I spoke with the great Sonia Masocco in January of 2017. I recommend Sonia’s herbal services at the highest level.
The audio to the interview was initially lost and then found 2.5 years later but in somewhat of a corrupted state. I am so glad to finally release the partial transcript of this interview about plants and planets. I hope you will enjoy reading the conversation as much as I had in having it!
Renay Oshop (RO): So here we are. AyurAstro is with Sonia Masocco. I thought of Sonia directly and exclusively with the theme of plants and planets. She has developed quite a wonderful teaching program and Ayurvedic phyto-products down there in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am really happy to have Sonia Masocco join me for today. Hi Sonia!
Sonia Masocco (SM): Hello and thank you for having me! I am very excited actually to share my phytotherapy knowledge with all of you, and I am very excited about this topic, about the plants and the planets, because it is something that has given passion to me for quite a long time.
RO: Wonderful, I can’t wait to hear more. I have a few prepared questions for you. I wanted to ask you first how did you begin your work with plants?
SM: Well, now I am aging myself, but it was around twenty years ago. I was in Hong Kong, and I was basically in a work environment that was not conducive to my basic dreams and soulwork, and I actually found someone who worked with essences. My first approach to working with clients was actually working with the Bach flower remedies, and they did work on a very subtle, mental, emotional level. And that was just the start, the tipping point to make me dive deeper into the plant world.
So, it started with the essences, making very, very subtle medicine, and it worked more on the mental, emotional, negative aspects of the psyche and turning that into positive gifts, into basically being fascinated by the fact that you can have one plant that can, on the subtle level, yield these effects on emotions, but on a deeper level also work on bruises or contusions. So, I said I have to learn about this as well.
So, from essences I went to very deep – I call it the most strong of the plant medicines which is actually aromatherapy – and basically I find it to be a little bit more of a jackhammer of plant medicines, and then basically from there, I found another medium which was in both Western and Indian herbs as herbs themselves.
So, it has been quite a journey, and I am still very passionate about using plant matter, but I do see them as helpers and not something that we should rely on day in and day out.
RO: Forgive me, but I would like to interject a subquestion, because that stimulates so many great, wonderful ideas in me. Thank you for that. My first, biggest question really is that, when you speak of the Bach remedies dealing with the manas and the psyche, would you say that plants have a special affinity to say the manomayokosha? Do they start with the annamayokosha with the bruises and such and then lift up and out, or is it from the outside, from the astral body in, would you say?
SM: You know, I think it depends on the form of medicine; they can actually work both ways. So, if you are working, being in the presence of a plant, it can actually work on the manas, and basically if you do not have that subtle capacity, of tuning into the plant, then obviously at this point, you have to take either a homeopathic dose or a material dose, and now it will actually go the other way from annamayokosha and then prana to mano and vijnana. Frankly, you know, in the same way that there are evolutes, I actually think they can work both ways.
RO: Do you think the homeopathic might be kind of distillation upon distillation of …. Sorry, I should not use that term, should I? A subtlety of a subtlety of a subtlety, as the koshas go out, or am I missing something?
SM: No, actually. That vision, and the vision of…. These are plant matter, and we do call them material doses in a plant form, and we do go for a homeopathic dose. Maybe it is actually like your vision, and when we don’t have anymore of the matter, but now we have the energetic, and the more subtle the energetic, actually the stronger it is in frequency, and so that stronger frequency, in my opinion, can be associated with the frequency we can find in the anandamayokosha and vijnanamayokosha. The dense frequency in the material doses at the annamayokosha level.
RO: Oh, beautiful. Thank you. That really answers a longstanding question for me. My next question for you is actually more a question about a quote from the Chandogya Upanishad that has really stayed with me through the decades, and I would love to hear what you think about it. It speaks the following:
“For as the earth comes from the waters, plants from the earth, humans from plants, so humanity is speech, and speech is Om.”
This seems to connote a kind of arrow from plants to humanity, at the very least, and I have a whole bunch of questions about this quote. I am hoping you can shed light for us. One: is this arrow two-sided, two: is the arrow itself Ayurveda, three: if so, then does the arrow go then all the way from Earth to Om, and is that Ayurveda?
SM: Well, you know, I can’t say that it is specifically Ayurveda, but I would say that this has something to do or something we can see in Sankhya philosophy that Ayurveda embraces. So, it is true that it is from the Bhutas, from the gross elements [Edit: space, air fire, water, earth], that we have the ahamkar. If we go in reverse order, from that Om, to sattva, rajas, tamas, and from the tamas side, the Bhutas.
If we go in reverse order, we can say yeah, from earth and water, there is creation, and the Agni actually creates, and it becomes more subtle, and it is a journey of creation. Then we can say, yeah, from matter we have earth, and then from earth we have humanity, but frankly, I find that is a very reductionistic way of seeing things, because I can not believe or presume that we come first, because we are so small in the universe that obviously, things can not come from just the earth. It would have had to start somewhere else. And so, basically, I think that the arrow is two-sided, and I actually think that the arrow comes from Om, that primordial sound that created the universal consciousness, and then It individualized Itself into smaller particulates. Now I think on one level in order for human progress to be, we have to accept space and time. We have to accept this reality as the sole reality, but as we advance we know that there is so much more out there. We can not presume that everything started on Earth or from Earth.
RO: Do you think maybe it is a bit of a poor translation? I am sorry. I do not have the Sanskrit in front of me. I would love to know what it says, what the Sanskrit says.
SM: You know, frankly, I think this has always been the issue from when we have Sanskrit being translated, and we have got the commentary. Sometimes I think that we need to have the appreciation of what was the tenor of the time, what was the overall thought, because actually, just the other day I was reading a little bit of the Rg Veda, a translation of the Rg Veda, and there are airplanes and cars and all these things that obviously did not exist at the time of the Rg Veda being written, so when we are reading some of these ancient texts, we need to also have someone guiding us or having some more commentary in the translation itself.
RO: Mmm, there were flying machines? The Sanskrit escapes me now. It has been a long day for me. I apologize. Vimayana, I believe? Forgive me, I am not sure. [Edit: vimana https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vimana] And so, perhaps… I think there is some concept of a flying machine, not a Boeing 747 or something, but some kind of machine that is up in the air….
SM: Yes, and in the English translation, they actually translated it as aircraft, and when I was reading the pieces on the Marutas [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maruts], they were actually talking about cars in the translation, and I was, you know, I was not too sure…. I think that there is more to be said about this than just meets the eye. It might be a problem with the translation, but I do think that there is… that Sankhya philosophy goes both ways, and if we actually look at the Vedanta philosophy, it ultimately works both ways. So, the most dense of being being the annamayokosha, that being more subtle than that, is actually in the vijnanamayokosha. So, the annamayokosha is actually viewed as the densest thing from the outside in rather than the inside out.
But, you know, all of these philosophies are embraced by Ayurveda, but which ones? It is not really clear in Charaka which ones they are coming from, but I do think that we can say it is truly part of Ayurveda, that anything more than that is just part of that basic philosophy.
RO: Wonderful, thank you. And actually the whole car thing makes me think that maybe it is a failure of imagination of a sort, as an example of a bigger failure of imagination on contemporary translators being able to translate this piece from the Chandogya.
RO: My next question has to do with Jyotish, traditional Indian astrology as you know. We sometimes recommend herbs especially for remediating for the nakshatras, the very far away starlight that are subcomponents of the constellations. I wonder if, please if you could, share some insight on why you think this works so well?
SM: Both in the Jyotisha as well as in the [unintelligible], there is the thought that certain planets actually rule a particular constellation and are rulers of certain plants that are on this planet, and I would say that there is definitely a true affinity towards the different planets and different plants. This can be seen. From a sort of mythical oriented person, I can tell you these can definitely be seen in the zeal that the plant has itself during what you would call dig bala or when the planet is exalted, in its hour or day of the week. There is normally better zeals of aromatics in plants. That there are better constellations within which we make the preparation or harvest the plant on the day of the plant, on the hour of the plant, increases its quality. Naturally what happens in a practical way is that there are more active principal constituents during some periods, and actually if you start observing days of week, you will notice fluctuations as well. Frankly, one would not be able to attribute that to anything else. There is something else happening, and so I do think that there is a planetary and constellation effect on the plants. I do think that we actually have to respect that knowledge, because normally this is not very much taught.
The second half of this conversation will be available in a separate article.