Our roots

The Mission of the Plant Spirit Medicine Association is to support, preserve and strengthen the practice of Plant Spirit Medicine as recognized by the Temple of Sacred Fire Healing.

Our scope of action includes:
  1. The integrity of the practice of PSM, including standards of practice and ethical standards.
  2. Supporting continuing PSM education and providing resources such as guidance and support to Association members.
  3. Supporting the Temple of Sacred Fire's religious and beneficial mission, TSFH educators and lay spiritual healers, and TSFH affiliated PSM organizations. Supporting the maintenance and advancement of PSM as an authentic sacred healing lineage.
  4. Fostering PSM lay healer commitment and ability to keep ancestral healing traditions alive and an integral part of the practice of PSM.

Plants, unlike human beings, are not beguiled by the illusion of being separate and cut off from the richness and vibrancy of the Spirit. They live in a kind of spiritual fullness that is really a human being's birth right, too.
-Eliot Cowan

Eliot Cowan

Eliot Cowan (1946-2022) was a healer, author and teacher of Plant Spirit Medicine, and founder of Blue Deer Center, which is the home of our branch of Plant Spirit Medicine. He was also tsaurirrakame-mara’akame and elder in the Wixárika (Huichol) tradition. He had a special capacity to connect with most people in a way that they felt truly seen and understood. His compassionate presence and commitment to being of service led thousands to become aware, consider or even embrace the spiritual journey of life. His passion was to bring spiritual healing to the human heart – which he did for so many people. He was a bridge between our modern culture and indigenous traditions, including the Wixárika (Huichol) people.

As a young man in college, Eliot was fascinated by the ancient ways of indigenous peoples and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in anthropology. With expanded interest, he then studied ethnographic documentary filmmaking at the graduate level. During his “back-to-the-land” farmer phase of life, he owned a goat who fell ill. Even though the veterinarian said she was incurable and would soon die, Eliot treated her in the old way with herbs and she soon grew well.Eliot realized his interest in natural and traditional healing and he eventually found the teacher he was looking for in J.R. Worsley, the late English acupuncturist. Although Worsley was not an herbalist, he introduced Eliot to a way of healing that touched people’s spirit and gave them a richer, fuller experience of life. Eliot received a Master of Acupuncture degree under Dr. Worsley, and taught on the faculty of the College of Traditional Acupuncture in England. When Eliot returned to the U.S., he made a promise to himself, “I am going to revive the use of local plants to heal the spirit”.

It was anthropologist and founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Michael Harner, who suggested a technique for contacting plant spirits that was precisely the new approach Eliot needed to fulfill his pledge. English plantain, the first plant he contacted, assured Eliot that the plant spirits would be happy to teach him and had, in fact, been waiting for almost two hundred years in the hope that someone would ask for their help in healing the human spirit.

Unawares, Eliot had stumbled upon an ancient approach to healing. The local plants instructed him in their medicine. He learned quickly because the ancient Chinese worldview, from the acupuncture school, was the perfect language for teaching him. Gradually Eliot introduced what he called ‘Plant Spirit Medicine’ into his healing practice. He expected the plants would provide healing comparable to what his acupuncture practice had provided, but the medicine of the plants exceeded his expectations.

Eliot offered healing under the guidance of plant spirits and taught Plant Spirit Medicine for over 45 years. While not all became healers, his students benefited from seeing the world through new eyes, the ancient eyes of wisdom.

Until his death on March 5th, 2022, Eliot had offered counsel and healing to over 1,000 patients and sought ways to help make ancient wisdom and healing available to modern people. He successfully apprenticed other Westerners as mara’akate, and left a legacy of the treasures of Huichol healing and Plant Spirit Medicine to the nearly 500 students and apprentices he trained. People continue to be guided on pilgrimages by Eliot’s successors so they may receive blessings from sacred sites.

A source of inspiration

Eliot Cowan authored Plant Spirit Medicine, an eye-opening book that has inspired people from around the world. Since its first printing in 1995, Plant Spirit Medicine has passed hand-to-hand among countless readers drawn to the stories and teachings in his book. Eliot Cowan invites us to discover the healing power of plants―not merely their physical medicinal properties, but the deeper wisdom and gifts that they offer.

I can honestly say, that no other book has more greatly enriched—nor brought more beauty into—my life than Plant Spirit Medicine. So many lives have been changed by this magical little book that it should come with some kind of consumer warning.

—mace fleeger