By Melissa Szaro
Can You Communicate With Plants?
There are many ways you can learn about plants. But there are also many ways you can learn from plants. Learning about plants through books and the internet are great methods, but they provide a limited point of view. Plants are carriers of information and wisdom that transcends words and science. However, it can be quite challenging to figure out how to tune in and really listen. In this article, we’ll explore the plant-human connection, intuitively working with plants, and different aspects of sacred plant communication.
Contrary to the common belief that plants are simple, lifeless entities, modern scientific studies have shown that plants have an intelligence and measurable life force. Plants can in fact communicate to each other, proving what ancient earth-based cultures have known for ages.
Plants are highly sensitive beings. They are aware of other plant life around them and often collaborate and share resources to support the overall health of the community. They can analyze available nutrients, make decisions relating to their environment, signal each other of dangers, adapt to circumstances, process complex information, and remember that information for future decisions.
One of the many beautiful ways plants communicate with each other is by emitting volatile organic compounds into the air as a way of warning each other of nearby danger . The forest air is full of terpenes, bioactive molecules made by plants and trees. Trees and plants use terpenes as a way to alert their plant neighbors of an oncoming invasion of pests or other potential dangers . Plants work together to keep each other and the forest alive and healthy.
If plants can communicate with each other in the phenomenal ways that science is discovering, it’s not a far stretch to explore the human-plant connection and our ability to communicate with plants.
What is Plant Communication?
For ages, most Indigenous communities around the world have known that plants are intelligent beings. At one point in time, all of our ancestors were united in this belief. Living close to the Earth in small communities for generations gave them a stronger link to the land and to nature. On a daily basis, they observed the unique relationships and interdependencies of plants, animals, and themselves. They learned from plants by observing them, interacting with them, and connecting with them and the Earth.
In the Indigenous worldview, everything on Earth has a spirit. And just like you and I have spirits, so do all plants. Many Native Americans believe that the best way to learn about a plant is through interacting with the actual plant itself. In other words, connecting to a plant’s spirit. Some of our most powerful knowledge is gained through direct experience.
Deeply connecting to a plant provides you with profound wisdom that is indescribable and unique to you. Every person on Earth is different, and therefore, every person’s experience with a certain plant will be unique. Books can provide some great information, but you will never learn about your special connection to a plant and what teachings or healing gifts it has in store for you until you experience it for yourself.
Communicating with a plant involves connecting to a plant’s energy. This is a very subtle art and requires practice. Connecting to a plant’s spirit or energy can be complex and confusing, especially for someone who has never done it before. It involves learning different, non-verbal ways of communication that we may not be accustomed to.
The Art of Intuition
Part of plant communication involves observing subtleties through silence, stillness, and tapping into your intuition. Intuition comes in many forms: thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations, or even a deep knowing. Intuition is our connection to the invisible and can pave the path to plant communication.
Every human has an intuition, but in our fast-paced culture and stressful society, many folks have trouble finding and listening to it. Living in cities and houses creates a disconnection from the natural world that further perpetuates this challenge. However, our relationship to our intuition can be strengthened through practicing listening to it and learning to listen to plants.
How to Communicate with Plants
There are many different methods for communicating with plants, including meditation, ceremony, prayer, and so much more. We’ll explore a few of these methods, but it’s important to note that there are countless techniques out there.
Connect with a Living Plant
One traditional way to communicate with a plant is by sitting in meditation near a living plant in nature. Meditation is a great way to settle into silence and try to pick up on the subtleties of a plant’s energy. Being in proximity to a living plant can be very powerful energetically.
Depending on the plant, you may be able to feel it by physically touching it, you might smell some of the plant’s aroma in the air, or be exposed to it’s terpenes and volatile compounds. All of these experiences will help you experience a connection with the plant and gain information from it.
This meditation technique can be a challenge for some, especially when you’re not experienced with meditating or trying to bond with a plant in this way. Meditation is a practice and doesn’t come easy at first, so be patient and kind with yourself. Remember that practice takes work!
You may even feel called to harvest the aromatic gifts of the plant. To be respectful of the plant and the Earth, it is common practice among Native American communities to ask the plant before harvesting.
According to Robin Kimmerer, “Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer. Never take the first. Never take the last. Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. Take only what you need and leave some for others. Use everything that you take. Take only that which is given to you. Share it, as the Earth has shared with you. Be grateful. Reciprocate the gift. Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.”
Asking before harvesting is another practice of connecting with your intuition. Ask yourself questions like: Is it sustainable to harvest in this place? Is it ethical? Do I have an offering to give back to the Earth? Do I feel like this is a good time to harvest?
Other Types of Plant Meditation
If getting out into nature isn’t accessible to you, you can still create a bridge with a plant in meditation using other methods. Some ways to do this include drinking an herbal tea, tasting the tincture, or burning the incense of the plant, then sitting in meditation to see what comes up for you in terms of emotions, thoughts, or sensations. Listen to everything happening inside of you. What do you feel, physically and energetically? What thoughts do you have? Do you notice any changes or shifts in sensations in your body?
Make sure to choose just one plant to work with at a time so that you can be clear on which plant you are communicating with. Sometimes building a sacred altar or adding in other elements to the experience that resonate with you helps to create space to support you in listening to your intuition. This can include things like singing, prayer, art, and so much more.
The Power of Prayer
Prayer brings the medicine in a plant to life. It can be practised regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs. Prayer is seen as a way to speak to the spirit world, and therefore, is a powerful way to connect with a plant’s spirit. It can also be used as a way to ask for permission to harvest, or to give thanks and express gratitude for the gifts you have received from the plant. It is also used to set intentions, which can be helpful for guiding your conversation with the plant. Weaving prayer into your meditation helps to strengthen your connection and communication with a plant.
Humans have been communicating with the intelligences and spirits of plants for millennia. This is how Indigenous and Native people originally learned and continue to learn from plants. Most people living in modern societies are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature and have forgotten how to form meaningful relationships with plants. Learning how to communicate in new ways with the green-beings is like an ancient practice of remembering.
Meditating, sitting with plants, finding your intuition, and prayer are just a few of the ways you can try your hand at making a sacred connection to plants.
If these topics call out to you, I want to let you know that all of these aspects of working with plants are covered in-depth in our Listening to Incense Home Study Course. For a much deeper exploration of the plant-human connection and in-depth guidance on how you can strengthen your relationship to aromatic plants, check out this special program, open for enrollment for one week.
Time Left to Enroll this Year:
Whether you're an aromatherapist, healer, incense crafter, or just love incense and aromatics, learn how to reach greater levels of healing, wisdom, and spiritual development through the ancient traditions of aromatic medicine and the "Way of Incense."
Learn to master the full-spectrum benefits of aromatic plants to achieve more effective and precise healing. Strengthen your relationships to the plant kingdom and Spirit through the rich personal experiences and deep insights you'll receive from the Listening to Incense course.
Through this program you'll understand why the ancient art of incense has been such a credible, efficient, and well-respected ritual tool and healing modality for ages. And why incense is the foundation of aromatherapy.
© 2021 The Northwest School of Aromatic Medicine. All rights reserved.
*The statements above have not been evaluated by the FDA, and are for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult your physician before you use this information for health purposes.
Ueda, H. et al. (2012). Plant communication. Plant Signal Behavior. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3405699/
Arvay, C. (2018). The Biophilia Effect: A Scientific and Spiritual Exploration of the Healing Bond Between Humans and Nature. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Kimmerer, R. (2015). Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions.