Why I love Psychic Plants

Green Beings

Plant Mind, Planetary Mind


By Jesse Wolf Hardin


The secret to:

the understanding and protection of any element or aspect of Nature lies in

our subjective identification with it, and the degree to which we recognize

or “grant” it sentience: the ability to feel.


As a society:

we find it easier to attribute consciousness to humans alone, while even “Nature

lovers” usually grant sentience only to those “higher life forms”

that most obviously inspire, influence and animate our beings. We’re

generally more aware of the consciousness expressed through butterflies and

frogs than wild grapes or redwoods. Plants are nonetheless primary, essential

repositories for a life-sustaining vision, for a “greener” way of

being that’s needed now more than ever. The plant world helps us to recognize

the myriad patterns of inter-connectedness, instructs us in the ancient code

of reciprocity, and thus negates any unpleasant connotations currently being

laid on “codependancy.” It’s a way of being that teaches

rhythmic cellular wisdom embodied in the profundity of silence, in patience

and persistence. It can be read like Braille in the raised bark of alligator

juniper, absorbed slowly by subsisting on wild greens, enticed through unaided

dream or summoned at once by Mescalito’s psychic spell.


The power of:

archaic symbols is evident in their continuous use in distant and disparate

cultures, on different continents, at around the same time. These include

the sacred spiral, “skeletonized” animal art, the Earth  Mother,

the  pyramid, the four directions, and the dwelling place of aspiring

shamans: The Universal Tree of Life.  Stories of a great unifying tree

are told by a large number of primal societies, who generally situate it at

the “center of  the  world.” It’s an amalgam,

a composite of every vegetal form in existence. It can be accessed through

the branches in any available forest, since the roots of one intertwine

with the roots of every other, the roots of tall grasses  exchanging

hormonal and electrical signals with sunflowers and barrel cactus and florid

vine. Linking the tissues and processes of each are mycor-rhizal fungi

assisting the transmission of chemically encoded information from individual

to individual and  species to species. Together they make up a circum-global

mat of interconnected plant forms, creating a continuous field of vegetal



It is the plant’s:

desire to communicate with the animal world as well. Flowers in-struct insects

to spread their pollen with a display of inviting colors and enticing smells.

Fruit trees enlist the help of an expressive language of sugar and flavor,

but it  goes much further than that. Herbalists and wildcrafters have

long taught how to locate, identify or narrow down the likely medicinal

uses of a plant by reading its “signature.”  For example,

a curandera may recognize the antibiotic or diur-etic properties of an

unfamiliar herb through careful observation of its color, leaf configuration,

surface texture, and the specific environment in which it grows. When indigenous

healers are pressed as to how they know these things, a common reply is, “the

plant told me.” And indeed it did!


Granting sentience

to plants may seem like an implausible transition for us  minions of

civilization. Technologized society labels all of non-human Nature as

“resources,” only assigning value to those elements found useful

by its self-serving  researchers and  “managers.” To

morally justify the wholesale alteration, depletion and suffering of the natural

world, such a society must convince itself that the world cannot feel. And

likewise, any recognition of the sensitive life force in plants and other

life forms must surely lead to a more generous and compassionate way of touching,

effecting and impacting them. When one becomes conscious of the plants’

pain, every “harvest” is undertaken with the focus on gratitude

and prayer, every bite becomes communion. And every forest or meadow

endangered by greedy development becomes a personal call to respond.


As always, it

takes a while for linear science to catch up with those truths taken for granted

by thousands of years of primal humankind. From the references in quantum

physics to the “dance of the atoms” to Lovelock’s embrace of

a Gaia “Hypo-thesis,” research as formulative thinking is beginning

to recognize elemental shamanic realities.  In the late 1960’s and

early 1970’s we began to hear about unconventional scientific experiments

on plants that seemed to indicate they are something more than mute, unfeeling



The polygraph

is a machine that records minute changes in galvanic epidermal response. By graphing

the variable electrical conductivity of a subject’s skin, the technician

can often detect a deliberate lie to a specific posed question. Experimenters

including Cleve Backster and Paul Sauvin inde-pendently attached increasingly

more sensitive polygraph electrodes directly to the leaves of various houseplants

in laboratory tests. Typically they sought sentient response by the administration

of pain. Surprisingly (?) the graph needles jumped whenever a burning

match was placed directly beneath any leaf of the tested plant. What’s

more, there were indications of a fear response before a match ever came

near them, while they showed no reaction if the experimenter merely pretended to

light one. It was as if they could sense his intentions through

a reading of his projected energy. They even reacted to the killing of

other, non related life forms in their presence, and at times seemed to demonstrate

a memory by continuing to show alarm any time the “killer”

researcher reentered the  room. Plants Sauvin raised from seed became

increasingly more sensitive to his moods and needs as their interspecies

intimacy developed.


The most dramatic response

he ever recorded coincided exactly with the times he had an orgasm with his

girlfriend, although whether out of learned jealousy or vicarious joy no one

could say.


Like animals,

plants transmit electrical signals from one part of themselves to another. Although

traveling up to fifty times slower, the signals move fast enough to close

the jaws of a Venus fly trap on any insect triggering it. They transmit

sig-nals and psychic texts that are cheap from one plant to another as well,

in surges passing from root-tip to root-tip,

perhaps through the air itself in electro-biological relays, and through

the inter-meshed fungi,  bacteria, and invertebrate transmitters making

up the literally living soil.


Trees react to

leaf damage at the onset of insect infestation by tripling the amount

of tannins and other unpalatable alkaloids in the vulnerable leaves. Whether

informed electrically or through the release of airborne exepheremones, trees

as yet unaffected prepare for the onslaught with their own preemptive alkaloid

production. New evidence of botanical sentience validates what early humankind

knew all along: Plants are inspirited. They are more like animals than

we realized, and hence more like us.


Plants are teachers,

but unlike the more “yang” animal spirits they do not chase

us down at birth, or actively push to make their influence known. Whereas

your animal totems come to you called or not, any totemic plant/human

connection requires that you go to them. They represent the metastable

“yin” aspects of composite Gaia—a transcontinental mantle of

green wisdom awaiting the deliberate quest, the quieting  mind, the surrender

to stillness and commitment to place necessary for us to truly  understand

and “grok” their flowering gnosis.


It’s far

easier for children, who up until a certain point remain limitless primal

beings, fully conscious of the spirit in things green and growing. Before

the arrogance of adulthood dulled my senses, I luxuriated in whatever

suburban foliage I could find. I would take great pains to avoid any

contact with the monotony of bone-jarring concrete, ever trying to leap

the flat driveways that separated each square of living lawn. In

military school, I took refuge in the concealing arms of a giant avocado tree when

it came time for organized sports or bizarre, pointless marching back and

forth across the walled-in lot. Respect came naturally for the way

that “weeds” punctuated and reinhabited the sterile, colored-gravel

yards of the too-busy. I was inspired by how quickly bushes trimmed and

formed into perfect squares or inglorious cartoon caricatures recaptured

their ragged, non-linear shapes. Later the budding delinquent in me fell

in love with the way leaves would lay claim to a freshly raked sidewalk, and cheered

transplanted terrorist palm trees as they bombed the shiny new cars of the rich

and famous with their weighty fronds. They seemed not only alive but

willful, in the no nonsense way one might expect from an immobile outlaw.


I love plants.

There’s simply no way to hide my developed bias. I love plants because

they bloom in the compost-heap of death. Because they get energy from light,

feed on my exhalation and breathe oxygen into my lungs.


I love “weeds” because

they’ve been labeled, and so have I. Because they’re irrepressible,

swallow all the herbicides any prissy golf course can throw at them and

still come up smiling.


I love trees

that live five hundred years, and plants that graciously return to the

soil they came from in but a single splendid season, in a summer of no regret!


I’m wild

about wildflowers because nobody planted them or paid for them, and they’d

be content to shine their colors with or without human audience. Wildflowers

know that flattery is often accompanied by swift moving shears, and I

love them for teaching me that.


I love plants

because of the ways babies and old people touch them, and the look they

bring to a lover’s eye. I love how each smells a little different

from the rest.


I love trees

for their cooling presence, for their gnarled roots exposed in washed-out

river banks, and the way they sometimes hold rocks suspended in the air like

an unpretentious offering to the Goddess of dirt.


I love bushes

for hiding me in their calm hollow centers when I want to be alone. It

makes me happy to pinch the bulbs of beached kelp, and lick the interior of honeysuckle

blossoms. I love the way briars spread their blackberry propaganda through

the entrails of sugar-buzzed birds. The seedy grin of the sunflower. The vulva-like

folds of the Datura’s blossom, essential ingredient in the witches flying



I love live plants

as much as I distrust artificial ones, because the real ones can

feel. It tickles me the way in which cholla cactus and stinging nettle

teach me where to step, and this pleases other life forms as well. I

love the prickly-pear for showing me how to protect a sweet core with

easily understood points.


I love dandelions

because they’re feral and tasty and proliferate in the glass-strewn lots

next to abandoned tenement houses. I thrill to see them poke their cheery

blossoms up through cracks in prim uptown sidewalks.


I love the way

oranges make my tongue tingle, and how I feel after a bowl of  fresh



I love ivy as

it gums the facade off presumptuous architecture, and insistent tropical flora

as it dances the samba up through the peeling asphalt of the Pan-American

highway. I love luminescent lichen because they eat and shit rocks, and

nobody’s that bad.


Most of all,

I love plants for being plants.


Nature has been

the only thematic model for humans through most of their existence. Our

relationship to plants has helped form the basis for collective physical and

spiritual reality. Vegetal nourishment/gnosis teaches symbiotic inter-action, cooperation

and non-hierarchical organization. A tree is so much more than decoration

for our yard, shade for our children, or lumber for our unlim-ited construction projects. When

you really love someone, you love them as they are. Their “use,”

their “purpose,” is in being themselves. Wondrous, strange,

sunshine-eating entities without whom we and most of the other life forms

of this planet would die.


With every species

of plant that goes extinct Gaia sacrifices a psychic sensory organ/organism,

an element of consciousness. With each passing she loses another link

in the associated patterns of information that serve as her memory. With

each, we too suffer impoverishment of spirit and diminishment of



Once plant researchers

began to ack-nowledge plants as sentient, aware, even clairvoyant communicative,

it followed that they would soon be planting their sensors directly into the soil. Given

enough sensitivity, perhaps they could record the emotional responses

of  Gaia herself. Either way, the next step will be for us to forget the

polygraph completely, and together learn to feel more.


In our actions that follow will be found the real measure of our truths.


Jesse Wolf Hardin is an acclaimed teacher of Earth-centered psychic spirituality,

conference presenter and author of Kindred Spirits: Sacred Earth Wisdom.


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