RESISTANCE IS FERTILE: VOL I FEBRUARY 2021












Welcome to the first issue of the Botanarchy Newsletter, a celebration of eco-sensual healthcare guided by the poetry of nature. Think of its pages as a verdant garden bed to sow the seeds of botanarchy, a repository of anarcha-taoist wisdom traditions for reconnecting to the sacred wild within and throughout. Together we soldier through the seasons with the plants as our gurus and the motion potion of the cosmos as our ale.

The idea of a monthly newsletter is something that has been pulling on my shirttails since my obsession with collecting vintage lit journals in high school. There is something numinous about a newsletter… sparkling missives of magic and mirth that are both *in* and *out* of time simultaneously, sacred artifacts of the Earth’s turning by a stenographer hoping to preserve the un-preservable. 

I have been spending most of my quarantine days thoroughly besotted with one of those aforementioned lit journals of my youth, a series of tiny books published by my heroes Dale Pendell and Gary Snyder in the 1970’s. Kuksu: Journal of Backcountry Writing has been satiating my heathen soul and reminding me that *wellness* starts from a connection to place. When we shepherd the land, we come to understand that we are Nature and an embodiment of Her cycles, and we can anticipate change and respond to it accordingly, awakening our primal flow and inner physician. There’s something about back-to-the-land poets holed up in handmade cabins forging a relationship with the spirit of place through poetry and earthcraft that speaks to the character of the moment for me. How can we use this time of being firmly tethered to one place with the loss of our usual litanies of work and play to nudge closer to something transcendent, to let go the shackles of culture and sync our breathing to the nervous system of Earth?

I thought this little piece offered by Dale Pendell in Kuksu: Vol VI might be a lovely way to spend a quarantine weekend, meeting your local landvættir (as my ancestors would say) and testing your mettle in the witchwood. If you end up filling out this questionnaire, I would obviously LOVE to hear your answers!

POETRY & MAGIC INITIATORY QUESTIONNAIRE
(from the Poetry & Magic class at the Primitive Arts Institute, Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, 1976)


I. PERSONAL: Name, birthdate, phase of moon when born?
-What kind of work do you do for money?

II. SENSE OF PLACE
-What is the oldest tree within walking distance of where you live?
-Describe the basic geology of your home locale.
-Where does your drinking water come from? 
    Your electricity?
-Who lived where you live now two hundred years ago?
    Fifty years ago?

VI. WORT-CUNNING
-List two botanical sources for dimethyltryptamine.
-Which of the following mushrooms are fatally toxic:
    Amanita calyptroderma, A. muscaria, A. phalloides, A.             verna?
-Name five important New World food plants.
-Outline the vertues and uses of Yerba Santa.

VII. MAGIC
-Name a famous shaman or shamaness who practiced within the United States in the last decade and comment on his/her technique.
-Name two popular songs exhibiting the principles of sympathetic magic.
-What was the greatest height you ever jumped from, as a child, attempting to fly?
In addition to learning the name of the oldest tree within walking distance of where I live (it’s a Cypress if you’re jonesing to know), I also got the first dose of the COVID vaccine (read about it here), crafted a medicinal mushroom lollipop called Nine Lives with my homies reishi, chaga, lion’s mane, maitake, and cordyceps alongside candy muses Amborella Organics, restocked all 5 of my Potion Powders (coming in hot from the wilds of Germany), and sat down for virtual tea with my friend Adam Yasmin on his Wabi Sabi Podcast to discuss the intersection of taoism, vaccines, pandemic medicine, and rewilding whilst locked inside the house.

I hope you drink deep from this dossier of gnostic nature transmissions. The Botanarchist is in, and taking requests.

In health and solidarity,
Carolyn









Avoid Gurus, Follow Plants




ON THE MARRIAGE OF CHAGA AND BIRCH


By Carolyn Barron

Chaga preens from atop the Birch tree like a charred mass of blackened coal laced with threads of auric light, a study in kintsugi - the art of repairing broken pottery with gold. The tree spends the entirety of its life force trying to fight the chancre off, but Chaga is a dark light that penetrates everywhere and engulfs everything. Is it a fungus or a gothic love story? Is it a black mass or a golden canticle? To drink of the dank nug of Chaga is a gift to your lineage,  for she is geneto-protective mycelial mana made manifest, and like the Japanese art of kintsugi she repairs the serpentine strands of DNA and stokes the balefires of jing within the kidneys.

Chaga looks like she has been kissed by fire and lived to tell the tale, impregnating her with a mythological flair and bequeathing her the namesake Champignon de l’Immortalité - The Mushroom of Immortality - despite her necromantic leerings. Though indulging in the rare dalliance with the Elm and the Beech, Chaga is almost entirely exclusive to the Birch tree, restrained ethical non-monogamy shot through with a devotional pledge.

Chaga concentrates the therapeutic properties of Birch whilst infusing it with its own swill of myco-medicine. When you drink deep from the chalice of Chaga, what you are imbibing is the alchemical marriage of a dense mass of mycelia with decayed bits of birch bark. Which is to say - you can’t separate the chug from the birch, who blur the lines of self and other in a study of sacred symbiosis. The blurred edges of being, a zen koan of “there was no me but there was no not-me”. Theirs is a floating walkway between two worlds, a web of interconnections, heavy-lidded hedgewalking.

Without following others, realize complete penetration.

- Dogen

To understand Chaga is to know the Birch, to look into his spindly silver eyes and gaze upon his papery alabaster skin. Perhaps it is because I just emerged from my yearly pilgrimage to the northern Birch forests where I forage mushrooms & commune with the dryads, or maybe it is on account of writing you this missive beneath the Birch moon which crowns each January, but as the year begins anew I always feel it carries the banner of Birch.

The Birch tree belongs to the Bards, my ancestral poet brethren to whom the Birch was “the tree of inception.” There’s a story of emergence in each branch of Birch, big Water unto Wood energy and initiatory medicine that forges ahead valiantly (cc: acupuncture point Liver 3). The Birch is a pioneer species, first to colonize areas of fire and blight, self-sacrificing and hardy with a penchant for the cold northern woods (with you on that one, my brother). Community-minded, charitably intrepid, and with a long-game attitude, Birch provides nutrients for other slower growing trees which usually colonize after it has prepared the soil. They are self-sowing, creating their own groves, and are one of the first trees to push out new leaves in Spring.
In an ancestral role call that puts all other role calls to shame, the Birch is both a witches broom that drives out the spirits of the old year in anticipation of the return of spring (British Isles), the tree that guards the door to the afterlife and opens the way to the sky realms for shamanic flight (Siberia), a sacred fetish of the fecund Frigga and Freya who call her Lady Of The Woods (Norse, from the mouth of the goddesses to your ears), a talisman of the power of poetry, for it was believed that the first written word was carved on Birch bark by Ogma the honey-tongued god of eloquence (Ireland), a grove in which to hold ecstatic dances that honor the spring goddess Eostre (Anglo-Saxon), and possibly used as a method of applying flying ointment trans-vaginally made from extracts of the fly agaric mushroom commonly found hiding in birchwoods (Germanic, though likely an embellishment but one that I cling to fondly).

A brief Birch epithet - I kissed a Birch this Winter Solstice, and she granted me something I like to call mushroom sight. Suddenly - after decades of courting them with hungry eyes on no less than three continents - the entire forest lit up with the mythical red lips of the Fly Agaric mushroom, a spell that continued for a week’s time. Now I keep a piece of that tree’s bark on my desk and fondle it whenever I need to call upon mushroom-sight. Sometimes I stow it away in my linen coat, and use it as a talisman for looking deeper into dysfunction in my patient’s bodies while we are sitting together during intake. I will occasionally follow the lead of my ancestors, and chant its Gaelic name beith, beith, beith for protection whence engaging in dubious activities (mostly held in the Otherworld).


Which brings us to the dank nug that grows upon his lily white countenance, a witch’s tit full of terpenoid & sterol compounds stewing in swank medicinals: the Chaga conk. Chaga is the emissary of the tree’s magic, concentrating the Birch bark’s rich tonics and making its medicine digestible for us mere mortals (thank her if you see her). Betulinic acid, Inotodiol, Ergosterol… these therapeutic compounds are known to induce apoptosis (cancer cell death) and prevent tumors from developing, whilst also strengthening immunity, quelling allergies, reducing inflammation (excels for arthritis), absorbing free radical damage, repairing DNA, and boosting qi. If blood work is your thang, Chaga can lower both cholesterol and blood sugar if used wisely. Dark and shapeless, she is an envoy of the Water Element in Chinese medicine, whose season - winter - we are knee deep in the throes of. Black and tarry, she is the yin to the yang of the white Birch bark, a lunar luminary on the dark side of the moon who dances in shadow, the unconscious, death, decay, and awareness of the unseen. As an herb of the Water Element, she brings us its hallmark virtues of adaptability and willpower, with an affinity for the jing - the seed potential of our inherited constitution. In his tome Mushroom Essences: Vibrational Healing from the Kingdom Fungi, myco mage Robert Rogers says that an essence preparation of Chaga helps soften rigid beliefs, dogma, and emotional constraint.

Preparing Chaga Tea


Of course, we all know at this point that we can simmer Chaga with maple syrup, hot milk, and coffee, and behold the coffee cup of dreams, but I think it’s important to taste her naked and unadorned, have sex with the lights on for once. If you really spend some time savoring her saporific curves, you can taste hints of vanilla, forest floor, burnt sugar, wood nymph, crone barnacle, and dare I say… ROOT BEER (another gift of the Birch). I love the practice of preparing Chaga tea because it makes me feel like a tree - a Birch tree perhaps - slow and patient with nowhere to be except where I am. You will want to use raw Chaga chunks for this tea preparation, not the more readily available powder. Here are a few loose guidelines for brewing:

  • Buy your Chaga in nugget form from an ethical purveyor that is not stripping ancestral lands of medicines or harming the host Birch in any way (here, here, and here for reference, the lattermost works with local logging companies to purchase Chaga from birch trees that have already been cut down for logging).

  • If this hasn’t been done for you already, break your Chaga into 2-3 inch chunks using (no joke) an axe or a heavy duty cleaver.

  • Because this is a slow, worshipful ritual, I recommend making a big batch and storing what you don’t use in mason jars in the fridge.

  • Use a ratio of about 1/4 cups Chaga chunks to about 2 quarts of cold, clean water. Double/triple this amount as you like for the size of your pot.

  • Bring  your Chaga and water to a high simmer (think rolling bubbles not spewing geysers), and then reduce to a low simmer for about 4 hours or more. You will know your brew has reached peak dankness when the water takes on the hue of strong coffee - wait patiently for this.

  • Remove from heat, and strain your Chaga chunks, which you can re-use for up to 3 batches (bring it to a harder boil on the third batch to extract all the sequestered medicines). I store these in the freezer if I’m not jumping into a second extraction right away.

  • Drink what thou wilt and store the rest in a jar in the fridge, where it will keep for up to one week.



When you are bonding with a mushroom, you should commune daily in open-ended spacetime in seated silence. Follow the energy downward as you sip your tea, down, down, down, into the chthonic underbelly of your gut, following the tendrils as she snakes through your body. Allow her to disembody your contaminants, for she builds armor from venoms. Imagination is key. Let your feelings be felt and fester, and trust her to dissolve their density. Repeat, repeat, repeat.


A Myco-Meditation To Contemplate Whilst Drinking Chaga Tea


What is me, What is not me? Things that are subtly made. Where does the Birch begin and I end?

Discuss.













Mythopoetic Medicine For Seasonal Alignment




LIVER 3: TAI CHONG
SUPREME RUSHING 太沖


By Carolyn Barron

The acupoint pairing to Chaga Tea, Liver 3 - Supreme Rushing expresses the formative essence that flows within wood, the mysteries that bark conceals. Sap coursing through a tree in the dead of winter, shuttling nutrients from deep within the earth up its trunk towards the heavens.

In her book Characters of Wisdom - Taoist Tales of the Acupuncture Points, scholar Debra Kaatz translates the character Tai Chong 太沖 as “a great, forceful and supreme surge forward”. Being the earth point on our wood meridian, it represents the movement and vitality surging through a great tree, our seed potential being made manifest and carried out with natural vigor. I’ve always understood Liver 3 - A Supreme Rushing in a clinical context, a cherished point to unfetter movement in the body cosmos when things are stuck, stagnant, swollen, leaden, heavy, painful, constricted. But I am not sure I ever understood WHY it does these things until I placed a hand upon a tree and felt the reservoirs of raw power moving through it on a frozen February morning. The promise of spring, if we could just make it thorough. Hand upon bark, it felt precisely like the pulsing of Liver 3 I feel when placing my hand upon the foot of a patient, just before making contact with a needle. Except, somehow... FREED,

The liver as an emissary of wood medicine needn’t be abstract. Think of the role it plays in our inner ecosystem and how that mirrors the role of a tree in the collective called Planet Earth: Growth, regeneration, and detoxification are their sacred tasks, and as the liver carries these out it courses the flow of qi, blood, and emotions as they move through the body. Five Element Acupuncturist Lonny Jarrett elucidates this relationship further, writing “the liver must tap the potential of jing and implement its internal organization in the world the same way a tree must send down roots to tap reserves of water, manifesting them on the surface as new growth.”

If you have come to me for treatment,


I guarantee you I have needled this point upon your foot (and you may have even gasped as you felt the surging of your own supreme rushing). I use this point for gynecological disorders, cramps, PMS, irritability, IBS, depression, spasming, and pain. In addition to bringing movement to that which has solidified, I also use this point to anchor energy back to earth that has risen too high too quickly (think too supreme a rushing). This might manifest internally as headaches, high blood pressure, neck and shoulder tension, vertigo, dizziness, blurry vision, anger, or racing thoughts. You don’t need an understanding of internal medicine to treat yourself with this point, as the ancient doctors based this system of medicine on basic phenomenology, witnessing energy patterns that move like weather systems through our bodies, easily discernible as the same observable patterns of movement in nature. Nature is the supreme teacher and universal muse, after all. Simply put, stimulating this point grounds us to the earth, brings stability, and unblocks our resources letting them flow freely.

Go ahead, touch yours right now. It’s in the tiny valley atop your foot, beneath the junction of the big toe and the second toe.

Palpating mine as I write this missive, I think about the rune Isa - Ice - which inevitably brings me to the frozen Birch forests of my Northern European ancestors, and how they must have felt touching a tree in the dead of winter, the promise of a waking world:


By drawing our attention to the surface gleam of our experience, Isa shelters that which lies beneath. It does not directly mention or address the wild dynamism that flows under its static veneer; but this seems almost by design. After all, the hidden, the inner, the secret, the mysterious, does not like to be called out explicitly. It must be coaxed, invited, given succor.
-Rune poem translation by Sweyn Plowright


Ice locking life under the surface, that which has solidified through a long winter, mysterious currents the Earth shelters within us.

“Ice only appears to stop a river’s flow.” my ancestors coo.


When you work this point, as I hope you will, think of the wild dynamism flowing under your own static veneer, the strong endurance of the spindly birch full of flowing sap who somehow makes it through the winter undaunted. Think about the vitalism that might flow through you as you break the ice of these still waters we have all been trapped under. Think about unlocking the hidden, the secret, the mysterious, and letting it flow unfettered through you, letting it open the gateway between you and a rich, ever-abundant earth. A tree in pre-spring. A Birch about to burst and busk.

Nature Gets Loquacious




CONSIDER THE BURL


By Gabriel Welchert Garcia 

Burl is the result of loss of orderly impulse in the tree, so that the grain is a tangle.”

- Wallace Nutting

“Likely the result of a stress-induced tree virus, burls grow on tree roots, trunks, and branches…Our modern sensibility uses terms such as “tumor” and “cancer” to describe these growths, but the Woodland tribes viewed them differently…”

- Gregory LeFever

“Whan the bode is made thynne, soo folowyth consumpcyon and wastyng.”

- John of Trevisa

Ash Burl Carving of a Native AmericanCirca 1880-1920, Courtesy of Steven S. Powers

Octavia Butler’s

Dawn, the first in her Xenogenisis series (1987) tells of alien entities known as Oankali who save humanity in part to harvest biological traits that are useful to their species. Specifically, they have their eyes on cancer. The Oankali admire humankind for their ability to possess the “talent” for cultivating cancer, because it is intractable, capricious, mercurial and not least, pathological.

Only a truly alien intelligence might see beyond human conception and our vexing reasons to demonize tumorous growths and biological processes that result in the loss of orderly impulse. All of our bodies have gone through some chaotic burl-like transformation. Let us examine how trees deal with these growths outside of the human body so that we might expand our ability to continue to grow despite the stresses and indignities of life.  

Quite a question we’ve taken up! Before we go there, I want to invite you to step outside and take a walk in the forest with me

You may notice in your life, as I do in mine, that walking and talking amongst the trees is a practice capable of recasting all manners of problems

It’s almost as if tree groves and toadstools amplify alternate perspectives that help us see these problems in more lively dimensions

What d’ya say?

Right, have ya got your boots on?

Good. Let’s take this path beyond the scraggle that goes deep into the Sequoias



Burl On Jacaranda, Los Angeles, CA

Isn’t it curious how often we use tumors as metaphor? Susan Sontag wrote a whole book on the subject of cancer and AIDS. She sought to unhinge the relationship between the experience of having an illness and the stories we tell about it.

Our conversations around

tumors, lumps, cysts, and growths are often muted, and reveal a culture who is in desperate need for new metaphors around the body and the inevitable changes it goes through during a lifetime.

…watch your step there, you almost stepped on a chanterelle! …let’s ask the trees about honesty.

Ok, now we are out past Satre’s feared “vegetation belt”

Just stop for a second… peer way up to the sky, and notice how as we get deeper in, the trees get taller and increasingly formidable

We are in their land now

Doesn’t it feel like these trees are happier than the ones in front of your house in the city, nudging the sidewalk and concrete into different angles like a bark-shrouded atlas?

Mushroom Sculpture From Juniper Wood Burl

Contemplate all those trees in the city, especially the ones lining the streets. Most are not native, and many don’t seem to be getting the right nutrients. A sizable amount have odd, bulbous growths on the trunk, on their branches, and in their roots.

Do you think these trees might be anxious living amongst the smog and noise?

Those bulbs are called burls and are the effect and symptom of stress on a tree. As in humans, there are many sources of stress; famine, drought, bacteria, mold and insect invasion, to name a few. The tree reacts by growing tissue into a labyrinthine puzzle. Depending on the kind of stress, the burl can manifest in many different typologies and sizes.

Still, think back to your neighborhood walks… have you ever seen a root stump that just refuses to die? There’s one in my neighborhood, I think she is a Jacaranda. Anyhow, she was cut down long before I arrived in the neighborhood. Her stump is about 5 feet around and despite this attempted murder, she grows stalks out of what seems like dry, dead tissue.

Holy resurrection in plain view of the KFC drive thru

This happens because what seems like a tumor on the tree, caused by innumerable sources of stress and violence, is actually a sapling.

Some burls are unsprouted bud tissue. They are insurance policies against the ravages of indifferent and sometimes hostile environments. If the tree succumbs, the burl is there to plant itself as a clone, or extension of the original tree.

Because after all, thats how forests are made

Here, let’s take this trail, theres something I want to show you

Burls are like seedbombs and hold within the ugly carapace promises of new life. The embodiment of paradoxical grace, they also corner disease, localize it, and render it inert, allowing the tree to continue to grow magnificently and elegantly skyward, leaving behind a beloved burl as the remnant of a technology to escape death…and a talisman of potential new life.

Seeing these weird mounds on a living tree can seem odd to our sight. When children draw trees they favor straight unencumbered trunks. Likewise, when I see Christmas trees in homes, they too are free of unsightly growth.

Look here, that’s root burl, and over here can you see the mineral stain and voids?

See the bark inclusions. Here is where this tree overcame a bacterial infection, the burl on the trunk has been compressed for many hundreds years

Here’s another example, birdseye burl, it looks like a million darting looks. True to our little walk, the forest is always staring down at us

If we sit here long enough, and watch these old ones, as they grow, our sense of time slows down and we can grasp inner intuitive truths

You don’t need to peer into your own reflection to scry

What I mean is, thousands of years ago Fu Xi stepped into the Yellow River and entered ecstatic gnosis only to emerge soaking and stumbling to land with the perfect knowledge of the IChing one random day, so, ya, nature contemplation is pretty chill


Closed Form by @afsaneh.bandigan Caption reads: His name is Kamal made of boiling wood and walnut roots, His name is Kamal Made of Elm and Walnut

In a way, I think we are the aliens, who are trying to save trees because we admire their propensity for tumors, and uncanny ability to clone themselves. Yet, could we tell if a tree was suffering as a result of the burls protruding from them? I know when poachers remove burls from healthy trees, its life is gravely threatened by such violence. It’s as if the tree needs the outgrowth to still live a healthy life. In this way it’s only ethical to harvest burl from felled trees, only then can the secrets of these tumors be unlocked. And we love the wood in burls, each one a unique universe telling the story of Eros and Thanatos.

A crime scene, where thieves have poached a burl and severely endangered the life of a tree centuries old. Credit: www.northcoastjournal.com

Before we head back to the city, I want to confide in you something I’ve realized as I sit with these trees

When I was young I thought of love as if it were two keys opening a lock, the mechanisms perfect nickel and brass, cast by some fine mold, the lock designed by some long ago intelligence

Later, I thought of love as if it were a waterfall, one that has less to give with each time a relationship ended

After awhile I found myself relying on Hafiz, Rumi and Rilke, and I had to admit, I didn’t know what love was

But as I sit in the forest, at the foot of a thousand year old Sequoia, I have the funny feeling love is a burl, ten million lanceolate tendrils expanding in all directions, until all touches all - forever

…choking out sickness, and seeding the future

…cloaked in barked armor/amor

Simple bowl turned from California Red Oak

Gabriel Garcia is a therapist, writer and woodworker living in Los Angeles. (And less impressively, he is also my husband)

The Society For The Propagation Of Botanical Gnosis



The Botanarchy Coven is comprised of gnostic naturalists both living and deceased who shepherd the spirit of Botanarchy. This is a treasure box of discoveries and cultural ephemera culled from excavations of inner and outer worlds.

Feraferia

began like all great things - as an unexpected visitation by the Goddess whilst walking across the campus of LA City College in 1956. It has existed since in the neopagan wilds of Los Angeles and beyond as an incubator for ecstatic goddess worship and seasonal reverence,as a love culture for wilderness, a liturgy of holy wildness, and a religion celebrating the Magic Maiden.”

This exquisite little gem of a film is one of the most earnest and enrapturing visual representations of ritual I have ever witnessed outside of being ensconced in actual ecstatic ritual. ‘A Dance For The Goddess' offers a glimpse into Feraferia as it was over 40 years ago, showing a year’s worth of Solstice and Equinox rituals put in visual context by a year-long time lapse of a changing pond in the San Gabriel wilderness, a rare peak into the bosky bucolic witchwoods that encroach upon our fair city.

From filmmaker Jo Carson:
“As a UCLA film student, I shot and edited the project on 16mm equipment. This was the first time anyone had attempted a year-long time lapse. I had problems with temperature control, which meant the film expanded and contracted between frames, giving it a jumpy look. Despite the technical problems, this film preserves a high point in the magic, energy, and creativity of Fred and Svetlana's Feraferia. Fred and Svet insisted that everyone wear robes of a color to go with the season, and that we film in locations which embodied the seasonal feeling; so you will see us shaded by scarlet leaves in the Fall, and with our teeth chattering in the snow of Winter in the San Gabriel Mountains!”



Watch: FERAFERIA ~ A DANCE FOR THE GODDESS






Listening to Dr. Natasha Myers

spout verdurous victuals and prayers of plant solidarity is like a gamble in the greenswards, for she is a plant mage nonpareil, a splendorous sower of greener pastures where the human-plant connection empowers a new way forward through the mud. Not one but two confidantes thought to send this episode of For The Wild my way (thank you Jim Fairchild & Ian McElroy for your ever-verdant botanarchist kinship), and I am forever changed because of it. In this episode of For The Wild, Dr. Meyers discusses the necessity of finding non-human guides, the responsibility we have to make room for plants, anthropomorphism, restoration ecology, and reconfiguring our relationship to the future. Onwards, towards the archaic revival!

From For The Wild:
“This week’s guest, Dr. Natasha Myers, cultivates a body of thought and practice that prioritizes and fosters the intertwined relationship between plants and people, aptly referred to as the Planthroposcene. Natasha leads us to a world where magic happens through our active collaboration with plant kin. Beyond appreciation for plants, Natasha shares the importance of experimenting with the playful work of plant embodiment and seeding “plant-people conspiracies.” How can these connective practices provide diverse ways of knowing through a boundary-breaking experience? How might this embodiment cosmically and intuitively push us towards deeper connection and radical imagination?”




Listen: DR. NATASHA MYERS ON GROWING THE PLANTHROPOSCENE


     

“The planthroposcene decenters the human but actually centers the human-plant hybrid as the figure that should ground our actions forward. It allows us to take action in an alliance, in a form of solidarity that would seed livable worlds.”

- Dr. Natasha Myers















Advice For Rewilding Your Healthcare




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

This month’s letter comes from a reader on the internet whom I have not had the pleasure of meeting IRL, who asks:

“How do I heal the root chakra through herbs and acupuncture points so I can feel grounded, safe, strong, and rooted during these times?”


Before I get down to brass tacks, it’s important to make a distinction: Esoteric anatomy, the concept of a ‘subtle body’ that penetrates our physical form, and energy centers connected through the midline of the body are endemic to many ancient medical systems from Greece, to Rome, East Asia, Persia, India, and beyond. Though you may find overlap in where these energy centers are situated in the body from one medicine to the next, the chakra system as it stands is unique to India and its traditional medicine, Ayurveda.
The root chakra has its imprint in the taoist body cosmos at the perineum, at an acu point just in front of the anus called Huiyin: Meeting of Yin. Described as the meeting point of the inner waters that form the ocean of our inner energy, it is here that we access the profound energies & depth of resources gathered together in the ocean of our being. Just like in the ayurvedic chakra system, it is the root of our lifeforce, like an ocean floor that holds everything up. When energy flows freely here, there is tremendous vitality feeding our innermost depths, giving nourishment to all the other meridians. This point is not often needled in clinic (to understand why just look at the picture), but truly you are much better off learning to connect and circulate energy here on your lonesome, unless strangers poking your taint with sharp objects sounds like a good time (which it very well might be). I love starting with thisQigong Acupressure Practice To Wake Up Hui Yin
and then seeing where the practice takes you (last time I had a visitation from Freya).

Though there is no root chakra per se in East Asian Medicine, the concept of rootedness and connection to Earth permeates through and through. We see this in the taoist names of acupuncture points, such as DU12: The Supporting and Sustaining Pillar of Life, GB13: The Root Of The Spirit, BL57: Support The Mountain, and BL60: Kunlun Mountain. It is expressed in the poetry of the acupuncture point that kisses the ground on the bottom of our feet, KID1: Bubbling Spring. These are the points I work in an acupressure circuit when I need to ground my energy and settle it like a seed in the womb of the earth, where it feels safe, supported, and enshrouded, where it can sprout roots and legs in the dark to carry me through. In the clinic, I massage Black Spruce Essential Oil upon these points, or hold my patients feet in its embrace during treatment. An evergreen from the boreal forests of the Arctic Circle where it’s frozen up to 8 months of the year, Black Spruce is no stranger to adversity, possessing a grit and panache that she generously bestows upon us mortals. The essential oil of the spruce can support the adrenal glands during times of stress, and stimulate the nervous & endocrine systems to impart strength, motivation, confidence and stamina during even the most frigid of impasses.
When I think of emissaries of rootedness within the botanical queendom, I think of things that sink and descend... like heavy minerals, roots, bones. These are what we add to herbal formulations to anchor yang, meaning they help descend and ground rogue energies that are rising up & disturbing the spirit. Beyond feeling flighty, anxious, and ungrounded, these risings may manifest as hypertension, dizziness, headaches, red face, and insomnia, all symptoms of a spirit without root. Mu Li, Long Gu, and Zhen Zhu - oyster shell, fossilized bone, and pearl, respectively - are the grand dames of anchoring yang to settle a restless spirit. Though they may look distractingly witchy at first blush, when we analyze these compounds we find they are mostly comprised of highly bio-available calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate, in addition to trace minerals like manganese, magnesium, and silica. Before you pass judgement, understand that this is your ancestors answer to the synthetic stew known on the streets as Natural Calm, albeit more elegant and refined. Usage of these substances often requires a sophisticated diagnosis to land on the right formulation for your particular constitution (in order to avoid desultory side effects like diarrhea or low blood pressure), so ideally you would get a customized rec from your acupuncturist. Zhooshing up your teas & tonics with a lovely pearl powder in the meantime will do nicely, as will cycling minerals into your repertoire like magnesium, kelp powder, or Min Chex from Standard Process. To sublimate the magic of bones within the body temple, munch up on bone marrow custard or witch up your kitchen dregs into some high falutin bone broth. Lastly - regale your roots! They are what fastens the tree to the prodigious, primordial mycelial web of Earth’s womb. No need to be persnickety about it, just use what you have on hand, be it Ashwagandha, He Shou Wu, Ginseng, Astragalus, or the mystery root yet-to-be-named.

I’m not trying to be intentionally coy or withholding by not providing dosages and product sources. Rather than tell you to buy a new thing, I am more interested in fostering a sense of independence, dear reader, so you can become adept at governing your body in accordance with Natural Law. If it’s rising, anchor it. Find something, anything, that travels downwards, possesses density & substance, or carries a ponderous corpulence.

“Having roots nowhere, I have everywhere to go”


-Shams-i Tabrīzī




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