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Working with plants as spirit allies

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Just as with people, getting to know a plant can take time. Before a plant will be your ally, it has to know that you can be trusted and will treat it with love and respect. The more time and energy you put into building a relationship with a plant, the stronger the relationship will be, and the more you with both benefit.

You can’t expect to know everything a plant has to offer the first time you meet it; but over time, as you get to know each other better, your understanding and knowledge of the plant and its wisdom will grow. Every plant has its own set of unique qualities – a personality, if you will. Some will reveal much of their personality at the start of your relationship while others may be more cautious, requiring more time.

Before you work with a plant, you need to gain its consent: state your intentions, why you would like to work with this plant in particular and ask its permission. This is about showing respect for the plant and treating it as an equal. Listen or intuit for a response; you will sense either way if the plant is happy to work with you or not.

You can’t force a relationship with a plant if it doesn’t want to have one with you. If a plant doesn’t feel you’re ready or you haven’t treated it with respect, it may withhold its wisdom. In this case it’s advisable to take a step back, consider why the plant has chosen not to work with you at this time, and perhaps try again at a later date. It’s far better to work with a plant ally that chooses you; it may not be a plant that you had considered working with, but you can trust that it will have the wisdom, guidance or healing that you need at that time.

When you’ve created a connection and built up a strong relationship with a plant, it will be your ally for life and will become a teacher plant for you as you go on to work with other plants.

There are many ways you can start to build a relationship with a plant ally. Here are some things you can do to get started:

  • Spend time with the plant, ideally in its natural habitat where it is growing, but if that’s not possible, it’s perfectly fine to work with plants you have grown from seed or bought. You can also work with pictures of the plant, plant essences or oils – they all hold the spirit of the plant.

  • Learn its Latin name and what it means. What other common names are there for your plant? This can give you clues as to how the plant may have been used in the past.

  • Grow your plant from seed if you can; get to know its lifecycle, how long it takes to germinate and grow, how much water and sunlight it needs

  • Commit to getting to know the plant over a period of at least a month, doing something to deepen your relationship every day.

  • Sit with your plant ally every day, meditate, breathe with it: we have a beautiful symbiosis with plants, in that we breathe in the very air they breathe out and vice versa. So, when we breathe in oxygen, we are inhaling the out-breath of plants; when we breathe out carbon dioxide, plants breathe it in; we need plants and they need us for survival.

  • Research your chosen plant: What genus does it belong to? Where does it grow? What kind of soil and climate does it prefer? Is it edible? Is it toxic? (Yes, poisonous plants have much to teach us as well, just don’t eat them unless you are 100% sure you know how to handle and process them safely) What are its medicinal properties?

  • If your plant is edible (and double check that it is), look up recipes and introduce it into your diet. There are many comprehensive websites such as Wild Food UK and Eatweeds.

  • Set the intention to connect with the spirit of your plant through shamanic journeying or meditation; ask the plant spirit what it can teach you or show you. In the spirit of reciprocity, ask what you can give in return

  • Journal your experiences with your plant ally. Observe it and make note of what you see, draw it, notes about what you learn about it from your research and write down your thoughts or feelings from your meditations with it.

If this has whetted your appetite to deepen your relationship with plants, why not sign up for one of my Plant Spirit Healing workshops?

Joss Anderson is a qualified and experienced Shamanic Practitioner, Shamanic Reiki Master Practitioner and ICF-accredited coach, based in Cambridgeshire, UK and online.

© Joss Anderson 2023; © The Wild Edges, 2023

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