Or Nah’s Story

I spent much of my twenties fishing for Black cool. To go into the details just wouldn’t be PC. Let’s just say I didn’t get the name OR NAH for nothing. This soul-searching journey came full circle around the time of my Saturn Return. Only recently having been the most promising MFA Fine Arts candidate from sunny, suburban California, running mad through the urban jungle my sanity (and art career) were completely flying off the rails. I found myself making unfocused internet art like a sad, three-legged dog in a studio I could barely afford. 



  Lil Bance on My Based Gods, 2012, performative video sculpture

In hindsight I see that I was stuck in a perpetual cycle of shame and blame, comfortable being small, and angry at THE PATRIARCHY (and anyone who was getting ahead). Whether I was giving my power away to the temp job, the culture of compare and despair or the magical other, I wasn’t allowing myself to experience worthiness.  Whereas in adolescence I had felt too fat, amongst my punk-PC feminist milieau I was too white. By the time I had finally learned to love my goddess-given form, I was too old. It’s not that I didn’t believe I would one day become a successful, self-supporting artist of world renown. I was just terrified of being seen and didn’t feel comfortable letting myself shine. This is the story of me creating a masterpiece of a life in the key of OR NAH. 

One day  I was ecstatic-dancing to Pharrel’s HAPPY (ironically) at my teacher Siri Rishi’s Kundalini Yoga studio in Harlem when ancestral winds of time eternal intervened. At the time I was reppin’ my queer sex-positive feminist on one side (half of head shaved) and down-ass chic on the other (pastel rainbow microbraids). The braids threw off my balance. The doctor called it a stripper’s fracture because it was a common break of dancers. I didn’t know it was broken for two weeks because I refused to stop working. Even though I was making mostly bad art for no pay and hating all my side hustles.


Swagophilia’s $ong of Fleshy Wind, 2014, performative video sculpture

The broken foot landed me on my Mom’s couch on the West Coast. Not bad considering her temporary lodging overlooked miles of aquamarine San Francisco bay. Her spot was filled with healing instruments from around the world and books on books about Goddess Worship. For over a month I did seated yoga, read about Matrifocal religion and materialized magical remote work that came to me despite my escalating scarcity mentality. I was forced to ground, and in the process discovered my roots. In books about Mother rites and rituals of prehistory, I made scintillating connections between what I perceived to be the sparkling aspects of Black culture I most cherished and externalized with my own lineage as a mixed European of Italian, Irish, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian descent. LIGHTBULB: At one point we all worshipped essentially similar archetypes and danced in reverence for the earth. We all come from complex and overlapping lineages of magic, ritual and art as life. Hobbling on one foot, I learned to trust the universe would provide. And I let go of the self-loathing.

Well, you know what happens next, right? Fast forward through more brutal years of artist bohemia to having my first child with the love of my life UNDAKOVA.


Shiva/Shakti photo by Laura Weyl

Having found my twin flame (a Black man who identified more with white girl swag) we would slowly go from SURVIVING to THRIVING. Sure It was a rocky couple of first years when our son Kali was born. I was delighted in many ways with motherhood and relished in the supernatural love that can only be shared between a Mother and Son. Tantric cross-pollination with UNDAKOVA was the blossoming of a sweet, grounded mature adult partnership. Working together as the pioneers of Hip Hop Yoga, we were an all or nothing, no back up plan *ride or cry* 😭 kind of Love.

Through mirroring and much vulnerability in the great dance of shadows and passion, we challenged one another to stop giving our power away. I let go of feeling guilty for existing, making myself small, people pleasing and giving my power away. I took hold of the karmic wheel and decided that – no matter what – I was going to be happy. I was going to be grateful for the true wealth in my life and stop measuring myself against this culture of  hyper materialism, achievement and competition. I was going to give equal dignity to my role as a Mother and my role as the visionary, paradigm-shifting High Prieztezz OR NAH, pioneer of Hip Hop Yoga. I started by saying NO to the small stuff so I could say YES to the big stuff.


Blood Magik/ Birth Herstories: A Rebirth Ritual, Speak-out & Soundscape, 2017,  Ultracultural Others, Open Source Gallery, “Reimagining Tradition” photo credit: Ajna Matthes

Was it hard? It’s still hard. I still get in my own way. I show up with all of this junk swirling in my mind, self-loathing, blaming others, anger, distrust, bitterness at the Man, my cultural conditioning and sense that I am powerless to achieve any real victory against the evil I perceive in this world. Ultimately what I gave up was the reactionary impulse. One slow, measured step at a time – I found my right rhythm. Together with UNDAKOVA I’ve built a grassroots, rhizomatic network of radical change-makers through our ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS urban mystery skool based in the principles of Hip Hop Yoga, a sacred arts modality we’ve co-piloted since 2011. 

And slowly, people have started to get more and more curious about what we are doing. In the lineage of my Mom, who has long time served Women finding their voice, I began to walk the walk and teach by example, as Mother, Yogi, Artist and High Prieztezz OR NIZZLE  (in all my ratchet grace) – unapologetically sharing my wisdom with the world in service of other agents of the divine. They don’t make an IQ test for empathy, creativity and cultural accountability but at the Urban Mystery Skool we long been counting amongst our blessings these and all the “healthy wealth” our culture at large disavows. 


Blood Magik/ Birth Herstories, 2017

In 2020, as the Patriarchy continues to fall, we’re offering a 4-week High Priextexx Hip Hop intensive led by myself & UNDAKOVA. Click the link to learn more.



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My experience with the Mystery Skool

I was born and raised in Waco, Texas. The culture in rural Texas is very much as you would picture in movies; people drinking beer, fishing, riding pick up trucks, and most people love hunting. I didn’t really have any resources for art. I moved to Austin, Texas not long after I turned 18 and found an interesting world there. Art was plentiful and easy to access. Although after going most of my life being told that art was for “snowflakes” I was hesitate of doing anything art related. I ended up spending my days in Austin as a frustrated punk rocker who drank all the time. I didn’t even use any of the resources for art nor did I reach out to any of the art communities. My cultural background left such a huge imprint on me that it took a long time to shake off.


Right before my 25th birthday, I moved to Denver, Colorado. I moved there to attend university and pursue a degree in anthropology. Before leaving Texas, I began to experiment with painting animal bones and creating them into art pieces. This desire followed me when I arrived in Denver. In between my studies, I began creating pieces that involved animal bones and other materials. My focus in the university is a field called zooarchaeology, which is the study of animal bones in an archaeological context. When discovering this field of study I felt like I found my true calling. It felt like my art and scientific research bled together. It was the first time I felt like I found myself in both art and science. I began working in a zoology lab and had the opportunity to learn about the bones I had been painting for several years. It made my passion for zoology and art flourish.


I loved my work, however I didn’t know how to get past a certain point in my art. I noticed I was creating so many pieces, yet I started to lose space on where to keep them. I also didn’t know how to get my art work exposed to larger audiences. Nor did I have the confidence to begin compiling a portfolio and CV.

I first discovered the group Go Push Pop several years ago. This lead me to finding Ultracultural Others. I was extremely drawn to this groups work, especially the goddess and yoni worship that their art displayed. The connection between the family in their photos also gave me a feeling of community before I ever met them. After reading a call for applications for their residency, I felt I had to apply. Not long after I was accepted, I spent six months traveling through Europe and North Africa. During these travels, I found new inspiration for my artwork and also a new sense of confidence that I didn’t have before. I settled in Cairo, Egypt for three of these months and I began creating more art. However, it still felt like something was missing.



I left Egypt and came to New York City to complete my residency with Ultracultural Others. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when arriving. All I knew was that I was lost in this art world and I needed some guidance. I took two courses with Or Nah High Priestezz (Katie), where one was called Yoni (Pussy) Whispering. This course dove into goddess and yoni worship and different archaeological evidence of this in the past. We also discussed how it is being practiced in modern ways. I felt like I was learning another side of archaeology, a side that was never taught in my classes. In the university, we were always focused on the male perspective. This helped me find strength in my own self from seeing what my foremothers have given to this earth. It helped me find a new narrative in life that has given me new meaning in my field of study. I also took a brief course with UNDAKOVA (David) that focused on how to get out of the starving artist routine. He discussed with me better ways of looking at my art and skill sets. He showed me ways of turning my skills into potential money making opportunities. I felt a new sense of hope of not having to work one shitty job to the next just to pay my bills. These jobs usually left me so tired, it would take all of my energy to complete any art work. Now I have the resources to complete my art on my own terms and pay my bills.


My residency ends in less than a week. I will be presenting an art installation I completed during my time in NYC at an event hosted by Ultracultural Others and their partner studio De-Construkt. I will also be giving a performance with this piece as well. I lived in the studio space of De-Construkt, which had the space I needed to work on my installation. For artists who work on large pieces such as myself, you need this type of space to properly execute these pieces. I feel confident and prepared for my upcoming performance. The art installation and performance I have been working on was an idea I had in mind before I left Denver six months ago. After my travels and working with Ultracultural Others, I feel like I have the tools I need to be the artist I’ve always wanted to be.

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Secure the Bagua

by Female Background

The rising interest in the occult, and in mystical practices generally, is a feminine resurgence of the marginalized. It is a post-truth recourse for failing cultural systems and ancestral abuses. These practices are an alternative to power in favor of presence. They embrace the complex, the elaborately specific, and the simultaneity of opposites.

There’s a lot of paranoia and skepticism around this interest. Esoteric, mystical, and spiritual practices are being teased from various cultures, providing fertile thematic territory for mass-market products and services. These ingredients, when combined, are caustic to the sensibilities of identity politics. To borrow a practice or concept from another culture or tradition can feel like the legacy of colonial theft, with cynical gatekeepers assuming all intercultural learning is symptomatic of the same disease.These traditional practices applied in a piecemeal, ad hoc manner are also an easy target for analytically minded children of the enlightenment, allergic to seemingly unreliable, or vague methodologies. The relationship between these practices and causality, linear thinking, and time is not the same and not valued in the same way as in scientific inquiry.

With these tensions in mind, I recall a recent opportunity to reflect on the marked difference between a spiritual perspective versus a more traditionally modern, Western approach. A few months ago, I attended several group coaching sessions. I was asked to analyze my life in terms of eight concepts and to depict the results using a wheel. It seemed a useful practice but as it turned out, it’s utility was mostly as prelude for a session of Monk Mojo with Ultracultural Others. There we discussed the Taoist Bagua, eight interrelated concepts seen as the fundamental principles of realityThe Bagua concepts can be used as a spatial map, this mapping, elaborate in the practice of Feng Shui, guides the strategic use of material objects in best accordance with spiritual and energetic principles. In Monk Mojo however, we used them as a lens for daily practices.

Interestingly, the coaching concepts were similar to those of the Bagua, calling to mind the same kinds of activity and accomplishment, making the differences, however, profound and effectively quite disparate.

The coaching language and assessment are situated around the ideas of goals, desired changes, and achievement. In this way, it has a linear relationship to time and to causality. The Bagua concepts, by contrast, speak to peace and presence. Coaching language encourages development and change-making and in these ways engages with power, which I would contrast with peace. These are fundamentally different modes of operating. I would characterize the Bagua’s anti-linear relationship to time as what defines it as a feminine modality. It’s grounding nature in this regard seduces one back into the flow, calling one away from sanitized versions like coaching, whose purported efficacy and measurable outcomes shellac life with a corporate gloss. 

There are consequential differences between the approaches. In order to practice and learn the concepts of the Bagua, I hybridized the wheel visualization I’d learned from the coaching sessions with the Bagua concepts.

The category called “personal finance” from the coaching concepts was now replaced with the words ‘abundance,’ ‘constant,’ ‘gentle and penetrating.’ I realized that in the course of the day taking care of my baby, cleaning our home, cooking, making the bed, and shopping for food were just some of the activities that contributed to the true abundance in which we abide. A sense of peace and home, no longer an abstraction in a mutual fund. Replacing “spiritual awareness” with “stillness” and “meditation” removed the area from generalization. Pondering the simultaneously concrete and poetic Bagua words allowed me to return to myself rather than engaging any number of red herring schemes muddying the waters or delaying the holistic engagement requisite for the task. Even the notion of ‘development’ belies a capitalist-infused notion of productivity and an adherence to causality that damages the human ability for presence. Suddenly, through this slight shift in perspective, calling my mother, celebrating holidays, recounting family stories, creating photo albums, and wearing my grandmother’s jewelry became ways of connecting to ancestors. Of honoring connection to those before and after. Finally, my career and profession were transformed into a “way of life” expressing itself with the grace implicit in “go with the flow.” The nagging anxiety provoked by the analogous coaching concepts was replaced with a sense of faith and openness.

Finally, when I started practicing according to the Bagua concepts, the concept of “fun and enjoyment” turned into “Children, Creativity, and Joy.” “Fun and enjoyment” in the coaching language read to me as ‘entertainment’ or ‘diversion.’ They seemed cheap, consumer items and my ranking was low, but so were they on my internal list of priorities. This unsettled me as I considered the interconnectedness of the concepts. I worried about the effect of neglect on this area of my life if it bled into the other areas. The shift in language had a twofold effect: I realized I had a great deal of this energy in my life, which I could now feed through this new awareness. Secondly, with the awareness came a great sense of gratitude which fed the joy and creativity.

Each section of the wheel allows for personal and idiosyncratic self-assessment. For example, I once heard a nun say that she never gave a student an ‘A’ because those were reserved for God. While that seems problematic, I found my evaluations reflective of similar thinking: there would always be room to grow, room for the unknown. I prefer to imagine a state of becoming, of flux, implicit in the quantification, as if a scale from one to ten could in fact admit infinitude. Some numbers hold within them an innate pessimism and some are more optimistic. For example, the understanding that meditation is an activity of “stillness, wisdom, and inner knowledge” allowed me to evaluate myself a low 4, while knowing that I would create more time each day for my meditation practice. In that way, the number contains an optimism that “fame” on the other hand does not possess. The 2 evaluation in the “fame” category reflects a lack of clarity and no strong sense of actionable steps, hence a pessimistic attitude. Finally, the wheel depicts the interconnection of these concepts and with that comes the idea that each one can be broached indirectly or directly.

Now, each day, I make note of what I do to tend each concept, each energy. At first, I did it to generate an awareness of the structure of my activities, beyond the simple numerical assessment. Now, I can use it as a guide. I recognize my moods fluctuating in direct correspondence to how well each energy is nurtured and by keeping track, it is easy to see where I might focus to rebalance. Finally, keeping track of my activities is a powerful tool for both creativity and gratitude.

Yes, gratitude. I stop to reiterate the feeling because it is this and other signposts of the Bagua perspective that elevate and transform the bastardized ethos of the coaching perspective. The spiritual shift in language embodied in the Bagua allowed me to realize my presence in my own life.

Secure the bagua, indeed.

Mystery Skool

A Mystery Skool Production

by Female Background

At the core of Ultracultural Others there abides a deep respect for mystery.

This respect is a complicated set of gestures, not passive as one might suspect, but instead it requires a gently observational approach. Not the kind of aggressive apprehension that hopes to soon digest and process information as data for an inevitable narrative, structured and solved, as it were. A respect for mystery brings a meditative mode into the cognitive realm, a true interdisciplinary perspective.

“Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going?“ 

If the focus of Mystery Skool is mystery itself, what are the tools and faculties to cultivate for the mastery and apprehension of such a subject? It would be a mistake to consider solutions, or the pathways leading to those solutions as appropriate subjects of study. After all, once a solution is arrived upon, the mystery is gone. To put a finer point on it, the aim is not to solve mysteries, but rather, to know mystery itself.

“We must accept our reality as vastly as we possibly can; everything, even the unprecedented, must be possible within it. This is in the end the only kind of courage that is required of us: the courage to face the strangest, most unusual, most inexplicable experiences that can meet us. The fact that people have in this sense been cowardly has done infinite harm to life; the experiences … that are so closely related to us, have through our daily defensiveness been so entirely pushed out of life that the senses with which we might have been able to grasp them have atrophied. “

This belies an underlying wisdom, that underpinning any systemic truth is faith and that the substrate of faith is mystery.

I have a dear, old friend. He lives underground, like a mole, and in this way he’s also blind and in this way he’s also a seer. He reveals through manifestation the very necessity of that underpinning, that substrate which he calls his “bases”:

“Where are the primary causes on which I can rest, where are my bases? Where am I going to get them? I exercise thinking, and, consequently, for me every primary cause immediately drags with it yet another, still more primary one, and so on ad infinitum. Such is precisely the essence of all consciousness and thought.” 

Should the invocation of the many disciplines protected and disseminated under the Ultracultural aegis (divination, goddess culture, yoga, hip hop, shamanism, social justice, and art, to name just a few) cause one to balk, consider the practice of open awareness meditation. One practices opening the mind to a panoramic awareness without a specific focus, developing the capacity to be present with whatever arises, the mind as a river with objects floating by.

“But the fear of the inexplicable has not only impoverished the reality of the individual; it has also narrowed the relationship between one human being and another, which has as it were been lifted out of the riverbed of infinite possibilities and set down in a fallow place on the bank, where nothing happens.” 

While the capacity to observe whatever arises is akin to living with mystery, it also allows the mind to impact lightly upon its object and reciprocally so. Instead of “lifting” things out of the riverbed, let the paranoid flotsam whispering dilettantism, or worse, appropriation, pass by. Acknowledge it without the imposition of structure or narrative that would place those notions above any other. Intellectual paranoia paradoxically causes self-editing before there is anything there to edit.

“In my soul I have never been a coward, though I constantly turned coward in reality, but-don’t laugh too quickly, there’s an explanation for that; rest assured, I have an explanation for everything.”

I’m on to the next one
On to the next
I’m on to the next one
On to the next
I’m on to the next one
On to the next
I’m on to the next one
On to the next

“Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen… One must be so careful with names anyway; it is so often the name of an offense that a life shatters upon, not the nameless and personal action itself, which was perhaps a quite definite necessity of that life and could have been absorbed by it without any trouble.” 

The non-hierarchical is a true signpost of the Other, of Goddess culture, of nature.

It’s like this and like that and like this and uh
It’s like that and like this and like that and uh
It’s like this and like that and like this and uh

While these truths have been written for thousands of years they are simply parable to the body’s inimitable wisdom, or else we should have successfully communicated them to one another long ago.

Repetition of the word has always been about the body.

It’s like this and like that and like this and uh
It’s like that and like this and like that and uh
It’s like this and like that and like this and uh


A Mystery Skool Production

by Female Background aka Gabriella D’Italia

Female Background (with images from Jessie Mott, Evelyn Dragan, & Miroco Machiko)

I moved through the forest and at the other end of the trees, where things began to thin out a bit, sat the piano. I knew I would have to deliver the song, in fact he’d started to play it without us, using the sheet music we’d given him and I felt guilty that although I’d written the music, I couldn’t remember it without reading what I’d written down. The sheet music was gorgeously expressed, embellished with golden flourishes: musical instruments, branches, and verdant leaves. I desperately wanted not to sing. I approached the piano and you were ahead of me, more eager to perform. We joined in, you loudly and eager. I lagged behind, in a hopelessly Sisyphean effort trying to conceal my voice with my song.  I stayed just at the edge of the dense forest, not coming out completely. I knew that the shame was located in my throat, but as it is invisible, most people don’t quite believe it’s there. If I were making it up it would be humiliating enough, but the true horror was the prevailing notion that the invisible doesn’t exist at all.

A guide was further down a path that emerged from the forest as the trees began to thin. He instructed us on tending a small section of plants and trees that surrounded this part of the path. He made sure to point out a couple of trees that he alone would take care of, as he put it. He repeatedly ran his hand down some of the smaller and more supple branches while warning us from them, “They have venereal disease.”

Female Background (with images from Evelyn Dragan, Miroco Machiko)

The lions and bears were living side by side. They were not in the forest, but outside of the large, modern house in the suburbs. The one with the large glass windows.

Hunting Manual for Detectives, Monks, and Others

A Mystery Skool Production

by Female Background aka Gabriella D’Italia

Let this serve as both a Hunting Manual for Detectives, Monks, and Others as well as a Manual for the creation of the Manual. It will unfold in six parts for contemplation and practice.

  1. Post Truth Invocation
  2. Definitions
  3. Common Notions
  4. Preparation and Conditions
  5. Propositions
  6. Reporting

Post Truth Invocation of Reality:

He was wearing a purple turtleneck sweater, his favorite burgundy slacks and sensible black walking shoes. He has a full head of dark, disheveled hair, and his vigorously overgrown eyebrows sweep several unsettling centimeters up beyond the rim of his round spectacles, like a nun’s cornette. “Even this notion of a common world we didn’t have to articulate, because it was obvious,” he continued. “Now we have people who no longer share the idea that there is a common world. And that of course changes everything.”


Head by Female Background


Hunting: A continuous attempt by an automatically controlled system to find a desired equilibrium condition.

Monk: One who dedicates her life to serving all other living beings, or who leaves society and lives her life in prayer and contemplation.

Detective: One who collects information and through an alchemy of linear time and cultural mandates, transforms them into clues. She talks to witnesses and informants, collects physical evidence, or searches records. She examines and evaluates her clues to uncover identity and whereabouts.

Other: Extra. Background.




Animals, Patterns, & Piles by Female Background (Mask Image by Jessie Mott)

Common Notions:

Exact repetition is impossible but we understand it none-the-less.

You can’t see it unless you’ve seen it before.


Bloodstone Moon by Female Background

Preparation and Conditions:

Gather 3-12 participants, optimally 9.

Choose an auspicious night for a Hunter’s Training Ceremony which will result in the production of the Hunting Manual for Detectives, Monks, and Others. The Hunter’s Moon, also known as the Blood Moon, creates an auspicious space for this practice.  In preparing for winter, this particular full moon signifies a time when the needs of the collective are more important than the needs of individuals. People  come together for survival; both physical and spiritual. A full moon marks a time when intuitive abilities are at their peak, as are feelings and emotions. These abilities heighten communication within the pack of hunters. Collective purpose channels energy.

Select a Bloodstone and charge it with the thought, SURVIVAL, for a minimum of 3 nights prior to the Training Ceremony. Bloodstone is used traditionally to enhance intuitive capacity and is unique in its ability to balance that sense of receptivity with being grounded. This grounding relates to balancing the root chakra, when balanced this activates a secure foundation through basic elements of shelter, food, and sex. The charging of the stone can be achieved by holding it and meditating on the chosen concept. Then, write the concept word, survival, on a piece of paper and wrap the stone. Place the wrapped stone on a windowsill until the time of the training ceremony.

Provide two sheets of paper for each participant, one for notes and one for drawing. Provide a drawing implement per participant.

Memorize the two statements to be given for translation during the ceremony:

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

The fur cat howls at the daylight.


You Be Me by Female Background


1. Invite participants to gather, seated, in a circle on the floor.

2. Lead a three part meditation. Each part lasts from 1 or 3 minutes for a total of 3 or 9 minutes of meditation.

i. Concentrative meditation: focus on the breath for 1 or 3 minutes.

ii. Mindfulness meditation: move from awareness of the breath to awareness of the body for 1 or 3 minutes.

iii. Open awareness meditation: move from an awareness of the body to an awareness of the room and the other participants. Practice for 1 or 3 minutes.

3. Lead a two part verbal translation exercise. Repeating each exercise 9 times.

i. In part one, speak aloud to the person on your left: “The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” (Excerpt from Plate 9 of William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.)


That participant repeats the line to the person on her left as faithfully as possible, but without interruption even if faithfulness is not achieved. This process continues around the circle 9 times ending with the person to your right. Record the final, resultant iteration.

ii. In part two of the verbal translation exercise, whisper to the person on your left: The fur cat howls at daylight.

That participant whispers what she hears to the person on her left and so on until the process completes the circle 9 times, ending with the person to your right. Record the resultant iteration.

4. Unwrap the charged bloodstone and hold it while contemplating the charge: survival. When ready, hand it to the participant on the left. Each participant will hold the bloodstone until she comes to an intuition, be it sound, image, or concept. At that point, she will pass the bloodstone to her left until each participant has held the stone. Each participant will record the intuition, silently writing. Collect writing.

5. Finally, each participant has been given an identical sheet of paper and a drawing implement. (Mark one sheet of paper with a small hole in the upper right hand corner.) Each participant will draw for 1 minute and then pass the paper to her left. Each participant will draw for another minute on the drawing now in her possession. This process continues until one cycle is completed. This is indicated when the paper with the hole returns to it’s original scribe. This process can be repeated 1, 3, 6, or 9 times, the images becoming successively more detailed. Collect all drawings.


The reporting process for the practice results in the compilation of information into the Hunting Manual for Detectives, Monks, and Others.

Include the six sections from these instructions. Start with a Post Truth Invocation of Reality of your choosing and follow with the next successive categories as given: Definitions, Common Notions, Preparation and Conditions, Propositions, and Reporting

Then include the statement:

“The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” Follow it with the resultant final iteration from the first part of proposition 1.

Then include the statement: “The fur cat howls at daylight.” Follow it with the resultant final iteration from the second part of proposition 1.

Include each participant’s Bloodstone intuition.

Include all drawings.

Sign with peace.

The Hunting Manual for Detectives, Monks, and Others is now complete.


Peace be with you.

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.


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.



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


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.


Digital ashes

The High Priestess


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.


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.



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.


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)


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!