Talk to Your Plants!
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Talk to Your Plants!An exercise in garden-variety spirit medicine.
For most of the time we humans have been on the Earth, plants have played a significant role for us in many ways, not only as an essential part of our diet, but also for our health and well-being. In fact, many of our medicines today are plant based, either directly through herbs, flower essences, and homeopathy, or else by pharmaceutical companies extracting specific ingredients from the plants for medicinal purposes. The most widely known pharmaceutical is aspirin, related chemically to a compound first extracted from the leaves and bark of the willow tree and the herb meadowsweet. Yet there’s another way of working with plants for health and healing: plant spirit medicine.
Shamans develop a friendship with the various plants that inhabit the territory where they live and work, and thus, they build an intimacy so that the plant itself will communicate its properties. The communication takes place in dreaming, whether it’s through a shamanic journey, meditation, vision fast, or induced through other plant medicines. For the purposes of shamanic and Earth Magic work, the dreaming is another term for the altered states of consciousness and perception stimulated by these various methods. The ability to move in and out of the dreamtime—what we’ve also called non-ordinary reality (NOR)—is the practiced art of the shamanic practitioner and the Earth Magic practitioner. Another way to view this is that we move from this dream, called ordinary reality, into the other dream just across the veil of our usual consciousness.
It’s in this place where you can meet the plant spirits and find out about the healing properties of the plant. The spirit may come to you as an image, sometimes like one of the Nature spirits, or it may speak to you directly. The plant spirit may trigger a sensation or feeling in your body or thoughts in your mind, or a combination of these. Again, we find the four channels of receiving spiritual information—visual, auditory, kinesthetic or cognitive.
As a way of connecting with a plant spirit, here’s an exercise you can try. Don’t worry about doing it just right. If you don’t get anything the first time, keep practicing.
EXERCISE: Talking with the Plant Spirits
Do a walkabout in your backyard, neighborhood, park, or any area that has vegetation and is relatively quiet and secluded. Take a notebook and pen with you, some tobacco or corn meal, and if you have a field guide to plants native to your area, take that with you also (although it’s not essential). Slow down and pace yourself, walking about three-quarters your usual speed. When you find a plant of any variety that you’re drawn to, sit nearby. Thank the plant for calling you over and offer a pinch of the tobacco or corn meal to the plant, setting it at the base.
Once you’re seated, close your eyes and turn your attention inward for a few moments and tune in to your breathing. Without effort, regulate the rise and fall so that you create a pleasant, rhythmic breathing pattern, one that’s like a small ocean wave. Notice yourself slowing and deepening your breath. Feel the rhythm of your heartbeat. Feel the ground on which you’re resting.
When you’re ready, open your eyes, and for just a few moments observe the form and dimensions of the plant. Note its colors, the shape of its leaves, its branches, trunk, and where it roots into the Earth. When you’ve captured the image of the plant in your mind, close your eyes. Notice any sounds around you. Tune in to the plant. Ask the spirit of the plant to teach you. Pay attention to any sensations or impressions that come to you, regardless of whether or not they make any sense. Look, listen, and feel any intuitive information that comes to you. Ask what medicinal purposes it has, if any. Like communication with any other spirit being, the information will come through any of the four channels of perception.
Be patient. It may take a while for plant spirits to communicate, and they may communicate in visual symbols, through your feelings, or as a small voice in your mind. It’s likely that you won’t learn everything you want to know about the plant in one setting, so be prepared to spend more time with it. Whatever you get, record it. It may not make sense right away, but it will later or with subsequent visits. If this is something that attracts you, you’ll want to do this frequently and record what you get each time.
After you’ve meditated and communed with this plant, write down any impressions in your notebook or journal. One caution: don’t taste or eat any part of it, as there are quite a few poisonous plants no matter where you live. If you’re interested in finding out more about the plant, take a photo of it and either look it up in a book about native plants or talk to a botanist about it.