What Plants Talk About - Sacred Plant Introduction

What Plants Talk About - Sacred Plant Introduction

What are Plants? Do they feel? Communicate?

by Heather Culpepper 
Nature is the great visible engine of creativity.
— Terence McKenna

In our modern society of instant gratification, we often lose sight of what's really important in life. 

Things that no amount of money can buy, such as wisdom, frugality, compassion and the ability to see things from another's perspective.

Often, when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated with something, I take a bike ride out in the country. I am blessed to live in the country, removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It was a choice I made several years ago when I realized that city life was crushing my soul and my spirit. 

So when I go out among the trees (we have the most beautiful trees here along the gulf coast of the Florida panhandle,) I often wonder, "Do plants think or feel? Communicate? Have personalities? Are they anything at all like us? Do we share any characteristics with plants? 

I thought I knew the answer intuitively but I wanted to see if other people might be thinking the same thing about plants. So, I consulted the Great Google Oracle. 

"Do plants communicate?" I queried. 

Not only did I get back thousands of pages of scientific study on how plants communicate using an underground network of fungus, I found a very large library of books on Amazon, such as What a Plant Knows, The Hidden Life of Trees, Brilliant Green and more. 

I often wonder what plants think of us. Do they think at all? Do they feel? Communicate? Do plants and humans share any characteristics at all? And if they do, I often wonder:

If plants could talk, what would they say? 

Plants are hardly passive beings. They lack a brain, yet they can "communicate, cooperate and perhaps even wage war," says the narrator or What Plants Talk About. 

When we think about plants, we don't often associate a term like "behavior" with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives.

I previously suspected that plants were busy doing a lot more than we, sometimes arrogant, humans are aware of.


The first time I had read about the intersection of Anthropology and Botany was when I found a book by Anthropologist Jeremy Narby, who hypothesizes in his book DNA and the Origins of Knowledge that there is "a hidden intelligence contained within the DNA of all living things." 


The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby takes a serious look at how neurogenetic consciousness informs awareness, knowledge, symbolism and culture. His comparison of the ancient cosmic serpent myths to the genetic situation in every living cell reveals the immortal biomolecular wizard behind the curtain of everyday life. His anthropological study, ayahuasca experience and scientific speculations weave a tale of shamans who bring their consciousness down to molecular levels with sophisticated neurotransmitter potions in order to perceive information contained in the coherent visible light emitted by DNA.

Some excerpts from this important book:

Some biologists describe DNA as an "ancient high biotechnology," containing "over a hundred trillion times as much information by volume as our most sophisticated information storage devices." Could one still speak of technology in these circumstances? Yes, because there is no other word to qualify this duplicable, information-storing molecule. DNA is only ten atoms wide and as such constitutes a sort of ultimate technology: It is organic and so miniturized that it approaches the limits of material existence.

Shamans, meanwhile, claim that the vital principle that animates all living creatures comes from the cosmos and is minded. As ayahuasquero Pablo Amaringo says: "A plant may not talk, but there is a spirit in it that is conscious, that sees everything, which is the soul of the plant, its essence, what makes it alive." According to Amaringo these spirits are veritable beings, and humans are also filled with them: "Even the hair, the eyes, the ears are full of beings. You see all this when ayahuasca is strong."

In their visions, shamans take their consciousness down to the molecular level and gain access to information related to DNA, which they call "animate essences" or "spirits." This is where they see double helixes, twisted ladders, and chromosome shapes. This is how shamanic cultures have known for millennia that the vital principle is the same for all living beings, and is shaped like two entwined serpents (or a vine, a rope, ladder...). DNA is the source of their astonishing botanical and medicinal knowledge, which can be attained only in defocalized and "nonrational" states of consciousness, though its results are empirically verifiable. The myths of these cultures are filled with biological imagery, and the shamans metaphoric explanations correspond quite precisely to the descriptions that biologists are starting to provide.

DNA and the cell-based life it codes for are an extremely sophisticated technology that far surpasses our present-day understanding and that was initially developed elsewhere than on earth—which it radically transformed on its arrival some four billion years ago.

In the early 1980s, thanks to the development of a sophisticated measurement device, a team of scientists demonstrated that the cells of all living beings emit photons at a rate of up to approximately 100 units per second and per square centimeter of surface area. They also showed that DNA was the source of this photon emission.

The wavelength at which DNA emits these photons corresponds exactly to the narrow band of visible light: "Its spectral distribution ranges at least from infrared (at about 900 nanometers) to ultraviolet (up to about 200 nanometers)"...DNA emits photons with such regularity that researchers compare the phenomenon to an "ultra-weak laser." (see History of Biophotonics)

Inside the nucleus, DNA coils and uncoils, writhes and wriggles. Scientists often compare the form and movements of this long molecule to those of a snake.

After reading this exquisite book, I began asking more and more questions. Questions that scientists such as Stefano Mancusu, professor of plant neurobiology (yes, that's actually a field of scientific inquiry! Isn't that exciting?!) are researching and publishing about. 

In fact, Mancuso gives a brilliant talk here about what plants are doing behind the scenes. 

In the coming weeks, we will be learning more about the "roots of plant intelligence" and why it's so important for us to reconnect with Nature and stop treating her like she's only here to serve our selfish desires. 

As Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel writes in the introduction to Visionary Plant Consciousness:

At this critical moment in time, our species is straddling an unprecedented historical discontinuity in our relationship with the natural world. We are compromising the very life-support systems of the planet on which all life depends. However, the solutions to many of our most dire challenges reside precisely in the nature we are heedlessly destroying. The Bioneers, including those represented in this book, propose that there is a profound intelligence in nature, a more-than-human “mind of nature” whose operating instructions we need to learn and mimic to successfully navigate this epic cusp in human and planetary evolution. 

It is our vision here at the Sacred Plants team to unravel some of the mysteries of plants with you. Questions you may be wondering about plants or maybe haven't even thought of. 

Gardening by the Moon

Gardening by the Moon