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

Art by Denis Sheckler

Art by Denis Sheckler

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

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

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

  1. What are the foundational myths of your culture?

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

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

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

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

From WomanSpirit Quarterly

From WomanSpirit Quarterly

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

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

Ditch The Tampon And Re-Wild Your Period!

Rewild Your Period

“Contact with menstrual blood turns new wine sour, crops touched by it become barren, grafts die, seed in gardens are dried up, the fruit of trees fall off, the edge of steel and the gleam of ivory are dulled, hives of bees die, even bronze and iron are at once seized by rust, and a horrible smell fills the air; to taste it drives dogs mad and infects their bites with an incurable poison.”

–Pliny The Elder, Natural History: A Selection

Western civilization’s lust for blood has never extended beyond the fetishization of death and gore, shunning the cyclical bloodletting central to the sacred feminine and scorning it as polluted miasma. As such, menstruation is the ultimate taboo. In our culture of ‘no-period’ birth control pills and pharmaceutical cycle suppression, menstrual cycles have become something of an evolutionary anomaly. This is due in part to the stigma of inconvenience and impurity that pervades the way we talk about menstruation, if we dare to talk about menstruation at all. For those of us that prefer to remain feral, oldfangled, and bodaciously bloodied, the options for corralling our crimson flow might seem, at first glance, scanty and stodgy. We have inherited a musty marketplace from the corporate patriarchy dominated by bleached tampons and déclassé disposable pads. Although these moldy oldies are considered the status quo of the $3-billion-a-year feminine care industry, there is no definitive research assuring their long-term use is actually good for our health. One could bleed for thousands of moons without ever encountering the hefty dossier of menstrual products that exist outside the Tampax box. Along with keeping Proctor & Gamble and the military-industrial complex from oozing its slime into your vagina, these alternative menstrual products support women-owned businesses, ecological welfare, gynecological health, and the re-claiming of the feminine experience, bringing the stench of blood back into the homestead. 

According to The Guardian: 

“On any given day, millions of American women are menstruating – and more than half of them are using tampons. What many of those women don’t know is that there is no research that unequivocally declares these feminine hygiene products safe, and independent studies by women’s health organizations have found chemicals of concern like dioxin, carcinogens and reproductive toxins present in tampons and pads. The multi-billion dollar feminine hygiene industry likes to say that the amounts of those toxins in a single tampon is very low. But the average woman who uses tampons will use over 16,800 during the course of her lifetime – and there is almost no data on the health effects of the cumulative use of tampons over a woman’s lifetime.”

Though I disdain the rampant sensationalism of ‘toxins’ and the fear-mongering and shaming (often targeted at women) that comes with such proclamations, I strongly believe that the overuse of conventional tampons poses a serious threat to women’s health. In addition to increasing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome by encouraging the bacteria to grow when left inside the vagina for an extended period of time, tampons can also stick to the vaginal walls, especially when blood flow is light, causing tiny abrasions when they are removed that create an environment for bacteria to proliferate. Conventional products also leave behind fibers that can irritate tissue and further cause bladder and vaginal infections, and they absorb the natural fluids and friendly bacteria that enable the vagina to self-regulate. I’ve had a slew of patients that have resolved reproductive health issues ranging from menstrual migraines to pain during intercourse simply by stopping the use of conventional tampons. 

Through the years of bloodshed, my vagina has hosted such luminaries as organic cotton tampons, the Diva Cup, and The Keeper, although these days I remain eternally faithful to my menstrual sponge from Holy Sponge. The righteous gals of Holy Sponge are menstrual priestesses, who ceremoniously ensconce their sponges in ritual moon kits that include two sustainably-harvested sea sponges, organic tea tree oil to disinfect the sponges at the end of each cycle, a cotton bag to hold them tight between uses, and hand-foraged herbs for smudging and bathing. If enshrouding the pliant ostia and oscula of a supple sea creature in your holiest of caverns isn’t romantical enough to woo you away from the tampon forever, here’s a gaggle of other reasons to heed the call to re-wild your period: 

+ No peeing on the dastardly dangling string. 

+ No drying out the tissues of the vagina.

+ Bloodied, discarded sponges can double as offerings to Cthulhu during a frenzied rite.

+ Sponges are supple and soft, and infinitely more cozy than the brittle bullet of a conventional tampon.

+ With proper care, sponges can be re-used for up to a year of cycling.

+ Sponges are naturally spawning, and replenish themselves when harvested ethically.

+ Sponges are hermaphroditic, and symbolize the divine union of opposites.

+ Sponges are biodegradable, and will return unto the chthonian depths imbued with the seeds of your blood magic.

+ Sponges can be worn during sex if your partner is sheepish about earning their red wings.

Menstrual Sponge

Once you decide to break your covenant with the tampon, you will have roughly ½ cup of menstrual blood each mooncycle at your disposal. If you are certain you are free from any bothersome blood-born pathogens, you can begin to explore extending the livelihood of your menstruum through these utilitarian blood rites. Should you decide to re-purpose your menstrual blood like a truly pragmatic bleeder, you will want to store your scarlet sorcery in sterilized jars in the refrigerator, much like a good Rosé. Here are a few re-animation rites you can use to get the most out of your monthly menses~

Harvest Your Stem Cells at the Menstrual Blood Bank

Menstrual blood contains stem cells that have the prodigious property of being able to morph into various other kinds of cells such as cardiac, neural, bone, fat and cartilage, a miraculous feat of incredible protean prowess. Truly the elixir immortelle, menstrual stem cells have similar regenerative capabilities as the stem cells in umbilical cord blood and bone marrow, AND pack the added punch of further incensing the neo-conservative right (because, you know, PERIODS). Cell banking is an emergent technology that cryo-preserves your menstrual blood in a medical setting, for future potential use treating life-threatening diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, and ischemic wounds. Clinical trials utilizing stem cells are encouraging and abounding, and are only limited by the religion-poisoned, obstinate worldview of a cringing old-guard patriarchy. To quote the scripture of Oingo Boingo, “From my heart and from my hand, why don’t people understand, my intentions?! Oooh…weird science!”

Concoct Magical Elixirs 

The same pluri-potent puissance that is the driving force behind the magic of stem cells can be harnessed in ritual to enchant your brews. Known in alchemy as the ‘Elixir Rubeus,’ menstrual blood possesses a fluid intelligence that has been used by surreptitious sorcerers for aeons to bewitch potions and consecrate talismans. Use a dollop or dram in your kitchen magic (it is particularly strong during the full moon) to open your heart, ignite your will, gestate the seeds of your creative endeavors, fertilize your desires, and commune with your carnal, animalistic self. There is, of course, etiquette and propriety involved in the handing out and ingestion of such rarified kitchen alchemy. Be a classy witch- use your discretion and always exercise good taste.

Take Notes for your Acupuncturist

Traditional Chinese Medicine has a rich and storied tradition of diagnosing systemic patterns in the body through observance of the menstrual cycle. Your blood sends you messages in passenger pigeons of clots and cramps. A well-trained Chinese Medical Physician can interpret the augury of bloodstains and mood swings, and use this knowledge to inform herbal formulas and acupuncture point prescriptions, even for issues not related to your menses! We LOVE when our patients show a pioneering spirit, and take detailed notes on the color, thickness, quantity, and flow of their blood. It helps us craft the best possible treatment protocol to address your health needs. Before rinsing your sponge out in the sink, take a moment to ruminate on the nature of your flow, scribbling a few notes before sending it off in a proper Viking funeral down the drain. No pen and paper handy in that urinal? You can use ‘My Moontime,’ my new favorite cycle-tracking app (thank you, Erin Olivia!) that allows you to imbue your ebb and flow with sacred sorcery by teaching you how to interpret your cycle signals, take hold of your fertility, and tether your magic to the flow of the moon.

Fertilize Your Garden

Menstrual blood is ripe with the fecund seeds of sex, growth, and death (a garden’s best friends), and is an amazing source of natural nitrogen. With a little research and a few precautions, it can be added to compost as an alternative to synthetic fertilizer. Combine it with a little bone meal for the most heavy metal garden sludge the Dark Gods could ever muster. I wouldn’t necessarily do this if I was currently in the throes of taking antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, or synthetic hormones, as these compounds could taint the vibe of your organic brew. 

Add it To Homemade Ink

Create a rubicund mirepoix of beetroots, blackberries, and menstrual blood wrung from your sea sponge to make DIY ink, dripping with the hexxxy hue of bloodied rubies. You can reserve this ink for love spells (boring), or use it for graffiti hexes marking agents of the patriarchy with flaming scarlet letters, or create sigils encoding the magic of destruction.

If you long to learn more about menstrual sponges & un-hexing the crimson curse (who doesn’t?!?), the ladies of Holy Sponge! will be holding court at the Women’s Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 13th for ‘Take Back Your Period: A Conversation on Blood and Shame.’ You can sign up online at Otherwild.

“The great mother whom we call Innana gave a gift to woman that is not known among men, and this is the secret of blood. The flow at the dark of the moon, the healing blood of the moon’s birth - to men, this is flux and distemper, bother and pain. They imagine we suffer and consider themselves lucky. We do not disabuse them.

In the red tent, the truth is known. In the red tent, where days pass like a gentle stream, as the gift of Innana courses through us, cleansing the body of last month’s death, preparing the body to receive the new month’s life, women give thanks — for repose and restoration, for the knowledge that life comes from between our legs, and that life costs blood.” 

–Anita Diamant, The Red Tent

A Botanarchy Independence Day Rite of Re-Wilding

Botanarchy

“I am afraid of cities. But you musn’t leave them. If you go too far, you come up against the vegetation belt. Vegetation has crawled for miles toward the cities. It is waiting. Once the city is dead, the vegetation will cover it, will climb over the stones, grip them, search them, make them burst with its long black pincers; it will blind the holes and let its green paws hang over everything.”
-Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea

As a reclamation of the spirit of Independence Day, we should get randy and riled, and exercise our right to overthrow power systems that do not value our personhood and the rights of the planet. We can harness the martial melee of the red-blooded fireworks exploding around us and imagine systems of oppression falling to ruins. We can invoke the wrath and ire of rampant over-industrialization & capitalist greed, in order to topple them by the force of will.

I offer up this ritual as a tool for self-sovereignty and empowerment, as an exploration of earth-based consciousness, or a magical weapon to target structures destroying human liberty and the planet. It has been performed on a number of occasions with much aplomb, to target the military-industrial complex, corporate plutocracy, rampant consumerism, the prison-industrial complex, destructive industry, and big pharma.

Background    

The witch has been created by the land to speak and act for it.”
-Peter Gray, Apocalyptic Witchcraft

Botanarchy marks the end of the repression and exploitation of natural and human resources at the hands of hierarchical structures, patriarchal paradigms, and opportunistic, parasitic industry. It is the crack in the concrete where the Dandelion crawls through, the stone wall of the cathedral choked in moss, the anima mundi of Swamp Thing. It is the reckoning of vegetative consciousness, of emancipated, green chaos dancing upon the ruins of a toppled society. Botanarchists are agents of rewilding, the biological conservation movement based on re-introducing predatory, carnivorous species back into the wilderness to restore and protect the environment. An homage to the cabalistic power of plants, Botanarchists bow down before their profound provocations of healing and gnosis. The work we engage in is the marriage of traditional witchcraft, indigenous herbal medicine, and anarcha-feminist collectives from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

The purpose of Botanarchy is to support oppressed & enslaved populations (women, the poor, the sick, those poisoned by noxious philosophies and tyrannical religions, those enslaved by autocratic structures that do not value their personhood, any structure that exploits people and the planet for profit), and bring about changes that allow ALL sentient beings to live and thrive. The core of my work is based on Ecofeminist theory, and doesn’t advocate the fire and brimstone destruction of the world marked by apocalypse, but instead advocates replacing despotic power systems with a feminized, earth-based system valuing collectivity and connectivity, representing a shift in PARADIGMS. It hearkens to what Terrence McKenna deemed ’the archaic revival.’ It acknowledges a relationship between patriarchal oppression and the destruction of nature in the name of progress and profit, and looks towards how we can counter the violence inherent in these processes.

“It’s clearly a crisis of two things: of consciousness and conditioning. We have the technological power, the engineering skills to save our planet, to cure disease, to feed the hungry, to end war; But we lack the intellectual vision, the ability to change our minds. We must decondition ourselves from 10,000 years of bad behavior. And, it’s not easy.” 
– Terence McKenna


STATEMENT OF INTENT

It is our will to liberate the natural world from its parasitic relationship with destructive technology by invoking Botanarchy, and unleash it as a predatory species to re-wild the ecosystem and reinstate the reign of earth-based consciousness.

MATERIALS


Soundtrack: Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi. This is the score to Glass’ film of the same name, a rumination on the Hopi concept of ‘Life Out of Balance’ or ‘Life Disintegrating.’ Koyaanisqatsi is also the mantra of Botanarchy. It is the battle cry of the forest, alluding to three Hopi prophecies harkening to the destruction and disintegration of the natural world at the behest of ‘progress.’ It calls upon the need for a reckoning to bring balance back to the earth in the wake of the wreckage. The tracks ‘Prophecies’ and ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ work exceptionally well back to back for the duration of the rite, followed by a ribald dance party to Blue Oyster Cult’s Dancin’ In The Ruins.’


Supplies: Foraged plant material & forest debris used to restrain, choke, batter, whip, assault, and beat parasitic industry into submission. An expedition of Botanarchists can be dispatched prior to the rite to collect vines, cactus paddles, leaf whips, switches, bark, and dirt for this purpose.

PROCEDURE
The ritual should be performed in the evening, in a temple in the Witchwood. It is also entirely suitable to perform this in public, or in a gussied-up living room of your choice.

Invocants will arrange themselves into two separate camps: Those who will invoke unrestrained industrialization, and those who will invoke Botanarchy. Industrialists will begin naked, standing, in the center of the temple. Botanarchists will begin nude, on their knees, in the periphery, armed with their arsenal of vegetation. 

A Priestess of Botanarchy will fumigate the temple with Incense and cue Phillip Glass’ Koyaanisqatsi

Industrialists will invoke the oppressive sprawl of noxious industry, summoning it forth in spews of caustic aggression. If they choose to, Industrialists can invoke a particular archetype, godform, or agent of industry that resonates with them personally, representing the unfettered dominance of patriarchal hegemony. They many choose to invoke a structure they want to see destroyed, i.e. a coal plant, Monsanto, the Northwest Pipeline, etc.

In the vegetation belt, Botanarchists will invoke Botanarchy, crawling, twining, and sprouting forth vegetative consciousness. They can chant the mantra Koyaanisqatsi (‘Life Disintegrating’) silently or lightly, if the spirit moves them.

As the industrial tumult boils to a crescendo, Botanarchists will crawl towards the city armed with their pincers, vines, paddles, switches, and stumps. The plants will strip, restrain, batter, whip and overtake Industrialists with their vegetative weapons. Botanarchists should whip the Industrialists into submission, silencing them with any and everything at their disposal. Chanting of Koyaanisqatsi may become audibly louder at this point. Eventually, the Botanarchists will bring the Industrialists to their knees, enshrining them in plant matter. 

With the city now in dust, Botanarchists entwine themselves over the wreckage, covering it with their mossy debris. All will chant Koyaanisqatsi along with the score until the temple falls silent.

Banish with an ecstatic naked dance party to Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Dancin’ In The Ruins’.

Remember, magic is a weapon. It is the end of complacency, a vector of will shooting in an infinite trajectory toward what you envision. It is a skillful adjunct to radical activism, a hand-forged sword to brandish in the face of oppression along with its bedfellows collectivity, education, and mobilization. Use it well.


“Nature is not our enemy, to be raped and conquered. Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored.”

– Terence McKenna