Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kabbalah describes 72 names or attributes to God but stresses that the Creator defies any description at all. All we can say is what the Creator is not.
The Zohar calls the direct experience of God realization Adam Kadmon but recognizes fully that this is only an anthropomorphic representation of the Divine.

"The form of man is the image of everything that is above [in heaven] and below [upon earth]; therefore did the Holy Ancient [God] select it for His own form." The Zohar

In other words - the Law of Correspondence - as above so below. We are microcosmic representations of the Divine and can only think of the Great Spirit in terms of an anthropomorphic representation of ourselves. We see this in religious art, best represented in Michelangelo's Sistine chapel.

The Ancestors
The realization of some form of "Adam Kadmon" may occur for some highly advanced trance healer Bushmen of the Kalahari who in their out of body trance states say they have seen a likeness of the Divine and 
"they make themselves very small in front of Him."
They may be akin to advanced Kabbalists who have been in awe of  seeing Adam Kadmon. The Bushman do not use mind altering  plants or entheogens in this remarkable out of body state where they travel to the spirit world to retrieve non local information vital to the healing and survival of the clan. They only use dancing and chanting (those interested can view videos on my web site They call the experience the Little Death.

People who have had Near Death Experiences also have an experience of this type of ecstasy after passing through a tunnel into a field of overwhelming love and light - so much so that they do not want to come back. The N.D.E, can completely overturn anyones' ideas of God and life after death regardless of their beliefs before the epic phenomenon. They almost all come back with a sense of purpose and wanting to do good in the world. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, is one of those who before his own experience believed the N.D.E. was just a chemical aberration in a brain starved of oxygen (his book is revealing.)


Cern scientists have been humbled by the fact that rather than completing the jig saw puzzle there are many other unexplained "pieces" or particles that have not been explained or even seen. 
The term "god particle" or Higgs boson was given by the physicist Leon Lederman who used it for the title of his book. Scientists and clerics alike objected to the name which came out of the frustration of trying to find and explain Higgs. He joked that its was so elusive he really wanted to call it the goddam particle. Higgs himself was worried it would offend people of faith especially in view of the first commandment and taking the Name in vain.

There are other examples by well meaning, like minded  researchers to glibly liken something they cannot explain to a god or worse - the Creator. 

Another attempt to describe the Great Spirit has been called the god molecule or spirit molecule or D.M.T.  Dimethyl tryptamine is found in the vision or ayahuasca vine of the Amazon rain forest. Seekers who have imbibed the brew or taken D.M.T. itself sometimes describe a feeling of experiencing the Divine or the Great Spirit or a profound sense of Spirit. Some scientists believe that in birth and in death the brain releases large quantities of D.M.T. 

 Richard Dawkins who wrote the God Delusion believes that anyone who believes in a Creator is an idiot as in; 
"When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion its called a religion." Robert Persig
He has a large following and has almost ironically become a god and religion of himself. He seems to confuse religion with spirituality and states that natural selection and science are superior to the god hypothesis and that through evolution and natural selection we developed empathy because it is advantageous. He shows very little understanding of consciousness, paranormal events, life after death, the law of karma and ancient wisdom which can take us much further than just the feeling of empathy.
He seems to be at odds with many quantum scientists who are more humble and admit they really do not know what is going on. Some may not have faith in a Creator God but do understand that there is a fundamental organizing principle or Infinite Intelligence at work here. Most agree as did Einstein that anyone who says they understand quantum physics really does not understand it. This seems more in line with the Zohar's teaching that all we can say is what God is not. 

Dawkins is a professor at Oxford and carries a lot of intellectual clout but seems to be disconnected completely from the reality of the mysterious and the fact that data and science are still seriously lacking in their understandings.  Moreover, that concepts that seem set in stone often become replaced with more advanced or even different concepts. Newton, though having taken us very far, is proving somewhat limited today. It seems we are going where language can no longer help us and we may well have to find wisdom in myths, fables, legends which are the basis of the universal truths of archetypes. Poetry also helps.
More than likely he is among the majority of scientists who totally disbelieve in paranormal phenomena or the neuroscientists who still think that consciousness resides in the brain.

It is difficult to imagine that this Humboldt lily came about as a random event and not some extraordinary imaginative enterprise comprising intent, order, aesthetics and love and that it lives, dies and recreates itself again and again each year much like we do - given a belief in reincarnation.

Of course there are others who dispute any existence of a Divine Being - the Buddha himself being one of them. 
"Gripped by fear men go to the sacred mountains, sacred groves, sacred trees and shrines."
He taught that the god concept was a response to fear and frustration
(rather than awe) 
 and that we should understand our fears, lessen our desires and replace irrational belief with rational understanding. He felt the concept of a Creator was unnecessary to explain the origin of the universe and that each human could and should purify the mind and develop love and compassion for all beings. He urged we shift our attention from the heavens to the heart (when in fact the two are not mutually exclusive.) Buddhism, however, does state they are not a religion but a tool and each seeker should also keep their own belief system.

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

(Not really)

I am going to begin with a disclaimer and a repetition of the quotes used in last weeks blog. We need to be humble.

"Anyone who isn't confused here, really does not understand what is going on." Anonymous

"Our knowledge is the knowledge of children, we will know a little more than we know now but the real nature of things we will never know, never." Einstein

All I am going to do here is to give information I thought to be interesting and make no claim to understanding it, although I have tried to frame it with my own words and hence somewhat also my understandings. The Ancestors may take issue with its presentation but its meant to illustrate the mystery - both mystical and scientific, not to give an answer.

First a few ideas of Kabbalah and Quantum physics to both of which I am a neophyte but it might help us all to be in awe of the mystery. My apologies to anyone I offend with my simplicity.

The Zohar

Genesis tells us that in the beginning there was  "confusion and emptiness" - essentially chaos. 
Kabbalah teaches that the world could not have existed without God insinuating His/Her presence but also could not exist if He was fully present. 
Hence there was a 
of the Divine Light 
sufficient for the creation but not enough for the total destruction of that same creation (Possibly as in God saying; "No-one shall see my face and live.")

This concept of Tzimtzum has been compared to the Big Bang (and even compared to the concept of White Hole - possibly a microcosmic representation of the Creator's Divine Light which began all of creation.) 

I could bore you with descriptions that I cannot fully fathom about Black and White Holes but I seem to be in good company with scientists who also do not understand these entities - although at a much deeper level of misunderstanding.
Black holes have been compared to and maybe be a tiny representation of Kabbalah's concept of Nothingness. Furthermore Kabbalah tells us it was the Hebrew letters (the Word,) with spaces of Nothingness amongst shapes of Somethingness that created Somethingness out of Nothingness i.e. the creation as actualized in the lowermost sephira of Kingdom which is earth and everything on it, in it and around it.
Kabbalah also teaches that the Creator created vessels in
 empty space into which the Divine Light was poured. However, these vessels were not strong enough to contain the power of this light and shattered. According to the Ari, these shattered vessels hold the Divine Light as holy sparks and our task as Talking Beings or Homo sapiens with our unique consciousness is to release them from the broken shards or vessels.
The Ari (Isaac Luria)

According to Kabbalah the only way to release the light contained in these shards is with love, light, laughter, joy and kindness to all beings.
Also ...

The Tree of Life and also of the Creation and 
Or Ein Sof or the Divine Light of infinity.

In the beginning there was Nothingness as opposed to Somethingness. Keter the crown sephira of the Tree of Life is Divine Will which created the universe i.e. with intention - "In the beginning was the Word." 
In Kabbalah there were four distinct phases to the creation; 
Emanation - The Word, Divine Will.
 Creation (as the sephira of Wisdom) - the blueprint or plan as evolved in the imagination of Divine Will. (Einstein wanted to understand the mind of God and realized this idea resided in his ability to fantasize and imagine.)
Formation - the coming together of all the elements or four bodies of creation as in; 
"Fire gave birth to light, water to darkness, wind to spirit and earth to humanity." The Zohar. 
These in turn created the universe in six days (or epochs) which does not exclude the possibility of evolution.
And finally Actualization in the lowermost sephira of Kingdom - us on earth and - Somethingness.
The Zohar also states that creation took place - something out of nothing and 
there is an ongoing, continuous and sustaining flow of Divine life force without which everything would return to nothing.

Research at Cern's Hadron proton collider in Switzerland was designed to create a mini Big Bang and simulate the energy and light that were released eons ago. It is a search for the primordial matter created at the time of this event which is very different to what we have now. Tremendous energy was release as it is now in the Hadron collider. Visible matter, scientists say, is only 4% of the yet poorly understood matter of the universe. The rest is called dark matter and dark energy. 
Cern scientists confirm the presence of matter and 
 and are perplexed at the fact that something mysterious is preventing anti-matter from annihilating matter.  No-one knows where anti-matter went!
 The reality is that no one really understands what is going on. They have discovered the Higgs boson particle but cannot see it - only traces of what it has left behind travelling at almost the speed of light.
They acknowledge there are other particles coming out of the collider that they know nothing about.
It continues to be an ever evolving mystery and conundrum - nevertheless an exciting one. The scientist are so dedicated and fascinated by the project that they have spent years focused on the project at the expense of their social and family lives.

Im sure Einstein would agree with the Ancestors in his attempt to understand the mind of God ...
This also does not discount the importance of science.

Click on the link to highlight - then play and contemplate the mystery

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Many cultures have their own creation story. It may be best if skeptics thought of these as stories, metaphors, archetypes and universal truths. There should be no conflict between story and science. Both are equally valid. The bible says the earth was created in six days and on the seventh the Creator rested. Six "days" could just as easily have been six epochs. If Genesis would have begun with "once upon a time" many non believers in a Creator and the bible's creation story would be more comfortable. The Garden of Eden archetype is a story of truth since the beginning of time, of the play of light and dark and of our consciousness as Homo sapiens. 
Two Trees in the Garden, one of Knowledge (of acquisitiveness, ego and shadow) and one of Life or enlightenment. When we got kicked out of the Garden for eating of the fruit of knowledge we lost our birth right. We can regain Eden by "climbing" up the Tree of Life, subordinating ego, monkey mind and shadow to the higher Self and becoming perfected beings. The challenge is not easy.
Kabbalistic rendition of the Tree of Life showing the serpent wound around the central trunk of the Tree which must be subordinated to the higher Self in order to reach Keter - the Crown and regain Eden

The conundrum is that at some stage of evolution, we became conscious humans and this is the puzzle of the story. It should create awe and not conflict.

 The problem is not the story but the fundamentalism of each school's "story." Many scientists believe that only they have the truth as do many religions. There can be no duality - there has to be only one truth! This way of thinking is insinuating itself now into almost every aspect of our lives. Dean Radin, the physicist for Noetic Sciences, states that less than one percent of scientists believe in paranormal phenomena in spite of reproduceable evidence to the contrary. Dogma continues to be pervasive even in the new millennium.
The bible doesn't pretend to begin with Australopithecus or the southern bipedal ape three million years ago or more. This ape was much like our primates of today who though highly intelligent, we believe, did not have our consciousness. 
The more advanced Wild Beings have their own awarenesses and social behavior. Elephants have been shown to honor their dead and walk in a procession passing the bone of a deceased elephant with their trunks to the one behind. They visit burial sites. They have incredible memories and a phenomenal ability to love and show distress at loss of family members. Dolphins are highly evolved mammals who every now and then rescue humans in distress. However, they are not the same as us - as the Ancestors say of all the Beings - all one though not the same.
Above all the consciousness of Wild Beings is one of survival which is also embedded in our primitive monkey or narrow minds. 
We, the Talking Beings, have other polarities with which to contend
which require we balance the light and the dark. The other three Beings are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing - only we stray because of free will and the allure of the material. They do not know anything about evil or good and are just carrying out their respective tasks assigned to them. They are not plagued with concepts like the law of Cause and Effect or Karma.  They do not have monkey minds chattering messages of delusion or a higher or Buddha mind telling them to modulate the monkey on their shoulder with meditative techniques. They do not need to wrestle with the possibilities of reincarnation and the ever turning wheel of samsara. 
Most neuroscientists still believe that our consciousness is inside the brain whereas it is quantum and non local in time and space. They still consider the evidence for life after death - witnessed by those who have had Near Death Experiences - as chemical hallucinations in the brain due to lack of oxygen. 
Bipedal apes had an awareness similar to primates of today but they made tools and could walk upright some of the time like primates. 
Paleo-anthropologists theorize that it was the evolution of the upright posture that allowed early bipedal apes to free their hands and begin the making of tools and thats when humankind began to evolve. Terence Mckenna postulated that when primitive man started to eat psychedelic mushrooms, consciousness exploded but where was it to begin with?
So the real question isn't whether the bible story is literally true but when did Homo habilis and Homo erectus become Homo sapiens with our consciousness and even if that is what happened at all? The mysterious truth laid out in the Garden of Eden millennia ago may be telling us about the manifestation of our unique consciousness as Talking Beings. 
We know the first people were the Bushmen or Khoi San and that we all have their D.N.A. in our chromosomes. Science has shown that humankind began in Africa. San rock art in the Apollo cave in Namibia shows trance dancing - an advanced form of out of body travel and consciousness still being done by them today - happened  at least about 30,000 years ago. 
Subtle spiritual truths come in fables, myths, legends and parables which are also at the heart of the archetypes. They were not meant to be literal but to explain to less sophisticated minds the meaning, mystery and wonder of creation. In indigenous cultures these stories have a Creator - a singular omnipotent force who created order out of chaos. 
It would be useless to early humans if the creation story began with an exposition of quantum physics, the big bang, black and white holes, matter and anti-matter. Even quantum physicists admit that they do not know what is going on. Why did Jesus teach in parables rather than the laws of mathematics and physics. Poetry and legends, however, have the ability to be embedded with universal truths.
The indigenous mind has no difficulty with paradox and duality - you can have your story and I can have mine - they are both true. There is usually a profound message of truth and beauty in these stories. 

The Ancestors' message to us is to be in awe of the mystery and not necessarily to try and explain it or discount the stories that are there to teach us the lessons of creation rather than the exact details of how it came about. This does not discount the magic and mystery of science which depending on one's attitude, can serve to support spiritual concepts.
Niels Bohr the famous quantum physics, when entertaining one of his colleagues in his home was asked; "You surely don't believe that horseshoe hanging over the door brings luck do you?" Bohr replied; "of course I don't believe it but I know it works whether you believe it or not."
We are discovering that knowing more and more about less and less just opens another pandora's box of deeper mystery. Knowing more does not make it any less mysterious. We need to be extremely humble - science tends to be arrogant.
Einstein said that there were two ways to live one's life, one as if nothing is a miracle and the other that everything is. The latter we will find is much more rewarding and life fulfilling.

An anonymous writer once wrote; 
"anyone who isn't confused here, really does not understand what is going on."
and Einstein said; 
"Our knowledge is the knowledge of children, we will know a little more than we know now but the real nature of things we will never know, never."

The Ancestors

The San Bushman believe in a single creator God and clearly this story indicates that mantis and bee (powerful mystical archetypes in their culture) preceded creation of the first human as does the bible - Adam and Eve came LAST. Genesis does not discount there was a lot that happened before Adam and Eve and human consciousness.

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This song came in a dream and though stunning was impossible to produce in real time. We tried our best.

Sunday, September 2, 2018


Nature, when considered as sacred space is a preferred environment for the Hero/ine's journey. The Garden of Eden archetype holds all the polarities for finding the middle way and balancing the polarities; cold/hot, up/down, hungry/satisfied, thirsty/quenched, exhausted/rested, terrified/tranquil, night/day, sun/moon... Nature is a room with many doors and windows to spirit. It also offers possibilities for connecting with the elements, the "soft" fasciations and the non-talking beings for metaphoric messages and archetypes. This is the "yoga" of the "Eden" experience which can also occur walking in a garden, on the beach or in a park. Intention is the key. 
There is a story about two Buddhists monks who were always debating one another. One of them stood in the portal of a doorway and asked his friend; "am I going in or am I going out?" His friend replied; "that depends entirely on your intention."

Dave Cumes

Wilderness rapture occurs when one goes into a nature (or on retreat) with as little between us and it, with an inner intention and for a more prolonged period (relative to the demands of life's demands.) Five days is ideal. This rapture occurs when we find equanimity and balance in a pristine environment and develop a more constant alfa brain rhythm or meditative state. One may only realize one has been in this state when one comes out of it and back to the real world when a reentry depression can occur. The sudden lack of the equanimity can be profound. This state also makes it easier to also connect with archetypes, including our own unique destiny archetype by awakening our day time insights and our dream time.
The Ancestors
When more intense this rapture may manifest as Maslow's "Peak Experience." This is in effect a mini samadhi or a state of Unity Consciousness or Oneness where the 
Observer (the initiate,) the Observed (say a sunset or power animal connection,) and the process of Observation all fuse into one thing. 
Immersed in nature we suddenly ascend up the hierarchy of chakras and elements and are immersed - even if momentarily - in bliss. This is an unforgettable experience but unfortunately our cognitive minds usually try to rationalize it (or even later trivialize it) which   takes us out of that precious moment.

Connecting with the elements and beings with chakra alignment. Ayin or Nothingness is the Oneness Experience

One cannot talk about the hero's journey without discussing some aspects of fear and stress. There are two kinds of stress; Eustress - good stress and the usual stress that causes distress. For some unique individuals challenges are eu-stressful rather than the opposite. Stress invokes a flight or fight reaction from our autonomic nervous system which also releases stress hormones from the adrenal gland. Adrenalin elevates our blood pressure and gives us the fear feeling - dilated pupils, dry mouth, racing pulse etc. Cortisone release in the long term can suppress our immune systems, our handling of insulin and glucose and can set us on the road to prediabetes if the stress goes unchecked. Sadly our modern  style of living leads to an unhealthy burden on our bodies which requires we take active measures to conter it or we will more easily suffer the consequences of hypertension, atherosclerosis and even immune dysfunction. This is why meditative techniques - especially yoga, have become so popular in the west - not for enlightenment but for survival and stress busting. 
The flight of flight reaction (which can also manifest as freezing or feigning death) is a primal, first chakra response that enables us to run away from a predator or invoke the other two "F's." Its not supposed to be part of our daily living. 
When encountered in the Separation and Theshold phases of the hero's journey it is tailored to the reason for which it was created -  self-mastery and personal growth. The army and other institutions use the response to good effect by manipulating; the time allowed for the exercise, increasing the danger and the consequences of failure, as well as keeping the participant ignorant of what is going to happen. 
The causes of fear have been described as; threat to life or limb, the dark, the deep, the steep, the unknown and religious or superstitious. Interestingly, the most profound fear in groups subjected to challenging experiences especially in wild places is the threat to one's ego - to shame, possible recrimination or condemnation by the group. 
If one is alone on the hero's journey the only one we are accountable to is ourselves so that a humbling and fearful experience can be profoundly helpful on the road to self transformation. One can take the journey without fearful encounters but some would say - no pain, no gain and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Others disagree.

However, there are other pathways to self-transformation and besides the archetypal hero's journey ...

Here there is a different fear paradigm the reversal of fearing the unknown but rather ...
 getting to fear the known 
which is holding us in a pattern of inertia, detachment, complacency and resignation. It also should involve the fear of the karmic implications of irresponsible and selfish patterns of living that our societies' mores seem more and more to embrace.
Often it takes a painful experience to alert us to this fear such as loss of a loved one, one's job or health. Getting through this can be abetted by nature but we can experience the hero/ine's journey outside of wild places, the elements and the other Beings besides ourselves.

 Spiritual transformation, by going transpersonal, though often  slower and less acutely focused, can be just as powerful though maybe not as dramatically noticeable. It is rather a gentle hero's journey with the same three principles of separation, threshold, incorporation that are subtle and often realized only in retrospect. Its a slow burn but has the potential to be longer lasting. Rather than going to the top of the mountain with the "helicopter" of a profound encounter and attaining the vision, it is a laborious sometimes painful walk to the top with many stumbles and backtracking along the path.  
One of the challenges of the Incorporation phase of the Hero's journey is the fall - where our vision "falls" by the wayside. This can also occur on the slower transpersonal journey so one must be diligent and disciplined by not deciding to back away from the climb. The archetypal hero's journey may be more interesting if told around a campfire. Both, however, are just as valuable to self growth and are not mutually exclusive. The basic tenet of both is ...

The Ancestors

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Sunday, August 26, 2018


Since we, the Talking Beings," are one of the Four Beings I thought I would talk about our own role in our relationship with and to the others. One of our jobs when we come into this world is to help heal the planet. We all, mostly, have a bias as to which of these Beings we have the most affinity. Each of us has a special gift to share and a unique archetype - the basic four are; Healer, Teacher, Warrior and Hero/ine/Visionary. These can take many forms in our complicated world. In indigenous societies they were always simple, well defined and distinct. The Healer today can be a musician or comedian, the visionary a composer or even a comedian in a deeper sense.

The Hero/ine's journey in the past had always been very much of an initiatory nature bound experience e.g. the Vision Quest of the Native Americans or similar experiences of enlightened beings like Moses, Jesus and the Buddha where in the wilderness they faced a dark night of the soul before attaining their respective visions.

According to Campbell and Van Gennep there are three stages to the journey. The experience requires humility, letting go of any attachment to a fixed idea of what might happen, keeping it simple, having an inner intention and some meditative technique of going "inward" and avoiding time restraints as much as practicable.
 Separation is when we separate from what is familiar, often against the urgings of our peers and loved ones who maybe at a deep level know they should be doing something outrageously meaningful too. Fear usually comes up during this phase and in the archetypal paradigm the hero/ine is given an instrument of power - in the old days, say a sword. Today it is more likely to be inspiration of some sort or another from a teacher, a book or a journey. 

Separation is about surrender and letting go of complacency, the comfortable and the familiar,

The next phase is Threshold where the Hero faces his or her inner and outer fears and demons and often encounters a dark night of the soul. Again fear is a component of this phase and a "grail," aha experience or an inner knowing of what to do in the world occurs.
Threshold is about attaining one's own inner vision.

Finally in  Incorporation the hero returns to bestow the benefits of this transformation on any or many of the Four Beings and their respective elements with the new vision. Incorporation is about giving back or paying forward without attachment to outcome or material gain.
"Give up owning things and being somebody - quit existing." Rumi
This final step is critical. In both Separation and Incorporation there is danger of the "Fall;" either in not heeding the call for drastic change or losing the insight obtained in Threshold.
The after affects of the journey often include a feeling of well being and congruence, aliveness, well-being, less fear, empowerment, appreciation of the importance of solitude and spiritual practice and a realization that this may have been a turning point in her or his life.
Avoiding the fall requires walking the talk and not talking too much about the "walk." On return one should speak of context but not content since folks may want to invalidate your inner experience. It never pays to take what has happened and put it on the mantel piece for everyone to see. Focus on needs and not wants  - the most critical need being to hold the vision and act it out with the help of a dedicated spiritual practice. If one cannot change what one does, he or she should at least change the way in which it is done. For most of us this requires keeping one's day job to pay the rent and acting out the vision at the same time - if necessary without renumeration. Group synergism helps if one can find like minded supporters or seekers.

The hero/ines journey is one of losing the old self so one can advance to something new where we can be of service. It is usually a primal nature bound experience if planned but can be unplanned. For instance overcoming a deadly illness or a near death experience and returning with the gifts it provided to help others. 

Nature can provide many metaphors to draw upon to make drastic changes and one may be lucky enough to have connections with Growing Beings and visitations by Wild Beings or Power Animals in awake or dream time. The process requires peeling away the layers of the old you, keeping what is useful and holding a vision of what the new you can be.

Next week we will talk of some other details of the journey.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018


Plants have the amazing ability to help us heal and be whole, apart from their aesthetic nature and beauty or their part in giving us  transcendent pleasure by their "Soft Fascinations."

When we relate to plants and try to connect with their meaning and personality and how they might heal us it helps to be in an altered state of consciousness with some form of inner technique. If we  have that intention and are in a light alfa state the plant is more likely to impart its wisdom. Nature can also "meditate us" especially if we connect to the other Soft Fascinations around us; the sounds and mantra of the bush (of water running or the wind in the trees,) aromas, scents, sunsets, sunrises, the daily, monthly and even seasonal changes and fluxes. Some shamans will pay attention to plants during a full or new moon as well as the season and harvest them then for healing. We can entrain our rhythms to nature the longer we immerse ourselves in her energy and the less "stuff" we have between us and the Earth Mother. We can even follow the Bushman lifestyle of sleeping on the ground around a fire and walking barefoot.
When we do this we can discover a little of the mystery and the fact that ...

The Ancestors

Plants can be a medium for a message to our spirit guides and the spirit world for a request for a specific intention, for instance protection or asking for a dream. Our guides live in a non local space time reality - there is no time across the veil and they live in the present moment. For them free will is always in the present moment. They are also bound by the cosmic law of free will, so we MUST ask to receive! The request, because of free will, should be very specific. We cant ask them to help us with our life - they need to know exactly how. Sadly the trickster spirits or dark forces because of their "criminal" like intent do not have to abide by this law and may appear to have free reign but we are always protected by our guides, angels and the Great Spirit if we have trust and integrity.

The Ancestors 

A ritual with a plant is a container and is a powerful way of connecting and making a request. My sense is that prayer works but if its wrapped in the container of a ritual it works more efficiently. The spirit world responds favorably to strong intention, passion and will. The more creative the ritual and the clearer they are about what we want, the better they will respond. A ritual also has a stronger impact on our conscious and subconscious minds. It can make an indelible impression. 
Our main requests are for calling, cleansing, protection and requesting a dream for a specific question.

The Ancestors

The spirit world responds to Intention, Attention (to detail,) Action and Affirmation. Affirmation is key because they are living in the moment and because of free will they need to know if you still want it, next week, next month...? We must sustain and maintain the intention. Its ok if the details vary slightly if the basic intention remains - there is no objection to fine tuning. This is why guided imagery and imagination especially when sensory driven (because feeling deeply to them means passion) can accompany the ritual.
Cou'e who was one of the first to draw our attention to the power of the subconscious had the mantra; 
"every day in every way I am getting better and better at ..." because the subconscious needs to be constantly reminded as do our guides need the affirmation. It works both ways.
So how do the plants "work?" They work through placebo, distant healing, often but not powerfully through their pharmacology and no doubt through the consciousness or "spirit" of the plant itself as a container for a request to our guides. Placebo, unlike what medical science tells us, can go well beyond 30% especially in a ritual given by a charismatic shaman where it may be as high as 80%. We are now learning the same thing with psychotropic medicines for instance SSRI drugs for depression work 80% of the time but so does placebo and psychotherapy.
There are numerous double blind studies showing that distant healing or prayer works. In comparable groups of sick patients randomized to get standard care alone versus standard care plus distant healing (they did not know they were getting this, did not know the healers and the healers did not know them) - the studies showed significantly better results with the group that got both standard treatment and distant  healing.
A ritual with a plant with our request is a prayer to the spirit world for help and is tantamount to the same thing.
We should be conscious when we harvest a plant; make a request for their help, show gratitude and take only as much as we need without harming the plant. Indigenous plants are protected so if we want to use these we should buy them or grow them.
There are many alien plants or "weeds" which being pioneer plants that can survive almost anything and are very powerful so we should look for these. In our habitat in Santa Barbara for e.g. plants like morning glory, thistles (maybe for protection because they are prickly,) mustard, oxalis and many others. The spirit world is not fussy about what we use as long as its given with strong intention and preferably for the good of another or for our own good but so that we can better help others. They may not respond to a request for a want rather than a need. Asking for a new Porsche through a ritual would not impress them.

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(Re the soft fascinations)
Those interested in "Wilderness Rapture" can check the website and download the pdf summary of the book
Inner Passages Outer Journeys. 
There is also more information on the site on The Inward Bound experience which can be like a mini samadhi, peak experience or  a prolonged alfa state of equanimity and harmony in nature. When in this state connecting with plants becomes a default.