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.

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!

A Magical Bath Ritual for the Spring Equinox

Spring Equinox

Amongst the ancient Orphic cults of Hellenistic Greece, Protogonos was a beautiful, golden-winged, hermaphroditic deity, the Primordial Being hatched from the serpent-entwined Cosmic Egg. This proverbial ‘Orphic Egg’ was the source of the entirety of the universe, and Protogonos was the uroboric lightbringer, emerging from Chaos bursting with golden life. His name means “bring to light,” “manifest,” and "make appear,” the seed of all magic. To Carl Jung, he represented the generative force of all nature: 

“He is the magnificence of all renewed suns. / He is the joy at every birth. / He is the blooming flowers. / He is the velvety butterfly’s wing. / He is the scent of blooming gardens that fills the nights.’ First-Born and Eros (Love) — being the seed of gods and men.”

The Vernal Equinox, dank with the scent of its own blooming gardens, is rearing its leafy, crowned head this year on March 20th. This is traditionally a time to mark the coming of Spring and the bursting feracity of the land through ritualistic rebirth and the honoring of fertility gods & goddesses. Beyond the orphic thaumaturgy of the Hellenists, the ancients en masse would celebrate the fruitfulness & fecundity of this time of year through the worship of a talismanic egg, decorated and offered as gifts to bring blessings of abundance in the coming year. Easter is the progeny of all this pagan gaiety, albeit an impossibly wan re-appropriation of ancient fertility worship that is conspicuously lacking in the sex and sorcery of its progenitors. Eggs, ribald rabbits, jubilant parades, and resurrection are all aflutter this time of year, without the context of what these archetypes conjured for their worshipers. 

One popular tale of the Germanic origins of Easter eggs centers around the goddess Ostara, from which Easter takes its name. Ostara is said to have found a wounded bird upon the ground late in winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare, but, as legend states, “the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs…the hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Ostara.”Cosmic eggs laid by an amalgamated winged hare?! Don’t mind if I do!

In the Christianized version of Easter, Jesus is the only one that gets to resurrect, and we are all left slaving on the hamster wheel of our respective pedestrian prisons. Here’s a seasonal magical ritual you can use to resurrect qualities lacking from your present state of existence, and bro-down with your inner hermaphroditic, golden-winged Protogonos. This year, the equinox aligns with a total solar eclipse (!!!) and new moon in Pisces, the PERFECT time to tap into generative powers and hatch your own cosmic egg. Using a bathtub, some eggs, and a little moxie, you can launch into a shamanic exploration of emerging from Chaos re-born, dissolving into primordial nothingness and re-constellating inside a Cosmic Egg containing the raw DNA of a new, intentional universe. Because how the heck else would you herald the coming of Spring?  

Materials

Bathtub, Jacuzzi, or Hot Springs: If you opt for Hot Springs, I am swooning at your feet. 

Six Black Eggs: Symbolic of cosmogenesis from deep within the black void of Chaos, these six eggs hearken to the creation of the universe. In Buddhist cosmology, the universe is represented by the number six. Six is the sum of the four cardinal directions, plus the top and bottom, containing all matter within its orbit. The black eggs are also emblematic of the opening stanza of the Orphic Hymn to Protogonos:

O mighty Protogonos (First-Begotten), hear my prayer, twofold, egg-born, and wandering through the air; bull-roarer, glorying in thy golden wings, from whom the race of Gods and mortal springs.

In advance of your equinox bath, have a crafting day and dye a few ‘equinox eggs’ with dark Easter egg dye or chalkboard paint. Take some time to meditate upon the qualities you wish to call forth from the honeysuckled breezes blowing forth from Springtime’s lair. Upon each egg, use a piece of chalk to draw a different symbol or sigil, encoding a desire you wish to manifest in your newly conjugated universe. Dream big- Spring is on your side with an epic eclipse, and lusty joie de vivre for miles! 

Six White Candles: The six white candles correspond with the six black eggs, and glow with the formative seed of creation, conjuring Protogonos as the personification of light:

‘Tis thine from darksome mists to pure the sight, all-spreading splendour, pure and holy light.

Matches: To light the six white candles, obvi.

Myrrh: The sacred fumigant burnt by Orphic cults to honor and invoke Protogonos. You can use this to smudge and purify your space.

Procedure

1.     Prepare your temple space in the bathing chamber. Arrange your eggs upon a makeshift altar, and draw yourself a scolding hot bath, to which you can add any florid & fancy accoutrements you see fit. The bath should mimic the primordial waters of Earth from which the Orphic Egg was hatched, a cosmic slop of crude energy in a vast, untethered nothingness. So maybe ditch the rosy bath beads for some Dead Sea salts or volcanic clay.      

2.     Find yourself a suitable soundtrack of swampy, nebulous depth, and broadcast it loudly in the bathroom temple. I love Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'Lyeh Wgah'nagl Fhtagn by the artist Cthulhu {Biomechanical}. You can find this online here. It’s a tremendously lovely amorphous drone that invokes a sense of vast, primeval murk, and a palpable sense of terror & possibility permeates any space into which it’s blared.

3.     Consecrate your bathroom & body temple by smudging a censer of Myrrh, the sacred fumigant of Protogonos. Envision the tendrils of the etheric smoke blurring the lines of your current reality.

4.    Before submerging yourself in the primordial waters, kneel in reverence at the foot of the bath, and incant The Orphic Hymn to Protogonos, invoking him with spontaneous ecstatic movement:

To Protogonos

{Fumigation from Myrrh}

O mighty Protogonos (First-Begotten), hear my prayer, twofold, egg-born, and wandering through the air; bull-roarer, glorying in thy golden wings, from whom the race of Gods and mortal springs. 

Erikapaios, celebrated power, ineffable, occult, all-shining flower!

‘Tis thine from darksome mists to pure the sight, all-spreading splendour, pure and holy light; hence, Phanes, called the glory of the sky, on waving pinions through the world you fly. 

Priepos, dark-eyed splendour, thee I sing, genial, all-prudent, ever blessed king. With joyful aspect on these rites divine and holy consecration propitious shine!

5.     Immersing yourself in the black waters of Chaos, use all the meditative powers your can muster to coax forth a deep trance. The most powerful trance states spontaneously devolve into an exploration of body without form, trudging through the ethereal molasses of the waters as unconjugated debris. Let chaos inhabit your form, and evoke itself through you with ecstatic contortions that defy reality, obliterating this world and its prohibitive natural laws. 

6.    From this emptiness, begin to imagine your body morphing into an egg… the egg form ensconcing your body in nebulous tendrils, suspending you as an embryo in dark, chthonic solution. Allow yourself to become strangely buoyant, and bob in the water as if taken hostage by the undulations beneath you. Imagine yourself taking shape for the very first time, the billowing tumult of your soundtrack chanting you into form. 

7.     When you feel complete, break through your egg, feeling through the blackness for the matchbook on your altar. Light each candle one by one, the explosion of light jolting you into form, like Protogonos breaking through the Orphic Egg as an all-shining flower with golden wings. 

8.     One by one, take each egg into your hands, exploring the sacred symbols scrawled upon them in deep trance, until they dance off of the egg and impregnate themselves deep within your consciousness. At the apex of communion, drop the egg into the cosmic slop, the waters washing over the symbols and bathing the egg in newness (like reverse Easter egg dyeing!). The rite should take on a quality of levity, with shining radiance breaking through the thick mud. 

9.    When you feel fully present and thoroughly new, step out of the waters and bask in the glow of your sparkling newness. The world is your oyster- Happy Equinox, radiant beings!