The concept of potentization is one oftentimes only understood through the context of homeopathy, but the roots of it are actually in alchemy. And one of the most powerful ways you can potentize your herbal remedies is through the integration of astrological timing techniques. Through combining the energetics and spirit of time into your medicine making, you can create the most potent and concentrated remedies possible. 

In today’s blog post, you’ll learn:

  • The Western model for understanding the energetics and spirit of time
  • Seven patterns for identifying the planetary ruler of an herb
  • How to choose the best time day and time to harvest your herbs
  • Approaches to medicine making in accordance with the Moon

You just finished speaking with a client. It was a good session. 

You asked all of the right questions, determined the root cause of the disease, and you've already got some formula ideas running through your mind.

You rummage through a cupboard and find some loose herbs in a container you’ll make a tincture with. Their color has passed, scent gone, and medicinal qualities reduced. They still provide some healing value, but can you imagine how well this would work compared to a formula that has been prepared and potentized in a more preserved form?

Being an effective herbalist means having the necessary skills to conduct thorough and successful holistic assessments for your clients. However, it doesn't stop there. It also entails knowing how to generate the most concentrated forms of herbal medicine possible through holistic medicine-making techniques. 

One of the most powerful ways you can potentize your herbal medicine is through the integration of astrological techniques. 

Medical astrology is an ancient well of knowledge that provides deep insight into root patterns of disease as well as the remedies you need to restore your health. You can use medical astrology to better understand your past experiences with illness, current health challenges, and how to prevent future diseases from developing. 

When it comes to medicine making, you can integrate medical astrology into your herbal practice to generate herbal medicines that are astoundingly potent, precise, and effective. One of the ways this is done in the tradition of alchemy is through astrological timing mechanisms to determine how and when you harvest and prepare your medicines. 

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Time Is a Circle

Calendars move from left to right in the West to form a line, reflecting the way that many 

people view time as today — linear. There is a clear delineation that separates the past from the present and future. Despite this common perspective today, many traditions around the world view time not as linear, but as spiralic and cyclical. 

With this lens, time is anchored to nature. Its passage relates to the changing seasons, chapters of the day (morning, noon, night), lunar phases, and other significant natural markers of time, such as the solstices and equinoxes. 

When you time your medicine making to coincide with the changing qualities of nature, it develops an essence that relates to the energetic quality of that period. It transcends the box-like categorization of the West and flows into a ceaseless river of time where the past-present-future is bubbling over in perfect harmony. 

An elemental relationship to time is found in Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine as well. Ayurveda categorizes time using the doshas, while Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the five elements. In both cases, the elements are used to understand the energetic qualities of each day and seasonal chapter of the year. 

People often think that the West does not possess a model for understanding the energetics and spirit of time. However, we do. This model is astrology. 

Astrology grants you a map for understanding the specific energetic qualities that flow through different times of the day, weeks, months, and years. Through integrating this astrological perspective of time into your medicine making, you have the key to potentiating your herbal remedies in a highly unique way.

Astrology and Medicine Making 

There are four main ways you can integrate astrology into your medicine-making techniques to yield herbal medicine with potentiated healing virtues. Whether you choose to implement one or all four, your herbal remedies will reach a new level of potency than ever before. 

Identify the Planetary Ruler of the Herb 

The first step towards using astrology to potentiate your medicine is identifying the planetary ruler of the specific plant you want to prepare medicine with. This is a traditional approach in the alchemical tradition to classifying and preparing herbs. 

While many people will cross this step off the list by looking up a quick index in a reference book, this causes you to miss the entire point of astro-herbalism which is to learn to see for yourself how the astrological archetypes manifest within plants. To see the interweaving of the macrocosm and microcosm… looking it up in a book is an unfortunately shortcut many take and limits your ability to develop this holistic way of seeing plants. 

Astrology is a sister science to alchemy, and the true practice of alchemy cannot be achieved without astrology. The premise of alchemy is that you are developing the skills to see the Three Principles— Sulfur, Mercury, and Salt, or Soul, Spirit, and Body— reflected in all of nature. Similarly, the goal of studying astro-herbalism is to learn how to see the astrological forces expressed in people, plants, and the entirety of the natural world. 

Developing the ability to see the world in this way does not simply arrive through the memorization of charts and indexes. The knowledge needs to integrate from the intellect of your mind into the space in your heart so that you begin to see the archetypes expressed in the world around you. 

Determining the planetary correspondences goes beyond looking at a bright yellow flower and concluding that it must be ruled by the Sun, or looking at a thorny stem and thinking that its planetary ruler is Mars. 

Learning to see these correlations takes time and requires an in-depth process to determine the planetary essence of a plant. When starting upon your astro-herbalism path, I think it's important to focus on seven core patterns. These include the habitat, morphological pattern, parts used in medicine, taste, actions, organ system affinities, and energetics.

When you take note of these seven patterns, you might start to notice there is a running planetary theme and will be able to relate this to the psychological and spiritual properties expressed by the plant as well.  

For example, herbs ruled by the Moon often grow in damp, dark, and cold habitats. In terms of morphology, these herbs are often silvery in tone and are blue, purple, violet, or white in color. The taste is often sweet, oily, demulcent, or salty, which denotes its nourishing, building, restorative, soothing, and general effect on the fluids of the body. Energetically, herbs ruled by the Moon are often moistening and cooling to the body. Two examples that illustrate this include Aloe Vera (Aloe vera) and Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis). The Moon governs the stomach, mucosa, breasts, and general fluids of the body, so many of its corresponding herbs have affinities for these organ systems.

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Identify the Day of the Week Ruled by That Planet

There are seven days of the week, and each day corresponds to one of the seven inner planets, which include: The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. 

Sunday is ruled by the Sun, Monday by the Moon, Tuesday by Mars, Wednesday by Mercury, Thursday by Jupiter, Friday by Venus, and Saturday by Saturn. In some languages, the days of the week still contain hints of these correlations within them. For example, Wednesday in Spanish is miercoles, which means Mercury. Thursday sounds like “Thor’s day” and Friday like Freja. 

With each day governed by its associated planetary force, there is an overarching energetic quality expressed throughout the day that is stronger compared to the other days of the week. 

Using this information, you can harness the planetary energy of the day to synthesize with the preparations of your herbal medicines. For example, if you are collecting herbs ruled by the Sun, you would want to do this on a Sunday. If you are making an herbal medicine formulated with herbs ruled by Venus, do this on a Friday. 

By aligning the day that you prepare your herbal remedies with its planetary ruler, you can channel the sympathetic energy of the planet, thereby potentiating your herbal medicine and strengthening its healing virtues. 

Identify the Planetary Hours

While the days of the week possess a generalized planetary influence, you can dial into the potency of the day by preparing herbal medicine during the planetary hour of the day. This directs a highly focused energetic quality into your preparation specific to that moment. 

There are two systems you can use to understand the planetary hours. The first system is fixed, while the second is flexible. I prefer the flexible system as I think this reflects the changing qualities of the seasons better, something that makes sense since seven AM in February has a different quality—a different feeling— than seven AM in July. 

To calculate the planetary hours using the flexible system, add the minutes between sunrise and sunset of a specific day and divide the sum by twelve to determine the twelve planetary daylight hours. If you calculate the total minutes between sunset to sunrise the next day and divide this by twelve, you will have the twelve planetary nighttime hours.

The sunrise hour of each day is ruled by the planet that governs that day of the week. For example, sunrise on Tuesdays is ruled by Mars, and sunrise on Wednesdays by the moon. 

If you take a closer look at Wednesday, you will see that the first hour is ruled by Mercury. After sunrise, the hours will progress through the Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus before repeating Mercury and running through the cycle again. This follows what is referred to as the “lightning flash” pattern on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Although the first hour of the day is ruled by a different planet depending on the day of the week, the sequence it follows remains the same. 

Traditionally in alchemy, all harvesting and medicine making is done in accordance with the planetary day and hour that governs that plant. In this way, you are not only harvesting the medicinal properties of the plant, but also the archetypal or energetic properties of the planet that governs it. In this way you are moving with the spirit of time as it is flowing in your particular area and this potentizes your medicine.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) - Photo by Emily Doyle

Harvest in Accordance With the Moon Cycle

The Moon is the closest planet to the Earth, and it completes its cycle every twenty-eight days, moving through all twelve zodiac signs and changing signs every two to three days.

There are twelve zodiac signs: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces. Each corresponds to a specific organ system. For example, Taurus is governed by Venus and rules the throat, neck, tonsils, ears, vocal cords, and  thyroid. 

Since the Moon passes through each of the zodiac signs for two to three days, you can potentiate the effects of your herbal medicine even more by identifying the parts of the body you want the remedy to work on most. After this, you can determine which zodiac sign corresponds to that organ system and prepare the herbal medicine on the day when the Moon is under this sign.

For example, Cleavers (Galium aparine)  is a plant ruled by Venus, and it works primarily through the kidneys, urinary tract, and lymphatic system. Therefore, if you want to enhance Cleaver’s function on the kidneys, you would harvest it when the Moon is in Libra, which rules the kidneys. However, if you want the medicine to work on the bladder and urinary tract, you would wait until the Moon is in Scorpio, which rules the bladder and urinary tract. If you want the remedy to target the lymphatics, wait until the Moon is in Pisces, which rules the lymph. 

If you want to strengthen your formula even further, you can wait until there is a day when the Moon is sextile Venus (sixty degrees away from Venus) or trine (one hundred and twenty degrees away from Venus). In these placements, the initiatic virtues of the astrologically potentiated plant you are working with will be magnified even more, as the sextile and trine are aspects that are beneficial between the two planets in question, they work nicely together and strengthen one another. 

Although you might feel tempted to wait until everything aligns “perfectly,” don’t let this stop you from preparing your plant medicine when only one or two of these timing factors coincide. The more these aspects of timing coincide, the more potent your remedy will be. However, you can potentiate your herbal medicine even from one of them alone. 

Astral Healing

The whole premise of potentiating your herbal medicine with astrology is so that your remedies will work through the astral body, which is the Western equivalent to the meridians and points discussed in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the nadis and chakras in Ayurveda. In other words, your astral body is your energetic organ system. 

Astrologically potentiated remedies function through the astral body, which directly impacts your physiology and psychology. Preparing your herbal remedies in this way magnifies the “initiatic virtue” of the plant, or what I like to think of as its evolutionary function. We can think of this as the way a plant affects the human soul and facilitates its growth and development through healing karmic, ancestral, and/or epigenetic patterns (all of which to me are different ways of essentially saying the same thing). 

According to Paracelsus, “The medicine must be prepared in the stars, and that the stars will become the medicine for it is they that complete the work of the physician.” 

In herbalism, you harvest the plants, but in alchemy, you harvest the planets. Through medical astrology, you can harness the celestial forces and vibrations within particular times and spaces and imprint this archetypal planetary energy into your herbal remedies so that they offer profound healing not just for the body, but to the mind and soul.

It is through the combination of astrology and herbalism that you reach new levels of precision, specificity, and efficacy with your remedies that catalyze the transformational levels of healing people are seeking today.