Earth Rx - Elemental Reading List

Botanarchy Herbs + Acupuncture

Earth House Hold: The poet laureate of the Archaic Revival

Pharmako/Poeia: On the poetry + power of poison plants. Dale Pendell is Gaia’s consort, and he sampled every psychotropic plant upon her vast countenance so that you don’t have to. #yourewelcome

Apocalyptic Witchcraft: The witch was created by the land to speak and act for it

Queer Ecologies - Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire: Queer interrogations that subvert + transform heteronormative nature relations

The Alexandria Quartet - Bodies and landscapes colliding in the Alexandrian sun, sumptuous word-drunk fiction to be read in the blaze of a late summer repose

Tao Te Ching: A 2500 year-old manifesto on rewilding (and the entire basis of Chinese medicine) that reads like a Taoist handbook for crafting a temporary autonomous zone with feminist flourishes from Le Guin

Treatise On The Spleen + Stomach: Digestive medicine from Earth School Grand Magus Li Dong-Yuan, written over 800 years ago but still r-a-d-i-c-a-l

Healing With Whole Foods: Elemental nutrition for balancing the internal ecosystem

In The Realm Of Hungry Ghosts: Rewiring the maladaptive compulsions of human cravings + addiction

How Much Land Does A Man Need: My best friend + Slavic Soul Brotha #borisdralyuk translates Tolstoy’s tiny folktale on the impossibility of satisfying desire

Borderlands/La Frontera: Transcending cultural tyranny within a topography of displacement, a Chicana activist’s reflections on borders both geopolitical + conceptual. Now, more than ever. 

Caliban And The Witch: The enslavement of the female body via capitalism + the enclosure of the common lands

The Parable Of The Sower/Earthseed #1: Adaptation + working together in the throes of the slow apocalypse we are all ensconced in that barely reads like fiction at this point

Deep Ecology: Living as if nature mattered

Walden and Civil Disobedience: A stodgy old white dude contemplates nature and writes loquacious earth porn about resistance + simplicity, both ‘meh’ and ‘still good’

Earth Rx - Elemental Mixtape

Botanarchy Herbs + Acupuncture

An ode to Gaia and her golden kin, this elemental mixtape is a cosmic etching upon her great countenance, an alchemical distillation of sunflowers and saudade, a solemn soliloquy to the receding waves of summer and how we make *home*upon her grand facade. Bop bop bop bop, bop bop bop bop, this is planet earth, you’re looking at planet earth.

Invitations for use: Use this mixtape to nation-build with the elementals, forming coalitions with the air, water, and soil (vow to protect them with your magic!). Play it whilst reposing under a taciturn tree, watching the interplay of golden light and shadow upon your skin. Use it to ruminate upon the inter-connectedness of all life at the close of a boozy picnic at dusk (you drank too much AGAIN). Fan yourself on the porch during an Indian summer heatwave while this wafts through the willowy curtains. Make like Dylan Thomas and use it to rage against the dying light. Link to Spotify playlist here! ⼟

Earth Rx - Elemental Acupressure: Spleen 21 The Great Enveloper

Image: Kyle Thompson

Image: Kyle Thompson

Debra Kaatz, in the resplendent ‘Taoist Tales of Acupuncture Points’, translates Spleen 21 ‘Da Bao' 大包 as ‘A Vast and Extensive Containment’ or a ‘Big Cuddling Embrace’.  This is the point I choose when my patients need to remember that they are nourished, safe, contained, and held, supported by both the vast reserves of their bodies and the grace of the all-encompassing tao. The energetics of some points are subtle, but this one has a rich, warm, spreading sensation, almost as if Earth herself was holding you close in a bower of leaves and mulch. I liken it to the arms of a lover around your waist as the sun crowns in a late summer meadow, except better, because romantic love never lasts but the ardor of Earth is eternal.

Located on the mid-axillary line below the holy hallows of the armpit in the 6th intercostal space, you can rest your palms here whence engulfing yourself in an embrace of devotional self-love. Or, you can declare your body a safe space + sovereign nation by activating this point with self-qigong, rubbing your hands together until you feel flickers of electric qi shooting betwixt them, and then placing them upon The Great Enveloper whilst ensconcing yourself in a gravity blanket of protective Earth qi. If you want to hear me wax poetically on the hot tech of Spleen 21, I lead a guided acupressure meditation on its majesty at the close of my episode on the @magickvibes podcast, which you can find in the ethers here.

Kaatz sermonizes on the services of Great Enveloper, describing it as the point where “we can dive deep within the wonders of our Mother Earth and feel her vast and extensive containment. It is here the spleen enriches us with all its great vitality and dynamic movement, the place that everything within us is connected to the Mother Earth with her great care, stability, warmth, and nourishment. In this great enveloping embrace we can feel secure and come back into balance to receive the warmth and care that we need.” Acupressure re-parenting, anyone?

Earth Rx - On Dampness

Image: @archillect

Image: @archillect

Dampness is humidity in the internal ecosystem, manifesting as things that are puffy, sticky, and heavy… think lethargy, lumps, bumps, boredom, brooding, bloating, mucus, phlegm, water retention, accumulation, and aggregation. It likes to perturb the Earth element with such illustrious foes as diarrhea, sticky stool, nausea, and loss of appetite.


Per my oft-quoted dude Lonny Jarrett, “dampness is an accumulation of everything that should have nourished us but has instead transformed into burden.” Think of a tree holding onto rotten fruit, or a fridge hoarding exotic condiments past their expiration date whose monetary and utilitarian value have long since soured (Earth Rx bonus ritual - clean your fridge! I’m sure my shui sorceress @meghan.wallace.james would approve). Dampness slows things… thoughts, processes, metabolisms both psychological and physical. This is how Late Summer is distinct from Early Summer, which is marked by its speed, joie de vivre, and robust quickening.


Dampness often rears its heavy head in folx that find it difficult to say ‘no’, continually ensnaring themselves - begrudgingly, yet brusquely - in the projects, dramas, and predicaments of other people, taking on an excess share of the collective weight of the world. And dampness also calls into question resource hoarding + guarding. Have you ever watched your dog lament over its bone? Transfixed by its power, they become unwilling to let it out of their sight even for a moment to entertain the basic, joyful needs of the body, like going for a walk, jumping on the bed for head scritchies, running to the door to greet strangers. It becomes a talisman of inertia, a burdensome object that impedes joy + flow. So many of my commitments were once this very thing.  


Do you hold onto things because of their perceived value, but feel the weight of these ephemeral widgets is actually slowing you down? RELEASE THEM UNTO THE EARTH. It’s day 1 of Autumn, the season of droppin’ leaves and sickle-bearing reapers - shedding excess weight on this cusp is part and parcel.


Earth Rx - Communing With The Gut-Mind

Botanarchy

If you’re feeding your Earth responsibly and still experiencing digestive duress, or feel like old tricks ain’t working, I leave you with a slew of #earthelement reframes for intuitive eating that can separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff, and guide you in the direction of waking up your receptive and instinctual gut-mind:

Are you allowing the Earth to provide for you? 

Are you approaching her bounty with reverence, slowing down to receive it, tuning in to how it may support or hinder the unfolding of your Tao? 

Are you sublimating unmet needs through compulsive corn chip consumption (I’m guilty as charged)? 

Are you looking to food for sympathy? 

Do you have stable rituals around food, feeding yourself in congruence with the needs of your day so that you can provide for your emotional and physical labor? 

Are you warming your center, keeping your earth warm like a swaddled child?

If any of this resonates and feels like it needs further unpacking, you might want to enlist the wisdom + wiles of your acupuncturist to work on fortifying your center. I’ll also be sharing some DIY acupressure treatments for boosting Earth mojo later this week.  

Earth Rx - On The Spirit Of Food

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

It is not easy to recognize and choose good nourishment of any kind if the spontaneous and receptive instinctual part of us is numb and neglected. 

- Jean Shinoda Bolen

As someone who has the privilege of tending to bodies and secrets, I know how deep and vast our wounds with Earth run, expressing themselves through disordered and dysregulated eating. Let’s get something straight - If we are eating outside the boundaries of Monsanto-fied foods that feed corporate egregores whilst robbing bodies and Gaia of their legacies, there are no inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Where food falls on the spectrum between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is completely relative, and is one of the myriad ways we fall victim to internalized prejudices informed by a slew of various cultural conditionings that impose false hierarchies on things. Most of this has more to do with socio-economic biases (and sophisticated advertising both overt + covert) and less to do with nutrition. That said, food CAN support or negate our thriving, but this is different for everybody and informed by the climate of each person’s unique ecosystem, personal history, and stew of inflammatory predispositions that can take a lifetime to understand. This is where the Taoist approach to nourishment diverges from most modern nutritional practices… we think seasonally and contextually, focusing on the relative truths of each person, and not a supreme truth, acknowledging that reality is in a state of process. Everything changes, nothing is constant, and sometimes things flourish best when left alone. We don’t need to obsess too much about these things (but I still do from time to time, it’s a hard knot to undo).

Which is to say… the following ruminations on digestion aren’t about diet in the sense of DON’T EAT LECTINS, LECTINS BAD, but more about the SPIRIT in which you eat your food. The query of Earth is ‘what is your relationship to nourishment in general,’ so this work can be aided by understanding the ways digestion is supported in Chinese medicine, gentle pillars to reinforce the Earth element.

~Earth is stodgy and likes monotony, ergo having stable rituals around food is a way to encourage digestion + assimilation. Chew slowly, eat regularly, try not to eat when angry, tired, or rushed (impossible, I know, but worth stating as your ever-concerned aspirant granny doc).

~Following the meridian clock, the qi of the Stomach is at peak energy between 7 + 9 am, and the Spleen qi between 9 + 11. If you loooove syncing up with your biorhythms, eat a big, sexy breakfast between 7-9, and then carve out a swathe of Spleen time between 9-11 for meditation.

~Earth gets soggy + slow with damp and cold foods, and digestion gets sticky, curdled, and congealed like when excess dampness turns the earth to mud. The process of warming up cold foods absorbs a fair amount of your precious qi, energy that you could be using for far more interesting things. In some internal climates, too many foods of this nature end up damaging digestion over time, so it’s worth examining if ice cream, dairy, iced drinks, and smoothies might be curdling your innards and impairing flow.

~Science experiment: try not drinking water with meals (puts out the digestive fires + dilutes your precious gastric juices!) and removing iced drinks from your repertoire for a hot minute. See if your center feels more fortified.

~Keep the Earth strong + nimble with warming foods and spices. Warm grain bowls, pumpkins and squashes that embody the golden color of the Earth element in her prime, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, soups + stews, parsnips and root veggies, baked yams drizzled with maple syrup, think like a harvest goddess and what she might eat.

~An out of balance Earth element craves sugar, but often does’t respond to it well (oh, the pathos!). Sweets that get those neurotransmitters all a’gaga whilst also nourishing the Earth are molasses, dates, rice syrup, warm fruit compotes, rice pudding. Think sexy macrobiotic restaurants from the 90’s.


Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová 

(Have you watched it yet?! Punchy czech feminist new wave cinema with a proto-punk Earth element flair. Food fights!)


Earth Rx - On Nourishment + The Earth School

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

One of the legendary Chinese medical physicians of yore, Master Li Dong-Yuan, founded what would come to be known as the Earth School in 1200 C.E. The Earth School believed that disorders mainly originate with damage to the Spleen + Stomach, and helped to contextualize how disease could be engendered by lifestyle and emotions, and how both these things are shaped by oppression and poverty (hello, radical). I was going to write a whole swoony love letter to the Earth School, but everything I would have said, acupuncturist Sharon Sherman said better in this article:

As Chinese medicine evolved, practitioners began to realize that patients did not live in a vacuum and they could not be treated as such. Every patient affected by an ailment needed to be treated individually because many factors beyond just physical disease were playing a role and required attention. For Master Li Dong-Yuan, lifestyle was a major factor in the preservation of a patient’s well being. He felt that patients’ emotions could heavily influence the qi’s integrity and that physical illness could be eroded by the socio-economics of a war-torn society plagued with famine, epidemics and poverty.


Li Dong-Yuan believed that the cause of damage to the stomach and spleen occurred as a result of three main factors: intemperance in eating and drinking (especially consumption of excess amounts of cold, raw, fatty or unclean foods), overwork which leads to exhaustion, and from the effects of excessive and habituated emotional expression — excessive emotions agitate the body and consequently weaken digestion. When the conquered people were left powerless, poor and unable to access proper nutrition, opportunistic disease processes were able to also overcome and vanquish health physically, mentally and spiritually.


In honor of the Earth School and Late Summer, I invite you to to do a hot little inventory of nourishment, and how that might be supporting or thwarting your tao.


Earth Rx - On The Spleen + Stomach

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

Image: still from the film Daisies (1966) Director: Věra Chytilová

"Every Microcosm, every inhabited region, has a Centre; that is to say, a place that is sacred above all.”

- Mircea Eliade

In order to discuss the majesty of the Spleen + Stomach, we have to understand the central metaphor of digestion through the lens of the Earth element. Both our center and our alchemical furnace, the Spleen + Stomach are paired as the organs of our internal Earth, and their transmutation and transportation of nutrients provide the context and structure for how we support ourselves. These digestive organs nourish and nurture, providing stability and serenity (or when out of balance, worry, obsession, and self-doubt). They are responsible for the efficient digestion of all we encounter - both food AND experiences - churning and turning the manna of life into qi to fuel the body’s processes. ‘Neutral Good’ in alignment, the Spleen + Stomach are concerned with how we meet our own needs and the needs of others. Providers of comfort, they are the embodied  Nonna’s in all of us… worried with how we are fed, perhaps a little needy, often overbearing, imprinting our relationship to food for life, for better or for worse.


Botanarchy On The @magikvibes Podcast

Carolyn Barron Botanarchy

I had the esteemed pleasure of sitting down with my long-time patient + friend @kelseyjpatel to discuss late summer alchemy, the luminous aliveness of nature, and how to reclaim your wildness through connecting with the Earth element + the seasonal flow. On this seasonal cusp, the five elements shift and respond in particular ways, and leaning into these shifts can help us feel less like hapless victims of a capricious flash mob from Mother Earth, and more like Seasonal Sorceresses gracefully grasping the proverbial winds of change. Then you can flex like Goethe and be like - I trust myself to Nature, she may do as she will with me.

Devoted and sincere, Kelsey is a golden emanation of the Earth element. She is one of the most gracious gals I know, spilling over with blithe benevolence, standing for the autonomy and self-sovereignty of all living beings. What I love most about her podcast is that she closes each episode with a guest-led meditation, so at the end of our Late Summer chat, I got to freestyle qigong (a favorite past time), and ensconce everyone in an earthy embrace from the heart of our collective Earth meridians. I show you how you can activate your qi and use it to feel the vast resources and containment of your inner earth element, through activating one of my most favorite acupuncture points, Spleen 21 - The Great Enveloper. This is stop, drop, and roll inner alchemy that you can use any time you need to feel held and supported, nourished by the graciousness of Earth herself. Listen to the podcast here.

Earth Rx - On The Earth Element Within + Throughout

Late Summer

Whilst in the throes of a love affair with Earth In Her Season, I stumbled across this quote from the lusty tome The Deep Ecology Movement:

“The photograph of earth taken from outer space by a satellite that shows the whole blue orb with spirals and whorls of cloud, was a great landmark for human consciousness. We see that it has a shape, and it has limits.”

I remember a story I heard about the writing of my favorite song - Terra - an ode to the naked curves of Earth by Brazilian musician + anarcho-provacateur Caetano Veloso. It’s the most beautiful f*&%ing song that ever graced our hoary hobgoblin ears, and we are surely not worthy of its majesty, but regardless - go listen to it right now. Veloso wrote the song from the depths of a jail cell, doing time for protesting police brutality during a period in which Brazil had suspended habeas corpus. From his captivity, he witnessed those very same photographs of Earth taken by the first astronauts on the moon. Gazing at her, he distilled her celestial grandeur into an swoony, sparse, seraphic ode to Her supernal shape as witnessed from above —

From where, neither time nor space

May the Force send courage

For us to treat you tenderly

During all the journeys

That you carry out in the nothing

Through which you bear

The name of your flesh…

Earth! Earth!

However distant

The wandering navigator

Who could ever forget you?

The song is sung entirely in Portuguese, but its message was never lost on our english ears; Despite our various freedoms, we are ALL longing heretics trapped inside a prison of our own creation, calling out to Her to hold us. Earth…Won’t you re-parent us? Give us what we never got? Shell out something sweet to take away the pain? Teach us about enduring beauty? Won’t you be our lover AND our mother? (Esther Perel would have a bona fide field day with all this).

The Earth has always been fetishized as a talisman of unconditional love and generosity. She connects and unifies us in our differences as inhabitants of her home, mediates conflict, and soothes with her boundless breast. We call her Mother and she gets our needs met gracefully with silent aplomb. Sympathy, in the Chinese Five Element tradition, is the emotion of the Earth element, and you can feel it in her liberal charities and licentious largesse. As if by the grace of a hidden hand, our Mistress of Eternal Empathy anticipates our needs, placing the medicines we seek for the plague du jour smack dab in the palm of our hands. Toxic oil spill!? Here’s an oil-eating Oyster mushroom to devour the poison miasma! Malarial outbreak?! Here’s a heap of Artemisia Annua growing in the garden path! Her body is sustenance for the entire swathe of terrestrial enterprise. She endures abuse, and continue to provide for us. Think of the Amazon. 

In the cosmic re-parenting, an out of balance Earth element in our own bodies is reflected as an insatiable neediness, a loss of connection to source that is dealt with by compulsive consumption, eroding our digestion of both food and experience. We may even feel the need to over-give ourselves, equating self-worth with the ability to caretake for others at the expense of our own flowering. When our internal Earth is shaky, we may find ourselves resisting change or avoiding choices that might jeopardize security and stability. Working on the Earth element in acupuncture and herbal medicine pulls us back to our center, empowering us with feeling at home wherever we go. Cue ‘This Must Be The Place.’

Though we often debauch her narrative by casting her as bruised and battered, a hapless victim of patriarchy that needs our saving, Earth is QUEEN and has been self care-taking and evolving solutions since time immemorial (learn from this). Her timeline is not one of minutes and years, but of centuries and millenniums, and us Children of Earth often miss how she regulates and repairs. She didn’t need a #selfcare hashtag with a jaunty blonde in a bathtub to teach her how to patch her wounds. If she needs a solution, she creates one, quite literally (hello, #evolution). This is something to consider when we work on healing our inner Earth element. I think of the incantation I have from @deedeecheriel hanging in my home - You Have Everything You Need. Late summer and the gentle work of nourishing our Earth element imparts this sense of sublime security + abundant bounty, much needed to combat the chaos of culture that is insistent that we never have enough. 

In Her season, perhaps more than ever, the umbilical connection to Earth as home + navigator is paramount as we float through deep space untethered + astray. The advice for those floating comes again from The Deep Ecology Movement:

“We must find our way to seeing the mineral cycles, the water cycles, air cycles, nutrient cycles, as sacramental—and we must incorporate that insight into our own personal spiritual quest and integrate it with all the wisdom teachings we have received from the nearer past. The expression of it is simple: gratitude to it all, taking responsibility for your own acts, keeping contact with the sources of the energy that flow into your own life, i.e. dirt, water, flesh.”

This is why I write to Her daily like a provincial taoist Carrie Bradshaw. Earth! Earth! However distant, the wandering navigator. Who could ever forget you?

Earth Rx - On Late Summer Alchemy

Image ::: Tran Chau Tu

Image ::: Tran Chau Tu

Round, ripe, rotting, reciprocity. Beyoncé as Oshun, the splendors of the body, security, stability, being filled to the brim. Humidity, heaviness, hearth, harvest, not fearing the reaper. Moldy peaches, Bergman’s Wild Strawberries, languidness, turbidity, torpor, ennui. Ahhhh, late summer, Sorceress of Saudade, surprise season of surplus + swamp, of yin emerging from yang, duality and abundance on the precipice of decrease.

In the five element calendar, Late Summer is the fifth season, a poetic interlude of plumpness betwixt the third week of August + the autumn equinox that hearkens the arrival of fall. The Earth element reigns over her kingdom in Late Summer, and to understand her splendor is to romp in her amber waves of grain. Abundance and satiety abound in tandem with decline and decrease. With a tinge of melancholy and a golden brush stoke, the entire cosmos is swaying in a heat-drunk torpor to Bowie’s Golden Years as the earth does its best impression of a Fauvist landscape with languishing bodies lolling in the low-hanging sun. Some may say, “my dude, that’s just summer!” But if you’ve been paying attention to the Great Unfurling, everything is… slowing down. There’s an entirely different flair to Late Summer than the swank and swagger of its sister season. For in this moment, fire hath liberated the moisture hiding within Earth, and the air is pregnant, heavy, like an Earth deity herself, arms teetering with grain and a pregnant belly full of nascent baby goddesses. The whole of the cosmos is telling the alchemical tale of how yin - substance - emerges from yang - energy. Can you feel it? (Hint - it’s sticky.)

Our embodied Earth element is our spleen + stomach organs, the Axis Mundi + cosmic hinge for the whole of our metabolic processes, and the reverse equation of how yin - substance - creates yang - energy. What a magnificent ouroboros this universe is! As five element acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett says, “the earth element governs our connection to the Earth in a way that empowers utilizing and integrating all sources of available nourishment in life so that our potential may be actualized.” So, in honor of our potentialities both amorphous + accomplished, I offer this series of rites + ruminations, a bouquet of spectral sunflowers upon the auric altar of Earth.

Fire Rx - Elemental Summer Mixtape

Image ::: @xlaura777

Image ::: @xlaura777

The Sensual World, The Pleasure Principle, and how to go Wild In The Country… Impressions of the fire element condensed into a cauldron dripping with honey + sweat. 

Since my thesis on ‘The Mix Tape: A 90’s Artifact or Archetypal Medicine for Mass Liberation?’ is still being reviewed by my advisors at Harvard, here’s my sonic offering to rest upon the altar of Summer. Please, make love to this, flaunt your ample thighs in the sun to this, have an interpretive dance party with your girlfriends to this, play it in the car whilst driving off a cliff with Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Link to Spotify playlist in here. ◥·̆̈◤

Fire Rx - On Collectivism and Giving It All Away

Image ::: @simranwhi

Image ::: @simranwhi

In the words of the immortal @Lizzobeeating, ‘If I'm shinin', everybody gonna shine’.  The healthy expression of our inner fire element is an acknowledgement of abundance and an abounding generosity. Think of the summer flowers, show-ponying about town with their flagrant displays of plumage and their wanton coffers of pollen. They aren’t being stingy with the stank! In the summer sun, their buds, blossoms, and bowers of nectar seep every which way, a sacred vessel of sustenance they share with all of creation.


Plants - though exploited and shaped and poked and prodded for gain - aren’t bound by the fake laws of capitalism and its paucity politics. They live outside the law, in a model that knows no scarcity, where it is intrinsically understood that giving your pollen to the bees creates more abundance and #everybodywins. Why hoard (so uncouth) when you can unleash your limitless resources and give it all away? Energy is a resource. Time is a resource. Willingness is a resource. Ingenuity, influence, invention, vexation, elation, elbow grease… all resources, collateral in the collective economy. Like flowers, there is also that inimitable resource that is yours and yours alone, that fragrant je ne sais quoi that when unleashed, the world is marked with your signature, and we are all the better for it. 


Prescription for the summer swelter - Share + Expand - just like the rest of the ecosystem. Do you really want to be the ONLY species not givin’ it up? You can squirrel your S&*t away come autumn. Look, the world is literally #onfire. Every inch of Gaia needs you. For the exasperated and overwhelmed, think locally. Who or what has helped you reach your perch of comfort or assisted in the unfolding of your Tao? Can you give back to your community in the same way? For me, I bow down eternally to all of the gracious, disruptive doctors + practitioners that unflinching encircled me (and my sweet blind diabetic dog) with love and care when we lacked monetary resources (here’s looking at you, @pacific_acu_wellness_ @drrpalmquist and all my wondrous luddites sans instagram that are serving selflessly on the daily). I took their lead and built that very same support for others into my business model, and this summer I expanded my sliding scale offerings. Systems, hegemonies, regimes… no one’s gonna give it to us, so we have to give it to each other. It’s #naturesway.


Fire Rx - On Shacking Up In The Heartbreak Hotel

Image ::: @tinnedpineapple

Image ::: @tinnedpineapple

For those whose joy is blocked by heartbreak, or those who’s boundaries have been breached leaching joy hither and thither, this work can be eased on down the road with the help of acupuncture point Heart Protector 8: Lao Gong ‘Palace of Weariness’. 


One of my favorite writers on the Taoist lore of acupuncture points, Debra Kaatz, says this of Pericardium 8:


”Here is the fire point of the heart protector meridian where it is in its home and official residence. It is where our fire can be truly nourished and cared for when the way has been long and hard. When we have enough loving fire then the ashes of old hurts and trouble fade away on their own.  Lao Gong is a palace or temple of the ancestors. It is where we can go and be cared for when there has been weariness, trouble, overwork and when suffering has been long. It is for someone who needs this special care. This point is even more effective in its own time and season where the heightened fire energy of summer can enhance the fire energy of the point. Lao is drawn as a lamp that flames with a gentle fire at night. It means to exert one’s self in an extraordinary manner, work, labour, suffer, weary, make, encourage, give trouble to, reward and consumption. Gong is drawn as several rooms under a roof. It means the Imperial palace, temple of the ancestors, palace rooms, and college. At Lao Gong is all the love, nourishment, and luxuries of a great palace for the weary heart to regain its lost trust, and ease its hurts. Here the Emperor himself gives tender care to the troubles of the heart so its doors can open and fill with the joys and laughter of the world again.”


Located at the point on center of the palm where the tip of the ring finger lands when we make a fist, Lao Gong is the energy center where qi is transmitted in martial arts, qigong, and pan-cultural traditions of energy work. This is an excellent point to ‘seal’ after giving too much of yourself, pushing past your boundaries, performing extensive work with your hands, and not being able to access pleasure on account of exhaustion. Though flower essences and essential oils can be excellent allies on this point, I prefer to use an acupressure magnet as a great condenser and refractor of qi. While applying the magnet or oil, visualize a great seal containing and condensing your precious resources as you direct your energetic flow inward.


Pleasure is a gateway drug; Once you tap into it, you have access to the entire prism of embodied emotion, the well of human experience, the arcanum arcanorum.


Fire Rx - On The Pleasure Principle

Image ::: Gabriella Mendez

Image ::: Gabriella Mendez

Summer is peak Dionysus. Self love, freedom, food, sex, exstasis… it’s the pleasure principle, oh oh oh oh oh.


The emotion associated with a healthy internal fire element is joy. Summer is the moment of the Great Flowering, and as such, is the time to do those things that make you say “why don’t I do this more often?” Yes, I second that… why DON’T you do that more often? As a Priestess Of Austerity, I take the summer off of saturnine solemnity and do some work around joy. What engenders it? What is blocking it? How can I access it in deeper, richer, freer ways than what compulsion and capitalism have to offer?


Look, I don’t even relate to pleasure in its typical guises. My spirit animal is Hildegard Von Bingen, and, like David Bowie, I know when to stay out, and when to stay in, get things done. However…last month, I had the absolutely batty revelation that I could bend my schedule at will, and artfully finesse an unexpected day off each week to commune in solitude with #plantmedicine and not leave the house. There are some of you (and parts of me) that are thinking “HOW EGREGIOUS” but yes, I do this now, and had to give myself the pep talk about how I spend 10 hours per day deeply engaged in the liberation of my patients, and should be able to grant this to myself, sans interruption and guilt. What was I gaining from working more? With basic needs met, I find time - unstructured swathes of #deeptime, the most precious resource, and refuse to posit my trans-generational, Eastern Bloc, blue collar guilt above my belief that a 5 day workweek is a vestigial organ of an evolving paradigm. I could write vignettes + villanelles about how the alchemical marriage of pleasure + plant medicine have made me a better doctor and a more compassionate human, but would rather you follow @adriennemareebrown and have you read her lusty tome Pleasure Activism. You don’t need my permission, but have it anyway, if it appeals to your rational mind - get sexy with your schedule, titillating with your time, foxy with your freedoms. The season demands it.


Fire Rx - On Boundaries + Elemental BDSM

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Summer lite BDSM - push boundaries, and then create them for yourself. As summer is all about expression and expansion, how can you expand, take up more space? Maybe the need for a sacred manspread is upon you. What areas can you push and extend into? What line can you cross? Heat accelerates processes, so any Rite of Expansion you begin will have the anointed inertia of fire breathing down its neck, so light the wick and watch it blaze.


A healthy fire element expresses in our bodies as well-defined boundaries, and part of the work of the heart + its coterie of companion organs is to regulate what comes into and out of our sacred temenos. It wasn’t until I heard my mentor Lorie Dechar speak to boundaries in a workshop on their very importance that I truly understood their hallowed task, as I come from a lineage of open-door-policies and bleeding hearts, and frankly, I didn’t even know that I was allowed to negotiate a new contract. The Chinese character for boundary - 边界 - is a composite character comprised of tian - field - and jie - introduce - that implies two people entering into an enclosed, defined, and protected space. There is an implicit sacredness sanctioned within the character that can help us navigate boundary creation through the lens of a divine contract. This is the perfect season to draw up a new contract pertaining to your personal boundaries, consecrating your time and space as sacred, and your body as a shrine to the work of your becoming. Is your body a Temple of Dionysius? If so, should we bring wine and floggers? Is it a shrine to Vesta with a ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’ dress code and there’s NO SEX and NO BOYS allowed? Are you only open for worship on Sundays from 11-2? Boundaries are an art, and if you constantly struggle with them, petition an acupuncturist to work on empowering your fire element so that it may function properly as your Temple Bouncer, artfully controlling who and what has access to your inner sanctum. For a botanical ally in the work of boundaries + bouncers, I recommend Skyrocket Flower Essence from @lotuswei, flower ambassador of ‘NO is a full sentence.’


Fire Rx - On The Heartmind

Image::: Marwane Pallas

Image::: Marwane Pallas

Summer is the moment in the cosmic rotation where we are closest to the sun, the moon, and the stars. So close, that perhaps - PERHAPS - we can hear them whispering to us. The fire season is ruled by the heart, and the heart reaches apex aliveness during the summer. Intuition and xin - the heartmind- stir and rustle in the summer breezes. The capacity to sense with our heart awakens, and if we consciously open the doors of perception, we can directly experience the inherent meanings that flow through nature and connect with the living intelligence of Gaia and her kin. In celebrating nature as a kindred being, we wake up our inherent wildness and learn to govern by the part of us that remains undomesticated, feral, in tune with our truest desires. An excellent primer for this wilding work can be found in the rich canon of herbalist + earth poet Stephen Harrod Buhner. His episode of the ReWild Yourself podcast with @danielvitalis on reclaiming your feeling sense is an excellent roadtrippin’ ally for summer soirees abroad. More intrepid individuals can dive into his lusty tome Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception Into The Dreaming of Earth whilst on beaches real and imaginal this summer. I’m reading it right now, and if any of you fine folk fancy joining me for a makeshift salon, we can soak some Blue Lotus flowers in a chilled rosé and have at it.

Fire Rx - On The Element Fire

Image:  weheartit.com

Rosy, rubicund, accelerating and expanding. Desiring and being desired, radiance, Leo hair, the pleasure principal. Urgency, flagrancy, intrusive proximity, sex magic. Madonna in the Like A Prayer video, control vs. chaos, attraction vs. repulsion, healthy intimacy. Fusion, illumination, yab-yum, all-consuming, the alchemical furnace. La Dolce Vita, Ashes to Ashes, power, fulfillment, savagery, eruptions. Tribalism, generosity, community, storytelling around a midsummer bonfire, performance, flamboyant self-revelations. Kineticism, eroticism, the unfurling of petals, deer antler velvet, the quest for the infinite and for the infinitesimal… Hello, Fire energy.


As the Five Element acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett likes to say, all movement and life in our solar system is oriented toward the sun, and the sun is the ultimate embodiment of fire. To know fire is to know the benevolence of the sun. In the season of fire, we see the generosity and grandiosity of the sun who isn’t stingy with the vibes, laying them on thick. Summer is the season where we can give it all away, for in our yang exuberance we have more than enough to give. Whereas spring and the season of wood broke ground and outstretched its arms, fire expresses and extends in all directions, places new and novel, in a grand display of beyond-ness, which some might call, well, extra. Yes, fire is sometimes consuming. Yes, fire occasionally overextends itself. Yes, fire has an issue with boundaries. But if we contain + control the burn in a sexy Taoist fireman kinda way, we can sink into the medicine of the season without getting scorched + parched.


Fire Rx - Seasonal Summer Alchemy

Photo @shelbygordonphoto for @wellnessofficial

Photo @shelbygordonphoto for @wellnessofficial

Central to the core of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the concept that the moon, stars, and sun invest destiny in our jing, qi and shen, and as their cosmic influences assert their will upon the tides, so are we unfolding in cadence with their heavenly mandate. Each season brings its own expression from our particular perch in the solar system, finessing a distinct merging and meddling of the elements in the swirling, hurling Milky Way we call home. As we find ourselves at the close of summer, in an open-armed embrace with the sun from across the sky, certain archetypal energies are awakened in us, the same energies that force the buds to blossom, the cicadas to sing, the antlers to grow, and the squirrel to seek shade in the towering Oak. As above so below, and so on and so on, and scooby dooby doo.


One of the poet priests of the 20th century and my guide in the Great Work likes to say that “wild nature is the ultimate ground of human affairs.” That is the poet Gary Snyder, and much like the Taoist sages and doctors of yore whose work this divine medicine is based upon, he is a seeker of universal truth, of the cosmic ties that bind us all together in process and purpose while supporting and sustaining the discovery of our own unique divinity. I’ve always considered poets to be the stewards of the seasons, the cartographers of the cosmos, the score keepers of the human unfurling. As the Taoist sages discovered a template of medicine in the balladry of earth shifting, their poetry fleshes out the collective consciousness in language, mirth, and metaphor. “The fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe” - these are some of the ways the most archaic and elemental values on earth are expressing themselves in summer, the season of the fire element.


As we move from the freedom of fire season to the clutches of earth (more on that later), I’m throwing atcha a series of rituals + ruminations (and also mixtapes and book recs) to make the most of the death rattle of summer so that we have juicy fruits to harvest come earth season.

A Paen To Penicillin: An Antibiotics User Guide from an Acupuncturista

Art is a still from 'Magical Contamination' by Antoine Bridier-Nahmias, an artistic documentation of mould and its diverse colors and textures captured in petri dishes.

Art is a still from 'Magical Contamination' by Antoine Bridier-Nahmias, an artistic documentation of mould and its diverse colors and textures captured in petri dishes.

It feels dirty and debaucherous publicly admitting that as a holistic health practitioner, I took the devil’s juice, I sipped the nectar of the underworld, I drew a pentagram in the crossroads and traded my corporeal soul and $25 dollars at CVS with Old Bones Jones for a chance at beating tonsillitis and decimating my microbiome.

I hadn’t needed antibiotics for years, but when I returned from an international flight late last year with a lymph node swollen to the size of golfball and a fever of 102, I did not have the luxury of treating this diligently on my own in a time frame that worked with my bonkers schedule. I needed to jump back into the saddle pronto because I have a lot of people that depend on me, as do you, likely. We are mothers and creators and radicals and care takers and tenders. There is no rest for the wicked.

One of the most frequently asked questions in my practice is “should I go on antibiotics?” While the answer is highly individualized, and most of us acupuncturists have a slew of herbal warriors with potency + panache to kick most pathogens to the curb, herbs are not always the most elegant solution. I take the time with each of my patients to talk about their options and how to gracefully navigate each choice. After all the cards are all on the table, I let them decide, shame free and without remorse. Because that is how medicine is practiced in a feminist model of choice and autonomy. En masse, there are steps you can take to make either choice empowering, and walk away from the whole experience feeling lusty, potent, and virile.

Step one is consider waiting. If you are not in any clear and present danger, and you are under the tutelage of an esteemed herbalist or functional doc, this is a solid approach. As my patients often remind me, beating your first infection with herbs + food is an initiation. You learn that everything you were ever taught about your body is wrong, that you are filled with adamantine strength and protean prowess if given the right tools and conditions. This approach forces you to be tender, scale back, and feel what it's like to nurture yourself back to life. You might have to de-escalate your schedule. Phew! What a relief! Or maybe your worst nightmare. But once you succeed in your pursuit of the plague, you have tools in your back pocket for any time that ol’ pestilence comes a’knocking at your door.

Sometimes you take the herbs and do the sleep and kick the stress, and you STILL get sicker. Step two is don’t fear the reaper. Those of us that have eschewed a life of Big Pharma get VERY riled up at the thought of taking antibiotics. Is it a betrayal of our values? Is it lazy, irresponsible, avoidant? AM I UNDOING 10 YEARS OF SEEDING MY GUT WITH KOMBUCHA, ARTISANAL SAUERKRAUT, AND AFFIRMATIONS THAT I RADIATE HEALTH FROM THE INSIDE OUT? Taking pharmaceuticals is NOT giving up your power and conceding to the military-industrial complex. You are not a shill of big pharma, you are not a horsewoman of the apocalypse, you are not complicit in the mass destruction of all beneficial microbial life, and, most importantly, you are not a butterfly. You are an almighty warrior priestess whose microbiome is an iron-clad vault of perpetual poetry in motion. Your microbiome is constantly evolving, and if you are not using antibiotics on the regular it will adapt. The number one factor that determines what microbes live in your gut (and which ones die off) is your daily diet. Make a point to eat a low sugar diet free of unprocessed foods and seed your gut with prebiotics from fibrous greens. Drink a little bone broth, why dontcha! And of course take probiotics along with your meds (albeit at least two hours apart from them), and keep taking probiotics for a minimum of 6 months (though truly we should be taking them all the time). I like two weeks of a very herculean CFU probie like Designs For Health ProbioMed 250, followed by my standard probiotic. If you are prone to yeast infections, you might want to do probiotic suppositories while you are downing your antibiotics. If you are concerned about the impact of antibiotics on your liver, you can take Antronex from Standard Process at 1 3xday during your course, continuing for a few weeks after. It also helps manage the dreaded ‘die-off effect’ that can happen with antibiotics like Amoxicillin.

Step three is don’t shame yourself for not being strong enough to fight the infection by non-pharmaceutical means. Shame is the enemy of health! It’s a tool of the oppressors! Shame keeps us trapped and small and holds us back from evolving and growing. I will never shame you! You did what you had to do. We are all just trying to survive. I love you.