Establishing Relationships to Plants

Establishing and building a relationship with a plant is very similar to doing the same with a human being: the first few interactions can be slow, steady and gradual. You will really hit it off with some plants, like youíve known them for years- others may take a little more time. Plants, like people, can be very outgoing, talkative and expressive, or they can be more quiet and reserved. Like any relationship, it has to be tended to and nourished; it is a discipline and spiritual practice.

Establishing a relationship with a plant is establishing a relationship with a particular aspect of our own being.

Here are some guidelines that I use in order to establish and build a relationship with a plant:

1.) Introduction and prayer: Just as you would a person, introduce yourself to the plant. One of the biggest hurdles many people need to overcome is to be comfortable talking out loud to a plant!! Tell it your name, where you come from, what your sacred purpose is on this Earth, and most importantly, why you are sitting before it. Pray to it, ask if it will be your friend, teacher and healer.

2.) Humility, respect and gratitude: The only way a plant will teach and heal us is if we humble ourselves before it and show it the utmost respect. The coastal natives of this area have always said that the plant nations are the most evolved beings on this planet- they have been here much longer than we have, and have figured out how to live on this Earth in a good way. Weíre still stumbling…. So we have to honor the plant as being more intelligent than we are, it is only through this that the plant will open itself to teach us. Respect itís habitat, you are in its home.

3.) Offerings: Just as you would bring a gift to bless someone and extend your love and gratitude, so you should do so with a plant. The most traditional offering is Tobacco, but Cornmeal can also be used. Plants also appreciate things that we create with our hands (but if you are going to leave it there, keep it small and compostable of course!!). Shiny beads, a coin, or something of beauty are also appreciated by them.

4.) Attunement and meditation: Engage with the plant through your heart field. Breath the plant into your heart and soul, and extend your heart and soul to it. Relax. Breathe. Focus. Become highly attuned to your thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, discomforts in your body, visions and impressions. It’s vitally important to remember that everything†that occurs during your sit with a plant is communication- so pay attention and attune to the subtleties.†Sit with the plant for at least 30 minutes at a time.

5.) Wildcrafting: I do not suggest wildcrafting a plant until you feel very comfortable with that plant and feel like you know it relatively well. (You wouldnít go over to a new friends house and ask them to give you something would you?) Always always always ask permission from the plant prior to wildcrafting. Never harvest Grandmother or Grandfather plants. Take only what you need and will use, and always honor the ecological integrity of the stand. We will go deeper into ethical and spiritual wildcrafting as we progress through the program. Harvesting is a great way to get to know a plant on deeper levels.

6.) Dreaming: Have a prayer before you go to bed with the plant, asking it to come into your dreamtime. A great trick from Pam Montgomery is to not expect the spirit of a plant to come into your dream, hover over you and teach you all about how to use it, what itís good for etc. Instead, think of it as the plant is bringing you a dream. The quality and nature of the dream will be indicative of the plant itself, how it is used, and what kind of people it will be good for.

7.) Preparation and ingestion of medicine: A great deal of information can be gleaned through preparing your own medicines from the plant, especially through the spagyric process which teaches a vast amount of information about the plant. You can make infusions, decoctions, tinctures, salves, oils, baths… itís endless really. The important thing after you make your take it!!. Preparing and taking your own medicines is far greater than anything you buy from anyone, because it is coming from your own direct relationship with the plant which has been prayed with. Always prepare in prayer. Ingestion of the plant is a way of incorporating itís being into you, where a true communion happens. It has a chance then to physically touch your organs, your heart and mind. Tasting plants is essential for anyone serious about understanding herbs.

8.) Singing: Plants sing. I know it sounds irrational, and thatís because it is. The song of a plant is beyond anything the mind can understand, because it is something received through the heart. Plants have a language of their own, and they love to have it expressed through a human voice. Plants love humans because they are able to express themselves in ways that is limited by their form. The song of a plant is considered itís essence, itís highest medicine which carries all the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual properties of it. There are highly refined indigenous ďsciencesĒ around plant songs and how they are sung into the human body† for healing. The song is the entirety of the plant, itís universe (the one song). It requires that you be fully out of the way- to become a hollow bone for a plant song is one of the greatest joys of relating to them. Singing also teaches us to reclaim our voices, our power, our ability to express and create who we are. It is a powerful healing to begin to sing at all… so start humming and whistling more to start!!

9.) Journeying and ceremony: A great way to connect with a plant is to take a ďjourneyĒ to visit itís spirit in the lower or upper world. Here you are connecting to its spiritual nature. We always journey to either gather wisdom or receive a healing. Never journey without a very clear and well established intention- otherwise it is very easy to get lost.†It is vitally important to remember that the ecology of the spirit world is very delicate and has a direct impact on the physical world. You have to know what you are doing. Journeying can be a great time to receive songs of plants.

10.) Dieta: The plant diet is by far the best way to establish a strong relationship with a plant, because it essentially merges all of the above. It comes from the Amazonian traditions of herbalism and is an ancient science. It is the greatest way of showing a commitment and dedication to learning from and working with that plant. You are also creating an environment in your body that the plant likes, and eventually it will be with you forever as your ally, guide, healer and teacher. To diet a plant and stick to it is to show it the highest form of honor, respect, and gratitude. The level of healing and teaching that emerge is profound.

 

To truly build a strong relationship with a plant, you have to relate to it on a deep level, typically for many years. Studying herbal lore and material on the plant is a great way of getting to know it as well- even the scientific studies and pharmacological information can yield interesting insights into the nature of the plant that you are becoming.