I have seen exactly one castor tree in my life so far. It was in Arizona, and the young tree caught my eye because it seemed to physically glow compared to all the pale shrubbery around it.
In a land that looked desolate, as far as the eye could see, there was this vivid, healthy plant with leaves the size of baby elephant ears with 9 distinct tips on them.
When I first saw it, I interrupted the person I was walking with and asked, "What kind of plant is that?"
"Oh, that's a *I stepped on a stick and the crack makes me miss the next word*. That's where the poison ricin comes from. Super toxic, but only if consumed. Still, I wouldn't touch it."
So I didn't touch it.
Yet the tree kept coming to mind -- for months and even a year -- after I saw it. And my next thought was always that I should have asked to hear the name of the tree a second time so I knew how to look it up when I got home.
Because, I don't know if you've ever done an internet search from plants with 9 leaves, but I can tell you that, you're going to see a lot of hemp and cannabis leaves on your way to texting a person you haven't seen in over a year and asking them what the plant was with the 9 tips on its leaves.
Don't worry, I already did that awkward text exchange for you, so we can fast-forward to the part where I inform you the plant I saw basking in the sun in Arizona was a castor tree. I also learned that the tree I saw is long gone. It has rejoined the dirt it came from and is on its path to becoming something else.
Yet, when I saw it, the little tree was growing in the desert like it was royalty. And the memory of it remains a vibrant silhouette in my mind like a muse that wants to play a part in a story.
So I'm making the castor tree an official Z totem, like the Nom Ouroboros and the IndiGOAT.
Starting now, and with you as my witness, I declare this castor leaf one of the holy plants of the House of Z.
The castor tree is considered holy because it can brighten your way and smooth your path -OR- drag you through the pits of hell until you are dead. Depending on how you use it.
It punishes and deters those who don't understand it while rewarding good students that handle it with respect.
And I don't think the superpowers of a plant get much holier than that.
As a totem, the castor leaf is also a reminder that holy things are often appear to be something sinister to the inexperienced eye. And, the inexperienced -- thinking it knows -- reacts to a myth associated with their disguise.
It's quite genius deflection, actually. Which is why I really leaned into this effect when drawing the totem.
My first draft used a healthy, adult leaf as a model (before switching to a baby castor leaf as the model). But I was a few minutes into drawing that when I realized it might end up having a bit of a clam effect when viewed as a silhouette.
And I didn't want people think, Maybe it's a green clam.
No. It's a castor leaf. And castor leaves have 9 points on them. And 9 is close to 7, which is what a cannabis leaf has. But most people won't notice details like that at a glance. Our brains aren't designed to -- not when they think they know.
Which is why the castor leaf is such a great totem for those who wish to explore their assumptions.
This is strong medicine can light your path forward like castor oil once lit Egyptian lamps, or it can open a little hellgate for those who choose to swallow their assumptions as a point of blind faith that they are eternally correct.
This kind of medicine can be intense for some people, which is why many suggest easing into this totem by displaying it in a personal space, like a room, house, or car, before ever wearing it on your person.
Maybe someone who sees the totem will know exactly that it is the moment they see it and you'll have a great conversation about whether the totem works.
Maybe someone will see the totem and give you a sermon about slippery slopes and avoiding the appearances of evil at all costs.
Maybe 100% of everyone says nothing about it, ever.
Maybe a lot of things.
Point is: It's a castor leaf. And its totem are an invitation to explore assumptions best replaced with education and experience. And, when you're ready, it's a great totem to wear or carry with you if you want to invite interesting, inquisitive, and flirtatious strangers into your life.