True story: I attended a workshop on how to communicate with trees at Starwood Festival in early 2000-aughts. It was a morning workshop, so no mind-altering chemicals other than coffee were involved. At one point, we were each told to find a tree in the grove where the workshop was being held, go into a meditative state and just ‘receive’ messages from the tree. I chose a small, struggling apple tree which was hard-pressed to find sunlight with all the taller trees around it. When I got into the proper state of mind, two brief images flashed through my head: a wide, winding river with trees right up to the bank on either side, then the image of a young tree, surrounded by tall grass.

When we were invited to share what we got from the exercise, the workshop-leader couldn’t make heads or tails of what I’d seen. After the workshop, another participant approached me and told me the campground where the festival was taking place used to be a river valley. The tree was telling me the early history of the area. The tree was remembering a time earlier in its existence, when it got more sunlight. Mind. Blown. I felt like Heller Keller with the pump, you know, where she finally understands that this is water? I was seized with the desire to go to my local supermarket when I got home and grab fistfuls of greens and cactus pads and hold them to my forehead, to see what they could teach me. I felt like a whole new world had opened up to me. It is possible to carry on a meaningful conversation with a plant. I thought this was beyond my abilities.* 

I can’t claim you’ll experience anything that dramatic with the tool in this lesson, but I do hope you will find it of value. First, some…


Tree divination, technically known as ‘xylomancy’ is another one of those very-old methods of divining which is so old, no one knows when or how it started. One source I’ve seen attributes the origin of the practice to Slavonia, a region of eastern Croatia, but I think it’s likely multiple cultures around the world probably had their own variety of tree divination. The first xylomancer was probably a shaman or medicine-person out walking in the woods with an issue on their minds, head bent in thought. Then they came upon a particular tree, or some sticks or twigs lying on the ground in a particular formation, which triggered an insight into their problem, leading to a solution. Or perhaps they were out walking in the woods, and a random tree just ‘spoke’ to them. After my own experience, I’m no longer willing to say that’s not possible.