Currently {12.28.17}

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National Cathedral; photo by vikinggoat

For the holidays this year we left the comforts of home behind and disappeared to DC for a few days, where my partner’s brother was hosting Christmas for the family. We had a lovely time, eating herring and schnitzel at Old Europe, taking in a show at the Kennedy Center, watching The Last Jedi (oh, Leia, oh, my heart), and mingling with posh people at parties. Well, maybe that last part was more nerve-wracking than lovely, but I survived it, fueled by the smoky magic of hangikjöt, endless steaming coffees, and lots of glorious chocolate cake. Despite the book in this photo, I actually had zero downtime, and there was not much done in the way of reading.

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As is my habit, I packed poorly for the weather, and the terrain, and for my comfort. I looked pretty cute, though. Here’s documentation of my travel attire for each day I was there.

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Shout out to my favourite pieces: shoes from fluevog, Megumi dress from Altar PDX, Thief and Bandit Cats In Grass dress, tunic from Shadowplay NYC, bag from Baba Studio, beads from bloodmilk, and that fantastic First Order scarf/shawl/wrap, which was a gift (not sure where it came from, but thinkgeek is my best guess!)

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On Christmas Day we walked up the hill to the National Cathedral for their Christmas organ recital and took in all of the gorgeous gothic spires and arches and buttresses and gargoyles and so on. It was a bright, windy day, and the cold inflamed my cheeks something fierce, but it was beautiful beyond words and absolutely worth it.

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Now that we’re home again, it feels as if time has stood still for a bit and Christmas hasn’t yet passed…which is weird because all of our neighbors lights have been taken down, and their inflatables lie limp on the lawns. Keep them up a bit longer for us, please! We are exchanging gifts, just the two of us, on New Years Eve–which will be a nice way to wind down from the flurry of our Christmas visit, and a prolonging of that fanciful winter magic connected to the holiday, and which seems to linger no matter how old I get.

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My best good friend left Orlando last month and is now living up north. I miss her desperately. We didn’t spend a lot of time together, just a day here and there every few months or so, but our time together was always so precious, and it was such a comfort knowing that we lived so close to each other! She recently sent me an exquisite glass spider with a belly full of galaxy, and every time my gaze falls upon it I ponder our strange, wonderful friendship, and comings and goings, and the passage of time–and marvel that I’ve been friends with this remarkable woman for nearly twenty years.

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Tonight I’m relaxing and getting ready to see 2017 out the door. I’m not planning out my 2018, not yet. There is plenty of time for that in the next week, right? I’ll probably have some “best of” and “favorites” lists to share in the next few days, but for the time being, some things I am loving right now or have recently enjoyed are:

✨ The Steven Universe soundtrack (still watching this show, still adoring it)
Dark on netflix; strange goings-on in a small German town.
✨ A Trip To The Stars; as good as everyone says, read it now
✨ Thor: Ragnarok – way less boring than the other Thor movies!
✨ My new snake charmer illustration from Tenebrous Kate (above)

Did you accomplish everything you wanted for the year? Or…even for the month of December? Well, how about for this week?  Did you discover any new loves this month, or receive some amazing gifts? Tell me all about it!

 

Links Of The Dead {December 2017}

photo from Giovanni Raspini's Vanitas Mundi exhibition

photo from Giovanni Raspini’s Vanitas Mundi exhibition in Milan

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {December 2016} | {December 2015}

💀 Old Timey Superstition: Death Comes in Threes
💀 In Photographs of Estate Sales, Price Tags Mark the Possessions of the Dead
💀 “At the Gate”; The sudden death of a loved one makes the poet reflect
💀 When Google Thinks You’re Dead and You Try to Fix It.
💀 Colossal Memento Mori: Mass by Ron Mueck
💀 They say writing is cathartic, but writing about my parents dying almost killed me
💀 High-Tech Suicide Machine Makes Death a Painless, Peaceful, Optimal Way to Go
💀 When you only know your friend through the Internet, grieving their death is complex
💀 Cashing in on the donated dead: The Body Trade
💀 Can a Chatbot Help You Prepare For Death?
💀 Saving Skin: The public lives of posthumous bodies
💀 Over the Garden Wall: Children, Death and the Mystery of the Unknown
💀 “We started this together and we will end this together”: The Art Of Rebecca Reeves
💀 The Grave Girl thoughtfully discusses the grieving for someone you don’t actually know.
💀 Say you’re mortal. You’re also a book lover. Where’s the intersection between these two things?

Yule Giveaway From BPAL And Haute Macabre

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At Haute Macabre today I review some of my favorite scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2017 Yule collection…and there were quite a few! There is also a giveaway for an assortment of the scents mentioned, so be sure to leave a comment on the post to be eligible!

Spoiler alert: my favorites were Diable en Boîte, and Claircognizance! Have you tried any of these seasonal scents and festive fragrances yet? What were your favorites?

 

The Shadow Is Me: Jamie Mooers

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Over the last half-year, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Jamie Mooers, the shadow half of collective vision, Burial Ground (I interviewed its other half, Bill Crisafi, two years ago.)

Read more of thoughtful, wildly creative, and wonderfully articulate kindred spirit over at Haute Macabre today!

The Shadow Is Me: An Interview With Jamie Mooers Of Burial Ground

How to wear an interview with Jamie Mooers? Well, I have a feeling she might be able to steer you better than I, but at the very least I have made some suggestions as to how to wear some of Burial Ground’s outstanding offerings.htwjm

Alchemical Catharsis: The Art of Alice Rogers

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When perusing Alice Rogers’ portfolio, or perhaps scrolling through her Instagram account, you get the sense that she wants to frighten you, just a bit. But this isn’t some sort of jump scare, shock-value fright – no, there is a sense of intent here.

Rogers, through her explorations of dark themes on canvas and photography and in sculpture, invites – nay, demands – the viewer to do the same as well. It’s not the stark horrors of fearsome wolves, menacing swords, or lean, beckoning claws of hungry spirits that are the threat here.

As you peer more closely closer at Rogers’ work – despite yourself – you also begin looking inward. Your own shadows, secrets, devils, and darkness are brought to light. Rogers’ works reflects both the damage we do to ourselves and the scars of those old hurts inflicted by others, and at its heart, it is about the vulnerable magic in making something beautiful from these wounds – and the balance achieved in doing so.

I recently caught up with Alice Rogers about her works, these painful yet ultimately cathartic worlds she creates, and the magic and manifestation, power and purification that is part of the process.

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S. Elizabeth: Tell us a little about your artistic background – What were your first inclinations that you had a strong creative instinct? Can you pinpoint the moment you decided you wanted to become an artist?

Alice Rogers: I loved drawing from the time I was a small child. My family and teachers encouraged me to keep at it, so I painted murals and designed the school t-shirts and all that sort of stuff. I actually went through a period where I rebelled and said, “Maybe I don’t want to be an artist!” and decided I was going to study forensic science instead, but I ended up double-majoring in fine art and English in college, anyway. I was never able to choose between those two things – art and writing – and I still try to organize my life so that I don’t have to.

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You are a writer, photographer, illustrator, and sculptor – within so much of your work you show us liminal worlds and stories within these worlds, and it’s all just brimming with what seems to be intensely personal symbolism. In what medium are you happiest working, when creating these worlds?

I think of all various mediums and forms of expression as tools. Some tools are more appropriate for certain projects or ideas than others. I find that drawing is the most immediate way for me to express something, so even though I’m also a writer, I tend to draw instead of journaling. Occasionally a phrase or sort of poem will come to me before I start a drawing and I work around that. I can’t always communicate everything I want to get across in a drawing, and that’s where the three-dimensional stuff comes in.

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I’m certainly not skilled, technically, in that area, but I’m having fun exploring the idea of creating little worlds in three-dimensional space and capturing them in still images or short films. Sometimes I’m just drawn to one medium more than another; for three years I didn’t create anything visual at all and only wrote, and then it sort of flipped. Having all of those tools available keeps me creatively stimulated so I if I get burned out doing one thing, I move on to the next for a while.

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From photos of your studio, it is difficult to tell where the altars end and the workspace begins. This idea/philosophy of “art as magic” – can you speak to that? And along those lines, in your Instagram, I came across the term “Seiðr,” which I found to be an old Norse form of sorcery sometimes associated with the goddess Freyja. Do you consider what you do, the art that you create, a form of Seiðr?

Last December, I was thinking a lot about manifestation. I sort of ride the line between intellectual curiosity and belief when it comes to magic and the occult, and I interpret most of it as a system for refining and manifesting intent. You have to determine what you want and why, then make all sorts of small changes in your life that add up to make it real. Magic isn’t just about manipulating energy; it’s finding power in knowing yourself in a really intimate way.  At the time, I was preoccupied with negative patterns that were repeating themselves in my relationships and I drew out what I wanted to manifest, which was a deep connection with a person possessing certain qualities. That drawing turned into several more, and sort of ushered in a new phase of creative expression for me.

Symbols are just such potent visual shorthand, and joining them together can give them even more power. They can say so much with just a few strokes of a pen or brush. The symbols I prefer to use mostly originate from Western occult traditions and Germanic paganism, and in this way I draw upon my own ancestral heritage and the knowledge and power of so many people who have come before me. So even though I’m incorporating these symbols and ideas into my art in a way that’s intensely personal for me, others can look at what I create with it and find something that resonates for them in a totally different way, or so I’ve been told.

In the end, it’s not about what other people find nice to look at. It’s not even about the final product. It’s the meditative, half-conscious, magical act of translating emotions and abstract concepts into visual form, which is therapeutic for me. It’s a deep analysis of self, relationships with others, and how I interact with the world that’s really for no one’s benefit but my own, but everyone is on their own particular version of the same journey.

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You write of your fascination with the line between the scientific and the supernatural, and that you “reside in the balance between reason and belief.” I find myself marveling at the stark contrasts in your work, the extreme juxtaposition of dark and light, of shadow and exposure… and yet it all speaks to a sort of balance, if I am not mistaken. Tell us about the value and meaning of balance in your work.

When I really started paying attention to the themes that were popping up in my life over and over again, the idea of balance really stood out. I’m not sure why exactly, just that it seems like the universe is constantly reminding me that it’s part of my life’s work, along with a search for truths that a lot of people might find scary or uncomfortable (which is what draws me to the occult). There’s no light without darkness, and without pain, we could never fully appreciate beauty. That might sound clichéd, but it’s true. I don’t necessarily see things in black and white – there’s an awful lot of gray in the world – but for me, the starkness of monochrome is sort of a way of creating order out of chaos, even in my wardrobe or my personal space. It fosters a sense of harmony and continuity.

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The motifs in your art and photography vary wildly from sacred geometry to Twin Peaks to yokai – what would you say is the underlying theme in these inspirations? What can you tell us about your current obsessions and fascinations, and how they may be finding their way into something you are working on right now?

Almost all of my creative inspiration comes to me in half-sleep. I have a sleep disorder that keeps me in the hypnagogic and hypnapompic sleep stages much longer than most people (the “falling asleep” and “waking up” phases where you’re sort of dreaming, but still partially conscious). With that comes sleepwalking and hallucinations, but mostly a trance-like state that enables you to access the deep reaches of your subconscious, or other spiritual planes. So almost every night, I wake up with an idea or three. I write them down if I’m conscious enough. Sometimes I remember them in the morning, and sometimes they slip away.

Like last week, when I woke up with the words “ars moriendi” in my head – I couldn’t recall ever actually hearing that phrase, and I looked it up, and it roughly translates to “the art of dying.” Since I tend to work intuitively, sometimes my symbolism is very purposeful and sometimes it feels like a mystery even to me.

But I do have a preoccupation with atmosphere and mood, especially when it feels really primal, which is why I’m drawn to David Lynch, and “Butoh” Japanese performance art, and music by artists like Pharmakon. I think it’s very powerful when art is disturbing, but not in a cheap way, not in a way that relies on gore or shock value. It’s like strumming an instrument and finding a note that vibrates through your entire being. For me it all goes back to the junction of psychology and mysticism. Is it all brain chemistry; are we nothing more than sentient sacks of meat? Is it a means of accessing universal energies that we can’t fully process in the physical world? That’s the essential mystery and that’s what fascinates me.

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Earlier this year you had a piece in Sticks & Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls – can you tell us a bit about the venue and the pieces that you chose (or created) for it? Is your work showing anywhere right now?

I actually haven’t shown my work very much at all. For a long time, I worked in oils, and then everything I created over a period of fifteen years or so was destroyed by mold after a flooding incident. Ultimately, I see that as a positive development because it forced me to detach myself from each piece as a finished product, so the emphasis is on the act of creating.

The Sticks & Stones’ show, which was a benefit for a local nonprofit called Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, was the first time I put up any of my black and white drawings. I’d love to show that work again somewhere, or the drawings I’ve produced since then, but I’m also shifting focus a little bit to larger sculpture, photography, and film.

I’m also planning a collaborative show with my friend, Angela Thornton, who’s a knitwear designer and art director. We’re still in the early stages, but ultimately it will be an experiment in combining visual art and design with performance, so we’re excited about that.

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Another powerful project you are involved in is Ask Me About My Abortion, “a safe space for people to share their stories, and read about the experiences of others, with zero judgment, pressure, or bullshit.” Can I ask how the creation of this safe space came to be and why it is important to you? 

Ask Me About My Abortion came about because my best friend, Laura Slack, wanted to help anyone searching for information about abortion online find actual first-hand experiences, instead of religious propaganda. So many people we know have had abortions – straight, queer, religious people, atheists, people with female reproductive systems who don’t identify as female. It’s far more common than a lot of people realize, and the culture war in our society over this issue relies on a sense of shame and guilt to silence the voices of anyone who believes we should have agency over our own bodies and when or whether we become parents. It’s a passion project for her, and as a feminist it’s an important issue to me, too.

The controversy over attempts to defund Planned Parenthood has ignited similar projects recently, like #ShoutYourAbortion, which we think is great. We’re hoping that we can ultimately provide a searchable database full of a broad range of experiences from all sorts of people, whether they feel great about it or had difficulty. We’re not censoring any of the stories; we’re just not accepting any anti-choice perspectives. We want to reflect reality. So please, everyone, send us your stories!

Find Alice Rogers: Website // Instagram

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

Sounds For A Midwinter Night

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I’m not much for holiday music (though I’ll fight you when it comes to the clear superiority of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”,) and while I am not trying to rain on anyone’s traditional Frank Sinatra-accompanied or Beach Boys or whatever Christmas parade–I have to tell you, I don’t really care for that kind of music at all.

Christmas carols have always made my teeth ache and set me on edge, even as a child. Especially the jingly-jangly tunes, bursting with a frenzied, frenetic (and forced, I always surmised) cheer. I just don’t feel those feels. I never have. As a child I would probably say “winter is a good time to be sad.” As an adult I might say that winter is a lovely time to thoroughly steep oneself in melancholy…but it all translates the same, really. Winter is no time for cheer. Bah humbug!

But as a music-lover, I do still like to surround myself with lovely sounds during these long frozen nights and brittle, sunless days (don’t laugh at me–it’s actually 40° here in Central Florida this morning!) What do you like to listen to whilst cozying up for your holiday celebrations? Do you prefer to fill your winter wonderland with somber sounds, moody melodies and gloomy tunes?  If so, here are three bleak, brooding playlists sure to frost the cockles of your heart during the cold waves and snowfall, and into which you may escape when the rest of the world is too damn jolly.

Here is a spotify playlist curated with the majority of these selections, or should you prefer to listen to the individual 8tracks mixes, click on each of the images below.

 

midwinter’s eerie light
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o you who are illumined…!

 

…but how does one wear a moody, midwinter playlist? I had a feeling you might ask…

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Four Books For December

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I am currently in the beginning pages of four books which –so far!– are equally wonderful. I’m not far enough into the stories to tell you much about them, but they are all magical, for good or ill, and I am enjoying them each immensely!

If you are the type to judge a book by it’s very excellent cover or if your tastes are similar to mine, which is to say you love ghosts and fairy tales and terror and enchantment and you treasure lyrical language and mysterious stories and beautiful illustrations…well, I don’t think you’d be steered wrong if you picked up any or all of these books to curl up with before the year ends.

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📚 Satania by Vehlmann & Kerascoet
📚 Winnebago Graveyard by by Steve Niles &‎ Alison Sampson
📚 Snow And Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
📚 A Trip To The Stars by Nicholas Christopher

How to Wear a Date with Krampus

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I have a theory. Just hear me out here, okay?

Krampus, after a long day of chaining and beating children and whisking them away to his fiery lair, just wants to wrap up his business, clock out, and spend time with his sweetie.

Krampus doesn’t like to bring his work home with him. All that violence and fear? That’s an act for the children. In truth, he’s a gentle lover. Dancing? He’s up for it. Netflix and chill? Baby, you know he’s down for that, too. You’re Krampus’ main squeeze after all, and he really just wants to make you happy.

When you gaze lovingly at your bae’s wicked horns and cloven hooves, run your fingers over his cold, iron chains, and stroke his furry pelt, you don’t find his monstrous appearance repellent in the slightest. In fact, you realize that your sweetie–that magnificent beast in the other room mixing you a cocktail–is terrific outfit inspiration!

See below for three Krampus-inspired ensembles full of furred bags, split-toe shoes, claws, chains, switches, and demonic visages, perfect for dancing the night away, terrorizing the neighborhood, or an evening of sexy-times shenanigans with your own unholy Yule Lord.

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Zimmerman Empire Sueded Dress $750 // La Perla Lace Briefs $75 // Gold Leather T-Straps $74.99 // Alexander McQueen Fur Clutch $2400 // Kenneth Jay Lane Gold Link Necklace $365 // Julie Aylward Venice Ring $250 // Tessa Metcalfe Claw Ring $760 // Saint Laurent Lace Scarf $375 // Tom Ford Black Orchid $75-$165 // Ciaté London X Olivia Palermo Nail Collection $24

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Samuji Black Tsula Sweater $330 // Paige “Edgemont” skinny jeans $249 // Blush Smolder Retro Brief $38 // Stella McCartney “Falabella” faux fur shoulder bag $1,260 // KD2024 Claw Onyx and Silver Double Ring $891 // Formula X KVD Nail Polish $13 // Arthemis Stretch Bodice $850 // Maison Martin Margiela Split Toe Wooden Tabi Boot, $990 // Talon Earrings by MillarJewellery $116.17 // Blackbird The Wendol perfume $88 // Burialground Broomstick necklace $80

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Bouchra Jarrar Front Zip Dress $1,160 // Else Petunia Fitted Slip w/ Removable Suspenders $175 // Chelsea Paris “Adile” caged cutout leather ankle boots $645 // Versace Leather shoulder bag $1,150 // Unearthen Mini Spectra Ring $230 // Alexander McQueen Harness Skull Ring $415 // Pamela Love Silver Talon Cuff $1,250 // Silver Spoon Attire Velvet Over-Sized Bow Headband $300 // LUSH Lust perfume $16-$40 // MAC eyeshadow $16 “Dark Desires”

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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