01 FIRE 
02 EARTH ䷁
05 WOOD ䷃

08 QI
00 VOID ䷼



1/3 Japanese Tsuba by Georg Oeder, 1916

The Wood Element 

In Eastern medicine and philosophy, our bodies are a process… the gentle unfurling of destiny through an elemental dance, a perpetual phase shift of the five elements mixing and melding, refining and defining, transforming and transposing. Our mortal forms are truly nothing more than alembic vessels that metamorphose this sacred magic in sync with the tao, the cadence of transformation mirroring that of the cosmos at large.

Spring is the season of the Wood element, whose medicine is all about forward momentum, reaching upwards and outwards toward empyrean expansiveness. Wood is a pioneering spirit, pushing through the soft, yielding, mossy detritus of earth toward individuation in the process of becoming. It initiates growth and rebirth, gestating in the primordial mycelial web of earths womb until it leaps through a crack towards the light. Wood surges, pulsates with the moxie of a pubescent boy, longing to explore its environment and to strive, push, ramble, reform, shape. When it falls out of balance, it can be a bit contentious, obstinate, recalcitrant. It’s nature’s phallus, after all.

Wood loathes to be restrained. If stifled, it’s prone to ennui and rage, like our inner teenagers listening to Minor Threat in the back of the bus, disgruntled and exasperated, exploding silently with sparks of exasperated lightning. Wood needs vision, plans, direction. If chagrin is inching in on you and you feel contained and bound up, express yourself and discharge energy. Engage your enemies in an interpretive dance battle. Invite your lover on a dérive, a spontaneous drift through the urban sprawl. Ensconce an entire wall in a vision board worthy of Matthew McConaughey’s lair in True Detective season one. Do things without overthinking. Write new laws. Draft a manifesto… there are so few manifestos these days.

There’s a palpable, potent magic in the instability of emergence that occurs during a seasonal phase shift. Winds are vectors of change, and if we can harness their diaphanous oscillations, they help us switch directions. There is a concept in Chinese medicine called ‘grasping the wind’, which is a process of engaging with change in way that is both assertive AND yielding, reminding us that the medicine of duality contains both stillness and action, as Nature is a switch who doms and subs with the best of ‘em.

Who or what are you becoming? ’Tis the season to determine your direction and take action. Be assertive, wield your wand, push and strive in the ways you know best, but perhaps this time you bend with the wind and make a little space in there for something novel and numinous to emerge.

If all else fails, consult the holy spray of Gary Snyder:

We look to the future with pleasure

we need no fossil fuel
get power within
grow strong on less.

Grasp the tools and move in rhythm side by side

flash gleams of wit and silent knowledge

eye to eye

sit still like cats or snakes or stones

as whole and holding as
the blue black sky.

gentle and innocent as wolves
as tricky as a price.

At work and in our place:

in the service
of the wilderness
of life
of death
of the Mother’s breasts!

--Gary Snyder, Turtle Island

On Free and Easy Wandering

Wood loathes to be restrained. If stifled, it’s prone to ennui and rage, like our inner teenagers listening to Minor Threat in the back of class, disgruntled and exasperated, exploding silently with sparks of exasperated lightning. The antidote to restraint is flow, the footloose and fancy-free kind. In Chinese medicine, freedom and flow have their very own archetype - The Free and Easy Wanderer - Taoist masters with a light heart and open mind, who traversed the wilds in cadence with the rhythm of nature, meandering and flowing spontaneously like a bubbling spring.

Spring is the perfect time to practice free and easy wandering, a gentle practice that aligns our hearts and bodies with the uncomplicated, unfettered movements of nature, to shake loose the stagnations of winter and free the qi to support the expansiveness of spring. As the Taoists and punk idols of yore would say, culture is bondage. Let nature teach you some new dance moves. A tiptoe through the tulips, a spontaneous drift through the urban sprawl, a foraging fete in the mossy badlands - loosen the shackles of patterned movement, don’t force it, relax completely into boundlessness, and throw your goals to the wind.

On Visioning

Despite being a rambling man, Wood thinks ‘decisiveness’ is a sexy word (ah, the paradoxes of nature) - so make some decisions, why don’t you! Wood needs vision, plans, direction. It longs for a vector of intentionality to know where to grow and what to do with its budding, nascent energy. It is up to us to give it a sacred container, softly supportive with room for holy chaos, else it will ramble rambunctiously across the garden bed with the gusto of wild mint forever and ever. If you’re a vision board’er and list maker, well friends, THIS is the season for you. Ensconce an entire wall in a vision board worthy of Matthew McConaughey’s lair in True Detective season one. Draft a manifesto… there are so few manifestos these days. Pinterest like you’ve never Pinterested before. The cosmos is on your side, we are all unfurling and uncurling toe-to-toe with the fern frond, everything is going upwards despite the force of gravity.

On Greening

Like Chinese alchemists devoted to decoding the universal flow, with focused observation of the inner and outer worlds we, too, can easily see the season’s resonances, processes, and correspondences. The season of Spring and the Wood element are governed by the Liver, and the season’s color, unsurprisingly, is green. Liver energy is at its peak in Spring, and the energy of the Liver is to keep things moving freely and sprightly, detoxifying that which doesn’t serve, coursing the flow of qi and the flow of our lives via the blueprint of our unconscious minds.

Gently support the detoxification pathways of the liver by indulging in an abundance of green. Be it pea shoots, wheat grass, parsley, celery, wild lettuce, fennel fronds, farmers market salads, or fresh green juices, chlorophyll is the alchemical ally of the liver, gently removing toxins from the body and engendering ease and transformation. The liver is also our body’s hormonal furnace, breaking down excess hormones and shuffling them with grace and ease to greener pastures. My favorite way to boost the liver’s hormonal detoxification pathways is by increasing dark leafy greens, high fiber grains, and cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies, like collard greens, Swiss chard, kale, mustard greens, and brussels sprouts, are high in a compound called Indol 3 carbonyl, which, like a wizened Pac Man, helps the body gobble up egregiously excess estrogens that aren’t being utilized by the body for homeostasis. I recommend eating at least one serving of green vegetables at every meal, making sure you are also eating enough fiber to shuttle debris out through the bowel. If you have hypothyroid issues, cruciferous should be avoided - or at the very least steamed or sautéed - as raw cruciferous can suppress thyroid hormones.

Bitter and sour flavors are decongesting and cleansing for the liver, increasing the bile secretions which help our bodies breakdown fats and aid digestion. Adding lemon juice to warm water, or knocking back a few shots of raw apple cider vinegar, are ways to introduce the sour flavor into our predominately sweet Western palate. As most of us know, anything done in excess weakens the liver, causing it to rebel (here’s looking at you, freshman year of college!). Keep it simple, with small uncomplicated meals spaced frequently throughout the day, avoiding the cumbersome alembics of alcohol, caffeine, fried foods, and complicated meals, opting instead for a palate of Marie Kondo- inspired minimalism, embracing the nimble elegance of mother nature in her verdant prime.

Rites Of Spring:
A Quarantine Bath Ritual of Rebirth

As the liminal lassitude of quarantine engulfs us like the legs of lover’s past, it feels increasing difficult to orient oneself to where we are in time and space, for all balefires of ‘normalcy’ have been extinguished by the loss of our daily litanies of work and play. One way that we can empower a sense of time and place is by syncing our breath with the breath of Nature, waking up to the cyclical magic unfolding around us, that continues to show-pony about in its Sunday best despite all warning from the CDC.

Spring in the Taoist traditions corresponds to the Wood element, and Her energy is one of bursting, birthing, sprouting, hatching. The medicine of the moment is all about forward momentum, reaching upwards and outwards toward empyrean expansiveness. Though we may be feeling the collective ennui of Spring’s thwarted momentum as we repose indefinitely in the bardo of our homes (if we are privileged enough to have one), we can choose to use this moment as a sacred incubator to hatch a new aspect of self or a new way of being, perhaps one so audacious we never dared to even THINK IT before the arrival of this strange intermission in the grindhouse slasher film called Late Capitalism.

Do you long for the courage to  walk away from things that don’t suit you and start anew? Is this the right time to talk to your family about your gender-fluidity? Do you wish you could make contact with a sacredness so eternal it eclipses this moment of existential dread? Is there an aspect of yourself that is dying to emerge, but you haven’t the foggiest notion how to give it room to breathe in the context of your current life?

Your ally in audacity is the god Protogonos, a dazzling, golden-winged, hermaphroditic deity, the Primordial Being hatched from the serpent-entwined Cosmic Egg. Worshipped in the Orphic cults of Hellenistic Greece, 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.”

Before I was your humble Anarcha Taoist Physician, I was a Witch of the Tao, writing seasonal rituals to reclaim the cycles crushed by the monoculture of hetero-capitalist patriarchy. This is a rite I wrote in another life, a Spring equinox practice that I re-finessed as a Quarantine Bath Ritual of Rebirth. Whether you long to resurrect qualities lacking from your present state of existence, or need to be reminded of your innate power and divinity, i.e. bro-down with your inner hermaphroditic, golden-winged Protogonos, this is THE perfect time in the cosmic wheel to tap into generative powers and hatch your own cosmic egg.

The Vernal Equinox, dank with the scent of its own blooming gardens, reared its leafy, crowned head this year on March 19th. 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. Using a bathtub and a little moxie, you can launch into a  meditative 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 peppered with the things you need most now going forward. Because how the heck else would you herald the coming of Spring whilst stuck in quarantine? 


Bathtub, gussied with sacred unguents: 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 florid & fancy accoutrements and rosy bath beads for some Dead Sea salts or volcanic clay.

A bathroom altar: Prepare your temple space in the bathing chamber by arranging an altar that evokes the qualities you long to bring forth. For example, I am suffering from a loss of adventure, so my inner Protogonos is a mushroom forager in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest, and my altar has a walking stick, a field guide, an Opinel mushroom knife, and a stack o’ Gary Snyder books.

Candles: To glow with the formative seed of creation, conjuring Protogonos as the personification of light

Matches: To light the candles, obvi.

Myrrh: If you have it on hand, show the world you’re not fucking around by burning this sacred fumigant used by the Orphic cults to honor and invoke Protogonos.

Soundtrack: Totally optional, as I imagine there was no Lizzo at the dawn of creation (#sadfactsofscience). But if it vibes with you, find yourself a suitable soundtrack of swampy, nebulous depth, and broadcast it loudly in the bathroom temple to mimic the amorphous drone of primeval chaos. Better yet! Use songs that invoke the quality you are bringing forth in this ritual.


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.

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

O mighty Protogonos, 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!

Immersing yourself in the black waters of Chaos, using 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. Or whatever!

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 sway by the undulations beneath you. Imagine yourself taking shape for the very first time inside the egg, hatching the aspects of self that will suit you most going forward in this new reality. Really feel into the person you are becoming… Are you more confident? Industrious? Finding a way to put your unique skills to use in the new paradigm we are ensconced in? Are you more patient? Worry less? Do you wear 4 inch heels and an ascot, unabashed? Invoke this new form, feel it overtake you.

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.

When you feel fully present and thoroughly new, step out of the waters and bask in the glow of your sparkling newness.

Rites Of Spring:
Cosmic Egg Qigong

If you feel like a wilted violet and are struggling to wake up your nascent magic and align with the potent gestational power of Spring, WELCOME FRIEND! Cosmic Egg Qigong is here for you, so dust off that yoni egg and gather up that fertile mojo into your Ovarian Palace. Possessing an Ovarian Palace and yoni egg are completely optional - fertility is for all, regardless of reproductive capacities!

1. If using, work in your yoni egg (gently, and with reverence), and sit quietly with the eyes closed in a comfortable seated position, with the hands in Yoni Mudra, forming a downward triangle over the proverbial ovaries.

2. Begin by doing a few rounds of Ujjayi throat breathing, rasping the breath over the throat, making an ocean-like sound with your tongue resting on your palate, mouth closed and lips soft.

3. Focus your loving attention on the ovaries until you feel their energy expand and become warm.

4. As you breathe in, gently contract the opening to the yoni using your kegel muscles, and as you breathe out relax the muscles. Use your mind, breath, and muscles to do this gently. This motion draws qi and energy into the Ovarian Palace, allowing more and more qi to gather here with each out breath.

5. Continue pumping qi into the Ovarian Palace using your pelvic floor muscles, and begin to collect the warm energy in your ovaries like a vessel filling with honey.

6. As this energy builds, you can start to allow the Ovarian Qi to flow down to the perineum, and then gently pump this qi up the back of the body to the brain.

7. Spiral this potent qi inside the brain to allow it to charge up all the master glands. Spiral 9 times counter clockwise and then 9 times clockwise, breathing normally. Don’t feel the need to be too exact about this. Experiment with the energy in a way that feels natural and organic.

8. When you feel the energy potently spiraling, on an out-breath, allow the qi to flow back down the front midline, and either send it around the orbit again, or finish by gathering and storing the qi into the womb.

9. Breathe deeply, smiling unconditional love into the Ovarian Palace. Remember, you are Nature, mother of all, mistress of elements, daughter of time.

Rites Of Spring:
An Inner Alchemy Practice for Creating Our Own Cosmogony 

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

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

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

  1. What are the foundational myths of your culture?
  2. What are the meanings you have created in your own life?
  3. Are the meanings you see being created in any way related thematically to the myths of your culture?
  4. To what extent do these myths empower or diminish your mental and physical health?

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

For inspiration, the photo above is a lesbian creation myth written by elana dykewomon (read it! It’s fierce as fuck!) from the radical feminist quarterly WomanSpirit, Summer Solstice 1976 edition (boundless gratitude to the LA Art Book Fair and Family Books for this rarified treasure, long-sought and much cherished). This piece is the embodiment of re-mythification, the quintessence of mythopoesis.

Moses is quoted in the bible as saying “do not let a sorceress live”. Show Moses a good time! Write a creation myth! Live as if it’s the absolute truth! Create rituals with your sisters that mirror its meaning and intent! Be hungry, be curious, and if your blood sugar is low, eat the mthrfckng apple from the tree of knowledge, and don’t apologize, ever.

Rites Of Spring: Dream Divining with Botanical Allies

For those who desire nothing more than to cultivate inner knowing with a coven of the wisest & wiliest plant teachers known to man, the logical place to start is by spelunking the caves of one’s own unconscious. Dream divination, known as Oneiromancy by the ancient Greeks, allows us to peer into the depths, to know ourselves, and to establish a symbolic vocabulary that helps us forage through the morass of daily life with the prophetic poise of a wise crone.

The functional prophetess should be able to navigate the dreamlands by one’s own compass, retrieving useful information for both oneself and others. The requisite accoutrements include traveling with fierce intentionality, a basic understanding of one’s personal mythos, and, of course, a well-maintained dream journal. Dream allies are your fiercest comrades in the Land of Nod, unlocking doors and mediating communion betwixt you and the motley crew of etheric entities that reside in your unconscious. The dream allies listed below are a brief ethnobotanical survey of cherished pan-cultural Oneirogens, and should be treated as such. If anyone wishes to approach the allies, it should be done in good health, only when deemed appropriate by a hearty sign-off from your healthcare provider, and definitely not whilst pregnant or breastfeeding. Each of these plants are unique creatures with wildly variant properties, and a myriad spectrum of moxie from stem to stamen. Therapeutic dosages, though listed below, should be the jurisdiction of your herbal purveyor, as they know the persnickety potency of each herb they grow and peddle. And also, my dears, DO check your state laws, as many of the most prized herbs for healing and gnosis are psychoactive at certain dosages, misunderstood by an ignorant hegemony, and therefore may be illegal for consumption in your state (don’t worry, you are still protected under the law to poison yourself slowly on Diet Coke and factory-farmed meat).

The Dream Herb: Calea Zacatechichi

My most favorite dreaming ally is Calea Zacatechichi, known as the ‘Dream Herb’ by the Chontal people of Oaxaca. Indigenous to Latin America, she is often used by shamans and medicine folk to produce psychotropic benders of prophecy and mirth, producing crystal visions worthy of a witched-out Stevie Nicks divinatory diatribe. Like a liminal Charlie Rose, you can ask her all matter of thorny questions, which she will graciously answer in bouts of epic visions and narrative. This is a journeying herb, and her liminal landscape is one of heroes and villains, mythic motifs, and prodigious peregrinations. Though she’s often symbolic with an astounding archetypal imagination, many times her answers are so literal and linear that you will be re-reading your dream journal months later with slack-jawed astonishment. She’s very forthcoming with her brujeria, and I’ve never had her turn me down. The traditional method of smoking Calea in tandem with a strong infusion of her brew will produce catnaps with bursts of intense visions, whereas an infusion of the herb lends itself well to epic dream recall, intensity, lucidity, and bounteous hypnagogic imagery. My basic method is to brew a strong pot of Calea tea and steep it for 15 minutes, whilst cradling it in my hand and meditating upon my query.  Occasionally, I’ll bundle up my herbs in a homemade teabag, and tie it with a tiny tag upon which my divinatory question has been scrawled. Bitter to the point of near un-drinkability, a few stirs of honey will add an air of gentility to the whole ordeal, though it may still inevitably taste like someone has vomited battery acid in your mouth. Do not let that deter you, dear seekers! In traditional Chinese medicine, bitterness quiets a wily heart spirit, and the quality detracts not from Calea’s lovely, generous spirit. Seeing as she is traditionally used by shamanic healers to solve village health quandaries, I think she is an especially robust guide for clarity in healing work.

Dosage: Begin with 1-2 grams steeped in hot water for about 10 minutes, strained, and drank before bed. Calea is a relationship, and this dose may need to be adjusted to find your sweet spot. I have come to find that 5 grams works well for me, and I steep her with garden mint and honey to quell some of the bitterness.

Mugwort: Artemisia Vulgaris

With fragrant silvery spires that glow incandescent white in the moonlight, Artemisia herself harkens to both the poetic dreamscapes of the moon and the subconscious hinterlands of the mind. A muse to both Old Gods and mere mortals alike, Mugwort is the sacred weed of Artemis (or Diana, if you’re a rapacious, re-appropriating Roman), a humble herb that grows freely (like the wild Botanarchist she is) amongst freeway meridians, sidewalk cracks, and areas of blight, disregard, and disarray. Foraging for her is the delight of urban hunters, left to get their jollies amongst paved-over pastures and sagacious sprawl.

Though herself humble & hoary, Mugwort has the pedigree of a bona fide goddess in disguise. In an appropriately foxy compendium of sex & death meeting myth & medicine, her patron goddess Artemis was said to have bestowed all of her herbal knowledge upon Chiron, a centaur (hot!), who then passed it on to the martyred necromancer Asclepius (even hotter!). Asclepius then compiled the sacred medicinal arcana into the Materia Medicas of Ancient Greece, and taught ancient mortals the art of healing magic before being offed by Zeus for raising folks from the dead for money (even necromancer’s gotta eat!). Primordial seekers used to make holy pilgrimages to the Mugwort-laden Temples of Asclepius to practice dream divination, asking Asclepius for guidance to heal the sick and infirmed. Shall you not find yourself amongst the enshrined elite anytime soon, a clairvoyant cup of Mugwort tea drunk before bed produces visionary dreams, can enhance recall, and is often used by those who practice the art of lucid dreaming. Mugwort achieves this magical melee due to a chemical cocktail of constituents that prevent us from reaching a deep sleep, trapping us instead in the twilight hours of vivid dreamtime purgatory. That said, she may leave you a tad torn and frayed if used on the regular.  With anything, do your legwork before starting any herbal regimen, making sure you are in suitable shape for such dalliances. And never take Mugwort internally if you are pregnant (or any of the dream allies, really), as it may stimulate uterine contractions at certain dosages. I’m partial to a few heaping teaspoons steeped in hot water for a good 10 minutes, then strained and served with a spot of raw honeycomb. She’s also quite divine whence mixed with equal parts Rosehips and Lemon Balm.

Dosage: 1 tbsp steeped in hot water for at least ten minutes. 

Ubulawu Dream Root: Silene Capensis

Known by her kin as the ‘Herb of the White Path’, Silene Capensis is a South African dream herb famed for bearing gossamer visions heavy on shimmering colors and luminescent white symbolism. Though I haven’t met the White Lady in my dreams as of late, I will give Silene deep respect for increasing dream intensity AND recall, a sibylline cocktail of Orphic bliss. Learning to work with Silene bears infinite rewards for the psychonaut, offering diviners Delphic intimations of their personal arcanum, connecting the dots between personal myth and ancestral legacy. When approached with the proper intentionality (as entheogens always should be), she brings communion with the ancestors, and can deliver you messages from those departed. I did tremendous work with her over the course of a moon cycle, using Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Way of the Tarot as a tactile counterpart to my work in the ethers, the two overlapping to form a deep symbology that I still draw upon often. In addition to her pedigree as a dreamtime ally, she is used prodigiously in ceremony in the South African river valleys for catharsis and ritualistic purging, similar to the ayahuasca rites of Central and South America. Dissimilarly, Silene is not a psychedelic plant, and vomiting only occurs intentionally in behemoth doses during highly nuanced ceremonies. When taken as a dream ally, she is gentle and kind, with nary a disrupt of psyche or stomach in sight. The most astounding facet of Silene’s brouhaha might just be that a frothy brew of her twisted tendrils is ingested upon RISING from slumbers, with absolutely NO impact on waking life- all of the illusory vagaries happen between the sheets! Those with a penchant for Cthulhu and the Lovecraftian Deep Ones will inevitably love Silene, as her spirit form is a magical, alien sea snake that lives in the deepest waters of the river, straddling the boundaries betwixt this world and the next.

When I use this herb, I devote at least a week to her majesty, allowing the alkaloids to build up in my system over time. I drink the foam that rises from a macerated infusion of the herb in hot water on an empty stomach upon rising. I am one to abstain from drinking coffee whilst taking counsel from Silene, and those with more sensitive constitutions may want to follow suit. It is also customary to abstain from eating meat while working with this plant. Some notice enhanced dreaming after one day with her counsel, but I have found that my body responds to her magic a few nights after we have begun communing.

Inquisitive parties simply MUST read ‘Root, Dream & Myth: The Use of the Oneirongenic Plant Silene Capensis,’ a tremendous exploration of her mystic myth, published in Eleusis: Journal of Psychoactive Plants & Compounds, Vol. 4. 

Dosage: Start by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered root mixed in 1/2 cup water with a wooded spoon until foamy and frothy (depending on how fine your herb is, this could take upwards of a few minutes). I suggest drinking it first thing in the morning, at least an hour before eating. I recommend doing this for about a week until judgement is passed. If dreams are elusive, you can begin increasing the dose steadily.

Egyptian Blue Lotus: Nelumbo Nucifera

If we’re in the business of discarding tombs both real and imagined (which I am), Blue Lotus would be an excellent ferry ‘cross the river Styx. Carrying in its serpentine, cerulean DNA a shamanic cocktail of disintegration (apomorphine) and communion (nuciferine), she truly is Hermetic gnosis manifest- a vehicle for the ecstatic alchemical separation of body and spirit, a botanical simulacrum of simultaneous ‘solve et coagula’. In tandem, the alkaloid Nuciferine serves to ‘strip off the garment’ of the lotus eater, while the euphoric tendrils of apomorphine liberate the akh, the luminous sun of our inner being. The resulting effects are both calming and euphoric, creating a numinous dreamtime space for vivid dreams and tranquil sleep. 

As the sacred flower of the pharaohs, her plant manna was used ritualistically by the ancient Egyptian noblesse to produce shamanic ecstasy and hypnotic trance in magical rites, mostly involving the gruesome twosome of sex and death. Chinese botanists (my favorite kind, this side of Luther Burbank), were convinced the lotus had the ability to transcend the limitations of time, as they believed she flowered and bore fruit simultaneously. Like all flowers of the Philistines, Blue Lotus has her very own God presiding over those bodacious blooms. Nefertum is the Egyptian god of the lotus and perfumery, an archetype of rejuvenation and anointment. As an avatar of Nefertum, ingesting the blue lotus into your temple (lotophagus, as the Greeks say, cause Ancient Greek makes me swoon) is akin to the ribald Dionysian rite of enthusiasmos, a state of being quite literally ‘filled by the gods.’

Though her plant magic is hallowed and divine, the true reason I fell in love with the lotus is the story of how she’s pollinated (truly the hottest piece of erotica this side of Anais Nin). Sacred scarabs are lured into the dark waters by the lotus at dusk, no match for its irresistibly miasmic pineapple musk. They intoxicatedly feast on the central petals, so engorged with lotus liquor they fail to notice when the flower closes over them. The anthers then ripen and shed their pollen over the trapped beetles, whilst the flower descends back into the black waters of the Nile, for a night of Bacchanalian revelry in an underwater boudoir of velvet pollen, beating wings, nectar victuals and ecstatic sex. As Ra rises over the horizon, the enshrined altar re-emerges above the water, and the beetles are set free to do the walk of shame across the banks of the Nile.

Though we may long to morph into a lotus beetle and drink deep the nectar of the lotus straight from the boudoir itself, in this lifetime, ritualistic victuals of lotus wine will have to suffice. You can make your own sacrament with a decent bottle of Rosé, a few ounces of Nelumbo Nucifera, and a few shakes of a lamb’s tail. Simply take 20 grams or so of lotus, crack open your bottle, skim a few chugs off the top, and soak your petals in the juices for three days. You’ll want to re-cork your vessel and store it in the fridge until it’s time to commune. Like most lovely things, she’s a bitter pill, and her unguents may need to be cut with a little raw honey to sweeten the deal. For dreamwork, the blue lotus is typically taken as a tea before bed, with a recommended dose of 5 grams steeped in boiling water and then allowed to cool before drinking it directly. In comparison to the ribald rites of the ancients, when taken in these manifestations the effects are mild, sedative, dreamy and mellow.

Dosage: 5 grams steeped in boiling water.

Rites Of Spring:
Asclepieia - Divining Your Own Medicine Through Dreams

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.”

-Carl Jung

In Taoist cosmology, Spring corresponds to the Wood element, and is the season of movement emerging from stillness, where the Liver is most active and its spirit the Hun ascends to the stars to to help us find our path and orient ourselves in the direction of our Tao. The Hun act as an intermediary between our waking and sleeping states, and though they perform this sacred function all year round, some feel that their dreams come alive in Spring… that the waking of the planet wakes something deep inside of them, and they can suddenly attune to the rustles of the nethermost refuge of their being. The question to ruminate upon during the time of year whilst buds burth forth from the dark is “what is happening beneath the surface?” It is the perfect time to seek communion with the phantasmata of the liminal realms, to mine the fertile intimations of the unconscious for hypnagogic gold. One can do this by engaging in the sacred rite of dream divination, known to the ancient Greeks as Oneiromancy, which might just be the most direct method of communication with the inner healer or Divine Physician. For those who seek to heal by the cipher of their personal mythologies, dreamwork is a presumptuous playground of obsequious archetypes and sordid vignettes pregnant with symbology & suggestion.

Starting in the 5th century BCE, primordial pilgrims of ancient Greece made holy pilgrimages to the Mugwort-laden Temples of Asclepius to practice dream divination, petitioning Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, for guidance to heal the sick and infirmed. These healing sanctuaries, called Asclepieia, were chambers of Oneironautic intrigue, where physician-priests and master dream interpreters would lead supplicants through an array of rites to prep the seekers for a healing intercession from Asclepius in the dream realm. The Asclepian dream incubation rites began with a series of ritualistic purifications called Katharsis, which included a number of cleansing baths and purgations designed to purify the body of emotional detritus through art, as well as a cleansing fast that lasted a number of days. After purging oneself of the  wanton compulsions cloaking the ego in creature comforts and psychic ephemera shrouding intellectual illumination, supplicants would make offerings to Asclepius in the form of anatomical votives in silver and gold of the body part they wished to heal, and then were admitted into the Abaton, or dream incubation chamber, for one or more nights. Because Asclepius gained his medical knowledge and healing prowess from a snake that licked his ears clean, whispering to him surreptitious sacred wisdom, the floor of the Abaton was aglow with throngs of non-venomous snakes that slithered over patients as they slept, imbuing them with the serpentine medicine of wisdom, healing, and resurrection. The god of medicine might visit patients in their dreams healing them immediately in the spectral state, or shroud his healing admonitions in allegory and metaphor. Physician-priests would interpret the symbols gleaned from the nether realms, then prescribe a suitable therapeutic remedy to restore the patient to health.

Though we are far in Euclidian space and time from the snake-soaked dream temples of yore, with a bit of moxie and a robust imagination you can create your own Asclepieia in the comfort of your own bedroom, and seek counsel with your inner physician to gain insight into a health concern that may be plaguing you. With the help of a cherished Chontal dream herb - Calea Zacatechichi - you can ensnare a divinatory dream, and perhaps even a visitation from Asclepius himself, or one of his totem animals - the dog, the rooster, or the snake.

  1. Oneironauts should begin the dream incubation rite by ruminating upon a health query they wish to illuminate. This could be something as flagrantly utilitarian as “what could be triggering my migraine headaches,” as perfectly prosaic as “what do I need to do in order to heal my longterm depression,” or as kinky & abstract as “what ancestral wounds have I carried over into this lifetime.” You are your own Divine Physician, and will emphatically know what bears scrutiny in the spectral slumberlands.
  2. Perform the requisite rites of Katharsis. Engage in a few days of fasting prior to your divinatory ritual, perhaps cutting out all stimulating foods such as sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and meat. If you are entirely too bacchanalian to forgo such illusory comforts, any type of ritualized restriction approached with dedication and zeal will infuse your rite with a fierce vector of intentionality. Fasting allows the mandalas of the medicine to permeate your inner being without the radio static of the Standard American Diet. Imagine getting blasted by a vapid earful of ashen Eagles jams from the upstairs apartment while you’re having a serious space age bro-down with some transcendental Sun Ra. It’s essentially just like that. Oil and vinegar don’t mix, as they say.
  3. Draw yourself a purification bath, or better yet, jump in a sacred hot spring or frigid ocean at dawn. Victuals you may add to your bath brew to enhance its cleansing mojo include sea salt, palo santo, rosemary, sage, or anything dank and pungent whose stinging aromatics have the visceral effect of scattering malignant energies.
  4. Prepare your Abaton, or dream incubation chamber. The only limit to its majestic splendor is the sagacious sprawl of your own imagination. Some lofty ideas for you to pilfer include the following: Sleep on a mat upon the floor, ensconced in a mandala of mugwort. Waft thuribles of pineal-propelling Frankincense within your bedchamber before retiring.  Draw sigils and sketches of the body parts you wish to heal, placing them upon the walls of your Abaton. Beseech your local vermiculturist for a flat of composting worms, and scatter them throughout your DIY Asclepieia to hearken to the Asclepian Snakes of yore. Allow them to crawl over you as you slumber, imbuing their serpentine alembics and infusing your subconscious with snake medicine. Return the worms unharmed to your garden in the morning, to sow your dream magic deep within the earth. Or, if you happen to be blessed with your own herpetologic muse, allow it to slither freely in your chamber during your hypnagogic tango. Really do it up- magic is fond of romantic gestures and relishes in a hot & bothered courtship.
  5. Concoct your herbal ally. My basic method is to brew a strong pot of Calea tea and steep it for 15 minutes in my ritual chalice, while cradling it in my hand and meditating upon my health query.  Occasionally, I’ll bundle up my herbs in a homemade teabag, and tie it with a tiny tag upon which my divinatory question has been scrawled. Then, I stir in a little honey, imagining the tendrils of tea lacing the brew with my mojo. Raising the chalice above and thanking Calea Zacatechichi and Asclepius for their wisdom and guidance, I imbibe my limbic elixir, and retire to my dream chamber with a journal nearby to record my visions.
  6. Confiscate the dream hacks of intrepid lucid dreamers to aid you on your journey. Incant the mantra “I wish to awaken fully from my dreams and remember them upon waking” ad infinitum as you nod off. Stay open, pay attention. Magic communicates in glyphs and symbols, so be prepared to be a little stymied at first by the befuddling patois of your subconscious. Write down EVERYTHING immediately upon waking, whether that happens at 3 am or 10 am. Your dream-therapy might be glaringly apparent at first glance, or you may need to step back and give the dream space and time to unfold. If your unconscious is being a little coy, re-read your dream journal a week later to see what sort of illuminated shards glimmer within the words.
  7. Thank Asclepius and your guides with classical panache, by tossing gold into a sacred fountain. If strapped for sacredness, throw a penny in the LA river.
  8. This last step is the most important. HEED THE MESSAGE(S). Your unconscious has undressed before you, honor her candor by doing the work she revealed to you in the dream, no matter how absurd, risqué, or ho-hum it may be. Asclepian dream cures were often vexingly outlandish at first glance, full of “bizarre measures such as the eating of figs mixed with ashes from the god’s alter, naked marathons in freezing rain, abstinence from bathing for weeks, and bodily suspension upside down for long periods of time” (culled from Emma Goldstein’s “Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies”). Do not let their peculiar puissance detract from their latent medicine. Though eating ashes from the god’s alter may sound mega goth, charred herbs and substances are often hemostatic in nature with the ability to stop or slow bleeding, and possess a myriad of diverse medical benefits including settling an upset stomach and stopping diarrhea. Do first, scoff later. Live by the mandate of the divine sage Leonard Cohen:

Many hurt men wondered, many struck men bled, magic never faltered, magic always led.

Dream deep, sweetest seekers!


Rites of Spring:
Tree Gong

In celebration and solidarity with the Vernal Equinox, here’s a qigong practice I like to call Tree Gong (sorry/not sorry). This energetic alignment allows one to symphonize with Spring and ensconce oneself in the coursing qi of the Wood Element, all whilst hugging a tree (YES). ‘Cause I’m an Anarcha Taoist that’s all about collaboration and reciprocity, this practice is a cosmic embrace, a loop of love and repair between human and tree for synergistic symbiosis. Go ahead, share your qi with a tree! There’s more than enough to go around. Scarcity is a trick of capitalism. (So are shoes - this practice is best done barefoot).

Find a tree that calls to you, one with robust roots pillaging the sidewalk, leafy plumes cascading asunder, succulent sap with sticky sweet unguents, whatever your pleasure. If you pick a Joshua Tree, well, that’s on you.

Approach the tree as you would a lover, slowly with grace and reverence. As you find yourself in the tree’s embrace, ask permission for an exchange of energy. Most trees do this freely and with wild abandon (hello, oxygen), but consent is key, always and forever.

With a clear YES, hug your tree consort, breathing the tree qi deep into your bones. They might take a cue from you, and breath your qi deep into their xylem and phloem. Anything is possible in the qi matrix.

Ground your feet into the earth, bringing your awareness to acupuncture point Kidney 1 'Bubbling Spring’, the tender valley on the sole of the foot, just below the ball in the center of the crevasse. This is the wood point of the kidney meridian that gives our energy strength, a forward thrust, and fresh vision. Bubbling Spring is where energy can be received and released back into the tender womb of the earth.

F e e l  t h i s.

Inhale the earth’s qi from Bubbling Spring up the back of your spine to the crown of your head, to acupuncture point Du 20 'The Meeting of Grand Unity'. As Debra Katz says, this is a place of council where all the meridians can come together and be united to work together for the maximum harmony and balance. Here is held the balance between yin and yang, the light and dark, heaven and earth.

Exhale down the tree, sensing and visualizing the qi spiraling its way deep within the tree and out through its roots. 

Reverse directions, inhaling qi up the tree, allowing it to percolate over the tree to the crown of your head at The Meeting of Grand Unity, falling down the front of your body and exhaling through the roots of your foot into the earth.

Repeat this orbit at least 9 times, but truly, the consanguine embrace can continue forever.

When you feel cosmically nourished, gently let go of your embrace, listening for messages from the tree and beyond. Magnolias are very talkative, Oaks tell dad jokes, Aspens are downright demure. But don’t take it from me, taste and sense and hear for yourself.

Bow to your tree in gratitude, leaving an offering. I like ash, as it nourishes the soil, but anything given with love and awe will do just fine.

Happy Equinox, o verdant ones!