I can feel it in my heart.
    I’m excited to have found your website a few days ago, and very much look forward to trying your farm’s kava.
    I’m also so thankful for all of the information provided by you.
    many thanks from BC Canada!

  4. JS,

    It’s always nice to find someone else who recognizes the power of Mother Nature. It’s always disappointing that we’ve somehow been led to believe that acknowledging the power of plants is something to be shy or shameful about. Little does the mainstream know that 75% of pharmaceutical medications come from plants. Look at all the vegetarians in the world; plants have so much power they can single-handedly sustain human life! Even for the meat eaters; it’s difficult to sustain healthy human life without plants.

    Aloha no,

  5. Great post.
    “Now, I know what I’m about to say might sound a little bit new-age-y or strange, but I think that these plants are more effective and more healing when we treat them with the respect they deserve.”
    Maybe a little, but this attitude has origins dating back pre-history. Treating nature as a entity to be respected is something that has disappeared in Western society. Once you start addressing things in nature as not “it” but “thou”, your perception and respect for life can really change.
    Greeting from Florida, JS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *