Alexa Gray of Super Food Super Life is one of the most genuine souls in this world of wellness. Her thirst for knowledge and dedication to purity is a constant and grounding force. So when she came across the INCREDIBLY vibrational herbalist Adriana Ayales of Anima Mundi, I was beyond honored that they would share their conversation and insight on F+N. This is a deep look into how tuned-in, gifted, and connected a healer can be with the plants and the source. For a word that is thrown around loosely but rarely defined, today Alexa introduces us to a modern day alchemist—and her medicine.
A | Walking up and down the aisles of my local health food store, I am always checking out packaging. I know we should not judge a book by its cover but just for my own aesthetic, I like to see what catches my eye or makes me want to pick up a certain package. When I was conducting this game that I play with myself, at Erewhon market, I watched my eyes grow wide as I came upon the Anima Mundi products.
Like gems, I carefully reached out and held them in my hand. I saw powdered superfoods, elixir shots, tonics, teas and tinctures. An entire line of products for all of my needs, and they all came in gorgeous packaging. I tried four products: the Qi powder for Energy, the Liver Vitality for detoxification, The Adaptogenic elilxir for stress regulation and the Cerebrum for brain function. I began adding these powders and tinctures to my daily tonics and bottles of water. Within the first half hour after using each product, I began to notice a difference.
Adriana Ayales is the herbalist behind Anima Mundi Apothecary, and she also runs Botica & Co. an elixir and superfood bar in Brooklyn. Originally from Costa Rica, she grew up with the gift to understand plant energy and its powerful effects on the body, and she believes that sourcing ethical and potent plants is vital in determining how we interact with the medicine. Ayales was called a "good witch" by the New York Times; I truly believe she and her products are just pure magic.
How were you first introduced to plant medicine
Food as medicine has been a way of living for the majority of life. It is almost inevitable to not be surround by abundance when you live in the rainforest. Everything pulsates with aliveness, and the variety of fruits and vegetables is blissful. Growing close to the earth and with these availabilities certainly influenced a huge aspect of my love and worship of herbalism.
From a young age I’ve had the gift of psychic sight. I was naturally able to see energy and spirits since I could remember. I remember my connection to plants then; my fascination started with how the energies and plants looked when they interacted with me and other people. Even though it sounds like a “cool” ability, it was very hard for me to cope with it.
Back then, grandmother and her life long best friend would come over about once a week and visit. We would talk about energy, spirits, and healing. Having talks with her calmed me, and she would teach me meditations on how to go deep and enter these worlds. We would do seated invocations and channelings to connect with spirits and energies—weather it would be to cleanse the home, the body, or a simple “check in”. Through those meditations I learned how to focus and refine my energy, and I particularly connected with plant spirits and the healing garden.
In my teens I obsessed over herbal books, rainforest tribal ways, mysticism & nature, ceremony and medicinal cooking. I met two very dear shamanic teachers where I continued to learn and refine my ability to connect and transmit what I learned through dreams, and visionary meditations.
As I grew a bit older I went to herbal school to learn about Northern and European style pharmacopeia. I studied traditional botany as well as study different earth based herbal traditions.
Do you source your materials from the place where you grew up
Our medicines are sourced mostly from the Amazon and Costa Rica. Anima Mundi’s vision is preserving the magic of the Rainforest, particularly in central and South America. Yet we also love to add some of our top favorite herbs from sustainable farms in India and China. Ethical sourcing is VITAL. Within herbal formulas you can’t lie about its integrity. You can feel the potency of the medicine immediately. Your body knows real medicine versus de-vitalized medicine that has been chemically treated or not organically grown.
What are some of your favorite books on plant medicine
“The Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook: A home Manual” by James Green
“Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature” by William Newman
“Secrets of Nature: Astrology and Alchemy in Early Modern Europe” By William Newman
“Adaptogens” by David Winston
Do you have any particular stories or visions to share about communicating with the plants or healing from plants
Oh yes, many. This is while I was experiencing a lucid dream one night.
I was about to embark on a voyage. I was in the middle of the rainforest and it seemed like I was about to enter a cave. I started walking with a bag, that somehow became a huge portable medicine chest/kitchen. My steps began sinking and sinking, and suddenly I was underground in a deep lapis lazuli blue pool. A blue man was deep in the cave, waiting for me. It was clear to me we were in a aguajal—a temple in nature, a beautiful grove where the spirits like to gather. He held special bottles that he was giving me in order to open a door that was beside us. I drank one of the potions and mathematical formulas appeared before me. I began reading the math and singing in a new language. As I interpreted, I realized I was beginning to sing the song of a dear sister spirit plant, Bobinsana. The man demanded I start running to Jupiter, which was through the blue door. The spirit of Bobinsana appeared through me and walked me into this new room. Opal dolphins and cloud beings appeared, providing an entire teaching on the anatomy, phyisiology, and cosmology of Bobinsana. These beings are known to conduct healing, and wisdom through the power of wind, mist and dew. As I sat there contemplating the teachings, the plant provided me to what appeared to be a complete medicine book and story about itself. I woke up the next morning and had a meeting with a dear client. As I heard her story, I realized she was calling in the spirit herself in a dream, she wasn’t sure of the name – but the symbolism was the same. She was having mental imbalances and felt psychically attacked at night. I made a special concentrate for her using Bobinsana, and a few weeks later she was undergoing potent and remarkable transformation. To this day she drinks this plant as a ceremony to herself and her growth.
When did you know that you wanted to bring this medicine to the world
While I was receiving hands on healing with one of my dear Curanderas. I remember her whispering to me as we did a classic limpia. And she whispered exactly what I was seeing as we cleansed my energy. That moment as her words poured in my soul, I saw a clear vision on how ancient plants kept people connected to source. That day I knew in my heart that ancient formulas did a lot more than just heal an imbalance, they preserve the DNA of our origin. From there on out I planted, harvest and created closely with the rainforest.
What inspired your packaging
The design was inspired on old alchemical apothecaries, combined with an earthy and grounded energy.
What are some of your favorite products to use for Spring
Bitters (Amargo) – a great tonic to use before eating. Gets the enzymes going and pump the digestive track with power while being a great cleanser.
Liver Vitality Superfoods– Liver & Gall Bladder revival. Strips the gut from bad oils, and accumulations. Enhances new bile production.
Green Elixir (Viridem) – A rainforest blend of the most potent green superfoods found in the rainforest. Cleanser, detoxifier and strong mineralizer.
What is your philosophy on healing
I believe healing to be a cosmology. To be a healer or to be healed, doesn’t mean to fix or be fixed. Everything and everyone has in themselves a hidden wholeness—a dream, a connection to the source of all that is and will be. I believe healing to being the conductor to this source. Becoming a tool that reminds us of the power that we are reclaiming back to ourselves.
What should a beginner try if they have never worked with these particular plant medicines before
I recommend starting with tea blends. Combining different teas that support a particular area that you wish to work on. From there these tea blends can become formulas that can be tinctured.
Are there any products one shouldn't take or mix together
They are all harmonic to each other. As far as medicines go, I recommend focusing on 1-2 formulas at a time, and keeping dosages mild. Sometimes it can be over done by doing high dosages and too many formulas, not allowing the body to take its time to absorb properly.
Why did you decide to open a brick and mortar in New York
It was an experiment! I wanted to see what it would be like to open a healthy cheers bar with a wide selection of elixirs and tonics while combining cold-pressed juices. We wanted to provide a sanctuary space in Brooklyn offering delightful herbal cocktails, with vegan food and exquisite juice.
Who/what inspires you to create your plant remedies
I love the contrast between rainforest tribal cultures and European style alchemists. I love and relate to indigenous cultures in Costa Rica, and the Amazon. I get inspired with the simplicity and deep intuitive symbiosis they have around medicine making. While European style alchemy has an intensely detailed and meticulous process when creating botanical extractions. Combining these two worlds reflects the dance between the Sun and the Moon.
What words do you live by
Intention without discipline is meaningless.
What was it like to be interviewed by the New York Times
A: It was great. It was right as we were remodeling Botica & Co. Rachel Syme is very in tune to these worlds, and it was a pleasure to talk with her about herbalism and vibrational healing.
What is the best advice you've ever received
Your biography becomes your biology.
For more of Alexa's deep wisdom, visit Super Food Super Life