Spirit and Shamanic Plants


Since the dawn of human society, trees have been viewed as having souls or spirits, the soul being the ''vital principal'' or the ''breath of life'' that is found in every living being. Theosophical teachings have maintained that these spirit beings are members of the vast hierarchy of the angelic kingdom, whose evolution is believed to be parallel yet separate from our own.

Among the ancient tribes, deities were associated with a variety of trees, including the pines and cedar, Butum, the tamarisks, and the Acacia. The tribes worshiped these sacred trees, which were often planted or natural growing near sacred wells, gorges, and other holy sites or tribes crossings.

Among today Bedouins, sacred trees are still considered as places where spirits reside. Not only these trees protected from citing, but they are honored with green cloths, hairs, Henna, and even stones.

Among some gulf state tribes the Ausaj Bush is considered to be under the special protection of Spirits. And for the Karak tribes of Jordan the Dome is considered to be protected by holy spirits at the village of Bethdan. It is never cut nor are branches even broken from it. It is believed that anyone injure it will be followed and tormented.

The Bani Hameda is said to be seen under a Dom Acacia tree in Wadi Al Mougeb while the elder was putting on its trunk oil and geeh.

Among some Bedouins of Palestine, the tamarisk "Turfa", a hardy flowering tree native to the desert and dead sea area, is a holy tree. Bedouins believe that when you pass a tamarisk at night when the wind is blowing, you can hear the branches whispering, "Alah, Allah."

Among the early Semites, holy men and seers were associated with a variety of trees, including the pines and cedar of Lebanon, the oaks and the Acacia's of the Arabian deserts. The Acacia was sacred to the Jews, who forbade its use for any secular purpose, such as building private homes or making furniture.

The Bible also tells us that the early Semites venerated Asherath ''Al Uzza'', the female who represented the fruitful or nourishing earth. She was worshiped under a tree, or often a stake or pole decorated with cloth. These places were known as ''Asherim'' and were an important feature of early Semitic sanctuaries. Worship of Asherath flourished from approximately 1150 to 500B.C.

This is very similar to the Red Indians dream catcher. This Djin catcher is made by Bedouin women with dried Syrian Rue seeds for prtection. "Evil eye" protection. What is interesting is the geometric shapes that the dried beads makes with the other criss croos beads. In south Jordan, dried capsules are placed onto red hot charcoal, where they explode with little popping noises, releasing a fragrant smoke that they inhale. It is used when visiting tombs of the dead, some times when a person not good or not well. In Yemen it is used to treat depression.
The November Harmal plant yellowish stacks with dried seed pods. Smoke from the seeds kills algae, bacteria, intestinal parasites and molds. According to the Bedoul tribe. Harmla vapor sauna is also used by the bedouin just like the Red Indians sweat lodge or medicine lodge. Smoke from the seeds has a lifesaving effect on cattle infected with various disease. There has been much speculation concerning what is most likely to have been the identity of the original Soma plant. There is no solid consensus on the question, some experts say that it is a species of Ephedra, and some other say that it is Harmala “Syrian rue”. The Soma plant is described as growing in the mountains, with long stalks, and of yellowish colour. The drink is prepared by Priests pounding the plants with stones. The juice that is gathered is heated, filtered through lamb's wool, and mixed with other ingredients along with milk before it is drunk.However it has been argued very persuasively by David Flattery and Martin Schwartz in their intriguing book “Haoma and Harmaline,” that the original identification of Vedic Soma with Syrian rue by Sir William Jones in 1794 was correct. Harmaline is the beta-carboline present in Peganum harmala (Bedouin: Harmal, Harjal) and it is is distinct in its pharmacological activity from the South American harmine found in the Banisteriopsis caapi (used in the South American ayahuasca brew). It is known that Arabian desert harmaline is more psychoactive and less toxic than harmine. The strong evidence of the shepherds of Arabia using Peganum Harmala for cen- tures, as well as this plant relation and association with the female moon deity Esfand “Esphand” the guardian of herdsmen can be a stronge indication that soma is in fact could possibly be the Harmal plant as has been suggested by David Flattery and Martin Schwartz and Sir William Jones.
The mysterious Ephedra foeminea (Bedouin: Ausaj) can also be seen as a semi parasitic plant in the way it climb on top of a Juniper tree in Beidha. Also it has its owen root system unlike the vine Loranthus-acaciae. Among some gulf state tribes the Ephedra (Bedouin: Ausaj) is considered to be under the special pro-tection of Spirits.
The “Ephedra foeminea” (Bedouin: Aousaj) is the most mysterious with its tiny flower and red and black seeds. It comes from Ephedraceae family. Harry Falk asserted three varieties of Ephedra (a Sarcostemma; and a leafless climber of the genus Periploca) that yield ephedrine. Falk established that the effect of the alkaloid ephedrine was, in many respects, similar to adrenaline, but "its actions are less intense but more prolonged than those of adrenaline, and, most important, it prevents sleeping." Chemical structure of Ephedrine is similar to Amphetamine, but pharmacologically they are unrelated. Ephedra was one of the candidates that have been suggested by the ethnobotanical community along with honey and harmla. Several studies attempted to establish botanical identity of the soma plant used by the shepherds tribes of the Persian plains. The Persian plains Shepherds had what they called the Soma drink which was a ritual psychoactive drink prepared by extracting juice from the stalks of a plant that was also called Soma. The highly conservative Zoroastrians of Yazd (Iran) were found to use Ephedra, in the late 19th century.
Flowering Tamarisk tree (Bedouin: Torfa, Tur Fah) There are two species the red and the white flower bearing bushes. They usually grow on saline soils. The species has a variety of common names, including Athel pine, Athel tree, Athel Tamarisk.This tree was mentioned repeatedly in the Bible. Abraham has been recorded to have planted Tamarisk trees (Genesis 21:33). In Samuel 31:13 it is mentioned that bones were buried under the Tamarisk tree. Osiris, the Egyptian God was involved with the sacred Tamarisk tree. The myth speak of Osiris’s coffin rested at the base of a Tamarisk tree. then the tree encircled the coffin by its trunk after growing. Certain Tamarisks are inhabited by mites, that emit a nice smelling juicy liquid that crystal- lizes on the bark to form a white substance known as “MANNA”. Some Bedouins believe that as you pass a Turfa tree at night (when the wind is blowing) you can hear the branches whispering, “Allah, Allah.” .......“God, God”.
Peganum harmala is a plant of the family Nitrariaceae, native from the eastern Mediterranean region. It is also known as Wild Rue or Syrian Rue. It is a perennial plant which normally it is about 0.3 m tall. The roots of the plant can reach a depth of up to few meters. The round seed capsules, have three chambers and carry more than 50 seeds. A red dye, "Turkey Red," from the seeds is often used in Asia to dye car- pets. It is also used to dye wool. When the seeds are extracted with water, a yellow fluorescent dye is obtained. If they are extracted with alcohol, a red dye is obtained.
The Harmla plant was worshipped by communities that lived along the caravan routes, who associated it with the moon diety ''Asfand''. This plant was known from Asia Minor, across to India and Northeast Tibet, as a medication and a love potion. According to one theory, harmala was the base of the ''Drink of the Immortals/Soma'' in ancient times. It seems like the ancient nomadic desert tribes in Arabia used The Syrian Rue ''Harmla'' and the Acacia tree to make some kind of a brew drink. (Read: The Nabataean Libation Drink) This kind of brews has been used in by ancients for millennia in order to heal, divine, and to worship. The Syrian rue and some parts of The Acacia Tree are similar to the wellknown active ingredient of the Ayahuasca brews of the Amazon in South America. The most researched shamanic brew in modern times is the Ayahuasca brew of South America, which induces, in the person who consumes it, an experience of other spiritual realms and of the higher vibrations of the spirit world. This is caused by the effect of the chemical combination of the two substances on the Pineal Glands.
White Broom Shrub (Bedouin: Ratam) flowers in early spring. Ratam flowers are the earliest flowers that come out out of all desert shrubs in the very early spring from all the desert shrubs. During three weeks in March, Camels and Goats most- ly graze on these flowers, which give the milk special qualities causing lucid and vivid dreams. All parts of this shrub contains poisonous alkoloid like terpene and- cytisine. This shows how easily humans could be affected by what they eat and their animals are eating.
The nomadic bedouins of southern Jordan has been taught that plants growing in between the rock veins has more medicinal properties than others. In Sinai the Bedouins use some specific sandstone layer for drinking as a prescription for some illnesses
Camel milk is a staple food of the bedouins. It is said to have many healthful prop- erties. Bedouins believe that the curative and aphrodisiac powers of the heavy and sweet camel milk are enhanced if the camel's diet consists of certain plants. It is normally drunk fresh with the warm frothy liquid. The camel eats only certain herbal plants, tips of woody shrubs and trees. The Camel tend to be good-tem- pered, patient and intelligent. Bedouins can survive for months on its milk when water was unavailable.

Torfa the shepherdess of the Ammarin at the Artemisia steppes of Beidah, with the evergreen oak forests at Ash Sharah on the background. 

Goats prefer to graze on shrubbery and weeds. Goats graze more like deer than sheep, preferring woody shrubs rather than grasses. Goats are extremely curious and intelligent and they are one of the oldest domesticated species. To the bedouins each region or area have a different specific taste and flavor of milk, like the Bani Hameda tribe who’s milk always have an Artimesia taste. Soil-plant-animal interrelationships studies suggest that this could be attributed to the status of the minerals in the soils. Concentrations of serum copper were sig- nificantly lower in penned sheep (zero grazed) than in grazing sheep in eastern Saudi Arabia. This shows how imortant of wild grazed animals as a source of rare minerals that the human body immune system is lacking.

Below is a short list of some lesser sacred plants of the desert:
Athl or Ithl // Tamarix articulata Vahl. 
Arak // Salvadora persica L. 
Ba'eithran// Artemisia judaica L. 
Butum // Pistacia terebinthus L. 
Ja'adah // Teucrium polium L. 
Handal // Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrad.
Harmal// Syrian rue 
Ratam // Retama ''Broom white and yellow''
Rimth // Haloxylon articulatum (Cav.) Bge.
Rihan // Ocimum basilicum L. 
Sidr// Ziziphus spina - christi (L.)
'Awsaj // Lycium arabicum Schweinf.
Ghada // Haloxylon persicum Boiss
Qaysum // Pyrethrum Velen. 
Mitnan // Astragalus camelorum Barb. 
Miramiah// Salvia Divinorum/Diviner's Sage 
Shih // Artemisia inculta Del. 
Tarfah or Tarfa' // Tamarix hampeana Boiss/ Tamarix nilotica (Ehrenb.) 
Zeyton Maskhout// Banyan Tree
Pistachio Terebinth of Petra is a member of the same genus as Pistachio Mastic. Pistacia Terebinth is native to Petra rock formation. The resin and fruit oils were historically used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The resin (Ancient Egyptian: kemy gum) was very important commodity to the ancient inhabitancy of the Nabateans. The raw fruits of the wild pistachio taste like turpentine with 45% oil.
Artemisia Herba- alba Wormwood (Bedouin: Sh’eh) is another variety of the Daisy family which prefers to grow on the red vains as seen in the lower photo. Most Artemisia if taken in large doses may cause some hallucinogenic propert  Most Artemisia if taken in large doses may cause some hallucinogenic properties. In witchcraft, Artemisia believed to have multiple effect on the psychic abilities of the practi- tioner. Common names used for several species include Wormwood and Absinth. Lower: Artemisia Sheh living on the mineral rich vains.
The Red flower of the Nabatean Aloe Vera in June. This variety is not found in the wild anywhere in Jordan excepts in Petra. According to David Hudson the Aloe Vera has the highest amount of Iridium and Rhodium from all plants. Iridium is a very rare element on Earth, but geologist have discovered its existance in quantities up to thirty times than the normal in crust layers where meteorites containing the substance have landed in the distant past. Recent tests have shown that, by dry-matter weight, over 5% of brain tissue is composed of Iridium and Rhodium in high-spin state. Given the extraterrestrial nature of Iridium in particular, it is intriguing to discover that we have this very element within our own body.
The Fig tree (Bedouin: Teen) is indigenous to the rock and gorges of Wadi Rum, Petra, and Sinai. The fruits of this tree were a common food for the ancient nomad and the shepherd boys. The fruits of the wild fig tree is not recommended to be eaten on an empty stomach early in the morning, as it might cause some delusion, a property that gave the tree another name of “Crazy fig” by some bedouins. Until now the white milky sap taken from broken brunches of tree is also used by bedouins for curdling to make cheese. Its leaves is burnt on charcoal along with harmala seeds inside a tent for inhalation is used for goat herd treatment. A treat- ment used by the Judeilat of the Bedoul tribe in case if the goat herd started to give runny and not thick consistent milk.
In the tropics the Ficus tree is important, as objects of worship in most indigenous cultures. The writing of the 1st century BC Greek histo- rian Diodorus Siculus seems to mentions this fruit: "Being eaten, it has the power to effect fantasy. their priests will sometimes used the fruit to bring on such fantasy, which they say is the voice of their God."

The Woman in the upper photo is Torfa bint Sabbah Al-Shousheh Al Ammarin, she is daughter of Salha and grand- daughter of Abdullah. She was born in Heisheh oak forest on the Ash Sharah highland. Torfa’s tent is the most beautiful from all the other tribes tents. Her healthy shining goats never needed vaccination and they dont get sick because they are well taken for. Torfa says “a good shepherd with a healthy herd is the one who lets his animals choose were they want to graze and not the other way around, some times the goats are seeking special medicinal herb that is good for them high in the rough terrain where other shepherds might not want to take their flock that hard terrain to fulfill his goats desire....this is the factor that makes your pampared goats produce a softer and shinnear hair and makes your goat deliver twins. To me there is nothing more loving than seeing the babies of goats around.” Torfa names every goat according to their own personality.

The Story of Harmala Plant (Syrian Rue) as told by Torfa

According to legend, Hamda was a virtuous girl who lived with her brother and his wife long ago when all creatures had the power of speech. Hamda herded the family's small flock of sheep, and such was her virtue that she gave away most of her food to orphans. Then she assuaged her pangs of hunger by tying rolls of woven wool to her stomach, which caused her figure to bulge.
The wicked sister in law pointed out to her husband Hamda's protruding belly, telling him that his sister had become pregnant by some shepherd boy, thus bringing shame upon the family, which could be washed away by shedding Hamda's blood. The brother refused to believe this story, but his wife insisted, adding that Hamda had been acting strangely, moving restlessly from the sun to the shade and back, which, the wife claimed, was a sure sign of pregnancy. Finally, the brother agreed to put the matter to the test.
That afternoon, he lay in the sun and asked Hamda to pick the fleas from his hair. But the wicked sister in law had secretly put a poison in Hamda's food, which made her restless. After some moments Hamda asked her brother to move to the shade; then, a few moments later she asked to move back into the sun. The brother then believed his wife's lie. That night they plotted together to kill the unfortunate Hamda.
The following morning he took Hamda on his camel to a dried well. There he secretly spread a blanket on the mouth of the well to hide it, and he invited his unsuspecting sister to sit on the blanket and continue to de-flea him. She did, and fell into the well, whereupon the brother threw dried brush and wood on top of her and set it on fire so Hamda would burn to death. He then rode home to break the news to his wife.
But Hamda was saved from the fire by her virtue. From the poison in her belly erupted snakes that pushed the flames away. The flames themselves were magically transformed into a paradise. But poor Hamda missed her brother, so she made a necklace of beads for him and she asked a crow that flew overhead to take the gift to her sibling.
When the brother saw the necklace, he knew that Hamda was alive, and that he had treated her unjustly. Without telling his wife of his purpose, he asked her to pack some dates and dried food, so that she would not poison it, and he went back to the well. But the wife was suspicious and poisoned the dates by rolling them in camel dung and then in ashes to conceal the revealing smell.
When the brother reached the well Hamda told him her tale, but she refused to come out of her pit for fear that he might try to finish the task which he had started; he assured her of his good will and she let herself be rescued. The brother then offered her the dates to eat, but when they saw the ashes they realised that the food had been poisoned, and the brother realised his wife's wickedness.
When the wife saw her husband riding back with Hamda behind him, she realised that her evil deeds had failed. She cried out a spell to save herself, but her magic failed again, and instead, the earth opened and swallowed her up to her neck. Her husband grabbed her by the hair and cut off her head with his sword, crying out for her to become a bush so repulsive that even donkeys could not eat more than one mouthful of it. So the wicked wife was transformed into the bush of the ''Harmala plant'' with its dark bitter seeds.