Having moved into a new space I feel unburdened. I feel light. I feel grounded. I feel sexy and free and creative and all of the things that make a good equation for a self-portrait session.
I wanted to capture remnants of this time in my life. The last self-portraits I took were the day my now-boyfriend first told me he loved me and asked me to officially be his girlfriend after months of dating.
Now, I wanted to capture this time where I moved into my first solo studio. Where I was called off work because of a snow storm and had a beautiful morning and where I now get to spend my first whole day here.
This is a moment in time where I feel capable. Powerful. Comfortable. It is a time where I am open to and humbled by my own vulnerability. Where I know that Halifax is truly the place I call home.
The snow outside has turned to freezing rain and I can feel myself dissolving. Each moment the stress lessens. Each moment I am relieved and grateful.
I have no plans except to do what makes me happy. I have nothing around me to do other than create or strengthen my abilities. I have food I love in the fridge. My heart is as full as my cupboards, and I feel just as organized in my home as I do in my mind.
This is home on the inside and outside.
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Finger the fear out of me, I’m longing for your ease. My bigness consumed by your business. all that I am, delighting in your hands & the way they hold what is bitter so sweetly. My stinging nettles becoming something intriguing.
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I consider myself a witch. In fact, I consider us all witches whether or not we are aware of our power or choose to identify this way.
I have often felt small and self-conscious when talking about this because there is such a stigma around it. Wicca, paganism, and spirituality in general have hit a huge boom the last couple of years. Everyone is now an advocate of the power of crystals and meditation and saging their homes. In a way, I’m no different. I believe strongly in these things and practice them frequently amongst other things.
Part of deepening my own practice is recognizing that I want to talk about these things. I want to learn, teach, and build a community around me with open hearts and minds. My own stigmas create challenges within myself and 2019 is the year I am choosing to step into my own power without the shame of who that is and what it looks like.
WHY SO WITCHY?
The most common question I get is what is Wicca and why do I call myself a witch. I love these simple questions because for me the answers and reality of it are simple.
Wicca comes from paganism, a practice that honours the energy of the earth and its cycles. There is no guide book, no special way, no certain gods. Every individual practicing is open and encouraged to decide exactly what their practice looks like and what it means for them.
In my opinion it is a practice of accountability. The main rede of this is essentially”what you put into the universe will come back to you three fold.” So if you’re putting good energy into the world, good energy is going to come back to you. If you’re putting negative energy into the world, that’s going to come back to you three fold as well.
My understanding and belief is that every single thing we do has energy. Every thought, breath, action, and choice. At the end of the day, what our lives look like and how they come about are a result of our own energy.
For me, it’s important that my spirituality doesn’t hinder me. I want to believe in whatever gods and goddesses I choose. I want to be able to follow my intuition and to manifest in a way that feels personal and right to me. I do not want to feel I owe a higher power or church or like I am not enough by myself and I love that every day I get to feel accountable for whats going on in my life – the good and the bad. Not getting to blame circumstances, moods, or attitudes on god or any other power or belief helps me grow and brings me into a deeper understanding of myself.
Ultimately, Wicca and being a witch is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure practice.
WHAT DOES WITCHING LOOK LIKE?
I often get asked if I’m making potions or casting spells! I find these questions funny because in essence, I kind of do. Although I’m not sitting around muttering to myself (all the time), brewing frog legs, or using a wand to turn salt into gold, I do have some strange and fun practices.
I’ve been reading tarot cards for over 4 years now. It’s a slow building practice but was something I was drawn to before I even knew about wicca. My favourite part about it is that it doesn’t tell you your future – it tells you the projection of your energy. A card reading can be something that solidifies your plans, helps you get clear on where you’re at, and is often my first check-point when making big choices. It holds me accountable to the truth of my energy.
Meditation is the practice of focus. It’s not about clearing your mind completely or reaching enlightenment (although if those are your goals when meditating the power to you!) I use it as a tool to help practice focus, patience, and as a chance to go inward. Using breath work I can often find the physical blockages in my body that may be hindering me – the left and right side of the body have different energy channels (giving + receiving) and I find often the answers I’m looking for are in my body and mind. It’s also a practice that has helped significantly with my mental health and I’ve seen my life improve drastically since adding in regular meditation to my routines and lifestyle.
First, they are pretty. I like having them around because I like pretty things. Second, they feel good. I have physical sensations when holding and using different crystals. Some I use in meditation to go deeper or to access certain energies. Some I leave in specific places (like citrine on my desk). One of my favourite practices is to intuitively grab a stone at the beginning of the day (or 3,5,7… whatever feels right) and then at the end of the day assess the crystal and its properties and see if I felt any shifts, energies, or had any experiences in the realm of those properties. There hasn’t been a time yet where this practice hasn’t shown me insightful results. They have endless possibilities.
Smudging is the act of using smoke to clear out negative energies. A lot of people use sage – it is more commonly found, accessible, and smells good. I personally prefer palo santo – maybe because my name is Forest and I feel more connected to the wood? But I also respect the tradition of smudging and don’t feel comfortable using sage. There are many sacred practices and I think it’s important to look at the roots of what you’re doing and be honest about whether or not it’s your place to practice it. If you want to learn more, consider reaching out to someone in your community that would be willing to teach you and share these practices.
For me, this primarily looks like journalling. Everything I write down eerily seems to come true. Even moving to Halifax started with a journal entry. What can sometimes seem small and insignificant can often be what holds the most power. The mundane isn’t boring, it is abundance. Life is not full of outrageous and special moments. It is full of smaller things that teach us the skills to be able to appreciate and handle the bigger things. Because I am a writer, I feel that writing is my most powerful tool. And maybe it is this belief that makes it my most powerful tool.
At the end of the day, Wicca might not even be “real”. Maybe it is all a placebo effect. Maybe I am lucky. But did you know that all of human existence is about 60% luck anyway? That every moment we psychologically prime ourselves for our lives, actions, hopes, and existence. But I believe we have only made it this far as a species because of faith – because of the deep belief in a purpose or higher power or magic or God. I am not immune to such feelings and nor do I want to be. I want to live this life fully and with love, however that is available to me. These are the tools of my life and practice that teach me, help me question, ask me to trust.
Do you have any questions or curiosities about wicca, being a witch, or any of my practices? Leave a question below! Let me know what posts you want to see and information you want to read! I love sharing this knowledge and being able to deepen my own understanding in the process.
This is one of those places – those times, memories, experiences that was hell on earth but you didn’t know it until you look back at what you’ve learned from it.
It’s one of those times where life teaches you that you don’t always know what’s best for you, that intuition is fickle, that lessons can’t be avoided, and that sometimes all you get out of something is knowing who you are.
I won’t get into all the gnarly details because that isn’t what this is about, and it’s not what I want to put out there! This is about the work I did do, the opportunities I had and took and was lucky to have at the end of the day despite the rest.
This was the first workplace I was able to not only fully utilize all my skills, but to give myself opportunities in them as well. One of my first and main tasks working here was to run their social media. In my 3 months working there I had gained over 500 instagram followers organically – I took all of the photos in the above pictures and curated the feed. I made the food presentations in the pictures (although did not make the actual recipes), edited the photos, made the captions and used my handy hashtags to get us noticed authentically in an over-crowded city.
Not only was it a creative outlet in terms of making beautiful food, photographs, and even hand-lettering signs. This was also a place for community.
I met one of my now best-friends, then customer at Wilder. I made connections in other industries, with other artists, with a huge community of Junction-iters. I was able to host my first open mic (which also doubled as my first public event) , apply for my first liquor license, and also my first performances of spoken word and even singing.
I was given chance to open up our doors and plan with the Junction BIA for things like their Halloween walk in which I built a spooky sculpture for the window, set up a costume donation drive, decorated the cafe and had fun games for the kids like finding the key in the slime to earn candy. We participated in a holiday market pop-up in which I gathered local makers and artisans to be featured in our shop.
There were lots of plans that didn’t see the light of day – like a fermentation workshop series. But three months there paved the ground for everything I did in 2018, which brought me to where I am in 2019.
While there are parts of this experience that are raw and painful, looking back on what I garnered from that experience I feel proud of the work and honoured I got to see out some of my dreams. Nothing is without challenges if it comes with growth.
I’ve always loved self-portraits. I think it was actually the reason I ever became invested in photography.
The ability to capture yourself in a raw, whole state. To see yourself objectively, as a subject. To think about how you want to portray yourself and work within how that actually comes across. It feels like a practice of proprioception – seeing how we come across vs. how it feels in ourselves.
My smile is never as big as it is in my head. A particular angle makes me look young. I think I am happy yet I look lost. It’s funny how self-portraiture has always made me feel foreign to myself as much as it has made me feel at home in myself as well.
I think that “selfie” culture, something I actively participate in, got somehow diluted. Our way of thinking about people when they are taking a picture of themselves is almost inherently negative, frowned upon. Seen as attention seeking, or somehow inappropriate. Somehow we have made a line in the sand between a selfie and a self portrait as if they aren’t the same affect. As if documenting ourselves and our own beauty and happiness and experience of life isn’t something to be celebrated.
I love the quality that comes from a real camera, like I can see the density of myself more with it. I like the privacy of it; of getting away from the epicentre of communication that is our phones; our perceptions of ourselves, of our places, of our faces.
I have an older DSLR camera and you cannot see the photo on the face of the screen. You have to look through the eyehole to see the picture. You have to trust your set up, have patience, be able to see yourself in half-formed ways immortalized in the between photos. I love the pile of books and rocks and odd objects I balance my camera on because I lost my tripod. I love the way lighting sometimes just fucking works. The moment you look at yourself immortalized exactly as you feel and realizing just how it is you feel once you see the photo.
I was self-conscious for so long about what people would think of someone who took so many photos of themselves. Am I a narcissist? Am I full of myself? Is there a reason for all of this? Is it really art? Does it need to be art?
I like the bags under my eyes. The red lipstick. My boyfriends sweater. That I’m sitting on a stack of books. That my hair feels like it belongs to a higher version of myself – like I was shedding half-lives when I cut it. That I don’t feel like I need to wear face makeup and that these are photos I will probably use as head shots and I love the idea that I’m getting over the “stigma” of taking my own head shots. That I can display so many parts of myself here and honour all of them. I love that I am excited.
I’m excited to take on one of my resolutions this year to take more photos with my real camera, and I’m happy to include myself in that process as well.
Embracing how we want to be seen. How we want to see ourselves. What we want our world to look like.
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I’ve always considered myself an artist, although have found it difficult to accept this as a label at conjectures in my life where I felt like to truly be an artist was more about the quality of art you were making than the act of making art.
As I’ve grappled with these thoughts, actively trying to reframe the patterns that ask me to believe less of myself, I started to delve into mediums that were previously uncharted for me. One of them was digital media. I started with photoshop and making digital renderings of physical works, expanding into digital art in general and coming to a point where I purchased a digital tablet to streamline this process and give me more freedom as an artist.
Some of these were posters, and some work that I was hired to do! A lot of it was purely to explore these worlds. Above is work all done in photoshop without the tablet. Even in the course of a year, my own skills and knowledge from play was healthy for my ego and psyche. To see the improvements in my own skill set, to have the space to make mistakes with little or no consequences, to see the themes and colours of my life showing up unhindered by a paint palette or my patience.
I found a passion in digital art that wasn’t present in more tangible forms for me. The fear of cost, supplies, what happens when I fuck up wasn’t there. There was less attachment and therefor more room to be creative and explore which ended up making for better art. It also gave me the space in myself to be able to say with confidence that I am an artist.
I realized a part of why I was uncomfortable with the term Artist before was that I hadn’t found a medium I truly cared about or felt rooted in. Digital art gives me the freedom to explore all mediums without consequence. Without asking me to choose or create in a linear way.
Artist and writer were always separate identities for me. I can now see them merging, especially in the symbology of both mediums and in how I am able to share that; I feel not only that I am making art, but I am making the quality of art that I want to as well.
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