The Botanarchy


“If the outside world fell in ruins, one of us would be capable of building it up again, for mountain and stream, tree and leaf, root and blossom, all that is shaped by nature lies modeled in us.”

- Hermann Hesse

Welcome to the Botanarchy Times: The Fifth Element Edition! In the five element calendar central to the teachings of Taoist Medicine, Late Summer is the ever-elusive fifth season, a poetic interlude of plumpness between the third week of August and the autumn equinox that hearkens the arrival of fall.

The Earth element reigns over her kingdom in Late Summer, and to understand her splendor is to romp in her amber waves of grain. Abundance and satiety abound in tandem with decline and decrease. With a tinge of melancholy and a golden brush stoke, the entire cosmos is swaying in a heat-drunk torpor to Bowie’s Golden Years as the earth does its best impression of a Fauvist landscape with languishing bodies lolling in the low-hanging sun.

Some may say, “my dude, that’s just summer!” But if you’ve been paying attention to the breath of nature, everything is… slowing down. There’s an entirely different flair to Late Summer than the swank and swagger of its sister season, Summer. Summer belongs to the Fire element, whose energy burns hot, bright, and fast. At the time of Late Summer’s emergence, the Fire element’s simmering cauldron has liberated the moisture hiding within Earth, and the air is pregnant, heavy, like an Earth deity herself, arms teetering with grain. The whole of the cosmos is telling the alchemical tale of how yin - substance - emerges from yang - energy. Can you feel it? (Hint - it’s sticky.)

This alchemical reaction creates an internal and external climate of dampness. In the internal ecosystem, dampness is akin to humidity, manifesting as things that are puffy, sticky, and heavy… think lethargy, lumps, bumps, boredom, brooding, bloating, mucus, phlegm, water retention, accumulation, and aggregation. Dampness slows things… thoughts, processes, metabolisms both psychological and physical. This is how Late Summer is distinct from Early Summer, which is marked by its speed, joie de vivre, and robust quickening.

In the collective cauldron, it feels like the simmer we’ve been soaking our nethers in has come to a rolling boil. As a physician who’s practice is built upon remediation, restoration, and respect for the body and its place within the natural world, I feel like the things that I hold dearest are under siege: the right to bodily autonomy and self-sovereignty, and protections against the exploitation and poisoning of our bodies & ecosystem at the behest of the fossil fuel industry.

I named my practice Botanarchy for a reason. Botanarchy hearkens to the idea that medicine can be a form of resistance, a pathway to liberation that fosters agency, awareness, and autonomy in the face of oppressive and extractive industries that do not center the health of the body and the planet. It’s always been my mission to empower my patients with the capacity to be their own authority, figure out their deepest needs, and partner with them in the radical act of learning how to live wildly beautiful lives in the body they were given, in the here and now.

While abortion is healthcare and access to safe abortion services is a human right, just and equitable healthcare doesn’t stop and start with abortion access. As a physician of East Asian Medicine, I have been trained that health exists in a web of relationships, and abortion access is no different. In a post Roe v. Wade country, ALL healthcare providers must educate themselves on how they can best serve their patients as a gateway to safe and compassionate abortion care. But we must also nurture the ecosystem that abortion exists within, which means our practices must include:

✿ body-literacy
✿ after-care
✿ sex ed
✿ cycle awareness
✿ racial justice
✿ trauma-informed practices
✿ ancestral wisdom (yes, even YOUR ancestors)
✿ the prioritization of rest

We are approaching a public health emergency. Whereas most of us can’t give abortions, we CAN participate in cultivating a thriving abortion ecosystem, and fill in the gaps of industrialized medicine as good healers, allies, activists, and collaborators always have.

Here are some resources you can share with your patients & kin:

@abortionfunds - find your local abortion fund

@plancpills - safe, self-managed abortion in all 50 states

@alloptionsnatl - support & resources for all pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption experiences

@efforg - digital security for the abortion access movement

It’s in this spirit that I’d also like to share a perpetually inspiring piece of writing from anarcho herbalist Laurel Luddite, a tiny piece of magic I read ages ago that never fails to rouse my qi. It speaks to a vision of an even broader healthcare ecosystem that engenders vitality through community-building and radical self-sovereignty. Enjoy!

Thoughts On Health and Healing For the Revolution

by Laurel Luddite

A society of people who are responsible for their own health and able to gather or grow their own medicines is a hard society to rule. These days we are dependent on the power structure of industrial health care - the secret society of the doctors, the white-male-dominated medical schools, the corporate decision makers with their toxic pharmaceuticals and heartless greed and labs full of tortured beings. That dependence is one more thing keeping us tied down to the State and unable to rebel with all our hearts or even envision a world without such oppression. With a new system of healing, based on self-knowledge and herbal wisdom, we will be that much more free.

Offering a real alternative health care system will help to calm some people's fears about returning to an anarchistic, Earth centered way of life. There is a false security in the men with the big machines, ready to put you back together again (if you have enough money). What is ignored is the fact that industrial society causes most of the dis-eases that people fear. Living free on a healing Earth while surrounded by true community and eating real food will prove to be a better medicine than anything you can buy.

What steps can we make now towards creating this new system of medicine? We all need to learn what we can about our own health. This can be through training in one or more of the surviving models of traditional healing and/or through self-observation. How do you feel when you're just starting to get a cold? What kinds of problems come up repeatedly, especially when you're stressed out? If you're a woman, how long is your cycle and what does the blood look like? Understanding how our bodies act in times of health can help us recognize the very early stages of dis-ease when herbs are the most useful.

People who have some background in healing (in the traditional or industrial systems) can be a great help to those of us just learning. Healers who are working to form this new model, whether collectively or through their individual practices, should keep in mind that commitment to the Earth and a decentralized form are central to truly revolutionary medicine.

In these times of change, everything is being examined and either destroyed, rebuilt, or created from our hearts. Industrialism has affected every aspect of our lives - we are just starting to realize how much has been lost. Medicine is just one part of the machine that we have to take back and re-create into a form that works for the society we will become. Every herb, pill, and procedure should be judged on its sustainability and accessibility to small groups of people. We can start with ourselves, within our communities and circles, but should never stop expanding outwards until industrial medicine rusts in a forgotten grave, a victim of its own imbalances.

May this newsletter help you to recognize the abundant resources Nature has bestowed upon you and the discretion to use them wisely, moving in sync with the cadence of nature to ensure that you remain in right relationship with the needs of your body and the needs of the land. We are all in this qi matrix together! ∞

In health and solidarity,



Avoid Gurus, follow plants


By Carolyn Barron Garcia

xuan 玄
Translation: “mysterious,” “hidden,” “dark,” “arcane”.

According to an ancient Chinese legend, when a flaxen pearl of pine resin falls to the ground and is buried like an arcane secret within the womb of the earth for a thousand years, it transforms into the mushroom Fu Ling - Poria - which bestows the gift of immortality. After another thousand years in the chthonic mystery school of Mycelia, it envelopes the pine root from which it sprang, and the parasitized root beams like a tiny roseate heart from the center of the Poria’s chest. It is then that it's transformed into Fu Shen - Poria Spirit - which is ingested to calm the spirit and quiet the heart. After another thousand years it becomes a golden nugget of amber, and after another thousand it reaches its perfected form of crystal quartz. The lifecycle of Fu Ling is emblematic of the spontaneous, generative perfection of Nature and the magic of Time, its innate preciousness an exposé of the Hermetic rituals that occur in the mysterious depths of the underworld where life, death, and transformation happen.

As an alchemical emissary, the mushroom is the center of the five-pointed star, the mycelial plug that yokes together the five elements of Water - Wood - Fire - Earth - Metal in a consanguine coniunctio. After many a’ sleepless night, I could never figure out whether fungi were the elusive sixth element or another thing entirely. Like yin and yang themselves, fungi are a union of opposites that defy direct categorization, polyamorous polymaths in a relationship with all of creation. Simultaneously a sprawling subterranean womb and a sunbathing phallus penetrating the sky, they are both a truffle and a yeast infection, poison and the antidote. Through worship and observation, I have come to understand them as Elemental Emissaries, for they are shapeshifters that live beyond the binary, beyond the veil itself… intersex, interspersed, living upon, betwixt, within, throughout. They untie the bodice of creation and then lace her back up again (they may even be the bodice itself). Dichotomous dillettantes, they are each of the five elements and none at all.

Because they clear out the old to make way for the new, they carry the banner of


generative & revitalizing whilst maligned & misunderstood.

Because they are the anatomy of soil, they are the flesh of thee


herself, stabilizing her creatures in their prodigious mycelial web.

Because they are decomposers that play in the underworld and dabble in alchemy, they bear the mark of


who’s minerals they liberate from the mortal forms that bind them.

Because they do dissolver’s work and plunge to the depths, they carry the imprint of


whose womb weaves with theirs as the sapphic Mothers Of Wood.

Because they bond to roots & trunks, they are welded in a reciprocal ouroboros with


casting symbiotic spells upon their countenance through dense labyrinths of mineral matrices.

In The Marvelous Fungus and The Secret of the Divine Immortals, scholar Dominic Steavu discusses with great aplomb the medieval taoist lore of “spontaneously manifesting numinous mushrooms.” Whereas most herbal medicines only grant health and longevity, ‘numinous mushrooms’ can bestow true immortality if ingested gradually, over exceedingly long periods of time. Herbal medicines, though suitable for thwarting disease and nourishing life, “cannot enable those who consume them to lightly ascend and ride the clouds, to fly about and have an audience with The Sovereign Of Heaven.” But numinous mushrooms certainly can, for they hail from the anointed class of “spontaneously occurring great medicines that requite no significant transformation since they are intrinsically perfect - a present from the gods to humans, a direct link to tao.” By consuming the numinous mushrooms, adepts “absorb the myco-mineral essence and use it to invert the cosmogonic process.” Whether this is a facet of their myriad regenerative health benefits, or a nod to their spiritual use in the internal alchemical art of Neidan, us non-adepts may never know. What is certain is that these marvelous fungi have mastered the alchemical art of spontaneous reversal, finessing life from death, renewal from ruin. This is why they are access points to the healing current of tao as it courses through matter, for the Tao Te Ching reminds us that being is born from nonbeing, “reversal is the movement of the Way.”

It is possible that Fu Ling is one such numinous mushroom. Fu Ling’s myriad medicines are espoused upon in Master Lei's Treatise on Preparing Materia Medica 炮炙論, China's earliest work on the processing of traditional medicine written by Song dynasty scholar Lei Xun. It is written about in the Shijing 詩, the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, comprising 305 works dating from the 11th to 7th centuries BCE. Ge Hong, the Grand Dame of taoist herbalism and alchemy, has no less than twenty two prescriptions containing Fu Ling in his Handbook of Formulas for Emergencies, the first emergency medicine work in the history of traditional Chinese medicine written between 284-363 CE. Xi Jian, the famed taoist occultist who harnessed the secrets of longevity to live over 300 years, was said to "dispense with cereals and only take Fu Ling as food.”

Hundred-foot pine roots knotted with Poria, thousands of years old, like a human form,
who knows that the golden pot is first ripe for cooking,
just when the mountain weng is drunk and awakened.

-Lu You, Song Dynasty Poet

Fu Ling hosts an entire ecosystem of medicines in the many splendors of its fruiting body. There is Fu Ling (Poria Cocos) itself, a coconut-shaped compact mass of hardened fungal mycelium usually found underground feasting on the roots of pine trees and conifers in the wild. Then there’s Fu Shen (Poria Spirit), mentioned above as the aged Poria sclerotium that contains a piece of the parasitized pine root in its center. Next we have Fu Ling Pi, the peeled outer skin of Fu Ling that contains its own distinct properties. Penetrating deeper into the mycelial mass is Chi Fu Ling (Poria Rubra), the reddened part of the fungus that occurs between the white inner part and the skin, better for clearing heat from the body on account of its scarlet hue. And a distinct polypore in its own regard yet oft-spoken of as Fu Ling’s kin, there stands Zhu Ling (Polyporus umbellatus), a similar subterranean wood-rot fungus that grows on the roots of oak and sweetgum trees.

Fu Ling (Poria Cocos)
Fu Shen (Poria Spirit)
Fu Ling Pi (Poria peel)
Chi Fu Ling (Poria Rubra)
Zhu Ling (Polyporus umbellatus)

The ancients believed that Fu Ling absorbed the essence of the pine tree that it grew upon, thus imparting an evergreen vigor and flexible spirit that could withstand the rigors of each season. This earned Fu Ling the name ‘four seasons magic medicine’, for its gentle graces are perennial, servicing each season’s weather and woes, be it wind, damp, dryness, heat, or cold. Fu Ling is sweet, bland, and light in taste, calm in nature, enters the heart, lung, spleen and kidney meridians, and has the properties of draining water accumulation, invigorating the digestive organs, boosting qi, calming the mind, and quieting the spirit. To understand its powers, one must think elementally and use all five senses, like a woodland crone discovering a scarlet berry in the witchwood for the first time, trying to decode if it’s friend or foe.

Fu Ling has the tactile quality of a firm, spongey mass, giving it a strong water absorption and filtration capacity. Water is the fluid matrix of life, but overly damp bodies can start to feel like a stagnant pond where scum rises to the top. Things start to thicken, coagulate, and stagnate as the earth turns to mud and the center becomes heavy. In the body, we might sense or feel the presence of turbid phlegm, cysts, lumps, bumps, swelling, and stickiness. Pathogens can fester. Urination might feel labored, obstructed, scanty, or incomplete. Like a sponge being squeezed, Fu Ling promotes urination and leeches out pathogenic dampness, without being forcibly draining like most diuretic herbs. In this capacity, it balances the body’s fluid metabolism without damaging the qi. In western biomedicine, it has been studied for its use in ‘damp’ pathologies, such as edema, tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, congestion, chronic kidney infections, urinary retention, fibroids, cysts, high cholesterol, and yeast infections.

Born of the soil and nurtured deep within her archean womb, Fu Ling bears the mark of the earth element and her various graces. Our embodied earth element is our spleen and stomach organs, the axis mundi and cosmic hinge for the whole of our metabolic processes, and the reverse equation of how yin - substance - creates yang - energy.  What a magnificent ouroboros this universe is! As five element acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett says, “the earth element governs our connection to the Earth in a way that empowers utilizing and integrating all sources of available nourishment in life so that our potential may be actualized.” Fu Ling can deeply nourish the soils, fields, and gardens of our center in order to engender a feeling of abundant prosperity. It invigorates the spleen and stomach, replenishes the qi, and helps us to digest both food and experience to bear the fruits of our emotional and physical labors. In this capacity, it is a critical component of most of our formulas that treat digestive and fatigue-related disorders, specifically studied in western biomedicine for IBS, diarrhea, poor appetite, bloating, chronic fatigue, diabetes, blood sugar regulation, stomach disorders, immune function, nausea, and vomiting.

Infused with the adamantine essence of the pine, Fu Ling is an embodiment of the towering tree’s grace, rootedness, fortitude, and quiescence in the face of nature’s changes. It can calm the mind, quiet the heart, and root the spirit, keeping the body a clear channel between heaven and earth. Fu Ling is like the taoist sages of yore who walk the middle way with fluidity and poise, never veering to extremes or succumbing to the seduction of excess. With an equanimous intelligence, Fu Ling works on behalf of the neuroendocrine-immune system to allow us to bend with the winds of change, however turbulent they may be. As a Plant of the Middle Path, Fu Ling is a component in many of our psycho-emotional formulas, and can treat anxiety, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, restlessness, palpitations, poor focus, and cognition issues.

Spirit tonic herbs like Fu Ling at their core help to recover the aspects of self often buried by stress and trauma, enhancing the body's innate capability to heal itself, gently nudging our psyches and soma toward homeostasis. Whereas the practice of East Asian herbalism rests upon treating each body as a unique emanation of the cosmos with its own specific needs, Fu Ling can be taken by most constitutions for health preservation and life-force cultivation in small doses. That said, there are some constitutions and pathologies that should shy away from taking it, so consult a trained herbalist if you are someone that suffers from constipation with dry stools, dry throat, dry cough, dry lips, dry eyes, or dry mouth, is pregnant or breastfeeding, or suffers from symptoms of ‘deficiency cold’ marked by frequent, copious urine, or spermatorrhea.

For a smattering of fascinating phytochemical and modern pharmacological studies on Fu Ling, scroll down to the bottom of this link.


1. Spirit Mushroom Tea for Summer Ennui



  1. Rinse the chrysanthemum flowers and Fu Ling under running water to remove any dirt and silt.
  2. Place the Fu Ling in a pot and add the 1/2 liter water.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, and lower the heat to simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Add the chrysanthemum flowers, cover the pot, turn off the heat, and let it stand for 5 minutes.
  5. Drink, and stop being such a summertime crankypants!

2. Fu Ling Brightening Face Mask



  1. Grind the Fu Ling in a coffee grinder or vitamix until powdered.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the powdered Fu Ling and the warm water until you have a nice looking paste. Adjust the water to Fu Ling ratio accordingly.
  3. Wash your face with warm water, and whatever ritualistic skincare accoutrements you so fancy.
  4. Wet the sheet mask, and spread it over your face. With your brush, spread the Fu Ling paste onto the sheet mask thick & evenly.
  5. Leave the mask on for 15 - 20 minutes whilst you listen to this podcast on mushrooms in East Asian medicine.
  6. Peel off the sheet mask and rinse away any remaining mixture.
  7. Bask in the luminous countenance that the magic mushroom imparts!

Acupoint Alchemy

‍Mythopoetic Medicine For Seasonal Alignment


By Carolyn Barron Garcia

Acu-Point Stomach 40 丰隆  translates to ‘Abundant Splendor.’ Abundant Splendor speaks to the concupiscent cornucopia of Earth’s myriad wonders, all of them ripe for the picking. It has the capacity to connect us with the ever-present abundance within and throughout. Like a sword that cuts through scarcity, it helps us awaken to the fullness of the moment, exalting in security, stability, satiety, and serenity. Abundant Splendor’s magic lies in its ability to transform physical and energetic phlegm, everything thick and sticky that is hiding in the recesses of the body.

For this AcuSpell, I recommend reposing in the Late Summer sun and following along to this track!

✿ Arrange yourself in a comfortable position, be it laying down on your back or sitting in a comfortable chair with your back held and supported.

✿ When your body feels ready, take a deep breath in, followed by a deep exhale out. Take another deep breath in, followed by a deep exhale out. Take a few more, just like that on your own count, inhaling and exhaling deeply, softening the muscles of your face and jaw, softening the muscles of your chest and diaphragm, softening the muscles of your belly and your pelvis, surrendering fully and completely into the support of the earth beneath you.

✿ Slide your right hand down the outside of your right leg ’til it rests upon AcuPoint Stomach 40, Abundant Splendor. Abundant Splendor is located on the outside of the lower leg, halfway between the knee crease and the ankle bone, about two fingers distance outward from the crest of the bone. Finding an AcuPoint is a lot like sex, you want to sink your fingers into the skin until you find that ever elusive quiver, sliding your finger over the valleys and peaks of the leg until it elicits an emotional or physical YES.

✿ As you move your finger in slow circles over the point, feel into the inertia of everything blocking you from feeling awake and alive to the wonders of the present moment. Allow these leaded sensations to be fully experienced. Drag them all up as if you were draining a swamp. With the motion of your hands, release these thick and sticky phantoms unto thee earth like a sickle-bearing reaper. With each rotation, feel the load lightening and lifting. Take as many passes as you need until you feel the thickness in your body dissipate like a lifting fog.

✿ Slide your left hand now down the outside of your left leg ’til it rests upon Abundant Splendor on this side, which is on the same spot halfway between the knee crease and the ankle bone, about two fingers distance outward from the crest of the bone. As you sink your finger into the flesh, awaken yourself to the sensorial splendors of being in a body, the resplendent banquet of life upon this earth.

✿ Begin to imagine your favorite scent. Feel it intoxicate you as if it were ensconcing you in its embrace. Awaken yourself to its full magnificence, catching every nuance and memory it elicits.

✿ Begin to imagine your favorite taste - feel its juices sliding down your throat as if the goddess herself was pouring this honeyed elixir from a sacred chalice. Allow the nectars of this ephemeral ambrosia to be savored luxuriously.

✿ Begin to imagine your favorite sight, filling up the entirety of your vision, ravishing you with its colors, nostalgia, visual poetry. Allow it to dance like a dream becoming flesh before your very eyes, delighting in this kaleidoscopic phantasmagory.

✿ Begin to imagine your favorite song, its aural alchemy filling your body with sacred vibrations, coaxing forth the rarest ecstasy. Allow yourself to become completely besotted until you are illuminated with elation.

✿ This ephemeral banquet of sensorial splendors rests perpetually inside of you, a concupiscent cornucopia of Earth’s majesties ripe for the plucking. You are the Empress tarot card, a silo filled fully to the brim, bubbling over with abundance. Hear the Empresses words now, spoken thorough her emissary Alejandro Jodorowsk in his sacred tome The Way Of The Tarot:

“I am activity, seduction, pleasure. There is nothing in me that is not beautiful. I am what I am, ever full and living. From the moment I incarnate within a body, it becomes sublime. Nothing nor no one can resist me. I am carnal, spiritual, total seduction.

Let me exult in you: I am the pleasure of being who you are, without prejudice or morals. I teach you that all your ideas are beautiful. Let your thoughts shine like the ephemeral stars in the firmament of your mind.

All your desires are respectable. Allow yourself to be permeated by desire; everything in your body is in harmony. The smallest cell is a world. Life is a constant miracle.”

Herbage Verbiage

Botanarchy Book Reviews


By Gabriel Barron Garcia

When Carolyn asked me if I would be interested in contributing a book review to Herbage Verbiage, I told her the only thing that could hold my attention lately was a thirty year old account of a humble furniture maker. I typically think of book reviews as being of current works, but Carolyn told me she had no rules except that it had to be about “nature, nature nature!” (typical). I responded that this work was more about living with trees and the forest, finding tao and one’s purpose, and following the way of the Karma Yogi than it was about the actual making of furniture.

George Nakashima (May 24, 1905 – June 15, 1990) was an American woodworker and architect. His innovations in the design of furniture were one of the major influences on the craft movement. The craft movement was a verdant celebration of independent makers who revivified time-honored techniques and design, using traditional materials such as wood or glass. Nakashima’s work was so immediately celebrated that a book was commissioned to catalogue his life’s work and philosophy. You will have encountered his influence in furniture design and motifs everywhere. His thoughtful, poetic style has only increased in popularity since his passing, and when you think of ‘live edge’ or single slab tables, you are thinking of him. For even though this style is not his own invention, he is associated closely with this technique that delivers us both an ancient past of simplicity, and an exquisite future of refinement.

Nakashima’s The Soul of a Tree is an homage to his life and the practice of woodwork, as well as a document that envisages wonderfully his technique and philosophy. Within this tome holds some of the best prose on the life of the forest that you will ever encounter. But also be prepared to have Nakashima assault you with the sheer beauty of his dedication, a dedication to enshrining in new form the honored tree giants, that they may have a second life exposing their beauty through grain and construction.

“Each tree, every part has only one perfect use. The long, taut grains of the true cypress, so well adapted  to the making of elegant, thin grilles, the joyous dance of the figuring of certain species, the richness of graining where two large branches reach out - these can all be released and fulfilled in a worthy object for man’s use.”
- Chapter 8, page 93

As the quotes I insert in this review demonstrate, this book turned out to be much more than how to sharpen chisels. And while he does generously share his techniques and tools, I was not prepared for the majority of the book to be such a vast homily to trees and the natural world. He takes little credit for his furniture, instead deferring that honor through poeticism to the giants that made his work possible. I had no idea what a poet of nature the man was.

The artist with a book-matched walnut slab table of his creation.
“On the ole mountains of Yaku, off the coast of Kyushu, grow old Shugi trees, or cedars, that seem eternal. They are among the grandest gifts of nature, and have spanned perhaps the whole history of civilized man. They are great trees, their bodies cathedrals of all time. Specimens stand over many millennia, the wood resistant to decay… some are said to be over five thousand years old.”
- Chapter 7, page 83

In America, when we are trained to make art, we are really trained to self-inflict pain and self doubt. We are taught to push ourselves and force our will upon others, to make things happen instead of let them happen with grace. We use muscle, intellect, and power to subjugate and beat reality into the tapestries we imagine will change our lives, solidify our egos, and cement us into the hollowed, chiseled, edifices of statuesque reverential worship that we long to be. For the American way is one of rugged individualism, which requires boots and gut-punches and engines. We spend most of our qi on this masquerade, which we hope will enshrine us in veneration. Then, in cycles and epicycles we realize, usually in mid life, that we have squandered our precious treasures and are overwhelmed with lack, lethargy, and conflicted melancholy. Only then it occurs to us… is there another way to create?

And there is...

From the taoist perspective, art is something that is easily revealed with no effort at all, no self-inflicted pain, no self-doubt. Because it’s not about the creator, it’s about the creation. The talent and wisdom lies in listening, not speaking, letting the beauty reveal itself though you, and exercising subtraction rather than addition to reveal the inherent beauty within. In this process, the artist becomes no one, an egoless mass of flesh, an emissary of the object being created and refined.

Sideboard by Nakashima. Walnut Casing with Burl Door

A box leads to a chair, a chair to a house, a house to a shrine. To create a cathedral one must only search for the divine truth, to look for the hand of the charioteer in a battle of Kurukshetra to point the way.”
- Chapter 10, page 117

The influence for Nakashima’s woodworking came from his studies in India, Japan, France, and his birthplace in the Pacific Northwest of America. He attributes just as much to architecture school as he does to his friendships with Russian composers, reading Dostoyevsky, and learning Japanese calligraphy. In India, he had both his first major architectural assignment as well as an experience as a member of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. There he practiced yoga, studied the philosophies of India, and undertook the construction of a new main building for the ashram.

It was here that he adopted a perspective of Karma Yoga, the yoga of doing, working, and making. The Karma Yogi seeks selflessness through these acts, as the things produced are dedications to the generation and support of all life, and the extinguishment of ego or self.

In my shop, each woodworker is an individual craftsman, free to work out his own sadhana, spiritual training to attain deep concentration resulting in union with the ultimate reality. The will must aspire to produce as fine an object as is humanly possible. Each man must find his own personal truth. The endeavor must be to bring out the beauty and proportion, the textures and depth of the material used, to produce something that may last forever.”
- Chapter 10, page 138

What comes of these influences is a unique way of thinking and feeling into one’s work on earth in this lifetime. From Nakashima’s perspective, each day that he sat contemplating the use of a piece of wood, or each moment he spent hand-planing a slab, were all acts of spiritual service. His work was to give as much support and honor to the wood he worked with as he would give to his family, friends, colleagues, and apprentices. This perspective also allowed him to see everyone else’s work on earth as a celebration of collectivity, a generous perspective to be sure.

Nakashima’s sketches for chair designs. The Conoid Chair would become his most celebrated seating innovation, with the joinery on the legs allowing for unique stability and graceful yet balanced proportions.

“Craftsmanship is a silent skill. People who talk excessively cannot take part. In New Hope, we work with wood, in a sense an eternal material, for without a tree there would be no human life. And we work with solid wood, not veneer, the better to search for its soul. We meditate with a board sometimes for years. We search for its essence, to share its joy and tragedies.”
- Chapter 10, page 121

The Soul of a Tree is as much about finding your tao, inner peace, and a free and easy relationship with your own creativity, as it is a pure celebration of aesthetics and fine woodworking techniques. It is suitable to be read by artists of all mediums who seek to bring reverence into their craft, to have a more loving and honored connection to the things they create and the natural world that creates us all.

Gabriel Garcia is a therapist, writer, and woodworker living in Los Angeles. He just so happened to make all of the furniture in the Botanarchy AcuTemple. Less impressively, he is also my husband.

Botanarchy Coven

Ask The Botanarchist

Advice For Rewilding Your Healthcare

Reader queries into the mystic wilds of the body can be submitted to Time permits but one answer a month at this juncture.

This month’s query comes from an abundance of in-clinic conversations with patients suffering from Late Summer hot takes such as muddy thinking, sluggishness, compulsive eating, facial puffiness, water retention, and the inability to button one’s jorts. After a myriad of conversations pertaining to bloating that won’t quit, I thought I might drop some hot intel on how to nourish yourself in Late Summer for minimal digestive duress. The question:

“How do you support your digestive health and Earth element in Late Summer?”

Earth energy needs to feel abundant, satiated, and filled to the brim in order to feel stable, like a silo full of grain or a stomach full of food. When our Earth element is undernourished, we may find ourselves resisting change, avoiding choices that might jeopardize security and stability, or feeling a slave to our cravings. Out of balance, Earth energy can manifest as insatiable neediness, a feeling of never-enoughness, obsessive thoughts, muddy thinking, lethargy, self-doubt, feeling stuck, and a loss of centeredness that is dealt with by compulsive consumption. Under stress, folks with an imbalanced Earth element are prone to worry, expand, and accumulate. Their internal weather might be damp and sticky. Health issues are triggered by overwork, humid weather which can make their brains foggy, and intemperance in eating, especially excess amounts of cold, raw, fatty, or sweet foods. If this is you, read on!

In the physical realm, Earth represents things that thicken, expand, and stagnate in the center of the body, like Earth turning to mud. Think lumps, bumps, cysts, bloating, congestion, chronic fatigue, sluggish lymphatics, water retention, and weight gain. Late Summer’s sick burn is that in the humid swelter, we tend to crave the very things that stagnate our center and lead to expansion - ice cream, smoothies, raw fruits and vegetables, cold dranks. Casual consumption of such ambrosias is fine, but when our diet veers heavily on the cold & raw, we put out our digestive fire which leads to qi deficiency and a damp, sticky internal climate. Symptoms of internal dampness include fatigue, poor appetite, brain fog, sluggishness, gas, bloating, loose stool, and congestion. Hot tip! If you’re too bloated to fit into your favorite jorts this Late Summer, try removing iced drinks/smoothies/raw foods from your repertoire for a hot minute. Instead, try the following for keeping the center more fortified and the lymphatics a’flowing:

土 Late Summer is the season of golden sunsets and gilded grains, when girthy gourds and foods with a sun-kissed hue flourish. Keep the Earth strong and nimble with Late Summer foods like root vegetables, sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, figs, zucchini, and squashes. Think like a harvest goddess and what she might eat. Warm grain bowls with quinoa or millet, pumpkins and squashes that embody the golden color of the Earth element in her prime, charred meats and BBQ’d stone fruit. Warm up the energy of seasonal fruits like apricots, peaches, pears, and nectarines with a drizzle of cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger. Add grilled vegetables and spicy dressings to balance the alchemy of raw salads. Corn dries dampness and harmonizes the center (in moderation); melon clears summer-heat if you’ve overdone it. Whence craving sweets, veer in the direction of sexy macrobiotic restaurants from the 90’s. Honey is the perfect summer sweetener - as a yellow food it tonifies the digestion and dries dampness. Same goes for brown rice syrup.

土 If you gotta do cold dranks, try to avoid them at meals, as they curdle your innards and stagnate the flow. If you blacked out on your drive home and found yourself getting a Bananamana Smoothie at Beverly Hills Juice YET AGAIN, immediately sip a hot ginger tea, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Same goes for ice cream after dinner.

土 Our embodied Earth element is stodgy and likes monotony, ergo having stable rituals around food is a way to encourage digestion and assimilation. Chew slowly, eat regularly, try not to eat when angry, tired, or rushed. Avoid the temptation to eat big meals at night, which can slow digestion and impair restorative sleep.

土 Following the meridian clock, the qi of the Stomach is at peak energy between 7 + 9 am, and the Spleen qi between 9 + 11. If you loooove syncing up with your biorhythms, eat a big, sexy breakfast between 7-9, and then carve out a swathe of Spleen time between 9-11 for meditation.

土 If you’re looking for inspo for your Late Summer meal board, here’s a smattering of recipes from Botanarchy’s best friends and sister witches:

by Juniper Garza

When Late Summer’s heat persists and we’ve had enough vacation season debauchery yet still crave a fun beverage, try this nutritive blood building delight for alfresco mocktail hour. Sangria traditionally uses wine, but since these herbs help with stabilizing blood pressure and are overall gentle tonics, seems apt to quench the ‘Sangre’ as much as our palates.

serves one

  • 2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
  • 2 tablespoons dried nettle
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed watermelon
  • A handful of your favorite farmers market fruit, be it blackberries, citrus slices, or additional watermelon to garnish
  • Sparkling water or sweetened seltzer to taste


  • Make a cold brew infusion by covering the dried hibiscus flowers, nettles, fresh mint leaves, and cubed watermelon with fresh water in a glass mason jar or pitcher.
  • Allow these ingredients to steep overnight in the refrigerator to maintain maximum nutrients.
  • Add your favorite farmers market fruits, i.e.  blackberries, citrus slices, or additional watermelon to garnish.
  • Top off with sparkling water or a sweeter seltzer like ginger beer if desired. I enjoy the watermelon sugar lending a perfect mild sweetness as is, but most might enjoy a bit sweeter as desired.

Juniper is Botanarchy’s favorite holistic beauty mage, the reason I am sometimes mistaken for being in my late 20’s, and an all-around emanation of Aphrodite. Follow her for ways to woo your skin and court your body with grandeur.

Carolyn Barron Garcia

Because I cannot be bothered to chew in the morning, I prefer breakfasts that I can spoon into my mouth languidly, so as not to interfere with morning bird watching and coffee drinking (which are my chief priorities). As such, I tend to overdo goat yogurt with seasonal fruit, which is kind of déclassé because I’m generally lactose intolerant. This is where Hot Yogurt® comes in. Hot Yogurt® is essentially pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, kabocha, or butternut squash that I warm in the oven and sprinkle with things. It’s a textural wonder! And so very Late Summer with its gourd-forward vibe. If I haven’t had the time to batch roast my gourd, scoop out the innards, and store for morning, I’ll use organic canned pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash puree, the kind with absolutely nothing in it except itself. Full disclosure, 99% of the time I make this, I use canned pumpkin. Don’t fear the can!

serves one

  • 1/2 can of pureed pumpkin, yam, or squash
  • 1 dollop of ghee or coconut oil
  • A sprinkle of seasoning, be it pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, ginger, or turmeric
  • Toppings of choice: a handful of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped seasonal fruit, granola, etc
  • A pinch of Maldon smoked salt to finish it off


  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 385.
  • Spoon your puree into a small, oven-safe ramekin.
  • Mix in your dollop of ghee or coconut oil, and any spices you fancy.
  • Place in the middle of the oven and cook until warmed (in my oven, this is roundabout 15 minutes).
  • Midway through, place a handful of seeds into a small cast iron pan with a sprinkle of Maldon salt, and toast in the oven until golden.
  • Remove your gourd puree, top with toasted seeds and fruit, and have at it like Ceres or Demeter would on a Late Summer morning.

by Gaylian Hein


  • ¾ cup oat bran
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • 1 ¾ cup water
  • 3 ounces coconut cream or coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon black strap molasses
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional!)


  • In a sauce pan, add all your ingredients (except the chia seeds) and cook on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes, or until desired consistency.
  • You may want to add a little more water if the consistency is too thick (I personally like it thicker).
  • For EXTRA thick porridge, add chia seeds, stir, place the lid on the pan and remove from heat. Let your porridge sit for maybe 10-15 minutes which allows the chia seeds to absorb moisture and plump up. You don’t really want the seeds to be dry. That’s not so tasty.
  • Ta da! All done. Add seasonal fruit and nuts, and maybe some maple syrup or honey if ya want to sweeten it up.
  • This protein packed porridge stores in the fridge for about a week. I spoon out about 3 tablespoons and heat it up on the stove, or leave it out to reach room temperature. I do not eat this cold (natch, Gaylian is an acupuncturist!).

A note on ingredients:

Oat meal vs. oat bran? I like bran! Bran cooks down quicker and has a nice creamy mouth feel. And it is said to have a more dense nutritional profile than meal. Why use meal (gummy and blachhh) when you can use bran?!

Hemp seeds are nature’s magic poop bullet. Sweet and neutral, they are rich in amino acids, EFA’s, and minerals. They are super easy to use. And they help your poop come out nice and easy too!

Blackstrap Molasses! Oh my dear friend molasses, how you make my blood sing. Need more iron? Get yourself some Blackstrap. It is subtly sweet in flavor, and can be used in lots of recipes (Carolyn puts it in her coffee).

Cardamom is my preferred warm and aromatic herb for this mixture. As much as I love the way it tastes, it is really helpful as a digestive aid.

Gaylian is the human equivalent of a warm turmeric latte, and she makes me wish I lived in Orange County so that I could be ensconced in her magic needles on the regular. Go see her for the most exquisitely compassionate holistic healthcare in Newport Beach (or all of Orange County, for that matter!).

by Keaton Flicker

“At the height of summer, when the days are long and bright, the lessons of reciprocity are written clearly in a three sisters garden. Together their stems inscribe what looks to me like a blueprint for the world, a map of balance and harmony. Together these plants—corn, bean and squash--feed people, feed the land, and feed our imaginations.”
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Every year, Late Summer wills me into surrender right in time. The heat rises and I keep efforting toward all my plans and schemes until I cyclically acquiesce to her humid caress. Alaine Duncan says that late summer brings the yin medicine of “harvesting the wisdom of the year” before we sow new seeds in autumn.

This recipe is a humble bow to the merciful wisdom of the body and the land. It weaves together threads of several heritage food traditions that teach me how to lean into the earth when feelings come on strong, whether physical or emotional.

This easy dish is a French riff on succotash… or maybe it is a Southwestern spin on ratatouille. I opt for haricot verts and shallot over lima beans and onion. And gobs of butter.  The primary ingredients are the three sisters of Indigenous American agricultural wisdom--corn, pole beans and squash, usually abundantly available this time of year. The raw sungolds and shallot give a slight crunch I often crave in the summertime. Plus lime, ground cumin, and fennel to encourage absorption.

When your skin {and mood} is too warm for hot food but your digestion is exhausted of raw salads, I offer you this culinary compromise…

And please do listen to Robin Wall Kimmerer recite her poetic incantation about the splendor of these interdependent crops while you chop.

serves 4

  • 3 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked (if you’re up for one extra step, use this technique to preserve the milk)
  • 1 cup haricot verts, diced
  • 1 jalapeno or fresno chili (or 1/2 jalapeno and 1/2 fresno for color)
  • 1 small lime, zested + juiced
  • 2 medium or 3 small zucchini, petitely cubed and gently patted down with a cloth to absorb excess water
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/3 cup small sungold tomatoes, stemmed and sliced in half
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • Stemmed cilantro leaves to your liking (this is HEAPS in my case)
  • Mint is also delicious


  • Set butter over medium flame in a skillet. Once melted, add ground cumin and fennel. Gently swirl to prevent the dry spices from burning.
  • Once your butter and spice blend becomes aromatic, add your husked corn kernels, ½ the lime juice, haricots verts and jalapeno/chili.
  • Sautee for two to three minutes until corn and haricots are just cooked through, but not soft.  A little sizzle and singe on your corn doesn’t hurt, though.
  • If you separated out the milk from your corn, now is the time to add a generous splash to your skillet.
  • Add the zucchini. Sautee for another minute, tops. If any of the veggies get soft or mushy in the pan, lower the heat and drain out any lingering liquid.
  • Remove your skillet from heat and softly scrape everything into a serving dish. Allow to cool just to room temperature and add shallots. Toss, then garnish with sliced sungolds, cilantro, mint, lime zest, and the remainder of your lime juice, if you desire a bit more acid.

Keaton is a therapist, chef, and fellow Botanarchista who once gave me a book on the religious significance of food for medieval women (hubba hubba). Follow her for a smattering of sensual musings on the ways we can transform trauma through nourishing ourselves and engaging our senses.

by Dr. Patti Kim

This is a soup that allows my tender digestion to have simultaneous rest and nourishment. My earth energy is weak and I myself am prone to all sorts of bloat, water retention, and overall sluggishness, so the gentle heat in this soup helps to provide a little boost without overdoing it. It’s simple but potent.

serves 1

  • 3 cups greens
  • 1 clove garlic (more if you like it and tolerate it well)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup bone broth or veggie broth
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or coconut cream
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • squeeze of lemon


  • Blend in a high speed blender then gently heat on your stove. Drizzle with a little ghee and enjoy!

Patti is Botanarchy’s esteemed Naturopath who slings her heavenly needles in our hallowed halls on Fridays & Saturdays. She is also an endometriosis-whisperer who finessed my periods back to life, and banished the alien tissue deposits from further embedding themselves in my nethers. No small feat!!!

"To stay rooted in the Source, straighten up your body, clear your vision, and be in harmony with everything under heaven. Draw in your knowledge, be regal and confident in your bearing, and let the spirits guide you. Beautify your life with virtue, let the Way be your home, be pure as a newborn animal, and don't try to find reasons for everything. Use simplicity to guide your life, clear your mind of impurities, and wash and purify your spirit. Let your body be still like Earth. Dissolve yourself into oblivion. Stay true to the fundamental reality and don't search for answers. Rest in the dim, dark grotto. Then you will naturally be rooted in the Source.”

-Eva Wong, Being Taoist

I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.
I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.
I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.
I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.
I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.
I am the wilderness before the dawn - Tao Te Ching.