To continue the discussion invoked by Pam Grossman’s “Year of the Witch” article, our second interview on the subject eschews the metaphorical aspects of magic and witches as forces of female creative power for a more literal take on the practice. From Chaos Magic to Wicca to the transformative ritual, Christiana Key reveals their power and influence on her personal life and her performance entity Delphic Oracle. (For more about Christiana, see her June Slut of the Month interview.)
What makes a witch?
A witch can encompass a wide variety of things, but it basically means someone who, for better or worse, can shape our collective reality to their will.
Who are your favorite witches and why?
There are so many men and women I’ve met who are inspiring in their own magical ways. I’m constantly surprised in how many people I know who practice some form of witchcraft/alchemy/spirituality and don’t flaunt it. If I must narrow it down, I would have to choose Phil Hine, Scott Cunningham, David Bowie, and Claire Boucher; both because their style of expressing themselves is very attractive to me, and their aptitude at creating a magical reality without shunning the collective reality.
My friend Micki Pellerano, (a musician, artist, filmmaker, intellectual, and Hermeticist) was one of my first friends in New York and randomly recommended I read Phil Hine and Scott Cunningham. I hadn’t voiced an interest in magic, but Micki knew what benefit me the most at that juncture in my life. I will always have a special place in my heart for those first occult authors who explained occult ideas and their esoteric correspondences in easy terms. Hine is a Chaos Magician, and while Peter J. Carroll might be more respected in the field of Chaos Magic, I prefer Hine’s playfully serious view on magic. He has nothing to prove. The same goes for Scott Cunningham and his prolific works on Wiccan subjects (herbs, gems, dreams, etc). They both taught me that everything is magical, not just the things you can touch, but things you see, smell, taste, hear, and feel (outwardly and internally).
They also taught me respect in a way I had never understood it: having a personal, magical practice is similar to making friends. You attract what you are and what you need, and use those things until they no longer serve a purpose. And like friendship, those objects and beliefs and people that affect your workings should be held with esteem and respect. Magic does not work properly when it comes from a selfish place. Sure, you may get what you want, but you end up losing very valuable things in the process. Unless one first assess the intentions and can accept what one might lose in the process, magical experiments should be enacted with extreme caution. This goes not only for magical workings, but counts in every aspect of a day-to-day life It’s the most valuable lesson I’ve ever learned.
David Bowie was and is a master witch in his own way. He focused all of his creative energy to his Will and created a legend around himself. No one can touch David Bowie. No matter what kind of scandalous story came out about him, he could never have a “fall from Grace.” He lords over a different plane and under a different set of rules but has somehow managed to keep his reality and our reality connected. I see a lot of the same traits in Claire Boucher [Grimes], but I’m not sure whether she’s intentionally wielding her power or is unaware of it. She’s a key player in creating an “Underground Railroad” for female musicians. I’m very excited to see where her path takes her.
How have you harnessed your female energy for artistic or sexual creation/witchcraft in your life?
I have focused more of my attention on intuition than logic. Logic used to rule my life, and I was painfully miserable living only in my head. When I brought the attention inside, to my heart, I found my anxiety levels lessened considerably, and I was open to create something I liked, rather than trying to create something everyone else would like. Other people can sense this and appreciate it much more than when I was over-thinking the type of art or music others would like.
By turning on to my feminine side, I was able to unearth and process emotional patterns I had ignored and buried. At first terrifying yet awesomely liberating, I became addicted to it. I dived into exploring my psyche as one explores a new world of hallucinogenics. I knew this geyser of emotional upheaval wouldn’t last forever, so I wrote down everything I was feeling. Or if it was too much to write, I used a voice recorder. Or if there were no words, I drew it. I have shoe boxes filled with terribly-written, gut-wrenching poems and disturbing sketches and mini cassettes of my secrets. Sometimes I’ll go through and pick out something that speaks to me and create something new out of it. I try to transmute the negative, selfish, and painful into something beautiful and universal.
Pam says, “The apocalypse has happened, my friends, and it’s still happening. Our task at hand is to bring about the end of the old world, but then to create something vital and shining and new.” Do you agree? Is 2013 the year of the witch?
Yes! I was so excited for the 2012 “apocalypse”, and I knew it would be the catalyst for the demise of a patriarchal propaganda-fueled oppression of women and everything the feminine represents. It’s as though the passionate and aware women of the world finally said, “Enough of your scare tactics, enough of your religion, enough of your corruption, enough killing and raping of women and the earth in the name of Him, your hateful God.” This year has been one big middle-finger-to-the-sky, “Your God is not my God,” religiously and politically revolutionary year. And it’s only just starting.
Historically, what is your favorite and least favorite application of the witch archetype for women? How has it harmed and how can it help? Do you see any similarities in the way the term slut is used today and the way the term witch was applied hundreds of years ago?
What great questions! One could write a book (and many have) on these questions, so I’ll try to keep my answer short:
The feelings evoked when a women is described as a “witch” are similar to a man described as a “rake” or a “libertine”. These three terms obviously do not mean the same thing, but the commonly held social view of these labels is dark, mysterious, taboo, and because of that, infinitely alluring. As its currently misunderstood definition, there is great power in the term “witch.” What people don’t understand scares them, and inherently attracts them. What makes humans special is that we ask “why”. This basic principle of humanity has been suppressed for so long, people are going mad. When we aren’t allowed to ask why, we turn inside for the answers. So the patriarchy has pretty much screwed itself (and realized too late) that by silencing, punishing, and ignoring the VERY real magical life as we know it, people are finding the answers within, in the feminine self, and using the tools the patriarchy has given us to fight back. They will be ruined with their own inventions and silenced with their own lies.
The historical term “witch” was used to describe an amoral woman who would supposedly have sex with the devil and steal children. She was actually a midwife, privy to the secrets of herbs to promote fertility, and emmenagogues to help women control their own bodies, amongst other things. Witches of yore knew the secrets to create life and destroy it, and so they were persecuted by those who felt threatened. The same thing can be said of sluts today. A woman who respects her body and listens to its desires without compromising her safety is somehow a bad thing…? One day, labeling someone (or oneself) a “witch” will be no more deprecating or fantasy-fueling than a “baker” or “mailman”. And I’m pretty positive that one day, Witches will be held in the same regard as Doctors and Celebrities and Sports Stars are now. There will be a vast and differing array of witches, some good, some bad, but ultimately good in that connecting to the Earth and to the feminine self will be celebrated, not hidden.
For skeptics and the uninitiated, how do you suggest one can indulge in the creation force/witchcraft in mundane, everyday ways?
To children, this world is magical. Then something happens along the way where the separation between one’s body and everything else is cemented, and our experiences become dull and monotonous. The very first thing one can do is step back from oneself and try to see the world as a magical place. Take notice of any coincidences that pop up and jot them down. No need to interpret them; their meaning will become clear as time progresses. One will start to realize the coincidences that stand out are actually clues to one’s Purpose (or to use a less-loaded term: Bliss). Those things that seem insignificant at first are actually the signposts (sometimes even the exit ramps) to your happiness. Ever notice that when a situation so stressful comes up that you can’t function, everything falls into place so much easier than when you worry about it? That process of letting go and observing (with interest) is Magic 101. From there, you can create your future and follow your dreams without fear.
Name one witchy thing you did today.
I’m planning a three-part ritual performance for Delphic Oracle’s three shows coming up: August 2 at Discipline, Aug 17 at The Hive, and September 4 at home Sweet Home. Its purpose is to reign in, focus, and syncretize the body, mind, and spirit to one purpose. The past year has been about identifying and shedding off the layers that have been weighing me down, exploring inside and outside of myself, and extending my comfort zone to include things I never thought I’d be comfortable around. These next two months (and three rituals) will “set up the guardrails” on the edge of the road I’ve paved for myself. The highway opens with the release of the first EP, and then the real adventure begins.
Photo: Silke Schlotz