TABLE of CONTENTS

                  



Elements





01 FIRE 
02 EARTH ䷁
03 METAL
04 WATER
05 WOOD ䷃



06 BLOOD
07 JING
08 QI
09 SHEN
00 VOID ䷼







the BOTANARCHY JOURNAL

                  


The Fire Element



Central to the core of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the concept that the moon, stars, and sun invest destiny in our jing, qi and shen, and as their cosmic influences assert their will upon the tides, so are we unfolding in cadence with their heavenly mandate. Each season brings its own expression from our particular perch in the solar system, finessing a distinct merging and meddling of the elements in the swirling, hurling Milky Way we call home. As we find ourselves at the close of summer, in an open-armed embrace with the sun from across the sky, certain archetypal energies are awakened in us, the same energies that force the buds to blossom, the cicadas to sing, the antlers to grow, and the squirrel to seek shade in the towering Oak. As above so below, and so on and so on, and scooby dooby doo.

One of the poet priests of the 20th century and my guide in the Great Work likes to say that “wild nature is the ultimate ground of human affairs”. That is the poet Gary Snyder, and much like the Taoist sages and doctors of yore whose work this divine medicine is based upon, he is a seeker of universal truth, of the cosmic ties that bind us all together in process and purpose while supporting and sustaining the discovery of our own unique divinity. I’ve always considered poets to be the stewards of the seasons, the cartographers of the cosmos, the score keepers of the human unfurling. As the Taoist sages discovered a template of medicine in the balladry of earth shifting, their poetry fleshes out the collective consciousness in language, mirth, and metaphor. “The fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe”these are some of the ways the most archaic and elemental values on earth are expressing themselves in summer, the season of the fire element.



Seasonal Summer Alchemy


Rosy, rubicund, accelerating and expanding. Desiring and being desired, radiance, Leo hair, the pleasure principal. Urgency, flagrancy, intrusive proximity, sex magic. Madonna in the Like A Prayer video, control vs. chaos, attraction vs. repulsion, healthy intimacy. Fusion, illumination, yab-yum, all-consuming, the alchemical furnace. La Dolce Vita, Ashes to Ashes, power, fulfillment, savagery, eruptions. Tribalism, generosity, community, storytelling around a midsummer bonfire, performance, flamboyant self-revelations. Kineticism, eroticism, the unfurling of petals, deer antler velvet, the quest for the infinite and for the infinitesimal… Hello, Fire energy.

As the Five Element acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett likes to say, all movement and life in our solar system is oriented toward the sun, and the sun is the ultimate embodiment of fire. To know fire is to know the benevolence of the sun. In the season of fire, we see the generosity and grandiosity of the sun who isn’t stingy with the vibes, laying them on thick. Summer is the season where we can give it all away, for in our yang exuberance we have more than enough to give. Whereas spring and the season of wood broke ground and outstretched its arms, fire expresses and extends in all directions, places new and novel, in a grand display of beyond-ness, which some might call, well, extra. Yes, fire is sometimes consuming. Yes, fire occasionally overextends itself. Yes, fire has an issue with boundaries. But if we contain and control the burn in a sexy Taoist fireman kinda way, we can sink into the medicine of the season without getting scorched and parched.



On The Heartmind


Summer is the moment in the cosmic rotation where we are closest to the sun, the moon, and the stars. So close, that perhaps - PERHAPS - we can hear them whispering to us. The fire season is ruled by the heart, and the heart reaches apex aliveness during the summer. Intuition and xin - the heartmind- stir and rustle in the summer breezes. The capacity to sense with our heart awakens, and if we consciously open the doors of perception, we can directly experience the inherent meanings that flow through nature and connect with the living intelligence of Gaia and her kin. In celebrating nature as a kindred being, we wake up our inherent wildness and learn to govern by the part of us that remains undomesticated, feral, in tune with our truest desires. An excellent primer for this wilding work can be found in the rich canon of herbalist & earth poet Stephen Harrod Buhner. His episode of the ReWild Yourself podcast with the inimitable Daniel Vitalis on reclaiming your feeling sense is an excellent roadtrippin’ ally for summer soirees abroad. More intrepid individuals can dive into his lusty tome Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception Into The Dreaming of Earth whilst on beaches real and imaginal this summer. I’m reading it right now, and if any of you fine folk fancy joining me for a makeshift salon, we can soak some Blue Lotus flowers in a chilled rosé and have at it.



On Boundaries and Elemental BDSM


An exercise in Summer lite BDSM - push boundaries, and then create them for yourself. As summer is all about expression and expansion, how can you expand, take up more space? Maybe the need for a sacred manspread is upon you. What areas can you push and extend into? What line can you cross? Heat accelerates processes, so any Rite of Expansion you begin will have the anointed inertia of fire breathing down its neck, so light the wick and watch it blaze.

A healthy fire element expresses in our bodies as well-defined boundaries, and part of the work of the heart and its coterie of companion organs is to regulate what comes into and out of our sacred temenos. It wasn’t until I heard my mentor Lorie Dechar speak to boundaries in a workshop on their very importance that I truly understood their hallowed task, as I come from a lineage of open-door-policies and bleeding hearts, and frankly, I didn’t even know that I was allowed to negotiate a new contract. The Chinese character for boundary - 边界 - is a composite character comprised of tian - field - and jie - introduce - that implies two people entering into an enclosed, defined, and protected space. There is an implicit sacredness sanctioned within the character that can help us navigate boundary creation through the lens of a divine contract. This is the perfect season to draw up a new contract pertaining to your personal boundaries, consecrating your time and space as sacred, and your body as a shrine to the work of your becoming. Is your body a Temple of Dionysius? If so, should we bring wine and floggers? Is it a shrine to Vesta with a ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’ dress code and there’s NO SEX and NO BOYS allowed? Are you only open for worship on Sundays from 11-2?

Boundaries are an art, and if you constantly struggle with them, petition an acupuncturist to work on empowering your fire element so that it may function properly as your Temple Bouncer, artfully controlling who and what has access to your inner sanctum. For a botanical ally in the work of boundaries and bouncers, I recommend Skyrocket Flower Essence from Lotus Wei, flower ambassador of ‘NO is a full sentence.’



On The Pleasure Principle


Summer is peak Dionysus. Self love, freedom, food, sex, exstasis… it’s the pleasure principle, oh oh oh oh oh.

The emotion associated with a healthy internal fire element is joy. Summer is the moment of the Great Flowering, and as such, is the time to do those things that make you say “why don’t I do this more often?” Yes, I second that… why DON’T you do that more often? As a Priestess Of Austerity, I take the summer off of saturnine solemnity and do some work around joy. What engenders it? What is blocking it? How can I access it in deeper, richer, freer ways than what compulsion and capitalism have to offer?

Look, I don’t even relate to pleasure in its typical guises. My spirit animal is Hildegard Von Bingen, and, like David Bowie, I know when to stay out, and when to stay in, get things done. However…during an inspired dive in the summer of ‘19, I had the absolutely batty revelation that I could bend my schedule at will, and artfully finesse an unexpected day off each week to commune in solitude with plant medicine and not leave the house. There are some of you (and parts of me) that are thinking “HOW EGREGIOUS” but yes, I do this now, and had to give myself the pep talk about how I spend 10 hours per day deeply engaged in the liberation of my patients, and should be able to grant this to myself, sans interruption and guilt. What was I gaining from working more? With basic needs met, I find time - unstructured swathes of deep time, the most precious resource, and refuse to posit my trans-generational, Eastern Bloc, blue collar guilt above my belief that a 5 day workweek is a vestigial organ of an evolving paradigm. I could write vignettes and villanelles about how the alchemical marriage of pleasure and plant medicine have made me a better doctor and a more compassionate human, but would rather you follow adrienne maree brown and have you read her lusty tome Pleasure Activism. You don’t need my permission, but have it anyway, if it appeals to your rational mind - get sexy with your schedule, titillating with your time, foxy with your freedoms. The season demands it.



On Shacking Up In The Heartbreak Hotel


For those whose joy is blocked by heartbreak, or those who’s boundaries have been breached leaching joy hither and thither, this work can be eased on down the road with the help of acupuncture point Heart Protector 8: Lao Gong ‘Palace of Weariness’.

One of my favorite writers on the Taoist lore of acupuncture points, Debra Kaatz, says this of Pericardium 8:

”Here is the fire point of the heart protector meridian where it is in its home and official residence. It is where our fire can be truly nourished and cared for when the way has been long and hard. When we have enough loving fire then the ashes of old hurts and trouble fade away on their own.  Lao Gong is a palace or temple of the ancestors. It is where we can go and be cared for when there has been weariness, trouble, overwork and when suffering has been long. It is for someone who needs this special care. This point is even more effective in its own time and season where the heightened fire energy of summer can enhance the fire energy of the point. Lao is drawn as a lamp that flames with a gentle fire at night. It means to exert one’s self in an extraordinary manner, work, labour, suffer, weary, make, encourage, give trouble to, reward and consumption. Gong is drawn as several rooms under a roof. It means the Imperial palace, temple of the ancestors, palace rooms, and college. At Lao Gong is all the love, nourishment, and luxuries of a great palace for the weary heart to regain its lost trust, and ease its hurts. Here the Emperor himself gives tender care to the troubles of the heart so its doors can open and fill with the joys and laughter of the world again.”

Located at the point on center of the palm where the tip of the ring finger lands when we make a fist, Lao Gong is the energy center where qi is transmitted in martial arts, qigong, and pan-cultural traditions of energy work. This is an excellent point to ‘seal’ after giving too much of yourself, pushing past your boundaries, performing extensive work with your hands, and not being able to access pleasure on account of exhaustion. Though flower essences and essential oils can be excellent allies on this point, I prefer to use an acupressure magnet as a great condenser and refractor of qi. While applying the magnet or oil, visualize a great seal containing and condensing your precious resources as you direct your energetic flow inward.

Pleasure is a gateway drug; Once you tap into it, you have access to the entire prism of embodied emotion, the well of human experience, the arcanum arcanorum.



On Collectivism and Giving It All Away


In the words of the immortal Lizzo, ‘If I'm shinin', everybody gonna shine’.  The healthy expression of our inner fire element is an acknowledgement of abundance and an abounding generosity. Think of the summer flowers, show-ponying about town with their flagrant displays of plumage and their wanton coffers of pollen. They aren’t being stingy with the stank! In the summer sun, their buds, blossoms, and bowers of nectar seep every which way, a sacred vessel of sustenance they share with all of creation.

Plants - though exploited and shaped and poked and prodded for gain - aren’t bound by the fake laws of capitalism and its paucity politics. They live outside the law, in a model that knows no scarcity, where it is intrinsically understood that giving your pollen to the bees creates more abundance and #everybodywins. Why hoard (so uncouth) when you can unleash your limitless resources and give it all away? Energy is a resource. Time is a resource. Willingness is a resource. Ingenuity, influence, invention, vexation, elation, elbow grease… all resources, collateral in the collective economy. Like flowers, there is also that inimitable resource that is yours and yours alone, that fragrant je ne sais quoi that when unleashed, the world is marked with your signature, and we are all the better for it.

Prescription for the summer swelter - Share and Expand - just like the rest of the ecosystem. Do you really want to be the ONLY species not givin’ it up? You can squirrel your S&*t away come autumn. Look, the world is literally on fire. Every inch of Gaia needs you. For the exasperated and overwhelmed, think locally. Who or what has helped you reach your perch of comfort or assisted in the unfolding of your Tao? Can you give back to your community in the same way? For me, I bow down eternally to all of the gracious, disruptive doctors and practitioners that unflinching encircled me with love and care when we lacked monetary resources. I took their lead and built that very same support for others into my business model, and this summer I expanded my sliding scale offerings. Systems, hegemonies, regimes… no one’s gonna give it to us, so we have to give it to each other. It’s Nature’s Way.



Mixtapes of the Tao: Summer//Fire


The Sensual World, The Pleasure Principle, and how to go Wild In The Country… Impressions of the fire element condensed into a cauldron dripping with honey and sweat.

Since my thesis on ‘The Mix Tape: A 90’s Artifact or Archetypal Medicine for Mass Liberation?’ is still being reviewed by my advisors at Harvard, here’s my sonic offering to rest upon the altar of Summer. Please, make love to this, flaunt your ample thighs in the sun to this, have an interpretive dance party with your girlfriends to this, play it in the car whilst driving off a cliff with Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. 



Elemental Reading List


Pleasure Activism, adrienne maree brown:
The politics of feeling good and a living spell for changing the world



The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, Margo Anand:
Doin’ it and doin’ it and doin’ it well



The Red Goddess, Peter Grey:
The goddess Babalon as a weapon of spiritual liberation



Principia Discordia, Malaclypse The Younger:
Chaos magic beach reading



My Best Friend Hildegard, Adam Greenberg: Because you need a fabulous fable written by my friend Adam Greenberg about the 12th Century mystic Hildegard and her gay best friend, as they escape slaughter, perform exorcisms, and enjoy love affairs with celestial and demonic beings



Psychomagic, Alejandro Jodorowsky: Jodorowsky’s poetic acts of transformation, better living through metaphor



A Spy In The House of Love, Anais Nin:
Is there anything more #fireelement than Anais Nin?



Wild Feminine, Tami Lynn Kent:
Finding power, spirit, and joy in the female body



Pirate Utopias, Hakim Bey:
Collectivism + living out of bounds



WE: Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love, Robert Johnson:
Myth, meaning, wounds in the crucible of partnership



The Dream Of A Common Language, Adrienne Rich:
Sumptuous poeticism at its rawest and most refined



Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm, Stephen Harrod Buhner:
Accessing the omniscience of the heart through Gaia and plant communion



The Five Spirits, Lorie Dechar:
The alchemical heart of Chinese Medicine, written by my cherished teacher and mentor



all about love, bell hooks:
Love, sans patriarchy. A recommendation from my lover, Gabriel Barron Garcia, as required reading for male-identified folx in his therapy practice



Philosophy In The Bedroom, Marquis de Sade:
I mean, its the MARQUIS DE SADE




Fire Medicine:
Goji Schisandra Lemonade



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


2 Tablespoons Schisandra Berries

4 Tablespoons Goji Berries

2 Tablespoons Aloe Juice

1 Cup Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

A Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Quart Spring Water


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



Fire Medicine:
Mung Bean Mylk


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.

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 in Chinese herbalism 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 this simple, egalitarian milk made from the boiled beans, drunk daily as a skin tonic:

2 Handfuls of Dried Mung Beans/Lu Dou

4 Cups of Purified Water

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.



Fire Medicine:
Debaucherous Damiana Elixir


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

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

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

1 oz Damiana Leaves

2 Tbsp Saw Palmetto Berries

2 Tbsp Angelica Root

2 Vanilla Beans

1 Gallon Glass Jar

Distilled Water

1 Cup Local Honey

Measure out your herbs, adding them all to your gallon jar. Pour the whole bottle of Vodka over them, ala Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Seal your jar and put in a cool, dark place so it can do its sultry magic in private. Keep your empty Vodka bottle for later. After one week, strain the mixture through a coffee filter and save the liquid (this is where your empty Vodka bottle comes in handy). Re-soak the herbs in your gallon jar, this time adding 750 ml distilled water. Let this sit for another week, then strain yet again. Heat this mixture just enough to dissolve one cup of local honey, remembering to thank the bees for their beautiful bounty. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a bit, and then add your vodka infusion. Don’t hit the sauce just yet- you must age the whole thing under the cloak of darkness for at least a month! Be mindful, and remember the wisdom of the wizened sage Axl Rose-all we need is just a little patience.

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



Waving Goodbye to Fire Season,
i.e. The Nature of Nature Is Endings


Fire, its been real. Before we move onto Earth, I leave you with Gary Snyder’s bonfire ode: 

‘To Fire’

(Goma  /  Homa)

I have raised pure flames

With mystic fists and muttered charms!




All the poems I wrote before nineteen

Heaps of arty cards from Christmas

Straw shoes

Worn clogs

The English Daily—Johnson’s, Wilson’s Ho Chi Minh

—face crumpling inward licked by yellow locks




The contracting writhing plastics

And orange skins that shrink and squeak

peace! peace! grace!




Using sanctified vajra-tongs of blue

I turn the mass and let in air




Those letters forwarded now to Shiva

the knots of snot in kleenex,

my offering— my body!




And here the drafts of articles and songs

Words of this and that




Bullshit—renounce

the leather briefcase no one wants

the holey socks.




As sun moves up and up;

And motorcycles warm the street;

And people at the bus stop steam—

GREAT BRILLIANT KING

Unshakeable!

—halo of flame—




these sweets of our house and day:

Let me unflinching burn

Such dross within

With joy

I pray!