Self Portraits / 2019 / Session Nº2

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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Solo Suite

I’ve wanted to live on my own pretty much always. My mom used to bug me as a teenager, with her own rituals and way of having her house. I felt confined to one room and always felt stifled – like I was trying to fit into a place that was half the size of me.

As an “adult” I was obsessive about my apartments with roommates that drove me crazy because of how towels were folded or like I was a bad person because I hated doing my dishes in a tiny sink. I am far from perfect to live with, but in that I also have high expectations for living. What do you mean you don’t wipe down your baseboards once a month?!

For the longest time – since I was a child – I have always lived in quirky homes. Old places with nooks and character and weird boxes of clothes left in portions of closets that were beyond forgotten. Places that induced weird dreams and feelings of being watched late at night by things I couldn’t see. I got good at curating these spaces and finding my own spin on them.

I found this couch and a matching ottoman at HomeSense for 450$! It’s a soft velvet, has storage in both pieces, is firm yet comfortable; it’s modern, light-weight, and the perfect place to curl up for a nap, read, coffee, or with a pal.

Living with people is hard. It’s even harder when you like the person because you want to share – for there to be less rules and more relationship. When you live with someone you have to be cognizant of their energy as well as yours. You have to create boundaries with empathy and find compromise and be able to pick up the slack sometimes but also not take shit when another is slacking.

After 4 years of paying rent with other people, of having higher standards and bought’s of irritation and disappointment and confusion over who I am in the eyes of others, I made a move. The move.

I’m not very good at endings. Usually because I will hold out until it is too bitter to keep with; because I want to believe the best in others and the worst in myself before I come to a clear place of assessment. Because sometimes I can’t tell where my anxiety is coming from or if it’s warranted. After a conversation with my roommate saying I would be happier on my own, I signed a lease 3 days later. It was like the universe was waiting patiently to support me in a dream I’ve had since I was a kid – like it knew I had come to the last spring in a marathon of patience. Like the world wanted me to flourish and knew the exact plot to plant me in.

So here I am. Living in a modern studio – so much of a difference from my sprawling, awkward, and antique abodes of the past. It has built in storage everywhere (that my organizationally inclined side adores), all the appliances to make life easy, and feels like the bedroom I always dreamt of as a child. There is something so relaxing about having everything in one room. It’s accessible, efficient, and easy to decorate.

This is the first book of the 80 penguin classics I am reading this year – it feels grounding to know that I am already working on my list of resolutions + goals for the year.

I have only been here a few days, and only spent my first night here last night.Even though it has been a short time, the change is palpable. I can taste how relaxed I feel. I enjoyed one of the best sleeps I’ve had in months. I woke up early and lit candles, made coffee, listened to classical music. I called my mom and had breakfast and even did my dishes after. I had time to shower and to get dressed in an outfit I love and walk to work early. Every single moment feels like a ritual of love and dedication to myself – like I’m was looking out for my best interest. Like I’m not planning my life anymore but somehow had gotten to a place where my life is just flowing in a way that I know it should have been all along – that I know I was getting to all along.

My first real evening here I made nachos for my boyfriend and I. We listened to music and laid on the bed talking before he made his short journey home. I had a bath and lit candles. I meditated and enjoyed tea and went to bed when I was tired. These are mundane details of my life but I think the point is that there was so much meaning behind them. These were small moments where I felt at home in the life I’ve created. It’s humbling to see the life I’ve dreamed of; wished for; written about materialize around me.

I would never take back my experiences living with other people. I have so many fond memories. There was so much more laughter than there ever was frustration. The lessons I learned are invaluable not only in living solo, but in life in general. I worked more on my flaws than I would have alone because I was accountable for a shared space and shared energy. I discovered boundaries that are essential for my well-being. I was given opportunity to learn and strengthen myself everyday. And now I have the chance to do that in a new way.


If you want to see more of my new digs and keep updated on the goings-on of my world you can follow me on instagram @edgarallanfoe

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Wicca – What + Why?

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.

quartz, amethyst, citrine, lapis lazuli

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.

Tarot

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.

tarot cards I choose from the Rider-Waite deck in a ritual – I went through the deck and pulled the cards that held energy I wanted to manifest

Meditation

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.

Crystals

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

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.

Intention Setting

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.

WILDER CAFE

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.

THE ‘GRAM

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.

bottom far right image is not mine! check out Sam Polzin

THE GROWTH

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.

photos above taken by Calm Elliot-Armstrong for our Open Mic – see more here


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.

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. 

Enchantment

Enchantment

You’d run the shower all night if it sounded like rain on your window, the clouds weeping happiness that winters cold heart had melted. Loving us right through the bottom of our feet and the tops of our heads, feeling how each drop feels instead of feeling how it feels to be wet.