What is the Axis Mundi you ask?
The Axis Mundi is the center of the world. In myth and religion it is symbolized by a pole, tree, a mountain, or pillar that often depicts the uniting of heaven with earth and of course sexual union of complimentary opposites..
It is also within the human body as the chakra system, the Sefirot in Kabalism, and as the symbol in medicine it is known as the Caduceus – 2 intertwined serpents on a pole.
What does this symbology mean for us ?
I believe ultimately it represents our sacred space our sacred altar within and without as well as achieving a state of centeredness, and alignment.
Many disciplines work with this premise such as yoga, tantra, shamanism and some forms of martial arts where this is observed within (mind , body, and spirit), as the temple.
I feel it is useful to have symbolic personal alters as a representative of our personal cosmology, what we are working on, where our attention is focused, goals, intention, etc.
Alters are where the personal and collective meet and it is important to keep it fresh so it remains changing, deepening and evolving as we do, a kind of model for centering within.
In the Andes mountain cultures of South America of which I apprenticed and am a lineage holder; the people carry a portable alter called a mesa or misa, this is the personal medicine bundle and small enough to be carried around. Inside the medicine stones called cuyas that are collected from pilgrimages to sacred mountains and other sacred places are wrapped inside a handwoven cloth of llama or alpaca fleece. The mesa cloth is divided into 4 quadrants called siyus representing the 4 directions (all 4 together called the tiwantansuyu) with the axis point being the center where the 4 meet. The Mountain people are people with a verticle axis cosmology because they live in the Andes mountains and so their cosmology is sourced from their mountain environment and connect to dark points in the the milky way galaxy. This is their axis point to personal and communal cosmology represented in the living landscape and within the mesa.
As an herbalist and plant spirit whisperer I was taught by some of my favorite plants that they can be conjoined as a spirit medicine to attune us to our axis mundi for these plants are the complimentary opposites of each other
The following info was shared with me by the plants about this is that when we attune to our inner sacred space we facilitate the observation of what already exists – a state of centeredness, wholeness, and inner connectedness to everything even if for just a moment. Of course there are many levels and layers to this.
The specific plants that have spoken about the vertical axis mundi have been Devils Club which is our pacific northwest relative to ginseng, which grows in lowlands, dark humus soil and is one of the first defense plant to grow up damp creek beds in a temperate clearcut area.
I have witnessed her in action when I worked in clearcuts to re-plant them ). In fact devils club will literally walk over a hill in a matter of a couple of years up creek beds and down by dropping its tall (up to 8 ft) spike covered stalks that will take root from its nodal axis. Osha is the Devils Club resonant and complimentary opposite of the tall mountains east of the cascade range above 7,000 ft. Taken as companion medicines as in essence or tincture form the two are the plant version of this.
Lower axis Devils club (Oplopanax horridus) is a warrior plant, strongly protective and covered in spines. The messages to “respect me” sounds loud and clear and is used medicinally for many physical ailments from relief of ulcers, arthritis, digestive track ailments and as mild blood sugar balancer are among it’s many many uses. As a spirit I see her as deeply feminine although both sexes are present. She deepens our roots and spreads our consciousness out to our community-like she does in her own growing colony, increases our inner chi or prana (devils club grows in colonies surrounding the elder plant much like Artemisia tridentata (desert sagebrush). Message “We are stronger with our community beside us and around us.” We also see that her spines prickliness are an adaptation to protect her precious life and medicine. Her most powerful medicine herbally is stored in her root bark. Energetically devils club can help us clear ancestral karma that we inherit through our DNA, it helps to bring our shadow material into consciousness so we may work with it to heal and gain the wisdom pearls held there.
Osha the upper axis Osha (Linguisticum porterii) in the carrot family grows above 7,000 ft elevation associated with bear medicine, Bears seek it out after hibernation to clear their digestive systems and even wash their fur with osha root saliva. Humans used medicinally for upper respiratory conditions and internally for intestinal cleansing. This plant warrior carries the solar energy within. Osha is for those doing deep spirit work to bring light to personal and collective shadow material so we can move forward with humbleness, compassion and stop projecting our stuff.