Greetings tricksters and allies! I’m so glad you’ve joined us for our mid-winter/end-of-winter collaboration!
We had a fun and lively discussion about plant allies for the season- Spagyrics for sleep, release, and dreaming; resins and aromatics to breathe in inspiration, and a few lovely surprise visits from plant intelligences invoked by other Council members.
There were too many wonderful moments to recount them all here, so if you missed it or if you want to hear all the details and discussion again, I encourage you to visit Caroline’s site to join the ongoing Council or get the replay of my talk.
You can also continue the conversation & connection in the Council discussion group if you are a member, or with us on our Facebook page. Contributions from the group were some of the best parts of this collaboration, so keep sharing!
For reference, and for anyone not familiar with our work, here are some notes about the Spagyrics and plants we talked about, along with more information about us and our work.
Spagyrics of Release & Relief
This cheery flower grows all over the West, and although it is distantly related to Opium poppies, it does not have its problematic narcotic chemistry. It is, though, a reliable calmative to sedative, depending on dose. Our Spiritualized Essence is very concentrated, which allows fine-tuning to create a lifted, anxiety-free state at lower doses, and a heavier slide into pain relief and sleep at the higher end.
I wildcrafted this plant on a family hike in Utah’s Wasatch mountains, one of my fondest memories, and the Spagyric we made from it is a very useful healing remedy for all kinds of tension. It is deeply releasing to connective tissues and muscles, and works especially well in conjunction with massage, bodywork, or stretching. Its effect of easing tightness allows the body to open to adjustment without resistance or pain, and to maintain healthy alignment for longer after treatment.
With bodywork, or used in a meditation practice, our Elephant Head Spiritualized Essence also shows where tightness and tension originated, even for traumas from deep in the past which are still being carried; its opening release then helps you set that baggage down and move forward, lighter.
This outrageous flower is native to tropical areas of the world, although many varieties will grow in colder regions as it is a tenacious plant!
It is a simple, reliable sedative to body and mind, working first by relaxing muscles, then lowering blood pressure, and then bringing a feeling of ease and softness to the whole being. It is also an MAO inhibitor, and so just before the relaxation kicks in, a wave of happiness lifts your spirits in a wonderful way.
We work with Passionflower on two different levels of Spagyric, to bring out different aspects of its healing intelligence.
Our Passionflower Essence is a straightforward relaxant, and can be used for anxiety and tension at low, daily doses, or at a higher dose to aid sleep, especially if physical tension is keeping you awake.
Our Passionflower Initiatic connects to the sacred ritual use of Passionflower as part of an Ayahuasca-like ceremonial brew, and it acts to open the mind to the visions of the other plant ingredients. In this context, the same relaxed happiness can be used for journeying into difficult experiences or traumas so that they can be worked with and healed.
This is not a relaxing herb, but it does help with letting go of patterns, energies, and structures that are no longer serving you. It is used by the Bwiti for rites of passage, to help the celebrant set down the things of childhood and join the world of adults.
In our work with Voacanga, we found it to be extremely Saturnine, with a strong crone like energy of pure, but unsweetened, wisdom. Our Voacanga Initiatic will reliably show you what you hold on to and how it holds you back, and if you are ready to let go, it will help you be done with it.
Spagyrics of Inspiration & Invocation
This grass is well-known as a sacred fumigant, burned by the Plains First Peoples as an offering and connection to the Great Mother. It is braided with devotion like hair, and the three strands represent love, kindness, and honesty. It is also used as one of the four herbs of the directions, called upon in the North to connect to the ancestors.
Sweetgrass has a comforting, sweet vanilla scent and opens the breath and flow of movement whether inhaled or used internally. We wrote more about it here when we first worked with it, and we offer it as part of our Prana Somalixir.
This desert tree resin has a sacred history of at least 5,000 years, and was the cornerstone of economic and religious life for centuries in much of the world. It was burned as both an offer of sacrifice and consecration, its smoke purifying the air of the temple and carrying the congregants’ prayers to the heavens to be heard.
One of the constituents of Frankincense, incensole acetate, has been found to have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties, and it also stimulates the part of the brain that feels social connection to others, and the skin’s warmth receptors. At the same time, it calms and deepens the breath, creating a flow through the Heart center and connecting the personal self with the higher divine Self.
Our Frankincense Magistery carries all these qualities, and is a beautiful support for prayer, meditation, breathwork, and any practice of compassion and loving-kindness, as we wrote more about in this article.
We talked about Fennel as we disbanded this session, reflecting its presence at the exits of Indian restaurants the world over!
Chewed to sweeten the breath after a spicy meal, Fennel’s magical use is to sweeten the words so that speech, both by and about you, will be kind, compassionate, and helpful. It has a bright, airy taste and a quickening energy to the breathing and digestion, and being so pleasant to take makes it an excellent tonic for everyday use. We offer Fennel as a Magistery of Mercury to support its quick, intelligent energy.
Spagyrics of Dreaming
So called because it is an herb – “wort” – used in the beer mug, this bitter herb grows along roadways and disturbed places all over the world, well outside its native Europe. Its silvery leaves shine in the moonlight, creating a silver line stretching out ahead of you, keeping you on the literal or figurative path. Mugwort is a dreaming herb, but it is one of a Mercurial type, protecting astral travelers and bringing them back to themselves after the dream ends.
Mugwort and its Artemesia relatives are much-used in ritual, mostly for cleansing as a wash, smoke, or both. In Korean shamanism, they are used transactionally to bargain with troublesome house spirits and help them ally with the living instead of causing trouble.
All these effects come together in our Mugwort Initiatic, which can be used to both connect with and be protected from spirit and etheric beings. It’s also a good dream herb, increasing lucidity in the dream and keeping the silver cord of the self intact.
We also work with Mugwort as an Essence, for its medicinal properties reflected in its bitterness- liver and digestive tonic effects, especially with poor digestions of fats, or where food sensitivities cause respiratory symptoms.
This plant was brought up before our talk, and often in recent emails and discussions. It is an African herb used to follow the “white ways” or path of ancestor guidance, with its white flower and the foam in its extraction representing the colour of the spirit realm.
White plays a prominent role in dreams created by Silene, whether as a white animal, person, piece of clothing, or bouquet of flowers as in our surprising experience, discussed here.
Our Silene Initiatic is taken as is traditional, in the morning to prepare for dreams that night, and that weaving together of waking and dreaming is one of its powerful gifts. It makes dreams so tangibly real, and the insights they offer so useful, that it is a great ally for problem-solving of all kinds through dreamwork.
Also called Mimosa, a Council member brought this flower in to combine with Rose and Hawthorne to heal and support the Heart. In Chinese medicine, Albizzia is considered a tonic to the Shen, the peaceful state of calm strength that resides in the heart, and is the source for all our other energies.
Albizzia is a unique Shen tonic, as it is uplifting to the Spirits, and it helps lighten the weight that we feel when the heart is burdened by grief or worry. I see this effect in its fluffy, light-filled feather-duster flowers, sweet with pink and shining with gold.
Our Spiritualized Essence of Albizia is made mostly of the flowers, and brings a lift to the heart, joy to the mind, and protection of the other energies of the whole being.
Another listener heard Caroline and I talk about Devil’s Club many years ago and has worked with it since then. She mentioned she had seen it in person when she lived in the Northwest, which is not something anyone could forget! It is a fierce, spiny plant, growing in thick interconnected stands around old-growth trees and protecting them from logging and damage.
The First Nations of our area revere Devil’s Club as the defender of the forest, and ecologically, it is intimately connected to bears and salmon; together they form a trinity of keystone species for our biome. It is a Ginseng relative, beloved by bears and people for its vitality and energy-boosting effects, and it brings your “fight” back when you’ve been beaten down by trauma, pain, illness, or just the path that life took you down.
It’s a plant that teaches about the right use of power, and of balanced Mars, protective like a mother bear, but also, like her, gentle and nurturing. Our Devil’s Club Spiritualized Essence is one of my most relied-upon supports, and I am grateful to the human ally that brought it up for us to talk about!
About Spagyric Medicines
We create our medicines as Spagyrics, a process of medicine making which Paracelsus created in the 15th century as a synthesis of alchemy and healing. If you’d like to learn more about this work, here are some good starting points:
We are a couple, Micah and Paul, working together in life and the lab since 1991. Micah’s background is in herbalism and natural healing, and Paul’s is in Hermetics and Western esoterics. For more about what this work means to us, read these posts: