When we think about shamanic guides and helping spirits, what usually comes to mind are power animals, ancestors, angels, ascended masters, and all varieties of deities. But we also have plant spirit guides just waiting to connect with us. They provide healing, protection and other help as needed, and we can rely on them just as we do our power animals and other guides.
Their way of teaching is direct and multi-faceted. Some of the most profound lessons I have received have been from plants.
When I was very new to shamanic practice, one of the first successful journeys I ever did on my own resulted in a teaching from the World Tree. The World Tree is a universal archetype that has a place in many global traditions and stories. It is also called the Tree of Life (Celtic) and Yggdrasil (Norse). It spans all the worlds and has amazing life-force and wisdom. It introduced me to the cosmology of the worlds in non-ordinary reality. It gifted me a symbol and merged its energy with mine. I got a download of energy that made me feel as if I was as big as that infinite tree! It lasted about a day, then gradually faded. I told my teacher about it. She said that with serious practice I could hold that power longer, channel it for myself and others. The realization that there are shamans who walk around holding that level of power every day really blew my mind. That one journey taught me so many things, I am forever grateful to it for gifting me with so much.
There are plants that we meet in non-ordinary reality that are always there for us as a main teacher and helper. I have experienced their help and lessons in a myriad of ways; for healing, protection, knowledge and as vehicles of transport through the worlds. Then there are plants that just come to help with one job, like tend to a lung infection in a client, or clear a space of heavy energy. They are incredibly versatile, and always so happy to be of service.
Today when one hears the words power plant or plant medicine, what likely comes to mind first are hallucinogens like ayahuasca, mushrooms, peyote and other entheogens. They are powerful teachers, and many people new to shamanism think that having an experience with them is the way to initiation and knowledge. And it might be for some people. But it can also lead to confusion and dis-empowerment. I experienced that downside of hallucinogenic medicine myself very early on in my path. When people ask me about working with plants that way, I tell them that they do not need to ingest an entheogen or any other plant to work with it on a spiritual level or have it as a helping spirit. Journeying to the spirit of the plant is an initiation and begins our relationship. Then if it wants us to ingest it, smudge with it, cultivate it, it will let us know. It becomes our teacher and will tell us in journey how it wants to work with us.
Plant medicine is working with us in ordinary reality every day, sharing energy with us all the time. Trees, herbs, fungi and flowers growing right outside our door are wise and powerful teachers. When we recognize that we can connect with them on the spiritual level as well, our relationship becomes whole.
The mushroom people have been calling to me in my hikes this fall. They flash a glimpse at me and head me off the trail like an arrow pointing in detour. I’m led to an interesting stand of tiny pale fungi trees sprouting in the pine needles of the forest floor. Or I look inside a hollow tree stump and am surprised by a vibrant cluster of fungi family. Delicate looking with frills and gills, they are in fact so hardy that they grow anywhere; in sun, in shade, up on trees, hidden underground. Their colors are often ethereal shades, even in the earthy tones. After they have sprouted, matured and released spores, they melt into fantastical shapes as they recycle themselves into the matrix from which they unfolded.
I have never seen so many different mushrooms and fungi before coming to Oregon. When I see them, I feel their energy as enchantment. They have a symbolism associated with magical realms in stories and cultures spanning ages around the world from Mayan sculptures to the Rig texts to Disney animations. In my modern western culture, I associate them with faeries and other hidden folk, earth Elemental gnomes, entheogens, and doorways into non-ordinary reality.
After connecting to them on my hikes, I wanted to connect to them in the spirit realms to get to know them better. I visited them in their fungi realm in the Lower World and asked if I could step into their energy fields. I immediately felt blanketed in a soft full feeling of kindness and compassion. I also felt that they radiated a deep inexhaustible supply of power.
They say that they are like the skin and nerves of the planet. Their underground mycorrhizal mat is like a nerve matrix. They showed it to me as tiny neural-like fibers within the soil, winding through roots and seeds and pebbles and stone. Tiny sparks of light flash here and there in communication and transmutation. They sense everything. They work as an energetic network linking together plants, trees, insects, and animals and minerals. They are working hard to transmute all kinds of toxins and pollutants, trying to keep up with us as we keep dumping more all over the planet.
I asked them if they had a message for us that I could share. They said that they are the forest under our feet that we cannot see. They send messengers to interact with the above world in the form of mushroom and fungi people. When we interact with them by feeling enchanted by their beauty or in the excitement of collecting them for our meals, that emotion transmits through the fungi, down into the neural mat and through the matrix instantly over a great distance. They appreciate the energy of our love and gratitude as they can send it around the earth almost instantaneously. It is beneficial to the planet and all life.
Even if we are living in a place where we don’t usually see mushrooms and fungi in nature, we’ll still see their images just about everywhere. We’ll see them in the produce section of the grocery store, in art, in lawn ornaments, browsing the internet. When we see their images, we can remember to send them love and gratitude for who they are and all they do. They’ll get the energy. And in their infinite kindness they will return the favor and share it far and wide.
How often do we think about the spirit of water? Or think of water as an Elemental being? We don’t think about it at all usually because our heads are full of the logistics of living our lives. That amazing hot shower we took this morning was probably full of thinking about plans for the day, not about the spirit of the water. But on a subconscious level water is communicating with us, as it washes through our energetic field, as we drink it during the day. We have a relationship with the water Elementals (who prefer to be called Undines), we are just unconscious of it most of the time.
It’s relatively easy for me to relate to water. I’ve got a lot of it in my chart and my sun is in fixed water. I grew up wanting to swim in it as much as possible, in the lakes, ponds, and pools of upstate New York. I was even on swim teams when I was a kid. But meeting it as an energetic being and having relationship with it was remarkable. I understand why my shamanic teacher brought in the Elemental teachings early in our studies, and I do the same with people that I teach.
My awareness of water has changed over time as our relationship deepened. In the desert I learned to smell water and was awed when I saw the power of flash floods come racing down arroyos. There was never enough of it until the monsoons brought too much. When floods receded, it could be five or six months until it rained again.
When I got to Oregon, I found the abundance of water to be comforting. In the late fall and winter it can rain every day for weeks at a time. The morning fog turns to a misty rain that becomes a steady shower all day long. It creates rivulets that collect into streams, rushing into storm drains and creeks, eventually finding its way to the rivers, and from there to the sea. Rain is scarce in summer, and we get three months of hot sun and long bright days until fall brings rain again. And by then we are ready for the water and the greening of the land.
This year the rains came back early. A whole week in September of rain, unusual. Then more gray days and more rain.
During this same time, my daughter moved out to go on to the University. The two of us had been the nucleus of each other’s existence for 20 years. I was happy for her being ready to move on, I felt it was the right time for both of us. We were both ready to start this new phase in our lives. But I was surprised at all the different emotions that came up as I adjusted to living alone for the first time in my life. On the surface, I wanted more summer sun and was not ready for all this rain. Underneath that, I was not ready to fully recognize all the emotions unleashed at this major life change. I had no distraction, no other housemate to give my attention to, and my processing was stuck in a loop. I realized I was spiraling down into a funk.
The rains stopped for a few days and the sun came back. I felt Spirit nudging me to take a day off from everything. I needed to go to the coast. It was due to be a perfect sunny warm beach day. I needed to let nature be my counselor, my guide, my medicine.
Coming down the beach to the ocean felt like a loving reunion after a long uphill journey.
She flowed up to my ankles and spoke to me. “Look where you are standing now at the edge of the world. Think back on all your challenges and hardships over your lifetime and all the times you did not know how you would make it through another day. All of your steps led you here. To me, to this day, to stepping into your true self and your power, to this good life you have made for yourself and your daughter. You can put down your burdens now, they are like grains of sand scattering in the breeze. It is time to embrace your joy.”
Heart opened, tears welling up, I released the doubts and vulnerabilities that had come up in my recent funk. I released my burdens. I gave gratitude to the Undines for their rains that floated things to the surface, their streams that moved them along and to their ocean who embraced and transmuted them.
I gave myself over to the medicine of the day, and was completely renewed.
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindred spirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -
Energy Intuitive and Nature Communicator - Cheri Melton's work with Devas and Nature Spirits is profound. So happy to have her as a friend and mentor -