Ginseng is held in such high esteem in China there have been war fought over the forests in which it thrives. According to one 2,500 year old legend, Ginseng was first discovered when a loud voice beckoned to a group of passing villagers from beneath a man-shaped plant the Chinese call Jen-shen or “Man Root. In another account Ginseng leaps to life when a bolt of lightening strikes a clear spring, fusing the essence of fire, water and earth.
There are several varieties of Ginseng all containing health benefits but Panax Ginseng is the type most commonly prescribed as a medicant. Panax, means “cure-all” in Greek, a word derived from the same root, and synonymous with the word panacea.
Ginseng is deeply rooted in Chinese history. An ancient society of fabled foragers known as Va-pang-suis, all reputedly men of impeccable character, once scoured the mountains of Northern China on a rigorous quest for Ginseng. Their search was both a spiritual and commercial endeavor involving ceremonial solicitations to the spirit of the root and careful rituals of gratitude enacted upon the discovery of the buried treasure.
History relates that as they hunted Ginseng, the Va-pang-suis were themselves being stalked by a cunning band of Ginseng thieves known as the White Swans. Though treacherous if crossed, the White Swans also followed their own rigorous code of ethics.Once they had robbed a Ginseng hunter of his earthy possessions he was thoughtfully presented with a little red flag and told to continue his hunt. The flag was designed to warn other roving White Swans lurking in the area to let him forage in peace.