In order for our relationships with the plant spirits to be all they can be, we have to both understand and experience their radical personhood. Without the awareness that plants are people with the same full consciousness, awareness, personality, wisdom, and complexity as us, there is no real ground upon which we can relate person to person.
To stand in front of a big tree and see them as tree is one thing. To stand in front of a big tree and experience the presence of their personhood is a powerful initiation into the plant spirit mysteries. When we become aware that the presiding spirit of a plant knows we are there as much and maybe even more than we know they are there, the socially imposed dam which separates us from the truth of nature begin to crumble.
So, how to we begin to open our awareness to the personhood of plants (and all beings, really) while also directly experiencing their personhood? I offer you some simple steps here which you can put into practice the very next time you step outside.
PRACTICE THE PRESENCE
This is my favorite way to cultivate a slightly altered state of consciousness wherein I can subtly perceive the presence of non-human persons all around me. To do this, go outside and engage visually with your surroundings- picking out the living beings who share their space with you such as trees, animals, insects, and so on. Focus on the non-human persons here.
Now, allow your attention to come to a plant person, ideally a large tree with a big presence as they tend to love these exercises. Using your inner vision, creative visualization, make believe, pretend, or imagination, allow a spark or bright light to emerge from the center of that plant as a representation of their spirit. Just still yourself and experience the presence of that light and that power and follow it gently.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
Have you really stopped to connect with the plants who share space with you? Try it! You might be surprised at how strong the conversation can be. Choose a plant that you pass by often and choose to dedicate 3 minutes of your time to just engaging intentionally with them. Explore their colors, shapes, textures, patterns, and posture. Then, explore how you feel in their presence- what language within comes up for you as your heart and the heart of the plant spirit share space?
Repeat this often. Experience the subtle and strong shifts of energy and expression that this plant shares day by day, season by season. You’ll find that you come to know them- and have a deep sense of connection to them as person.
The next time you’re outside, try and step into a mindset where you feel seen or perceived. Imagine how it feels to be in a circle of humans who are all looking at you and are all aware of your presence, the space you hold, and the energy you bring. Try to extend that same feeling to the many plants, animals, insects, and other beings who exist in the space around you- then see where it takes you!