Plant and Fungus Totems: Connect with Spirits of Field, Forest, and Garden - Lupa 2014


Note: I included some basic terms from plant and fungus biology in this glossary, primarily those I referenced in this book. If this were a botanical textbook it would be more complete; suffice it to say that this is a more immediately functional glossary and should not be seen as the be-all and end-all of relevant definitions.

Algae: Any of a number of species of aquatic plant, ranging from single-celled algae to multicelled plants such as kelp and other seaweeds.

Archetype: The personification or symbolic manifestation of some deep, primal impulse or instinct in the human mind. The Shadow archetype, for example, may represent a certain fear or aggressive urge that is thought to be socially unacceptable.

Bioregionalism: Identifying a place by naturally occurring physical landmarks, often watersheds, as opposed to human-made landmarks such as streets or city limits. Synonymous with ecoregion.

Correspondences: A system or series of concepts, ideas, or things related to each other in a particular pattern; for example, in the Northern Hemisphere, the hottest part of the day is when the sun is in the southern part of the sky, so South corresponds to the hottest element, Fire, as well as the middle part of the day.

Cyanobacteria: These are not plants, but instead are members of the separate bacteria kingdom. Like plants, they have the ability to produce their own food through photosynthesis.

Entheogen: A plant or fungus used for mind-altering experiences, particularly of a hallucinatory nature. Many entheogens are illegal to use or possess in the United States and elsewhere.

Flower: The main reproductive body of an angiosperm, or flowering plant. The most immediately visible parts of many flowers are the pistil (female reproductive organ), the stamen (male reproductive organ containing pollen), and the petals. Once the flower has been pollinated, the petals fall away and the bottom portion of the flower, the ovule, swells and grows into the fruit.

Fruiting Body: The reproductive part of a fungus, often also known as a mushroom. This part grows up out of the ground or wherever else the mushroom is growing, and when mature it spreads the fungus’s spores (similar to a plant’s seeds).

Fungus: A kingdom of being separate from plants, and more closely related to animals; fungi are made of networks of hyphae known as mycelium. Includes mushrooms, molds and mildews, yeasts, and their relatives.

Greenwashing: A process by which a person or business or other entity overstates or even lies about the environmentally friendly qualities of a product or service; a play on the term “whitewashing.”

Guided meditation: A form of meditation that has a scripted structure guiding a person through a specific series of images or experiences in the meditation. Some are more free-form, while others follow the script very closely. In totemism, guided meditation is commonly used to help a person meet with totem animals.

Herb: A term used to refer to any plant or fungus that is used either (a) medicinally or (b) spiritually or magically. Alternately, any of a number of plants used as a seasoning (as opposed to a main ingredient) in cooking.

Hyphae: The basic building blocks of a fungus, these are tiny filaments that grow in a vast, entangled network. See also Mycelium.

Lichen: A being that is a combination of a fungus and either an algae or a cyanobacteria; usually classified in the fungus kingdom.

Mushroom: May refer to either the fruiting body of a fungus, or any of a number of species that produce these fruiting bodies.

Mycelium: The network of hyphae that make up the bulk of the body of a fungus. Unlike the fruiting body, which usually only lasts a few days, the mycelium is the permanent form of the fungus, and it generally spreads itself through whatever soil, rotting wood, or other matrix it’s growing in. Plural: mycelia.

Mycorrhiza: The symbiotic relationship between fungi and a plant’s roots. The mychorrizae are fundamental to soil health, as well as a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.

Photosynthesis: A process used by plants, cyanobacteria, and a very tiny number of animals to convert sunlight to sugars used as food. Oxygen is a byproduct of photosynthesis.

Plant: A kingdom of beings that have cells composed in part of the substance cellulose, and which obtain energy through photosynthesis. Includes angiosperms (flowering plants) and gymnosperms (cone-producing plants and others with exposed seeds), as well as ferns, mosses, and several other groups.

Totemism: Traditionally, a system utilizing animals, plants, or other beings and concepts as representatives of groups within a community such as families or clans. Totemism was originally used for group identification, as well as determining who could marry whom (usually involving a ban on marrying someone with the same totem even if there was no blood relation). The word “totem” is of Ojibwe origin, but it has been used by anthropologists to refer to similar symbolic systems across a variety of cultures. More recent nonindigenous totemisms have been more individualistic, and concerned primarily with self-improvement and reconnecting to the natural world.