The Digital Spellcast

 

While I was at the Urban Mystery Skool I had the pleasure of performing a piece I created called Digital Spellcast. Listed below is a brief history of its creation.

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Acid Orphan and me performing Digital Spellcast at De-Construkt

At the beginning of the winter of 2014 something tragic occurred in my life. I separated from my husband of 5 years. The emotional trauma that hit me was so intense it launched me into a manic episode of epic proportions.

I had a work friend named Andrea (a rapper, who performs under the moniker Acid Orphan). She and I existed parallel to one another, with an amicable yet not particularly intimate relationship. One night we had to stay at our jobs until the wee hours of the morning for store inventory. As we were wrapping up, I was discussing astrology with the group. Andrea (a Virgo) made a skeptical comment about the topic of astrology. To that I replied (rather impishly), “that is such a Virgo thing to say.”

My comment angered her so much that I launched her into a manic episode of her own, causing her to trudge through the Philadelphia snow barefoot and take a $100+ dollar cab ride to her parents’ place in West Chester. While at her parents’ she began writing a short story that is really one of her finest pieces to date. It involved a deep analysis of the inner workings of society with a classification system for different personality types (we’re all either Emperors/Empresses/Emperxs, Oracles or Maniacs–but that’s another story for a different time). She realized she wouldn’t have written such a story had I not provoked her, and so she gave me a phone call which would forever change our lives.

We spoke feverishly about the cosmic plane and how the world worked. Suddenly life made so much sense to us and we felt this immense connection with one another. It’s difficult to explain outside of the throes of mania, but I think you get the picture. We called what we shared between us the Mega-Brain. This is the moment when our fates became intertwined. It was the moment our parallel lines intersected.

Once she left West Chester she came to my empty house in Fishtown where we began a month-long sleepover that would eventually evolve into another performance piece/immersive art experience we called the Cosmic Treehouse. During the first days of the forever sleepover Andrea and I shared many ideas, hardly sleeping at all. Keyed up, we wrote down every idea that occurred to us on pages and pages of computer paper with a red Santa marker. We compiled these pages into a book we call the Maniac Bible.

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Some pages of The Maniac Bible

Naturally, compiling this list of ideas was very important to us, and within our manic logic it took precedence over going into work. One night (perhaps the first night?) we were texting everyone we knew, desperately trying to get our shifts covered to no avail.

I had been studying the principles of magic and spellcasting prior to this mania, and Andrea and I had been fervently discussing the intersection between magic and technology. It was then that we concluded that a text message is not unlike a spell. Think about it: you write an intention down on a tablet (in this case, your phone) and you send it out into the ether with the expectation that it will garner the results you desire.

I came to this realization; if a text message is a spell and technology is really just a form of magic, then we can harness that energy (or at least try) in order to get our shifts covered, right? So in that moment I came up with the following process:

  • Find a spellcasting partner (in this case, it was Andrea)
  • Write your intentions down on a piece of paper
  • Both of you take a screenshot of the spell
  • Take the spell outside and burn it, distributing its ashes into the air
  • Go back inside, sit down and send one another the screenshot you’ve just taken
  • Take a screenshot of your conversation, send one another the screenshot
  • Take another screenshot of your conversation, send one another that screenshot
  • Continue this process until the images begin to look like little pieces of ash
  • Your spellcast is complete, sit back and wait for the results to come in
  • Try to distract yourself
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Analog spell being burnt

I should probably mention that this was during a full moon super moon. That’s sort of a side note, but kind of relevant to the story.

We went through this process and then went back into my living room to continue our prior conversation. Just as we began to forget we had even done the spell, we received a text message from three different coworkers at 3:33 am! All of them were offering to cover our shifts. Three had become a very important number to us, without any knowledge of its magical importance. We screamed our heads off, angering my tight ass neighbors. The spell had worked! We have performed many spellcasts since and they’ve always garnered positive results, and this is how the Digital Spellcast came to be.

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Digital ashes

The High Priestess

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A doodle I did of the High Priestess

 

During my time at the Urban Mystery Skool, I was fortunate enough to take a class with the wonderful Ashni called Demystifying Divination. I am a tarot reader myself so naturally, most of the divination portion of our class focused on developing greater intuition when it comes to reading the cards.

Upon our first meeting (we went to the Cloisters), she asked me about my birth card and whether or not there was a card in particular I felt some sort of connection to. They both happen to be the same card: The High Priestess. She’s very special to me. I couldn’t quite articulate my compulsion toward her then and I still can’t now, but you know what? Part of the High Priestess is about developing a comfortable relationship with the unknown. However, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Ashni asked me to focus on the High Priestess during the upcoming weeks. I was to meditate upon the card, think about her as a personality and emulate the way she would dress were she a live person. I even went so far as to sleep with the card under my pillow until I crumpled it by accident, and then I put it on my nightstand.

I began having the wildest, most vivid dreams. I found myself being a lot more quiet. I found myself observing and taking in much more detail than I had before. The world began to burn a little brighter.

Upon thinking about the way she would dress, I realized I did not have the right wardrobe and if I were to acquire a lot of swishy garments and layers and dress in dark colors (like I imagine she would), the July heat was not exactly in my favor. Most days I opted for shorts and a t-shirt out of the need for survival.

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A special charm given to me by a man named Buck

 

I did feel drawn to a piece of jewelry I own that I think aligns with her in many ways. It’s a charm that was gifted to me by a man I barely know named Buck. It’s a clear stone that’s inset with a black background and three golden symbols: a cross, the Star of David and a crescent moon. These three come together to represent the Abrahamic religions. I am not trying to make a commentary on any religion, nor am I trying to exclude other religions in this dialogue. What I am trying to say is that I felt this charm was something the High Priestess may adorn herself with. In fact, if you look at the High Priestess in the classic Rider-Waite deck, you’ll see that she holds the Torah with a crescent moon at her feet and a cross on her chest.

 

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The High Priestess in the Rider-Waite deck

 

Now what does this all mean? Well, I don’t think the High Priestess excludes other religions any more than I do. What I do think is that having these three religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) represented in one place speaks to wisdom and understanding. Now, the moon and cross in the High Priestess card don’t traditionally represent Christianity and Islam (like they obviously do in the pendant), but the beauty about reading Tarot intuitively is that the symbols are ascribed whatever meaning you see in them! Also what a weird coincidence, no?

Wisdom and understanding! Those aren’t the only things the High Priestess represents, but for the sake of the length of this blog post, let’s focus on those two things. I did the same thing in my exploration of her this summer at the Urban Mystery Skool. I had to narrow things down, because she has a lot of meaning to unpack, and wisdom and understanding alone can mean so many different things.

I began to focus on what wisdom means. I felt if I figured this out then I could nail understanding because one can’t really exist without the other. I thought about this long and hard. What is wisdom? I meditated upon it and wrote about it in my journal. Obviously wisdom can mean so many things but what does it mean in the context of the High Priestess? I didn’t really find a definition that satisfied me.

Speaking of coincidences, my entire experience this July with Ultracultural Others was filled with synchronicities. As I was pondering all of this, we had our new moon wellness ritual, Dream Beat. It was wonderful, and I can go on about that forever. However as we sat in a circle, UNDAKOVA asked the most synchronistic question of all: “What does wisdom mean to you?”

I realized that was what I had been doing wrong. It’s why I hadn’t come up with a satisfactory answer for the meaning of wisdom. I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about the academic definition of wisdom, I had to think about what wisdom meant to me. The tarot, after all, is about self-reflection.

I gave myself a moment to think about it, and that’s when I came up with my answer. Wisdom means sitting back and observing. It means gaining understanding of what’s around you, of what’s happening to you. It means taking a step backward and really paying attention. Most importantly, it’s about learning from what we see. That, to me, is wisdom and that is what the High Priestess taught me.

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Me, holding the High Priestess card from the Herbal Tarot deck

 

Beast Coast Reflection

Hey there, I’m Tristen!! I had the pleasure of studying under Priestess Or Nah and Undakova with the White Tantra and Monk Mojo course on January.  With the White Tantra course, we explore the practices of Kundalini Yoga and balancing the chakras points through those practices. It was an intense but exciting experience. Monk Mojo, with meditation as our tool, Undakova and I explored the many topics that not only surround us as individuals but also the collective as well as free styling in a cypher! It allow me to expand on my perspective and writing and gave me the chance to also come more into tarot reading (even though the picture below are oracle cards… but technicalities)

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The goal for studying with these two artists was to come into my authenticity as an artist and express myself through my art. I definitely feel like I have reached that goal and have been continuously learning about myself through each coming day. Here is one of the pieces that I wrote while studying under them:

You see…
Our original sin was that we thought we was everything but love
Composited in systems to oppress our truth
Witnessing the consequences in a full frontal assault
Why do we tilt our heads in shame?
Why can’t we face them without fear?
Why can’t we face them without blame?
Why can’t we face them without hate?
As if everything is seperate from itself
Your hate is light unaware of itself as you hide in the darkness
Forcing the darkness to consume all in front of you
I ask why can’t you see the truth in front of you?
I ask without shaming you
I ask without hating you
I ask because I see you in me
I ask because I see your pain in front of me
I ask because I see your light in front of me.
You see…
Our original sin was that we thought we was everything but love
But you forgot that love is everything plus more
You forgot that love made miracles countless times
You forgot love is unconditional…
So what is your answer and… remember
No matter what, I will respond with love for me and love for you
So I ask you
What is stopping you from truly loving yourself?

It was an awesome and fun experience and I definitely express my gratitude for having the opportunity to learn from them!

 

What I Learned at Mystery Skool

  • Summed up in some open bullets:
    • The only thing holding you back is what you think you’re not
    • Babies are fun to sing and dance with (especially Kali)
    • No one in new york cares what you do with your hair
    • Also you can cry pretty much anywhere and no one bats an eye which is great
    • People use social media in very different ways
    • With instagram, what you see is what you get
    • You can’t please everyone, but you can choose not to hurt
    • Dealing with other people’s grime is easier than dealing with your own
    • Black mold can be killed with bleach
    • The staten island ferry is a great place for introspection
    • Spandex world is the best spandex store in the garment district 
    • Dancing sober is hard when you’re not used to it
    • Make your house your home and your visitors with feel it
    • Braiding hair is hard work (duh)
    • The shorter your skirt, the louder the music in your headphones better be
    • Stairwells are abundant and rarely used
    • Never trust a google search for ice cream- that shit will be $$$$
    • Quiet is important too
    • Dont avoid everyone, sometimes someone is just trying to complement your shoes
    • There’s always a city with less dog poop and a city with more
    • Serpents are everywhere
    • so are rainbows
    • Your legs will get tired if you walk 10 miles a day
    • Its windier by the river than I thought it would be
    • Instagram was made for cultural capital
    • life is paradox and there are many truths

thinking about american spiritualism
were mediums the first feminists?

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Love, Kira

 

UPCOMING

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ADDITIONAL P R O G R A M M i ii ii N G

Friday July 14th 8-10pm FILM NIGHT

Hosted by Rebecca Goyette & Go! Push Pops with light snacks by Ayurvedic Mama

Friday July 21st

8pm workshop, 10pm-12am After Party Sound Experiment with ISIS SWABY + JMR JCBS In the workshop you will learn how to record sounds and combine the recordings from everyday objects, voice and body movement. Learn to make beats and mix sounds. Workshop concludes with beat performance by JMR JCBS and after party, featuring DJ Set from Isis Swaby.

Friday July 28th

Remedi Food Film Screening of “Seed: The Untold Story”

HIGH PRIESTESS HIP HOP Workshop Led by UNDAKOVA

Mondays July 10-31st, 6:30-8pm $70 for the Series, $20 Drop-in

REGISTER NOW
About ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS 

As a collaborative model at the frontlines of urban spiritual renaissance, ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS is an intentional community and wellness immersive Urban Mystery Skool combining the best of the artist residency, spiritual retreat, shamanic initiation, alternative education platform and intentional community. Learn more at ultraculturalothers.ontrapages.com

UltCult Residency Review by Katie Macyshyn

Standing at the peak of passion and profession, Ultracultural Others: Urban Mystery Skool for Radical Creatives was exactly the conscious realignment I needed to re-realize my creative dreams.

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Looking through my third eye and receiving abundance after performing at Under St. Mark’s

When I was in art school, I was on fire. Making and talking about art became second nature. What I did not learn in school was how to support an art practice. Throughout some years of trial and error, and more error, I began to get bitter. I started coveting others’ success, feeling there was not enough to go around, comparing myself, snidely thinking I was better or more deserving. Only through some grace did I start meditating. I found that when I had a smile behind my eyes the world was different. I found a full-time job as an art teacher, which while fulfilling, was an emotional roller coaster from daily classroom management and conflict resolution. I dug deeper into healing, studying various religions, meditation techniques, and holistic healing modalities. This call for healing guided me through a stressful job, my partner having a serious health scare, and my dissatisfaction with not being an “artist” but an art teacher. After leaving the job, my expansion was fast and miraculous. I realized that lack is a figment of the ego-mind, that living with gratitude brought abundance, and that there is no such thing as a possession. The only worthwhile thing there is is love, which is in an infinite supply through the people around you and the universe itself. That’s the backstory….

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A tarot reading by Ashni at the Morgan Library and Museum in the form of the rose cross. This was a powerful reminder of how to maintain openness.

I found Ultracultural Others at the point I declared art would be my first priority. I was looking for residencies and knew that “radical creative” was exactly the tribe I sought. I wasn’t exactly sure what the program was or what I would be doing, but I was excited to be doing whatever it was with like-minded individuals. Upon arrival, I was surprised to be living with the artists I had been corresponding with and their beautiful baby. How would I bring strangers over at night?! After the initial surprise subsided, I was delighted to stay with them. Katie and Undakova create an enveloping sense of beauty, magic, and calm in their home. Through morning yoga, meditation, ritual song, chanting, incense, a fridge full of healthy food, and the occasional dance break, the Ultracultural Others family made me feel immediately open and secure. (And their view is fantastic.)

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This was the one day of January when it snowed. Instead of going to a “music video party” we had a dance party at home, complete with spooky makeup and video art. 

As per the program, the days were mostly unstructured, giving me plenty of time to rest, write, draw, and do my homework assignments for my Mystery Skool courses. The programs I chose were Doula’s Apprentice and Demystifying Divination. Though the curriculum was tightly compacted, the expertise of my instructors allowed me to ask questions on anything that came up. I’ve been introduced to concepts that open up wide new avenues of learning. So much so that I had a revelation to continue academic pursuits in the field of transpersonal art therapy.

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A photo Katie snapped of me at Jennifer Rubell’s opening at Sargeant’s Daughters. The Ultracultural Others apartment is close to so many great galleries.

Don’t think it was all work and no play, however. I was provided frequent e-mail updates on art events and opportunities as per my interests from Katie. I even got to participate in the premier of DREAM BEAT, a healing dance ritual hosted by Ultracultural Others which was one of the highlights of my stay. Other highlights include biking across the Williamsburg bridge at 4AM under the full moon, a women’s shamanic circle led by Siri Rishi, and a unicorn themed rave. Being around so many inspiring light workers allowed me to blossom in my own somatic and psychic intelligence. For someone toying with the idea of moving to NYC, this program was the perfect sampler, providing resources, inspiration, and friends I will not soon forget.

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Katie squared dressed up for DREAM BEAT.

If you are a self-starter who can structure your days in a productive way, you will feel right at home in this program and in NYC. I had such a fulfilling experience and am heading back to Baltimore with an open heart and a clear mind in order to continue affecting change through art. Thank you, Ultracultural Others!

 

Sacred Geometry + Pinterest :-P

After much trial and error, I’ve finally completed this wall! As you can see from the UltraCultural Others Insta account, I was quite pleased with myself the first go round.unnamed-3.jpg

Unfortunately for me the fabric was all on the floor 2 days later…

The tape was not strong enough. Embracing my Pinterest obsession, I  decided to use a technique I’d read about which involves “gluing” fabric onto walls using liquid starch. I couldn’t find liquid starch anywhere, (Google leads me to believe you can only get it at Walmart. Ew) so I made some with corn starch, water, and lemon juice for smell. I’ve never wanted to eat glue quite so badly.

Using the liquid starch for the fabric and tape, to tape up the tape, I made a new, more sturdy fabric wall that is not going anywhere. TAH DA!unnamed.jpg

I was inspired by my course in divination, led by Ashni, to create an homage to sacred geometry. Each number from 1-10 has a specific personality and connection to the tarot and creation of the universe. Here’s a snapshot of what I think they all mean:

  1. Unity
  2. Separation or Doorway
  3. Balanced path
  4. Birth of depth
  5. Regeneration
  6. Perfect Number
  7. Virgin
  8. Periodic Renewal
  9. The Horizon
  10. Eternity

 

Though it’s a lot to take in, I’ve found sketching through concepts in numerology crucial for my understanding of them. Here are some!

left: Deconstructing a square. Also called “Weave of the Goddess”

right: Sketch of the inner and outer ear, showing spirals in anatomy. The shape of the cochlea corresponds to how chromatic musical octaves appear when graphed as wave-lengths. Each note is identical to those directly above or below it on the spiral but with a one-octave difference. 

Vibe with us at DREAM BEAT

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Dream Beat is a contemporary wellness party ritual drawing together creative (radical) visionaries, conscious parents and young ones for community healing, divine incantation, song, dance, cultural dreaming, drums and the linking of magic to everyday Life. This high vibration sacred wellness ritual draws together a diverse cross-section of New Yorkers who wish to connect to the divinity found in the mind, sacred arts and nature. Let go of the past and rise up to move and groove in community with presence and peace of mind.

Auspicious peaks of the Lunar calendar such as this new moon in Aquarius are the best time to set intentions and through the sacred medicine of music and movement, recognize your body as a medium of the greater Cosmos. Co-led by Undakova and rotating featured artists, our DREAM BEAT events will allow you to collectively practice high vibration movement such as the 8 Ways TM by UNDAKOVA, a holistic technique designed to cultivate strength of mind and body, clarity of vision and total heart expansion. Dream Beat invokes the language of the Goddess expressed by poets, shamans, artists and emcees as pathways between worlds, a sacred space where the names and forms of false consciousness disappear. Come together with our Dream Beat tribe to reinvigorate your purpose for many moons to come.

/ / / / DETAILS / / / /

Please arrive promptly at 7pm for a healing SONIC GONG MEDITATION led by Siri Rishi Kaur, doors close at 8pm

CREATING THE CHAKRAS Live Performance by performance artist, curator, and yoga teacher Brinyy Summer

GLITTER PRIESTESS FAIRY APOTHECARY
Damali Abrams the Glitter Priestess will share magical infusions, elixirs and potions to heal contemporary maladies. Offerings include enchanted handmade herbal and flower remedies, and other otherworldly surprises.

Cacao Medicine Balls handmade with Love by AyurvedicMama

Sunder Ashni offering Divination Readings, Flower Essences & Herbs

DREAM BEAT WEBSITE: http://undakova.ontrapages.com/events

$20 Early Bird price on Eventbrite, $25 at the door

Friday January 27th, starts at 7, doors close at 8

Sixth Street Community Center

638 East 6th Street

New York, NY 10009