In earlier epochs of human history, people lived in harmony with the natural world, and regarded plants as sentient, aware, intelligent, alive, and healers in their own right. Tribal shamans earned powerful status as spiritual leaders and liaisons between plants and the spirit world.

Dating back to the Stone Age, plant spirit shamanism survives in the folklore, rituals and spiritual teachings of all traditional healers—from the Curanderos of the Amazon and the folk healers of Europe to present-day homeopathic and flower essence practitioners and herbalists. These traditional healers believe that the beginnings of disease originate from an imbalance or disharmony in our emotional and spiritual bodes and that plants are effective in healing these bodies.

For those of us who strive to regain our ancient and instinctual relationship to our plant allies, these shamanic teachings can help bring us back to our sacred relationship to plants and to the Earth who so graciously provides these medicines.

Listen for the Call of the Plants

Shamans from many traditions believe that plants can speak to us—they call to us, if we listen.

One way to begin working with a plant is to take a trip into Nature to meet your plant ally. Simply go into Nature and find it. You don’t need to look for it. Just take a walk and then listen for its call. It will find you.

Expressing your intention or the purpose of your journey is important because it is the energy of intention that guides the journey. On this journey, your intention is to meet with a plant ally and discover the subtle healing qualities of the plant that can heal on mind, body, and spirit levels. A common practice among traditional healers is to reciprocate by offering the plant something that it would like in exchange for its healing.

The Shamanic Technique of Gazing

Spend some time with the plant once you have met it, merging your consciousness with it while sensing its qualities and healing intentions. By consciously extending and refining what we take in with our senses, we can cross the boundary of the physical world of plants and enter into the higher dimensions of plant life. Such mindfulness forms the basis for recognizing the essence of the plants and how they work within the human soul. This is a shamanic technique known as gazing, according to Heaven and Charing in Plant Spirit Shamanism.

It is apparent that even in the modern world, we still understand on some level that the healing power of plants is inherent in what plants are as much as in what they do. We give flowers to friends who are unwell, for example, understanding in our hearts, if not in our conscious minds, that flowers are uplifting and affirming of life.

Treat Plants with Love and Respect

Plant spirit shamanism brings us back to our ancient roots of being aware of the unity of all of life and of treating plants with love and respect. Research shows that plants have feelings, intelligence, and can sense our intentions and respond to our actions.

If we treat plants with love, they flourish and grow, and we flourish and grow with them. In their incredible compassion, plants have invited us to be in a dance with them so that we can sense the healing power of the Divine in them. It’s up to us to heed their call.