We are often asked how we know what a flower essence does. In this episode, we share tips for developing for a personal relationship with Nature intelligence and communicating with plants directly. Plant attunement is a skill anyone can learn, and is useful whether you plan to make a flower essence or not.
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
- Pam Montgomery, Plant Spirit Healing
- Stephen Buhner, The Secret Teachings of Plants
- Beth Steinman, Earthstar Institute
- Carole Guyette, Sacred Plant Initiations
- Sandra Ingerman, Shamanic Journeying, Medicine for the Earth
Rochana Felde [00:00:41] Welcome back to the Flower Essence Podcast. I’m Rochana Felde and I’m here again with Kathleen Aspenns. And today we’re going to be talking about plant attunement, sometimes called plant spirit communication. And what that means is the ways that we connect to the spirit of the plants to hear their messages. So there’s some really important concepts around this practice and we just wanted to chat about the ways that we both do it in our individual practices and compare notes and share it with you all. Hey, Kathleen.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:01:20] Yeah, I’m looking forward to this conversation. This is a concept and a practice that’s near and dear to my heart. And I have this conversation pretty routinely with people. I expect you do too when people ask about how you learn about flower essences and what an essence does. Well, this is it. This is talking to plants.
Rochana Felde [00:01:41] Yeah. And it’s not like the kind of conversation that you would imagine between two humans. So there are a lot of little subtleties to it and preparations. And basically, you know, a state of mind that we cultivate when we do this work. So, you know, the first thing that is pretty much the most important piece is developing that relationship with the plant. Don’t you agree?
Kathleen Aspenns [00:02:07] I do. I think the very first piece to me is, is that the whole idea that a plant has a consciousness, and a plant can and wants to communicate with you. There’s a lot of people who just walk right past and don’t recognize that’s even a possibility. So the moment that your eyes can open, that’s a thing they can actually do, that they want to communicate with us. Wow! It opens a whole doorway and a whole world. And then it’s a matter of learning the language and learning how to speak with them, and also learning your own inherent abilities of how you might get information, how you might get messages. But, let’s start, probably at the very beginning.
Rochana Felde [00:02:49] Yeah, there’s a lot of pieces. Some of the terminology we use for this relationship is one of reciprocity, like a reciprocal relationship, also termed co creative partnership by some. And it’s the idea of, you know, you don’t just take from the plant without it. You know, first you mentioned recognizing it as an entity in an animistic viewpoint, and that it has a consciousness. But, you know, we don’t just want to go take from it. We don’t want to harvest from it without offering something in return. And it’s not just like, “OK, you know, I want to take this, here’s something back”. It’s, you know, “hey, let’s talk. Can I be your friend here? You know, my name is such and such. And here’s what I’m trying to do. And is it OK?” I’m asking permission from the plant. Is it okay to take something from that plant? So even with flower essences, it’s important, but it’s critical now, too, with herbalism, and all botanical medicines that are made from plants, and then especially wild crafting, which has seen a big renewed interest in wild crafting. And then there’s been a lot of unethical wild crafting and harvesting of plants that is starting to harm the populations of those plants. So it’s a big thing to be aware of right now. And and it’s just something that, you know, has to be part of the conversation.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:04:32] I completely agree. I think that we have been colonized with the idea that all the resources are just there for us to take. And learning how to start to develop manners, and become friends, and engage in community with the natural world is something that we have to unlearn a lot that we’ve already learned. So if we’re out walking and we see a beautiful patch of flowers or we see a beautiful patch of whatever it might be. You don’t automatically have permission just to take whatever you want. That’s really not good manners. And it’s especially important when you’re making spirit type medicines such as flower essences to have not just permission, but but full cooperation of the plants. And that really only develops when you have a relationship and relationship isn’t. “Hey, give me that.” It’s developed a little bit more over time.
Rochana Felde [00:05:32] It’s really ingrained in the consciousness of our society to have this mindset of entitlement. It’s interesting that you mentioned that we’ve been colonized that way. I mean, many of us have generation upon generation of ancestors that were the colonizers. And we have in our DNA this feeling of just having a right to everything. I know that I’ve experienced it in myself many times and have had to check myself and really work on it in a conscious way. It takes constant work to decolonise ourselves and our own thinking with that mindset. It’s just crucial.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:06:18] Absolutely. It’s that consciousness raising. I think also on the flip side of that is the notion that our human interaction is only bad, it’s only negative, it’s only harmful. So someone might feel like, you know, that notion of you can only leave footprints. Well, that’s not really the way that indigenous people ever engaged with nature. They had regular and conscious and ongoing relationships with the plants and wildlife in their native ranges. So plants can really benefit from being harvested intelligently, correctly and well. And they will actually increase in health and vigor, and even the population will increase if the harvesting is done well. But like you are saying that over harvesting and wild crafting is really an issue right now because maybe too many people are trying to do it and they don’t know who else is working in that area. So it’s a bit of a balancing act. But I like to think about both sides of that. We do have an inherent community around us and to engage in your community. So maybe engaging in your own garden and making essences with the plants that know you well.
Rochana Felde [00:07:37] Yeah, I definitely agree with that. There is that other aspect of people thinking that everything every time we do anything with nature, we’re harming it. And that’s not true either. It doesn’t have to be true. There is a quote from Robin Wall Kimmerer, who wrote Braiding Sweet Grass, which is an excellent book, and maybe I’ll read that right now, because I think it’s it goes perfectly with this conversation. And she says, “Know the ways of the ones who take care of you so that you may take care of them. Introduce yourself, be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. Ask permission before taking abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. Take only what you need. Take only that which is given. Never take more than half. Leave some for others. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. Share. Give thanks for what you have been given. Give a gift in reciprocity for what you have taken and sustain the ones who sustain you. And the earth will last forever.”.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:08:54] That’s really beautiful.
Rochana Felde [00:08:55] Yeah. I highly recommend that book.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:08:58] I like what she says about taking no for an answer because a lot of times we get really invested in “I really want to make this essence or I really want to do whatever it is with the plant” and they have to be allowed to say no sometimes. And sometimes that may not be the answer we wanted to hear, but it’s the answer. Sorry. Try again another day, maybe.
Rochana Felde [00:09:18] Yeah. Have you ever heard no from a plant?
Kathleen Aspenns [00:09:22] Oh, heavens, yes. All the time. It could take me years. I was really intrigued with Schisandra, wanting to.. like, this is such a cool plant. I’d love to make an essence. It has such a long herbal tradition, and for years the plant went “Nope, nope, that’s not what we do. We’re here to do the berry thing. You know, this is how you use the medicine.” And, you know, finally, I guess I just, you know, was persistent enough. And finally, one day it went, OK, let’s try this new thing that you’ve got, this new idea that you’ve got and was able to make that essence with the with the Schisandra. And it’s been a really amazing and useful, incredibly helpful essence for a lot of people. But it took quite a few years of regular check ins and discussions with the plant until it was ready to work with me on this level.
Rochana Felde [00:10:12] Yeah, I had a few of them also tell me that it wasn’t the right time or… I had an apple tree, which was funny because it was a grandmother, a beautiful old apple tree, she wanted me to wait and come to her three times before she would say yes. And I knew it from the beginning. So there was a process there.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:10:37] And that’s part of the dance, isn’t it? You have to be in their time, and sometimes it can make you crazy because you’re in your logical brain saying, “but this is the date I have to do it. And it’s sunny and I have time…” And the plant might be like, “no, not today dear. Try again another time”. And you know, they have a different sense of time than we do. You know, years can pass and you know, to them, it’s really not a big deal. And, what’s the rush? Little two legged human running around.
Rochana Felde [00:11:08] Yeah, it is quite, quite the trick, especially being on the California coast with weather patterns and finding the right day, finding the right time. And then, you know, all the elements have to be put in place.
Kathleen Aspenns [00:11:22] And sometimes they have a preference to be made in circumstances that we might not think are ideal. And yet I’ve had times where I thought that I was having, you know, essentially a day off where, you know, the weather didn’t seem quite right or something just didn’t seem quite right. And so I sort of loitered my way into the garden. And then all of a sudden, I essentially had a plant sitting there, you know, tapping its watch, metaphorically speaking, saying, “hey, where you been?” “Oh, we’re going to make an essence today. Oh, OK. I guess we’re working today.” So the plants have their own knowing and own timeframe. And it’s just important for us to start to listen to that. Maybe we can talk about some of the ways that we can start to connect with plants.
Rochana Felde [00:12:04] There is another piece about that co creative partnership that we’re talking about, because it is starting a partnership with the plant. And like you, I wait for them to call out to me. So for the most part, by the time that happens, you know, I know that they’re ready, and that I’m ready because I hear it. I see them and I hear them kind of calling. And, you know, that’s a little hard to explain. But we’ll go into more on that. So, there’s a book called Plant Spirit Healing by Pam Montgomery. And she writes that “Co creative partnership embraces both parties in the fullness of their beings and provides an environment where they can live according to their own true nature. When we step into co creativity with a plant, we are able to experience a partnership that arrives for balance to manifestation. We work toward coherence, which generates a state of optimal health. Developing your relationship into a co creative partnership is based on the ability to communicate effectively with the plant. When we talk about communication with plants, we return to the original understanding of communing or communion coming full circle to common union because the language is not the same as that which we use with humans. We must engage in a language that is communal with both plants and people. We must find the common union or common ground where both stand. This place of common union can be found in light, sound and breath, resulting in sensations and emotional feelings engendered by the vibratory frequency they carry “
Rochana Felde [00:13:50] So that’s where I go, the way of getting in coherence with the plant. And there’s several techniques that I use when I’m ready to sit down and work with the plant.
[00:44:00] This podcast is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. We are not physicians and do not diagnose, prescribe or treat medical conditions. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding the suggestions and recommendations made by the hosts and guests of the Flower Essence Podcast.