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The Vital Way

Ep16: Spagyrics Herbal Alchemy


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Logan: Welcome to the Vital Way podcast. Im Logan Christopher here and we have another exciting
interview lined up for you today. Today on the call is Sajah Popham and hes actually one of my teachers
in herbalism. What I really like that he brings to the table, which we will be talking about today, is
bringing all these different forms of herbalism and really tying them together in a way that gives you a
good overview of how these different elements work together from the western approach, the eastern
approaches, all sorts of different things and a lot of stuff that most people havent even heard of or
thought about. So its a very interesting topic or a few topics that well be getting in today. First off, Id
like to say welcome, Sajah.
Sajah: Thank you so much, Logan. I appreciate you having me on.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. Can you give a little bit of a background of how you got into herbalism in the
first place? I know thats kind of a long story but just some of your background would be nice.
Sajah: Well, I originally got into herbalism really just looking for a natural approach to taking care for
my own health issues that had arisen. I just became really interested in adopting overall a more of a
natural lifestyle just for my own health and wellbeing. I was really called to help people. Its usually
called to a healing path and the plant world really kind of opened itself up to me and that seemed like a
really good way to embark on my study.

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So I enrolled at Bastyr University and did their herbal sciences program. From there, I studied anything
from plant pharmacology to clinical herbalism, Western herbalism, Ayurveda, alchemy, astrology and
kind of branched out into a lot of different areas of study, really looking for the universal principles
behind different herbal traditions from around the world and how plants can be used not just for our
physical health, vitality, rejuvenation and healing but also to really facilitate more of our spiritual growth
and evolution on the full level as well.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. The deeper I go into herbalism, the more I realize just how much is there.
Sajah: Yeah, its really vast. I remember when I first started, I kind of thought herbalism just seems like
there are these kind of set principles and once you learned those then youve got it all under your belt
and youre good to go. But its so vast. There are so many different perspectives on plants and how they
can be utilized and how they can be integrated into our lives in different ways. So yeah, its a really vast
area of study and it took me in a lot of directions that I really wasnt expecting to go originally.
Logan: Yeah, I can say the same thing. So could you touch upon the idea like I definitely the people
listening to this, they have all sorts of different backgrounds. Some people have more of an eastern
perspective or may have some experience with herbalism versus a lot of people in the west. We only
have that scientific world view. Could you talk a little bit about the difference between that scientific
world view of what herbs do like active as constituents versus some of these other philosophies?
Sajah: Yeah, absolutely. This is an area Im really passionate about. For me, I spend a lot of time
travelling around with my business, Organic Unity, and interact with a lot of people out in the world and
interact with a lot of people in the supplement industry. I actually worked in the supplement industry for
a number of years. I kind of like to think of the progression of herbalism, thinking about the way human
beings have related to plants and kind of the first human to plant relationship up until now and in the
past, there is really much more of a very different perspective on plants and how they function, from
indigenous and folk models to more of what I call the energetic or vitalist traditions of herbalism, what
you really see as the great herbalism of the world Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, traditional western
herbalism, etc., and that has really progressed now into this modern perspective that I call allopathic
herbalism or molecular herbalism.
The more scientific approach to plants is really focused on reductionism, that a plant has its healing
properties because of certain pharmacologically-reactive constituents that acts upon our biochemical
systems of the body. While thats a very valid perspective and obviously, its true because there are
chemicals in plants that do things in our bodies and that have certain effects, its a really limited way of
understanding plants in the sense that from a clinical perspective, it doesnt really empower one to
effectively practice herbalism from a clinical standpoint.
If someone comes to you asking for help, theyre not going to say, I need help with my cyclooxygenase
levels or I need this receptor to be bound to my brain. No, its like, Im starting feel pain or
inflammation or depression or whatever the problem might be. One of the things with that reductionist
model is that it reduces plants, kind of dissecting the plant down to look for these marker compounds or
the singular active components.
What weve seen in the supplement industry often times is what we call standardized extracts. I always
use turmeric as an example. Its a really popular herb right now. There is this complex of flavonoids in
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turmeric called curcumin and most extracts that you will see on the market are standardized 95%
curcumin. I always kind of say that 95% standardized extract is 5% away from being kind of like a drug in
a way. What the allopathic model doesnt do is really see like the synergy of all of the chemistry of the
plant and how they all work together to have the net therapeutic effect of that plant and ultimately,
when you separate a part from the whole, things start to function differently.
Now in traditional models of herbalism, they practice according to vitalism or what is called herbal
energetics. A lot of people think this is just like some woo-woo, spiritual thing but its very pragmatic
and its really based on how a plant is going to affect our own unique constitution, whether we tend to
be really hot or really cold or really wet or dry. That turmeric example, turmeric is a very warming and a
very drying plant. If you have someone that has a lot of inflammation where theyre like a fire type of
constitution that already is hot and dry, that plant is disharmonious with their constitution. Its going to
actually drive their constitution more out of balance, whereas that turmeric would be better for
someone that maybe has inflammation or pain and they may tend to be more kind of damp and cold
and stagnant and sluggish and they need more of that stimulation in their circulatory system and their
liver.
So its a really different model of looking at plants and looking at people that is truly holistic. Youre
looking at the wholeness of the plant and how it acts on the wholeness of the person as opposed to just
looking at a chemical and the plant and the symptoms that its going to alleviate in the person.
Logan: Absolutely. You brought up the traditional western herbalist approaches. When I first got into
herbalism, I heard about these Chinese medicines and Ayurveda. I wasnt even really aware of the
various western approaches to herbalism and I feel like a lot of people out there arent as well. Its just
those are thousands of years old while ours are much less aged than that. So could you tell a little bit
about the Western approaches because I know there are several different approaches if you go back in
history?
Sajah: Absolutely. This is a really passionate area of mine because like you said, so many people when
they think of traditional systems of medicine, our minds tend to immediately go to the East, to China,
India, Ayurvedic medicine and Tibetan medicine. But really we have a very rich tradition here in the
West that ultimately has its roots in Ancient Greece with the Galenic Humoral Model of medicine
moving forward into paracelsian medicine, to the Swiss-born alchemist and physician who ultimately
developed homeopathy. Homeopathy is a strictly Western tradition, a vitalist tradition of healing that is
incredible. Homeopathy has helped so many hundreds of thousands to millions of people over the last
number of hundred years.
But where I get really excited about things is looking at the North American traditions of herbalism.
Without getting into too much of the history, we have a couple of primary traditions in that model that
started with whats called Thomsonianism. Samuel Thomson was what they called a root doctor. He was
an herbalist and he learned from a lot of the traditional healers, the natives here of the land but also
was a physician-level herbalist and healer. He ultimately developed a system of natural therapeutics
thats amazing actually when you compare it to Ayurvedic medicine, which is over a five thousand-year
old tradition.
Samuel Thomson was talking about the same principles in his system of healing that they talk about in
Ayurveda and he had no knowledge of that system. So he came to the same conclusions. Where I get
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really excited is when he sees different people in different parts of the world, different parts of history
coming up with the same stuff. They see the same things. They come to the same fundamental
principles.
So in the west, we saw the Thomsonian tradition ultimately moving and transforming into what is called
physiomedicalism. The physiomedicalists were a medical-level practice of herbalism and natural healing.
They really were the first naturopaths. They primarily worked with plants, minerals, nutrition,
hydrotherapy and natural therapeutics. It was really the physiomedicalists and the homeopaths that
were more popular than doctors at that time. Were talking 1800s in North America. Ultimately, the
doctors at that time were just doing a lot of purging, a lot of blood-letting. It was kind of the common
thing was like if you want to get sick, go see a doctor. Their practice was pretty heroic and dangerous. It
was an intense system of medicine at that time, thinking of modern kind of standard doctors and using a
lot of mercury and a lot of very toxic compounds. So the physiomedicalist ultimately evolved into what
was called the eclectics and the eclectics were another vitalist model of healing that ultimately has
transformed into modern day naturopathy.
So its really neat to follow that golden thread throughout herbal history in the west and seeing that in
fact we do have a western energetic model that is very akin to how Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine
and Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for thousands of years.
Logan: Yes, it is a very fascinating thing when you look at why weve gone into such an allopathic model
with what the American Medical Association did and all the rich history thats in there. You mentioned
Paracelsus whos a fascinating character and some of the things that he did. Its interesting because
certain parts of our Western medical system came from him but so much else that he did is considered
the woo-woo stuff that you mentioned before. Could you talk a little more about Paracelsus?
Sajah: Yeah, Ill try to keep it brief. Theres a lot that can be said about Paracelsus. Hes a very
interesting figurehead. Paracelsus was a Swiss-born physician, alchemist, astrologer and healer. In the
late 1400s, he was born. Essentially until that point of medicine, we had seen I had mentioned Galenic
medicine, the Greek model of herbalism and natural healing being practiced up until that point. That has
become a very reductionistic model of practicing even though it was still based on energetics. Paracelsus
was really kind of disgusted with the way medicine was being practiced and how people were really not
getting better through that model. He actually was witnessing people getting sicker from that standard
medical practice at that time.
He was a real revolutionary. Paracelsus was the first person to really think of the concept of sterile
surgery. Gee, maybe when you cut someone open, you should sterilize the knife. He also invented the
use of many concentrated mineral and metal compounds that he prepared through the art of alchemy.
It was these very powerful compounds that was really the introduction of the concept of chemical-based
medicine. In that way, Paracelsus was really the founder of what has now turned into modern
pharmacology.
A lot of people are like Paracelsus was making these really concentrated toxic compounds that were
basically like drugs and its true in a sense but yet because he was an alchemist, he had a foundation in
what they called the philosophy of nature. This was his first pillar of medicine. It was Nature Sophia, the
philosophy of nature in that in all of our work as healers, as herbalist, as physicians, to always have that
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anchor in a natural philosophy, that were always doing what is according to the principles of nature and
the principles of what they call the vital force, following the vital intelligence of the body.
I think thats where we start to see that allopathic mindset take root thats gotten us into really the
crazy situation that we see in the modern world with the medical system. They took many Paracelsian
concepts but detached from that natural philosophy and thats where were seeing so many issues in
regards to iatrogenic disease, disease caused by drugs, the medicines themselves and just the state of
our modern medical model.
So Paracelsus was also the founder of homeopathy. Even if most people think of Samuel Hahnemann as
being the founder of homeopathy but really if you look at Samuel Hahnemanns work, 99% of what he
says in his foundational text came from Paracelsus. Hes a very interesting man. Hes a very pompous
man but he was a genius and he was very ahead of his time. One of the things I really appreciate about
him is his work with alchemy and work with astrology, using medical astrology as a means of diagnostics
and therapeutics and just his rich association with what they would call the hermetic traditions and how
all of that leads back into a very cohesive and comprehensive system of medicine.
Logan: All right. Lets go there next. When most people hear the word alchemy, the only thing that
comes to mind is turning lead into gold. It was a series of coincidences or synchronicities that kind of led
me into your work and studying with you. Just one day out of the blue, the idea of alchemy pops up into
my head so Im researching it online. Later that day, my brother handed me a book titled Spagyric and
Id never even heard of this word before. So I start reading that book and Im like theres no way I could
actually do this work unless I learn from someone hands-on. A couple more things happened but I ended
up seeing you guys and the work that youre doing. So can you talk about herbal alchemy and spagyrics
and what that is?
Sajah: Yeah, absolutely. The word alchemy is such an interesting word, its used in so many different
contexts in this world, especially in kind of more the New Age spirituality segment, everything from
balancing the alchemy to balancing your checkbook to the alchemy of online marketing. There are so
many different ways that word is used and its an interesting word. It really has to do with the principles
and process of a transformation. Herbal alchemy or spagyrics, the word spagyrics was actually
invented by Paracelsus. He was so far ahead of his time there werent even words for him to use, to talk
about what he was coming up with so he created his own words.
So spagyrics is composed of two Greek words which means to separate and re-combine. Central to
spagyric philosophy is that all things in life have a three-fold nature. They have body, they have spirit
and they have soul. Everything from people, from plants to minerals, to animals, everything in creation
has body, spirit and soul or what they call the salt, sulfur and mercury. Essentially the spagyric process is
separating the salt, sulfur and mercury in plants and purifying them, exalting them and then recombining them back together in what is considered a highly evolved state. The cool thing about
spagyrics is that youre able to create a very concentrated, very powerful form of herbal medicine that is
not isolating a singular compound.
I was talking about earlier with the more allopathic molecular model that theyre really wanting these
really concentrated extracts but in order for them to get them at that level of concentration, theyre
kind of neglecting a lot of the other components in the herb. The beauty with spagyrics is that youre
able to get a very powerful, a very concentrated extract and yet youre not throwing anything away.
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One of the unique things about a spagyric extract is the presence of the mineral salts. One of the most
standard ways people work with herbal medicines these days is your tinctures through an alcohol/water
extract of the plant. 99.99% of herbal extracts, tinctures on the market would be considered an extract
of the sulfur and the mercury of the plant or the intelligence of the herb through its chemistry and kind
of the consciousness of the plant. But its missing that salt principle. Its missing the mineral salts. So the
unique thing about a spagyric is that those mineral salts are re-integrated back into the extract through
a relatively in-depth process. Essentially, you burn plants down to an ash and then were either purifying
that ash to crystals. They look like these little coarse crystals. You powder those and add those crystals
back into the extract. Now youre gaining all the nutritive components of the plants.
That salt principle, just like our bodies are the physical vessel through which our mind and our emotion
and our consciousness works through, its the same way with the plants. So when you add those salts
back into an herbal extract, its like youre anchoring the intelligence of the herb back into its body. It
has its vehicle, its delivery mechanism. And because the body of the plant is present, it works more
efficiently and more effectively in our own body.
Thats one of the really neat things about spagyrics. That was like a huge breakthrough moment for me
because I remember every time Id be making a tincture or something and I would press it out and
separate the plant material from the liquid extract then Id have to throw the herb away or compost it, it
just only bothered me. I always felt like there has to be something more there. I didnt feel like the
process was complete. When I first learned about the extraction of the mineral salts, it was this huge
breakthrough moment that was really a confirmation that yes, there is more to it and theres more
refining of extracting plants to yield a very potent, concentrated form of herbal medicine.
Logan: Yeah, absolutely. Its a fascinating process. You werent kidding when you said the bit of an
involved one. I just went through and made my first pine pollen spagyric tincture and it took some time
to be able to do that but Im very happy I got through it. It is really a process and its interesting, that
sort of parallel you are talking about, all the different ways that alchemy is used as a term but theres
that idea that as youre working herbally with the alchemy, youre transforming but its also doing the
same sort of action within you, transforming your body, mind and soul in a similar sort of way. Can you
talk a little bit more about what is, you mentioned it a little bit but the difference if you take like a
normal extract or tincture or something versus some of the spagyric preparations?
Sajah: Yeah. Well, one of the primary things that Ive noticed with working with the spagyrics over the
last number of years is that they are much more potent so oftentimes spagyrics can be used in a much
lower dose than a standard prepared tincture, primarily because of the presence of those mineral salts.
Now there are many different types of spagyrics. Theres basic spagyric tinctures and spagyric essences
and very advanced preparations. The most advanced preparation, they call the stone, the plant stone
where you literally will take 20 to 30 to 40 to 50 pounds of plant material and reduce it down to small
stone that just looks like a rock but you havent thrown anything away in the process and its just
extremely powerful.
As you said, one of the primary principles of alchemy is as above, so below which also means as
within, so without that all of life is a unity and that when were doing something in the laboratory,
preparing a medicine, theres also an internal part of that process. So everything that is done externally
also has its internal reflections within our own kind of body, spirit and soul complex. One of the things
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with spagyrics is that while on one side theyre very potent on a physiological level, they are also very
potent in more of a psychological, emotional and spiritual level, too. So one of the premises of alchemy
is that its not just a system of medicine but its also a system of psychology and very refined methods
for kind of activating and accelerating your personal growth, your spiritual growth.
One of the ways in which theyre prepared is through using astrological tools to essentially magnify
these celestial forces into that extract, which kind of activates what they call the astral body. Thats what
the alchemist called it. That can be akin to the acupuncture meridians, the chakras. Its very interesting
that there is seven chakras in the human kind of energetic field, which correspond directly to the seven
plants of astrology.
So the spagyrics are on the one hand, working physically in the body but theyre also working on the
subtle energetic influences that determine the state of the physical body. So they take it a step further
by working more through the psychological and emotional dynamics that are kind of the precursor to
physical symptoms. So in that way, they are really, truly holistic because they are working on all levels of
our being as opposed to just the physical level. That really speeds up the healing process by working
more on those subtle territories and in that way, ultimately facilitate in our personal growth and our
personal transformation.
Thats really inner part of alchemy. Its that its helping us to learn more about ourselves, helping us to
be more aware of ourselves, helping us to let go of those limiting belief systems, those conditioned
patterns and to ultimately kind of whittle us down to our true essential nature that is in our heart and to
really come into contact that truth in our heart and realize what our path is, what are purpose is and
what we were put here to do that is unique to our own self, what our contribution is to the world and in
bringing in a greater level of consciousness to the planet at this time.
So Im really passionate about this. This is why I love with spagyrics because I really see them helping
people not just to feel better in your body but helping them work through some of the kind of bigger
schematic challenges in their lives and coming into contact with something essential in the self. That
essential part of the self is attached to a greater purpose of making a difference in the world. So I think
theres a larger picture to the overall healing process of the human being and how when we engage in
that conscious healing process that we really reach a new level of empowerment, of clarity and just
doing something positive in the world here at this time when we really need it. So yeah, thats just a
little bit of my thoughts on the spagyrics there.
Logan: Yeah, I really like that because definitely with healing, people tend to just think about the
physical but for best results and in most cases, if you dont deal with that mental, emotional and
spiritual side then you cant fix a lot of problems because the issues tend to be more on those levels
than just the physical. So if you can take herbs that help with not just the physical but with these other
levels as well which different herbs certainly impact on these other levels but also the different
preparations like the spagyric preparations, they certainly activate these more, then you can as you said
have a much more holistic type of healing system.
Sajah: Absolutely.
Logan: So we can go on and on. I know there are so many subjects Id love to have you on at future calls
as well so we can dive a bit more detail on this. But for now, where can people go to find more
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information? This is a great thing. Like you said, its a bit of work to prepare these spagyric tinctures and
essences but Sajah does it all for you and this is awesome stuff. Of course, I take the various Superman
Herbs we have but addition to that I also take a lot of Sajahs stuff from Organic Unity. So can you tell
people about where to go to find more information and get some of those to try out?
Sajah: Sure, you can go to Organic-Unity.com and weve got a very large materia medica of western
herbs, eastern herbs that we prepare. In spagyric tinctures, we have a pretty comprehensive line of
spagyric essences as well which are much more refined types of extracts as well as a lot of different
formulas and things like that. You can head over to Organic-Unity.com and check out everything we
have going there.
I also do a lot more in-depth teachings around these types of subjects. If youre interested in learning a
little bit more about these things, you can head over to EvolutionaryHerbalism.com or
AstrologicalHerbalism.com where Ive got some videos up there. Youre more than welcome to head on
over there and just pop your name and email on there and Ill send you some free videos and some
more in-depth training in some of these subjects.
Logan: All right, well thank you so much for joining us today, Sajah. I think people very much enjoy this
information because theres not a whole lot of it out there.
Sajah: Well thank you so much for having me on, Logan. I really appreciate it.
Logan: All right, well thanks everyone for listening and well be back next week with another great
podcast for you.

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