• Emma Farrell

Forming Alliances With Plants & Trees

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Karma means Action.

The Buddhists believe that everything that occurs to us is karma in action: every single action has a cause or point of origin, and there is then a subsequent effect.

Each one of us, in this present moment, is the product or current result of that process.

Every part of us that is experiencing something - the back ache in our physical body or an emotion such as joy or fear - is the result of something that has gone before.

When we view ourselves in this way, we start to understand that there must be points of origin for the things that cause us pain or suffering.

The Buddhists have a word for this: dukkha. To be human is to experience ‘dukkha’ or suffering. However, we can resolve and reverse this process and, in doing so, embark on a remarkable journey that can show us wonderful things about life, who we truly are, and why we are here in these times.

Through our life journey, and indeed the previous incarnations we may have had that constitute our individual consciousness streams, we will have had many experiences - some joyous and resplendent, others of a more traumatic nature. It is the traumatic incidents that leave their marks, causing pain, suffering and even soul loss.

In extreme cases of fright or anxiety, a piece of our soul will leave us and take flight, finding somewhere to hide until it may safely return at a later time when everything is ok again.

We can lose many pieces of ourselves in this way during our lives and some of these may be significant ones. In doing so, we lose the remembrance of who we truly are as a whole being.

In the Taoist tradition, to become enlightened is to become whole and be fully embodied in the moment.

How Toxic States Arise

When we lose pieces of our soul through trauma, we create fractures and spaces within our energetic field. Over time, a fracture can become infected with non-physical energies looking for a home or something to feed on. This, in turn, can lead to dis-ease manifesting as physical or mental illness.

Our modern industrial world is toxic: it is full of pollutants in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and even in the media we absorb. All these toxic energies are not only unnatural for human bodies to take in on the physical level, but are actually poisonous on the mental level. Every day, in the West in particular, exposure to this constant stream of toxic energies depletes our energetic bodies and thus our immune systems in the physical plane. This depletion allows further exposure to other non-physical and unhelpful energies and beings which, in turn, makes us weaker. And so the process goes on, until we get really sick.

Sounds pretty dire, right? However, help is at hand. Right here, somewhere close to you, right now, there will be a plant!


Plants and humans have a history together. As long as there have been humans on this planet there have been plants, trees and fungi. In fact , the plants have been here longer, much longer.

For me, one of the beautiful things about working with essences is having the opportunity to interact and communicate with the consciousness of all fauna and fungi, and learn what these remarkable beings may have to share with us.

Flower Essences have been a big part of my own journey, that of my wife, Emma, and our business, Plant Consciousness. Together, we have made many different essences over the last six years, a small handful of which we now sell as part of our Plant Consciousness Apothecary range. There are more to come, but we are still developing the relationship with many of the spirits of these plants, and we do not want to release their ‘medicine’ until we know, for ourselves, what it is and how it can be used to good effect.

Dieting The Plants

Plant ‘dietas’ are a large part of the South American shamanistic practices. They are the process whereby a healer, or shaman, spends time consuming the medicine of a particular plant in order to meet the plant’s spirit and form an alliance with it. This is usually for the purpose of healing, though it is also sometimes for less positive purposes.

Dietas are often done in conjunction with strong psychotropic plants, such as Ayahuasca, and usually take place in secluded parts of the jungle, in solitude. A strict ‘diet’ has to be adhered to in other ways as well: there is normally just yucca and rice to eat, there is no salt or red meat, and there is certainly no alcohol or sex. This whole process creates the internal space within the dieter to form a connection with the spirit of the plant.

I have been lucky enough to train and learn under Carole Guyett and Pam Montgomery, two of the leading teachers in the West in the tradition of Plant Spirit Communication and Plant Diet Initiations. Carole has taken the plant dieting principles and adapted them to our plants and environment here in Britain, whilst also making the process more accessible for the modern Western mindset. She has written an excellent book on this called Sacred Plant Initiations. I have participated in a number of plant diets now, both in a larger group setting on retreats, and in various ways on a more individual level.


The first plant I ever dieted with was Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), with Pam Montgomery a number of years ago. In order to help her host the retreat, Emma and I had to make the various medicines that are then combined into the potent plant elixir used on the retreat. In the case of Hawthorn, this meant observing the cycles of the tree closley and picking the various components of it as they came into being - the leaves, blossom and then berries. From the various harvested parts, over the course of a year, we made a variety of medicines, which then went into the final brew.

This process of harvesting and making medicines taught me a lot - not just about the actual logistics and timing of it all or how to make the medicines themselves - but about the forming of a friendship with this most wonderful and magical of trees. Over many hours of picking berries and blossom, I learnt that smaller Hawthorns have sharper spikes and, when asked if they are happy to share their fruits, I would normally give me a fairly gruff response of, ‘Well, just a few’, or occasionally an actual ‘NO!’ I’d always know when I had picked too many from these younger, more feisty, trees, as I would end up pricked and bleeding. In comparison, the older, more mature trees, often laden with berries, would be much more willing to give freely and the spikes were often softer - rarely would I get pricked by these trees.

This process was new for me: engaging with each tree in order to ask permission to pick, explaining what it was for and who I was all opened the doorway to a subtler type of communication than I was unaccustomed to.

As well as picking and making the Hawthorn medicine, of course we worked with it on ourselves to feel its effects and to understand its medicine better. This was done over a year as we prepared for the final diet weekend retreat with Pam, and was part of our preparation to help her hold the retreat space.

The strength of any medicine we each individually make is largely dependent of the clarity of our intentions and the cleanliness of our state of being.

Hawthorn has long been known as heart-opening medicine: it is a physical tonic for the heart and, in the old days, was served as a tea when family disputes had to be settled. Hawthorn reminds me very much of San Pedro - a strong heart-opening plant that allows us to be in our heart and to make decisions from that place. Whilst Hawthorn is not typically pyscho-active in the way San Pedro is - I have found the effects to be quite similar: a sense of warmth expanding from the heart outwards that allows me to feel compassion. I find it incredibly useful when doing healing.

I will be posting more experiences from my different plant allies in future blogs - I hope they bring inspiration for you to go out and make the connections for yourself.

- Davyd Farrell

This article was published in Sentire Magazine: