Spirit of the Oak from the Plant Spirit oracle!
As we’ve been exploring over the last few weeks, plant spirit communication can take many forms. The rustle of leaves outside of your window, the inner knowing, or the song a plant sings to you as you honor it for the harvest. These simple messages weave a complex landscape beyond what we can sense with our fives senses, and invite us deeper into the mysteries of the earth and all living beings. And as we’ve explored, the voices of the plants, the spirits of the plants, take a number of forms and can appear to each of us uniquely. What is clear is that the more that we open ourselves up to understanding them, honoring them, and working with them, the more connection we have with the living earth in her many forms.
Part of the reason I’ve been sharing so much about plant spirit communication over the last few weeks is that it has been on my mind and part of my active practice for a long time–and like a lot of things on this blog, at some point, I have enough to write about and share. Part of this is that I’ve been in development of a new oracle deck over the last few years, which I am calling the Plant Spirit Oracle. Since the project is about 80% complete, I decided it is time to share more about it with my blog readers and launch a website that describes the project a bit more. So I thought I’d share some of the project here and invite those of you who are interested to learn more at my project site: www.plantspiritoracle.com. You can also get regular updates on my instagram account @Druidsgardenart.
Some of you may know that I painted and self published the Tarot of Trees almost a decade ago. That was a 3.5 year project of 78 tree-themed tarot cards. It was just as I was beginning to establish my style as an artist, and it really was an incredible journey to embrace the bardic arts, learn tarot, do all of the paintings, and so forth. In 2015, I started paintings in a new series, tied to some of the pathworkings I was doing as part of my studies through the Druidical Order of the Golden Dawn. These pathworkings were facilitated by an inner guide. I had been very active in my herbalism studies and practice, and when I asked for a guide, a plant spirit–black cohosh, specifically–came and we went on a journey together. She asked me to paint her, so I did, and it was a fun experience. Then it happened again, and again, and again. It was a set of paintings that were derived from spirit journeys–but in each case, I had a clear visual of what to paint. These paintings are certainly some of the best I artwork I had ever produced.
And after about six months of regular meditation and journeying, I had 10 plant spirit paintings. I laid them all out and realized that it was a second oracle project, my follow-up to the Tarot of Trees. Just like the Tarot of Trees, I wasn’t clear that it *was* an oracle project at first. A lot of the techniques I am sharing in my plant spirit communication series actually directly stems from my work with the plants in this series. I moved to a new state, took a new job, and my paintings on this series ebbed and flowed. In 2018, however, I really dove into the project again, and decided I wanted to finish it and release it sometime in 2019. At this point, I’ve painted, 35 cards, 33 of which will certainly appear in the oracle. I am planning for about 40-45 in total.
So, today, I wanted to share some of the cards from the Plant Spirit Oracle and some of their meanings for you to get a sense of the project. The finished project will not only include divination meanings and information but also herbal preparations and other ways to work with the plants! We now delve into six of the plants from the Oracle: Yarrow, Witch Hazel, Comfrey, Apple, Blackberry, and Poison Ivy.
Spirit of Yarrow
Yarrow is common throughout the world and has long been associated with invisibilty. Yarrow keeps things hidden, just as the image for this card–painted in 2017 at the full Lunar Eclipse–also conceals much. The luna moth comes out at dusk and flies in the night, a sign of concealment and yet beauty. The yarrow flowers spiral ever inward.
Divination Keywords: Invisibility, Hiding, Protection, Being Unseen
Spirit of Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel has the unique feature of blooming in the late fall and early winter, when everything else is dying, brown, and still. Witch hazel, therefore, is like a beacon in that dark time. The left half of the painting shows Witch Hazel during the light half of the year, with green leaves and dried seed pods. During the dark half of the year, Witch Hazel turns crimson and orange and then, even after her leaves drop, she blooms. And blooms, and blooms. As the snows come down, she blooms. Her song of hope and change is played by the babbling brook which flows between the dark and light half of the year. Witch Hazel offers us a very powerful message for these dark times—not to give up hope. Our children’s children’s children are waiting for us to become ancestors.
Divination Keywords: Shining in the darkness, overcoming difficult odds, hope for the future, music of the earth, spirit songs
Spirit of Comfrey
Comfrey is one of the most well known medicinal plants on the planet, well loved and well respected by herbalists. She is known by many names, including knitbone, boneset, and mending plant. This is because of her many uses for mending bones, healing serious wounds, and healing the body inside and out. Comfrey also is an amazing garden plant; she is what is known as a “dynamic accumulator” meaning that her deep tap roots can pull up nutrients and make them available to other plants. She also is a summer long producer of nectar for insects and birds. In the card, we can see the hummingbirds feasting on her nectar while her roots hold the power of the planets.
Divination Keywords: Resources, personal action, leveraging one’s skills and abilities, favor from the heavens, astrology, manifestation, recognizing the opportune moment, “stars” aligning, taking action now
Spirit of the Apple
There is nothing quite like finding an apple tree in full fruit in the fall months. A single apple can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit and each apple tree, particularly those that are wild, offer incredible diversity in their fruits. The Apple tree has had a tremendously long history with humans. Ancient humans, and some modern, engaged in rites to “wassail” the tree so that she would produce more apples, which could be dried, turned into sauce, butter, fresh cider, or hard cider. Truely, Apple is a tree of fertility, offering many blessings and gifts with her magic.
Divination Keywords: Magic, Fertility, Creativity, Nature Connectedness
Spirit of Blackberry
If you’ve ever tried to pick wild blackberries in the height of the summer, you likely will have paid a price for those delicious treats. Wild Blackberry produces amazing, large, juicy fruits, but she often demands a blood price from those who seek her fruits. The deeper you get into a blackberry patch, the more difficult the patch is to escape from. In my region, we call her a “jagger bush”, and getting “tangled in jaggers” is not a place you want to be! The blackberry painting features a huge tangle of bushes growing from a porcipine—another creature that enacts a strong price if you get too near. The blackberry, therefore, teaches us that actions have consequences and to tread carefully.
Divination Keywords: Enganglement, Consequences, Wrapped up in Troubles, Rewards after a long struggle, Doing things the hard way, Paying a price
Spirit of Poison Ivy
Poison ivy is one of the most feared and avoided plants in the natural environment due to the contact dermatitis it creates after several days of exposure. Because many have had a previous run-in with poison ivy with lasting consequences, it encourages people to learn to recognize it, to avoid it, and to avoid areas with it. In other words, poison ivy, through its hard lessons and pain, teaches us to be aware of our surroundings and stay guarded.
And yet, this defensiveness can go both ways. When I encounter poison ivy, I see how it protects places—growing thick so that none can get through. It especially grows thick along the edges of forests and fields, in “edges” where the wild lands are meeting cultivated lawns and other human-dominated ecosystems. It works, in this way, to be strongly and visibly defensive: growing to keeping people out. In fact, it is this “edge effect” that has allowed poison ivy to substantially spread its range due to the increasing disturbances caused by modern building and lawns, and is, in some ways, nature’s response to human incursions and lawn cultivation. Today, it is much more common than several centuries ago, primarily due to the amount of disturbance in the landscape that humans have created and due to the increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This ecological reality parallels its divinatory meaning.
If you’ve ever suffered from poison ivy, you know that the more that you scratch it, the more you spread it, offering yet another powerful lesson: sometimes we have to just let things run their course and not do anything to further upset the situation.
Divination Keywords: Defensiveness, Awareness, Hard Lessons, Letting things run their course, Caution, Danger
Closing Thoughts and Links for More Information!
The plants have much to teach us both physically and in spirit. I hope this look into the Sacred Plant Oracle has uplifted your spirits and brought you joy. Thank you for reading! To keep updated about the Plant Spirit Oracle (and be notified when preorders are available, likely early 2019) please visit this page!
Spirit of Calamus / Sweet Flag