Healthy Beginnings

Soul grafting: Honor the roots and deeper longings of your own being

A grafted purple leaf plum tree, seen in west Reno in July 2018, shows branches and green leaves of the wild plum rootstock taking over the tree. Courtesy photo

Are you familiar with grafted plants? Nowadays, most cultivated roses, fruit and ornamental trees have been grafted.

In grafting, a horticulturist attaches the trunk of a preferred plant variety — say an especially beautiful rose — to the rootstock of a wild and more vigorous plant of the same species. The resulting plant carries the best characteristics of both “donors,” but in a divided way. The rootstock holds the genes of one plant variety and the trunk the genes of another.

Most grafted plants are joined near the base of their stem, so it is important to plant them at the proper depth. If you plant them too deeply, then the trunk may take root or the graft may become diseased because it is in contact with the soil. Conversely, if planted too shallowly, then the wild rootstock may develop shoots and you will have a wild rose instead of the ornamental one you intended to grow.

A grafted plant has some parallels to the development of the personality, especially the persona. The persona is your public face, or the role you play within society. It is analogous to the aboveground portion of the grafted plant, for the cultivation of both is strongly influenced by what is popular or valued by society.

If homeowners want disease-resistant roses with orange and yellow blossoms, horticulturalists will do their best to graft them. Likewise, if you are raised in a family where athletic ability is strongly encouraged, you are likely to try to develop and express these characteristics in yourself.

Most children are impressionable and want the approval of parents and friends. But what happens if the pursuit of athletics runs counter to your deeper interests or calling? Sometimes we try to graft onto our true nature (our rootstock) attitudes or values that are not our own, which may interfere with the development of our real gifts. If you take on the wrong role in life, you may never fully live your life and never become the individual you were meant to be.

Not all attempted grafts survive. Sometimes, the two plant varieties are incompatible. The one rejects the other and the plant dies. But even when the two varieties composing a graft are compatible, the upper plant doesn’t grow as fast or robustly as the rootstock would if it wasn’t grafted.

In other words, the wild plant, if it is able to send up shoots, grows faster than the ornamental plant it supports. The wild rose overtakes the ornamental rose when given the chance.

The same is true of us. The persona and path that give fullest expression to your unique nature and calling yield a life that is more robust, meaningful and creative than a life lived at odds with your deeper self.

Do your best to discover and honor the deeper longings of your soul. In this way you can live in greater harmony with your true nature.

Dr. Andy Drymalski is a Nevada-licensed psychologist and Jungian psychologist in private practice in Reno and Carson City. He specializes in psychotherapy for depression; grief and loss; life transition issues; personal growth; and Jungian dreamwork. To learn more, visit or call Andy at 775-527-4585. Enjoy his blog at