Our friend and ally, astrologer and activist Caroline Casey has invited Micah to speak to her Trickster Training Council this Monday evening, November 26. If you’re not familiar with Caroline’s work, you can read more about her on her website, which has many recordings from her radio show on KPFA (including our interviews), as well as information on joining her weekly council and mystery school group.
If you’re a member and joined us for the call, or if you’re not and are just curious about what we talked about, here are some of the Spagyrics and practices I’m planning on bringing into the virtual medicine cabinet for the event.
I should first note that I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, since I am a triple Capricorn and planning ahead is how I roll! But, I also know that things can change and evolve as discussions spin out into the ether, so what I’m going over here are intentions and ideas, and may not end up matching the actual presentation exactly. I can promise that all these thoughts and the ones from the talk will be my best ideas for supporting ourselves right now, mentally, physically, and spiritually. So, here we go!
For those new to our work, you might want to start with some insight into our work and what we do. Our particular lineage is that of Western Alchemy, working with plants via a method called Spagyric processing. It’s a way of concentrating and refining the physical and subtle properties of a plant so that its intelligence and life force can work hand in hand with yours to create healing and balance. You can read more about our process here.
I am focusing this talk on meditation in its many forms, and on Spagyrics of herbs that support it, since I find that looking within and creating a meditative mindset is the best starting point for being balanced and effective in daily life, no matter what those days throw at you.
And wow, what the days throw at us lately! It’s easy to feel like you should just stay in, not get out of bed, pull up the covers and cozy in where it’s warm and safe. Wintertime, too, contributes its own dark and inward energy, which can be useful, but can also lead us into depression if we’re susceptible and don’t take care to stay light in our minds and moods.
For our first step getting out of our beds and stepping back into life and vitality, I recommend Rhodiola. This Tibetan tonic root is used by the monks as a spiritual food, to sustain their energy and strength through long cycles of chanting and meditation. It also has a magical reputation as an herb to help see into the future, and observe and follow the patterns of energy that flow out from now and create what will happen.
Warrior monks especially valued this aspect of Rhodiola because it allowed them to see the battle ahead of time, and to know where the blows would be coming from and how best to respond to avoid injury. Most of us don’t need that exact kind of insight, fortunately, but Rhodiola’s wisdom and its great uplift of the endorphins and their happy effects brings visions of a positive future, which is the first step to pulling out of the hole of hopelessness that depression creates.
Rhodiola does this on its own through its adaptogenic chemistry and its uplifting effects on neurotransmitters, but like anything else, it works even better when used with intention. Our Rhodiola Initiatic is a wonderful morning tonic to take and then sit with for a bit to call in brightness, joy, wonder, and a future that improves with each moment. It seems to pair best with short, mindfulness meditations rather than long sessions of Zen-type work, and its future-linking intelligence can really support affirmations and intentions.
Rhodiola is a very useful plant as a single, and in combinations as a support and guide for other herbs. We include it in many of our formulas, including our Here & Now Somalixir, which is about just what the name implies- being collected, stable, and present in the moment. Rhodiola brings this formula a joyful delight with whatever comes, while Betel’s astringency centers the awareness on one point. Yerba Mate sharpens the mind for insights, helping you focus inwardly as outward events move around you.
Try our Here & Now for mindfulness meditation throughout the day- it’s very helpful for the practice of watching thoughts drift by without attachment, and for acknowledging and releasing difficult emotional states with clarity and compassion.
Sometimes, though, the inner chatter gets to be too much to follow peacefully, a stumbling block that ancient Vedic teachers overcame by using Sandalwood in many forms.
Sandalwood’s calming scent and peaceful energy is said to calm the “monkey mind”- those loud, chattering thoughts that jump around in our brains seemingly without direction or containment. In all forms, Sandalwood has a “hushing” effect on this inner chaos, and our Sandalwood Initiatic is like a soft blanket of stillness gently laid over your cares and worries, giving you some perspective so that you can reach a deeper meditative state and process whatever issues the monkeys are yammering about.
Our Sandalwood Magistery is even more quieting, emptying the mind completely so that it is perfectly still and silent, useful for Zen meditation or any practice of deep, wordless contemplation.
Sandalwood as a medicine is surprising if you’re used to it as an incense or oil, but a few of our best Spagyrics for meditative work are also used for incense and anointing.
One truly exceptional sacred scent is Agarwood, the tree that is the source of Oud, one of the most rare and expensive substances on earth. For more about this special medicine, and the rest of my list for support in this time, see part two of this article, here.