The process of Plant Attunement is always similar. First, set the intention and create sacred space. We are already quieting down as we walk towards our destination. We also smudge with sage or cedar and give thanks to all or relations in the seven directions. This practice is one of the many gifts that Native American peoples gave to the rest of the world. Indigenous peoples everywhere throughout time knew this to be powerful medicine, and they knew it as deeply and natural as breathing. We honor ourselves and all of creation when we take the time to let go of our chattering conversations and come into the present moment. We slow down to encounter the song of creation that we are all part of and never separate from. We are only seemingly separate because of the belief that we are separate (or the doubt that we are not separate), and because of the incessant chatter of our minds, and because of the lack of training due to the forgetting of this inherent human technology.
In this more open space of ready awareness, we approach a chosen plant with the same respect we would an esteemed wise elder. Because they are. We wouldn’t dis the Dalai Lama if we had the opportunity to meet him. We state our intention, aloud or silently, and each of us asks the plant elder a question. The question may be general or detailed, it may be about medicine, it may be personal. I often ask if the plant has anything that it would like to share. It is always good practice to make an offering that accompanies your question, such as a pinch of tobacco or cornmeal, or a few strands of your hair. Really, best of all is to bring the best of yourself, and sincerely extend deep-felt respect and gratitude. And then allow yourself to quiet and become open to possibility. Some people call it dropping and opening.
The most important instruction in all of this is to temporarily give yourself permission to put your doubt voice aside. Doubt is our biggest obstacle: doubt in the process; doubt in yourself. Let it go for a while. Doubt is a crucial human tool and a necessity, especially when safety is a concern; but safety is a low concern when we are sitting quietly with plants in nature. Let go. Allow for the possibility of communication. This communication is not a thing that happens so much as it is a space one enters. If you happen to be in a group with a drummer, then you are lucky, but it is not required. The sound of the drum helps with the process of dropping and opening, but props are not necessary.
The attunement lasts for as long as it lasts, but usually fifteen-twenty minutes is enough. After the actual attunement portion, we thank the plant. We wouldn’t walk out on a wise elder who took the time to share with us without offering our appreciation. And then we share our experiences aloud with each other. This part is crucial, for at least three reasons that I can see. One, by sharing we strengthen our intuitive ‘muscle’, and especially how it connects to our communication sector, so that we can make better sense of our experiences, both to ourselves and to others. Two, by sharing, we give permission to others to do the same, and we remind people of things they experienced similarly but did not think were relevant, or because the experience had not bubbled up into their language sector. And by someone else’s sharing, everyone becomes aware that it is a shared experience, and we are all better able to voice our own experience.
The third reason may not be so apparent, but it is very important to me. The Language of Plants that comes direct to us via plant attunement is a source — and maybe the most important source – of information about what a plant is capable of. This Language is not dead; it isn’t Latin. It is growing and evolving, just as we are and plants are. Earth and all her inhabitants are one unfolding, co-creative dance. That means the medicine in plants is fluid, and not exactly the same as it was five hundred years ago. The world has changed, we have changed, and plants have changed, and so we must revisit our elders and find out if there is anything new to know, about who they are and what they can do, for us, for others, for the world. I believe this to my core, and so it is important to me that we who are drawn to it go and sit with our plant elders and then share what we experience.
Of course it would be foolhardy to take as truth everything and anything said about a plant, but what becomes apparent from these plant attunement events is that there are common threads that become clearly discernible; information that rises to the top, and these are the important messages. Sometimes they are confirmations of things we already know, and sometimes they are telling us something new, or at least a nuance on an old understanding. Again, we don’t take this as gospel truth, but it is definitely something worth investigating. And that, in the end, is the important thing. Because of this belief I hold, I am making it a point and a mission to compile the words that people share with me about their plant attunements during our events, and also when they try on their own.