A Day with Ritual Union and Arnica – By Katie Walsh
by Ritual Union with Brandi
On Monday Brandi taught me how to make spagyric.
What was spagyric? I’d never made one before, but had noticed that the white sage she’d given me, which tasted just like tincture, said “spagyric.”
She explained it to me. I was freaking fascinated. Suddenly I didn’t understand why we’d ever make tincture any other way. This seemed complete, holistic, honoring all stages and levels of being of the plant.
She gathered up a spoon, a lighter, a bottle of everclear, and a ceramic bowl of arnica flowers I’d just squeezed tincture from. We sat outside under the carport and took a moment to connect, as she guided me through an energetic distillation.
I felt my root extending deep down into the Earth, pulling back up into my body a steadfast wisdom I knew but didn’t fully understand. I felt my life force surging upward, my creative sexuality bursting from my womb like amber flames, my power beaming from my belly like a blinding sun, my love gently reaching out from my chest in all directions, saturating the air like pink-tinged ivy climbing on the wind.
She described the heart as the heating element, cooking and bubbling, and I began to feel as the “steam” climbed through my throat, my sinuses, my pineal, up and out of my head, a crystalline mist emanating from my crown.
My smile had widened as far as it could and I began to feel tears forming at the corners of my eyes as the energy condensed and dripped back down, coating the pranic tube with a silvery pure clarity as it did. I breathed deeply into the heartspace, feeling my consciousness settling here, bathed in silvery light and the buzzing of activation.
Brandi had been talking again, and I had to pull myself back down onto the warm concrete to make out what she was saying. I gazed down as she scooped some of the flowers into the spoon and attempted to light them. They flickered for a moment and then faded. She drizzled and stirred in some everclear and did it again, this time lighting an instant and steady spoonful of flame.
“Do you just burn it one spoonful at a time?” I asked.
“Watch,” she said, dropping the burning flowers back into the bowl. The entire mass of arnica sparkled as the fire spread out and caught in every corner. I was nearly hypnotized by the magic of it. She quietly left me to tend it and I sat in a half-trance, stirring, turning, lost in the flame, witnessing something deep and ancient within myself.
I was taken back. Back into a space where I’d done this hundreds of times. Something about it was so familiar, certain, but still mysterious and curious. I flickered between solid presence in the moment, and a drifting feeling like I was watching this process from behind someone else’s eyes.
The flame flickered with me, drawing me back as it petered out so that I could light it again. We danced together, fading in and out of this place and somewhere else.
I watched as the flowers curled into white-crusted soot, folding in on themselves, gathering together closer and tighter to the bottom of the bowl. The flame just hovered now, gliding across the surface, and as I followed its edges with my eyes I was asked to blow.
I pulled the breath from my heart and sent a gentle stream into the ash, which immediately jumped up and scattered. I sheltered the edges of the bowl with my hands and blew again, this time feeding the embers and watching as they lit up and glowed just below the chalky surface. It occurred to me that I was being gifted with the sight of my own energy, infusing and energizing the energy of arnica. And just then, I noticed that the shape of the glowing mass had fashioned itself into a heart.
Once the smoldering died and the ash fell to rest, we bathed, strained, and boiled it in her last few ounces of distilled water. I hovered over the dish, watching as the crystals formed at the bottom, and after all of the water had dried, scraped them clean.
I thought that I might feel something intense or significant when we combined the crystals back into the tincture, but I didn’t. I waited for a jolting moment of completeness, searching for something…but instead found that mysterious knowing again. A stillness had come over me and Brandi too. What was it?
With one breath I knew: Completion doesn’t wait until the final step is finished; oneness doesn’t disappear in duality or separation. Even before we begin we are complete; even when we are pulled into pieces we are whole.
It didn’t make much sense to me at the time, it sounded like some sort of contrary abstract esoteric dribble. I let it go, I shared a rose and honey face wash and oat and clay facemask with Brandi, poured some prickly pear fruit and clove syrup into bottles.
And then on the drive home I remembered that sudden moment when she’d pulled the jar from the cabinet. Something strange occurred to me. It was never a jar of alcohol-soaked arnica flowers at all; even in that moment, it was already the spagyric, separated into its parts, already whole and complete, beckoning through our hands and our spirits, through fire and inspiration, to bring it into itself.
In life, we strive to become. We juggle half-formed ideas and skills, often yearning for that day when it will all “come together.” We extract wisdom from experience, we burn away what no longer holds substance for us, we distill down what we wish to retain, we return the pieces back into ourselves.
But even before we begin we are complete; even when we are pulled into pieces we are whole. The gift and the goal is the process itself. This is the wisdom spagyric spoke to me.