SYMBOLOGY / Heart-On-My-Sleeve Denim Jacket

I’m a sucker for symbolism. My love and belief for symbology is everywhere in my life – from my tattoos, to the colours of the food I eat, to this vintage Levi denim jacket I’ve had since I was a teenager and have overhauled.

Having unique pieces of clothing and being able to display my personality so literally and outwardly is important to me. Fashion is something I have a LOT of fun with, and is an essential element of my every day life. From classic basics to the funkiest extremes, I’m the person who loves a well-fitted white t-shirt as well as leopard print bicycle shorts. I’m not the kind of person who would thrive with a capsule wardrobe, although I do value the same guidelines of buying high-quality, sustainable garments. I’d rather have one white t-shirt that I wear for years than several that are never quite right or fall apart quickly.


UPCYCLING

I try hard to up-cycle as much clothing as I can, but with this piece in particular I was able to bring a lot more elements into that idea. While pins and patches are common on customized denim, I also went in for extra pockets, charms, and beading to tie it all together and make sure every inch will one day be stitched with good intentions and care.

Most of what is on this jacket I’ve been coveting for a while waiting for the right opportunity to use it, or knowing that one day I would finally sit down and add all the details to this jacket. I’m all or nothing so adding things over time didn’t appeal to me much – I wanted to sit down and truly transform this piece.

It features a broken quartz crystal necklace from my friend Rowan Morrissy that I sewed under the collar and filled with salt, a gold humming bird pendant, a red velvet drawstring bag, and a hamsa bead just to name a few.

SYMBOLISM

I love symbology. I live by it, as it’s a deeply rooted part of my spirituality. I use it to read cards, find peace, and work with the energies in my day-to-day life.

RED

Red is a colour of passionate love, seduction, violence, danger, anger, and adventure. For me it also represents fire and speaks to my sun sign, Leo.

Earlier this year one of my good friends told me that in the Chinese Zodiac, when it is the year of your sign (which this year is for me, as I am a Pig) that you are supposed to wear red every day to ward off bad luck and bring good luck. I’m a sucker for a good superstition and also believe that we let determine what we want to be true in our lives. I decided to take on this idea and have had red nails since she told me nearly 2.5 months ago. But amongst that belief I also added a lot of red to this jacket. It’s a colour that makes me feel seen and powerful, and I like the added element of luck. There is red stitching, red roses on each sleeve, the magician tarot patch with a significant amount of red, and a velvet bag as an “inside pocket” for holding crystals and keys.

roses

In tarot, roses are considered a symbol of balance. It seemed only fitting to put two red roses on the cuffs of my sleeves. As long standing symbols of love, romance, deep feelings, timelessness, devotion, wisdom, and intrigue. It is seen another time on my jacket in The Magician patch – the symbology of 3 roses relates back to Free Masonry and the idea of “three-fold” which is a belief in Wicca that all energy you put into the world comes back to you three fold. Each rose in free-masonry stands for love, life, and light.

Have a rose on each sleeve also symbolizes a balance of giving and receiving – the dominant hand (for me this is my right) signifies the sun, masculine energy, and giving. The less dominant (for me, left) signifies feminine, the moon, and receiving energy. This speaks to me as a symbol for being able to give and receive, and to find balance in what I give to others to make sure I also give it to myself.

HUMMINGBIRD

Hummingbirds have many different meanings across many cultures. My own personal beliefs and spirituality are kind of a mish-mash of everything that makes sense to me. While I do refer to myself as a witch, or Wiccan, I really don’t feel that any label truly represents the fullness of my own personal beliefs. That is part of why I share what I know, am learning, and am taking on in my own world. I think it’s important to share these small wisdoms to help others know that we are always the true, ultimate creators of our worlds.

Hummingbirds are seen as healers, messengers of good luck and joy, love. They bring peace and guidance on ones journey. I love having that protection on my being, and knowing that it is gold is a deeper reassurance still.

GOLD

While I personally find all of these fairly obvious, I realize that is because I immerse myself in this culture and understanding. Gold has a strong relation to money – who would have guessed?!

This is another colour near and dear to me – it’s one of the only metals I wear (I always have on my great grandmothers wedding band on my right hand and a hoop in the third piercing of my left ear), and I also relate gold back to Leo, even more-so than red.

It is associated with illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, and wisdom. There is a strong theme across this jacket and its meaning – I have found myself always subconsciously attracted to these colours and themes and to see where they line up and work to create stronger attractions of such things is beautiful and powerful to me. It is also associated with prosperity, wealth, success, achievement, and triumph.

QUARTZ

Although there is only one piece of quartz on this jacket, I think it’s important to note. Quartz is a “universal” stone. It can take the place of any energy that you channel into it, and can be used in place of any other stone in a ritual. It is meant to be a purifying and energy amplifying piece of earth. I love having it on my person to be able to remind me of what my own energy is (which can be hard sometimes in a busy world as an empath). I had a broken quartz pendant from Sage that a friend had gifted me. I filled it with pink salt for grounding and purifying hoping each of these elements would amplify each other and hid it under the collar of my jacket.

HEART

On my sleeve. This is such a cliche but I love and live by the idea of baring my soul. It is so hard to contain myself. I have always been a deeply emotional and sensitive person who has a lot of care and compassion for others. I bare my feelings and experiences to the world often and in very raw ways (uh hello two self-published books of poetry, whaddap!). This patch has a gold outline and embodies shatters of red explosions and flowers.

It feels like it’s saying passion is always possible; love largely and freely; where you plant yourself you will grow, light surrounds you, you have good intentions. I really love this piece and my boyfriend was the one who suggested its placement. I made it into an elbow patch as a reminder that my goodness is always something that I can lean into. That an open heart will protect the hard parts – not that an open heart itself always needs to be protected. It reminds me that true vulnerability takes deep courage.

HAMSA

I’ve been fascinated with hamsa’s for years. My first tattoo I wanted to get an ornate hamsa all down my side. While I’m glad now I didn’t go that route, the significance is still strong for me.

In many religions – rooting from ancient Egypt – it represents the hand of God. It is a protective sign bringing the owner happiness, health, good fortune, and luck. Facing upwards (which is how I have it) it is a universal sign against evil. Facing downwards it symbolizes fertility and answers to prayers.

In buddhist and hindu cultures it also represents the chakra system, and the five senses. There is so much depth and richness to these symbols and cultures that have influenced me for as long as I can remember. Even as a child I was heavily swayed by colours, imagery, and even names.

THIRD EYE

Third eye is, for me, a direct correlation to the chakra system. This sits below the collar of my jacket, in the central area of a circle tattoo on the back of my neck. It is a well recognized symbol for higher consciousness, inner realms, enlightenment, and spirituality.

It’s a symbol my grandmother has always worn and sworn by, and she has passed that belief on to me. Its placement for me also represents seeing wisdom in the past, growth from personal experiences, watching my own back – in other words following and trusting my intuition, and that often the paths to higher places lay unseen to us.

SUGAR SKULL

A symbol we often see around halloween, that is traditionally from Mexican culture. It is a part of their celebration of the dead and used to represent those who had passed in their family to honour the departed soul.

I hand beaded my own patch, closely relating the bright glitters and patterns of traditional designs. It symbolizes death, which in turn is life and change. For me it’s a reminder that rebirth is just as important as death, and that in order to have all the goodness we idolize that we must be willing to look equally on the shadow side and appreciate the work to be done there.

It feels like I am protected by those in my life who have passed, as well as ancestral energy that may be following me. I like the idea that my energy field is filled with security, wisdom, and protection from energies that have known my own for likely longer than I’ve been in the physical body.

MISCELLANEOUS

There are so many little tidbits that have crept their way in – the Ouija board is an interesting one as I would never use it in my personal practice but I like what it symbolizes for me. Being open to energy – letting it in and out, being able to listen to and trust the happenstances of the universe and find messages in everything.

There is a patch of the sky which reminds me of the significance of life, but also where I want to aim – that there is so much possible and so much that is reachable.

There is a lot of velvet in my jacket as well – from a forest green patching across the shoulders to a red draw-string pouch. These for me say luxury, sturdiness, and depth. I also have a few pins including one that says “psychic” and another with 3 tarot cards. I love the symbology of three, and tarot is an incredibly important part of my life that introduced me to my spirituality and deep love of symbology.


There are many symbols we all carry and create privately. Whether it’s an inside joke, a colour that has always soothed us, or just something that we hold dear. It’s powerful to infuse our days and possessions with importance. I find that when I overlap my beliefs and passions I create a stronger energetic webbing in my life. I’m able to keep more of myself close and the things that don’t resonate with me out. There are many reminders to me of who I want to be and how I want to portray myself.

PDA

This piece was first published on herHABITAT and then featured in the Fear issue of Feels Zine.


You are twenty.

You pay your own bills, “fill” your own fridge. You work a mediocre job that some days when you think about it you feel grateful, and others you feel like you need a life raft.

You have “goals”. You write, you read, you try to educate yourself on the world and how you fit into it, how to understand it.

There are days that are effortless. The ambition and productivity comes naturally. You scribble in your agenda and the inside of your wrist all that you’ve accomplished that day, your to-do list and activities for the next, who you need to call. You think “I am basically invincible. Things are not perfect but everything is temporary and I will always be okay”.

You get home. You’ve just had a the perfect Autumn Sunday – a movie, a drizzly bike ride, mediocre food. Spent 3 hours in bed touching and talking and not moving more than fingers across backs. You departed; finally, dutifully.

Once home you notice the dishes in the sink that you forgot about, the clothes on your bed that you left in a pile when you rushed out the door accepting you wouldn’t look perfect and that was better than being late.

You sigh; take off your pants, say “fuck it, tomorrow” to the dishes, scoop the clothes onto a chair while stepping on something sharp. There is a stale corn chip on your floor, but you don’t remember eating them in here. A little blip makes itself visible in your mind, the radar of recognition, though it’s too faint to see what it is.

Curling up on your bed with the last 15% of your laptop battery you check all that you’ve missed – the Facebook comments, the posts you want to share; the word docs still open from all the notes everyone was drunkenly writing last night as a gaggle of friends had professed their deepest selves reciting poetry, singing, swigging from full bottles because they “did not need glasses to define “full” or “empty”” for them.

You wander, in fatigue and pleasantness from the day. There is a pang in your stomach that was once hunger maybe, but is now nausea. You haven’t noticed it’s been nearly 5 hours since your last meal, but it’s the end of the night. You’ll get a snack in a minute (when you can pull yourself from the glowing grip of your screen.)

You think about this feeling in your stomach. Another blip appears. You scroll, lazily. You think about writing. Another blip. You think about tomorrow, all that you’ve promised yourself you would do: bank, run, get -blip- keys, do dishes, finish laundry. You think about what you said to your mom yesterday when you were angry. Blip blip. You think about the email you sent her. You close your Facebook tab. Blip.

You close your eyes, your stomach saying “so what now?”. You think about work in a couple days; Do you remember how to close? Will it be busy? Blip. You don’t want to go. Blip. You think about your anxiety -blip- and how it has hindered you in the past. “But tomorrow I will be okay. And the day after that as well.” Another promise to yourself. Blip blip.

You start to jiggle your leg, but it’s awkward so you rub your feet together. Compulsively. They are cold, you do this when you’re trying to fall asleep. Blip..

You start to think of all the things you would rather be doing. Blip. You think, with guilt about the dishes in the sink and the stories still open in the dock on your computer, refusing to close them because it feels the same as defeat even though you won’t touch them with intention for another few weeks. Blip. The clutter on your home screen drives you crazy, but you refuse to close the tabs. Blip. It’s not that late, you could probably get in a load of laundry and then shower.  Then you can get the dishes done too. Blip. Maybe even a quick sweep. Blip blip.

You notice you’ve started to flex your fingers, that your body is covered in goosebumps. You put on sweatpants and a knit sweater and start walking back and forth across your room -blip- picking up discarded articles of clothing, hanging them up and folding them or putting them in the laundry. Blip. You’ve started the rhythmic counting in your head that you picked up in fourth grade when you started percussion. One, two, blip, four, blip, two, three, four, one, blip, three, four…

You whip your head around. What did you just hear? Was that the front door closing? Is someone home? You realize it was nothing and become aware of the heavy beating in your chest, your shallow breathing. Blip. (Were you doing this before?) It was probably nothing you reassure yourself -blip-, as you pick little pieces of chip and paper off the ground that have collected there since last night. Blip.

You start to think about the untidiness of your apartment. Blip. The untidiness of your life. When was the last time you worked out? Is anxiety considered a disability? Blip, blip. Can you apply for anxiety disability? Blip. You tell yourself you’re not disabled. You’re having a bad day (bad night at least). It’s been a long month. You just need a good cry, you hold too much in. Blip.

So you let yourself cry. It starts off like a tap that hasn’t been used in a while, spitting out water. Your breathing gets faster again, and a sob builds up in your body as you curl yourself up into a ball. You tell yourself to let it all out and the water turns from cold to hot.

You start to feel dizzy. The weight of exhaustion on you now. You want to stop crying. Your hands are shaking, your nose is running, there’s a wet spot that takes up most of your pillow: saliva, snot, and tears. You get up to walk it off, to signal to your body that it is time to stop. (blip, blip, blip)

This is when you start to hyperventilate. The shudders that rock your body as you try to steady your breathing come in shorter spurts. It feels like your body is being buried under 10 feet of sand and you have an oxygen tank that will only last ten minutes to dig yourself out. You grasp at your arms, a weak attempt at hugging yourself. Or pinching yourself. Something. Your fingers stiffen, and your goose bump covered body is sweating profusely but you don’t feel anything. You can’t think anymore.

You convince yourself that you’re a burden; that no one can help you. They’re going to think you’re doing it for attention. No one calls someone when they’re having a real panic attack. They won’t be able to help you anyway – you’ll always have panic attacks and there’s nothing you can do about it. Just let it go, get up and move on. You thought yourself into this so it’s not even real. These small, mean thoughts circle themselves around your brain. With the rest of the sane energy you have you bat them away. You try to call your mom – no answer. You call her boyfriend – no answer. You call your best friend – no answer. They don’t want to talk to you, they have more important things to be doing. You know you do not have what you need to calm down, and you know they won’t either, but someone needs to know that if you don’t start breathing properly in the next 5 minutes you might not make it. If you don’t hear a voice that isn’t your own, you might not make it.

You stop trying to reassure yourself, stop trying to help and the only thought is “I’m going to die if I don’t start breathing”  – but it isn’t even a conscious thought so much as a fact that you’ve come to understand in that moment. You curl into a ball on the ground, rocking yourself back and forth. Drooling onto your knees, fingers clenched into tight fists at the side of your head. You try to yell but choke; your frustration and fear is paramount.

You start crying so hard that you almost gag, and you know you would vomit on yourself because you can’t move to make it to the bathroom, or even the garbage pail across the room.

Your phone starts buzzing. You can barely move an arm to hit the answer button, and you cannot muster a “hello”. Your best friend is on the other side “Hello?! Forest? Are you okay?!” and you sob pitifully and spit onto your screen, managing to moan out a “No”. The next 10 minutes consist of you regaining and losing your breath, and you’ve heard “it’s going to be okay” at least 20 times. When you can finally muster “I’ll be okay”, barely audible through the congestion and sharp intakes and rushing in your ears. You end the call when you realize you can think again.

You whimper, your breathing shudders as you try to gain control again. Your body feels like it is filled with the sand you were being buried under. You peel yourself away from the floor after a year; hanging head, breathing deep, flexing fingers. Hair sticking to your face, sweater sticking to your back.

You laugh sadly and looking the mirror in the bathroom at your red, puffy eyes and face. At the sticky smears of salt water and saliva, the two solid streams of snot that grace your cupids bow and crystallize on your upper lip. It is the face of an oncoming head ache that contradicts the almost-euphoria of being able to breathe again. You think “I hate public displays of anxiety”.

Self-Portraits / January 2019

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.


For more writings, snippets of thought, and art follow me on at @edgarallanfoe

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Halifax Fall 2018 – Home Life

Leonard Cornelius Rose Akhilandeswari

Leonard, or Leo as we call him is the sweet little fuck that was literally dreamt into our home. Found in a storm, starved and small he was found by Emma after she had a dream about him. Both of us had been thinking about and imagining getting a cat. He is a toilet trained holy terror that shows us love and teaches us patience. 

It’s been interesting to see how we both raise him. Emma is kind and sweet, always worried about him. I am more passive, trusting more in his feline energy to guide him with the curiosity he needs. This often means he digs up my plants and poops in them, but it also has given us many occasions for laughter and learning about practicalities of living like communicating when he’s been fed, talking about training processes, splitting bills. He has been a part of my life and development in more ways than just kitty litter. He makes me conscious of conversations, of how I leave my spaces, of who I am and want to be when I get angry. 

Everyday Staples & Spirituality

We are witches in this house, which is a strange thing to say but also comfortable. We believe in energy, in natural remedies, in the power of all things – the power of our own beliefs. 

These past 3 months have been a spiritual cleansing. The staples of my day to day life have changed drastically – things that I used to use for pleasure or ritual or as a “special” thing have now made their way into my day to day life or evolved. We light candles all over the house almost every day. I carry crystals in my pockets and have them at various points all over the house. There is always some kind of tincture, tea, or brew being made with intention and love and the labour that goes into listening to oneself and finding where support is needed. I bought 50 moustaches on amazon because I enjoy wearing them; I think it is funny, I think it is handsome, it makes me feel like Edgar Allan Foe and I love how much I love them. 

I take salt baths. I diffuse essential oils. I water my plants. I make real food. I also eat lots of ice cream. I do my laundry regularly and burn incense every day. I wake up at 5:30AM so I have time to meditate. I sleep in until 10:30AM and don’t have coffee until 1PM on other days. 

Small, Manageable Disasters

This is my surrendering to myself.  This is where I wrote my second book manuscript, where I am learning more deeply to read tarot because I am learning to trust my intuition. Where I am forging new connections with myself and my relationships and my intentions in the world. This is where I walked away from my means to an end – kindly. This is where I met my next beginning. This is where I am asking myself questions. This is where I still colour coordinate my underwear drawer because I like to, not because I will have a panic attack if I don’t. 

I have lived in extremes for so long. Of pure efficiency, like a machine. Of the deep lethargy and apathy of the depressed. I now am feeling human. I am now feeling myself sink into the wonderment of my own messes and finding the physical curation of my life to be a beautiful replica of my emotional life. My spiritual life. My creative life. 

My angsty teenage tumblr was called eunoiaoffo.tumblr.com – eunoia means beautiful thinking. It was a place to put the things that inspired my thoughts, my feelings, that represented the world I saw and wanted to see and lived in. It was the beginning of how I wanted to frame my life and how I wanted to live in my life. I wanted to be a person who had beautiful thoughts – not just in poetry, but about life. A point of view. 

I feel like that was a subtle magic I forgot I was manifesting. Here I am now at 23 with a beautiful home, with my needs covered, with ideas and the ability to produce them. With room to explore and grow. Without the crushing tone of thoughts. Here I am with the work I’ve done and the ability to appreciate it in the present.