Earth Medicine

Scent, a portal to plant communication

“They say that the scent of a flower is its spirit.”

from The White Witch by Elizabeth Goudge

It was believed that the scents of flowers were messages from angels and saints, from Holy Spirit. I agree that some scents can certainly be heavenly, but others give a distinct message: stay away!

I prefer to think that the scent is part of the spirit of the plant itself, how it communicates with the world. For me, it is a portal to creating right relationship with it. And those inviting — or repelling! — scents are just one way plants and trees communicate.

We can learn and recognize a plant’s physical attributes through simple observation: the shape, colour and texture of its stem or trunk, flowers, fruit, seeds, leaves and root; its height and footprint; the kind of soil in which it grows best; what other plant allies tend to grow nearby; what wildlife it hosts or feeds; its cycle of growth, and more.

A plant can also be a bioindicator, alerting us to stressors in local environment, and perhaps even weather predictors in how it responds to changing conditions, such as how it bears fruits, seeds and cones. For instance, the quantity of cones a pine tree produces each year is a reflection of water conditions. In wetter years, pines focus their energy on growth rather than reproduction, resulting in fewer cones. In drier years, they shift their energy to reproduction, and create more cones. They also vary the quantity as a means to control or influence local insect or animal populations (e.g. squirrels and other animals who use the cones as food).

And we can learn even more by attuning to the plant, to its elemental vibration and nature, through meditation or journeying. Connecting to a single plant can strengthen your connection to Mama Earth and to being in right relationship with the plant. A plant can become a trusted ally, one you can both support and call on for reciprocal support. Dandelion is one of my allies.

Creating relationship with a plant

Choose a plant — it could be in your garden, in a window box, a local park or in the wild — and begin your journey:

Ask the plant for permission to sit or journey with it. If it says “no” or “not now”, thank the plant and move to another, asking for permission until you receive a “yes”. When you do, consider placing a small natural or organic offering for it.

Sit, relax and ground near the plant. Option: consider inviting your spiritual allies to join you.

Introduce your Self to the plant, and thank it for its beauty, prescience, medicine and for spending time with you.

Using all your senses, including your six-sensory “clairs”, tune into the plant’s vibrations and energy field, to learn more about it — what it needs to flourish, its unique medicine (qualities and gifts), what its allies need to flourish, its wisdom for you (after all there is a reason you chose that particular plant, perhaps a deep inner wisdom within that knows this plant is an ally).

Speak directly to the plant’s spirit, for an even deeper connection. For instance, you could ask it what it needs or what wisdom it wants to share with you. Notice how it communicates with you: perhaps you hear its wisdom, perhaps you feel it in your body, perhaps you simply sense or know it.

When you feel the journey is complete, thank the plant and any allies who journeyed with you.

Journal your thoughts after your experience, to capture what you are learning from your plant allies. And do return to that plant (maybe once a season), and deepen that relationship.


The Mexican orange shrub (so fragrant) in the header was photographed in my Vancouver neighbourhood.

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