Plant and Tree Totems, Familiars, and Spirit Guides
You Are Connected to the Land
We are all connected to Mother Earth, whether we acknowledge that or not. But for those of us who follow a spiritual path that communes with the Earth and her energies, we know how interconnected our lives are with nature around us. Many of us have what are called totems, familiars, and spirit guides in the form of some kind of animal. Some of us have more than one. But what about the plants and trees on the land where we live? Aren't they emanating just as much if not more of that Mother Earth energy as animals do?
Of course they do! In centuries past, our ancient ancestors worshiped the trees and plants around them for a reason. The wisest of our ancestors tapped into the consciousness of those trees and plants and would work with certain ones for certain outcomes in life and death. We can now refer to these as plant and tree totems, familiars, and guides. Do you have a plant or tree totem or perhaps familiar?
What are Plant Totems, Familiars and Guides?
We will begin our journey into the world of plant and tree energy by defining plant totems, familiars, and guides.
Plant Totems: sacred plants that are used to represent a person or a group's spiritual path. Also used as a means to acquire certain messages and knowledge from the forces of nature. The term totem is often used in conjunction with indigenous tribes of North America to describe an animal that is looked upon as a representation of a tribe or even a guardian of a tribe, but totemistic practices can be found in cultures all across the world dating back thousands of years.
Plant Familiars: plant familiars are spirits of plants that aid a person in spiritual or mundane practices and growth. In centuries past, our ancestors who worked with plant familiars were called cunningfolk, shamans, healers, witch doctors, witches, and more. They worked with the energy of these plants in order to heal and bless their friends and even curse their enemies.
Plant Spirit Guides: Just as there are animal spirit guides that will come in and out of your life, there are also plant spirit guides that will do the same. These spirit guides will show up in your life to bring you a specific message depending on what you are going through in life. For an animal example: the ant might come into your life to remind you to learn how to work in a team for a specific cause. Plants will do the same as animal spirit guides, they will come to you to give you an important message from Spirit/God/Universe.
So as you can see, these plant friends are a lot alike and yet completely different. You will learn to differentiate the more you work with the plant world.
The Ogham: Tree Alphabet
Tree Totems, Familiars, Guides
One of the most majestic types of totems, familiars, or spirit guides a person can have is a tree. Think about it. What do trees do for us on a mundane level? They provide shade, they aid in providing us with oxygen to breathe, they give us wood to use for paper, lumber, and other various resources. They provide shelter to our ecosystem's animals and insects, and they also provide food and medicine for us. Now on to what trees can do for us on a spiritual level? Ahhh, they can and have done so much. This is why the ancient druids and Celts worshiped and worked with the spirits of the trees so closely. In fact, if you refer to the picture above, a way of writing was developed using symbols that were representation of each sacred tree. It is known as the Ogham, or Tree Alphabet.
Each individual tree has its own energy, its own consciousness, or what some might say its own spirit. Any gardener, arborist, or tree hugger can attest to this. Each tree also carries a spirit or piece of energy from its species as a whole. For instance that giant oak tree in your backyard has its own unique energy, its own consciousness but it also carries with it the otherworldly qualities of every Oak Tree that's ever existed. Hopefully I've explained this concept well enough.
Here are some of the more common Tree Totems, Familiars, or Spirit Guides that might come into your life (this list is by no means all inclusive):
Oak: the might oak is one of the most loved trees in history. It has an energy that is strong, powerful, protective, mostly masculine, deeply-rooted, and wise. It will bring these qualities into your life should you have the Oak as a tree totem, familiar, or guide.
Willow: the willow tree has always been a favorite. She holds feminine energy, as well as being a representation of the moon and the goddess. Willow will bring you dreams and help in enchantments among many other things.
Palm: a tropical tree found in warmer climates, this magical tree totem will bring the sunshine into your life metaphorically speaking. In ancient egypt, the palm tree was a phallic symbol representing the fertility of the gods, namely Osiris.
Pine: the pine tree has many spiritual properties and include fertility, abundance, health, purification, and rebirth. It is associated with many gods and goddesses of the old world.
Keep in mind that any type of tree can be your totem, familiar, or spirit guide. This list is a very brief list of types of trees, and your tree totems will vary depending on where you live. Be sure to study all of the gods, goddesses, and folklore associated with your tree totem, familiar, or guide.
Poison Plant Totems, Familiars, Guides
Documented as far back as the Inquisition, witches were said to use poisons in order to aid them in their magical workings. Specifically nightshade, mandrake, henbane, datura, and others were used in a witch's "flying ointment". They would use these ointments to anoint themselves and induce trances in which they would "fly" to meetings. Today, there are those who work with poisons in order to connect with their wild and mysterious nature...to connect with the darker side of Mother Earth.
Warning: If you choose to work with these plants in a physical way, use and handle at your own risk.
Nightshade: there is more than one type of nightshade plant but some of the more common poisons include: belladonna, american nightshade, deadly nightshade, and henbane. There are recipes for flying ointments including belladonna and henbane dating back to the fifteenth century and earlier. If any of the nightshade family comes into your life as your plant familiar, you have been chosen to walk the poison path...a dark and dangerous yet very rewarding spiritual journey. Look into Bellona, the goddess associated with Belladonna and the other deities associated to see if they are coming through to you, as well.
Mandrake: another plant of the nightshade family, this plant is steeped in folklore and history. It has even made a debut in the Harry Potter films! Among being mentioned in the Bible, the mandrake root was said to have "screamed" when dug up from the ground. The root of this plant looks like it is in the shape of a man, and therefore that is how it achieved its name. It is known to have been used for its hallucinogenic properties, just as its brothers and sisters in the nightshade family have.
Hemlock: another of the witch's favorite poisons, hemlock is said to have been used during the Dark Ages to both heal and poison people.
Fly Agaric: not necessarily a plant as it is a fungus, but we will include the infamous fly agaric here. Fly Agaric is a poison mushroom with a bright red cap and white spots. Folklore says that shamans used fly agaric in their trancework, and some say witches might have used it in their flying ointments as well.
Again, this is by no means an all-inclusive list of poison plants and one must take heed when working with these plant totems, familiars, and guides. Often poison plants will not be a totem but will come to you as a familiar to aid you in your workings for a short period in time and then move on.
Flower Totems, Familiars, Guides
Next to trees, there are no other plants in the world that are more beloved than flowers. Entire fields and gardens are dedicated to particular flowers, and we as human beings can't help but notice their innate beauty and vibrancy in a world that sometimes seems colorless. When we are down, a bouquet of flowers or just the sight of a flower could cheer us up. Flowers can be used as garland in the Spring and as hair accessories. They are also used in baking and cooking, as well as in medicines. The folklore of flower totems and familiars dates back centuries. Here are some of the flower totems, familiars, or guides you might meet.
Rose: The rose will come into your life as a totem, familiar, or guide in order to teach you about strong beauty. Beauty must be protected. The rose also represents love on many different levels.
Hibiscus: a tropical flower that is said to have very strong lust-inducing qualities. Ancient Egyptians forbid most women from drinking hibiscus tea for fear of its passion-igniting reaction. The hibiscus has healing qualities, as well as intuitive properties.
Sunflower: the sunflower brings happiness, luck, and a prosperous life. It is associated with the sun (obviously) and the god energy.
There are so many flowers that could come through to you as a totem, familiar, or guide it would be impossible to list them all here. Here are ideas for a few more: daisy, petunia, bluebell, tulip, lily, poinsettia, poppy, angel hair, carnation, camelia, hydrangea, and more!
Other Types of Plants as Totems, Etc.
How Do You Find Your Plant Totem, Familiar, or Guide?
Now that you know what a plant totem, familiar, and guide is, how do you connect with your own? Your experience with your plant and tree spirit is going to differ to the next person's because we are all individuals and experience spirituality differently. Because of this the Universe will talk to us in different ways and use different plants, trees, animals, signs, etc. But if you're feeling lost, here's a few things to watch out for:
- will probably be your favorite flower or tree from childhood on
- will be a plant that you have many fond memories of
- will remind you of an ancestor
- will always be a part of your life from the start to the end
- will make itself known physically by growing close to your home or on a trail where you walk
- you may see it on television or in books or ads
- you may hear someone speak of it
- you may dream of it
- will pop up when you are embarking on a new spiritual path or religion
- same as familiar signs above
Again the spirit of these plants will talk to you in different ways, you just have to be open to the possibilities and to the way in which they communicate. Plant guides are very similar in how you connect with animal guides in that the animal/plant will come to you, not you coming to it. If you're still not sure, ask the Universe/God/theDivine/Spirit (whatever you call it) to give you a sign and allow your mind and heart to be open to a plant totem/guide/familiar and it will indeed happen. Don't force it or rush it...just let it come to you.
© 2015 Nicole Canfield