INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY ALERT

Hello, new friends and followers! You may have ended up on my blog because I wrote something funny once. Or an interview you enjoyed! Or maybe you followed me over from my Tumblr, where I’ve been sharing imagery that fascinates me since 2009 (WOW) or from TikTok where I share perfume reviews. Where ever you came from–hello!

But did you know I am also the author of The Art of the Occult: A Visual Sourcebook For The Modern Mystic? I imagine everyone else is groaning at this point, you already know this. Thanks for sticking around!)

The Art of the Occult is a feast for your curious eyeballs and seeking heart, a gallery of eclectic art inspired by spiritual beliefs, magical techniques, and otherworldly experiences. Featuring leaders of artistic movements, contemporary icons, the marginalized and the little known – – The Art of the Occult was written and curated to both inspire and delight, and is a book for all fans of magic, mysticism, and the mysterious.

If you would like to win a signed copy of The Art of the Occult, please leave a comment *on the Instagram post* and make sure you’re following my account over there. You don’t have to tag a friend, although if you have a friend who might be interested, please feel free!

If you want to bypass all of this, and just purchase a copy, well I certainly won’t stop you. Here is a link for signed copies, and The Art of the Occult is available in most bookstores, and places that you find books. You can even request it from your library – as a matter of fact I highly suggest that you do!

TWO WINNERS will be chosen and contacted on Friday, July 16th!

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In yesterday’s post, I referred in a vague sort of way to having done something that scared me and that I had been dreading. But it was also something that would provide a valuable opportunity to not only step out of my comfort zone and have this new-to-me experience, but also to make a connection with a wondrous kindred spirit…both of which are good things to try for, so I agreed to do it.

This thing I am referring to also happens to be something I swore I would never do (which is another thing I have recently written about!)
I am, of course, talking about my first time ever being a guest on someone’s podcast.

I swore this was a thing I would not do, not because I have a problem with podcasts or those who create them! No, my problem is with me, my shyness, and my inability to carry a conversation. I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I might stumble and falter with my words and look foolish…and I especially didn’t want to make the person trying to converse with me look foolish, either! When it comes right down to it, this is the main reason I write: I have a terrible time articulating my thoughts verbally. They just make more sense on the page.

The Red Transmissions podcast aims to document the work, behind-the-scenes moments and creative process of the characters in their network, and explore why artists, activists, and “worldthreaders” do what they do, how they do it, and hear about the inner workings of their projects.  I was so very honored to talk with Red Transmissions host –and remarkably fascinating human in her own right!– Elizabeth Torres this past Saturday about all manner of things, from my upbringing in a weird household full of art and spirits and new-age wonderments, my history and experiences with writing and online curation, and what goes into writing and promoting a book during a pandemic.

When it came down to it, I wasn’t as terrified as I thought I might be. Elizabeth was so patient with me; soothing my jangled nerves and wrangling my rambling chatter! I’m afraid that the worst did happen… there was an instance or two where she asked me something and my mind went completely blank and I froze and stuttered and stumbled. But when the world didn’t come crashing to an end that second and she prompted me with an additional question or shepherded me along with another line of thought, and the conversation moved on. I wish I could be totally cool and tell you that it all went swimmingly and I was amazing and flawless, but I think you know me too well for that, ha!

I shared a press-type photo that was shot by my brother-in-law around this time last year for the purposes of this podcast and its corresponding article for the Red Door Magazine this summer, but since that time, as I’ve shared here before, I’ve chopped all that hair off. Here’s a photo of me post-recording, feeling empowered and exhausted and cultivating the 1996-97 dELiA*s catalog hair I’ve always dreamed of.

 

 

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5 Jan
2021

I’m not crying, you’re crying! Pictured here is my dear little sister, one of my favorite weirdos in the world, wrapped up in the hopes and dreams of the divorce blanket I started knitting for her six years ago, and which I finally completed a few weeks ago. “Hopes and dreams” and “divorce” probably don’t sound like words that go very well together, except that sometimes, I think, they quite splendidly do. She wrote about it on her blog, which you can find here.

Below I have included a gallery of some images of the process if you’re curious. And here is a link to my Ravelry page for more! And so many thanks to the thoughtful, generous friends who shared yarn, and well-wishes, and stories of their own along the way.

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1 Jan
2021

I probably never would have gotten around to starting a YouTube channel in 2020– or any other year, for that matter–if not for the badgering of my baby sister, who has been on me to start one up for a while now. I’d personally rather read a blog post about something than watch a video about it, but I’ve accepted that not everyone feels that way, and so to keep up with the rest of the world and to practice being flexible and adaptable and learning new things in general, I chose this ridiculously terrible year to get started. And I’m pretty proud of myself! Nine months later, I continue to upload videos, although not exactly consistently, and while I’m no award-winning cinematographer, I daresay my efforts have visibly improved along the way.

From reading lists and hauls, to author chats and Q&As, to my obsessive love of perfume to those “what I do in a day” type videos, I think I’ve got a handle on the things I want to present on my channel, and surprise, surprise–it’s exactly the same type of thing I would write about on my blog. Which is okay, I think! Because people who are reading my blog aren’t necessarily stopping by here to watch my videos, and vice versa–and that’s fine! I’ll just try and connect with people wherever they are.

So what’s the plan for 2021? I literally have no clue, but I’d like to keep on track with my one-video a month plodding progress, so if you’ve got any ideas or suggestions or anything, in particular, you would like to see or hear me talk about, leave a comment and let me know!

See below for links to everything mentioned in the Hexmas holiday gift haul!

Danish dough whisk https://amzn.to/38NHuo1
Rolling pin https://amzn.to/3aWiEFd
Wooden utensils https://www.etsy.com/listing/80401133…
Seitanic Spellbook https://amzn.to/3814f8E
The Necronomnomnom https://amzn.to/3hz6bsj
Baba Studio https://baba-store.com/
Handsome Devils Puppets https://www.handsomedevilspuppets.com/

And a bonus that didn’t make it to the video, are these incredibly snazzy dangle earrings that my Best Good Friend sent me! A bonus about having hair that looks like a Fizzgig is living on your head, is that now everyone can see my ginormous danglers! From Haus of Sparrow on Etsy, if you are interested.

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First order of business…yes, I totally did a chop! Bye-bye for now, hairs. This is the shortest my hair has been since about 1996 or so when I tried bleaching it at home and it all turned crunchy and fell off and I basically looked like Susan Powter for a year or so. Stop the insanity, Sarah! Never try that again!

But I do have a plan here. After my Halloween stunt with the Stevie Nicks wig, I came to the conclusion that while I don’t exactly want to go blonde again, I would like to start working my way back to my natural hair color. Whatever that is. I don’t even know anymore, it’s been so long since I have seen it! And since red is notoriously difficult to get rid of, I know I have got a long road ahead of me in terms of growing the color out. I figured a great shortcut would be to just shear most of it away!

I was pretty wrapped up in my long hair for a long time, but as of this year I began letting go of that attachment. I was recently sharing with a friend that I didn’t like the way it felt when someone complimented my hair. I know it was well-intended, but it always had the effect of making me question my other qualities. I’m kind, I am funny, I can string words together in interesting ways! I’d rather someone commented on something I practice, or a thing I do, instead of my appearance. But please don’t feel badly if you ever said I had lovely hair– I mean, objectively, it was pretty nice! But I’ve got other things to offer.

So now I have got a bit of a shag and it might be just a little shorter than I realized, but that’s fine, because that’s just more color gone! I plan on going back to long, eventually, but for now, this is new and interesting, and I really dig it. Also, when I wear earrings now–you can finally see them! Before the chop, they were sequestered behind massive curtains of hair. In the photo above is a pair that I haven’t worn since I purchased them in 2010! A handful of people have asked about them and I don’t know if the seller still makes this exact style, but their Etsy shop still exists, so you could always ask!

All of this happened AFTER the video I am about to share, though, so except for the intro/outro, my new hair does not make an appearance!

For this upload, I shared a small glimpse into my life in the form of a series of vignettes chronicling my weekend. I personally love peeking in on these kinds of “what I do in a day videos” because I am very nosy about the people I admire!

I challenged myself to try my hand at it after recently being inspired by my friend and fellow weirdo, the extraordinarily talented Courtney Lane. Courtney is a historian and hair work artist and on her Hair and Now YouTube channel on Youtube, Courtney uploaded “A Day in the life of a Victorian Hairworker,” which I found wonderfully fascinating. I interviewed Courtney back in 2018, if you are interested in learning more about her and what she does!

My day might not seem particularly exciting, but for me, it was practically perfect. I don’t really want to spend an entire day reading, for example, or binge-watching movies. Although I do like doing both of those things! Instead, I like to do a little bit of all of the things I love, spread over the course of a day. We can’t do all of the things we want right now, with quarantine and social distancing, so that’s why I like to plan days like this for myself, to give myself a little something to look forward to, and so I don’t feel like I am missing out. A few treats for myself, a bit of self-care, some housework and tidying, some time outdoors, making progress on projects–these are just a few of the things which I include in what I would consider “a good day.” And of course, that might look totally different for you!

Either here or in the video, please share in the comments what your idea of a perfect day looks like, and how you have adapted that for life in 2020!

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This interview was originally posted at Haute Macabre on July 31, 2020.

Earlier this year I read and was thoroughly charmed by Lisa Marie Basile‘s dreamily empowering Light Magic for Dark Times: More than 100 Spells, Rituals, and Practices for Coping in a Crisis –which Bust Magazine refers to as “The Artist’s Way for witches” (and wow, do I love that.) But in the past year or so before having read her book, I had been already falling in madly love with this marvelous word witch via her fierce, tender poetry and her lyrical, profoundly heart-stirring writings.

A poet, essayist, and editor living in New York City, Lisa Marie Basile is the founder and creative director of Luna Luna Magazine, an editor at Ingram’s poetry site Little Infinite, and co-host for the podcast, AstroLushes, which intersects astrology, literature, wellness, and culture. Her website Ritual Poetica is a space for sacred self-exploration at the intersection of writing, ritual, and healing, and she has just recently launched her Write Well Patreon, with holistic resources & advice for nourishing a creative life that is physically, emotionally, & spiritually fulfilling.

So many of the subjects that Lisa regularly creates dialogue about and touches on in her writing –intentionality and ritual, creativity, poetry, foster care, addiction, family trauma, and chronic illness– are topics that are close to my heart, and, no doubt, close to the hearts of many of her readers, as well. This spirit of sharing both the beautiful and the ugly, with regard to the body, the world, the universe, is the shining core, and the secret-but-not-so-secret-really, to what makes her work so dynamic and relateable and what always, every single time, thrills me so profoundly when I see that she has posted something on Instagram, or tweeted about over on the twitters. If Lisa has taken the time to ponder a thought or a concern, word-witch it into existence, and share it with us, then it is a rare gem worth seeking out.

Of the elements that deeply spoke to me in Lisa’s first book, it was the rituals and exercises that involved writing I found myself most psyched about. As a bit of a word witch myself, I find that written language is the realm I am most comfortable exploring and creating in. As you can imagine then, when she announced her second book The Magical Writing Grimoire: Use the Word as Your Wand for Magic, Manifestation & Ritual (released this past April), I was over the moon!

Part guided journaling practice, part magical grimoire, The Magical Writing Grimoire explores the transformative power of writing. Each chapter contains writing prompts, writing rituals, meditations, and poetic wisdom. You’ll find shadow work, bibliomancy, automatic writing practices, incantatory poetry, and more. I don’t think I need to tell you, this is a freaking amazing resource– and Lisa Marie Basile was kind enough to field a few of our questions about The Magical Writing Grimoire, below.

Haute MacabreA question that I might typically ask is where the inspiration for this book originated–a question which you have handily answered in the introduction! You recount how your grandfather spent a day teaching you calligraphy, and how as a child you could begin to understand how writing could become a tool to sort out life’s complexities. I love stories like this, a wisdom passed from a beloved elder to a younger you, wherein formative magics take hold and burrow under your skin, mapping an internal pathway, directing and guiding you from there on out. I don’t know how much time you spend with calligraphy nowadays, but what sort of activity would you sit with a younger person (a child the age that you were in that memory, or bb witch, or a young writer-in-training) and slowly teach them with over the course of an afternoon?

Lisa Marie Basile: First, can I tell you amazing I think this question is? So thoughtful and magical. It’s true that these memories, these seemingly forgettable flashes in our lives — how could my dying grandfather even imagine that this thing he did with his grandchild would stick? So often things tumble through our memories, until their just flashes — change us. Perhaps it’s not calligraphy that stuck, because in truth, I do not partake of calligraphy these days. I am sure I would if I had the chance, but it’s not the act of calligraphy that matters. It was the intention, the focus, and the use of language.

It was this idea that through writing we can make memories — that the word itself is a sacred, eternal thing

I suppose if I were with a child or new witch or someone young who wanted to begin writing, I’d have them write a letter to themselves; what they write would depend on their deepest need. Maybe it’s a letter of support or forgiveness or simply a letter that asked one’s future self to pave the way for something. When we write to ourselves, we usually transmit something into and from the shadowy self (even children have shadow selves), and this is important because all transformative acts require a willingness for the depths. Imagine the total freedom of talking to yourself without censorship or judgement or approval?

You note that one of the most important things you’ve learned is that doing something (ie writing a book, casting a spell, etc.) is a process of both “work” and “the occult”. Can you and define and maybe give an example of what you mean by the two of them in that sense, and why it is that this is an important differentiation to you?

I have always viewed writing (or, as you said, anything) as this sort of hybrid thing. Half of the act is occult; it comes from some channeling or transmuting. It is connected to the divine, or the higher self. Sometimes when I write it feels like I am connected to something electric, something cosmic. It pours into me and I take the tabula rasa and make it into something. I know so many creators feel this way. The other aspect is the Work or Craft. You take what you get from the unknown, and you chisel into a shape. You apply knowledge or years of training to the raw thing you made.

You have to work with the gift or the magic. I believe — and maybe this is just me, it’s possible — but you have to combine an intention with actionable energy. You have to speak an incantation and do the work to make space for something to manifest.

But in the end, I believe both are necessary. You can feel when something doesn’t have a soul, when it’s all math or function. And you can see when something is so raw and so in need of time and space and craft.

Write when you dont feel like working on yourself. Write when you do. The grand ritual is returning to those sacred moments.”  I’d love it if you could share what this process looks like for you when you just arent feeling it? And how to maybe turn an ughhh I dont wanna do this today” into a sacred act?

I think there are certainly days when you need rest. As someone with a chronic illness, it’s important to just lay in bed, to daydream, to sleep, to read poems with the window open. I don’t really mean this literally, as in every single time. I do mean if you find yourself again and again coming up against some resistance to write or self-explore, it’s probably a good reason to do just that. In life. But yeah, if I’m feeling particularly exhausted, drained, emptied, or uninspired, I turn to water. For me, a shower is always sacred — and I try not to rush it. I envision the energy that is being cleansed and renewed under the water. I think of the drain as a physical symbol of what I’m letting go. I think of water as luminous and electric and giving me what I need.

Maybe I’ll turn bedtime or just being in bed as a sacred thing: Herbal tea, a good ASMR video, some essential oils in the diffuser, a few candles. I love the idea that luxuriating and resting can be a sacred thing; it’s rest, yes, but it’s also a recharge, and a healing process.

I don’t believe sacredness or magic always has a big a-ha shift; I believe that it’s found in the things that keep us going, keep us feeling alive.

You make this distinction between a practice that is “process-oriented” vs. “results-oriented.” Can you talk about this as it applies to your magical writing practice?

Ah, this sort of touches on the question above. For me, results-oriented magic is of course beneficial. A spell for this. A recipe for that. But I’ve found that (and this is likely a personal thing, or some sort of hyperintense Scorpio thing) that the long-game works better for me. A process is something I return to again and again — whether it’s a ritual I perform monthly or a meditative state I get back into regularly in order to write and sort of self-question. Almost all of this returning – to without immediate results leads to a massive shift in my life — in terms of joy, health, abundance, etc. That said, of course I do “xyz spell for zyz result” in the short term!

Like, yes, I’ll do a writing spell to manifest something I want immediately — a response in the affirmative, a sense of clarity when I wake up in the morning, a release of toxicity. But I will also return to the page for The Great Work — of healing old traumas, identifying patterns or getting in touch with an archetype or ancestral wisdom. That takes returning-to.

You speak to receptivity or conjuring the muse, as well as generative energy (being able to translate those musing energies) and that writing is a ritual of give and take between the two. I wonder if in your practice those energies shift or lean heavier to one side or another? How do you tempt an elusive muse? How do you interpret garbled transmissions? How do you get those synergies to sync, and what do you do when they are out of whack?

For me, the most important thing to do is give it space and to let garbled mess be. More often than not, the shit that comes out somehow ends up revealing a pattern — or even getting to the point where I realize I’m preventing myself from being receptive for some specific reason. It’s okay to write a few words, to incorrectly interpret, and to let there be times when things are unclear and messy. Usually, there’s a message there. It might mean you have some work you have to do outside of the ritual setting (for me at least).

Because so much of my magical life is informed by my writing life, I feel a need to think as a writer in both ways. Sometimes it’s better to get anything onto the page than to abandon ship because you feel the muse isn’t there. I tend to turn to rituals of beauty and creativity (cinema, music, movement, scent) to trigger/tap something in me that gets the flow going — and I do this with magic and with writing (I mean, it’s all one!).

Reading your passing mention of the Egyptian goddess Seshat was pretty uncanny. Literally, the day just before, Seshat came up in conversation with a friend and I was floored, never having heard this divine scribe and celestial librarian. I am curious as to whether or not there is a particular deity that you feel a connection with in your personal magical writing practice? And has that changed over the years with the changing of your own life’s story?

I love that. I believe that these synchronicities happen for a reason, so maybe Seshat wants to commune with you in some way? I don’t typically work closely with deities, gods, goddesses, etc, in an ongoing way — I take a more secular approach and see deities more as lesson-offering archetypes or representations as parts of myself — but I have always felt a deep kinship with Hecate.

I think growing up in foster care and watching addiction, imprisonment and homelessness happen in my immediate family made me yearn for a figure that stood for strength even in dark times. I wasn’t drawn to figures who didn’t have an intense understanding of darkness, the underworld, that dank underbelly of human pain. Hecate not only is that, she bears a torch to light the way. Today, I’m connected to Parthenope — a siren who lives in the water off of Naples. She’s been following me around, and she found me in Sorrento in Italy, in her waters. She is a symbol of love and vulnerability and water and the ancient world.

Writing is a form of reclamation, taking ownership of your pain, that there is power in your vulnerability– I love this idea…in theory…but what advice do you have for someone who is afraid of their own voice?

The voice blooms at its own pace.

Sometimes you don’t even realize that you are releasing it, that what you’re writing is the deepest truth. It’s okay if it doesn’t come natural or if it is frightening. I would suggest lovingly for everyone to lean into the discomfort and to know that your practice can be private and be entirely controlled by yourself. Create a beautiful and safe writing area to write; follow with self-care. Return to it weekly or under each new moon. Ask yourself what the fear is about and be willing to hear the answer. Is it ego? Is it that you were once punished for it? Is it fear of your own power and autonomy? Not fearing your voice is probably not going to happen in one cinematic moment; it will be gradual for some. But not resisting is key.

Resist the linear! You decry. Why? But also:  I wish I could! I am so tied to my structures and my routine, and I fear they are a bit of a crutch. I am curious as to what a non-linear day of writing or, just a non-linear day in your life might look like and what you might suggest for someone mired in the habitual and familiar.

If linear works for you, who am I to argue?! But I stress this because we all communicate and create differently. Perhaps you want to write a poem one day and a formal incantation, complete with rhyme scheme, the next? Maybe you want to journal here and there but can’t bring yourself to complete an entire ritual. I think it’s okay to do what feels right and what you can.

For me, I’ll write a poem, and only poetry for a while. I’ll write poem-spells and little lines and I’ll put them on my altar and I’ll hide them in my purse. Sometimes I’ll read them for a dose of magic. Then maybe I’ll write an essay or lists or whatever. I let my intuition guide me

I would say if what you do is working, don’t change it. But if you feel like structure is a crutch, maybe examine why? What does it feel like to let yourself be out at sea? If it’s scary, is it the sea — or is something you’re doing in the water? Thank you for your time and your beautiful, thoughtful, deep questions.

Images courtesy Lisa Marie Basile except for the mermaid blanket photo via Emily X.R. Pan

Many thanks to my dear friend Sonya, for it was through them that I originally learned about Lisa’s work a few years ago, and it was also through them that this interview coalesced and came into being. Thank you, thank you, dearest bean of my heart!

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96681855_1547689345389523_6507882601796075520_nEarly on in our days of self-isolation and social distancing during this pandemic crisis, my baby sister asked if I would write a guest post for her blog about how I’ve worked out the kinks of working from home over the past decade. I happily agreed.

In classic Taurean fashion, it took me about eleventy billion hours of ponderous thought and laborious execution, but here we go– some work from home thoughts from “one of the most beguiling and original voices to echo across the Internet.” But she’s my sister, so she has to say nice things about me!

Mosey on over and have a peek at my guest post for her, and while you’re there, poke around a bit! She’s dedicated herself to recording a daily pandemic check-in with her Plague Diaries series and I think you’ll find some relatable stuff there and a great deal of keen insight and heartfelt sentiment. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister!

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giveaway 10

Our friends at Roses And Rue Antiques have teamed up with some of their favorite colleagues, all-female small business owners, for an Instagram giveaway of truly epic proportions. This has been a challenging, frightening, and uncertain time for all of us, so they have put together a selection of ghostly goodies which will hopefully lift your spirits, and make your time isolated at home a little happier.

Read further for a massive list of the marvelous items you will receive accompanied by some truly beautiful photos, along with links to the various vendors. At the bottom of the post, you will find the rules for the giveaway, along with the links you will need to enter. It’s not complicated, but please be sure to read! Also, please note, this is not a giveaway hosted by Unquiet Things, so any comments you leave here won’t be counted as entries. I just wanted to make sure you were aware of its existence, and point you in the right direction!

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The winner of the giveaway will receive:
– 2 Victorian hair keepsakes, 2 antique miniature religious books, and an antique magnifying paperweight from @rosesandrueantiques
– A pair of antique crochet gloves and a funeral card from @blackcatclothiers
– A lock of hair in a paper box and funeral card from @lleyak
– A vintage candle holder with a crystal ball from @darknorthcraftandcurio
– A “You have been poisoned” teacup and Salem postcards from @emporium32
– A Victorian post mortem photo, 2 Victorian prints, and 2 funeral cards from @funerealephemera

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– A Victorian book on home gardening from @ghost_era
– 2 prints and 10 postcards from photographer and lecturer @girlduality
– Victorian casket plate soap and perfume samples from @littleandgrim
– 2 Victorian mourning cards from @pittandpendulum
– Haunted House room spray and Parlor Ghost perfume from @seanceperfumes
– Vintage doll parts and Victorian photos from @weepingwidowantiques
– 3 vintage funeral fans from @witchfingersantiques

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To enter the giveaway:
1. Follow all accounts listed and linked to above on Instagram
2. Tag 2 people in @rosesandrueantiques original post, linked here and above
3. For an extra entry, repost this photo on Instagram and tag it #HauntYourOwnHouse

You can enter as many times as you like. They will announce the winner on Friday, May 1st at 12 PM EST. Good luck, and thank you for supporting small businesses!

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