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Sacred Root of the Herbalist (part 1)

"The Divine Origin of the Craft of the Herbalist"  E. A. Wallis Budge


"The religious and magical writings of the great nations of antiquity, that is to say, the

Chinese and the Indians...the Egyptians and Nubians, contain abundant evidence that these primitive peoples believed that the first beings who possessed a knowledge of

plants and their healing properties were the gods themselves.  They further thought that the substances of plants were parts and parcels of the substances of which the persons of

the gods were composed, and that the juices of plants were exudations or effluxes from them likewise.  Some of the ancients thought that certain curative plants and herbs con-

tained portions of the souls or spirits of the gods and spirits that were benevolent to man...


When the gods transmitted the knowledge of plants and their medical properties to their priests, they intended that knowledge to be used for the benefit of their worshippers, whether they were rich or poor.  What the priests had obtained from the gods was not

"Magic"...,but Natural Wisdom, and it was only because those who were treated by the priests did not understand even the rudiments of that wisdom, that they regarded it as "magic"...


It is impossible to say exactly which nation possessed the oldest gods of medicine.  Of the Chinese gods of medicine, little seems to be known.  Some authorities clain that an Emperor of China called Huang-ti, who reigned about B.C. 2637, composed a treatise on

medicine, and that another emperor, Chin-nong (B.C. 2699) composed a catalog of Chi-

nese herbs, but satisfactory evidence in support of these statements is wanting. 


We have it on the high authority of Dr. Lionel Barnett that the early history of Indian medicine is very obscure.  That very ancient work the Atharaveda contains a vast quan-

tity of spells to heal sickness, exorcise demons and overpower sorcerors, love-charms

(as a rule by no means innocent), and incantations of various kinds.  None of the works in use in the medical schools of India is older than the beginning of the Christian era, and we cannot, therefore, consider the gods of India as the oldest herbalists or physicians.

Many Greek writers describe the remarkable skill of the Egyptain physicians, and refer to the great antiquity of the study of medicine in Egypt, and it was thought for a very long time that the dwellers of the Nile were the inventors of the art of healing.  Manetho tells us (Cory's 'Fragments', p. 112) that Athothis, the son of Menes, the second king of the 1st

Dynasty, was a physician, and that he left behind him books on anatomy.  Now the latest

date we can give to this king is about B.C. 3600...


Now it must not be assumed that the indigenous Egyptians had no knowledge of the use of herbs in medicine in the fourth millenium B.C.; on the contrary, there is reason to be-

lieve that they were well acquaninted with most of the herbs and plants which we find mentioned in the great Ebers Papyrus.  But it is very probable that the medical knowlege of their Asiatic conquerors was greater than their own, and that Imhetep was the first to reduce to writing authoritative book of medicine."



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