How is it possible as shamans contend – that plants can affect human beings, situations, circumstances, and life energies remotely, as it were? That is, without being used as a form of curative for a specific medical problem, but more as a means of magical attractant, harmoniser, or conduit for spirit, energy, or luck?
Lets ask Cleve Backster, a scientist working in the unlikely field of lie detection and interrogation techniques, whose job was to teach policemen and security agents how to use polygraph equipment and interpret its results. Backster decided one day to attach the electrodes of a lie detector to the leaf of a dracaena plant to see if the device was sensitive enough to pick up reactions from a non-human subject. Probably not, he mused, but there might be some reaction if he burned the leaf to which the electrodes were attached. The second he thought this – and before he had even picked up a match – there was a dramatic peak in the tracing pattern on the polygraph chart (a trace signature that Backster would eventually come to recognise as fear).
Intrigued by this, Backster continued his research, testing almost 30 different plants in the same way: by attaching electrodes to them and then thinking of some action he might take towards the plant. The results were always the same.
It was significant that the plants reacted before any action was taken, leading Backster to conclude that not only are plants as sensitive (or even more so) as human beings, but they are also able to read emotions and intentions because there is a form of psychic connection, or affinity, between plants and people.
As his work progressed, Backster realised that plants react not just to threats, but to presences or movements in their environment. He demonstrated to a group at Yale, for example, that the movement of a spider in the same room as a plant caused changes in the trace patterns of a polygraph to which that plant was attached. The plant had a precognitive sense of the impending and was attuned to intention before the movement itself. “The spider’s decision
was being picked up by the plant, said Backster. They [plants] seemed to be attuned to animal life.
Backsters other results show that plants have memory, emotions, and very human-like reactions, as well as psychic abilities. In one of his experiments, six students randomly drew lots to see which of them would destroy one of two plants in a room. The person chosen would commit the murder in secret so that Backster and the other students would not know his identity. In fact, only the second plant would know who the murderer was because only it would witness the crime.
When the murder was done, Backster attached a polygraph to the surviving plant and paraded his students one by one in front of it. The needle went off the scale when the murderer appeared.
In a kinder experiment Backster also demonstrated the love or empathy between a plant and its owner. One day he accidentally cut his finger and noticed that a plant being monitored demonstrated a stress reaction of its own, as if it was experiencing Backsters pain and shock at the sight of his blood.
Using this perceived affinity as the basis for his experiment, Backster walked to a different building some blocks away and directed loving thoughts towards the plant. The polygraph recording showed a heightened trace as the plant picked up his intentions.
To see how far such thoughts could be transferred, Backster asked a friend to send love to her plants while she was 700 miles away, and then recorded their reactions. By synchronising their watches, Backster was able to prove that not only did the plants respond to their owners thoughts at the moment she sent them, but they also felt her anxiety when her plane touched down at her destination.
Even when the plants were locked in a lead container, the results were the same. Whatever created empathy between plant and human came from something outside the electromagnetic spectrum.
Another lucky accident led Backster to explore this further. One evening, he was about to feed a raw egg to his dog and noticed that as he broke the shell one of his monitored plants reacted strongly. Curious to see what the plant might be reacting to and what feelings the egg might be transmitting, Backster attached another egg to a galvanometer, and monitored it for nine hours.
What he got was a trace corresponding to the normal heartbeat of a chicken embryo, even though the egg was unfertilized. His conclusion was that there is a life force or energetic field that connects and is contained within all things.
Another researcher (Alfred Vogel) brought us closer to an understanding of this field when one of his students, Vivian Wiley, conducted an experiment of her own. She picked two leaves from a saxifrage plant and took them into her house. Each day she projected love towards one of these and the intention that it would live, despite giving it no water and simply leaving it on her bedside table; the other leaf she completely ignored.
One month later Vogel went to her home to photograph the results. The leaf that was ignored was dry and decaying, as you would expect from any leaf that had been out of water for that length of time, but the other was as fresh as the day it was picked, even though its circumstances were no better.
Wiley continued her experiment for another month and the leaf she directed her love towards remained alive all this time while the other one crumbled away. The mysterious energy through which we communicate with plants is love and intention. These are the essence of the universe.
Man can and does communicate with plant life, said Vogel. Plants may be blind, deaf, and dumb in the human sense, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are extremely sensitive… They radiate energy forces that are beneficial to man. One can feel those forces! They feed into one’s own force field, which in turn feeds energy back to the plant.”
Vogel also found that plants have unique personalities. Those with a large electrical resistance (the most powerful) are often difficult to work with (even prima donna-ish), whereas those with large leaves and high water content are more responsive to the mind-power of intention.
This is quite in keeping with the findings of plant shamans. Ayahuasca shaman Javier Aravelo tells us that ayahuasca the vine of souls is a sensitive plant and to use it the shaman must follow a special diet where he denies himself certain foods and contact with others lest the plant should become jealous and work against him. A deep respect for the personality of the plant is essential to the visionary experience.
According to Vogel, this respect for the plant is essential for effective communication and empathy between our species. He remarked of scientists conducting experiments with plants that “If they approach the experimentation in a mechanistic way and don’t enter into mutual communication with their plants and treat them as friends, they will fail.
It is essential to have an open mind that eliminates all preconceptions before beginning experiments Hundreds of laboratory workers around the world are going to be frustrated and disappointed until they appreciate that the empathy between plant and human is the key, and learn how to establish it the experimenters must become part of their experiments.