More often that I can count folks have asked me what it is I do. They aren’t usually looking for specifics but would rather have a nice tidy title that explains the tradition and path I work. Coming to an appropriate answer has been something of a journey for me since I have learned pretty much everything I do from my green allies directly and have been informed by lore and legend that is rarely neatly bundled in traditional expressions. So, what is it exactly that I do and how do I (very loosely) define the plant spirit path I walk?
What It Isn’t
Sometimes it’s easier to explore something based on what it is not in order to more fully understand what it might be. There are two things folks love to call what I teach- and two things I often see other folks calling themselves for lack of a more appropriate term: witch and shaman. Let’s take a look at each of these.
I am not a witch because I do not ascribe to any specific tradition of witchcraft, do not base my practices solely in the malefic, and don’t get most of my inspiration from witchcraft texts. While there’s no denying the overlap between folk magic, witchcraft, and plant spirit magic, they aren’t really the same. Modern witchcraft has become a different animal than it has been since time immemorial. What was once a mentor-prentice practice that was solely seen as nefarious, even before the ‘burning times’, has now become a religion wrapped in the trappings of new age philosophy and hung on a perspective framework of Christianity- no matter how much modern witches will disagree with that.
I am not a shaman because, while I do practice visionary workings that bridge this world and the green realm, I am not of the culture or initiatory tradition that the word Shaman belongs to. It can be said from a purely anthropological standpoint that I do shamanic things or engage in shamanic practices, but that is a far stretch from being a proper Shaman. The Tungus people of Siberia and related groups are the only real Shamans in the context in which the term is so flippantly misappropriated in the modern age. While many practices and traditions of what are defined anthropologically as shamanic in nature do focus on working with plant spirits, each is sacred within its own cultural vessel and is best left that way in order to support the preservation of indigenous traditions wherever they may exist.
As a brief aside here, the term plant spirit shaman is somewhat redundant. All Shamanism and shamanic practice is ultimately and almost exclusively concerned with spirits of many types. All shamanism is wrapped up in the plant spirits.
So, not a witch and not a shaman. What, then?
I have come to be quite comfortable with not only the term sorcery, but also the qualified term green sorcery as of late. Between you and me and the internet, I very much love the fact that this term has taken on negative connotations that would be more accurately placed with witchcraft while sneaking under the radar of pop-spirituality where it can evolve and thrive as it is wont to do.
Thanks to modern media, sorcery has a pretty bad wrap. I’ve become something of a horror film buff over the years thanks to the influence of my macabre-loving partner. I’ve noticed that sorcerers are more often the bad guy than witches, and that the way they are portrayed is almost always wrapped up in confused presentations of Christian heretecism, Hollywood satanism, and weird mish-mashs of occult ideas.
At its core, in my understanding and embodying of the term, sorcery is concerned with just one thing: the reality of the spirits. There is no need for religion, dry philosophical frameworks, armchair mysticism, or complication- all things rife in the modern occult world. Rather, sorcery is about what is being done. It is about how we seek out, experience, engage with, and nourish our working relationships with the countless non-human people who share this world with us- from deities to the dead, spirits of place to plant spirits.
Sorcery, then, is a radically animist and place-oriented practice. It can only be fully realized by one who has engaged completely with the where and when they live. It is under the trees that grow around you, the seasons as they express themselves in your bioregion, the animals whose paths you cross, and the feel of the soil under your own feet. Sorcery, in my opinion and experience, is the closest extant idea to a true shamanic practice that has been born out of the European lands.
While some forms of sorcery are incredibly complex and based on grimoire traditions that are synchretic and magical, not all are. In fact, many scholars have equated the term sorcerer with that of shaman, in a purely academic context of course. If our only real concern is living in right relationship with the spirits who share this world and this cosmos with us, then we can be directly informed by those relationships and brought into an organic green sorcery that is at once fiercely personal while dovetailing nicely with the harmony of the worlds.
So, green sorcery is a vital and evolutionary magico-ritual practice that is informed by and rooted in real relationships of place. It is an active and intentional connection to the plant spirits all, their realm, their mysteries, and their guardian deities and all that brings to the work.
My hope is that as time goes on, I will have more definitive and pithy ways of explaining what the plant spirit path looks like- but for now, I lean into the idea of green sorcery, plant sorcery, and plant spirit work and find them a worthy title.
Here’s a class I recently did on Green Sorcery for my YouTube channel. Enjoy!