Plants & Practical Magic
Author's Talk with Samantha Zipporah
Join us Thursday September 29th- See below for registration
From the Preface:
The herbal options presented in “Please Bleed!” are not meant to be used regularly as a method of contraception, nor are they intended to be used to stimulate abortion after a period has been missed.
Ideally, the reader will take in this information during a non-emergent state & consider thoughtfully how best to integrate it into their own unique Conscious Contraception practice. This work can help one formulate a “Plan B” for avoiding pregnancy when a “Plan A” of avoiding sperm exposure during the fertile window fails.
The content in “Please Bleed!” primarily consists of excerpts from a more robust offering, The Conscious Contraception Skillshare, which is (likely, depending on when you’re reading this!) available on my website www.samanthazipporah.com. The Conscious Contraception Skillshare provides instruction for the practice of the sympto-thermal method of fertility awareness as a method of contraception. Along with the basic data & skills needed to practice fertility awareness, the Conscious Contraception Skillshare includes extensive information & inspiration for healing & cultivating awareness of the menstrual cycle, our sexual power, & spiritual connection to our erotic life force.
I have created “Please Bleed!” as a shorter, more accessible source of education for folks not ready or able to take the deep dive into the whole of the Conscious Contraception Skillshare.
“Please Bleed!” is meant to inform, not instruct.
The information you’ll find here will be most readily applicable for those who are already familiar or competent with tracking their cycle, & those who have some experience working with plant medicine.
I am not your authority.
I am not a professional or certified herbalist, fertility awareness instructor, or healthcare provider. I am an ally & an educator. I’m a citizen scientist, an anarchist, & a witch. My offerings are meant to facilitate soulful embodiment, radical self awareness, & meaningful self determination. My work is not meant to replace your critical thinking skills, intuition, or support from other skilled healers.
Any & all recommendations herein are not prescriptions, guarantees, or diagnoses; they are for informational purposes only.
An individual’s reproductive organs do not define their sexual preference or gender. All of our bodies came out of a womb. Knowledge about & care for their function is vital for all individual identities, & our collective culture as a whole.
I strive to make my work accessible & inclusive for diverse identities by referring to specific body parts & physiologic processes without assuming the gender or sexual preference of the person to whom the body or process belongs.
A tragically large number of us with wombs & vaginas have experienced some kind of physical or sexual violence. Even if we have not experienced physical abuse or assault, the dominant culture’s treatment of our sexuality & fertility is psychologically, spiritually, & emotionally abusive. Many of us experience things like dissociation & depersonalization with our bodies & their functions as a result of generations of trauma, abuse, & being disconnected from our agency.
Practicing cycle awareness, feeling one’s cervix, or tracking one’s nuanced inner experience while imbibing plant medicines can be challenging or even impossible because of past traumas. I mention this here not to discourage individuals from gaining skills for embodiment & acheiving body literacy, but to encourage folks to be incredibly gentle, patient, & kind with themselves wherever they are in their process of inhabiting their bodies. Most importantly, I encourage everyone to seek support from healing artists & allies who can guide us into greater feelings of safety & self awareness.
“Please Bleed” is written in a voice speaking to the individual whose sperm exposure was by (hopefully happy, loving) accident, not by violence. While plants & practical magic can support us after sexual assault also, I strongly encourage safe human council & care rather than a DIY approach to healing & integration in the case of sexual violence.
“Herbal education begins
with changing our consciousness.”
Why learn about herbal
I have listened to many comrades make statements like “We must learn herbal (or home) abortion methods to protect ourselves from our fascist government’s oppression!” or “We must learn how to avoid pregnancy in case the government takes away our access to clinical options (pills, IUDs, patches, etc)!”
While these statements have validity, they do not illustrate my personal motivation for learning about how to manage my fertility without asking anyone for permission, or consuming from industries that do not share my ethics.
To me, radical, DIY, community supported, non clinical fertility management is not about reacting to the dominant paradigm or making fear based decisions. It is not about learning skills “in case daddy punishes us,” or out of fear of “daddy forbidding us.”
For me, fertility management is an ancestral legacy. It is a homesteading skill. It is a human right.
I have learned how to manage my fertility in order to co-create & participate in the world I want to live in motivated by love, not fear.
From the intro to Section III “Plants”
Emmenagogue ~ Greek. emména, menses or month, agógos, drawing forth
The entire category of plants called “emmenagogues” are pro-menstruation, herbal options for saying “please bleed” to your body. The category of emmenagogue plants have a wide variety of properties & actions. Some emmenagogues are tonics, some affect hormonal activity, & others work through irritation & stimulation of uterine tissues. Most emmenagogues increase general blood flow throughout the body, or specifically in the pelvis.
Emmenagogues are excellent allies within a Conscious Contraception practice. Even in the case of an “oops,” if we are working with plants to prevent implantation or a subsequent pregnancy, we can do so rooted in The Sacred Yes of cycle promotion rather than pregnancy destruction.
The Power of Plant Medicine
There is a common misconception that herbs are always gentle, or provide a more “natural” alternative way to do what pharmaceuticals do. This is not true. Many plants are incredibly powerful & will create dramatic effects. Plants do not replace pills. Plants are people* too.
They are sentient & have personalities.
Herbs can be taken in many forms, including but not limited to tinctures made from alcohol or glycerin, tea infusions, vinegar tonics, or capsules. Herbal baths infused with strong tea are another delightful way to immerse yourself in plant medicine’s healing power.
Plant medicine demands thoughtful & respectful use. If you are interested in going deeper with plant medicine it is ideal to create a personal, intimate, relationship with plants local to your specific bioregion, or perhaps even your ancestral lands.
Ideally, consult an experienced herbalist before beginning any intensive herbal regimen.
*I do not mean that plants have human qualities (anthropomorphism), rather, that plants have personhood (animism).
Honoring Our Elders & Embracing Our Allies
Plants are our elders. With intention, effort, & presence they can become our allies, teachers, & friends. The use of plant medicine, when approached with astute self awareness & respect for the sentience of the plants, has the potential to deepen human reverence for the intricate web of interconnected life.
By choosing to work with plants rather than pharmaceuticals, we have the opportunity to seek synergy with our natural environment rather than consume from an industry that actively destroys it. While the dominant paradigm of western medicine uses pills & surgeries to “cure” us of our fertility, plant medicine can be used to promote menstruation & the integrity of the natural womb cycle.
Plants, Embodiment & Intention
If you would like to work with plants to induce menstruation & avoid pregnancy, it is important to make a serious dedicated effort to align your physical & psycho-spiritual body. Whether this is through movement practices, prayer, meditation, or ritual, ensuring that your devotion & commitment to the process at hand is fortified fully by your will is vital.
You are not a passive participant in this process.
You must identify with the process & fully align with it.
Plants are not pills that you can simply “take” to complete a desired effect.
Plants are allies & elders that can assist us in our quest for
Desired Herbal Actions employed to “Please Bleed!” During The Golden Window:
Inhibit Progesterone. As discussed earlier, pregnancies are not possible without progesterone. Without enough progesterone the uterine lining will not be thick, or the body warm, enough to sustain pregnancy.
Increase Estrogen. This upsets hormonal balance & ratio between estrogen & progesterone, which ultimately serves to inhibit progesterone.
Stimulate & Move The Lining of the Uterus. Increase blood flow to the pelvis by
relaxing or contracting the muscles of the uterus with oxytocin or increased circulation, or
agitating the mucosa of the endometrium
To promote menstrual bleeding in the case of an “Oops!,” my practice has been to begin a dedicated regimen with strong emmenagogues from each of the 3 categories mentioned above at the start of a normal cycle’s 4th week, or around 21 days after your last menstrual cycle. During this week of the cycle the body remembers a dramatic hormonal shift, & working with plants can encourage that shift to happen.
Queen Anne’s Lace or Rue, discussed in the following pages, may be taken immediately after ovulation for anywhere from a few days to a full week to inhibit progesterone & therefore implantation. However, if I were very serious about desiring menstruation rather than an embryo formation or implantation after I suspected conception, I would personally work with stronger emmenagogues consistently in the 4th week of the cycle, about one week after ovulation & one week before my period was due, until bleeding began.
Formulas & Dosage
For plant medicines to be effective they must be taken consistently. Most regimens involve dosing every 3 to 4 hours for anywhere from a few days to a week to achieve the desired effect upon your body’s chemistry & tissues. This usually looks like dosing 3 to 5 times per day. Some plants prefer to be ingested with food, & some without. Some folks like to wake up in the night to take doses consistently, but I do not recommend this as the value of deep sleep in nourishing our full beings cannot be overstated.
I do not recommend specific formulas or dosage in this work for good reason. There is no “one size fits all” formula or regimen for our endeavor of promoting menstrual bleeding. Furthermore, I do not know your constitution, which plants grow in your region, or which plants are traditionally used in your lineage. Please explore these things & seek out an experienced herbalist to help you create an appropriate formula & regimen unique to you.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of plants that might help us bring on menstruation in case of an “oops.” I outline a dozen or so of my own closest allies in the following pages. Most of them are somewhat easy to access, whether via retail online, in herb or natural food stores, or growing in your own neighborhood. I suggest choosing a plant that fulfills the action of each of the 3 categories discussed above to build your formula or regimen.
I like to work with gentle, small doses of these plants cyclically whether or not I have had an “Oops” to help my body acquaint them with bleeding. For example, I’ll take a dropper full of Angelica tincture 3x daily for a few days leading up to my normal menstrual bleeding to help encourage & support its flow.
Care & Caution
Before using herbal allies to avoid or disrupt implantation I advise the following precautions & protocols:
Consult & work with an experienced herbalist before trying any new herbal regimen.
Understand the contraindications & signs of toxicity associated with your choice of plants.
Have a caring companion accessible not just by telephone, but physically present to support your well-being. Someone committed to checking in on you multiple times a day, as often as every few hours.
Work with an herbalist who is well versed in constitutional assessment, and potentially have muscle testing to discern which remedies are best for you
Be aware of the risk of an incomplete process & sketch out a plan of action. Explore options for addressing a subsequent pregnancy. Have a back-up plan appointment with your womb wellness care provider of choice.
Be aware of how much blood is too much blood to be losing (generally this is more than 2 overnight pads per hour) & have a plan of action to address excessive blood loss.
Drink lots of water!
Have a kidney & liver rehab plan ready to nourish & cleanse these organ systems which are heavily taxed by hormonal loads & most strong emmenagogues. Food as medicine, plant allies, & Chinese medicine are particularly adept.
General Signs of Toxicity
Because many emmenagogues are muscle relaxants, some loose stool is to be expected. However, diarrhea that’s prolonged for more than three days can be a serious issue leading to dehydration.
Other signs of toxicity include prolonged symptoms such as: dull frontal headache (especially with black cohosh), excessive nausea (many of these plants aggravate morning sickness), abdominal cramping (in the gut, not the pelvis), fever or temperature fluctuation, decreased or increased heart rate.
See protocols above, & know that hyper awareness of your own body & an objective observer are essential!
About the event
Please Bleed! Plants & Practical Magic - Author's Talk with Samantha Zipporah Thurs. Sept 29, 530-7pm $22 (sliding scale available - email firstname.lastname@example.org if needed!)