Inner Peace for Outer Strength : part two

November 25, 2018 by Micah  
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This is part two of an article series I wrote to follow up on my presentation to Caroline Casey’s Trickster Training Council. You can read part one here, or read on for the rest of the list of supportive Spagyrics for the season. If you’d like a shoppable list of these Spagyrics, plus a coupon, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

In part one, we talked about some Spagyrics to support a mindful state of non-attached awareness of thoughts and emotions, as well as how to quiet the mind for contemplation. For an even more peaceful and elevated mental state, we like to work with the sacred resin of the Agarwood tree.

This tree grows in the tropics of the East, and is revered as sacred wherever it appears. From Arabia to Southeast Asia, the warm, woody  and sometimes funky scent is said to deepen meditation, still the mind, and bring a stronger connection to the Divine.

The resin of Agarwood is created by the tree in response to injury, much like the other sacred resins of Myrrh and Frankincense. The Agarwood resin forms and collects in solid structures in the tree, replacing the wood with its heaviness, giving it its Japanese name, “jin-koh”, or “sinking incense”.

The intelligence of Agarwood is also like a sinking, a soft falling into watery depths of contemplation and bliss. In that open state, the power of the subconscious can be called on to energize and actualize prayer and meditation, and we have found our Agarwood Initiatics powerful allies for seeing a more perfect world and envisioning that as a possibility.

Agarwood supports meditations in which the mind needs to be collected and clear, but also active so that its power can be directed. Try it with visualizations such as contemplation of mandalas or Thangka paintings, or with chanting, mantra, or prayer. We work with several kinds of Agarwood, each of which is special and unique- find them here.

Sacred speech and sounds also require good breath control so that the flow of the meaning is supported by respiration. Here, too, we are helped by a sacred aromatic plant in the form of the Sweetgrass in our Prana Somalixir.

Sweetgrass is native to the plains of the United States, where it is revered by First Nations as the flowing hair of the divine Earth Mother. It is braided like hair and burned as a cleansing and offering, its soft vanilla scent bringing peace and comfort. Its sweetness inspires the lungs to breathe more deeply, and in our Prana formula, it creates a rolling, effortless quality to the breath that helps it, in turn, support chanting, Yoga, and other movement practices.

To energize your Yoga practice even more, we created Asana, a Somalixir with Turmeric for its anti-inflammatory and opening qualities, as well as Calamus, to open the subtle channels that feed the energy body of Yoga. Together, they help you stretch deeply without resistance so that tensions and blockages are released.

To further support the foundation of the body and its needs for health and energy, the Ayurvedic adaptogenic root Ashwagandha is a wonderful tonic. Unlike some energizing herbs, Ashwagandha is not stimulating- it actually slows the release of adrenaline in the body. At the same time, it builds real vitality and energy that lasts and does not deplete you over time, helping you act from a place of strength, not fear.

We work with Ashwagandha in two levels of Spagyric: an Essence, which is not sedating as such, but can be taken at bedtime to balance the sleeping-waking cycle, and a Spiritualized Essence, which makes an uplifting and energizing morning tonic, and is also useful any time you are so tired that you’re also wired and edgy.

Once your physical state is in better balance, it becomes a foundation that supports working towards higher connections to the self and the Divine. Here, again, we can work with aromatic plants and resins, using them internally and as scents and incense to surround ourselves and build focus on our goals.

We’ve long worked with Frankincense in our Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh formula, which we created as an homage to the three treasures that the wise men brought the infant Yeshua. Gold represents earthly treasure, Myrrh is the gifts that come from our sufferings, and Frankincense brings the treasure of connection to the Divine intelligence. Together, they were presented to the infant as support for his journey, and our Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh Somalixir is a beautiful way to connect with the sacredness of this story and time of year.

In many cultures, the smoke of Frankincense was believed to carry prayers up to the heavens, and modern research shows that some of the resin’s aromatic molecules activate anti-depressant and anti-anxiety channels in the brain. This aspect of Frankincense calls to mind the Ayurvedic idea that depression is merely the state of having forgotten one’s magnificence, which can be brought back through herbs and practices that re-connect the personal self to the perfect Divine being.

In our new Frankincense Magistery, we wanted to magnify that uplifting effect through focusing the Solar energy of this plant, which rules the heart as an organ, and brightness, courage, and cheer. This Magistery clears tightness in the chest and lungs, and also lifts the heart out of worry and weight. The breath is slowed and deepened, bringing literal and figurative inspiration to the whole being. This Magistery is a good support for sacred singing and liturgical chanting, in which the breath is the vehicle for the sacred, flowing in, out, and through.

Myrrh, the other resin of the Three Wise Men, plays an important role in our final featured Spagyric, our Abra-Melin Somalixir. Taken from a fifteenth-century magical text, this formula was originally used as an incense in a ritual for calling on one’s Holy Guardian Angel.

Rich with Saffron, warm from Cinnamon, and just a bit bitter from Myrrh and Agarwood, this Somalixir can be used in the formal ritual practice of the Holy Guardian Angel, or for day-to-day support. Taking our Abra-Melin and sitting with it a moment brings clarity and confidence in times of change, creating a sense that your decisions and actions will be aligned with your higher purpose.

Inner Peace for Outer Strength : part one

November 25, 2018 by Micah  
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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. There’s also a shoppable digest version of this list (with a coupon!), which we’ll send you if you sign up for our newsletter, here.

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.

New Spagyric : Frankincense Magistery

July 23, 2018 by Micah  
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For a recent custom formula Paul is working on for a friend, we wanted a new Spagyric that would bring in a high, sacred energy relating to the Sun and its golden light of clarity. This formula will also contain some Oil of Gold, and so we thought of our much-beloved Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh Somalixir.

We created that Somalixir as a Spagyric expression of the three treasures of the Wise Men- Gold, as a literal treasure to pay your way in the world, Myrrh for its gift of the wisdom that comes from difficulty, and Frankincense, which is the treasure of connection to the Divine.

Having worked with Frankincense in that context, we were excited to work with it as a single extraction, and so, many months ago, Paul started the process for making a Magistery, both for the custom formula and as an offering in its own right. That Magistery is now done and available in our store- read on for more information about it.

Frankincense is the collected resin of the Boswellia tree which grows in the deserts of the Middle East. It is a hardy tree, able to survive harsh and arid climates partly because of its aromatic resin. Like many trees, Frankincense produces its resin as a defense against insects, physical damage, heat and cold, and as an atomized cloud of sunscreen that floats around the tree.

The resin is collected by making small cuts into the trunk, which will pour out the resin to seal and protect the cut from further invasion and infection. The resin crystallizes and hardens, and can then be scraped off and collected for sale. Frankincense resin has been collected this way for trade for at least 5,000 years. It is one of humankind’s oldest commodities, since it is stable once dried, very valuable in even relatively small quantities, and considered a deeply sacred and essential component of spirituality in many religions.

It was used in Egyptian religion and funerary rites, and in mummification, and it is mentioned in the Bible and Talmud, and in the writings of Herodotus. As an incense, Frankincense is considered purifying and protective, and, as with many incense materials, its smoke is believed to carry the prayers of the devout up to the heavens.

Here on earth, the effects of Frankincense have long been known to be both calming and uplifting, with an especially beneficial effect on the lungs and breathing. Medicinally, one of the resin’s most common uses has been for infections and congestion of the respiratory system, and it is very effective as a rub or steam for this use.

At the Magistery level, the healing qualities of plants are present, but they shift to higher expressions of the healing effect, or to a more energetic or tonic quality which is related to the mundane use, but at a more soul-based level of being.

With our new Frankincense Magistery, the respiratory effects are still there, but they create an openness in the whole chest, easing tightness and constriction in the heart area, clearing weight and worry from the Heart center, and slowing and deepening the breath in a way that brings the mind to a more meditative state.

rosewindowAs I was working with this Magistery to get to know it, the meditative message I got was the image of the classic Rose Windows of old cathedrals.

These masterpieces of stonework and stained glass are shaped like a rose, a circular whole made up of many small sections radiating from the center, like the petals of a rose.

The rose is to mystical Christianity what the Lotus is to the spirituality of the East- a representation of the beauty and love that union with the Divine brings to our souls.

That love takes many forms, some purely etheric while others are more sensual, and a mingling of these two streams of devotion can be found in the 12th century philosophy of courtly love and the troubadours. In that time, the rose, always sacred to the goddesses of love such as Venus, became associated with the Virgin Mary, and most of the rose windows created during that time are dedicated to her, with images of her at the center.

These windows are illuminated by the rays of the Sun shining through them and into the eyes of the church’s members as they looked up to the beauty and harmony of creation captured in jewel-toned mandalas. Coupled with the effects of the billowing Frankincense smoke, the heart is opened to teachings and wisdom, and a warm sense of community and connection is created. Inspiration is felt, in all senses of the word and its connection to breath and the spirit.

This combination of the opening of the Heart center of Venus and its related qualities of beauty and devotion, overlapped with the literal heart organ, ruled by the Sun and its centering energy of light and clarity, is the combination we feel most strongly from our Frankincense Magistery.

Sale : Sacred Scents of the Season-part two (ended 1/28/2018)

December 7, 2017 by Micah  
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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.

In part one of this article, here, we talked about the role evergreens and their terpenes play in the winter holiday season, and about a few of the Spagyrics we have on sale for work with the Solstice’s winter energy. In this part, we continue with a few more resins which are on sale right now- click here to go right to our sale page, or read on for more information.

Agarwood trees grow throughout the tropical regions of southeast Asia, where they are revered for their spectacularly fragrant resin. As with other plants in this sale, Agarwood produces resin to defend itself from attack, as it lives in a very mold-promoting ecosystem.

The resin that Agarwood trees produce is dense and heavy, leading to its Japanese name jin-koh, meaning “sinking incense”. In a besieged tree, the resin eventually replaces the wood of the tree as it rots away, creating beautiful sculptural forms that are revered and priced as treasures. This resin is then called Oud, and is the form of the tree used as an incense and oil in meditation and prayer.

Wherever Agarwood trees grow, and Oud is produced by them, they are considered the most sacred aromatic plant, their scent bringing users to a high devotional state of contemplation and peace. Each type has its own energy and gifts, and we currently offer three to choose from.

Our Sumatran Agarwood Initiatic is quieting and clarifying, and I consider it a Shen tonic on par with Waterfall Calamus or Sacred Lotus. Sumatran also opens the respiration, and facilitates the flow of breathwork, spoken prayer, and chanting.

The Initiatic we created from Laotian Agarwood is even more calming, even sedative in nature, quieting and emptying the mind to create a profound stillness. Try it with Zen-type meditation, or for drifting off to a peaceful, open sleep state.

Our Malaysian Agarwood Initiatic is all about the middle, centering the mind and thoughts, and bringing energy and awareness to the Middle Pillar of the spine, connecting the base and crown chakras as a column. It is more enlivening to the mind than the other two, and supports devotional movement such as dance or Yoga.

In keeping with our winter holiday theme, our next aromatic tree, Sandalwood, is related to the European mistletoe, and grows in a similar semi-parasitic way. Sandalwood taps into the roots of nearby trees, on which it is dependent for water and nutrients as it grows. Once the Sandalwood tree has matured, it is harvested, roots and all, for oil extraction, with older trees giving the most high-quality oil.

Both the wood and its oil are used in spiritual practice throughout the Eastern world, and the scent of Sandalwood incense in temples is said to calm the chattering of the “monkey mind” and promote peaceful contemplation. Our Sandalwood Initiatic and Magistery both carry this quieting energy, expressing a bit differently in each.

Our Sandalwood Magistery is calming in a clarifying way, settling racing thoughts and leaving the mind less muddled and more focused, with classic Mercurial tonic effects. The Sandalwood Initiatic takes this to a much stronger level, emptying the mind to a nearly blank state, useful as a mental “reset” for new perspectives or insights.

Our final group of resins are old favourites of ours- very, very old!

One of the important principles of Spagyric work is that all natural things, whether plant, animal, or mineral, are made up of the same inner subtle levels of being, and all levels play the same role within that being. This allows us to target our processing work so that our Essences affect the Body, our Spiritualized Essences work on the Spirit, and our Magisteries balance the Soul. It also means that, just as plants have essential oils we can extract for healing, so do minerals.

Amber is a very interesting substance, as it is between the plant and mineral realms. Chemically, it is the fossilized resin of any of several now-extinct prehistoric trees from various parts of the world. Energetically, it has the deep intelligence of a mineral, having spent many thousands of planetary cycles on the earth, but at the same time, it has some of the faster, more responsive intelligence of a plant.

Medicinally, Amber is used in many traditional healing systems. Chinese medicine reveres it as solidified tiger blood, and considers it a tonic to Shen, the peaceful well of strength that rests in the heart. This is in keeping with our experience of Amber, although each of the types we work with varies in its expression of Shen toning properties.

Our Baltic Amber is the first one we worked with, the most ancient at 44 million years old, and the most versatile for healing. It creates a protective sphere of peace and strength around you, so that even as you interact with people, you don’t pick up their energies, moods, or imbalances. This Amber is also very supportive to healing work, both for healer and patient.

Somewhat younger is our Borneo Amber, which is “only” 24 million years old! Borneo is uplifting to the heart and overall energy, and is the perfect tonic if stress and Shen imbalances tend to leave you depressed and down.

Chiapas Amber, used ritually by the Maya, is a beautiful stone which flashes green under some light. This Amber shows the strongest electrical energy of all the Ambers we work with, activating the flow of Kundalini and Prana/Qi. This is a good choice for use on acupuncture or acupressure points to open the meridians to the flow of treatment.

Finally, the baby of the group, our Kenyan Amber is just one million years old, and is more closely tied to the plant side of its plant-mineral duality. Kenyan is earthy and sweet tasting, and protects the Shen from the center, creating a core energy that is solid and cannot be drawn off of by people or situations around you.

All of these Amber Spagyrics, along with their kin Spagyrics of other trees and resins, are wonderful supports to meditation, ritual and spiritual work, and for celebrating the special energies of the Solstice season. We will be working with many of them in our holiday traditions, and we hope you will incorporate some of them into the wheel of your year, as well!

Blessed Yule to you all!

Sale : Sacred Scents of the Season-part one (ended 1/28/2018)

December 7, 2017 by Micah  
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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.

In honour of the vibrant evergreens that scent our homes this time of year, we are having a sale on sacred aromatic trees and resins. These special beings star in the decor of the season, and Spagyrics of them are a lovely way to connect to the spirit of the Solstice holiday. Click here to go right to our sale page, or read more about these Spagyrics in the article below, and the companion article here.

As the holiday season marches on, the stores and squares become more festive, and private homes, too, share in the cheery decorations traditional to the season. Twinkling lights everywhere seem to shine in defiance of the winter darkness, currently still increasing, yet about to start its yearly retreat on the Solstice. Red and green (a colour combination I am quite fond of all year!), bells and candles, holly, pine, and evergreens deck the halls and lift the spirits.

Many ancient cultures honoured and worshiped trees of all kinds, and in the winter season, evergreens were especially loved as symbols of eternal life. As far back as ancient Rome, the winter holiday of Saturnalia was celebrated with wreaths and swags of evergreen, and Germanic people honoured Odin with decorations of evergreen branches, holly, and mistletoe wreaths lit with candles.

Besides the colour they bring, evergreens warm the house with their bright, fresh scent, and this is my favourite reason to bring them inside! This scent comes from aroma chemicals called terpenes, which are common throughout the natural world. Terpenes are protective chemicals, released by the tree in a cloud of cooling sunscreen in hot climates, acting as an antifreeze in cold areas, and warding off bugs and protecting trees from damage in all ecosystems.

Many plants which are high in terpenes are used medicinally. Rosemary sharpens and uplifts the mind and acts as an antioxidant to brain tissues due to its high content of pinene and limonene. Sage and Cypress are high in terpinolene, which has a calming and anti-inflammatory effect, and spicy beta-caryophyllene gives painkilling effects to Black Pepper, Tulsi, and Lavender. Cannabis plants express multiple terpenes, which act synergistically with cannabinoids to create the strain-specific healing effects that research is just starting to understand.

Ritually, terpenes are important constituents of many incenses and sacred plants. Frankincense is very high in terpenes, as is Myrrh, and both trees exude terpene-rich resins in response to heat and physical and insect damage. Terpenes can be seen as signaling molecules, mediating the relationship between plant and environment, each affecting the other reciprocally.

Perhaps this is why incense also has an ancient use for mediating our interactions with the divine, its smoke carrying our meditations and prayers up to the archetypal realm of the infinite. Taken internally, many of these plants can be used to elevate the inner spirit to higher realms of insight and consciousness, and it seems natural to work with this practice during the dark, inward time around the Solstice.

Our Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh Somalixir is a natural partner for the season, based on the three treasures that the wise astrologers brought as gifts for the newborn Yeshua.

Gold is an obvious treasure, used to buy one’s way through the material world. Myrrh, exuded to protect the tree from damage, represents the gift of learning from one’s trials and pain, integrating the bitter difficulties of life into deep lessons that bring lasting insights. Frankincense represents connection with the sacred source of life, and with one’s own divine nature within. Together, these three substances carry all the intelligence and support that the three wisest men in the world knew would be needed for the important life of the baby they brought them to.

Myrrh by itself is an important healing resin in its own right, and appears at two later points in the Bible- in the vinegar offered to Yeshua at the crucifixion, and in Mary Magdalene’s healing kit when she visits the tomb and finds it empty. Mary Magdalene was a healer, an herbalist working with the aromatic and physical properties of plants, and Myrrh’s multi-layered support of body and soul would have made it a valuable ally in her repertoire.

Physically, Myrrh is drying and astringent, and like most resins, an excellent anti-microbial. Our Myrrh Spiritualized Essence is detoxifying to the body and to the mind, removing stagnant infection as well as stuck thought and energy patterns, which is also its gift to the formula Abra-Melin, a classic incense combination and one of our most popular Somalixirs.

The formula for Abra-Melin is based on incense from a 14th century magickal text, used as part of a complex ritual for contacting the Holy Guardian Angel. The ingredients in this incense mirror those in Biblical formulas, including the holy anointing oil of Exodus.

Our Abra-Melin Somalixir has proven to be a powerful support for receiving insights, guidance, and wisdom from a more elevated perspective, whether its gifts are invoked in a ritual or meditation, or just carried through the day for moment-to-moment connection.

As ancient as the Abra-Melin and anointing oil formulas are, there is some debate as to their exact ingredients. Some of the plants used, like Cinnamon and Myrrh, are agreed upon, but others are debated because of plant name translation differences. One resin that some sources, but not others, consider important to the formula is Oud, also known as Agarwood. This may or may not be a canonical part of the original, but when we added it to our Abra-Melin Somalixir many years ago, we were very pleased with the effect it brought the whole.

We also work with several types of Agarwood as individual Spagyrics- to read more about them, as well as the other resin Spagyrics in this sale, see part two of this article, here.