Plant Spirit Work: Reaching Out to the Green Kin

Plant Spirit Work: Reaching Out to the Green Kin September 25, 2020
Modern animists and pagans feel called to connect with the natural world. This often takes the form of animals that people feel a resonance with or particular places or environments they find especially sacred, like the ocean or a forest. Plant spirit work is a wonderful way to deepen your connection to the spirit world and the natural world and it’s not talked about nearly as often as animal guides.

Plants as Spirit Allies

Plants tend to have a different sense of time.  The bigger the plant, the slower they go. Just like the Ents in LOTR, trees are slow beings.  They live a lot longer than we do and have a very different perspective. That’s part of what makes them so calming and grounding for humans.  We get to be the little sibling in that relationship.
Also, plants move. They just don’t move like us.  Look at time-lapse videos of plants growing to see what I mean. They almost dance upward as they rock toward and away from the sun.

How to Start Your Plant Spirit Work

 Pick a plant that grows near you, not one out of a book.

If you’re used to doing spiritwork, you will know what modality you work with. Usually, people sense energy most strongly with one sense or another. If you’re a visual learner you might see an outline or glow around the plant. If you’re a kinesthetic learner you might feel warmth or cold or a gentle breeze.  If you are an audio learner you might catch the song of the soul of the plant, or not that birdsong or bees buzzing seem louder or more beautiful near a plant that is calling to you.

Localize your life.

relate to the spirit of place, by being in place.  Plants are rooted. If you want to relate to them, you need to dig in some roots. Learn the local life, the parks, places, restaurants, and festivals. Learn the neighborhoods and the less common roads. Note both the plant and animal life near you, and think like a plant. Look down and up and note things like where your local rivers are, what kinds of soil are under your feet, and what the weather patterns are.

Get outside near your plant in all weather and all seasons.

Even in winter when there’s snow on the ground this is important. It’s the only way to learn exactly how the light hits the soil when the snow melts, or which birds favor the seeds or berries in late November. We’re trained to think that the outdoors is a summer experience, but frankly, my favorite walks are after the frost when the mosquitos have died off. Get some galoshes and a raincoat and too, and go outside in the rain. The energy is entirely different.

Use meditation and trance techniques to contact the spirit of the plant.

There are two energies you can tap into here. One is the spirit of that specific plant. The other is the overarching spirit parent of all those plants. It’s a little like the god of that species. There’s the dandelion, that specific plant growing in the crack in the sidewalk next to your house, and then there’s Dandelion, the spirit of all dandelions which has a much broader perspective.  Both are important and useful for magical and herbal work. It’s easier to tell these energies apart with smaller plants, trees tend to be a little big for us tiny humans right from the start.

Work with the plant.

Find out how it wants to help. Can you weave baskets with it? Make tea from it?  Harvest fruit or root?  Learn how you can physically work with the plant including art, dye work, basketry, herbalism, food, and more.  Make sure you are ethically and legally harvesting. This may mean learning some laws for your area.  To ethically harvest, never take the first or second plant that you find of a species and never take more than a 5th of any stand you find. Learn about the life cycle of the plant so that you know if you should scatter the seeds or replant some of the roots or if they benefit from being harvested by root or by the shoot.

Keep a journal of your experiences and knowledge.

This can be anything from a handwritten journal to a word document filled with notes, to project management software with cards for all your ideas (that’s the one I use) to a bullet journal, to an Instagram filled with pictures and notes.

Plant Spirit work can take many forms, I've worked with particular rose bushes for years. This show a digital watercolor of a pale pink rose starting to open with a number of buds about to burst.

Moving Forward With your Plant Spirit Work

There’s always more to learn with plants. You can delve into dye work and learn how to create colors on fiber. You can learn herbalism and begin to heal yourself and others. You could dig into gardening and make the vegetable spirits your allies.  There are so many pathways to deepening your real relationships with them.

Many people will tell you that they are connected to an animal spirit they’ve never met in person or can only find in a zoo. (I’m one of those people too, and it always makes me feel a little weird.) The nice thing about plant spirits is that they stay still. You can happily sit next to your oak tree or rose bush friend for as long as you like. Plant spirit work is great for longer meditations, or if you have a hard time sensing energy because they’re there patiently waiting for us to notice.

Here are some resources for books I’ve found useful in my own exploration of plant spirit work:

Resources for Plant Spirit Work

The Practice of Traditional Western Herbalism by Matthew Wood
Healing Wise by Susan Weed
The Secret Teachings of Plants by Steven Herod Buhner
Pharmakopoeia by Dale Pendell
Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic by Bill Griffiths
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Our History is the Future by Nick Estes
 Plant spirits including yew and dandelion create a wreath around the name Dandelionlady

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