We humans have a special relationship and dependence on plants. Since our beginnings, they have been the source both directly and indirectly of our food, our shelter, our medicines, our fuel, our clothing, and of course the very oxygen that we breathe. This is common knowledge and in general we take if for granted. Yet we view plants in our Western culture as semi-inanimate, lacking the animating force labelled soul, mind, or spirit. Many people ridicule and regard as eccentric those who speak up and say they communicate with plants. You only have to recall the popular reaction to Prince Charless comments saying that he often did just that.
The biggest challenge for a Westerner undertaking this communion with the plants is to accept that there is another order of nonmaterial reality that a person can experience through his entrance into plant consciousness, and to do this requires a significant leap of the imagination. We are all born into the social paradigm that surrounds us, with all its beliefs, myths, and institutions that support its view of the world, and it is not within our worldview to accept the immaterial and irrational. Before we embark on this journey to the plant mind, then, we first need to examine some of our most deeply ingrained assumptions, assumptions still fostered by many of our religious and social institutions today. The starting place for this journey is we ourselves.
HomoSapien-centricity is a strange looking word but perhaps an appropriate one to describe the concept that many of us, consciously or not, carry within us: that we humans are the most important (and maybe even the only) conscious and self-aware, that is, ensouled beings in the universe. For shamans the world that we perceive through our senses is just one description of a vast and mysterious unseen, and not an absolute fact. Black Elk, In John G. Neihardts book, Black Elk Speaks , the Oglala Sioux medicine man, remarked, that beyond our perception is the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. It is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world.
How can we enter into a communion (in the true sense of the word) with the plant consciousness or soul? This can indeed be difficult, as we in our culture have long forgotten this understanding and body of knowledge. However we can learn from those peoples who still live within a paradigm that our physical forms are illusions, and beyond that we are all connected and no different from all things. Modern physics which recognises the underlying nature of form and matter as an energy which pervades and informs the universe is saying the same as the ancient shamans, reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one Albert Einstein (Alice Calaprice. The Expanded Quotable Einstein. )
These are the peoples referred to by the Alberto Villoldo as those who were never ejected from the Garden of Eden (unlike us). It is clearly a good way to learn and study from the shamans of the Amazon rainforest where this knowledge is still alive and from those who still live in the mythological Garden of Eden. One of the great plant teachers is Ayahuasca, also called the Vine of the Soul.