The many modes of Reading Plants

Divination [i.e. the act of seeing future events] has been a sketchy subject in modern society–in so far as does it actually exist let alone work–but historical and archaeological evidence suggests people of all types of cultures throughout human history have believed/practiced some form of divination or prophecy.

There are tons of different types of divination which use a myriad of means to practice. Anything from ripples in a pond to the clouds in the sky and beyond, divinatory methods have persisted throughout our cultures. This overview offers some reader-friendly information on the history of divination, its significant differences with fortune telling, and its inclusion in just about every recorded culture in history.

One such method that I have been particularly interested in lately, is botanomancy, or divination through plants and herbs as the sole method of readings. The most well known method of plant divination is reading tea leaves. This ancient Asian philosophy has evolved and spread over the ages. Divination itself is a practice of interpreting and  implementing symbolic messages, omens, and seemingly random occurrences to help grow and evolve in spirit. Using plants makes sense to me because of their ultimate connection to planet earth and her lifeblood, and this is what makes the messages that much more pertinent and meaningful; as we are born of the earth, and we reside and loop around within its circuitry. Plants and herbs that can be ingested to induce symbolic messages and other-world knowledge offer a lot to divining souls who desire to tap into what they know. Plant roots ultimately serve as a metaphor for the connectivity we all experience as living organisms coexisting with the mother earth. Their spreading network of roots gather nutrient information and they can subsequently share that information with the practitioner. It only takes about a million years of practice! Lol!

Though I ultimately practice with simplicity, oftentimes searching for a quiet affirmation of the spiritual meaning found throughout my day, I find ways to grow and develop the art of using plants and their spirits to ascertain messages that can help me along my life’s journey. Because of the practice’s ability to force us to look within ourselves for what we already know to be true, divination can be relatively difficult to tap into. This is because we westerners frequently want what we can’t have yesterday, and we seem to expect an instant solution to everything without having to work toward it. But, on the other side of the mindset coin, with consistent practice and steadfast faith in your own knowledge and ability to learn, divination– and moreover plant reading–can be a valuable tool for further growth and development in spirit.

So I wanted to share a few different methods of plant divination, in hopes to shed light on another mode of finding and implementing symbolic messages to benefit the spiritual health we deserve as humans.

Reading tea leaves

220px-Tea_leaf_reading

By far the most well known form of botanomancy, (and its own field of divination called tasseomancy) reading the answers for questions asked in the remnants of brewed tea leaves has been in practice in the West (western Europe and beyond) since the 17th century when Dutch traders began bringing tea back from China. This form of divination is its own umbrella and oftentimes includes the practice of divination through coffee grounds and wine remnants as well. The practice is oftentimes a specially developed skill, and calls for teas that are grown specifically for this purpose. Find some easy-to-digest information on tasseomancy like its history/origins and common practice, here.

throwing seeds & blowing leaves

leaf

This method of botanomancy works similarly to that of casting runes or throwing stones/bones. The seeds of plants or herbs that were particularly related to the inquiry in question were thrown down over a smooth patch of dirt or a cloth. Sometimes a grid could be used, similar to that of a medicine wheel. If, say, the inquirer asked if the harvest would be bountiful, the person casting the seeds would choose to use corn, wheat or barley seeds as relates to harvests. The pattern the seeds made when they landed was interpreted and applied to the question asked.

Another related method of divination to seed throwing is that of leaves and breeze. The practitioner uses a handful of leaves to find the message by spreading out the leaves over the ground outside while inquiring of the possible outcomes to something. You would then wait for the breeze to shuffle, shift and blow away the leaves, and those leaves that are left behind are then read and interpreted and related to the initial inquiry.

Smoke, incense, burning, and carvingsmokeandashes

Another well known and popular form of botanomancy is to burn an herb or plant and divine the meaning within the smoke. Incense is the method that comes to mind for most, because it’s simple and a smaller scale obviously than burning a fire. A small pinch of dried herbs/plant material burned in a small dish again related to the inquiry subject. Meditate upon the question and what it means for you while the plant burns down. Take that information gathered from within and read the ashes. Find meaning in the patterns in which it crumpled, charred, grayed, etc. Does the pattern resemble letters to names, words or phrases that relate to your inquiry? Do the ashes gather together or spread out in the dish–could this relate to expansion/contraction of something connected to your question? There are always meanings to be found in patterns.

Sometimes the burn patterns on charred woods were the tool, the messages being played out upon the charring of the woody surface–woods burned for divination wouldn’t have been burned all the way, as fuel wood would have been, so archaeologists can tell the differences in purpose through the findings in ancient ash piles, burn pits, and fireplaces. A side note: sometimes woods with strong symbolic meaning (oaks for the Druids, at el.) were carved with the inquiry or desire, almost like writing down the supplication, before being burned in a fire. The resulting coals and ashes could impart knowledge of the future.

Plant development & structure

leafs

A less well-defined way of practicing botanomancy is to plant the seed of a symbolically sacred plant related to an outcome you desire within your life’s journey. Maybe figs for financial growth and wealth, roses for love, family, friendships. As the plant grows, the patterns on the undersides of the leaves, shapes of stems and blooms, etc can be read and interpreted to find meaning that applied to the future growth and manifestation of the initial inquiry. This method takes the longest, as you are consistently nurturing the growth of seed to mature plant, but all possible paths and future outlooks can be divined this way, sometimes offering much much more than any other form of botanomancy. This may be because of the time that is involved with practicing this way. It is a never ending time frame, as you don’t receive one but many possible answers, outcomes and pathways to take as the plant grows, changes and develops.

Plant induced visions & dreams

hallucinogen

Using plants to induce visionary trances, dream states and heightened awareness is no new fact. We know much thanks to chemistry, archaeology, and anthropology/ethnobotany about the practice of using hallucinogenic plants and herbs to induce visions of the future, provide answers to divinatory inquiries, and to help heal spiritual/emotional/mental traumas. But these methods can be used solely to gather information about future events. These special plants (not to be messed with at home) include famous–or infamous to some–plants such as mandrake, belladonna, monkshood, peyote, Ayahuasca, and many others including fungi. While illegal most places, there are some shamans and medicine practitioners who utilise these means to not only help manifest healing both spiritually and physically, but also to divine answers and information about future events in theirs and others’ lives.

Posies, potpourris, and sachetssachet

These are lovely and simple ways to utilize plants and herbs to achieve meanings and answers to dilemmas, personal and interpersonal, future and present minded, within dreams. Bouquets of fresh herbs and plants that hold connection to the inquiry (i.e., thyme and parsley for money/finance) can be placed about a bedroom to induce energy to dream. Similarly, a sachet or potpourri mix of dried herbs or aromatic plants that relate to what could be solutions to your inquiries can be placed under the pillow, above the headboard, etc. to help aid your divination while dreaming.

To practice these methods, simply ask the question as you you put the posy, sachet, or potpourri in place and meditate on that question as you fall asleep. The trick with this method is to train the brain to remember what you dreamed when you wake up the next morning. Start recording dreams in a journal and you will start to find the hidden messages that can then be used to help develop your Self and your journey. Lucid dreaming can offer even more if this method of divination calls to you. Plants like mugwort, Valerian root, and blue vervain can be consumed in a tea to help you reach a meditative state in order to lucid dream. While it’s not necessarily considered divination in the sense that the practitioner is actively seeking a vision of possible future outcomes, lucid dreaming does offer its own set of benefits.

 

I have found immense pleasure and success when implementing the lessons and wisdom plants and herbs offer. There is a world of knowledge and information out there among the green and growing things; we have but to open our eyes to it and embrace it. I hope to inspire others to at least start keeping and growing healing plants and herbs, and help simplify some of the ways we can incorporate these gifts in our everyday lives.

Here’s to hope, health, and the pursuit of happiness!

Have a blessed and beautiful Sunday 🙂

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