Inner Mind


Plant Spirit Medicine Story

Hi Rita” a bright child's voice calls out. I release the thought bubble I am in and look around, momentarily disorientated. It has been years since a small child called out to me. Indeed I do not see any small children and the reality of where I am in a new neighbourhood where nobody knows me by name comes into clarity for me. However, directly in my line of vision, as if illuminated by a spotlight, standing out from their surroundings are several pine trees grinning and waving their branches at me. It was Pine Spirit that spoke into my mind in the clear voice of a small child.

I had been communicating with spirit worlds consciously for many years, through shamanic practices, meeting animal and human and angelic guides, when I was asked to do a seminar on Plant Spirit Medicine. I had never worked consciously with plant spirits before, so I journeyed to my usual guides and asked them how I was to do this. They introduced me to Pine Spirit. Pine Spirit came into my mind as an illuminated pine branch and into my perception as a delightful gracious loving energy. When I asked how I was to start to learn about Plant Spirit Medicine, Pine told me to go out and introduce myself to all of the real physical world pine trees in my neighbourhood.

So I put on my windbreaker and my walking shoes and feeling only slightly ridiculous, I rehearsed in my mind, hello Pine, my name is Rita, how are you. I had no idea what to expect, indeed I did not expect anything except for a good walk, it all seemed harmless enough.

Well, it turned out to be an eye-opening and hilariously entertaining walk. First of all I had never noticed how many Pines there were in my neighbourhood. “Hello Pine, my name is Rita, you are beautiful” I say to a vibrant young tree and walk on by. Then I become aware of a strange sultry voice in a southern drawl making some sassy comment in my mind, something I never would have thought of on my own, that is so funny I burst out laughing and there is the next Pine to greet. After each greeting, there is some comment in some sort of unusual voice that is not a part of my normal thinking processes at all. Yet I recognized the voices as something I would have heard in a movie or a restaurant while traveling, they were vaguely familiar to me from long past experiences, in other words, they were part of my memory bank, but not part of my current daily thinking. In this way, Pine made sure that I was not confusing its speech with my own mind thinking so I would have no doubts that it was Pine Spirit that was communicating with me. When I commented on this, Pine said, “well, if I spoke Greek to you, you would not understand a word of what I said, so I can only use what is in your own mind already to communicate with you. Aren't you glad now that you have done so much reading, to give me such a rich memory bank to draw on.”

After that walk, I became very conscious of pines and I saw them everywhere and continued greeting them and if I was lost in my own thought worlds, then they called out to me. Meanwhile, I was learning to recognize the presence and voice of Pine Spirit. Whenever I was ready for listening and learning, all I did was to picture the illuminated pine branch in my mind and ask for a lesson. Often I did this while outside walking.

For the first two weeks or so, Pine not only told me in words but also showed in in pictures, like brief little film clips, how it is that plants make oxygen for us to breathe, showing me the lush rain forests and how it is that in the wintertime when our plants in Canada are dormant, we still have a rich supply of oxygen. This oxygen not only works on the physical body by animating and energizing our cells but emotionally it is calming and relaxing, mentally, it is stimulating and spiritually, it is the carrier of consciousness. It took me about two weeks to fully absorb and integrate this information, in that I had been a Yoga instructor for over fifteen years, teaching people how to breathe consciously and how to use the breath to release tension and energize their bodies. I had been reciting the benefits of conscious breathing, telling people that it enhances immune cell counts, lowers cholesterol levels, balances hormonal functioning, soothes the nervous system, lowers anxiety levels, and so on without ever wondering or questioning how this was so. I would point out all of the breath based therapies thriving everywhere, how basic meditation practice is watching the breath, becoming aware of the breathing process. I myself used the connection to breath as a focusing technique for activating my psychic awareness. Well, Pine allowed me to take my own sweet time to realize that this is plant spirit medicine in its most basic universally available free to everyone everywhere anytime form, compliments of the plant world. When I finally had my AHA! Moment, putting two and two together, being awed at the amazing beauty and gift of it all, there in the street, in front of my feet was a good sized pine branch.

I recognized it for what it was and bent down to collect my good job award even as my practical brain started to look for physical reality sources of why this pine branch was on the road. Considering that I do a lot of walking, and I am generally quite aware of where I am stepping, as doggie-do and broken glass are not uncommon city street findings, and I have a good memory for things that concern my physical safety but in that memory, never have I been aware of a substantial pine branch at my feet in the streets of this town. So I look around for the pine tree that it blew off of in last night's wind but there are no pine trees in any of the surrounding yards. Finally I spot some pine branches just barely reaching over the roof of a house about two blocks up the road and even physical reality brain has to say “ner ner, no way”. So I had to accept that it was Pine Spirit who had organized that branch to manifest at exactly that place at exactly the time I got the lesson it was presenting to me, however it did so.

Conversations with Pine Spirit continued. The next thing that Pine showed me was that plant spirits choose their people. In a visual presentation, Pine showed me pictures of my life, starting from early childhood, where plant spirits were present and actively engaging with my consciousness and energy fields, how I was drawn to those plant places, how I felt balanced and energized and re-instated in universal love, comforted, awed, brought to my favorite sense of myself by the plant beings. Asking why and what this is all about, Pine tells me that the plant spirit world is trying to cultivate friendship with humans, because they need our understanding and friendship in order to be able to evolve and realize their highest potential, just as we need them for our mere survival, never mind highest potential. So I came to the realization that doing one of my favorite things, which is to hang out with plants and be friends with them, is a valid, nay even necessary, activity for the survival of the human race.

Conversations with Pine continued about many topics of mutual interest to us,over the following months. Pine is a truly gracious, accessible and outreaching spirit, a teacher and a wonderful introduction to Plant Spirit Medicine.

The next plant spirit I consciously connected with was Nettle. With Nettle, I simply sat down beside a nettle plant that I had transplanted from garden to garden, bringing it with me whenever I moved and asked if she wanted to talk to me. “Sure” came the reply and then there was a long silence before I heard, “well, I'm not much used to talking to people”. I admitted that this was all quite new to me as well, that I was not used to talking to plants. So we sat there until eventually I got a sense of the personality of Nettle, which is very different from Pine. I called Nettle “she” because using “it” sounds weird to me but in fact, Nettle is both male and female. While the female aspect of Nettle is very nurturing, the male is a highly individuated beingness with a wry and dry sense of humour that borders on the sarcastic. Nettle tells me he is one of the oldest plants on this planet and came here because he can grow in any sort of ground with enough moisture because he creates lifeforce from water, air and sun, then transforms the ground he is in to a more favorable environment for other plants. In fact, present day manuals recommend nettle as a catalyst for compost heaps and nettle teas are as nourishing to plants as they are to humans.

Traditionally nettle grew profusely in the roadside ditches throughout Europe, so much so that when the German army got cut off from their supply of imported cotton, they mobilized both army personnel and prisoners as well as civilian forces to harvest the nettle that was then woven into very strong and durable cloth used for army wear.

After the war, people tried to plant nettle in fields so they could harvest it more easily for making fabric. Nettle refused to grow in human fields, refused to co-operate with efforts to cultivate it for harvesting for human industry. When I asked nettle about this, he explained that he was not going to co operate to be used for harming, that he resented being made into uniforms used in the war.

Well, my next major conscious plant spirit connection has been perhaps the most challenging of all so far. I specify the major part because I talk to plant spirits all the time. I greet plants as I admire any flowers in bloom, as I work in gardens, as I walk through parks, and sometimes I get perceivable responses just as human strangers will sometimes smile or talk as they pass by, and so will plants, but I don't expect to have any sort of on-going intimate continuing connection with them. But similarly as some humans become our special friends, so too, some plant spirits enter into continuing interaction with us. My conscious involvement with Oak came about as a result of a shamanic healing that was done for me, that recommended I practice being Oak. I was to become Oak and walk about as if I was Oak. Well it so happened that outside the window of my room at that time, there was an oak tree. So once again, as with Pine Spirit and the real physical reality pines in my old neighbourhood, here there was a real oak tree for me to relate to.

Oak Spirit has quite a strange and different energy. Not like human patterns of thought at all. Oak's first allegiance is with the planetary consciousness and traditionally it is the keeper of sacred places where people go to experience god, or spirit worlds or different states of consciousness.

It took me awhile to engage with Oak. My first real connection was in a shamanic journey where I became an Oak tree, which I realized when I tried to lift my feet to move and found they were roots permanently established in their part of ground. I was resisting being rooted in one place and kept trying to lift my root feet up and walk away, when Oak Spirit came to visit me and laugh at me for my ridiculousness. He appeared to me as a wiry, gangly, elfish figure with branch like arms and legs of great strength and a very unique and strange energy.

It was after this that my daily meditation became imagining that I am an oak tree. Well, if you have ever spent time pretending you are a tree or resonating with the beingness of a tree you will appreciate the challenges of this. My consciousness remained in the trunk while my roots went deep into ground and the branches reached high up into the sky and because I was then stuck where I was, whatever I wanted or needed I had to attract to myself. I became aware of the wind currents and birds and squirrels above and the the water currents and worms and microorganisms in the ground and so on and it is all very interesting and also very powerful medicine.

I was doing this practice in the mornings before going to work. Normally when I came out of my meditation, the roots and branches disappeared and I carried on with my day, fully returned to my human body. However, one morning the branches did not disappear but stayed on top of my head and were there as I walked in the street to catch my bus and go to work. I was delighted and intrigued and I wondered what was going to happen, feeling that something was. Well, about two hours into my work day, my supervisor came to talk to me, trying to make me responsible for her disorganization and I saw this very clearly and calmly informed her that she was the boss and this was her problem, not mine. Her reaction was completely out of proportion to the situation. I was told to take the day off and that, in turn, was the catalyst for a job change that landed me into a much more suitable to me situation.

So that was a specific incident of Oak Spirit medicine engaging very directly with my physical earth life. A more general effect of my practice of being Oak was that I was less upset by obnoxious people and things in my environment. Where previously, noise or people's bad moods or habits would permeate my comfort zone and irritate me, I was not so easily affected, anymore. My bark that I was growing as a tree as it were, now protected me and I could summon wind currents or draw on nutrients from the ground to sustain me in wellness.

Dandelion Spirit is asking for her moment in the limelight. She recently appeared to me as a beautiful little flying fairy or sprite. However, my relationship with dandelion goes way back to early childhood. I must have been about three years old when my parents took us camping in some deserted little park where they pitched our tent in a field of dandelions that grew to the height of my shoulders. This was one of the visual clips that Pine showed me, how the dandelions and I delighted in each other.

Dandelions came into my conscious adult awareness when I had my first professional massage. It was in June and the massage therapist noticed the rash across my knuckles on both my hands and he asked me about it. I said, “Oh I get this every spring for a few weeks, ever since I can remember. It's very itchy but I've learned not to scratch it and it goes away in several weeks”. He said, “You are getting this rash because your blood is not thinning out quickly enough, for the hot weather. To get rid of it, eat dandelions, they will thin out your blood.” And as we were having this conversation on the front steps of the building he worked in, I watched him pick a dandelion flower that was right handy, put it in his mouth , chew and swallow it.

Ever since then, I eat dandelions every spring and I no longer get any rashes across my hands. I make the roots I dig out in my gardening processes into dandelion tea, and I have many interesting conversations with people about dandelions. People, a generation older than myself tell me of childhood memories of their parents harvesting dandelion greens in the spring. I wonder why these people telling me do not do this anymore, it's not as if the dandelions have disappeared. Surely they are more prolific than ever. At what point in their understanding did they decide not to follow their parents' example of eating dandelions in the spring.?

My personal fondest memory of relationship to Dandelion is from my days in Antigonish, sitting on the back steps of my little rental house, where I had let a part of my backyard grow wild. I would enjoy the dandelion blooms, telling them each morning how beautiful they are, how much delight they bring me and watching them grow big and luscious. Then one morning I walked down the back lane way and two houses over from my yard there were these miserable little dandelions barely a few inches above the ground. I looked at them and wondered why they are so small and pathetic. “Well Rita”, they told me, “If someone came and swore at you every time they went by, cursing your existence and wishing you didn't exist anymore, would you look any better than we do?”

It is a testimony of the amazing spirit of dandelion that it will come up in every little crack in the pavement. And I am amazed at how angry perfectly reasonable people can get at spotting dandelions on their lawn. Dandelion tells me that it's prolific growing especially around human residences is in response to human need to have their livers cleansed and their angry attitudes changed. So that when the human race finally has its aha! moment about our interactive relationship with the amazing plant world and accepts its medicine for our own highest good and the highest good of all, then dandelions will reduce themselves to appropriate quantities. 

Well hopefully, my stories will encourage you to pursue your relationship with your plant friends ever more consciously, to try to be open to perceptions and communications coming from plant beings. Remember that what you give time, attention and energy to, you strengthen.