Goji Schisandra Lemonade

Goji Schisandra Lemonade

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

2 Tablespoons Schisandra Berries

4 Tablespoons Goji Berries

2 Tablespoons Aloe Juice

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

4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

A Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Quart Spring Water

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

Turmeric Orange Julius

Orange Julius

A valley girl summer cooler brought to you by winsome & woebegone memories of strolling the Sherman Oaks Galleria in Bart Simpson boxer shorts with a home perm and Orange Julius in hand. All of the nostalgia and none of the junk, with a hint of Ayurveda and a Taoist twist. ☀️

1 frozen banana, 3 knuckles freshly peeled turmeric root, 1 orange, 1 tbsp grass fed collagen protein, 1 tsp pearl powder, blended in a base of rice mylk.

DIY Coconut Milk

DIY Coconut Milk

This is A REVELATION!!! Ambrosial, alabaster coconut milk made at home with TWO ingredients for mere pennies on the dollar, packing a pearly velveteen puissance for all your DIY potions! The recipe calls for organic shredded coconut and purified water in a 1:2 ratio (ie: 2 cups coconut to 4 cups water). Simply warm the water on the stove (should be toasty, but NOT boiling or scalding), add to a vitamix with the coconut, and whirl, whirl, WHIRL. Pour the milk through a strainer into a suitable vessel, then squeeze the remaining pulp in a cheesecloth to milk all remaining mojo. If you were seriously enterprising, you could save the pulp and dehydrate into coconut flour like an egalitarian kitchen witch. Regardless, your milk will be the best thing to happen to your concoctions like, ever. And it’s not loaded with all of the cumbersome fillers of store-bought milk!

Brew What Thou Wilt: Lacto-Fermented Beet Kvass

Beet Kvass

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious…

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin’s favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

-Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

Beet Kvass is an acquired taste, a guttural garnet brine of sanguine soil, mossy mouthfuls of prosaic, proletarian food medicine. A digestive tonic of Slavic heft and ardor, it’s a simple remedy that exalts the latent magic of the beet through fermentation, boosting its nutritional profile and inoculating the beets with boughs of beneficial bacteria. Kvass is a perpetual staple at my LA homestead, along with Bone Broth & Cod Liver Oil. Taken religiously with the fervor of my Slavic ancestors, it can render the need for further digestive support obsolete, all the while strengthening a sluggish immune system and supporting the organs of elimination.

I first sampled this rosy, fermented fête out of an unmarked carafe at a hot spring in rural Austria. Thinking it to be cranberry juice, I was immediately perplexed by its salty strangeness and effervescent bite. Which is to say, I spit it out. Moments later, I longed to swill it by the mouthful, like a Viking gulping the blood of its enemies. Beet Kvass will sneak up on you like that. My friends from Eastern Europe grew up swigging Kvass daily in school, a nourishing ritual that shames the pants off the Dixie Cups full of sugary fake juice doled out by the US school system.

The probiotic puissance of Beet Kvass lies in its ability to rectify the morass of an unbalanced digestive system, whilst thinning out the bile to help with liver congestion and function. The mystical beet, in and of itself, also boosts an ORAC value of 1,776, making it an excellent natural anti-inflammatory and preventative medicine for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, allergies, and chronic fatigue.

FIXIN’S

6 Organic beets, washed & peeled

1 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Packet Body Ecology Probiotic Starter Culture

½ Gallon Glass Jar or Fermentation Crock

METHOD

Wash, peel, and chop your beets into small pieces, placing them in your sterilized glass jar. If you don’t have a ½ gallon vessel, you can distribute them amongst smaller jars, and divvy the recipe up equally (Kvass is a cooperative chap!). Fill the jar with purified water, enough to cover the beets, making sure to leave 1inch headroom at the top. Add your sea salt and probiotic starter, shaking and whisking until thoroughly infused. Loosely seal (I use a paper towel and a rubber band, because I’m the utmost fancy) and store away from direct sunlight, allowing your rubicund potion to ferment at room temperature for 3-5 days. You may notice a winsome, white mold starting to form on top of your prized Kvass. Fret not, fervid fermentors! It’s merely a harmless rogue mold, entirely par for the course in the wily badlands of cultured foods. Scoop her off gingerly, with nary a scoff or skirmish.

After my counter top fermenting has commenced, I’ll either whirl my Kvass with a smidgen extra of water in a Vitamix before bottling (for the earthy girth of a thicker brew), or strain the beets and bottle the scarlet elixir. You can reserve the beets for a nice salad or amuse-bouche, or re-ferment them in a second batch of Kvass. Store your Kvass in a sealed glass vessel in the fridge, where it will continue to simmer and seethe with bountiful bacteria indefinitely. Serve chilled, with a squeeze of lime or a spritz of sparkling water if you so fancy, or add to homemade Borscht for a bit of old world Slavic kitchen witchery.

*If the Kvass is entirely too pungent for your palate after the counter top fermentation, mellowing it in the fridge for 2-3 weeks will curb its mojo. This will also enhance the nutrition of the Kvass, but is not a necessary step, as she’s already an unequivocally potent brew.

DOSE

¼ cup per day, taken as a few sips hither and thither before meals to stimulate digestion. If your body temple is not accustomed to the bubbling brawn of fermented foods, start small, and work your way up to the full dose.

Dream Herbs + Botanical Allies For Dream Divination

Dream Herbs

For those who desire nothing more than to cultivate inner knowing with a coven of the wisest & wiliest plant teachers known to man, the logical place to start is by spelunking the caves of one’s own unconscious. Dream divination, known as Oneiromancy by the ancient Greeks, allows us to peer into the depths, to know ourselves, and to establish a symbolic vocabulary that helps us forage through the morass of daily life with the prophetic poise of a wise crone.

The functional prophetess should be able to navigate the dreamlands by one’s own compass, retrieving useful information for both oneself and others. The requisite accoutrements include traveling with fierce intentionality, a basic understanding of one’s personal mythos, and, of course, a well-maintained dream journal. Dream allies are your fiercest comrades in the Land of Nod, unlocking doors and mediating communion betwixt you and the motley crew of etheric entities that reside in your unconscious. The dream allies listed below are a brief ethnobotanical survey of cherished pan-cultural Oneirogens, and should be treated as such. If anyone wishes to approach the allies, it should be done in good health, only when deemed appropriate by a hearty sign-off from your healthcare provider, and definitely not whilst pregnant or breastfeeding. Each of these plants are unique creatures with wildly variant properties, and a myriad spectrum of moxie from stem to stamen. Therapeutic dosages, though listed below, should be the jurisdiction of your herbal purveyor, as they know the persnickety potency of each herb they grow and peddle. And also, my dears, DO check your state laws, as many of the most prized herbs for healing and gnosis are psychoactive at certain dosages, misunderstood by an ignorant hegemony, and therefore may be illegal for consumption in your state (don’t worry, you are still protected under the law to poison yourself slowly on Diet Coke and factory-farmed meat).


The Dream Herb: Calea Zacatechichi

My most favorite dreaming ally is Calea Zacatechichi, known as the ‘Dream Herb’ by the Chontal people of Oaxaca. Indigenous to Latin America, she is often used by shamans and medicine folk to produce psychotropic benders of prophecy and mirth, producing crystal visions worthy of a witched-out Stevie Nicks divinatory diatribe. Like a liminal Charlie Rose, you can ask her all matter of thorny questions, which she will graciously answer in bouts of epic visions and narrative. This is a journeying herb, and her liminal landscape is one of heroes and villains, mythic motifs, and prodigious peregrinations. Though she’s often symbolic with an astounding archetypal imagination, many times her answers are so literal and linear that you will be re-reading your dream journal months later with slack-jawed astonishment. She’s very forthcoming with her brujeria, and I’ve never had her turn me down. The traditional method of smoking Calea in tandem with a strong infusion of her brew will produce catnaps with bursts of intense visions, whereas an infusion of the herb lends itself well to epic dream recall, intensity, lucidity, and bounteous hypnagogic imagery. My basic method is to brew a strong pot of Calea tea and steep it for 15 minutes, whilst cradling it in my hand and meditating upon my query.  Occasionally, I’ll bundle up my herbs in a homemade teabag, and tie it with a tiny tag upon which my divinatory question has been scrawled. Bitter to the point of near un-drinkability, a few stirs of honey will add an air of gentility to the whole ordeal, though it may still inevitably taste like someone has vomited battery acid in your mouth. Do not let that deter you, dear seekers! In traditional Chinese medicine, bitterness quiets a wily heart spirit, and the quality detracts not from Calea’s lovely, generous spirit. Seeing as she is traditionally used by shamanic healers to solve village health quandaries, I think she is an especially robust guide for clarity in healing work. 

Dosage: Begin with 1-2 grams steeped in hot water for about 10 minutes, strained, and drank before bed. Calea is a relationship, and this dose may need to be adjusted to find your sweet spot. I have come to find that 5 grams works well for me, and I steep her with garden mint and honey to quell some of the bitterness.

Source: Botanical Preservation Corps, Bouncing Bear Botanicals


Mugwort: Artemisia Vulgaris

With fragrant silvery spires that glow incandescent white in the moonlight, Artemisia herself harkens to both the poetic dreamscapes of the moon and the subconscious hinterlands of the mind. A muse to both Old Gods and mere mortals alike, Mugwort is the sacred weed of Artemis (or Diana, if you’re a rapacious, re-appropriating Roman), a humble herb that grows freely (like the wild Botanarchist she is) amongst freeway meridians, sidewalk cracks, and areas of blight, disregard, and disarray. Foraging for her is the delight of urban hunters, left to get their jollies amongst paved-over pastures and sagacious sprawl.

Though herself humble & hoary, Mugwort has the pedigree of a bona fide goddess in disguise. In an appropriately foxy compendium of sex & death meeting myth & medicine, her patron goddess Artemis was said to have bestowed all of her herbal knowledge upon Chiron, a centaur (hot!), who then passed it on to the martyred necromancer Asclepius (even hotter!). Asclepius then compiled the sacred medicinal arcana into the Materia Medicas of Ancient Greece, and taught ancient mortals the art of healing magic before being offed by Zeus for raising folks from the dead for money (even necromancer’s gotta eat!). Primordial seekers used to make holy pilgrimages to the Mugwort-laden Temples of Asclepius to practice dream divination, asking Asclepius for guidance to heal the sick and infirmed. Shall you not find yourself amongst the enshrined elite anytime soon, a clairvoyant cup of Mugwort tea drunk before bed produces visionary dreams, can enhance recall, and is often used by those who practice the art of lucid dreaming. Mugwort achieves this magical melee due to a chemical cocktail of constituents that prevent us from reaching a deep sleep, trapping us instead in the twilight hours of vivid dreamtime purgatory. That said, she may leave you a tad torn and frayed if used on the regular.  With anything, do your legwork before starting any herbal regimen, making sure you are in suitable shape for such dalliances. And never take Mugwort internally if you are pregnant (or any of the dream allies, really), as it may stimulate uterine contractions at certain dosages. I’m partial to a few heaping teaspoons steeped in hot water for a good 10 minutes, then strained and served with a spot of raw honeycomb. She’s also quite divine whence mixed with equal parts Rosehips and Lemon Balm.

Dosage: 1 tbsp steeped in hot water for at least ten minutes. 

Source: Wildcrafted, or Mountain Rose Herbs

Botanarchy

Ubulawu Dream Root: Silene Capensis

Known by her kin as the ‘Herb of the White Path’, Silene Capensis is a South African dream herb famed for bearing gossamer visions heavy on shimmering colors and luminescent white symbolism. Though I haven’t met the White Lady in my dreams as of late, I will give Silene deep respect for increasing dream intensity AND recall, a sibylline cocktail of Orphic bliss. Learning to work with Silene bears infinite rewards for the psychonaut, offering diviners Delphic intimations of their personal arcanum, connecting the dots between personal myth and ancestral legacy. When approached with the proper intentionality (as entheogens always should be), she brings communion with the ancestors, and can deliver you messages from those departed. I did tremendous work with her over the course of a moon cycle, using Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Way of the Tarot as a tactile counterpart to my work in the ethers, the two overlapping to form a deep symbology that I still draw upon often. In addition to her pedigree as a dreamtime ally, she is used prodigiously in ceremony in the South African river valleys for catharsis and ritualistic purging, similar to the ayahuasca rites of Central and South America. Dissimilarly, Silene is not a psychedelic plant, and vomiting only occurs intentionally in behemoth doses during highly nuanced ceremonies. When taken as a dream ally, she is gentle and kind, with nary a disrupt of psyche or stomach in sight. The most astounding facet of Silene’s brouhaha might just be that a frothy brew of her twisted tendrils is ingested upon RISING from slumbers, with absolutely NO impact on waking life- all of the illusory vagaries happen between the sheets! Those with a penchant for Cthulhu and the Lovecraftian Deep Ones will inevitably love Silene, as her spirit form is a magical, alien sea snake that lives in the deepest waters of the river, straddling the boundaries betwixt this world and the next.

When I use this herb, I devote at least a week to her majesty, allowing the alkaloids to build up in my system over time. I drink the foam that rises from a macerated infusion of the herb in hot water on an empty stomach upon rising. I am one to abstain from drinking coffee whilst taking counsel from Silene, and those with more sensitive constitutions may want to follow suit. It is also customary to abstain from eating meat while working with this plant. Some notice enhanced dreaming after one day with her counsel, but I have found that my body responds to her magic a few nights after we have begun communing. 

Inquisitive parties simply MUST read ‘Root, Dream & Myth: The Use of the Oneirongenic Plant Silene Capensis,’ a tremendous exploration of her mystic myth, published in Eleusis: Journal of Psychoactive Plants & Compounds, Vol. 4. Snippets of the perfectly prolix incantation can be found here: http://www.samorini.it/doc1/alt_aut/ek/hirst-xhosa-silene-capensis.pdf

Dosage: Start by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered root mixed in 1/2 cup water with a wooded spoon until foamy and frothy (depending on how fine your herb is, this could take upwards of a few minutes). I suggest drinking it first thing in the morning, at least an hour before eating. I recommend doing this for about a week until judgement is passed. If dreams are elusive, you can begin increasing the dose steadily. 

Source: Botanical Preservation Corps, Bouncing Bear Botanicals


Egyptian Blue Lotus: Nelumbo Nucifera

If we’re in the business of discarding tombs both real and imagined (which I am), Blue Lotus would be an excellent ferry ‘cross the river Styx. Carrying in its serpentine, cerulean DNA a shamanic cocktail of disintegration (apomorphine) and communion (nuciferine), she truly is Hermetic gnosis manifest- a vehicle for the ecstatic alchemical separation of body and spirit, a botanical simulacrum of simultaneous ‘solve et coagula’. In tandem, the alkaloid Nuciferine serves to ‘strip off the garment’ of the lotus eater, while the euphoric tendrils of apomorphine liberate the akh, the luminous sun of our inner being. The resulting effects are both calming and euphoric, creating a numinous dreamtime space for vivid dreams and tranquil sleep. 

As the sacred flower of the pharaohs, her plant manna was used ritualistically by the ancient Egyptian noblesse to produce shamanic ecstasy and hypnotic trance in magical rites, mostly involving the gruesome twosome of sex and death. Chinese botanists (my favorite kind, this side of Luther Burbank), were convinced the lotus had the ability to transcend the limitations of time, as they believed she flowered and bore fruit simultaneously. Like all flowers of the Philistines, Blue Lotus has her very own God presiding over those bodacious blooms. Nefertum is the Egyptian god of the lotus and perfumery, an archetype of rejuvenation and anointment. As an avatar of Nefertum, ingesting the blue lotus into your temple (lotophagus, as the Greeks say, cause Ancient Greek makes me swoon) is akin to the ribald Dionysian rite of enthusiasmos, a state of being quite literally ‘filled by the gods.’

Though her plant magic is hallowed and divine, the true reason I fell in love with the lotus is the story of how she’s pollinated (truly the hottest piece of erotica this side of Anais Nin). Sacred scarabs are lured into the dark waters by the lotus at dusk, no match for its irresistibly miasmic pineapple musk. They intoxicatedly feast on the central petals, so engorged with lotus liquor they fail to notice when the flower closes over them. The anthers then ripen and shed their pollen over the trapped beetles, whilst the flower descends back into the black waters of the Nile, for a night of Bacchanalian revelry in an underwater boudoir of velvet pollen, beating wings, nectar victuals and ecstatic sex. As Ra rises over the horizon, the enshrined altar re-emerges above the water, and the beetles are set free to do the walk of shame across the banks of the Nile.

Though we may long to morph into a lotus beetle and drink deep the nectar of the lotus straight from the boudoir itself, in this lifetime, ritualistic victuals of lotus wine will have to suffice. You can make your own sacrament with a decent bottle of Rosé, a few ounces of Nelumbo Nucifera, and a few shakes of a lamb’s tail. Simply take 20 grams or so of lotus, crack open your bottle, skim a few chugs off the top, and soak your petals in the juices for three days. You’ll want to re-cork your vessel and store it in the fridge until it’s time to commune. Like most lovely things, she’s a bitter pill, and her unguents may need to be cut with a little raw honey to sweeten the deal. For dreamwork, the blue lotus is typically taken as a tea before bed, with a recommended dose of 5 grams steeped in boiling water and then allowed to cool before drinking it directly. In comparison to the ribald rites of the ancients, when taken in these manifestations the effects are mild, sedative, dreamy and mellow. 

Dosage: 5 grams steeped in boiling water.

Source: Botanical Preservation Corps, Bouncing Bear Botanicals

Plague Tonic

Plague Tonic

My bosslady Sara Pettitt, L.Ac., got me hip to this infernal brew, and now I whip it up every cold season to chase the devil away (once I have my way with him, natch). I give it out to all my kin, and we take turns knocking back shots like career Bukowski’s courtin’ strumpets in a skid row rattrap. This is not a dainty convenience store dalliance, like popping a few Sudafed between hits of Emergen-C (which are so déclassé, I won’t even touch them). This wicked brew has a visceral tang harkening to the necrotic fury of the Black Death, as the basic formula goes back to medieval Europe & Asia during the Bubonic Plague. It is a broad-spectrum antibioticthat will destroy both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria.Puissant to the point of arrogance, it is also a potent antiviral and antifungal formula. Drink one ounce a few times daily for broad immunity, and increase as necessary for acute conditions, such as inducing a sweat to vent a fever. If you’ve a brutish constitution, you can even gargle this tonic for sore throats.

Mix equal parts of the following in your Vitamix, or equally tenacious blender. Oh, and be sure to wear gloves, as the nefarious pairing of pepper-stained fingers and your nethers is disdainfully inelegant:

Garlic cloves, peeled

Fresh ginger root/Sheng Jiang

Fresh horseradish root

White onions, peeled

The hottest peppers you can get your paws on (Habanero, African Bird, Scotch Bonnet, Cayenne, et. al.)

1/3 cups Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

2/3 cups vodka or grain alcohol

Blend on high until liquid, and down a thimble full. Store the rest in a glass jar in your refrigerator.

Turmeric Toddy

Turmeric Toddy

This tangerine-tinted titan has been my bedfellow all morning whilst nursing a wee cold in my gypsy sleep tent.  The ocherous alembics of turmeric and ginger root warm the bones and stoke the middle jiao, while the saccharine swirls of maple syrup tendrils send me into an autumnal abyss from which I never want to return. Whip the following up in a Vitamix until milky, and warm on the stove:

1 large knuckle of fresh Turmeric root/Jiang Huang

1 small knuckle of fresh Ginger root /Sheng Jiang

3 Tbsp raw Hemp seeds

Maple Syrup, to taste

2 cups fresh water

The sweet solar energy of this hot toddy will boost your wei qi, providing you with Viking-worthy armor against pathogenic pests and shivering bones all season long.

The Nectar of Nefertum: Egyptian Blue Lotus Wine

Blue Lotus in all her splendor

Blue Lotus in all her splendor

“I rise like Nefertum, who is the lotus at the nostrils of Ra when he comes forth from the horizon each day.”

-The Egyptian Book of the Dead

“Branches they bore of that enchanted stem, 
Laden with flower and fruit, whereof they gave 
To each, but whoso did receive of them, 
And taste, to him the gushing of the wave 
Far far away did seem to mourn and rave 
On alien shores; and if his fellow spake, 
His voice was thin, as voices from the grave; 
And deep-asleep he seem’d, yet all awake, 
And music in his ears his beating heart did make.”

-‘The Lotos-Eaters’, Lord Alfred Tennyson

Some newfangled Egyptologists (I’m looking at you, Jeremy Naydler! Here’s a high five while we’re at it!) are assailing the staunch anthropological old-guard with some pretty high-fallutin’ hypotheses. These rogue scholars pluckily postulate that the collective papyri forming the Egyptian Book of the Dead are not merely a funery handbook of spells and incantations for dead folks hankerin’ to make a graceful transition to greener pastures. Instead, they’ve laid claim that this ancient, cadaverous tome should be read as a manual for the art of ‘practicing dying’ by us lucky folks topside o’ the soil. I can, and do, emphatically believe the chutzpah of these incendiary eggheads, and not just because I practice dying most every day with desolate relish. Ancient Egypt stinks to high heaven of Shamanistic inclinations! Animal-headed deities, a shamanistic Priesthood highly esteemed within the stratified society, hieroglyphs & papyri a’plenty showing profound knowledge of plant lore and altered states of consciousness, psychoactive ritual cocktails that may (or may not, juries out) have included mandrakes and poppies, transmutation rites, guiding the souls of the dead hither and tither…must I go on?!

Like Naydler postulates in Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts: The Mystical Tradition of Ancient Egypt, I’m high on believing the secret of the Egyptian Mysteries could very well lay in the concept of the body itself as a kind of tomb, enclosing godlike candy that has the potential to escape from the earthly realm entirely and dwell amongst the stars. Naydler writes:

“The akh is that part of our inner being that can be considered divine. It has the potential to escape entirely from earthly and even cosmic limitations, and it is through the akh that we can receive divine wisdom and insight. Only once the ba (what we would consider the soul, or consciousness) is seen to be independent of the body, then it is possible to come to know the akh, which was seen by the Egyptians as luminous and associated with the sun, and which, after death or through the ritual of the mysteries, found its place among the stars.“

If we’re in the business of discarding tombs both real and imagined (which I am), Nymphaea Caerulea, the Sacred Blue Water Lily of the Nile, would be an excellent ferry cross the river Styx. Carrying in its serpentine, cerulean DNA a shamanic cocktail of disintegration (apomorphine) and communion (nuciferine), she truly is Hermetic gnosis manifest- a vehicle for the ecstatic alchemical separation of body and spirit, a botanical simulacrum of simultaneous ‘solve et coagula’. Nuciferine serves to ‘strip off the garment’ of the lotus eater, while the euphoric tendrils of apomorphine liberate the akh, the luminous sun of our inner being.

As the sacred flower of the pharaohs, her plant manna was used ritualistically by the ancient Egyptian noblesse to produce shamanic ecstasy and hypnotic trance in magical rites, mostly involving the gruesome twosome of sex and death (9 out of 10 words in that last sentence make me exuberantly, erotically excited). Chinese botanists (my favorite kind, this side of Luther Burbank), were convinced the lotus had the ability to transcend the limitations of time, as they believed she flowered and bore fruit simultaneously. As a ritual libation, I’ve been ensconced in a wanton love affaire with Nymphaea Caerulea ever since ingesting a hydrosol distilled from her cerulean buds at a workshop with John Steele on Shamanism and Fragrance in Ancient Egypt.

All this epically erotic entheogenic Ethnobotany gets me terribly hot and bothered, but the REAL reason I fell in love with the lotus is because of how she’s pollinated. It’s truly the hottest piece of pornography this side of Georges Bataille. Sacred scarabs are lured into the dark waters by the lily at dusk, no match for its irresistibly miasmic pineapple musk. They intoxicatedly feast on the central petals, so engorged with lily liquor they fail to notice when the flower closes over them. The anthers then ripen and shed their pollen over the trapped beetles, whilst the flower descends back into the black waters of the Nile, for a night of Bacchanalian revelry in an underwater boudoir of velvet pollen, beating wings, nectar victuals and ecstatic sex. As Ra rises over the horizon, the enshrined altar re-emerges above the water, and the beetles are set free to do the walk of shame across the banks of the Nile.

The first time I heard this story, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I was simply bereft at being relegated to a lifetime of banal ‘human sex’ in church pews and Burger King bathrooms. Not content to suffer beyond this lifetime with the paltry constraints of human biology, I vow that my love and I will incarnate as bandit beetles next time we spin ‘round this rusty wheel. I promise to ensconce us in orgies of Saturnalian stamens and sub-aquatic romps in flowery coffers, of pollinated perversions and death rites in the ether.

In this lifetime, ritualistic victuals of lotus wine will have to suffice. You can make your own sacraments with a decent bottle of Rosé, a few ounces of Nymphaea Caerulea, and a few shakes of a lamb’s tail. Simply take 20 grams or so of lotus, crack open your bottle, skim a few chugs off the top, and soak your petals in the juices for three days to three weeks. You’ll want to re-cork your vessel and store it in the fridge until it’s time to commune. Like most lovely things, she’s a bitter pill, and her unguents may need to be cut with a little raw honey to sweeten the deal. I spent some time enchanting my brew for use in oracular ritual and tomb-discarding tumult. It’s always good to be on the same page as your elixirs. 

Like all noblesse flowers of the Philistines, Nymphaea has her very own God presiding over those bodacious blooms. Nefertum is the Egyptian god of the lotus and perfumery, an archetype of rejuvenation and anointment. As an avatar of Nefertum, ingesting the lotus into your temple (lotophagus, as the Greeks say, cause Ancient Greek makes me swoon) is akin to the ribald Dionysian rite of enthusiasmos, a state of being quite literally ‘filled by the gods.’ So make like Alan Watts and leave ‘your skin-encapsulated ego’ behind! Ra, Ra, shish boom Ra! 

The Tao of Tincture: Shou Wu Chih Longevity Tonic

Shou Wu Chih

“The root of the 50-year-old plant is called “mountain slave:” taken for a year, it will preserve the black color of the hair. The root of the 100-year-old plant is called “mountain brother:” taken for a year, it will bring a glowing complexion and a cheerful disposition. The root of the 150-year-old plant is called “mountain uncle:” taken for a year, it will rejuvenate the teeth. The root of the 200-year-old plant is called “mountain father:” taken for a year it will banish old age and give the power to run like a deer. The root of the 300-year-old plant is called “mountain spirit:” taken for a year, one becomes an earthly immortal”

- Li Shizhen’s famous Materia Medica of 1578, Bencao Gang Mu

Shou Wu Chih is the classic longevity tonic of Chinatown apothecaries, a murky, amber elixir sitting soddenly on dusty old shelves, winking at ya coyly with esoteric splendor.  Anchored by the magnanimous moxie of He Shou Wu (Chinese Fleeceflower Root), it finesses one’s savoir-faire by nourishing the blood and essence, warming the stomach, boosting the spleen and strengthening the tendons and bones. One could use this medicinally for anemia, poor digestion, arthritic aches & pains, sexual joie de vivre, and increasing sperm count. One could also knock a few back before meals as an aromatic aperitif.

There’s a fabulously gallant fable culled from the annals of Chinese esoterica that immortalizes the braggadocio of He Shou Wu. Its history dates back to 800 AD, and it has still remained a colloquial anecdote in both Chinese households and herbal circles.

Old Mr. He was an impotent curmudgeon (I’ve always thought of him as a grizzled Chinese Kris Kristofferson), a dastardly drunk who honky-tonked all night and slept alone under the stars. One portentous Sunday-morning-coming-down, he found himself nursing a Haggard-sized hangover in the fields, staring up at a bodacious vine twisting and twining itself into the cursed heavens. Its bedeviled root reminded Mr. He of two lovers intertwined, and sensing a message from Lady Nature, he decided he would grind the root into a powder so that he could sustain himself while he rotted in the woods. Within months, Mr. He had a raging libido and the vim & vinegar of a teenager. Within a year, his snow-white hair turned back to pitch-black, earning He Shou Wu its name: ‘Mr. He’s Black Hair.’

Shou Wu Chih

Raw herbs for Shou Wu Chih can be procured at your local Chinatown Apothecary – I love the chaotic sprawl and epic tea selection at Wing Hop Fung in downtown Los Angeles. If you prefer to peruse the ether, you’d be much obliged to check out Spring Wind DispensaryFat Turtle HerbsNuHerbs and Mayway.

For this tincture, you will need the following accoutrements:

He Shou Wu/Fleeceflower (Rx. Polygoni Multiflori) 50 g
Dang Gui (Rx. Angelicae Sinensis) 50 g
Huang Jing (Rhz. Polygonati) 40 g
Sheng Di Huang (Rx. Rehmanniae) 20 g
Chuan Xiong (Rhz. Chuanxiong) 15 g
Bai Zhi (Rx. Angelicae Dahurica) 14 g
Sha Ren/Cardamom Pods (Fr. Amomi) 4 g
Fo Shou (Fr. Citri Sacrodactyli) 5 g
Ding Xiang/Cloves (Fl. Caryophylli) 2 g

1 Liter Prairie Organic Vodka

1 gallon glass jar, for infusing your medicinals

Muddle your medicinals with your vodka in a sterilized glass vessel with a secure lid. Age for at least one month in a deliciously dingy crevasse of your liking. Take one shot of this affable alembic daily, or mix with warm water, freshly squeezed lemon and raw honey for a Taoist Toddy.

Debaucherous + Decadent Damiana Elixir

Damiana, Vanilla Bean, Saw Palmetto, Angelica Root

Damiana, Vanilla Bean, Saw Palmetto, Angelica Root

This tawdry tincture is a real Cassanova, and has quite an illustrious reputation as the delightfully lascivious libation of the Aztecs. Known for centuries as a potent sexual and nerve tonic, Damiana grows wild throughout the American Southwest, and has been used throughout indigenous cultures in Central America and Mexico. With his cohorts Saw Palmetto and Angelica by his side, and a heavy-handed dose of vodka and honey, this tranquilo tonic harmonizes the reproductive system and spreads the good vibrations. It is not to be used during pregnancy, though it surely may enhance the odds of having one.

This recipe is from herbalist Lori Herron. You will need the following accoutrements:

750 ml bottle of Organic Prairie Vodka (Non-gmo vodka distilled from corn, cooperatively grown in the heartland of Minnesota! Swoon!)

1 oz Damiana Leaves

2 Tbsp Saw Palmetto Berries

2 Tbsp Angelica Root

2 Vanilla Beans

1 Gallon Glass Jar

Distilled Water

1 cup local Honey

Measure out your herbs, adding them all to your gallon jar. Pour the whole bottle of Vodka over them, ala Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Seal your jar and put in a cool, dark place so it can do its sultry magic in private. Keep your empty Vodka bottle for later. After one week, strain the mixture through a coffee filter and save the liquid (this is where your empty Vodka bottle comes in handy). Re-soak the herbs in your gallon jar, this time adding 750 ml distilled water. Let this sit for another week, then strain yet again. Heat this mixture just enough to dissolve one cup of local honey, remembering to thank the bees for their beautiful bounty. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a bit, and then add your vodka infusion.

Don’t hit the sauce just yet- you must age the whole thing under the cloak of darkness for at least a month! Be mindful, and remember the wisdom of the wizened sage Axl Rose-all we need is just a little patience.

You can take a few ounces of this ambrosial elixir daily as a nice Yang Tonic, or add it to cocktails for a whole ‘nother kind of medicine (recipes pending). Word on the street is that a chalice of this balmy brew shared with your beau will induce euphoria and a heightened sense of communion. Hoist the chalice!

Reishi Bears

Botanarchy Test Kitchen

Botanarchy Test Kitchen

Lion’s Mane, Reishi and Bears, oh my!

These lil’ grizzlies are choc full o’ qi-tonifying, jing-boosting goodness. Handmade with love and chocolate-stained fingers in the Botanarchy kitchen with raw cacao, coconut palm sugar, Balinese vanilla beans, sea salt and a smattering of potent tonic mushrooms- Reishi, Shitake, Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps, Maitake and Fu Ling. Hubba hubba! This is my secret formula based on sacred longevity tonics of yore.

Medicinal mushrooms have a bona fide arsenal of legend and lore surrounding them, inspiring tales of immortality, thousand-year-old Taoist sages, ancient Emperors combing remote forests and spiritual seekers attaining enlightenment at their behest. Referred to as ‘the food of the Gods’ by the Romans, 'a gift from Osiris’ by the ancient Egyptians, and 'the elixir of life’ by the Chinese, they are a pan-cultural panacea of epic proportions. The ravishing red Reishi mushroom in all its waxy crimson glory has the esteemed honor of being the most researched herb in history (!!!), and has been one of the most sought-after substances known to man. She’s a rare and elusive bird that grows on hardwood trunks & roots in wily remote forests (a true mountain hermit if there ever was one), inspiring clandestine mushroom-foraging expeditions the world over. 

Without waxing poetic on these waxy bulbs for pages, I will simply say that these adaptogenic fungi possess an innate intelligence that re-calibrates the body, bringing balance and urging forth our latent potentials. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, tonic mushrooms have the unique ability to preserve the body’s three treasures: Jing, Qi and Shen. Jing stokes your primal power, and replenishes energy spent handling stressful situations & livin’ La Vida Loca. Qi improves your resistance to disease, and recent studies have proven that tonic mushrooms are nature’s most powerful known anti-oxidant, packing major blood-cleansing, anti-aging, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer heat. Shen is the energy of the heart, and on the allopathic plane these fastidious fungi function as a cardiac and brain tonic, sharpening concentration & focus, helping calm the mind, taming anxiety, strengthening the nerves and improving memory. On a more profound plane, Shen tonics are the elixirs of Spirit, uplifting and unearthing the heart’s true potential, asking what the seeds of your soul wish to manifest, feeding them with their rich & ruddy sod, and spreading the seeds of your consciousness in all directions. As my main squeeze Terence McKenna would say, the mushroom wants you to evolve!