Many of you readers may be familiar with animal totems, archetypal beings that embody the qualities of a given species of animal and that watch over the physical animals themselves. But did you know plants, fungi, and other living beings have totems as well? Okay, so theyâ€™re not as popular as their critter counterparts, and we often see plants and fungi as scenery rather than active parts of nature. However, we have as much to learn from them as anyone else.
Itâ€™s easy for us to be so animal-centric that we forget weâ€™re not the only important ones here. It may be more challenging for us to wrap our minds around the priorities and worldviews of beings so different from us. They donâ€™t run around like we do, and they absorb nutrients from their environments in very different ways.
But sometimes the best thing for us is to be shaken out of our comfort zones a little. We can acquire new ways of viewing the world and approaching our own problems, too. What can we learn about a place by observing it from one spot for a long period of time, instead of just seeing it as the scenery flying by while we zip from point A to point B? What can that deeper understanding teach us?
Moreover, when we see fungi and plants as equally important parts of ecosystems, we learn more about just how intricate those systems are, with their many interlinked relationships. Animals donâ€™t exist in a vacuum; they rely on the plants, fungi, and other living beings as much as other animals. When you remove one species from an ecosystem, you harm all the rest, too.
And by learning to place more importance on others, not just ourselves as humans or as animals, we can be more aware of how our actions affect everyone. Plant and fungus totems can help us with that awareness. They are intermediaries between their species and the rest of the world, humans included, and just like animal totems, you can contact them to see what they may have to teach you. But more importantly, in this era of environmental destruction, you can ask them what you can do to help their physical counterparts, and the ecosystems theyâ€™re a part of, for the benefit of all.
In doing so, we start the long but rewarding process of rejoining the community of nature, not just to grab from it what we can, but to regain our place as Homo sapiens, being one particularly smart and handy ape among a vibrant global community of unique life forms.
Our thanks to Lupa for her guest post! For more from Lupa, read her article “Leaves and Caps: 5 Ways to Honor The Sacred Remains of Plants and Fungi.”