Scalp Acupuncture

Scalp Acupuncture

Scalp acupuncture is gaining notoriety for its ability to help stroke patients regain motor function after an ischemic event. Scalp acupuncture prevents and reduces edema in the brain, stopping further damage to brain tissues. It also promotes perfusion in the brain, restoring blood and oxygen to brain cells to save them from dying after an ischemic attack. It also helps break down blood clots! While a wondrous therapy for stroke patients that I have had the slack-jawed honor of witnessing at the Emperor's College Stroke Clinic, scalp acupuncture can benefit any condition with a neurological component, from Parkinson's to Multiple Sclerosis to Anosmia and Migraines. I even use it for depression! The entire human body is mapped out on the curves and crevasses of the cranium... as above, so below! 

Herbal Allies: Wu Wei Zi // Schisandra Berry

Schisandra

This tart little scarlet strumpet may look like a banal berry at first glance, but it just so happens to be one of my favorite fierce hormone allies. In cases of estrogen dominance seen in certain forms of endometriosis, PCOS, irregular menses, PMS, insulin resistance, and fibrocystic breast disease, Schisandra Berry can help the liver detoxify excess estrogens through the 2-hydroxyestrone metabolite production pathway. It increases glutathione levels, an antioxidant that helps your body repair damage caused by stress, pollution, radiation, infection, drugs, poor diet, aging, injury, and trauma. Schisandra also boosts the health and energy of muscle cell mitochondria and balances the pH of cells during exertion, which increases endurance during exercise and relieves fatigue. Not only does it pack a puissant punch to the liver, cardiac tissues, and muscles, but it also has the ability to relieve emotional anxiety and improve sleep. This is one of the reasons it has been revered as an anti-aging beauty tonic by ancient Chinese herbalists and modern holistic hoi polloi alike. I use this berry in custom herbal formulas for my patients, but I also like to dose my smoothies with a hefty spoonful of #jingherbs Schisandra powder.

Food of the Coconut Gods

Coconut Gods

Let's talk dirty. The average adult has 2-6 pounds (!!!) of microbes in their gut. There is 10x more bacteria than all human cells! It is like Midtown Manhattan up in there, so crowd control is necessary. So many essential metabolic functions in the gut are carried out exclusively by our microbiota, which is why you should seed the belly regularly with high potency probiotics, like this absolutely ambrosial vegan coconut yogurt from @coconutgods. Keep your microbiome in check with a few tangy tablespoons per day, or make your own with a yogurt starter and a little elbow grease.❤️

Matcha Avocado Soft Serve

Matcha Avocado Soft Serve

Green to soothe my stressed liver, soft because why bother chewing, ever.

2 frozen bananas, 1 ripe avocado, 1 teaspoon matcha powder, a dash of cinnamon, and raw honey to sweeten, all churned old-world style in a food processor. Top with surreptitious sprinkles of bee pollen and coconut. Eat with a golden spoon because you're fancy.

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.

Morning Congee

Heart Spirit Congee

Medicinal rice porridge, or 'congee,' is the nutritional foundation for optimal health in traditional Chinese medicine. Simple and fuss free kitchen witchery, the basis of congee is one part rice to 6 parts water simmered in a slow cooker overnight with minimal elbow grease or finessing. In 'The Book of Jook', one of my favorite repositories of congee recipes both egalitarian and exotic, Bob Flaws explains that "in Chinese medicine, the prognosis of any disease is based on three things: spirit, stomach qi, and root. Spirit refers to the heart spirit which is nourished by qi. Root refers to the kidney essence which is also nourished by qi. Once the stomach qi fails, we can no longer make qi and blood postnatally and thus must decline. It is believed in traditional Chinese medicine that when the vital energy of the stomach is depleted, the disease will be incurable, and that is why rice porridge is considered to be the most fundamental of dietotherapeutic foods." My favorite part about being a Chinese medical physician is that my prescription pad is not limited to pharmaceuticals, and I get to relish in the simple transformative magic of prescribing personalized congee formulas to my patients using medicinal herbs and foods. This one is comprised of mulberries, spirit Poria mushroom, Chinese dates, and goji berries, and is for supplementing the liver and boosting the kidneys, enriching yin and blood, moistening the intestines, brightening the eyes, and calming the heart. ❤️

Herbal Allies: Bai Shao / / White Peony

PCOS

Let’s talk about ovulation. 


Be it the ubiquity of endocrine disrupters in our post-koyaanisqatsi, hyper-industrialized cosmos, or a food pyramid dominated by behemoth agribusinesses pushing processed foods over ancestral diets, or perhaps even the unrelenting pressure heaped upon women by themselves and society, many of us are hard pressed for a good old fashioned regular ovulation. 
White Peony Root, also known as Bai Shao, has a bona fide plethora of clinical research backing up its ability to treat ovulatory disorders and PCOS, making it an herbal ally bar none for those seeking to regulate their cycle. White Peony Root improves aromatase activity in the ovaries, which promotes the conversion of testosterone (which is often elevated in PCOS patients) into estrogen, thus lowering those pesky testosterone levels. Clinically, it also demonstrates a significant improvement in the ratio of Luteinizing Hormone to Follicle Stimulating Hormone, two hormones that work together to encourage ovulation whose balanced ratio is paramount in producing a period. White Peony Root also significantly decreases Prolactin levels, which can be considerably raised in PCOS patients, resulting in irregular periods, breast tenderness, low sex drive, painful intercourse, vaginal dryness, acne, and excessive facial hair growth. If you’re looking to whip your menstrual cycle into submission (gently, and with a clearly defined ‘safe word’, of course), find yourself a clinical herbalist who can work White Peony into your hormonal treatment plan.

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

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!

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!   

Ritual Medicine: Magically Charged Immune Tonic

If one cannot obtain medicines 

One can live still to several hundred years of age,

If one fully grasps the principles

Of cultivating Qi and practices daily.

Indeed, humans exist within the Qi

And Qi exists within humans.

From Heaven and Earth to the myriad things,

Qi is pervasive.

There is nothing that does not rely on Qi for life.

-Master Ge Hong, The Book Of The Master Who Embraces Simplicity, 4thCentury C.E

Qi Gong Immune Tonic

Ritual and Medicine were once entwined in a caduceus of consanguinity, an ouroboros of serpentine synergy. Mutually engendering one another, they coaxed forth each other’s latent powers and filled in the gaps in their respective repertoires. Most traditional medical systems still honor this alchemical marriage, but our current hegemonic medical paradigm has been ripping up the paperwork and denying them rights. As a healthcare provider, it’s fashionable and expected that I shirk away from this brouhaha and peddle the antiseptic certitude of allopathic care with sophistry & absolutism. However, indigenous medicine places the physician as a mender of chasms, honoring the prosaic prowess of each paradigm and fusing ritual and remedy as one. 

On a forced sabbatical recuperating from the pernicious three-week flu that recently swept Los Angeles, I was reminded of how important it is to fuse ritual & medicine, particularly when you’re wilted and supine, struggling to find your mojo in a disempowered mire. There’s nothing more humbling then being banished to your bed by a gruesome malady, a victim of capricious circumstance failed by your own flailing biology. It is in these ashen hours that a call to arms is ever so crucial, so that we may remind ourselves of our ferocious latent powers and re-connect with the seeds of our quieted magic. This is a simple, homespun ritual that I like to do at the advent of cold & flu season, when I feel an itchy tingle beckoning in the back of my throat, or when I’ve got tendrils of pestilence bristling within my body. The purpose of this rite is to strengthen the body’s energetic shield and first line of defense, and allow its innate curative alchemy to expel any lingering pathogens. As magic is best when it’s a prosy pastiche of incongruent passions, this ritual draws upon Traditional Chinese Medicine, kitchen witchery, and the ancient Taoist art of qigong. This can also be done as a protection rite in a circle of priests & priestesses, should you be lucky enough to have a slew of fellow witches and warlocks to bro-down with. 

BACKGROUND

Qigong is the ancient Taoist art of cultivating qi from the abundant environment, and circulating its healing helices of gossamer elixir throughout the body. Through qigong, we can tap directly into the diaphanous motive power that operates the universe, and sycophantically siphon it into our own body cauldron. Qi is everywhere…within, without, above, below, giving life to all things. Its nature is to move and change, and the root of all health problems, be it injury, illness, or aging, involve the stagnation and circulation of qi and blood. Its harmonious flow is the basis of all ancient Asian medicinal and magical practices. 

This simple equation, culled from the magnificent book The Healing Promise of Qi by Roger Jahnke, appeases both the science nerd and wizard in me, and distills the myriad mysteries of qigong into a basic formula: 

Practice + Intention = Inner Harmony = Qi Flow = Health and Longevity

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the lungs are inextricably linked to qi. Doctor Shen’s Compendium of Honoring Life (Shen Shi Zunsheng Shu), a Chinese medical text from1773, states that “the lung is the master of qi. Above, it connects to the throat; below, it connects to the orifices of the heart and the liver. It is in charge of inhalation and exhalation, and, in more general terms, the flux of coming in and going out.” The optimal functioning of the lungs ensures vitality and fortitude for the body en masse. The Statutes of Medicine (Yimen Falü), another Chinese medical text from 1658, illuminates this relationship, stating that “all bodily qi has its physical origin in the lung. If the lung’s qi is clear and straightforward, then there is not a single type of qi in the body that will not obey and flow along smoothly. However, if the lung qi becomes obstructed and turns murky, then the qi dynamics of the entire body will start to go against their natural flow and start to move upwards instead of downwards.”

The lung also has the unique distinction of being the uppermost organ in the body, an envoy between the external evils and the internal sanctum, uniquely susceptible to pathogenic factors like wind and cold. The lungs control the strength and circulation of Wei Qi, the ancient Chinese medical term for the body’s defensive energy and proverbial force field. Wei Qi warms the body and protects one’s self from the rigors of the outside environment. If you catch colds easily, have low energy or require a long time recuperating from an illness, your Wei Qi may be deficient. This ritual uses qigong and kitchen alchemy to strengthen the lung energy, boost Wei Qi, and ensure the harmonious flow of qi throughout the body.

GROCERY LIST

Your ritual libation will be a magically-charged ‘Wei Qi Tonic,’ comprised of horseradish root, white onions, hot peppers, garlic, ginger root, and apple cider vinegar. In some circles, this is called ‘Fire Cider,’ though amongst my kinfolk it is lovingly referred to as ‘Plague Tonic.’ Plague Tonic is white and pungent to support the lungs, as this combination of color and taste resonates with the element metal in five element correspondences within Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can find directions on how the Botanarchy test kitchen makes this infernal brew here. Priests & Priestesses could also use an immunity alembic of their choice in lieu of the Plague Tonic. A strong hot toddy, a shot of fresh pressed garlic juice, oil of oregano, cayenne & lemon water, whatever tickles your pickle. Ideally, your libation will be zesty, fiery, and entirely NOT sip-worthy. But with a dash of magical zeal, anything radiating with the harmonics of healing will do.

PROCEDURE

When you fall ill, first regulate the breath,

Ingest the Qi, and fix your attention on the afflicted area.

Practice holding the breath, 

And by means of conscious attention

Visualize the breath concentrating in the afflicted part.

Visualize the Qi attacking the illness.

When you can no longer comfortably hold the breath,

Exhale very slowly.

-The Immortal Master’s Treatise on the Absorption of Primordial Energy

1.    Prepare the space with a banishing ritual that you vibe with, and an incense or smudge wand of your choice. Ai Ye, Mugwort, would be an excellent fumigant for this rite, as it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to purify pathogens, and ‘warm’ deficient conditions within the body. 

2.    Sit your Priests & Priestesses in a circle in a comfortable seated position, each with a chalice of Wei Qi Tonic. If you are rolling solo, just plop down and have at it.

3.    Call upon a pathogenic factor you wish to expel. This could be an ‘emotional pathogen’ plaguing the body, such as lingering bad habit or traumatic event, or it could be a physical ailment, such as a runny nose or sinus headache. Attune to the physical locus of the pathogen within the body, and fix your attention on the afflicted area. Where does it linger? Is it heavy, oppressive, constricting? Does it feel hot? Sticky? Smokey? Summon it forth, feel its viscerality, and let it grow. Connect with its noxious character and feel it licking the walls of your viscera. 

4.    When the pathogen has been effectively summoned, slowly imbibe the Wei Qi Tonic, and feel its vigorous heat burning away the putrid evil of the pathogen. Sip slowly and with fierce intention until a visceral response is elicited. This could be anything from a hearty sweat, to a cough, tearing eyes, digestive noises, cathartic breath, or a sensation of lightness within the body. When you feel you have expelled your pathogen, push your ritual chalice to the center of the circle.  If you are working with a group, this will signal to the other Priests & Priestesses that it is time to move on to the Wei Qi cultivation portion of the rite.

5.    Now that you have purified your body, gather the Heavenly Qi of the universe and store it within you. Begin by standing comfortably in Horse Pose. Circle your arms over your head as you inhale Heavenly Qi through the lungs, drawing the qi down through your arms as you rest them in a circle over your umbilicus, exhaling Evil Qi out of your lungs. Visualize spirals of healing qi descending into the lungs, and disseminating protective Wei Qi over the surface of the body. Repeat at least 5 times.

6.    Electrify the Wei Qi, and increase the diameter of its energetic field by relaxing and shaking the body vigorously for at least one minute. Imagine golden white light enshrouding you with protective mojo that no ills can permeate.

7.    Give yourself a Wei Qi bath, by rubbing your hands lightly over the entire surface of the body, starting with the head and face, moving down the outer legs, and back up through the inner legs, dousing the body in energized, electric Wei Qi. 

8.    Once thoroughly exulted, close the rite by taking a few deep breaths to honor your inner physician. Whenever you feel persnickety, pestilent, or fatigued, know that qi is bounteous, free, and omnipresent, the marrow of the universe ripe for the suckling. Enjoy in robust health~! 

Herbal Allies: Pang Da Hai

Pang Da Hai Karaoke Seed

Known in Asia as ‘The Karaoke Seed’, Pang Da Hai tea has been soothing my stressed throat all week, after a ribald weekend of duetting to Kate Bush at top volume. This gem of an herb is wonderful to have on hand for singers, speakers, teachers, rabble rousers, or anyone prone to voice loss, raspiness, sore throat, and dryness. Pour hot water over the seed, and watch as a magnificent, jellyfish-esque sea creature emerges. Pinkies up!

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.

Roasted Bone Marrow Jing Tonic

Bone Marrow Jing Tonic

Delicious moons of luscious Jing, immune-enhancing bone marrow is high in white blood cell- boosting trace minerals, collagen, and gelatin. Roast your grass fed beef bones with minced garlic and cracked pepper at 450 degrees for 25 minutes, and spoon the necromantical custard onto toasts, or right into your mouth.

DIY Raw Butter

DIY Raw Butter

YOU GUYS…did you know that you can make your own raw butter in a Vitamix?!? Raw butter has been on the fritz in Los Angeles for MONTHS, but the lovely folks from @organicpasturesdairy at the Hollywood Farmers market assured me that I can finesse my own raw butter out of their organic raw cream. All you need to do is whip it on high in a Vitamix until thickened, then blend in 5 second spurts on setting 5, pausing every 5 seconds to scrape the sides with a spatula. At some magical juncture, the buttermilk will separate, and you’ll be left with a lusty mound of creamy butter. Strain off the buttermilk, press the mound to remove excess moisture, and voila! No more raw butter blues!

Chinese Herbal Bone Broth

Bone Broth

Never does a week go by in our household where the scraps of our epicurean labors aren’t heaped in a giant enamelware pot and stewed for hours while we mill about the homestead. We’re fanatical about our bone-collecting, surreptitiously slipping chicken carcasses into napkins under the table, asking waiters to box up our goat bones after indulging in a hearty pot of Birria De Chivo Goat Stew. The result of our rampant scrap-mongering is a rich, profoundly nourishing bone broth, imbued with golden melted life-force, exceedingly nourishing to the illustrious Three Treasures of Chinese Medicine:

Jing, our Essence, the source of life, the basis for all growth, development, and sexuality.

Qi, our energy, giving us the ability to activate and move our bodies, whilst protecting us against external and internal pathogenic factors.

Shen, our inner light, the vitality behind Jing and Qi, the mental and spiritual force that shapes our personality and spirit.

Bone Broth- or ‘stock’, depending our your particular cultural milieu- is a pan-cultural old world panacea, utilitarian kitchen alchemy transforming vegetable scraps and bones into pure nutritional gold. Heaps of vegetables, herbs, and leftover bones are pragmatically piled in a pot, and left to simmer slowly for long periods of time, extracting every morsel of function and flavor. The resulting infusion is a gently potent brew, teeming with trenchant, bio-available nutrition, easy to digest and suitable for all matter of medicine, both preventative AND curative. A complex, rich mosaic of variegated flavors, it is also an opulent addition to stews, soups, sauces, poaching liquid, grains, beans, and porridge, transforming blasé cooking water into a savory swill. It nourishes our tendons, ligaments, skin, bones, and blood, keeping us limber and spry, with an assassin-worthy immune system. As a grounding force in our otherwise hypersonic, twenty-first century lives, it forces us to spend a few hours a week at home, tending to our hearth fire. If I seem a little in love with it, it’s because I am. I get to melt bones in a giant pot, like a surly wizard necromancer.

Many moons ago, before I was religious about my bone broth, I was stricken by a persnickety set of symptoms that left me vacillating between a sprightly 20-something yoga warrior and a knobby, decrepit old crone. One day, I would be handstanding in yoga class like nobody’s business, and the next day, I could barely touch my toes, plagued with spells of tightness, pain, and numbness, accompanied by bouts of sleep seizures that made me feel ancient, neurotic, and utterly powerless. After getting diagnosed with a vague autoimmune disease, delivered with a despondent, helpless send-off from the Western Medical Hegemony, my homegrown recovery was rooted in cutting out all inflammatory foods (gluten, sugar, ungainly processed rubbish), and going the way of old man Hippocrates by using food as my medicine. Through Traditional Chinese Medicine and the wisdom of thee Weston A. Price Foundation, I discovered the ancient magic of bone broth, and have never looked back. Years later, I am symptom free (though on occasion, I go to town on Chocolate Stout and homemade bread), and enjoying all sorts of bendy melee on the regular. And really, despite seeing tons of under-the-weather patients daily, have developed a super-human resistance to colds and flu. I make my cauldron of bone broth weekly, and drink a cup a day, increasing in times of debauchery, disorder, or debilitation. I suggest this to everyone that walks through my door, as I’ve seen countless miracles in managing all matter of disease (you can check out the foxy graphic below from Vanessa Romero at Healthy Living How To for a list of its wiles and wonders).

If broth seems too good to be true, it’s because it is. Our leery, infirmed culture has taught us to be inherently disdainful of anything that seems ‘too good to be true’, a silly idiom I’ve always despised for shading the world in a Saturnine hue, thwarting the everyday magic of simple things, and propagating the ‘snake-oil’ mythos that impedes the advancement of traditional medicines. I much prefer the wisdom of wise old Yeats, who knew that “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

Why is bone broth so beautiful? The venerable Dr. Mercola at The Mercola Institute drops some science on this egregious elixir below, adding some credence to my highfalutin claims:

BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH

Helps heal and seal your gut, and promotes healthy digestion: The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid. It attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

Inhibits infection caused by cold and flu viruses: A study published over a decade ago found that chicken soup indeed has medicinal qualities, significantly mitigating infection.

Reduces joint pain and inflammation, courtesy of chondroitin sulphates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage. (Aside: glucosamine and chondroitin are usually sold over the counter as fancy supplements for arthritis).

Fights inflammation: Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine all have anti-inflammatory effects. Arginine, for example, has been found to be particularly beneficial for the treatment of sepsis (whole-body inflammation).Glycine also has calming effects, which may help you sleep better.

Promotes strong, healthy bones: As mentioned above, bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation.

Promotes healthy hair and nail growth, thanks to the ample gelatin in the broth.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Large Stainless Steel Stock Pot or Crock Pot

Roughly two pounds of organic chicken, beef, lamb, or fish bones, procured from a local butcher, or culled from recent feastings and stored in the freezer until needed. We’re talkin’ carcasses, knuckles, and hooves, oh my! If you plan on making a habit out of your stock making shenanigans (which you should!), I suggest finding a sympathetic meat peddler to bro-down with in your hood. In Los Angeles, I’m sweet on J&J Grassfed Beef. You can peruse sustainably raised local livestock on LocalHarvest.org, or check out the CrossFit gyms in your area, as many CSA’s are starting to offer gym delivery.   

¼ cup vinegar: Of paramount importance, for extracting the minerals from the bones into your broth.

A Mirepoix, consisting of 1 coarsely chopped onion, 2 carrots, and 2 sticks of celery.

Other coarsely chopped vegetables and assorted kitchen detritus: Perhaps the most admiral facet of broth is its commonsensical use of otherwise discarded cooking debris, with a peasant zeal otherwise reserved for Bruce Springsteen. Yellowing parsley, disfigured carrots, celery tops, blood-red chard stalks, onion skins, the graveyard of your heroic juicing efforts, haunted specters from the crisper… they all get their day in the sun. Your ingredients will be subject to the capricious nature of your weekly eating habits, producing a protean olio that is romantically un-reproducible from one week to the next. We keep a jar in the freezer that we fill with our forsaken vegetable fragments just for this purpose. My mainstays for flavor are 1 bunch of parsley, 2 quartered potatoes, a few hearty sprigs of rosemary and thyme from the garden, and a few cloves of garlic.

1 tsp black peppercorns

Fresh, cold water

I love to add a smidgen of Chinese herbs to my brew, to enhance and direct the healing vectors of my broth. 2-3 ounces of each herb should do the trick, always being intuitive with your needs and working with what you have on hand, like the cunning egalitarian Kitchen Witch that you are. These folks are mainstays in my cabinet, and on any given Sunday, I may sprinkle a smattering of the following into my cauldron:

A handful of Dang Shen/Codonopsis Root: To help strengthen the qi, counter mental and physical fatigue, build blood, and nourish body fluids.

Perhaps 5-10 slices of Huang Qi/Astragalus Root: To boost the immune system and strengthen qi, ensconcing one in protective energy that helps prevent illness due to external influences.

Certainly always a knuckle or so of Sheng Jiang/Fresh Ginger Root: To stoke the digestive fires and stimulate the circulatory system.

A pinch of Xi Yang Shen/American Ginseng Root: Boosting gentler Ginseng tendrils than the Chinese or Korean varietals, an admirable addition to combat fatigue and stress, whilst improving athletic and mental performance,

Dong Quai/Chinese Angelica Root: The ultimate femme tonic, invaluable for strengthening the blood, nourishing the reproductive organs, regulating menstruation, and alleviating period pain.

Shan Yao/Chinese Wild Yam: A lovely anti-inflammatory that tonifies qi, nourishes yin, and strengthens the spleen, lungs, and kidneys, particularly puissant after a long-term illness.

A sprinkling of Shan Zhu Yu/Dogwood Fruit: An excellent astringent herb and reproductive tonic that strengthens the liver and kidneys, while securing leakage of vital essence.

6 or so strands of dried Dong Chong Xia Cao/Cordyceps Mushroom: My most favorite herb in the Chinese pharmacopeia, Cordyceps is hailed on the street as the Himalayan Viagra for its revered ability to increase stamina, sex drive, virility, strength, brainpower, athletic prowess & focus. It’s a favorite of Chinese Olympians, so you know it’s gooch.

HOW TO

1. Break your precious bones up into smaller pieces (ideally about 3 inches long), with kitchen scissors or a fun weapon (living with a ninja has infinite perks). This will increase the surface area of bone exposed to the water, giving you a higher nutrient yield.

2. If using beef bones, you’ll want to roast your bones until browned at 400 degrees F for roughly 60-90 minutes to add richness.

3. Place the bones in your stockpot or crockpot, along with your vegetables, scraps, peppercorns, and Chinese herbs. Cover with cold water, adding a few fingers for good measure. Add your splash of vinegar and cover with a lid.

4. Slowly bring your stock to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer gently for 6-48 hours (yes, I know 48 hours is a very daunting commitment in our breakneck world). I love to use a crockpot, because you can just pile all your business in, turn on high until boiling, reduce to low, and then promptly forget about it whilst retiring to your bedchamber for the evening. It’s so egalitarian, I can hardly stand it. If using a stockpot, you can use the following guidelines (and your own pending commitments) to gauge cooking time: 6-48 hours for chicken bones, and 12-72 hours for beef and other meats.

5. Give your bone broth the occasional shout-out during simmering, checking to see that there is always a fair amount of water covering your accoutrements.

6. At some point, you will inevitably notice a thick, insalubrious scum rising to the top of your broth. Many folks will trick you into thinking you MUST skim this off routinely, to clarify the product and make a finer tasting brew. To this I say, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” The whole skimming off the top thing is sadly overrated, as testing has shown that this “scum”, while unsightly, contains nothing harmful. If you wanna be fancy, go right ahead. Otherwise, fret not!

7. When you’re ready to call it quits, remove your bones with a slotted spoon, discard, and strain the rest through a colander into a large bowl. If you’re feeling spry, you can strain again through a sieve or cheesecloth to achieve an extra-fancy, clear broth. Chill your luscious potion of collagen and gelatin in the fridge, until the fat congeals and rises to the top. If you want a liquid broth for cooking purposes, you can skim the fat off and store the remaining liquid in the fridge for roundabout a week’s time. However, if you want your broth to drink like a rich toddy of hot buttered rum, I say leave the fat on (we do), and enjoy your broth like molten velvet bone mojo. Enjoy in radiant heath, golden ones!

Drinkable Skin Care: Mung Bean Milk

Mung Bean Milk

Have you found yourself a hotsy totsy mess these dog days of endless summer, perched upon a porch whilst fanning yourself feverishly like a woebegone Southern Belle, misplaced teen angst smoldering across your face in blazing embers of pimply muck & mire?! Perhaps you feel that the wistfully winsome 1990’s renaissance happening with your footwear & Spotify playlist should stop short of a nostalgic bout of adult acne. For those kindred spirits that find themselves a sticky heap of hot & bothered ire in this oppressive swelter, here’s a quick and easy food cure to clean up your complexion, soothe the Mean Reds, and clear toxic heat from the body.

Ruled by Yang and the element Earth, late summer is marked by the union offire and damp, the sweltry dynamics of the two alembics stewing like sultry prunes in the cauldron of Earth’s atmosphere. As above so below, our ‘body cauldron’ mirrors the dank doldrums of our soggy terrain, and if our inner equilibrium is thwarted, we will internalize the pathological essence of our environment. Hot and humid climates force our pores open, weakening the body’s defensive Qi and depleting our internal Yin, making us vulnerable to pernicious pathogens. Excess heat and damp can act like a vector for disease to root in the body, and we are left with a coterie of flu-like symptoms ranging from restlessness, hot flashes, headaches, copious sweating, nausea, sluggishness, vomiting, dry mouth and throat, profuse thirst, constipation or diarrhea, muscle aches, sore joints, turbid discharge, skin eruptions, dizziness, palpitations, and fatigue.

Mung Beans, humble verdigris pellets of puissance, have been used by the Chinese for ages to battle summer heat and damp heat conditions. They reduce pathological heat lodged in the body, and dissolve accumulated toxins, leaving us with a lustrous, clear complexion. Skin care from the inside out, Mung Beans address the internal environment that engenders breakouts, gently coaxing the body to a state of balanced bravado. Li Shizhen, the Grandpappy of Chinese Herbalism, wrote of them in his cherished herbal materia medica Ben Cao Gang Mu, proclaiming that “Mung Beans are highly recommended not only as a rich source of nutrients, but also as medication.“

Whether plaguing the skin in a pestilence of pimples & purulent eruptions, or cursing the innards with turbid discharge from the respiratory, genitourinary, or digestive system, damp heat is a lingering, loathsome pest. However, with a daily dose of the right food medicine, dynamic equilibrium is maintained within the body cauldron, letting the body heal itself. Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen: Recipes from the East for Health, Healing, and Long Life has a slew of inspired recipes featuring the cooling mojo of Mung Beans. However, my favorite is a simple, egalitarian milk made from the boiled beans, drunk daily as a skin tonic.

MUNG BEAN MILK INGREDIENTS

2 Handfuls of Dried Mung Beans/Lu Dou
4 Cups of Purified Water

Mung Beans

METHOD

Rinse your Mung Beans in a jacuzzi, holy well, or kitchen sink, removing any grit & grizzle. Boil the beans in four cups of water for roughly three minutes, remove from heat, and cover with a snug-fitting lid.  Let the beans stew for thirty minutes, strain, and chill your brew in a sacred vessel in the ice box until needed. Repeat the whole rigamarole once over with fresh water, to milk the most mojo from your batch of beans.

To clear up break-outs, drink one cup of milk daily for DIY skin care. Also suitable for porch-sippin’ like a Whiskey Cordial during Indian Summer in the City, for those days when all around, people looking half dead, walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head!

Cardamom Mint Coffee Elixir

What can I say, I LOVE busting out the good china. I will always, if ever so slightly prompted, make an occasion of everything, turning all banalities into a bona fide tête-à-tête. Raised amongst wolves of women that gathered daily for their coffee klatch, I’ve romanticized the ritual of drinking coffee to religious heights (as it should be, really), deifying its dark alchemy as a harbinger of inspired debauchery and lucid linguistics. The parlance of coffee is one of exhilarating candor, which can erupt into ecstatic bouts of speaking in tongues if given the proper prompting. This exotic elixir is PERFECT for sipping, to sink into the slipstream of unimpeded flow, and joyous communion with your hallowed kinfolk.

CARDAMOM MINT COFFEE:

1/3 Cup Organic Espresso, Ground

1 Tsp Cardamom, Ground

A Sprinkling of Rose Petals, Dried or Fresh

A Smattering of Fresh Mint Leaves, Plus 1 Sprig to Garnish Each Cup

HOMEMADE HEMP MILK:

1 Cup Raw Hemp Seeds

Coffee Elixir

4 Cups Purified Water

2 TBSP Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, or 2 Dates

1 Pinch of Celtic Sea Salt

A Dash of Raw Vanilla Bean, if so desired

To make the Hemp Milk, process everything on high in a suitably robust blender until frothy, creamy, and smooth. Store in a glass bottle for up to a week in the fridge, though I reckon it may never last that long.

TO PREPARE:

Brew coffee using your favorite alembics (I’m faithful to the French Press, drip be damned!), adding the cardamom, rose petals, and mint to your grind. Stir in alabaster opals of Homemade Hemp Milk, sweeten with a swizzle of coconut sugar, and garnish in your fanciest glass with a verdigris sprig of mint. Enjoy in a circle with a prized cabal of Priestesses, and hash out the week’s rigamaroo with pinkies raised~! ☙☕☙

Soup Cure: Four Deities Soup

Preventative medicine in a porcelain pot, Si Shen Tang 四神汤, ‘Four Deities Soup’, is an old school tonic remedy for all matter of melee thwarting zest & zing. I have been all sorts of obsessed with this soup since introduced to it by my Chinese Nutrition teacher, who’s hot-blooded zeal for food as medicine is unparalleled. Slurp by slurp, I noticed near immediate relief from digestive doldrums, and felt palpable rays of puissance wash over my seriously taxed bag o’ bones. This gentle soup can be utilized in a myriad of ways, from strengthening the digestive system, increasing appetite after illness or chemotherapy, battling fatigue, boosting the immunity, and calming a jostled nervous system. Because it’s taste is placid & mild, Si Shen Tang is the perfect source of nutrition for finicky kids with digestive distress. Though I find juice fasts to be haughty, ill-informed, & positively superfluous (life is entirely too vivacious to camp out on top of a Vitamix for weeks on end, eschewing commitments, kettlebells, and spontaneity), I CAN get down with a soup detox, which grounds, nourishes, and warms the body. Where juice lacks fiber & protein, shuts down the thyroid, dampens the digestive system, and contributes to wild fluctuations in blood sugar, tonic soups are PERFECT for a midsummer cleanse. They will sustain and simplify, supporting your organ systems without dampening and depleting your inner fire.
Soup cures are this bruja’s medicine of choice, nonpareil. Though you must be proactive, prudent, and vigilant in your preemptive preparation, using soup as medicine is an infinitely rewarding and deliciously empowering alternative to medication and surly interludes at urgent care. A dash of fastidiousness in the kitchen goes a long way in the gallant fight against acute ailments, chronic fatigue, and recovery from illness, by maintaining a buoyant & valorous flow of qi throughout the body.

INGREDIENTS

Though their pedigree may seem glamorously avant garde, Chinese herbs are a hoary banality, and customary staple in most Asian pantries for both healing and grubbing. All of the herbs below can be easily procured in your local Chinatown apothecary, should you have a local Chinatown apothecary. If Los Angeles happens to be your halcyon homestead, hustle on over to Tin Bo or Wing Hop Fung for a crash course in Chinese herbalism, and a fanciful frolic amongst shelves of dried fish maw, beetle skeletons, powdered horns, seahorses, and musty mystical mushrooms. Fresh fare- such as Sake and Chinese Yam- will be readily available at any Asian market, where you can also try your luck at finding rogue Chinese herbs to flesh out your budding collection.

1 Cup Job’s Tears Barley/Yi Yi Ren

Yi Yi Ren

A gluten-free barley (be still my heart!) that adds burly nourishment to even the most tedious soups, stews, and brews, Yi Yi Ren is a gloriously gratifying grain. Excellent for eliminating dampness, heat, and toxicity, it goes to the spleen, stomach, and lungs, aiding in digestive troubles, swelling, fatigue, urinary difficulty, abscesses, and joint pain. I was thrilled to learn recently that Yi Yi Ren is being used intravenously in China to shrink cancer cells, and has been exhibiting hefty anti-tumoral powers. It is, unfortunately, not suitable for pregnant women, though it’s wondrous in soups for conjuring postpartum joie de vivre.

1 Cup Lotus Seed/Lian Zi

Lian Zi Lotus Seed

A dapper bedfellow to Yi Yi Ren, Lian Zi is a meaty lil’ seed that nourishes the heart, spleen, kidneys, and vital essence. Another darling of the pantry, Lotus Seed is mild enough to beef up any feastly fête, excellent for cases of chronic diarrhea, urinary and reproductive disorders, low appetite, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, and palpitations.

1 Cup Fox Nut/Qian Shi

Fox Nut Qian Shi

Completing the trifecta of tonics, Qian Shi gently supports the spleen and kidneys, for frequent urination, diarrhea, diabetes, chronic discharge, and sore low back from stress and over-taxation.

A Few Pieces of Fu Shen/Spirit Poria Mushroom, Broken Up

Fu Ling Spirit Poria Mushroom

One of the most poetic medicinal mushrooms of the Chinese canon, Fu Shen is both a mushroom AND a morsel of host wood from the pine tree upon which she feasts. Thus she contains the rootsy, arboreal energetics of the tree, and the otherworldly, decaying detritus of the fungus. Spirit Poria nourishes the heart spirit, and the ancient Taoists believed that consuming this famed fungi 'leads to a long and happy life.’ It is used by those wishing to overcome anxiety, palpitations due to heart deficiency, insomnia, poor memory, worry, fear, edema, and urinary difficulties.

1 Raw Chinese Yam/Shan Yao, Grated and Sliced

Chinese Yam

Another boon for boosting spleen and stomach qi, Shan Yao is excellent for diarrhea, fatigue, spontaneous sweating, and lack of appetite. Also admirable for tonifying lung and kidney qi, it is an delightful herb for diabetics and those with chronic cough and wheezing.

3 Cups Sake or Mirin 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, rice wine invigorates and warms the channels of the body, quickening the flow of qi and enhancing the potency of herbs.

3 Liters Purified Water or Homemade Bone Broth

Should you be hoarding any homemade Botanarchy Bone Broth, this would add luscious flair to your brew. If water seems entirely too ho-hum for your tastes (which it won’t be, I promise), you can find my broth recipe here. I recommend a lighter broth, such as chicken, tempered with purified water.

A Heavy-Handed Sprinkling of Toasted Sesame Oil and Sea Salt, To Taste

Optional: Chicken or Pork

METHOD

First, sanctify your herbal assemblage by bathing it in water, and grate the scrappy skin off your Chinese Yam before slicing. Once your herbs have been happily hallowed, grab yourself a hefty stock pot, and throw in the Job’s Tears, Lotus Seed, Fox Nut, and Fu Shen with wild abandon. Cover with a liter of purified water, boil, and then reduce to a slow simmer with lid on for about 2 hours, until your herbs have sweetly softened. Pop on over about two shakes of a lamb’s tail short of two hours, and add the Sake and Chinese Yam. Once the yam is soft, season to taste with Sesame Oil and Sea Salt. Enjoy in robust health, surreptitiously slurping your bowl of medicine daily, until you have thoroughly coaxed your mojo back to life and hoisted the heebie jeebies right outta dodge.