A bright green, low-growing succulent, with lovely butter-yellow feathery flowers, this plant is also known as Kanna in its native land of South Africa. It has an ancient history of use by the Khoikhoi and San people (called Bushmen by the colonists) as a shamanic and healing plant.
An interesting philosophical trinity exists between the Shaman, Kanna, and the Eland antelope, very much like the Shaman-Peyote-Deer trinity of the American Southwest. In South Africa, Kanna is associated with the Eland, and the Eland is associated with trance states and Shamanic knowledge, and both the plant and the animal are called upon to lead the Shaman to his healing insights and sacred knowledge.
Kanna was also used by the native people to dispel the fear and depression that warriors have upon returning from battle, and modern uses confirm its helpfulness for anxiety and post-traumatic stress.
In several modern books, as well as patents and physician accounts, Kanna has been shown to be very useful for anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug dependence, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and general emotional stress. These effects likely come from Kanna’s serotonin-enhancing properties, which also mean that Kanna should be approached with caution by people using other brain-chemistry altering substances. Kanna also harmonizes other neurotransmitters, and acts in a very balanced way if used wisely.
As an initiatic, Kanna facilitates open, clear states of insight and enhanced empathy with others. When used in meditation, it opens the mind to receive insights and connect and merge with the larger field of energy and awareness around you. It does not seem to be as beneficial for narrow-focus or concentration-based meditation, but for one wishing to be clear, calm, and open to receive and be connected, Kanna can be a good tool.