Whenever I hear the windchimes echoing through the blooms and blossoms and growing things in my backyard, I am often reminded of a haiku by Edo-era poet Matsuo Bashō.

The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming
out of the flowers.

Imaginary bells aside, tomorrow is the summer solstice, or midsummer, the longest day of the year. I remember the first time I ever heard the term midsummer; it was referenced in The Witches and the Grinnygog, a program on Nickelodeon’s eerie Third Eye anthology series in the early 80s. In the six-part series, an ancient English church is moved to a new site, and a strange statue, the Grinnygog – is found to be missing. It is unwittingly recovered by a woman who, not realizing its importance, gives it to her elderly father as a pseudo garden gnome for his rockery. Shortly thereafter, three eccentric old women appear in the town, peculiar things happen, and a quartet of young friends slowly uncover the mystery of their arrival and what it heralds. It dips into pre-Christian traditions, folklore, time slips, and ghosts, and it takes place leading up to, and during Midsummer.

I barely recall watching The Witches and the Grinnygog, only certain scenes and snippets and…impressions, really… remain in my memory. Luckily, some generous souls have uploaded it to YouTube; they’re a perfectly dreadful quality, but I’ve convinced myself that the fuzzy grain only adds to its strange charm. I have been rewatching it this week, and one sequence struck me intensely:  after a shared moment of magic, one of the characters declares, “the day will come that you say you dreamed it.” Quite so! That’s exactly how I’ve felt all these years about the experience of having watched it. Even after reading it and reacquainting myself with it after receiving a copy of the book as a gift over a decade ago! (Yes, it’s based on a book!)

In rewatching it, I was instantly bewitched all over again. The location is lovely, the music is perfect (you can hear the theme here, and how I wish I could find the lyrics to that song! Something about “four us was born” and “fly, besoms, fly!”) and I think all of the actors are wonderful. Is it perfect? Well, probably not. To my older, and hopefully wiser and a bit more worldly eye, there are some things that are troublesome or that feel a little problematic to me. It would be interesting to hear a critical analysis from someone who could do such a thing justice, but I don’t think that’s me.

Mr. Alabaster, for example, is a neat character and he stole every scene he was in, but I wonder if he might fit into the “magical black man” trope/archetype, and if so, that does make me feel a little uncomfortable. Was he there solely to help the white people? Well, I’m not sure. On one hand, I’m fairly certain he was there to reclaim an artifact that belonged in his country. His motivations didn’t really seem to be about helping anyone but rather sticking to his own agenda, one which seemed perfectly reasonable. But then there was all the witch doctor stuff, and they really just seemed to play up his “otherness.” I don’t know. Maybe I am overthinking it. But I also think it’s important to examine this stuff, even the stuff we really love. Nothing should be unimpeachable.

Aside from these thoughts, which obviously didn’t come up the first time I saw it, I mean I was only seven years old in 1983. But the thing that I actually remembered most about it? Like, if you had asked me a few years ago (or maybe even mere seconds after I watched it) what it was all about, I would have said “FLOWERS!” without even thinking. As I’m viewing it again I can see how The Witches and the Grinnygog was formative to many of my obsessions and interests: witchcraft, hauntings, eerie mysteries; reading, writing, and collecting; but most of all…flowers. The flowers that grow around and surround the grinnygog when it is placed in the garden, the ridiculously magnificent floral hat that is magically conjured forth from the laundromat washing machine, and of course the spectacular emergence of blooms and blossoms on houses and street corners which sprung forth mysteriously overnight in honor of the Midsummer festival.

I’ve longed for a lawn and garden space filled with flowers for as long as I can remember. Or rather, now I can say with clarity and certainty–ever since I first saw The Witches and the Grinnygog. I gasped aloud so many times watching this story play out over the course of the past week, thinking, “oh, THIS is the reason I am the way that I am!” So much of me today, who I am, what I love and aspire toward, how I dream and what I dream of, started in the details of this odd little gem of a show. I am so happy I finished the final episode a few scant minutes before midnight on Midsummer Eve, and I plan to spend my day tomorrow, however I spend it, exuding, inhaling, and surrounding myself with the tender, powerful sentiments intoned in the chant begun by Mrs. Bendybones in the scene below.

“Goodness is goodness…peace is peace…and blessings is forever.”

Goodness and peace and blessings, and all the wild magics of a beauteous explosion of flowers to you on this extraordinary Midsummer’s Day, friends.

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The Batsheva Resort 2022 collection is everything I want all the time. It’s all of my selves on each part of my timelines, and it makes my heart feel silly and gleeful, and somehow– seen.

Drab brown dresses? Check. Chaotic microfloral mod frocks? Check. Profoundly plush velvet? Check check! Dresses and pants, the best combo ever? Yes, we can check that too! So, so good.

And with regard to the models? I love this, too:

“Rather than hypothesize about how wearers might make a Batsheva ruffle dress or bow-trimmed trouser work in their life, [Batsheva] Hay put her garments to the test. With her photographer husband, Alexei Hay, she set up a booth in Washington Square Park and recruited people in the area to change into her resort 2022 pieces and model for her look book.

One went full Dovima in a strapless ’50s-style golden gown and kitten heels. Another just tossed an ivory dress coat over their regular clothes, coffee cup in hand. There are teen goths, lovers, sisters, NYU graduates, and passersby smiling throughout the look book, a total celebration of New York back in action.”

See more at Vogue: https://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/resort-2022/batsheva

 

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Artist credit: Midori Yamada

Artist Midori Yamada has captured my memories of summer vacations, elementary school grades 4-6. They were spent in the company of books, immersed in their pages from the time I rolled out of bed in the morning until sunset and sometimes well into the evening. I sat on a cracked vinyl chaise lounge on our backyard screened porch in the searing, stifling midday heat, my hair plastered nastily to the back of my neck, and cooling myself with icy cups of Crystal Light.

I didn’t care about the sticky, sweaty discomfort or the artificial sweetness inflaming my considerable thirst. I was satiated with stories, and I wanted nothing more than to hide away with them in the hopes that everyone had utterly forgotten that I existed. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced such glorious freedom, since.

Many years later, I am still chasing that elusive high. No obligations, no intrusions, just me and the next page and the next after that. In the ensuing years I’ve probably accumulated enough books that I would never have summers enough to finish them all.

Here’s the current state of the stacks, below. How are yours looking?

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“The arrogance of man is thinking that nature is in our control, and not the other way around.”

Yvan’s birthday was back at the end of April (it’s true, we are both Tauruses, a fancy-cheese-eating, garden-loving, never-admitting-we’re-wrong power couple!) and I wanted to get him something special.

I’ve been looking for a non-dorky Godzilla garden statue for ever so long and I finally found something *really* close to what I was envisioning —this amazing succulent planter from Red Thread DIY. Initially, it was only offered in smaller sizes, but I requested a larger-sized commission, and now I think it’s a regular listing on their shop!

Anyway, here’s Godzilla, a power to restore balance.

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7 Jun
2021

Ugh. It’s getting to be that time of year where my motivation runs low and my well of inspiration runs dry, and I just…don’t wanna. Whatever it is, I refuse to do it. I stepped outside today after what has until now been a very mild and strangely windy summer, and in the still, humid morning my glasses fogged unpleasantly, my hair frizzed frizzily, and I was immediately soggy with sweat all the way to my bones. Nope, I thought. NOPE.

I had a birthday less than a month ago. Apparently, I am now 45 years old. I’ve begun, sometime in the past year or so, to think of myself as old. I hate that. I don’t feel old. But I do feel like if I don’t keep that feeling in check, I am going to do something or say something deeply uncool and get outed as an Old who is trying to be Hip and Young. How embarrassing. It stinks that I even care enough about such things to think that way. But better to just avoid embarrassment and lean into my elderly decline.  Grumble about how I don’t understand what young people are into these days. Pontificate about how stuff from way back when (the 90s) was better. Bend your ear about my GERD and achy hip. Push my glasses up on my head so that I can read the fine print, but refuse to get transition lenses or bifocals or whatever. The chin-hair I’ve been cultivating since I was 25 has been longing for this day. Welcome to your future, little guy. It’s old and creaky here.

This is Mallory. She, like me, is also old. I recently spent a week cat-sitting for her while my sister was out of town (yay for finally getting to pack a bag and go somewhere!) and waking up at 4am every morning to begin the cycle of feeding her every five hours was the closest to a vacation I’ve gotten in a year and a half. This particular sister has a swimming pool though, so it was pretty much exactly the opposite of a hardship. Wake up early, exercise on the sort of very nice equipment I don’t have at home, work my job during the day, drink a glass or two of wine in the evening while splashing my toes in the pool and read, knit, watch movies, and eat junk food, and do it all again the next day and the next. It was pretty glorious if I am being honest. I mean… of course, I can do most of these things at home, but at home, I’m constantly distracted by chores and cooking and various projects, and I run out of time for the leisure activity stuff. Absent all of those particular facets of home-life…you find yourself with a whole lot more time on your hands. I finished a sock, read a whole book, watched three movies, and a whole television series.

If you’re curious, I read The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, a novella that is both a tribute to and criticism of H.P. Lovecraft, and which is brimming with racism, brutality, and cosmic terror. I watched Saint Maud, which has been on my list for a while, and despite having read reviews and listened to podcasts about it, that ending was still… while not exactly shocking, it was breathtakingly gruesome; I also finally watched Parasite, and I guess I enjoyed it, but I think I had heard too much about it and maybe it wasn’t as twisty or surprising as I had hoped. And then of course the Sailor Moon movie on Netflix. It was fine. I guess I am an old lady who is becoming very hard to impress.

One of the things I love to do when I am visiting this sister’s house is to take a bunch of photos of all of her shelves and corners and art and tchotchkes and trinkets. Though our interests and tastes do overlap somewhat, her home is definitely more vibrant and kaleidoscopic than mine and a million times more organized. It’s always such a treat to peep at her treasures, so I thought I might share a few favorite peeks.

And of course, while I was there, I had to keep up with my daily Midnight Stinks report. I took the opportunity to weigh in on a few of her perfumes, which I found in various places all over the house. Some of them were lovely, and some of them not so much! A mutual friend of ours commented that she didn’t think she’d be too happy with her sister rummaging through her things and talking about all of the things she hated about them, but I am pretty sure my sister is not going to take it personally. And neither, I hope, would you! If I don’t like something you like, well, mine is just one dumb opinion out of millions and you are in no way obligated to take my baloney seriously. My sister(s) certainly don’t!

My favorite room, of course, being The Fairy Wonderland room! Which in the past year and a half has gotten a bit of an overhaul, if I am not mistaken. It’s less a trip to the fairy realms and more a visit to a witch’s cottage. I didn’t think it was possible to love this magical little haven more than I already did, but gosh.

I wasn’t alone with my thoughts and my sister’s stuff the whole time, though. Yvan spent the weekend with me at either end of the week, and for the first time since January of 2020, we went out to bars and restaurants and dined indoors, and MAN IT WAS WEIRD. I think what was weirdest was even though I thought “oh, this is gonna be so freaky and I’m going to be really uncomfortable,” instead it immediately felt so normal, “just like old times” and it was the immediacy of that normalcy that was the scary part. We’ve been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and this was our first jaunt out among people, and I think we’re still analyzing our feelings about it.

Still…it was nice to accessorize with my Gudetama barrettes and my big earrings and play Magic at a brewery for the first time in a loooong time. It’s actually been a long time since I’ve played at all, and I’m finding myself getting kind of excited about it again! I’m not great at strategy (that’s an understatement, I am really terrible) but learning to play Magic was how I got to know Yvan, that’s how we spent a lot of our time on our first dates, and so it’s something that will always feel really special to me. Nerdy romance! Are you a MtG enthusiast? I’m a green/black player, what about you?

I’ve since arrived home and am settling back into my routines which sadly involve neither swimming pools nor cats, but there is one last thing I’d like to share. One of the dishes I make for myself when I’m on my own is this Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese recipe from Giada De Laurentiis, and while it looks like a bowl of slop when it all comes together, well…it’s classy slop.

It’s practically perfect as written, but I do think it could benefit with either a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a bit of lemon zest, and I suppose if you wanted some extra protein you could serve it with some kind of beans or grilled chicken, but it’s really just fine on its own. What are your favorite dine-alone dishes or meals-for-one? Do you attempt to class things up a bit, or do you make the rapid descent into a garbage trough when no one’s watching? Full disclosure, I only had this pasta one of the nights I was away. The other five nights it was Cheetos and Funyuns. Because I am a trashbag old lady.

 

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Francesco Santo, Vanitas #02

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

Previously: May 2020 | May 2019 | May 2018 | May 2017 | May 2016

💀 A Stone You Should Never Put Down: The Secret Language of Grief

💀 Why Is This Woman Dying All Over the World?

💀 What Are You Going Through By Sigrid Nunez: A literary journey into, through, and past loss

💀 The Secret to Happiness? Thinking About Death.

💀 India’s COVID-19 Disaster Has Changed Our Relationship With Death

💀 Meet the Nun Who Wants You to Remember You Will Die

💀 After a sudden loss, seeking serenity among old headstones

💀 Sarah Posey explores death in a more positive context with ‘One From Us Has Gone’ exhibit

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The Walpurgisnacht Collection from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab x Spiritus Arcanum consists of four deliciously deviant scents inspired by the Witches’ Sabbath and Beltane. Each perfume oil in this limited edition collection comes in a 5ml bottle, and was available from 04/30 to 05/15

HEXENTANZ – Hazy clouds of bonfire smoke and dark, resinous incense envelops the silhouettes of shape-shifting witches dancing ‘round a blazing fire: black incense, woodsmoke, sumac, turmeric, dried ginger, cassia husk, red cedar berries, 7-year aged patchouli, wood moss, and blood-red vegetal musk.

A scent fumaceous and piquant, fiery groves of birch, cypress, and pine, sizzling wafts of charring campfire, wisps of aromatic herbs and spices spindling in a smoky column toward heaven, and a tin mug of lapsang souchong tea under the pinprick glow and atmospheric glittering of one hundred thousand stars.

THE MAN IN BLACK The Devil at the Crossroads: well-worn black leather, tobacco absolute, Haitian vetiver, ambrette seed, crushed tonka bean, and a flick of crossroads soil. 

Leather and strange, bitter powder, mineralic like a finely ground rock and rain. Sediment from ghostly carvings on exposed bedrock in hollow, liminal spaces where cave meets coastline, land meets water. The descent into a dream, the dust in the footprints you followed in the hopes to meet yourself and give yourself what you needed most. The sweetness at the end of a cosmic journey, musky and sweet, cognac and mallow, deep, satisfied swallows of this honeyed brew.

OSCULUM INFAMEA scent of seduction, transgression, and danger: crystalized sap, candied red fruits, raw wildflower honey, black amber, and sweet red labdanum.

Ah, yes. The legendary salacious kiss bestowed upon the devil’s bunghole. A supposed diabolic perversion of the church’s Kiss of Peace. Classic Witchsploitation. All jokes about the devil’s butthole aside, Osculum Infame is a very intimate scent. Delicate, though. I wouldn’t go as far as to say primal. The notes of raw honey and black amber are soft and languid, but most assuredly at the forefront, heightening and preserving the sweetness of everything in their wake. The sap more crystalline, the candied fruits more sugared, the resinous musk of the labdanum somehow fruitier. The scent of paying tribute to Satan’s fundament smells pretty amazing, actually.

THE QUEEN OF MAY – An electric howl of dazzling spring blossoms; a rabid cacophony of bright, alluring, dew-splattered wildflowers streaked with lightning-white vegetal musk. An oil of youth, beauty, treachery, and liberation.

I wore The Queen of May on my birthday, and it is without question a scent of the riotous pageantry of blooms flourishing madly, an exuberant brightness of petals every shade of the spectrum, primrose and poppy, cornflower and calendula, lilac and lily are a few that I envision but it could be all or none of them! Florals delicate, milky, and sweet as well as earthy, green, and bitter, they could have hallucinogenic or aphrodisiac qualities, or they could have a soporific effect, and induce the most beautiful dreams of flower-crowned celebrations and dizzying May pole dances. Beneath these flower’s roots, as the fragrance unfolds on the skin, is a heart note echoing with the whispers of dried bouquets and a phantom whiff of marshmallow musk.

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Taking inspiration from the Needful Things series that we shared on a quarterly or semi-annual basis over at Haute Macabre….since things are slowing down over there, I thought I would give the installment a new home over at Unquiet Things. In that vein, here are some needful things in the form of spring favorites! ! From mundane to marvelous, below I am sharing all the stuff I love lately. Alternately (or, both, if you wish, I have also shared a version of this over on youtube!

Shower caddy shelves. My shower toiletries were just sitting on the edge of the tub, the bottoms coated with dust that becomes that disgusting wet glunk. It’s unsightly and gross and I am a million times happier after discovering that I could just put them on a shelf. These are just the stick-on-the-wall kind, and I was able to figure it out for myself, so it must have been pretty easy. Also this little tiered countertop organizer, which doesn’t exactly fit on my sink quite the way I had envisioned it, I mean god forbid I ever measure anything, but it definitely helps organize my clutter.

Mate The Label boxy tee. Ok, so these tee shirts overpriced but really nice, and they’re organic and sustainable and all that. There’s something about these shirts I really love, but it’s not the price, which is sort of ridiculous. I think it’s actually the necklines, which are raw and uneven and that might drive some people nuts, but my big head stretches out necklines anyway, so it’s like these guys have already done the work for me.

Stitch Fix floral tops I can’t count how many times I said I was done with Stitch Fix’s subscription boxes and for a while there, I really was, I swear! But this past year they switched their business model up a bit and instead of just offering you a box where a stranger picks some things out for you, they have started curating a little shop of outfits for you that changes throughout the day. Nine times out of ten it’s nothing I want but I’m afraid I’ve become a little bit addicted to peeking in to see if they’ve got the *perfect* floral top for me. Now I am not sure what this perfect,top even looks like, but I will know it when I see it, and as I’m a bit obsessed with florals in general, I’ve picked a few “not quite perfect but I like it anyway” pieces along the way.

Bookkeepers butter hand and cuticle salve from Paintbox Soapworks Packed with nourishing shea butter & a panoply of skin-pampering oils, this little jar is a lovely little treat for your grubby little mitts, and I love the smell of the herbal floral lavender natural oils, it makes me feel like I am getting a manicure and hand treatment from a gentle hobbit in the Shire.

Two fragrances that I have been wearing frequently this spring are both from indie perfumers: Antoinette, a zingy candied floral from Seance Perfume, and The Queen of May a limited edition scent from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and a riotous jumble of wildflower blossoms with a dusty heart of vanilla musk.

Kur nail polish + Smokin Hot for the past year I have basically been wearing two colors on my nails. This mushroomy purple-grey that reminds me of the gills on the underside of a fungi with the epic name of Amethyst Deceiver, and actually I wish that were the name of the product, but it’s not. It’s got the very basic name of Smokin’ Hot and it’s from Essie. Also Kur, an “illuminating nail concealer” , which reminds me very much of the creepy seer’s eyes from The Beyond.

Ever since the big chop earlier this year, now that I can finally see my ears, I have reverted back to my childhood love of massive earrings,I found a few inexpensive pairs of silver hoops on Etsy that have been in heavy rotation lately. I love the details and shapes of these two in particular. They’re not too crazy, but I think they’re still pretty and unique. 1st pair of silver earrings and second pair of silver earrings. Also Sacred Hearts from Rosita Bonita, Amparo Rosary from Vanessa Mooney, as well as earrings from Arcana Obscura, Under the Pyramids, and Bloodmilk.

I always keep a notebook and a pen nearby when I’m engrossed in a book. Whether it’s to jot down an unfamiliar word or turn of phrase, to capture a sentiment that particularly ensnared my heart or set my imagination alight, or make notes on this, that or the other interesting tidbit or topic for further research, I have found my book notes absolutely essential to deepening my experience of and engagement a story while I’m reading it. Equally as important, I revisit the thoughts and words I’ve recorded in this little grimoire of poetics for inspiration in my own writing when I am working on various projects. The notebook I am currently using is about 3/4 full, so inspired by an Instagram friend, I found another one that I’ll keep waiting in the wings until I need it.

This Hilma af Klint phone case to match the cover of my book, created by virtuoso of big glitter energy, Sparkledome Studio, is perhaps the most frivolous purchase I have ever made, and I don’t care. I LOVE IT.

Conversely, this little power strip/cube/whatever is not glamorous. I have devices scattered all over the house in search of unused outlets to charge them, and it’s never occurred to me to get a little multi-plugger-inner thing. It’s not very exciting, so there’s not much to say about it, but it’s nice to have the stuff I frequently use throughout the day plugged in and conveniently charging next to me, as opposed, to say, next to the toilet in the bathroom at the other end of the house.

I am always looking for somewhere to stash my knitting when I’m not working on it (otherwise it’s just strewn haphazardly across my desk) and this project bag from my friend Erica’s shop is just the perfect size and shape for just about everything I am working on. The vintage floral fabric makes my heart sing every time I catch a glimpse of it.

Milk Bread As long as I’ve been an adult with a kitchen to call my own I have been trying to bake bread and for a long time, they were mostly sad loaves of failure. I think I’ve really only begun to see success in the past 5 years or so and funny enough, the best loaf of bread I have ever made was whipped into creation last week…using a foolproof recipe that probably would have guaranteed me perfection a long, long time ago. This would be the plush, pillowy Japanese Milk bread. This is undoubtedly the exact opposite of all of the sourdough I have been making lately in that I feel sourdough is a real tough-love sort, bare bones of project, it only gets so much to work with and build on. Whereas milk bread, you got your full-fat milk, the addition a significant amount of sugar and a whole bunch of butter, and how is that even going to go wrong? The answer is that it doesn’t. If you’ve had bread problems, make this recipe and you’ll feel like a genius.

Joshua Weissman’s Tikka Masala is probably the most delicious recipe for this dish that I have ever tried, but his YouTube videos are kind of cringey and obnoxious and hard to watch. Luckily you can find the recipe on his blog, as well.

Daily Walks to look at “nature”; Every day, around 3 o’clock or so, Yvan and I take a walk outside and around the house to peek in on the growing and movings of the seedlings and sprouts and flowers and bees and all of the other daily dramas that take place in our backyard. We don’t live on an estate or anything (ha!) just a small house in the suburbs, but we’re hunched in front of our computers all day and it’s so nice to take a moment, stretch our limbs, get some fresh air, and look at bugs and lizards.

Poetic Remedies for Troubled Times: from Ask Baba Yaga I’ve been reading and rereading both books of enchanting advice from Russian American poet Taisia Kitaiskaia, who writes from the perspective of Russia’s most infamous witch, Baba Yaga. My dear friend Sonya, also a Russian poet, has written on how this folkloric entity is both benevolent and dangerous, and ultimately more unpredictable than evil–and that’s exactly how these wildly imaginative missives read. Beautifully and compellingly unpredictable. These books would make the most delicious gifts for your most daydreamy, whimsical friends.

Gaylords of Darkness has all the trappings of something I might hate if I am being honest. My least favorite kind of podcast or any interaction, really, is when two friends’ conversation devolves into tangents and inside jokes and it’s awkward and makes me feel like a third wheel. Stacy and Anthony wander all over the place and ramble about all kinds of silliness and I am fairly certain they think they are quite amusing, and you know what? THEY ARE. It must be that they are just on the right sort of weird wavelength as I am, or that their fanciful ridiculousness and whimsy aligns in all the right ways with mine because I love them, and existence in this world truly makes it a better and a million times more interesting place. Listening to them chat about horror movies, their thoughts and insights and experiences with them, reminds me of listening in on the *coolest* conversation at a party and wishing, and hoping against all hope that they were also talking with you. With every single episode I come away with a fresh take on horror and having peed myself a little from laughing so hard.

The Queen of Black Magic is an Indonesian horror film I had heard about, promptly forgot about, and then my interest was rekindled when I heard the glowing things that the aforementioned Anthony and Stacy had to say about it. A loose remake of a 1981 film sees three estranged orphan friends meeting up several decades after a traumatic event to say goodbye to the head of the orphanage, who is dying. Increasingly weird and violent things begin to happen once they arrive with their families in tow, and uncertain of the source, they soon discover the secret from their past is much more terrible and tragic than they realized. It is a pretty bonkers film in terms of both story, and uh, gory. And like an director Joko Anwar’s previous offerings, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Li Ziziqi’s YouTube channel is another fleeting nugget that someone had mentioned to me a year or so ago and which I then tucked away to look into later…and of course, never did. I saw the Chinese video blogger referenced again somewhere in my twitter feed last week and decided to have a peek at whatever they are all about, and I was utterly entranced. Known for her food and handicraft preparation, and depicting idyllic interludes of her life in her hometown of rural Pingwu, Mianyang, her storybook videos emphasize the stunningly beautiful countryside and many compelling ancient traditions. There’s a highly elaborate drama to the skills and craftsmanship she shares in her incredible creations, whether it’s salted egg yolks from ducks she raised by hand, the furniture she creates from stalks of bamboo, or the petals she cuts from a single piece of silk and colors one by one with vivid botanical dyes to create a charming peach blossom headdress and matching combs. Combine these creations with the pastoral scenes of the seasonal landscape and the lovely, lilting tranquility of the soundtrack, it conjures a wistfulness for a gem of life you’ve never experienced but most certainly want to –somehow– get back to. And I can’t get enough of it.

Honorable mentions: Astral Bath and Dragon Hoard Yarn // Wild Oak socks pattern // my new Hobonichi planner // velvet mythological creatures pillow from Baba Studio // a cat-shaped dish from my best good friend that says “Silently Judging You” // Totoro water bottle // Rae Dunn coffee mug // Iced Coconut 3 wick candle

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In April 2021, The Art of the Occult was six magical, mystical months old! I didn’t get too excited about it though, because a whole gaggle of shipments had gotten lost in the astral plane and I didn’t have any gorgeous books on hand at the time to wave around in front of your faces…but LOOK what has finally appeared on my doorstep!

And now HEY LOOK AT THAT! I have a PayPal link on my blog now, where, if you are in the US, you can buy a signed copy of The Art of the Occult  Now we don’t have to conduct covert deals through clandestine DMs! I am a professional! Alas, friends abroad who would like to buy a signed copy of The Art of the Occult from me, we must still resort to cloak-and-dagger communiqués. I have limited quantities at the moment, but I hopefully should be stocked up again soon, so please feel free to order bunches of books and make me a rich weirdo!

Reminder! Did you know that, in celebration of The Art of the Occult, the aromatic adepts at Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab summoned forth a rare opulence of fragrances inspired by a handful of arcane masterpieces within its pages?

The Ars Inspiratio collection is comprised of five artful scents corresponding to five mystical artworks; these pairings serve as anointed access points to all manner of fabulous occult inspiration– perfumed pathways to unknown realms for extraordinary seekers and dreamers and magic-makers. If you’re curious about these fantastical fragrances but would like to know more about them first, you are in luck! I have reviewed them over on Haute Macabre and Tom and Galen reviewed them as well, over on the Lab’s 15 Minutes of ‘Fume youtube channel.

Alchemy: Alchemia, 2016. Gatya Kelly

And a final mention, I have rounded up all of the interviews I have done thus with artists whose works appear in The Art of the Occult. …and allow me to again express how deeply thankful I am to the artists, who, over the years, have taken the time to answer my questions and share their insights with me. I am so grateful for all of the creators who have spared a moment or two to discuss their works and practices with me. It’s always humbling and gratifying to have an artist that you admire take your queries seriously and share thoughtful, candid responses with you–so many, many thanks to the artists listed below, as well as every creator who has given me the time of day over the past decade! I am grateful for all that you do and share with the world, and I thank you for allowing me to be part of it sometimes!

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Image: Altınay Dinç

…Combine the ingredients under the light of a full moon and wait.
            What ingredients?

What do you have?

             I have nothing.

Dig deeper, look inward.

           There’s nothing there.

These things only happen with the energy you give 

to what’s already there. I ask again–

What do you have?

            My heart. My rage. My sorrow.

Goodness! Your heart, then. That is all that is needed,
all that is ever needed.

           Combine it with what? It’s just one ingredient.

Oh no, no. It’s already a potent mixture. Look at all it contains:
Past and potential.  Dreams and desires. Crossed wires and connections.
I mean, it’s a bit much, really, but it will do.

Leave it there, in the dark of our shadow.
In the mounded earth

near the puddle of rainwater

and the hornet’s nest
and that spent matchstick. 

Walk away from it and do not look back
or the magic will sour ..

What kind of witch are you? Where did you come from?
 This is weird, if I’m being honest.

…I never said I was a witch. You invited me here.

Who are you?

    Me? Me.

            But that’s my heart
under the moon. That’s me.
And I know 

only this, that I am here
            working with the one

ingredient I have.

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