Note that this sale has expired; we’re leaving the post up so that the information about these Spagyrics is available. To see what’s currently on sale, click here.
This time of year seems so full of little crawling, flying, and creeping critters as we spend more time outside in their world hiking, gardening, and connecting to nature. Inspired by these little beings with big impact, we are having a sale on the Spagyrics they have made possible. Click here to go to our sale page, or read on for more information.
Bees are always on our minds here, from the wonderful gift of honey that we enjoy in our tea every morning to the pollination work they do so that we can eat tomatoes, squash, fruit, and more- up to one third of the other plant foods we like to eat. Bees are in trouble worldwide, and although food is the biggest reason to fear their decline and work to save them, they offer important medicines, as well.
Bees pollinate plants as they move from flower to flower, collecting pollen naturally on their bodies as they go, and also collecting it deliberately to take back as a food for the rest of the hive, particularly for developing young bees.
Back at the hive, the pollen is mixed with acids, enzymes, and flower nectars to create a type of fermentation which unlocks the nutrients in the pollen, making them more assimilable, as well as preserving the pollen for long-term storage. This fermentation is similar to the type of lacto-fermentation that creates tonic human foods such as sauerkraut, and this “bee bread”, as the pollen is now called, can smell remarkably like pickles.
Some time ago, we were offered freshly-collected pollen from two interesting plant sources: organic growers of blueberries and blackberries. Each of these pollens was collected sustainably by the beekeepers, leaving enough to sustain the hives’ health while still allowing us to make Spagyrics of them to share with our customers.
The blueberry pollen was the first we worked with, and it was amazing from the start. The pollen grains were actually blue! Varying shades from deep azure to pale denim filled the bucket we received, and the pollen also tasted and smelled of blueberries. This surprised us, since the flowering stage of blueberries is the time pollen is collected, and the fruiting stage is months later. Somehow the signature of the fruit-to-be was present in the pollen that the bees were working as they helped those bushes create the berries we love.
Our Blueberry Pollen Spiritualized Essence tastes fruity and berry-like, as we expected, with flowery notes as well from the pollen. It is very energizing and feels strengthening and deeply nutritive. It tastes strongly of the “blueness” of the berries, the antioxidants of the fruit, and we feel if offers them in a different way than the fruit.
After playing with the blueberry pollen for a while, we lucked into some blackberry pollen, which is both like and unlike the blueberry.
Blueberries are in the heather family, also related to Uva Ursi, Rhododendrons, and many of the northwest’s wild plants. Blackberries are in the Rose family, along with so many wonderful fruits such as apples, strawberries, cherries, and of course, Roses. The blackberry pollen was more floral in that sweet way, reminding us of the smell of a very heady rose or a super-ripe strawberry.
Like our Blueberry Pollen Spagyric, the Blackberry one is a Spiritualized Essence, and so made with Biodynamic wine alcohol. The combination of the lovely Spirit and the blackberry pollen’s taste creates a port-like rich sweetness and a mellow quality to this Spagyric.
The Blackberry Pollen Spiritualized Essence is still a supportive tonic to vitality, but it seems to be more food-like and less energizing, and so might be suitable where stamina without stimulation is needed. We hope you’ll try both and appreciate each for its special gifts. Hurry, though- they are limited one-time vintages of special materials we may not see again, so when they’re gone, they’re gone (but they do store beautifully, if you want to stock up!)
Our final bee-created Spagyric, before we move on to stranger bugs, is our Green Propolis Spiritualized Essence. We introduced this immune-balancing tonic in a detailed article last fall, so you can read more about it here. Propolis is made by the bees to protect the hive, and in our bodies, it creates a defensive shield of wei qi protecting us from assault by germs, allergies, toxins, and more. The Spagyric of it is warming and fortifying, and we rely on it year-round.
Our next selection of Spagyrics are more directly insect-related, coming from the ancient system of traditional Chinese medicine, which is not limited to plant-based medicines.
Cordyceps is probably the most familiar of the insect medicines of TCM. Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom, which in the wild forms inside of a dormant caterpillar as it rests between life stages.
The family of Cordyceps fungi contains some very strange wonders affecting many different insects as they parasitize them and even control their behaviour. For us humans, though, a specific type of Cordyceps offers great healing benefit (and has not been shown to control our behaviour, at least in the real world)
In TCM, Cordyceps sinensis is called dong chong xia cao, and in Tibet, yartsa gunbu, both meaning “winter worm, summer grass”, an apt description of its life cycle as the caterpillar hides to hibernate and is found by the fungus which grows small filaments out of the caterpillar’s body. Sensationalist news reports describe Cordyceps as a powerful sexual stimulant, but it is its respiratory tonic effects that we feel are its true gift.
Cordyceps helps the lungs draw more oxygen from the air, which makes clear its benefit at altitudes like the mountains of Tibet, where it is revered. Its tonic effects can be used by the already-healthy, such as athletes, to improve performance and stamina, or by those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, to make the most of what lung function is there and improve function over time.
In asthma, Cordyceps acts to reduce allergic immune response that restricts airway flow, while also calming the nervous system and keeping its responses in check. In many asthmatics, this can reduce the severity of attacks and improve recovery time from an attack.
We offer two Cordyceps Spagyrics, each with unique properties and uses.
Our Spagyric Essence of Cordyceps is made at the physical level of Spagyric processing, to work as a support for simple physical needs, such as an athletic event or physically demanding time, or to recover from a respiratory illness. Our Cordyceps Essence is made from cultivated Cordyceps mushroom grown on rice (rather than caterpillars), and so contains no animal or insect material, and is also more economical.
Our Spiritualized Essence of Cordyceps is made from the full, traditional medicine, both caterpillar and fungus, sustainably wildcrafted in Tibet. The caterpillar brings a transformative energy to the medicine, and the spiritualization process brings out long-term tonic properties for extended use.
Another important Tibetan insect tonic is found in our Polyrachis Ant Spiritualized Essence. This is made from a special species of ant consumed as a medicinal food throughout its range in Asia. High in protein, iron, zinc, and usable ATP, ants as medicine relate to ants as beings- they are incredibly strong, adaptable, and communicate through scent.
That their nutritive content would give users the “strength of an ant” is not too surprising, and we have felt this benefit most when depleted by times of poor nutrition, post-menstrual lack of iron, and other times when the food resources going into the body don’t quite meet the energy needs going out. The effects our Ant Spagyric has on smell were a little more surprising, though!
Ants communicate chemically through scent, which you may know if you’ve sidetracked an ant invasion into your home simply by cleaning their trail with something strong like orange cleaner. And, ants are high in zinc, which is one of the key elements to the way our sense of smell functions.
Our Ant Spiritualized Essence greatly increases the sense of smell, seemingly in both function and attention. Friends trying it who are normally very tuned in to scent noticed greater sensitivity and subtleties in what they smelled, and those who don’t normally focus on smell found that this sense was suddenly much more prominent in their day-to-day lives.
Ant is also high in iron, and our Spagyric of it tastes very iron-rich. It is useful as a recharging tonic after any blood loss or depleting event, and combines well with Nettles, Codonopsis, and Oregon Grape for that use.
Our final item in our bugs & bees sale is not so much an insect product as it is a byproduct: Mantis Egg Case. Another Chinese tonic listed in texts as far back as 100 CE, this medicine consists of the woolly case left behind when praying mantises hatch, which you may have seen if you’ve ever bought mantids for your garden.
In TCM, Mantis Egg Case is used to bring more energy to the skin. This underlying effect can be applied to all kinds of skin conditions, from simple acne and injuries to long-term support of healthy skin into old age. It is also considered an excellent tonic to the kidneys and sexual essence, which in Western healing are linked through their rulership by Venus.
For physical skin imbalances, our Mantis Spagyric combines well with Snow Lotus, which is also a skin tonic. For a more subtle level effect, Mantis is wonderful used with Damiana, which increases skin sensitivity to touch through energizing the nerve endings. When these two are combined, the sensual pleasure of being touched extends far past the literal skin and into the energy field.