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.


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 - 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 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.


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

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.

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FRIDAY JANUARY 12, 2018

7:00pm - 10:00pm

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

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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 . .

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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*

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Tickets in @ramainstitute