Starting a Plant Spirit Medicine Book Discussion Group

An introduction and some guidelines

If you are reading this, you probably have read Plant Spirit Medicine. You may even have studied the medicine, in which case you know that fully understanding Plant Spirit Medicine requires us to go beyond the page and enter into our own personal relationship with Nature. Many readers of the book find their experience of Nature more illuminated in a way that calls for further study and introspection. Whether or not you are a Plant Spirit Medicine healer, leading a book discussion group can be a way for those of us with a deeper longing to go on a journey with each other, to encourage each other to listen to our hearts and not dismiss the voices we may hear as we walk through the natural world.

If you are a Plant Spirit Medicine healer, planning a discussion group and hearing other’s experiences and knowledge of the magic and medicine of plants, will open up and deepen your practice. Among the many possible benefits of hosting a Plant Spirit Medicine book club include:

  • Spreading awareness of the medicine and the deep healing wisdom of the plant world.
  • Attracting new clients to Plant Spirit Medicine healing practices.
  • Increasing sales of Plant Spirit Medicine.
  • Promoting programs such as Wisdom of the Divine Natural World—which in turn can help increase Blue Deer Center attendance and open a path towards increased enrollment of future PSM healer training courses.
  • The chance to promote Community Fires.
  • Building relationships with new members of your local community, possibly including bookstore owners who can be powerful allies in promoting future events.

Finally, we thank you for considering sharing your passion for Plant Spirit Medicine with others in your community. We hope this guide will help give you a rich soil foundation from which your group will grow. As you begin, consider the many ways in which this book has affected you. What is your story? Telling your story to the group that gathers will prepare the ground for a fruitful unfolding.

“Mostly this is a book of stories, because stories aim for the heart, where experience lives.”

– Eliot Cowan, Plant Spirit Medicine

Approaching the Book

First, you will need to have a working knowledge of the book and how it’s structured.

The book is divided into three parts:

Part One: Plants, Spirits, and Their Medicine

Part Two: My Plant Spirit Dream

Part Three: Medicine Dreams of the Healers

There is an introduction, a conclusion, and twenty-one chapters.

Reread the book, read it again, and then maybe read it again. Notice not only how it’s structured, but the patterns and repetitions –the importance of dreams, for instance, in Part One, and then dreams in the forefront of Part Two, and even more in-depth in Part Three. How it begins from the plants, and then moves out in to the world to the author’s work, and then on to the “Medicine Dreams of the Healers”.

Formats for the Group

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the structure, you can approach the book with your group in one of three ways, or a combination of all of them.

1) Pre-assigned chapters at each meeting. For example, if you were planning to meet for six monthly sessions, you could spend two meetings for each of the three parts, dividing each of the sections roughly in half. Setting a beginning and an end to the discussion group and what topics and themes will be discussed each month can help guide people in their decision to participate. It also allows you to consider the main themes of each chapter and bring forth the personal experiences shared by the group and place them within the context of the book.

2) Open approach. The book is thin in volume, but dense in concepts. You can begin with a check-in and ask people to share something that may be touching them at the moment from their reading at home. Often, there is a theme among those who are sharing, and this can help point to the appropriate chapters to cover.

3) Read aloud. This allows people to slow down their processing of information and notice underlying themes and concepts that may not have been apparent before. This is a great way to feel the book and share how it touches them intimately with others.

a. Read parts of the book aloud to generate discussion and inspiration. The Introduction, for example, is pregnant with information and lays the groundwork for the rest of the book. Reading the Introduction aloud at the first meeting can set the stage for discussion.

b. Read the entire book out loud over 12 -13 months (2-3 chapters/month). The book is passed around and those who wish to, read aloud as much as they want and then it gets passed to the next person. This is a great way to involve the people by hearing their voice. There is agreement that when someone is moved or touched by a section, the reader pauses and discussion ensues until it comes to its natural end and then reading resumes. There is agreement that what is shared in discussion is held respectfully.

Remember to personalize the discussion – How have the patterns and themes in the book unfolded into your life and those of the group participants? This book is about feeling. Not intellect. The heart takes precedent over the brain.

Frequency, Length, and Total Number of Meetings

While not a rule, monthly meetings work well. It’s an easy commitment, both for the group’s facilitator (you) and for those who might want to attend all the meetings. It also allows people to read through the book slowly, opening it up to a gradual unfolding. Ask yourself what might work best for you and your community.

One and a half to two hours is a good length for these discussions. They are often held at the end of the day, and people can hold their attention for this period of time.

Do you and your community want an open-end to these discussions? A year? Two years? Or do you as a facilitator work better with a set number of discussions and defined outline? How you set these boundaries will determine the nature of your group.

Finding a Venue to Hold the Meetings

Here is a list of potential approaches:

1) Explore your local literary hotspots. Pay special attention to bookstores with a spiritual or natural healing bend to them. Approach the management and inquire if they’ve heard of the book. Express your interest in conducting a book discussion group there. The benefit of a bookstore is that the book can easily be made available and they will often offer space for free in exchange for the increase in book sales the group might bring.

2) Other natural product stores will often have space for classes that might be available for free or a small charge. Inquire within.

3) Healthcare practitioner offices such as hospitals, doctors, naturopaths, chiropractors, massage therapists often have a group space.

4) Local schools and colleges may have space available for this kind of use. This will have the benefit of being among a student body who may be eager to learn and discover a new way of looking at the world. Approach the school and explain your idea.

5) Meet in a private home. This offers the benefit of keeping it simple and providing more private and personable space. You may also decide that sitting around afire offers a supportive space for deep, inspirational sharing. With proper connections for promotion, this is a viable option if the other more public venues are not available.

Promoting Your Book Group

Begin with your like-minded friends, people you feel would have the same deep experience you have had in reading the book. If you live in an area connected to one of the hamlets of the Sacred Fire Community (SFC), this will be a good starting point. Approach the local firekeeper and ask if you can make an announcement during the fire. The firekeeper might even send an email announcement out for you. Many firekeepers entered that path because of their experiences with Plant Spirit Medicine, so the firekeepers have great capacity and willingness to spread the word.

If you are not near an SFC hamlet, go through your email list, and choose carefully your local friends who might be interested in this. Once you’ve chosen a location and starting date, send them an email announcement.

There are ways to use your Facebook account (if you have one) to post events and promote your event. Sometimes bookstores will list events on their web pages, especially if they know people will come there to buy the book.

Contact your local daily, weekly and monthly newspapers to be placed in their event calendars and listings of literary events. Contact the local public radio stations with a press release.

Post bright-colored fliers at local hotspots, bookstores, cafes, natural grocers.

Approach other local PSM healers in your area. They may have clients or other connections looking to experience the book in this deep way.

When you are ready to begin with promotion, we can make email templates, logos, flier templates, and other electronic promotional materials available to you.

How to Make Copies of the Book Available to Attendees

You can approach your local bookstore and tell them what you are doing… See if they might be willing to carry the book, or if they already do, they might be willing to order more copies for sale. This keeps the book on local shelves and supports your area business and develops a local connection for you. You can also order a box of books from the Blue Deer Center and resell them.

Should I Ask for Money?

This is a personal decision and can be a practical, question for you. If you are renting space, and/or supplying refreshments, you may want help in covering these costs. You may feel that people paying a small sum of $5, $10, $15 may elicit more value. Or you may want to honor the home of Plant Spirit Medicine by passing on the donation to the Blue Deer Center. You may be leading the talk to sharpen your skills or as free publicity or community service, and may choose not to request a financial exchange.

Thank you, again, for venturing out on this path to dive deeper and to guide people on a journey into Plant Spirit Medicine, a book that has opened thousands of people to deep healing available from the natural world.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact buffyaakaash [at] bluedeer [dot] org