In our work with the plant spirits all, the various deities of the green realm, spirits of place, and our ancestors, I have found that a sense of sacred space is crucial to going as deeply as one can into the ways. To be in sacred space is to feel secure, seen, and welcome. It is to be connected to the area on which you do your work in such a way that you feel supported and in harmony with all who call that place home. Most importantly, I think, it offers us a sense of protection so that we can really let go and experience the fullness of wherever our work may take us and wherever the spirits may lead. Hypervigilance is a common struggle with modern folks- we rarely feel truly safe and always have one eye open and one ear scanning our surroundings which can detract from being in the moment with the ways of green sorcery. Anything we can do to help quiet this scanning and cultivate a sense of comfort and confidence will only deepen the work.
There are two primary ways to engage with sacred space, and I’d like to explore each of them briefly in this article.
The first way is to find sacred space as it exists in the world around you. You may be surprised to find that by slowing down to tree speed and connecting more deeply with the spaces that are part of your everyday, sacred space that is saturated in verdant power exists. A lush corner of your backyard garden, a mighty tree in a public park, an area of concrete where several plants have broken through and found their way to the light, or other more natural spaces can all connect us to the numinous and act as a crossroads through which we can access the green realm of the plant spirits all.
To sit under the canopy of a big tree is in and of itself an engagement with sacred space. Bare feet on garden soil is the same. Wherever we can acknowledge and then experience the presence of otherness in a way that speaks directly to us, a sacred space will emerge. Our awareness of who grows and what happens in a space brings us into rapport with those persons who will then surround us in layers of protective, guiding, and empowering energy. It is as though perceiving them is all it takes to open the floodgates of their virtues and vital force. As an added benefit, our engagement with these plants helps us to fall in love with the land we live on and become stewards for it on all levels.
Over time, with practice and deep personal connection, any natural space becomes sacred. Our repeated work with the spirits of place thins the hedge which separates the world leading to a numinous energy of otherness and power that nourishes our work and inspired our spiritual progress.
The second way to engage with sacred space is to create it. This is often the most comfortable for people due to the added privacy and sense of security it can bring since created scared spaces usually happen indoors or within the boundaries of a backyard or other safer space.
Altars, shrines, and groves are all examples of ways we can craft sacred space with intention. These are areas that are part of our everyday pathways but that we choose to set aside as an offering (sacrifice, to set aside) to the spirits we are allied to and to our work as a whole. Like any space, over time the altar or shrine takes on a numinous presence and becomes a living, dynamic, and evolutionary crossroads through which we can access the green realm of spirit.
How an altar or shrine is created, what goes on it, and how it’s worked with is personal. In my own practice, my altar revolves around a statue of my patron deity, a large sculpture of a tree which represents the plant spirits all and the green realm, and a skull for my ancestors. As a working space, it also houses many plant spirit vessels, magical workings in progress, active petitions, medicines being made, and sacred items.
Whether found or created, sacred space is an essential part of our work with the plant spirits and the various deities of our traditions and ways. They are a joy to participate in and help center our work in the world of name and form.
How To Invoke The Plant Spirits
To call on the plant spirits by name is to invoke their presence into our world- and to attune our own senses to the quiet ways of the green ones. There are many ways to invoke the plant spirits so that we can connect with them for communication, ritual, magical workings, medicine making, or just to sit in the presence of their verdant virtues. In this article, I’ll be sharing my favorite way to craft a plant spirit invocation. This method is incredibly simple, super powerful, and very effective at getting the attention of the various plant spirits we might want to work with in green sorcery. This technique also inspires us to learn more about the plants- how they show up in our world, share their virtues with us, move vital force, and even grow season after season.
To keep things approachable, I’ll be breaking up this article into several sections:
What Is An Invocation & How Does It Work?
An invocation is phrase, which can be spoken aloud, softly, or even just concentrated on, that works to get the attention of our non-human spiritual allies. With invocations, we are calling out from our world and hoping that through the power of our desire and intent our words will push through the hedge that separates our world from the green realm and get the attention of whichever spirit we’re seeking.
Invocations are like personalized alerts. They move int o the vast world of spirit and seek out the individual for whom they are spoken- alerting them to our request for their presence or attention.
Invocations work by being specifically attuned to the unique personhood of the plant spirit we’re seeking. This attuned energy is carried on the force of our will, desire, and intent to really call in the plant and have audience with them.
Invocations are at their most powerful when we’re sitting in front of the plant as they grow in the ground. They are also incredibly powerful when spoken in wild spaces outdoors. That being said, you can absolutely recite invocations from anywhere with success. The more you become aligned to the ways of the green realm, the more effective your invocations will be.
How the Plant Spirits Respond
The plant spirits can reply to our invocations in countless ways. Usually, we feel their presence with our intuitive senses. This can be a subtle experience, but one that over time becomes strong and loud. As plant spirits move into a space we may also have memories, ideas, inspirations, thoughts, sensations, and nudges arise from within us. As the plants communicate with us, they often use our own internal lexicon of meanings to get their message across, so if it all feels as thought it’s happening in your head, lean into the messages and carry on!
Some plants will also show up in dreams, synchronicities or omens over the following hours, days, or weeks after an invocation. There are no rules stating they have to show up when and where we want them to. If we call out, we must trust the message has been received and stay open to the blessings given by the green allies. Generally, however, some indication that the plant spirit has either received your message or has responded to it will happen right after the invocation has been done. The flickering of a candle, a change in the air of the room, messages in the rustling of tree leaves, a tap on the shoulder, or images arising in the mind’s eye can all usher in the presence of the plants.
Crafting an Effective Invocation
The best invocations of both plant spirits and other non-human spirits are those that refer to the specific virtues, powers, areas of influence, histories, lore, and celebrated actions of that spirit. The more dialed in we get with our invocations, the more we’re likely to pierce through the hedge and get the plant’s attention.
Warning: invocations to the plant spirit are always, always requests and never, ever demands. Our relationship with these endlessly-giving beings should never be one of domination, control, or entrapment. Folks who work with them in that way end up paying great debts later on.
So, a great invocation that’s powerful and effective should call on specifics that are relevant to the plant spirit in focus. There are three things I like to have present in my invocations whenever possible…
As you can see, the more material we bring into our invocation, the more it becomes laser-focused to the one plant spirit we’re trying to reach. Our quiet words are traveling a great spiritual distance so the more refined and condensed we can make them, the better.
Where to Find Material
If you don’t know much about the plant spirit you want to invoke, I suggest getting to know them first so that there is a good ground for relationship before you go asking for favors from a stranger. One of the best ways to get information about the plants that you can use in crafting an invocation is by looking up any lore or mythology they may appear in.
Another great way to get material is to explore their medicinal virtues in herb books, monographs, and materia medica. See what applications folks have called on this plant for over the ages and use those virtues as epithets. Finally, you can look into the botany of a plant to learn more about where and how they grow for creative inspiration on crafting your spirit invocation.
I’ll give you a few examples of a fully crafted invocation below.
The Mounding Effect
Once you’ve written your invocation, test it out a few times and make sure it sounds good and feels good to recite. It doesn’t need to be a piece of poetic perfection, but should feel good to you and get your point across. If it doesn’t, spend more time playing with what shows up in the lines and in what order you say things.
Over time, reciting the same invocation to the same plant spirit causes that invocation to take on power of its own. I call this a mounding effect, and it’s the reason why so any ancient invocations have survived into our day. As you deepen your personal relationship with the plant spirits you work with they will begin to respond more immediately to the special invocations you are using to reach out to them. They're even comes a time when your invocation can have so much power that even when recited by someone melts the plant spirits are likely to respond with the same intensity they respond to you. Because of this you should consider your invocations to be sacred. Keep them set aside in a place that is private and only share them with people who will respect the amount of power they hold.
Examples of Plant Spirit Invocations
Here are a few plant spirit invocations you can work with as examples in crafting your own…
Great Linden Spirit!
You who have heart-shaped leaves that bring peace to all those who take shelter under your cooling canopy,
You soothe and calm the heart and help us attain our heart’s desire. Your summertime blossoms intoxicate the senses and sweeten the days.
Linden, I ask you to join me here- calling you from the green realm and your sacred groves, that I may communicate with you.
Who grows strong and deep here in my garden,
with fragrant blue-green leaves you purify the space wherever you grow.
Great Sage, I ask you to be present with me here as I work my magic with your aromatic leaves…
I call to your protection, purification, and light.
By spike and scale, berry and pollen- I call to you to surround me with your green light of protection.
Your needles are like swords and shields protecting from all misfortune…
Those who take shelter in your shade are in sacred space where no harm can come.
Fragrant and sharp, be with me here and protect me!