Elemental Rebirth & Mitochondrial DNA
We are shaped by maternal genetics encoded into us in the womb, that go on to define our ability to thrive in life – on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. But we can shapeshift our genes…
In the late spring of 2012, my wife and I lived for three months in a small village in northern India, snugged into the steep foothills of the Himalayan mountains. At the time she was suffering from a form of chronic fatigue brought on by a period of intensive stress. Her immune system and mitochondria had temporarily stopped functioning properly —as if her body was in a kind of energetic hibernation, patiently waiting for the right moment to spring to life again. Our intuition guided us to the high-altitude forests, strong sunlight and pristine mountain air of the Himachal, where we knew some healing magic was waiting for her, surrounded by remote, wild nature.
Our little house lay along a simple goat path, overlooking the valley, with no heat or amenities.
Slowly, the rhythms of nature worked their medicine. Rising with the sun, communing with the beautiful forests, and retiring at sunset to our rustic candlelit home, away from electricity and cell towers, our life was simple and natural. Then one day, as she was improving, we decided to take a “short” walk along a mountain trail to a waterfall. Himalayan weather is wild and unpredictable, and what started as a sunny day quickly turned into an intense rain and hail storm. The “short” walk was more like an hour and a half, and, soaked to the bone by the cold rain, we both became mildly hypothermic. Before the storm she had felt low-energy, and struggled to walk the path, but as soon as the ice-cold rain drenched through her summer dress, she raced along the path, laughing wildly, followed by a friendly stray dog who yapped along in delight.
Luckily, we made it home safely and re-warmed. What we noticed next was astounding.
Almost immediately, the months of intense fatigue that Seren had been experiencing suddenly ended. It was as if the elemental energy of the cold rain “rebirthed” her. The cold shock activated core epigenetic and mitochondrial reprogramming, and reset her bioenergetic system to a much higher functioning. The biochemical pathways of these kind of metabolic shifts have now been well studied in the “cold thermogenesis” medical literature, and popularized by advocates like Wim Hof.
But I knew that this rebirth was more than just cold water—it was a biomantic, or bio-magical, process made possible by months of prayer, vision journeys, and deep communion with all the elements of wild nature.
Let’s take a deeper look at the science and traditions behind this.
Restoring the Original Template
I first heard about the idea of psychological “rebirth” from Dr. Stanislav Grof more than two decades ago, while in medical school. He pioneered the idea of perinatal matrices, the different stages in our birthing process that can hold imprints or traumas from our time in the womb, and their lasting effects on our psychology. He offered guided journeys to help patients “time travel” back to their birth and gestational experiences, to understand and clear the traumas.
These technologies involve a form of breathing called holotropic breathwork that alters our brain physiology and opens our “doors of perception”, so we can experience a visionary biomantic journey—a “bio-magical” state of consciousness where we can retrieve, access, and process memories, emotions and somatic imprints from our childhood and time in the womb.
Seren and I experienced another type of rebirth work, pioneered by psychoanalyst Leonard Orr, at our little home in the Himalayas, where a therapist came to our house and took us both through a profound journey. Afterwards the practitioner gave us a sentence that encapsulated the energies we were reclaiming from our birth template, mine was honoring the underlying depression that ran through my ancestral line (my grandfather begged on the streets as a 10-year-old boy during the "Great Depression"), and Seren’s phrase was to “trust in the flow of joy”.
I was immensely fascinated by the arena of “rebirth technology”, especially the idea that our formative experiences were not fixed, as science had previously thought, but were plastic, and responded to our environment, our intentions and our daily pratices.
This means we can experience daily quantum rebirths that reshape our very genetic expression.
As I researched the field, I became aware that practitioners seemed to be split into two camps: those on one side focused on emotional, psychological, and ancestral rebirth, often involving “shadow work”, and then the biohackers on the other side, who were experts in revitalizing, energizing and regenerating the bioenergy and physical systems, but without a sacred context.
It became clear that what was needed was a biomantic rebirth, that included the whole picture.
Over the last twenty years, the science of epigenetics has revolutionized our understanding of human health. Epigenetics is the study of how factors “above” our actual DNA determine which genes are expressed. The remarkable finding is that 90 - 95% of our genetic expression, and our health, is determined by signals from our environment, not by the DNA codes we inherit from our parents.1,2 Our exposure to stress, chemicals, electromagnetics, healthy nutrients, love and affection and many other factors imprint our DNA, turning some genes on, some off, and shifting the fundamental architecture of our biology and physiology.3 Many of these changes can last years, even generations, and some of the deepest imprinting happens during our time in the womb.
Recent research has underscored how powerfully our womb experiences influence who we are at every level—biologically, emotionally, spiritually. Hundreds of studies now show how intra-uterine toxic exposures, including emotional and psychological toxins such as stress, depression, anxiety and mental illness in our parents (fathers too), can cause every kind of illness and disease lasting into adulthood. The same is true for herbicides, pesticides, toxic and processed foods, pharmaceuticals, smoke, industrial chemicals, and more—the list goes on and on.
On the positive side, cutting-edge epigenetic studies also show how much power we have to transform and shapeshift these early imprints with biomantic practices that change our genetic expression. Healthy natural diets, movement and practices like yoga cause positive epigenetic reprogramming.4,5 Importantly, the studies also included energetic-spiritual practices. Specifically, meditation, chi gong, tai chi, visualization and imaginal journeys changed genetic expression.6 In 2014, Scientific American published an article titled, “Changing Our DNA through Mind Control? A study finds meditating cancer patients are able to affect the makeup of their DNA.” In other words, the science is real, and it supports the idea that deep spiritual-energetic processes, in addition to physical ones, can re-shape the functioning of our DNA.
These kinds of practices, as well as others, can also reverse our “epigenetic clocks”, a measure of our physiologic age and predicted “healthspan” that is much more accurate than our birth age.
A recent study showed that two natural hormones (DHEA and growth hormone) as well as a medicine that mimics some of the effects of intermittent fasting and exercise (metformin) could generate a reversal in biological age at the rate of 6.5 years per year of treatment by the end of the study period.7 Other people report similar results just using natural sunlight, gentle exercise, and intermittent fasting—no medications required. We have the capacity to renew ourselves.
When we experience biomantic rebirth we can turn back the clock of the aging process, and re-conceive our primal templates of inherited DNA, transforming past trauma into regeneration.
When I speak about biomantic health I am talking about an electro-magnetic model of health and biology, alongside the more traditional biochemical model we are all more familiar with. Our electro-magnetism is rooted in energy not matter, and is relational, environmental and quantum.
When I practiced as a physician, many of the patients who came to see me were women experiencing fatigue, inflammation and immune system problems, including obesity, that had nothing to do with a poor diet or lack of exercise, but was caused by a systemic collapse in their body energetics. We would later learn that the problem was in their mitochondria.
A few years later, my colleague in the practice, whom I often discussed this phenomenon with, released a groundbreaking paper on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, showing that CFS, rather than being ordinary “tiredness” or a psychosomatic malaise, was caused by a change in mitochondrial function similar to a kind of hibernation.8 The special energy-harnessing genes would literally become so overwhelmed they would “go to sleep”—until something woke them back up.
Maternal mitochondria are the key to our (super)natural bio-magic; they govern our stem cells, aging, inflammation and system wide epigenetics. They are the biggest determinant of whether we are healthy or sick, and on a bioenergetic level, whether we feel full of anima, vitality, radiance and life force. Mitochondrial failure is at the root of nearly every modern chronic disease, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune issues, and many more.
This special DNA has an affinity with feminine energy, and is sensitive to harsh environments.
Mitochondria have their own separate DNA, mitochondrial DNA, that is inherited only through the maternal line, passed directly from the mother’s fertilized egg cell to all future cells in the body.
It originated from an archaic bacteria, a tiny single-cell organism, that was absorbed into larger single-cell creature, in a powerful symbiotic union, that formed the basis for human life. Mitochondria actually govern much of the epigenetics of our entire genetic code, and are a critical player in our womb-time imprinting. This magical DNA is the ancient mother code within our bodies, our primordial mother wisdom, forged 2 billion years ago in the oceans.
This ancient maternal "deep sea" DNA is often at odds with our fast, polluted, online modern world. The ways it can be “wooed” out of hiding are by returning back to a more natural way of life, connecting with the plants, the earth, and the wild forces of life.
If our cultural environment modifies our DNA in negative ways, then it is the elemental forces of life—fire, air, water, earth—that heal, regenerate and awaken our genetic magic. There are many elemental relationships that weave our body into being, physically and bioenergetically, but the foundational connections are with the light of the sun, and the magnetism of earth.
Seeking light, our mitochondria act like antennae that sense the changing patterns of sunlight, and transmit that information via a signature of “reactive oxygen species” and other metabolites, to every cell in our body. All energy on the planet comes from the sun, so all of life orients to it. We are in a continuous and ongoing dance with the radiance and nourishment of sunlight.
We are also in an ongoing communication with the electromagnetic fields of earth: the geomagnetic field that rises up from the molten core of the earth, and the Schumann resonances, the healthy EMF’s that life has co-evolved with for billions of years. These energy fields penetrate deep into the womb and shape the developing baby in positive ways, unless it is disrupted by artificial, non-natural EMF’s. Our “EMF diet” effects the quantum biological processes of mitochondria, which then control the epigenetics of the body and our energy.
Luckily, this magical mother DNA is highly receptive to transformation and is the “genetic grail” that all yogis, shamans, alchemists and medicine people, have summoned and courted for healing rebirths.
Our ancestors knew all this, of course, which is why alchemical-spiritual rebirth processes were an integral part of nearly every indigenous culture. But, as we will see, our elders held the process in a much greater context: rebirth did not happen through the womb of our biological mother, but through the Womb of Mother Earth. It was an elemental awakening of Gaian consciousness—an embodiment of the truth that we are a part of nature, not separate.
We are bio-magical beings. We are not just products of our modern time and culture, and certainly not just our emotions or our traumas; we are so much vaster, so much more elemental. Yes, our experience in the womb is vital, but we are always held within greater wombs, greater mothers, our elemental mothers, and of course Mother Earth, who nourish us with energy.
Our ancestors intuitively understood this and practiced spiritual and biomantic rebirth. In fact, the idea of rebirth or returning to a womblike enclosure, and then rebirthing out into the light is present in most sacred traditions across the world. Pre-Celtic “yogis” in Ireland use circannual portals, like Equinox, to perform biomantic rituals that shifted their genetic code, with alchemies of light. Likewise, in Mayan tradition and in other indigenous Native American traditions, sacred rituals are held inside the darkened womb of a lodge or kiva to summon biomantic energies of rebirth. Of course, even Christianity has rebirth technology at its heart, where Jesus is entombed in a dark cave for three days and then is resurrected and “born again” into his spiritual body of light.
These sages were not seeking to return to their birth mother’s womb – they were seeking to be rebirthed through the earth, to fully inhabit the inheritance of their body and earth magic.
The Codes of Earth, Air, Fire and Water
What we know is that on a biological level we are now inhabiting a body crafted from our man-made cultural womb, with all of its beliefs, contractions and ways of living that are against nature. Most humans on earth are now born from the colonized womb (and are fundamentally able to be colonized and/or be an agent of that colonization). Biomancy is a return to our primordial biomantic templates to regenerate and rebirth through the wisdom of nature. By nature, I don’t mean that nice place you walk through on vacation or your weekend off. I mean a massively complex, holographic, wild cosmic intelligence that birthed the earth, that we live within and that we are completely dependent on, because it is our creator and our mother, despite our "advances" in the modern world.
This elemental rebirth of biomancy (as the old mystery schools spoke of) eventually sheds or melts all the false aspects of us that are man-made or are inherited from a culture that is separated from the wisdom of earth. And, as this “new you” emerges, reflected through the prism of the elements, it is nearly unrecognizable. It is astounding and beautiful to live within that pristine stream of elemental life force energy expressing in human form. Earth is calling humans back to our true nature.
The question is not whether nature or earth or humans will survive, but if we will learn to thrive within her blueprint – can we rebirth through the wisdom of mother earth?
Our very nature as regenerative, cyclical beings, is that we are constantly being birthed through energetic wombs of experience, environment, sensation and spiritual connection. Birth is a process. We transform, evolve, shapeshift and it is our responsibility to claim this birthright.
Our biology is a biology of belonging, not just to our human families, but also to the earth, to the sun, to the elements. We all have a powerful yearning to belong. Most of the time we think about this with respect to humans: belonging to human community, family, friends. But we also have a primordial, biological desire to belong to the earth, to belong to the cycles of the sun. Every cell in our body has evolved over almost four billion years to orient to fire: the light of the sun; to earth: her minerals and magnetic fields; to air: the oxygen that we depend upon; and to the life-giving water of our planet. Our biology was created in this way to belong to the sun, to the earth; to receive this yang light, this yin magnetism of the earth. Our bodies operate not in isolation from the natural world around us, but because of it—we are born with a biology of belonging.
In ancient myths, when a soul arrives on earth it lands on a branch of the Tree of Life—a shamanic realm in the center of earth—before being allocated to a human womb to be born.
As the Sufi poet Kahlil Gibrain so eloquently writes, we are born from a cosmic belonging:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
We belong to earth, even if we feel un-belonged from our family or cultural systems.
When we restore this connection, our whole being can bloom into its brilliance.
Each of these practices or subjects has a wealth of science and spiritual context, but this is the topline list of methods to supercharge your bioenergy levels and shapeshift DNA:
- Exposure to cold water (such as the Wim Hof method)
- Getting a good “sunlight diet” (especially at dawn and dusk)
- Intermittent fasting (allows mitochondria to repair and heal)
- Living in natural electromagnetic fields (artificial fields disrupt mitochondria)
- Earthing / grounding (charges up mitochondria with electrons)
- Movement (generates new mitochondria)
- “Cancer is a Preventable Disease that Requires Major Lifestyle Changes." Pharm Res. 2008 Sep; 25(9): 2097–2116. 2008 Jul 15. doi: 10.1007/s11095-008-9661-9
- "Cancer and the Environment." National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Accessed Sep 29,2021. https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/cancer_and_the_environment_508.pdf
- “Modern human lifestyle prejudices epigenetic changes to cuddle diseases.” Ann. Trans. Medicine. 2019;7(5):82. https://atm.amegroups.com/article/view/23298/html
- "Preliminary indications of the effect of a brief yoga intervention on markers of inflammation and DNA methylation in chronically stressed women."Transl Psychiatry 6, e965 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2016.234
- "Rapid changes in histone deacetylases and inflammatory gene expression in expert meditators." Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Feb;40:96-107. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.11.004
- “Changes Induced by Mind-Body Intervention Including Epigenetic Marks and Its Effects on Diabetes.” Int. Journal Molecular Science. 2021 Jan 28;22(3):1317. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031317
- "Reversal of epigenetic aging and immunosenescent trends in humans." Aging Cell. 2019 Dec;18(6):e13028. doi: 10.1111/acel.13028.
- "Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome." Proc. Natl. Academy Science. 2016 Sep 13;113(37):E5472-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1607571113
Elemental Rebirth artwork exclusively created for Biomancy University by Natvienna Hannel @holywomanholygrail