:The Path of Sacred Plants

Communicating With The Green World

Unlike the more ordered, concrete Otherworlds (such as the Nine Worlds of the northern tradition), the Green World is an abstract world of pure information and energy. The Green World is made up of the combined power of all plants and trees in all of the worlds. It is completely non-linear, constantly flowing, without any landmarks or measurable distances. It flows around and through many Otherworlds, manifesting in the presence of plants and trees. The only ones who could be called natives of the Green World include the Grandparent spirits, and figures such as the one we refer to as John Barleycorn (or by another name that refers to the dying and reborn crops).

The Green World has no walls or boundaries as such but it is difficult to enter. Since it is made up of plant energy, you have to be plant energy in order to be accepted in. It's possible to extend some of your awareness into a plant to see the streams and currents that network plant spirits to the Green World, but even that takes a certain knack as well as a high level of cooperation from the spirits.

Each tree and plant is the termination of a tendril of energy that reaches from the Green World into ours; this tendril allows information and energy to flow in and out of larger energy streams. These streams connect one blade of grass to all other blades of grass on this world, and all of the grass on this world to all the grass from other worlds, and all the grass in all the worlds to the Green World itself. These huge currents of energy are constantly flowing, communicating back and forth between more concrete worlds. Information from the Green World can be called forth from the physical body of a plant (for example, as a manifestation of the plant's spirit). Typically this information can be broadcast only as far as the plant's aura reaches, or as far as the interest or influence of its spirit extends.

There are ways to extend the reach of a plant's broadcast, but the information/energy must be given another physical form. Music is one way of giving abstract information a physical form. With the spirit's cooperation, songs can be created that will, for a moment, increase the spirit's broadcast range. These songs give the spirit a temporary physical body and increases their presence and power during a working. I am working with several spirits to create special songs for them and they've told me to make these songs available to others; currently I am working on compiling them onto an audio CD - check back for updates on this project. For these songs to work properly, you will need to have established a relationship with the spirit whose song you wish to use and learn the music to their satisfaction. Alternatively, you may be required to create a new song just for your work with them. The spirits will dictate how and when these songs should be used. In my experience, once learned, the songs are to be played only when the spirits' attention needs called. These songs are very powerful.

Creating these songs begins with getting to know the spirit. It's impossible to compose for a spirit you have never met, but it's possible to use composition as a way to court a spirit you are working to know better; Queen Toloache loves music and I created a song for her as an offering when I was first working with her. Improvisation is a good way to begin. Pick up an instrument or warm up your voice and begin making noise. Doesn't matter what you sounds like; the spirits have their own idea of what sounds good. When I compose I'm always sure to have staff paper and a good pencil next to me. I have next to no knowledge of music theory, but getting down the notes correctly allows me to practice the song later.

When composing for the spirits, you always have their undivided attention. Even if you don't notice them, they are there. They will likely give you direct instruction as you work, ensuring that the song is to their satisfaction. When the song is done it doesn't belong to you. If anything, the song is property of the spirit and the spirit gives you permission to use it. This can be likened to calling the name of the spirit - you call their name, but the name belongs to them. Because these songs belong primarily to the spirits, the music should only be played with purpose. In my experience the spirits allow a certain space of time for practice but once you have learned it as well as they think you need to the song's use is strictly ritual.

Sexual energy is another way of creating a two-way communication with the Green World. The Green World remembers the rites that were performed when people would lie together for the fertility of the fields. This communication achieves several things - the rites reinforce the existing energetic connections between this world and the Green World; energy is returned to the Green World in exchange for the harvest bounty; gratitude is expressed for the lives humans took for sustenance; and the Green World is connected with divine realms.

Communicating with the Green World via sexual energy usually requires at least two parties. Solo workers can create a loop with Green World energy, taking it in and releasing it in a particular direction, or showing gratitude by giving energy back, but having two or more individuals involved creates a stronger energy flow. In my experience the Green World has shown no preference for heterosexual, homosexual, or genderqueer dynamics; each coupling can produce a different flavor of energy and the Green World accepts all varieties.

Certain dynamics can be embodied when embarking on these sacred sexual encounters. The receptive partner can embody the earth that gives all and receives all; the active partner embodies the human effort needed to coax food from the earth. In this model, the receptive partner merges with plant energy and lets the attentions of their partner communicate the need and dedication of the human community. The active partner carries human concerns - the desire for harvest, the gamble of farming, and the gratitude for bounty; this person gives back to the earth through sexual attention and takes the blessing of the Green World back to their community.

Sacred sexuality is a way to bridge the Green World and the world of the Gods. The Green World is anarchic and allied with no pantheon; no divine realm owns or controls the Green World. The Green World often makes bargains with other worlds but it is always a relationship of alliance, not subordination. The Gods often seek the Green World's power and to strengthen the alliance between the respective worlds. Again the receptive partner takes on the role of the Green World or of the earth and humanity. The active partner represents (or is) the Gods or a specific deity. This exchange can be very dynamic. Just because one partner is "receptive" and the other is "active," each does a great deal of give and take; communication is a two-way street, after all.

It is also possible to go the spirits as an emissary representing humanity. There are stories of hunters and shamans becoming lovers of forest-wives and other keepers of the forest and field. This sexual dynamic has the potential for dangers not present in those models described above. Any congress with spirits, especially that of a sexual nature, takes us into a situation that we do not have direct control over; once in the embrace of the spirits, it's hard to come back unless they kick you out (and even then, you may not come back all the way). Doing this work is important and occasionally required by those deities or spirits we serve. Offering ourselves sexually is a gesture of trust and goodwill on our parts, and can demonstrate personal willingness to submit to whatever lessons the Green World wants to teach us. We can help translate energy between the worlds, letting those we are allied with to become more closely in contact with the Green World, and vice versa.

As I said above, these examples of sacred sexuality don't require heterosexual couples or even typical sexual contact. Active and receptive roles are dramatically embodied in BDSM scenes, so this is another way of opening communication with the Green World. Group sex is another way of communication, and requires that all partners take turns being active and receptive. These are other avenues that deserve more exploration.

These two modes of communication have connotations of sacrifice - you give up your efforts of composition and ownership of the song, and you give up your energy and ecstasy. The Green World and the spirits take these things; in return we receive the attention of the spirits and the blessing of the Green World. At the heart of the matter, sacrifice is the primary way to communicate with the Green World.

To properly sacrifice, both parties must be willing to fully take on the roles required of them. The one giving the sacrifice must do so completely, holding nothing back, spilling energy or time or blood upon the earth. The one dispensing the sacrifice must also hold nothing back; they have to act with compassion and sympathy - compassion for what is being sacrificed and for what the community desires to gain, and sympathy for the need of the sacrifice to be sacrificed. They must also be comfortable with their need to dispense sacrifice and have the skill to do so correctly. Ideally, both these parties must respond to need. Each needs something - to sacrifice or to be sacrificed. In this equation, as in so many others, need is the only thing that fulfills need so everyone involved in the sacrifice must be completely comfortable with that concept. The dynamic of sacrifice invokes forces larger than anyone present; the sacrifice and the one who dispenses sacrifice must submit and act according to Right Action.

Sacrifice is very holy to the Green World. As a world comprised of the energies of organisms that die so that others may live, and then return to life, sacrifice is one of the forces that keeps it alive. The sacrifice given back to the Green World, of energy, blood, time, or whatever, acts as a sacred mirror of what the Green World gives us. Mimicking the Green World's sacrifice secures the proper exchange of energy between the worlds and keeps the cosmic tally sheet balanced; we can never be the ones always giving or the ones always taking. Right now, we are in debt to the Green World. This world takes from the plants without any attention given in return for their sacrifice. While plants are comfortable with the idea of death and are typically very happy with their role as sacrifice, the rites that keep their sacrifice holy have been forgotten. The spirits try to correct this imbalance by collecting debt from us. The spirits of entheogenic plants are some of the most powerful collectors the Green World has. Energy, attention, sanity, and life are drained away from addicts to help balance this debt. Addicts offer up willing sacrifice because they have allowed themselves, through their choices, to become the victims of these spirits; in animal terms, the addict is the lawful prey of the spirit and may be eventually hunted to death. Other spirits are also involved in this work. Corn, for instance, can be a beneficial food staple or it can be turned into processed syrup that poisons us; the spirit can exact payment from us through the host of health problems caused by high fructose corn syrup. The role of entheogenic plant spirits as debt collectors are discussed further in Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Effects of Entheogens .

All those plant shamans and spirit workers who work with plants do their part to help balance the debt this world owes. Those who are part-time spirit workers or those who work with the plant spirits on a more casual basis also help in this work. People who garden or farm and remember to thank the earth and the plants, or who observe traditional practices such as leaving part of a field unplowed contribute, too. The Green World hasn't forgotten the things our cultures used to do, so it's time to remember these things for ourselves and for the good of all our worlds.


© Silence Maestas, 2006