Initially, The Hermit’s Grove was created in order to manage the courses and workshops I was teaching which were not directly part of The Mystery School of The Rowan Tree Church. I was living in Los Angeles and we had numerous students.
If the diversity of topics is unusual, I might describe the combination of The Rowan Tree Church and The Hermit’s Grove as representative of the many directions my interests went. I left the corporate world in the 1970s no long after committing my life to this mosaic of a Priesthood. As a single man, one who had already owned my own business, taught school and was able to get part-time employment when needed with the greatest of ease, I was able to devote endless hours to my own studies.
Also in the 1970s I found a newly published book Occult Science in Medicine by Dr. Franz Hartmann. In so many ways this book was a perfect fit for the framework of my life and the Four Pillars of Medicine came to characterize The Hermit’s Grove as well.
A primary symbol used throughout The Hermit’s Grove, these four pillars are:
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. For decades this meant when I was on my knees in the soil working in our gardens as the Wheel of the Seasons circled around me or engrossed in the newest scientific information being made available.
I have a hunger for knowledge as compelling as an herb’s need for the Sun.
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, and understanding a person’s emotional worries are of great value to the healer.
But wait, there’s more. Shortly after I arrived in Los Angeles to begin teaching in 1991 I experienced the first earthquake large enough to fully engage my awareness. When I saw the time of day, the latitude and longitude, I knew I had all I needed and began plotting the charts of earthquakes. As we enter 2020, my research has astrological charts of 300 major quakes, many of them of historic proportion. It is the perfect marriage of the study of plate tectonics and astrology.
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.”
Hartmann wrote that “Virtue means power.” He goes on 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.
(1) One logo shows the four pillars as ancient, hewn, stones. The other shows the pillars as architecture. These two original drawings were done for me in the early 1980s by Karen Weed, an artist who then lived in Missouri and who has since relocated to Minnesota.\
(2) Samuel Weiser, Inc. NY, printed in 1975 from the original text published in 1893. This book has gone in and out of print several times in the past thirty years and is usually out of print.