It is easy to talk with plants.
You are invited to do the following:
- Introduce yourself to the plant
- Make an offering to the plant
- Once you have the plant’s consent: ingest, touch, smell, or link your emotions, senses, meta-senses, or psyche with the plant
- Listen to the plant
- Recognize your relationship with the plant will not be like another person’s
- It is okay if the results of this meditation are not repeatable
To further break down each step—
Plant Meditation: How to Communicate with Plants
We might call this an oracular meditation: or, the distinction between what is true and what is false. Here is a chance to let go of ideas that are false. If others have given you the idea that plants are not highly intelligent and perceptive, then they need amplify their own intelligence and perception. And who are we to measure intelligence? People pass along so many false ideas. But now you can ditch your muted senses and forgo linguistic abstinence – and course correct an error in ideology. We might call plant meditations: the distinction between what is true and what is false. We might call plant meditations: the presence of others, and hence, reality as such. We might call plant meditations the conjoining verb: remember. As in, we can only remember together.
It is easy
You are already communicating with plants at all times. Plants are already communicating with you at all times. You are breathing and metabolizing each other at all times. Even though they are said not to have nervous systems, plants are constantly registering the smallest shifts in their connected world, like the nerve endings of a musical instrument. Their brains are their root system. Plants are trying to get your attention. Plants are trying to help you. They are all for the common good. Also, your third energy center, located around your navel, is where you are part plant. It is where you are the color yellow. This plant part of you is very watery, very emotional, and very giving. Plants are emotional creatures and will often communicate with you by giving you feelings. So, whenever you do a plant meditation, you can just start by noticing your feelings. Sometimes, just stand next to a plant, or smell it, and notice your feelings. Have you ever noticed how, sometimes, the more you listen and stare, every form in nature starts to look like every other form? Like, tendrils look like tentacles, sea anemones look like succulents. Like all the metaphors we use to link blood and wine and water. Sometimes, all words can start to look alike. Plants and humans communicate easily: undo the Kyriarchical language of Babel.
1. Introduce yourself to the plant
All conversations start with introductions. Perhaps you offer your given name, your chosen name, your real name, or all your names. Perhaps you talk about your human and nonhuman ancestors, where you were born, the lands you live with. Perhaps you talk about other incarnations, past or future or concurrent. Perhaps you talk about who or what you serve. Perhaps you talk about what you want. Perhaps you talk about your job. Perhaps you talk about your writing. Perhaps you talk about what you love. Perhaps you talk about what you’re good at. Perhaps you talk about your struggles. Perhaps you talk about your dreams for the world. As with any social relationship, when you first say hello, the conversation needs a place to begin. Any conversation is always a multi-species conversation.
2. Make an offering to the plant
Plants are generous: it is unlikely you will meet one who will demand anything (although they may), but you will give them a gift anyway. They don’t keep tabs and they’re not into money. It’s okay: this is not a consumer relationship, unless you make it one, but please don’t make it one. Since plants breath us, you may offer your breath. Since plants give us their tastes and medicines, you may offer your spit. Since plants resound with and are nourished by our dreams, you may offer a strand of your hair. But it’s between the two of you: you may offer them anything else. You may say to them, “I believe in you with all my heart.” That is an offering. Because, to whom can you really ever say: I believe in you with all my heart?
3. Once you have the plant’s consent: ingest, touch, smell, or link your emotions, senses, meta-senses, or psyche with the plant*
This practice creates a sense of belonging in each other: you get to experience the world through the plant’s body, and the plant gets to experience the world through your human body. New homes are mutually forged, new ways to tunnel through and out of our dire circumstances. When we reach the sunlight, we chew it. We are spirited again.
4. Listen to the plant
This can just be an exercise in feeling. However, the form this communication takes will depend on how the plant speaks and how you listen to or receive languages. When consciously communicating with plants, some people hear words or music. Some people taste. Some people smell, some see images. Some feel pangs or pleasures, heat or cold, in their bodies. All languages exist on an interspecies, sensory, and meta-sensory spectrum. Glossolalia is the belief that the sound units of speech were created while people were in trance states – doing plant meditations. Also, plants cannot help but listen to us. The plant body is too sensitive not too. In this forged home of listening and giving: to wear the Grandmother’s tongue, as she chews on sunlight. To not blame words for the worst of ourselves. To sympathize with the livingness of words. As it is said: the best thinking is done collectively.
5. Recognize your relationship with the plant will not be like another person’s
Plants do not have properties any more than you do. Like you, some plants are good at certain things and not so good at others. Like you, they are learning what this world is asking of them. Like you, they are figuring out what they can offer the world. Then their bodies and words are adjusting; they might smell or taste different, or sound different, from moment to moment. Like you. In some relationships, it is the world we are talking about. We are talking about the world and the state of the world: or we are not. Sometimes we are interacting with just one creature. Sometimes we are interacting with one creature at the worldwide level. Or we are not. Sometimes it can just be the intimacy of the two of us. Or we form an intimate group.
6. It is okay if the results of this meditation are not repeatable
When you feel the meditation is over, please thank the plant, whatever form that might take. The results of an experiment do not have to be repeatable to be true. The results of an experience do not have to be repeatable to be true.
*At the June 2019 ASLE Conference we worked with broadleaf plantain flower essence. A flower essence is a water-based healing substance that carries the vibrational imprint of the plant. Imagine the soul or ether of the plant has left their thumbprint in the water. Plantain is considered to be a weed. I’ve never been clear on whether or not we should label certain creatures as weeds. Weeds are some of the most potent medicinal and sacred plants among us, but their commonness and plentiful visibility makes them seem unremarkable, unnoticeable. They’ve mastered the art of stealth by standing in plain sight. Whenever you see a weed, know that they are working very hard. Plantain, like dandelion (another weed) is a time-traveling plant. Part of plantain’s chosen work is to undo and heal the individual and collective ravages brought by colonialism. It is a plant of remembering forgotten stories, healing the past/present/and future bloodlines or bonelines, and letting go of long-held unexplainable and inarticulable grief from losses that are felt but difficult to name.