R E - M Y T H I F I C A T I O N : An Inner Alchemy Practice for Creating Our Own Cosmogony + Deconditioning the Chaos of Culture

Art by Denis Sheckler

Art by Denis Sheckler

It’s the spring holidays, and as per usual, I'm struggling to find a seat at the table with ol’ patriarch Abraham, his stodgy tribesman, and their subpar wine. As an advocate for women’s health, I witness the myriad ways the central myths of our culture wind their way into our unconscious beliefs about our bodies, poisoning our well and damaging our physical and mental health in ways big and small. Whether it shows up in our sexual health, the prioritization of our needs, the right to advocate for ourselves, our reproductive freedoms, or our gender expressions, these myths are internalized, and as a result, shift how we use, tend to, and conceive of our bodies. My work in the treatment room has as much to do with rewriting the stories of our bodies as it does creating treatment plans for navigating a PCOS diagnosis or an autoimmune condition. This woman’s work (#katebush) includes unkinking the noxious knots of internalized myth so that we free up space in the body for the authentic self to emerge, allowing the authentic self to be seen AND revered, and finding ways to meet its needs and support its unfurling.

One of the ways I encourage women to do this is by identifying the core myths that shape their culture and identity, stripping them down, hoisting their legs up in stirrups, and shining a light into their innermost core. If there is a fundamental discord between your ability to thrive in your body and a foundational myth of your culture, perhaps it’s time for that myth to shapeshift into one that supports and nurtures your expression of womanhood. Or perhaps it's time for a new myth written FOR you and BY you to emerge from its ashes.

Re-mythification can wipe the poison smear of patriarchy off the body temple, and serve as a healing, reparative act of #rewilding for the soul. This is a series of exploratory questions posed by Five Element Acupuncturist + scholar Lonny Jarrett in his transcendent tao-informed tome ‘Nourishing Destiny.' I find them to be the perfect departure into the the practice of mythopoesis, forging myth + meaning in the crucible of your own imagination.

  1. What are the foundational myths of your culture?

  2. What are the meanings you have created in your own life?

  3. Are the meanings you see being created in any way related thematically to the myths of your culture?

  4. To what extent do these myths empower or diminish your mental + physical health?

The next step in this exploration might be writing yourself a creation myth, one that condenses your world view into a narrative that supports and enshrines your unique emanation of the Tao. Yes, of course you could look to the rituals and rites of pre-Abrahamic pagan cultures that worshipped the goddess and revered the witch, but I’m a staunch advocate of creating your own meaning from the stew you’re sitting in (hello, #chaosmagic). It’s innovative, radical, topical, postmodern and ancient all at once. Also, in assuming the role of the myth-maker, you don’t serve religion, religion serves you.

From WomanSpirit Quarterly

From WomanSpirit Quarterly

For inspiration, the photo above is a lesbian creation myth written by elana dykewomon (red it! It’s fierce af!) from the radical feminist quarterly WomanSpirit, Summer Solstice 1976 edition (boundless gratitude to the LA Art Book Fair and @familybooks for this rarified treasure, long-sought and much cherished). This piece is the embodiment of re-mythification, the quintessence of mythopoesis. Moses is quoted in the bible as saying “do not let a sorceress live”. Show Moses a good time! Write a creation myth! Live as if it’s the absolute truth! Create rituals with your sisters that mirror its meaning and intent! Be hungry, be curious, and if your blood sugar is low, eat the mthrfckng apple from the tree of knowledge, and don’t apologize, ever.

Ladies Who Launch with Botanarchy

Botanarchy

If you’ve ever been curious about what it’s like to run a business guided by plants + tao, mosey on over to the Beyond Yoga Blog for their ‘Ladies Who Launch’ interview with Botanarchy. Like any proper Anarcha Taoist, I fumble over embracing the nomenclature ‘female entrepreneur’, but hey, it would make my mama proud (1st generation er’rythang over here), and I think it’s important to show teenage Carolyn and teenage everyone that if you apply the principles of humanism, integrity, and respect for the flow of the natural world to the charnel grounds of late-capitalism, it can grow something beautiful + beneficial for all beings through the putrid sludge and toxic miasma. #runonsentence forever and ever.

In building Botanarchy, I looked to the same masters that I consult for guidance when mending the suffering soma + souls of my patients: the balanced beauty of the biome, the communal poetry of the boreal forest… bacteria, mycelium, trees + plants. Their models of collectivism, adaptability, resilience, and regeneration work for running a business, as well as restoring homeostasis to a life out of balance.

Also, public service announcement: ‘wellness’ is shadow work, and most certainly NOT about drinking kale smoothies in a bikini.

The Botanarchy Manifesta

Botanarchy

T H E  B O T A N A R C H Y   M A N I F E S T A  

o n 

R A D I C A L  F E M I N I S T  H E A L T H C A R E 

Botanarchy’s model of Radical Feminist Healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon medicines + institutions that are exploitive of natural resources and the body en masse. The rich, expansive palate of nature, Taoism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine provide a path that engenders a true state of bodily autonomyreacquainting us with the rhythms and cycles of our bodies and liberating us from a dependence on healthcare practices that undermine its intelligence and flow. 

Botanarchy as a concept hearkens to the idea that medicine can be both a form of resistance and a reclamation of original, authentic nature. Botanarchy offers a vision of radical feminist healthcare that is built on humanism, integrity, and respect for the flow of the natural world. Botanarchists are committed to ending the corporate co-option of the body, supporting the democratization of medicine, and empowering others to think and feel for themselves.

Every gender expression benefits from radical feminist health care. We are all suffering from being underserved in a for-profit, disease-driven model that has taken power and autonomy out of the hands of the people and put it into the hands of corporations and politicians. As shepherds of this radical feminist healthcare, we aim to rescue medicine from the patriarchy by means of the following core principles:

*Radical feminist healthcare is rooted in natural models that do not suppress the true nature of the body, enhancing connection to both the microcosm of the body and the macrocosm of the earth.

*Radical feminist healthcare is based on thousands of years of observing and revering nature, not heterosexual cis white male bodies.


*Radical feminist healthcare is tethered to natural rhythms and embraces the cycles of change. 

*Radical feminist healthcare honors both light and shadow, recognizing each phase of the creative cycle as medicine — birth, growth, harvest, death, and renewal. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is not based on an unattainable goal of ‘healing’, valuing the full spectrum of human experience instead.

*Radical feminist healthcare is age-positive, committed to providing compassionate healthcare for all stages of personhood, exulting the menstrual cycle and menopause equally as sacred passages. 

*Radical feminist healthcare refuses to industrialize the rhythms and cycles of the body.

*Radical feminist healthcare will never measure health by our ability to work harder, work longer, make more money, increase our sexual potency, feel better with less sleep, compete with each other, push beyond our means and capacity. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is against positing ‘wellness’ as maximizing our output in a capitalist labor market by increasing motivation and productivity.

*Radical feminist healthcare allows every body to define ‘wellness’ on their own terms.

*Radical feminist healthcare supports people in finding their own Tao, recovering the self not corrupted by culture. 

*Radical feminist healthcare individualizes treatment for every body as a unique emanation of the Tao, recognizing that our Tao can be thwarted by multiple forms of systemic discrimination that may block us from thriving in our personhood.

*Radical feminist healthcare is pro-autonomy, helping us recover the capacity to taste and feel and sense for ourselves. 

*Radical feminist healthcare is insistent on inner authority, and never shaming of choice.

*Radical feminist healthcare recognizes a non-binary gender spectrum beyond male and female, and is focused on balancing the masculine + feminine polarity inside all of us regardless of biological sex or gender.

*Radical feminist healthcare sees masculine + feminine as principles existing in a relationship, interdependent, working together, flowing back and forth into each other.

*Radical feminist healthcare acknowledges the emotions as aspects of disease, and is non-shaming of emotional states.

*Radical feminist healthcare is against the immediate medicating of emotions that don’t fit the dominant narratives of ‘health’ and ‘wellness’.

*Radical feminist healthcare is not fear-based and disease-driven.

*Radical feminist healthcare cultivates and value receptivity, gentleness, and subtlety. 

*Radical feminist healthcare empowers mothers and working families with the tools to take care of ourselves and our communities where the system has failed to protect and sustain us.

*Radical feminist healthcare is oriented towards freeing us from a reliance upon privatized healthcare and allopathic methods that often harm the body and undermine its innate, elegant intelligence.

*Radical feminist healthcare transmutes the darkness and discomfort of our bodies and society en masse into something new, in the alchemy of turning lead into gold.


If this manifesta speaks to you, I urge you to share it freely and wantonly! Distribute it in your communities. Demand your doctors treat you in accordance with its precepts. Love your body through the medicine of its message!

In health and solidarity, 

Carolyn

Seasonal Alchemy: The Waking Of The Insects

Lorie Dechar’s Spring Altar at our Alchemical Healing Retreat

Lorie Dechar’s Spring Altar at our Alchemical Healing Retreat

“If you listen closely, you can hear the daffodils open”

My teacher Lorie Dechar whispered this incantation into the circle on the eve of our Alchemical Acupuncture retreat, and morning brought this bellowing bouquet of awe to our altar. Where there were silent stalks, loquacious lemon florets arose, punching the clock for their job as heralds hearkening the shift from stillness to aliveness. Etheric high fives all around - we are the lucky ones that survived winter.

Yesterday marked an exquisite pivot in the Taoist alchemical year, the stirrings of Water into Wood. The shift from the chthonic consolidation of winter’s watery repose, to the courageous leap of wood bursting through dark matter, is in full effect. It’s a moment known as The Waking Of The Insects, signaling the burgeoning aliveness that happens as we collectively wake. Any and every thing in nature that has become stagnant will be re-energized by the unexpected. If you eavesdrop a little on your psyche + soma, you can hear the sap rising, the insects finding their hum.

This seasonal shift is related to Hexagram 51 of the I Ching - The Shock of the Thunderclap. Thunder brings arousal, stirring the primal forces from deep within, waking up the senses and bringing heightened awareness through the medicine of fear and the unexpected. Truly auspicious that those of us that live in the plastic pastures of LA were greeted by a thunderstorm as the insects roused from their slumbers. Do you feel the stirring?

I’m offering my patients an alchemical treatment to align with the seasonal shift - waking up the stagnant slumbering + coaxing forth the juicy sap from within to initiate momentum and moxie for the season ahead. Let’s play in the verdant field of qi together!

Be Your Own Valentine: Three Self-Love Rituals Guided By Chinese Medicine

Photo by Noemi Jimenez

Photo by Noemi Jimenez

Head on over to the resplendent Beyond Yoga Blog for Botanarchy’s seasonal alchemical alembics to awaken the heart on Valentine’s Day.

The soul of ancient Chinese medicine is the concept that the entirety of the cosmos is contained within us, and that we each have our own divine rhythm that is an emanation of the heart of the universe. The seat of this magic is our heart, and the motive force of the heart is what we call the shen spirit, the cosmic light of the universe that brings inspiration, awareness, and compassion to everything we grace.

Our hearts are on a mission to connect us with our divine path, and our self-love nourishes this mission, giving it purpose and movement through a constant barrage of trauma and disappointment. If Valentine’s Day is good at anything, it’s amplifying this disappointment, bringing the familiar pangs of loneliness, longing, and lack, reminding us of all the types of love we could be experiencing and why we aren’t. I’ve often felt that Valentine’s Day should be re-imagined as a holiday of self-love, where we direct the light of the heart inwards to reconnect to our divine path and recognize that we are already whole.

One of the gifts of this medicine is the remembrance that love needs no vessel other than the self, for we are in ecstatic communion with the universe. The infamous ‘yin yang’ symbol – also known as the taijitu or ‘supreme polarity’ – is not just the darling of mall jewelry, but also a symbolic reminder that we don’t need to be in partnership to be whole, that the self is both already complete and ever-evolving. In the yin yang symbol, opposites exist in complete harmony, two swirling teardrop shapes that fit within each other to form a perfect circle that is one, containing all the polarities of the universe- male//female, yin//yang, light//dark, sun//moon, heaven//earth, it’s all there.

Let this be a guiding light for you this Valentine’s Day, along with this smattering of practices guided by the wisdom of Chinese medicine that access the light and wisdom of the heart, and find that center of wholeness + perfection in our untarnished core. We don’t need to be in love, we already ARE love. Take that, Tinder!

Below are 3 Self-Love Rituals guided by Chinese Medicine for you to try this Valentine’s Day.

1. SHEN-GAZING
The shen, our heart spirit, is the light that illuminates the heart, bubbling over from its cauldron to shine out from our eyes. Shen-Gazing is a simple practice you can do anytime you need to connect with your inner luminescence, or meld with the transcendent values of the heart. It cultivates self-love, reminds us of our innate divinity, and helps bridge the connection between the heart and the world at large. There is no proper way to do this, and no correct amount of time to devote; simply allow yourself to witness and explore. This is the perfect opening practice for the two other rituals listed below, and also my favorite way to prepare for a date when the butterflies are abounding and the inner critic is a’yelping.

How to Perform this Ritual:

Light a candle, and sit comfortably in front of a mirror.

Gaze into your own eyes, making contact with the spark that animates you from within, the true self that lies in the depths of your being untouched by the world.

Stay gazing, greeting this spark as if it were divine, feeling the light within your eyes grow as bold as the light of the heavenly cosmos. Don’t break your own gaze – breathe, soften, stay present to the light of the shen. Merge and meld, and merge and meld, until you feel the subtle glow permeate your whole being.

2. INNER SMILE MEDITATION
This is a practice culled from the Taoist tantric arts. It melts the contraction of negative emotional energy, and helps in accepting oneself unconditionally. It is a supreme reminder that happiness and love are a choice, and that we can drop into their slipstream whenever we chose. Hello, freedom.

How to Perform this Ritual:

Sit comfortably with your spine straight, such that you are a poised conduit of energy from the earth below to the heavens above.

Take a few deep, cleansing breaths to release any judgment, stories, or stickiness that may have taken root in the body.

Close your eyes and rest your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth, so that your throat stays relaxed and your breath can flow freely.

Smile gently and honestly, deliciously yet genuinely, beginning with a sly turn-up of the lips and allowing it to blossom as it will. If you are vexed and jaded like the best of us, this may not come easy to you. Fret not! Pluck some grinning memories from the vaults until you have coaxed a suitably sublime smile onto your face.

Allow the smiling energy to spread multi-directionally, bringing the energy to the spot between your eyebrows – the third eye – the energetic locus that allows us to cut through illusion, access deeper truths, and see beyond the limitations of ego and language. Let your forehead relax, and allow the smiling energy to accumulate at the third eye point, bubbling over like an over-poured glass of champagne.

Allow the smiling energy to overflow down your face, relaxing the cheeks, nose, mouth, and all the facial muscles. Let it flow downwards through your neck, into the chambers of your heart.

Smile into your heart, filling it with compassion and joy, its cosmic companions and original bedfellows. From here, you can direct the smiling energy to each of your internal organs, or any crawl space or crevasse in your body that has wilted or waned. Allow the glowing tumescence of the smile to dissolve all stagnation and constraint, giving special attention to any spot in your body in need of healing.

Finally, direct your smiling energy to the point about 2 inches below your navel; This is your life gate, the internal alchemical furnace where we store and churn our energy and magic.

In closing, you can open your eyes, release your smile, keep it, give it away… whatever feels juicy and good. You’re on a date with yourself, after all.

3. SELF-LOVE ACUPRESSURE
Acupressure is needle-less acupuncture by the mojo and moxie of one’s own hands, a simple yet comprehensive self-care system for radiant health, balance, and well-being. Through the practice of stimulating acupuncture points on specific organ meridians, we can cultivate and harness life force energy, revitalizing the internal organs, glands, nervous system, and the bones. This foundational practice of gentle self-massage increases our capacity to skillfully cultivate, circulate, and sublimate energy throughout the body.

One can access the boundless love contained within the heart by activating points on the body that awaken and enliven the heart spirit, or shen. I will walk you through how to locate these points below. Finding an acupuncture points is a lot like finding the reflex point on your knee that gives that quintessential kick. You want to sink your fingers into the skin until you find that sweet spot, sliding your finger over that valley or mountain peak until it elicits an emotional or physical AHA! If the point you discover feels at all tender and stagnant, you will massage the point in a counter-clockwise direction, breaking up the stasis and freeing up the qi. If the acupuncture point feels lithe and empty, draw energy into the body by massaging in a clockwise motion.

Your hands are instruments of magic- put some devotion potion in there. I like to use a dab of Rose Geranium essential oil in tandem with these points, as it is a heart-opening ally with a sexy Venusian flair that brings luminous awareness of our spiritual gifts. Floracopeia is my most cherished purveyor of high vibration, high integrity oils.

How to Access 3 Heart-Activating Points:

Ren 17 “Center of Chest” 膻中

Location: Midway between the nipples in the center of the breastbone. Locate the point by drawing a straight line between the two nipples, stopping at the cleft in the center of the breastbone, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

Ren 17 rests on the body’s central axis right in the center of our being, and as such, it opens the chest helping us to love and breathe deeply. As yogis, we are well aware that breath is life, and this point helps reinforce the connection between our Lungs and our Heart. When palpated, Ren 17 can provide a deep emotional release, and if you feel frantic and scattered like a box of lightning and chaos, this point helps resolve anxiety and panic attacks, quell heart palpitations, and regulate erratic breathing.

Heart 7 “Spirit Gate” 神門

Location: On the wrist wrinkle of the inner crease of the wrist, just below the palm, at on the pinky-finger end beside the ropey tendon. Locate the point by turning your hand over so the palm is facing up, then apply downward pressure to the spot at the pinky corner of the wrist, just next to the tendon, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

Heart 7 can help merge the divide between the heart and the mind, center us in our heart, and access the wisdom of the shen. I love using this point when I need to think and act with my heart, come home to roost in the infinite wisdom inside me, and tap into freedom of expression as governed by my true purpose. This point is also great for nourishing a weary heart in those of us suffering from burn-out.

Pericardium 6 “Inner Barrier” 內關

Location: Three finger breaths above the wrist on the inner forearm in the space between the two tendons. Locate the point by turning your hand over so the palm is facing up, then apply downward pressure between the two tendons, massaging and stimulating the area in 4-5 second intervals.

The Pericardium is the ‘Heart Protector’ meridian, and as such, is likened to the keeper of the castle gate who discerns who orwhat is allowed to enter or leave the inner domain of the heart. Acupressure on Pericardium 6 helps inspire healthy boundaries in relationships and beyond, and like a spry acupuncture adaptogen, it can be used to open our hearts when they have closed in reaction to past pains, and to shore up our heart’s castle walls when we are the walking wounded. It is an excellent point to calm a restless heart and quiet the mind.
— Beyond Yoga

Medicine Woman Crush: Marcia Lopez of Women's True Healing

Marcia Lopez of Women’s True Healing in Redondo Beach

Marcia Lopez of Women’s True Healing in Redondo Beach

Marcia laid her hands upon my womb, incanting “Our blood comes from our ancestors, and all their prayers are there. We take that blood and make it ours.”

We spent the next hour working through the noxious knots that a life of accumulated traumas have wound deep within my womb, choking me from the inside out.

After the death of my mother, I found myself waking up in a hot sweat a few nights a week clutching my womb in crippling pain. Even though I spend the bulk of my days wildly eschewing all heteronormative notions of ‘geriatric pregnancy’ (literally the medical term for pregnancy in women over 34) whilst talking baby-making atop the ruins of a toppling patriarchy with my radically non-normative cabal of patients, mine is a lineage of womb struggle, and occasionally I am gripped by fears of the creeping maladies that haunt many of us gals of ‘advanced reproductive age’ (can we get some new terminology, S'il vous plaît?!). 

My mother had her ovaries irradiated in the 1960’s as part of an experimental radiation treatment for fibroid tumors and dermoid cysts (side note- didn’t work! V dangerous! Would not recommend, negative 5 stars). Not only was the procedure unsuccessful in treating her tumors, it left her with only one functional ovary, and after having me at 38 she had a full hysterectomy shortly thereafter. As I approach 38, in a cosmic partnership with a radical man who dreams of raising our future brood of anarcha-taoists, I wrestle with fears that their tiny dissident souls won’t find repose in my strangled womb. These fears are visceral, they wind themselves in cats cradles through my pelvis, spinning webs of rebar and shrapnel around my organs, choking my womb of all its vital qi. One of my teacher plants alerted me to a massive, throbbing knot in my pelvis during a medicine ceremony this spring, at which point a multi-armed Kali Ma emerged from my pelvic bowl, and wandered naked through the charnel lands vomiting up rainbows of patriarchal sludge whilst trying to castrate every man in the room with a rusted shank (these things happen to a Botanarchist from time to time). The knot grew more gnarled and angry by the minute. The knot has become a ball, the ball a fist, the fist a giant mass of impenetrable tissue that won’t breakdown despite my best efforts. Old tricks ain’t working. 

I met Marcia - a bodywork therapist specializing in Mayan abdominal massage - nearly ten years ago through a radical collective of women called the Deusas brought together by our mutual friend @zipstump. As unferal women safely nestled in the styrofoam bosom of modernity, most of us don’t have much idea of our fertility resources beyond our yearly PAP and the odd convo with a typically terse & nonchalant OBGYN about how birth control is our lord and savior (you don’t take it?! Mon dieu!) that solves every problem from irregular menstruation to melting polar ice caps. If you didn’t know where to look, few sanctioned therapies appear to exist for ‘idiopathic pelvic pain,’ irregular menstruation, and their bothersome ilk. However, The medicine-tenders of indigenous cultures knew a thing or two about how to support fertility beyond the pharmaceutical interventions that are the hallmark of western culture. Mayan abdominal therapy can support more regular periods, confidence conceiving, empowered pregnancy, optimized gynecological and pelvic health, stronger post-baby recovery and a smoother menopause. The technique decongests and realigns vital organs to help resolve digestive, gynecological and pelvic health concerns and it can dramatically enhance fertility. 

Marcia is a goddess-shepherd of this powerful medicine, and through her work I have come to find softening where there was hardness, renewed ease in my cycle, and confidence in conception. Today I bow to her, my dear medicine woman, as I gaze upon the results of my textbook perfect abdominal ultrasound in awe. Big love, sister.

A Fervent Orison to Dale Pendell, Saint Of Botanarchy

The Illustrious Dale Pendell

The Illustrious Dale Pendell

I recently gave my love a book from Dale Pendell’s ‘Pharmako/Poeia’ trilogy to take on a wild sojourn to the hinterlands of the American southwest, a land that I remember Dale calling - in his effortlessly apropos patois - The Realm Of Coarse and Dry Things. In handing over the book, I was overcome with glee, and I might have even audibly yelped (though for certain I visibly swooned), for I longed to hollow out a tiny hovel in his heart and crawl in, such that I could relive the magic of being an enraptured audience to Dale’s genius for the first time.

To read Dale Pendell is to walk a blustery, brackish coastline with your hands stashed away in the coat pockets of the numinous. Dale was a fugitive of beyondness, the Poet Of Plants, the Patron Saint of the Poison Path and of trespassing psychonauts the world over, a modern day Paracelsus with oodles more panache and peyote and infinitely more charm. A poet, DIY pharmacologist, living exemplar of ethnobotany, and anarchist, his work is a compendium of mythology, pharmacology, neuroscience, poetry, and anthropology, and his books on psychoactive plants are sweeping prayers to the arcane, mythopoetic field guides to navigating plant medicines like an alchemist bandit. A true chaos magician, he taught that the only way to understand plants is through becoming a living steward of their ecstasies, venoms, and medicines, gnostic Botanarchy at its most and least refined. I doubt I would be doing this work were it not for him, because prior to reading his books, I thought that practicing medicine meant that I would have to let the poet inside of me die forever, a viking funeral on a flaming canoe. Dale taught me that there is absolutely no reason I can’t mix molecular biology with beat poetry, orphic hymns with Ipomoea seeds, irreverence with the dead serious and austere. His work and legacy is a fertile valley, the dankest of crescents. 

Dale Pendell passed away on Saturday. The evening before he ascended, we were ruminating on how it felt as if Dale were presiding over our courtship like the psychonaut grandpa we never had, prodding us to go deeper, be flagrant, grandiose, unabashedly experimental, genre-bending, wild… reminding us that life is but a living mythopoesis, so be MYTHIC, for crying out loud. We fell in love in cahoots with the cadence of his voice, his words were our field guide in traversing the badlands of boundarylessness… transgress, make it up, surrender fully to sensation with utter contempt for context or categorization. Go to that tangled place in the creosote, eat the dangerous seeds, see the face of God in your lover, learn why the Christian mystics say there are three amens. And write it all down. Always write it down and give it to the one you love the most. 

“Time to close the  books. Time to open the library of the world.”

Will do, Dale, will do. May my work be a perpetual hymn to you, my most cherished teacher. 

Etheric Vitality ///// Immense Grace @ Ra Ma Institute

Etheric Vitality

Sisters,

I will be in humble service to grace and radiance this weekend, teaching the Taoist mystery traditions of female qi cultivation at RA MA Institute’s Immense Grace Weekend with Guru Jagat & Friends. Come get the yin nectars a’flowing and bask in your birthright as an eternal enchantress!

ETHERIC VITALITY

Yogic Secrets to Deep Radiance

An Immense Grace Weekend with Guru Jagat & Friends

January 12-13, 2018.

.

FRIDAY JANUARY 12, 2018

7:00pm - 10:00pm

An Immense Grace Special Evening with Harjiwan, Guru Jagat, & Gurujas

.

SATURDAY JANUARY 13, 2018

9:00am - 6:00pm

An Immense Grace Full Day with Guru Jagat - Kundalini Yoga, Meditation & Women’s Practice with Guru Jagat

-Yogic Nutrition Demos with @harmonjotkaur . .

-Anti-Inflammatory Cortisol Release & Self-Massage with @shabadpreet11 . .

-Jade Guasha Facial Fascia Lifts and Group Radiance Adjustment with Carolyn Barron of @botanarchy . .

.

Friday Drop In $70 Advance / $75 Day Of * In-Person or Online RA MA TV PPV*

Full Weekend $225 Advance / $250 Day Of *In-Person Only*

//

Tickets in @ramainstitute

Winter Solstice: There's A Darkness on the Edge of Town

Winter Solstice

Despite the whitewashed glitz of tinsel, Bing Crosby, and the ever elusive ‘getting what you want’, the winter solstice holidays are really all about the discomfort of a precipice, the disorientation of decomposition, and the exploration of the liminal boondocks between darkness and light. Liminal means “relating to a transitional stage” or “occupying a position at both sides of a boundary,” and the shadowy magic of liminal states lie in their ability to be brazenly nebulous, threatening the sense of equilibrium and unambiguousness that our binary-bound, homeostatic fleshsuits crave. Our ancestors turned the distress and unease of lying in wait under the shadow of a darkened sun into ribald celebrations of death and rebirth, where social hierarchies were reversed or temporarily dissolved (here’s looking at you, Saturnalia!), and bloodied sacrifices were made to hasten the return of the sun. 

’Tis the season of nigredo, the alchemical Darkness On The Edge of Town, the first stage of the Great Work where the fixed gets dissolved by the volatile. Nigredo - sometimes translated as ‘blacker than the blackest black’ - is a liminal phase shift that putrefies the shadowy morass of the ‘dark night of the soul,’ and through discomfort and decomposition, condenses it into light. It’s the alchemical version of Christmas- the return of the Sun King that only the tenebrous coupling of chaos and the unknown can provide. Perhaps I’m no more than an aging goth with a penchant for Jung and fifty shades of black, but this to me is the true spirit of Christmas. 

A few ideas for exploring the divine discomfort of transition & liminality this holiday season: Prostrate yourself in front of the dying sun on the edge of a precipice, a border between the here and there… where the sand meets the sea, an ominous crossroads worthy of a Robert Johnson yarn, a lawless bordertown at the terminus of a highway, the 8th stair in a 16-stair stairwell. When you are positioned on a hinge between the density of the past and an amorphous future, where do you lean? When there is ambiguity and disorientation, what sort of things come up? Find a waiting room in which you have no set appointment and sit in it until you become wildly uncomfortable with anticipation. Incant Yeats’ ‘Rosa Alchemica’ at the mouth of the La Brea tar pits whilst a rogue street pigeon is disentangling itself from the tarry mire. Have someone tie you to a tree in the middle of the woods and trust that the knots will find their way loose. Let a stranger blindfold you and walk you home. Go ahead, tell them your address. Ride an elevator for an entire day. Light one white candle under the cloak of darkness in a coyote den on the outskirts of Elysian Park, and sing Springsteen’s ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ at the top of your lungs like it is holy writ. When you come to the part that goes - “Everybody’s got a secret, Sonny, something that they just can’t face. Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it, they carry it with them every step that they take” - blow out the candle. Make like the Hanged Man of the major arcana and suspend yourself upside down for a distressing duration of time, unwinding into the discomfort of the upended, yielding to surrender. What condenses in the darkness and discomfort? Can you attune to sensation without assigning it roles? Can you keep it opaque? Is the waiting the hardest part?

Whatever emerges from this explorations of enigma, let’s lean into the darkness together. 

Goji Schisandra Lemonade

Goji Schisandra Lemonade

In Chinese herbal therapy, sour & astringent herbs have the energetic quality of ‘consolidating’ our qi and precious body fluids from leaking out of the body. They are useful for sheltering our three treasures - jing, qi, and shen - firmly within the body temple, and securing what is lost after a ribald summer bacchanal of profuse sweating, bleeding, urination, extravagant orgasming, or fatigue after indulging in supernatural amounts of sexual activity. Taoist medicine folk of yore likened the wonders of astringent herbs to a ’turtle pulling back into oneself’, their magic being that of conservation and condensation. Seeing as summer is all about oozing fluids with wild abandon, worshiping ancient sun gods, and flagrantly squandering our immortality, sour and astringent medicines like Schisandra Berry and Lemon can help guard our vital fluids and protect us from the dangers of over-sweating. This rubicund elixir immortelle is gonna be on tap all summer long at the Baroness Homestead, because if theres one thing I do with gusto, its drop fluids like its hooooot. Method:

2 Tablespoons Schisandra Berries

4 Tablespoons Goji Berries

2 Tablespoons Aloe Juice

1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (thank you for the epic lemon haul, @kjirby and @natashawheat!)

4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

A Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Quart Spring Water

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simmer the Goji Berries and Schisandra in spring water for 30 minutes, strain, add your various accoutrements with gusto, let cool, ice it up, and drink in dewy dankness!

Holy Rolling! Facial Gua Sha for Gettin' the Glow

Facial Gua Sha

Ahhhh, the cerulean splendor of a cool slab o' seagreen jade swept sultrily across the face during a sweltery summer heatwave to soothe those lock-jawed, teeth-clenching, fever dream-drunk, heat-vexed blues. Call it what you will - beauty qigong, facial rejuvenation, holy rolling - this resplendent routine of face-melting mirth culled from the annals of traditional Chinese medicine is most certainly the manna of immortal Taoist poetry.

Gentle, upward strokes along the facial meridians performed with a jade guasha tool can help move lymphatic fluids, drain puffiness, relax tight facial muscles and fascia, and boost blood and qi flow to the skin. It also improves the skins hydration and circulation, which can glamor you with a youthful glow that betrays the reality of moon-drunk all nighters spent knocking back body shots of Reishi and bumps of cordyceps. One of the myriad things I love about the medicine I practice is the DIY ethos that permeates through it. There is so much hot tech that doesn't require the prowess of a doctor or the savvy of years spent in clinical practice. In fact, the most refined medicines are those which you can give to yourself, in heavy rotation, on the daily... gigoing, nutrition, meditation, guasha, healthy sex. For anyone interested in how to perform DIY facial guasha, I will be hosting a workshop on Taoist women's self care later this summer. Details coming soon!

Botanarchy’s Radical Feminist Healthcare Is Exactly What We Need Right Now

I don’t think there’s a one size fits all approach to medicine,” says Carolyn Barron confidently, as we sip jiaogoulong tea in her sunny, Los Angeles office. Barron is the co-founder of Botanarchy, a radical healthcare clinic whose mission is simply to supply “botanical medicine for body autonomy”. The chic, white jumpsuit that Barron sports in lieu of a white lab coat is an apt metaphor for her disruptive perspective, one that eschews traditional Western medicine in a manner that has become increasingly important as healthcare (especially women’s healthcare) comes under fire.

“I think of this as a feminist model of healthcare– but one that’s open to all genders,” Barron continues. “When I say ‘feminist model,’ I mean it’s separate from that patriarchal, old guard [world] of medicine, where it’s disease-driven, dogma-laden, and kind of shaming– shaming of choice, shaming of autonomy, shaming of lifestyle. It’s a more intuitive approach that’s individualistic and treats the root causes of disease instead of doing symptom management,” she explains. “It focuses on autonomy, choice, and teaching patients how to change their own life and their own health,” she continues. “The idea is that they will go on and pass that on to their family, their community.
— Garden Collage Magazine
Carolyn Barron

Boundless gratitude to Garden Collage Magazine for interviewing this Botanarchist on body autonomy, botanical medicine, and how feminist models of healthcare are the future of sustainable medicine. Read the full article here.

Photos by the resplendent @mollybeauchemin

Community Acupuncture 🌑 Healing Circle

Community Acupuncture

Join Carolyn Barron L.Ac of Botanarchy Herbs and Acupuncture for a community acupuncture healing circle using the power of acupuncture and the wisdom of herbs to shift minds and bodies. In this healing circle, you will receive group acupuncture tailored toward your individual needs and constitution, in a nurturing and supportive environment. We will sip healing elixirs and talk shop about how to support and empower the body using the numinous dynamism of herbalism and traditional Chinese medicine. This is an excellent opportunity to try a new healing modality, receive low-cost holistic healthcare, and to engage with community in a healing and proactive way. Please sign up in advance through the BE Hive at www.thebehive.us, and email carolyn@botanarchy.com to schedule your time slot. Let's get (meta)physical!

Community Acupuncture Healing Circle 

6/7/17 from 6:30-8:30 pm

The BE Hive

6427 W. Sunset Blvd.

Hollywood, CA 90028

$40 pre-sale, $50 at the door

Botanarchy on 'That's So Retrograde'!

Botanarchy

Thank you to the budding Botanarchist babes of @soretrograde for having me on their podcast this week!  Such a pleasure to while away the afternoon discussing Botanarchy and how to 're-wild' medicine by waking up to the wonders of internal and external nature, reminding ourselves of our ferocious latent powers and reconnecting with the seeds of our quieted magic. If you long to hear me natter on about dismantling cultural conditioning and accessing our true natures through traditional Chinese medicine, have a gander on iTunes or the That's So Retrograde website!

✊🏻

Spring Clearing + Manifestation Workshop with Hypnosis + Esoteric Acupuncture

Our Spring Clearing and Manifestation Workshop at @wmn_space was featured in @gardencollage magazine!

🌷

This Sunday 3/26 from 4p-6p

Link in bio for sign ups and more details. Hope to see you there, dear ones!

*************

This two-hour workshop will offer deep active meditation and sacred geometry acupuncture (an esoteric acupuncture pattern) to “support an energetic reset and prepare for the spring season” to “assist you in recognizing your personal life path, and in doing so… bring clarity to setting goals and making life decisions”.

Sacred Geometry Acupuncture, for those new to the craft, is a very special, bespoke form of healing. From the event listing: “This pattern and active meditation was designed to open doors that previously seemed closed, allowing you to unlock and release that which is ‘stuck’ in your energetic body, psyche, and spirit. This treatment helps you change the core programming that is affecting your life and your body, allowing you to manifest a new sense of self. This group workshop is designed to help anyone who wants to create change and be in the flow of their daily life. The active meditation tools provided will support you in creating a sense of serenity. When you flow with transformation, you can genuinely feel empowered, stronger, and authentically happier. All issues are welcome!”

Spring Equinox Yoni Egg Meditation

My most cherished qigong ritual you can use to bro down with the nascent magic of your Ovarian Palace and align with the potent gestational power of the shifting spring season. Throw a yoni egg in the mix to add a hefty dose of fertile spring mojo and cosmic egg medicine!

1. Sit quietly with the eyes closed in a comfortable seated position, with the hands in Yoni Mudra, forming a downward triangle over the ovaries. 

2. Begin by doing a few rounds of Ujjayi ‘throat breathing’, rasping the breath over the throat, making an ocean-like sound with your tongue resting on your palate, mouth closed and lips soft.

3. Focus your loving attention on the ovaries until you feel their energy expand and become warm. 

4. As you breathe in, gently contract the opening to the yoni using your kegel muscles, and as you breathe out relax the muscles. Use your mind, breath, and muscles to do this gently. This motion draws qi and energy into the Ovarian Palace (the Taoist name for the womb, essentially the mid-point between ovaries), allowing more and more qi to gather here with each out breath.

5. Continue pumping qi into the Ovarian Palace using your yoni muscles, and begin to collect the warm energy in your ovaries like a vessel filling with honey.

6. As this energy builds, you can start to allow the Ovarian Qi to flow down to the perineum, and then gently pump this qi up the back of the body to the brain. 

7. Spiral this potent qi inside the brain to allow it to charge up all the master glands. Spiral 9 times counter clockwise and then 9 times clockwise, breathing normally. Don’t feel the need to be too exact about this. Experiment with the energy in a way that feels natural and organic.

8. When you feel the energy potently spiraling in the brain, on an out-breath, allow the qi to flow back down the front midline, and either send it around the orbit again, or finish by gathering and storing the qi into the womb.

9. Breathe deeply, smiling unconditional love into the Ovarian Palace.

🌷

Yoni Care + DIY Gynecology Workshop

Yoni Care

With our bodies under ceaseless attack and our rights to healthcare perpetually threatened, there has never been a more crucial time to enter into dialogue about women's health and self-governance. How do we take care of ourselves when the system fails to protect and sustain us? What resources do we have to promote healthy cycling and family planning beyond our yearly check up and the limits of conventional medicine? How have traditional medicines sustained generations of women and nurtured their bodies from maiden to mother to crone? How can we claim agency over our own reproductive health, and engender a state of true bodily autonomy?

Join Carolyn Barron L.Ac of Botanarchy Herbs & Acupuncture for a Valentine's workshop on yoni care and DIY gynecology. We will imbibe women's elixirs, commune with herbal allies, discuss cycling, menstrual health, yoni eggs, vaginal steaming, and holistic strategies for gynecological and reproductive health. Class will commence with a yoni clinic to address your most sordid gynecological queries. Class space is limited, so please email carolyn@botanarchy.com to register in advance. 

Yoni Care + DIY Gynecology 

Sunday 2/12/17 from 6 - 9 pm

Window Of The Sky

4706 Eagle Rock Boulevard

Los Angeles, CA 90041

$40

In support of reproductive health for all.

Herbal Allies: Honeysuckle + Forsythia

Honeysuckle and Forsythia

Paired together, these acrimonious accomplices coagitate and conspire to  entangle upper respiratory infections like colds, flu's, bronchitis, and sore throats in their vivacious vines. These two toxic avengers provide the brawny backbone for one of the ancestral Chinese pharmacopoeia's most judicious antibiotic herbal formulas, Yin Qiao. They release heat pathogens from the body, quell toxicity, and have been decocted by the initiated masses for thousands of years to treat wind-heat conditions, influenza, and viral infections. Recent clinical trials have shown that honeysuckle tea exhibits broad-spectrum antiviral and antibiotic activity, suppressing the effects of influenza virus in mice, effectively acting as a "virologocal penicillin". If a turn of phrase like "virological penicillin" gets you all hot and bothered in a panty drenching swoon, then boil yourself a pot of honeysuckle forsythia tea and drink it throughout the day, or decoct in a hot rice porridge or congee for a DIY flu shot. Lemon and honey will smooth over the acerbic edges, but the tea's poignant puissance will never fully acquiesce. But you want your medicine to be grizzled not chiseled - 'tis the season for prevention!

Yoni 🌟Yoga

Yoni Eggs

If you long to be initiated into the Mystery School of the Pelvic Floor, do yourself a favor and dive beave first into a Yoni Egg practice. As a dearly devoted DIY gynecologist and eminent vaginamancer, believe me when I say that vaginal kung fu is real and it will change your life one kegel at a time. I started my Yoni Egg practice with this glowing orb of sweet seraphic rose quartz, with the intention of bro-ing down with my pubo-coccygeus muscles to dive deeper into my meditation and Ashtanga yoga practices. The goal was to cultivate and refine my Mula Bandha, the pelvic root lock that begins at the perineum and extends inwards to the deepest embryonic abdominal muscles, locking all that juicy qi into the body and moving that sweet auric nectar from the tailbone up the spine. While my initial motivation was to be able to hold poses deeper and longer and leap into inversions with sprightly grandeur, I soon came to understand that the pelvic floor is quite literally the cradle of our nascent magic. By mastering its mercurial muscular mirth and learning to control it at will, you can harness its regenerative power to accomplish the impossible (and up the #orgasm ante while you're at it, for the love of infinite ecstasy). Yoni eggs have a rich tradition in Taoist alchemy & medicine (peregrinate upon some Mantak Chia if you'd like a primer in this Jade Egg juju), with yoni eggs being used to improve physical and spiritual health by moving sexual energy inward and upward, alchemically transforming it into germinal spiritual mana in your body's own alchemical altar. On the western front, toning the urigenital and pelvic diaphragms helps ease childbirth and menstruation, prevents organ prolapse, tonifies the sex organs, aids in postpartum recovery, ignites the libido, stops urinary incontinence, and alights witch powers heretofore unspoken. Vaginamancy and Yoni Eggs: coming soon to Botanarchy. 🔮

Herbal Allies: Huang Lian /// Coptis Root

Coptis Root

This golden, auric wonder glows like a honey-dipped sun, but under its florid veneer it shrouds a lethal combination of antibiotic and anti-inflammatory moxie engulfed in an acerbic matrix of bitter oomph. Coptis is, quite possibly, the bitterest herb I have ever tasted. Long enshrined in traditional medicine for its ability to treat conditions associated with excess dampness, inflammation, and heat, its bitterness is the key to its effectiveness. The bitter taste and yellow hue indicate the presence of berberine, an alkaloid with strong antibiotic effects that effectively drains excess and heat from the body. In test tube studies, berberine was shown to inhibit the growth of streptococcal bacteria responsible for some forms of pneumonia, and it exhibits broad-spectrum antibacterial and antiviral activity (take that, o meager single-minded flu shot!) that supports the use of coptis to treat skin, mouth, eye, gastrointestinal, and vaginal infections. A robust stalwart of heavy-hitter herbal prescriptions, Coptis takes on staphylococcus, strains of streptococcus, hepatitis B, salmonella, SIBO, cholera, and its motto is basically “I can handle all this jelly.” ALL HAIL.