June Slut of the Month: Christiana Key

Our June Slut of the Month, Christiana Key AKA Delphic Oracle, is far too erotically and philosophically fecund to be confined to our regular Slut questionnaire. Her full interview, delving into transformative mythology, the female creative force, and how a great show is like great sex continues below…

I am: Christiana Key. Musician. Occultist. Humanitarian. Will probably be remembered as “The Great Seductress”.

By Day: I am not familiar with this “day” of which you speak.

By Night: A mischievous nymph hell-bent on getting you out of your shell.

My Vices: A one-track mind.

My Virtues: A one-track mind.

The Present: Is all that matters.

The Future: Doesn’t exist.

Favorite Flavor: Pickled okra.

Favorite Feeling: When you connect with a stranger and the world stops for a second.

Favorite Fabric: A thick cashmere dress in the cold fog.

Substance is: The physical expression of the unknown.

Style is: Asserting your individuality without compromising anyone else’s.

Slut is: Celebrating the best thing about being human. Everything we do is to get laid, so why make anyone feel badly about it? Love is the law, love under will.

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Your performance entity, Delphic Oracle, is named after the pagan high priestess who foretold prophesies at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Her feminine power is undeniable, and perhaps some of the strongest documented in mythological history. What drew you to her story initially?

I had been writing songs and making home recordings since I was a child, but never felt as though I was contributing towards the artistic “pot” and social well-being of the world. I was aimless, writing music ranging from Christian praise songs to sad songs about sex and drugs. I wanted so badly to believe in something greater than myself, but I knew the religious dogma of a patriarchal God was not the answer, nor did I believe in our society’s remedy of sex, drugs, and money. So I believed in nothing, but common sense told me there had to be an underlying theme to such disparate coping mechanisms. I made no music during those years, and my efforts at discovering a meaning to life waned.

I came across a book, “Gnostic Philosophy”, and was introduced to Sophia (Wisdom) worship and everything became suddenly clear. It was terrifying. I lost my mind. I remember sitting on the roof of my loft, singing “Amazing Grace” and weeping with the ecstatic peace of understanding. This was the beginning of my journey into meaning.

I began writing songs again. This time they weren’t slow or timid or bland, but chaotic and vibrant and bold. Completely unlistenable now, of course, but it was an understandable eruption of pent-up songs. Then I understood the Gods and their archetypes and began to write about Wisdom, Fertility, Eternity, and Liberation mostly. I became obsessed with archetypes and symbols. My fervor for wisdom only intensified and multiplied, so I still felt lost, but very much aware. The more I knew, the more I knew I didn’t know a damn thing.

Socrates had said the same thing (more or less) about himself after the Delphic Oracle pronounced him the smartest man in all of Greece. This piqued my interest and so I began to research her, and I quickly became enamored. She was everything I idolized embodied in one package. Powerful, psychic, mysterious, intelligent, never married, and she lived for several hundred years! I have always had an affinity for snakes, and she was originally known as Pythia (after the python slain by Apollo) and associated with the snake. And the fact she gave her ego-less predictions for the trajectory of a nation in a wild hallucinogenic singing frenzy made her ten times more intriguing and inspiring to me. Centuries after her disappearance, she was even responsible for a misunderstanding between the papacy and Michelangelo that almost got the Sistine Chapel painted over! (Evidently young and beautiful priestesses who serve Apollo are not welcome on the walls of a Catholic Church.)

There was never any question about allying myself with her. Anything else I learn only strengthens my resolve to continue her mission of Understanding on this earth, using her same powers of music, language, beauty, and myth.

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Who and what artists and entities inspire you?

As mentioned, the Goddess Sophia, as well as Lillith, Artemis, Salome, Mary Magdalene, and Joan of Arc, are all quite interesting to me for various reasons, but mostly because of the skewed, misogynistic interpretation of their archetypes.

Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood will never cease to inspire me, dead or alive. Moreau, Khnopff, Schwabe, and Renaissance art are my visual inspirations, and musically I’m inspired by everything, even music I hate inspires me to make something completely different, simply out of spite (and then I learn a great deal about myself in the process). But the two biggest influences on my music, for better or for worse, have to be Loreena McKennitt and Ace of Base. I would not have begun making music without them.

How do you view the connection between female sexual power and artistic energy and output?

Creativity is inherently female. Where does creativity come from? Not the brain, but somewhere deeper inside. The womb of the soul. Sure, once the creative idea is formed, it takes the drive and sheer bloody-mindedness of the masculine (and I don’t mean physically male) to “birth” the idea into a physical form. But without the well from which all artistic expression arises, the masculine qualities would have nothing to do. Life would be a constant stream of numbers and meaningless words and utilitarian furniture and tasteless foods, consumed only for function. The feminine is the connection to the deep soul: what pleases, what loves, what feels. It is mysterious, it is vast, its possibilities forever unknowable and eternal.

With that said, a healthy balance of the masculine and feminine must be attained by every artist. One too prone to the feminine self risks addictions that briefly cut off the overwhelming emotion (feeling masculine for a while), and one too masculine could be continuously chasing after money and power, believing those things to bring stability and love (the feminine). A cycle of balance must be sought.

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What do you think of the way bodies, sexuality, and sexual energy are treated in New York’s artistic enclaves?

Things are changing at a drastic pace from what they once were. While women’s bodies are still being objectified in New York mainstream culture, I am seeing a return to the celebration of the feminine qualities in bodies both male and female. Gender roles are becoming more and more blurred and androgyny is very popular. With few exceptions, the art world (including music and dance) is not solely the realm of gay men anymore, and women squeezing their way into their echelon have adopted a more masculine identity, both in dress and personality. I don’t mean suits and buzz cuts per se, but boldness in their femininity and sexuality. And conversely, men aren’t affecting femininity, but generally becoming more naturally in tune with themselves and their surroundings, and not quite as concerned with being a Manly Man so much as before. However, there is still quite a ways to go before both sexes treat each other equally, both within the industry and within the arts communities. Blogs like this one will help speed up that process.

Do you find you get any resistance against your mode of expression or presentation or do you feel the freedom and community support to perform and behave as you wish?

I am lucky to be so well-received. There have been very few negative reactions to my performances, and half of those tell me they were skeptical at first but, through the set, grew to love it. If anything, the most common reaction (Positive? Negative?) is “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I like it… and good luck.” They tell me this not as a compliment, but in the manner of someone in on a secret. It’s because Delphic Oracle hits you at your innermost core of Being where words don’t exist, and likes and dislikes don’t have to be explained. I can be exactly who I am without question or excuse. Delphic Oracle just is.

Your shows are known as rituals unto themselves, whether officially, like the Catland Walpurgisnacht interactive performance, or unofficially where you transform a regular night into a total experience with fire, incense, dancers, and whatever else you might think up. What drives you to choreograph your shows in this way? Do you think there is a lack of meaningful rituals in contemporary society, particularly when it comes to art and music?

Most modern artists are lazy when it comes to presentation. If they expect their art (whether a painting, drawing, film, song, etc) to hold an audience’s interest more than the first time they experience it, they must have a pretty big opinion of themselves, and few will share that same opinion. Put it this way: No matter how much you want to love someone, if you were consistently having sex with a person who did the same selfish things over and over and never tried pleasing you, would you continue to sleep with them? No. And you wouldn’t continue to support a self-indulgent, insecure, oblivious artist who never tried to reach you. But how often do you pine for those ideal lovers who not only know how to please themselves but make each time a memorable experience catered to you?

Sex is one of the oldest (and potentially sacred) rituals, and every ritual, no matter how holy, has some aspect of sex in it. It is believed that the point of orgasm is the closest thing we Westerners can get to Nirvana, as we experience a complete loss of ego, if just for a split second. It is my purpose, every performance, to have the audience lose ego, even for a moment; to absorb everything coming at their senses without a filter, without fear. Hopefully they can learn to approach life in that way. We should be having intercourse with our reality constantly.

The myths, rituals, and other details used during Delphic Oracle performances are already embedded into our ancestral makeup. It is my responsibility to bring them out and emblazon them in the forefront of our hearts and minds so that we can truly progress as a species.

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Delphic Oracle shows are a complete multimedia experience, from your handmade costumes to the immersive rituals and the one-of-a-kind merchandise that you create to accompany each event. What have been some of your favorite performances of the past and can you give any hints at what’s in store for your upcoming shows?

The Catland show was definitely one of my favorites, but I also enjoyed the Ostara performance for Nothing Changes at Home Sweet Home. Soren Roi talked me into accepting my very first show at Weird, and as he took over the night (now called Nothing Changes), and asked me to be the first live performer, I was only too happy to design a custom ritual for the space and the night. I concocted a four-part ritual which cleansed the space, consecrated the night, brought success to the bar, attracted creative energies, and wrapped it in a psychic bow of community. I had three priestesses, playing the roles of Fire, Air, and Earth, and I embodied Water. The dress I made myself for that performance was maybe the most beautiful thing I’ve ever created. It was an eruption of Spring on a world of ice blue satin. The songs narrated the different parts of the ritual, and the priestesses used seven different incenses I made myself.

I have a secret performance coming up June 1 where I will be consecrating all the magical props being used for the show the next day at Brooklyn Fireproof. The Brooklyn Fireproof performance on Sunday, June 2, is part of Bushwick Open Studios and is an all-day event, beginning at 2 and ending a little after midnight. I play the outside stage at 9 pm. The theme for that ritual is “Onward and Upward” and will probably be the happiest and most uplifting of all the Delphic Oracle shows this year. It’s summer and time to celebrate living!

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