How To Wear The Night Sky

Goat Mountain in Big Bend National Park // Photo by Matt Smith

Goat Mountain in Big Bend National Park // Photo by Matt Smith

I’m taking the liberty of declaring 2018 the year that we celebrate that we are, indeed, made of starstuff! And as celestial & extraterrestrial beings, why not dress in all the sublime, scintillating colors and textures and spangles of the cosmos– as glittering hosts of heaven, resplendent in our divinity!

And if all of this is too much for you too swallow, please note that I have a miserable head cold and my noggin is aching so much, that I am literally seeing stars. You have to take inspiration where you can find it, you know?

At any rate! Below you will find several ensembles inspired by the stars, the planets, the interstellar wonderland of our luminous night sky …and sometimes this inspiration takes strange forms, such as outfit ideas influenced by avant-garde photography, man-made star projectors, and bioluminescent tides! As always, click on the image to find the details for the apparel and accessories for each collection.

How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 1

night sky

How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 2


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 3


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 4


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 5


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 6


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 7


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 8


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 9


How To Wear The Night Sky, Look 10


The Creations of Elsa Olsson aka Fevernest


Needle craft is, unfortunately, not a finger-busying pastime that I have yet taken up. After talking with Elsa Olssen, aka Fevernest, and ardently gazing at her eerie, elegant creations however, it has become an urgent priority!

Elsa graciously answered a few of my questions for an interview over at Haute Macabre today; do take a peek if you are as feverishly obsessed with her designs as I am.

What Whisper A Needle Makes: The Creations of Elsa Olssen/Fevernest

(And if you’re thinking that one of her framed works features in the piece looks familiar, well, you’d be correct! I purchased it for myself back in early autumn, and it graces my shelf along with some other treasures from beloved artists!)


The New Faces of Death: Interview with Sarah Troop


It is likely that in the year 2015, you know someone involved in the death industry. You may have a friend going to school for funeral services or have an embalmer or mortician in your circle of acquaintances. If you don’t know anyone involved in the eternally bustling business of death, it is possible that you know someone – a relative, an ex, a wretched high school Algebra teacher – who has passed away. And if not that, you are all too keenly aware of your own mortality and have spent no small amount of time fretting about the idea that yep, you’re gonna die one day.

Perhaps it is this last, irrefutable fact that is so integral to the revival that the hitherto taboo topic of death is experiencing of late. As evidenced by the popularity of New York Times best-selling memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by mortician Caitlin Doughty, people are ready to start challenging their fears and misconceptions, move past their death anxieties to death acceptance, and connect with others who are doing the same.

Or they are at least ready to start reading about it!

Nonetheless, this “Death Positive” movement is being embraced by those who would hope to explore their relationship with death socially, culturally, and  – most importantly – on a personal level.

I had the opportunity to speak with five women passionately involved in this vital conversation; women who seek to educate our repressed society regarding the various facets of death and how to cultivate a relationship with death that is liberating, humanizing, and ultimately, life-enhancing. From mourning and memory to pathology and the intricacies of the human body, from the meaning of a “good death” to The Order of the Good Death and The Death Salon – we invite you to read further, learn much, and meet the new faces of Death.

Death Salon: Mütter Museum on October 4-6, 2015.

Death Salon: Mütter Museum on October 4-6, 2015.

Sarah Troop is a museum curator and historian who writes and recreates historical and cultural recipes for her blog, Nourishing Death, which examines the relationship between food and death in rituals, culture, religion, and society. She is also co-founder of Death & the Maiden, which explores the relationship between women and death by sharing ideas and creating a platform for discussion and feminist narratives. She is the executive director of The Order of the Good Death and serves as the Social Media Editor for Death Salon. Sarah is also an author and advocate for improved care and support of families experiencing infant and child death and was a contributing author to the companion book for the Emmy nominated film, Return to Zero.

S. Elizabeth at Unquiet Things: How did you become interested in death, and how did that lead to your current role in the death industry and as a death-positive activist?

Sarah Troop: As a Mexican-American I was fortunate enough to be exposed to very death-positive attitudes. My Grandmother, who is very vivacious, speaks about death frequently and planned her funeral early. For years she has told me what songs she wants played or what color limo she should rent for the family to ride in, exclaiming, “It will be such fun! Darn it, I’m going to miss it!”

I spent my childhood on sound stages watching countless deaths being meticulously created over and over again. When an actual death occurred on a set my father was working on, it completely altered everything. Observing the subsequent aftermath of this incident revealed a lot to me about the strange lack of relationship we have with death and dying. It was only reinforced more throughout childhood, and as an adult, when my questions and interest in death and dying were consistently met with negative, uncomfortable responses.

When I began working professionally with history, death was something I could explore in a more socially acceptable way. Although much of my work is solitary research, a large part of it was also sharing that research with the public in an accessible, entertaining manner through public engagement events and through social media. It was through social media that I – and so many others working with death – were able to connect, which led to what I’m doing today.

photo by Eli Papayanopoulos

photo by Eli Papayanopoulos

What drew you to your particular profession?

When I see people or objects, or even a street corner, they have fascinating, hidden stories to tell – and I want to know what they are! My love of history was actually sparked by culinary history. There was a cookbook in our house that recipes with the origin stories of each dish, which I find fascinating.

With my food and death research I am working to tie the historical and cultural research (the past), to practical ways we can use food to honor death, dying, mourning, and memory (present and future). In writing about history, being a museum curator, and working with the Order of the Good Death and Death Salon, it allows me to do everything I love and work with the most amazing individuals.

What do you want people to take away from the work that you do?

Helping and comforting someone is what I hope to accomplish the most and there’s a big part of me that likes to provoke and challenge people intellectually and emotionally. I put a lot of thought and care into what I choose to share on social media. I posted a piece that elicited a response from a man whose parent had died. He and his family were carrying around guilt and confusion about the death, but after reading that piece he understood his experience was normal and not his fault. He could finally come to an understanding and be at peace with what happened. I see responses like that quite a bit. If I can help people, support them or even teach them something, that is most important.

As for Death & the Maiden, which I created with the wonderful Lucy Talbot, it explores the large role women are currently playing in death care. A large part of our intention was to provide an inclusive space to highlight the work and experiences of those individuals, (female, genderqueer, non-binary) but also as a place to inspire.


What are some of the most common misconceptions you’ve run into about your job, and to a larger extent, the death industry in general? What do you do to disabuse people of those notions – or not?
In my museum work, and I think this is in small part a symptom of location, it’s that a woman is not capable.

As for the death stuff, people are often confused at first. Death is something everyone experiences yet, they know nothing about it. I can’t tell you how many jaws I’ve seen drop when I say something like, “Embalming is not a legal requirement.”

The issue that seems to cause the most strife is the way we handle grief in our culture and the lack of ritual. People are rushed through the process and told to move on. Consequently, grieving people are forced to hide how they feel and are isolated in their experience of loss, just when they need love and support the most.

Many people find working with the dead or talking about death creepy, macabre, morbid – how do you enroll those people into the conversation?

Really, everyone loves a good story so I use that to my advantage; by contextualizing death in telling the story behind an artifact, a favorite food, a piece of clothing, or a person, I can tie death into pretty much anything. Through the story I can evoke empathy or emotion and once you’ve tapped into that, people are pretty open.

What I find often is that people desperately want to talk about death. I am often taken aside and pulled into quiet corners where I become a sort of vessel for people to pour their fears and curiosity into.

Can you tell us about the death community in your area, is it welcoming and/or responsive to what you are doing?

There is no death community where I am currently living, so I’ve tried to create opportunities for conversations or experiences myself. I slip in death-themed stuff at the museum whenever I can. Last year I created a school program where I talked about the pioneer experience of children their age including deaths along the way, how would they deal with the corpses, things like that. I also created a hands-on Cabinet of Curiosities exhibit for kids with bones, taxidermy specimens, biological specimens, some Victorian mourning jewelry. This creates an opportunity for kids to experience and talk about death.

What is your role within the Order of the Good Death, and can you tell us a little bit about what you talked about at October’s Death Salon?

My day-to-day role is a supportive one: answering emails, handling social media, promoting the work of fellow Order members – a lot of little things like that, but I also get to be creative. I help generate content for the Order blog or do research for videos, which is a lot of fun for me.

For Death Salon: Mütter Museum, I wanted to explore what happens when one of the most death positive cultures in the world deals with one of the most tragic events imaginable – the death of a child. I encountered this practice for the first time while I was in Mexico doing research, not long after the loss of my own child.

It is believed that when a child dies before the age of 7, they transform into a supernatural being – a sort of hybrid between a saint and an angel called an angelito. The child then acts as a mediator between the living family and God. Family, friends, and neighbors all gather to celebrate the child and surround the family with love and support for the next 24 to 48 hours with food, drinks, and fireworks that accompany the child’s ascent to heaven.

Although I don’t hold the same beliefs, after researching and learning about the angelito rituals, I felt comforted and understood by my ancestors. In Mexico, I was surrounded by representations of death – in music, art, food, conversation – my loss was acknowledged, and I did not feel the need to hide my grief or feel guilt for upsetting others as I do here in the US. That is something I want to change – this culture of silence, which is why I am finally sharing my story. In my small way, I too, am breaking that silence.

Death Salon: Mütter Museum on October 4-6, 2015.

Death Salon: Mütter Museum on October 4-6, 2015.

What can we do to open up the conversation on death? To not just increase awareness of it, but to make more sense of death and dying and allay our death anxiety?

This is work that each individual must take up of their own accord. Read, meditate, talk, engage with life. Death is so much a part of life and by engaging with death you will discover ways to live more fully.

The next thing is raising death positive children. Mind you, you cannot do this if you haven’t done the work yourself. Read fairy tales, play outside – these things offer engagement with death on levels children can relate to and readily engage in.

How have your views on the afterlife affected your involvement in the death industry, or vice versa?

I’m absolutely fascinated with beliefs and “experiences” of the afterlife. I studied parapsychology through the Rhine Research Center for a couple years, but I don’t believe in an afterlife where our consciousness continues to exist.

However, our corpses have an opportunity for an afterlife. We can advance science, learning, and understanding by donating our bodies to science or continue another’s life through donation of our organs. We can be naturally buried and facilitate new plant growth, be a diamond, part of an ocean reef, or even be a firework! I really encourage people to contemplate, research, and plan for the afterlife of their corpse!

And lastly, what is your ideal death scenario – your dream death, as it were?

Painless – and I mean that physically and emotionally. It is important to me that everything is planned and accounted for so there are no questions or burdens on loved ones. Shirley Jackson, my favourite author has written very few books, and I’ve read all but two. I put them aside to read at the end of life, so I have something wonderful to look forward to.

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

17 Artists, Creatives, and Visionaries That I Interviewed In 2017


In late summer of 2016 I was invited on board as a staff writer for Haute Macabre, a website and dark lifestyle/culture resource whose aesthetic I had long admired and whose blog posts I had been fervently following for many years. As you can imagine, this was right up the alley of one who describes her style as “goth-adjacent” and “must love cats and darkness”–and so of course I jumped at the chance to provide content for them relating to art, and perfume, music, literature, witchy wonders, and marvelous magics.

Below are some of my favorite interviews in 2017 with Artists, Creatives, and Visionaries who I was thrilled and honored to have spoken with and whose works and words I was entrusted to share with you. Thank you, a million times, to all of the creators who have given time to me this past year for these illuminating interviews, and I sincerely hope that 2018 will bring even more of these singular opportunities!


The Shadow Is Me: An Interview With Jamie Mooers Of Burial Ground My exchange with one half of the creative vision that is Burial Ground, wherein we delve into matters of friendship and familiar comforts, dreams and inspirations, and the pleasures of losing oneself in the beauty of a November day.


A Disquiet Of Dreams: Colette St. Yves An enigmatic collector of ephemera whose work recalls the foggy tragedies of a recurring dream.


The Magic Of Earth And Thread: Fiber Artist And Knitwear Designer Caitlin Ffrench in which we discuss the origins of her art, her relationship with the land, and the deep magics found in both wearing handmade adornments and laying one’s self bare.


A Glimpse Beyond The Veil: Jill Tracy Reveals The Secret Music of Lily Dale It is my extreme pleasure to share Jill’s eerie Lily Dale adventures and uncanny musical insights. Are there ghosts to be found here, of the musical sort, or otherwise? Read on to find out…


My interview with Nocturnal Reader Box founders Vincent and Jessica Guerrero about their dark offerings in the form of a monthly subscription box for readers of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and thrillers.


Where The Magic Lies: An Interview With Karyn Crisis; the many layered presence of this supernaturally talented artist and intensely spiritual Shaman, Seeker, Witch, and Healer.


Good With A Knife: The Papercut Art Of Ivonne Carley. An artist’s enthusiastic penchant for blades and fondness for sharpened edges translates into an elegant artistic medium for emotive storytelling.


The Somber Poetry Of Dreams. The Collage Art Of Hidden Velvet deals in bittersweet contrasts of lightness and glooms, blooming, fluttering life and the stillness of death, and furtive dread juxtaposed against a serene sense of tranquility.


Unfolding A Daydream: The Art Of Amy Earles The progression following an artist’s depiction of young girls facing the lurking menaces of childhood and transforming into empowered young women with agency, autonomy, and an awareness that they are in control of their own fates.


A Woman With Power: Pam Grossman A spirited discussion with this independent curator, writer, and lifelong student of magical practices for her thoughts on witchcraft and the occult as it relates to art, activism, and anger, and what it means to be a woman with power.


From Bibliophile To Bookbinder: An Interview With Nate McCall of McCall Company. Nate speaks with me about t his genuine love of books, the art and craft of bookbinding, and shared some distinctly exciting news for discerning bibliophiles.


Ashley Rose Couture’s “My Dearest Dust” & Other Conjurations. I had been dreaming about getting a chance to chat with this fanciful visionary and innovator about her designs and inspirations, and it finally happened! AND early this item, I traveled to Boston to see My Dearest Dust in person!


Seeing Stars With Mystic Medusa; wherein this astrological purveyor of sagacious observations, fantastic insight, and timely wisdom kindly indulges my nosy questions.


The Serene, Savage, and Surreal Embroidery of Adipocere, a dark conjurer of thread and needle-based wizardry.


Illuminating The Many Moons Workbook with Sarah Faith Gottesdiener. In which I speak with the creator of The Many Moons Workbook, a notebook and manual which imagines a world where witches, women, femmes, & weirdos make their dreams come true, and help others and the greater collective in service of their higher self and of spirit.


Portals Of Power: KillDie’s Crystal Marys. What kind of person, you might wonder, would shatter the holy virgin’s face and stuff it full of quartz? Well, that would Kyle Montgomery of KillDie.


The Imaginative Olfactive Magics of Solstice Scents; my chat with the creator of visionary indie perfumery responsible for these wildly imaginative aromatic enchantments.


Delicate and Unflinching: The Art of Nicomi Nix Turner. An artist who explores Human and flora, fungi and bone, beetle and animal are examined in delicate, unflinching detail, and are at turns both lush and fiercely throbbing with life, and ripe and rank with death and decay.


Artist, Chemist, Goofball: Catching Up With Tyler Thrasher. Tyler Thrasher is a hoot, and, while I don’t like to pick favorites, our Q&A exchange was high on my list of favorites this year! It was a pleasure to discuss with him topics ranging from creation in dark times, and the importance of curiosity, experimentation, and living your own goddamn story.


Piercing The Veil: The Evolving Work of Caitlin McCarthy. I have been lucky enough to interview this talented artist in the past (see previously); we caught up again just this November to discuss a thrilling shift in her recent works.

Empties Of 2017

January 2017 Empties

My problem, and I know I have rambled about this before, is that I am really good at acquiring new things, but I am terrible at actually using them–or rather, using them all up.

I’ve got three-quarters to half-full bottles and jars and vials and packets of products all over the place, but I never finish anything because I am suckered in by the idea that there is something newer, better, more *special* just around the corner…and so my stockpile grows, instead of diminishes.

This is kind of problematic. I only have a limited amount of space on shelves, and my funds are, unfortunately, not infinite. So to remedy this, I made it my business this year to try my best when it came to using what I already had, or as some beauty bloggers say, “shop your stash.” Which is not to say I didn’t make any purchases, I won’t try to fool you on that point, but I was very conscious about buying something only when something else was used up. Sometimes this turned into a “use one thing up, buy two more things”, but hey, no one is perfect, heh.

Here is a listing of all of the products I used up and emptied this year. If it was something extra special, I no doubt repurchased it, and I have tried to note when that happened– both to keep a record for myself, and for those who may be curious about such things!

January empties

February 2017 Empties

February Empties

March 2017 Empties

March Empties

April May 2017 Empties

April/May Empties

June 2017 Empties

June/July Empties

August September 2017 Empties

August/September Empties

  • ZenMed cleanser;  I liked this until I found something better.
  • Josie Maran argan oil body butter sample; I really like this but could buy the same thing from small, independent sellers, I think.
  • Kat Von D Sinner sample; I purchased the full bottle of Sinner, not because it’s super great – – I actually have something that smells pretty much exactly like it – – but I could not resist that dreamy bottle.
  •  Witch Baby Psychic bath bomb; my favorite from Witch Baby, always repurchase
  • NeilMed saline for cleaning a new piercing. It did the job.
  • Iope air cushion compact; didn’t I finish this last month? Whoops.

October November 2017 Empties

October/November Empties

December 2017 Empties

December Empties

  • Sunday Riley Tranquility Cleansing Balm; I love this exfoliating balm so much I kinda overused it and fucked up my face for a while. Still: repurchase.
  • LUSH Olive Branch shower gel; the selection of scents offered by LUSH that I actually like is rapidly dwindling. I settled for this one.
  • Kat Von D Saint and Sinner perfume samples; neither of these scents are all that interesting or innovative, but oh, those bottles.
  • Sister Spinster Flora Elixir; a flower essence formula “for connecting to abundant and divine nourishment”, Flora is composed of essences of anemone, wild iris, foxglove, rose, elderflower, lady’s mantle, belladonna lily, apple and olive in a rose and honey infused brandy. I don’t know if it “works”, but I really love this stuff. I will repurchase.
  • Montale Blue Amber decant; I tried a sample of this a very long time ago, back in 2005, maybe? Around the time I was first exploring my fascination with fragrance. I loved it at that time, this strangely sharp, intensely sweet, then slightly smoky, and all-the-while marvelously powdery masterpiece, and I was delighted to rediscover it when a kind friend sent me a small decant this year. I haven’t yet purchased a full bottle (lordy, those Montale bottles are hideous,) but once I find a good price, it’s going to happen.

So that’s it, then! I didn’t empty as many full size things as I might like, but I am going into 2018 with the same mission, so we shall see how it goes!

Did you keep track of your empties this year? How did you do? Did you uncover any duds, or discover a Holy Grail that you cannot live without? I’d love to hear all about it!

Currently {12.28.17}


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.


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.




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!)


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.


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


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?


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