Tess. Lotta Photography

“You find peace . . . by realizing who you are at the deepest level” – Eckhart Tolle

Posts tagged ‘Eclectic Witch’

Rebel Grrrl/Rebel Witch: The Magick of Love

As Mabon and Samhain approach, my focus is shifting to the dark mysteries. By Mabon (late September), I am in full prep mode for Samhain season, including lavish altar-making,  planning celebrations and dedications for Witches New Year, spell working Day of the Dead devotions to my ancestors and loved ones that have moved through the veil, and, of course, a Samhain ritual—all enchantments that explore an awareness of rebirth through death.

As a longtime practicing Modern Eclectic Witch, I am super comfy with spirits and spirit work. And, while I work on both sides of the veil throughout the year, at this time, I start to pick up on more “visitors” from the other side than usual. To honor travelers on both sides of the veil, I focus a good portion of my magick workings on Love.

In this life, we are blessed with countless opportunities to love. We are called to the love of family, friends, and children, as well as love for others we may not know in the forms of compassion and kindness. The uniquely incredible thing about Love is that when we commit ourselves to it, when we dare to stand up for the challenge that Love invites, it gives back the most incredible gifts. In these ways, Love is truly an adventure not only into the very heart and soul of the persons we love, but also the unfathomable depths of our own capabilities to provide comfort and kindheartedness for ourselves and others.

For your magickal workings this season, do an inventory of one or two issues with which you are struggling. Meditate, paint, write, sing…whatever method you use to go beneath and calm your busy mind. During this process, conjure a symbol, phrase, or image that symbolizes your compassion for yourself. Manifest this phrase or symbol in physical form: make, find, or purchase a symbolic representation of what self-compassion feels like. Consecrate this symbol and add it to your altar. Then, do the same for someone close to you or others in the world you know are suffering. Find or create a symbol of your compassion for others. Consecrate this symbol and add it to your altar.

This magick provides the very fortunate opportunity to invite acceptance, personal growth, honesty, generosity, dignity, self-expression, trustworthiness, and the giving and receiving of support.

Cheers to the season of the Dark Mysteries—may it be filled with spooky delights and meaningful merriments with those you love both here and there!

For my Witchy craftings, visit my Rebel & Witch store on Etsy

Kitchen Witch: LA Club Night Everything Rub

 

Kitchen Witch: LA Club Night Everything Rub

Prep time: 30 minutes

I named this audacious rub thusly as an homage to my friend Julio. In the late 1980s, the gorgeous Julio was the first person to show me how to respectfully season Elote, the bomb corn-on-the-cob served up by Los Angeles street chefs vending their delicious concoctions from steaming carts.

As any Angelino worth their salt can attest, a zealous bite into this juicy, tangy, spicy corn is deeply satisfying. But, it is especially magic at 3am when the dance club closes and the munchies set in. It was in this particular circumstance that Julio schooled me on the art of dusting the buttery mayo slathered sweet ears o’ corn goodness in smokey chile powder, lime juice, crumbly Cotija cheese, and red pepper flakes. Gah! So damn good.

A few years later, I was working as a prep cook in Seattle, where my love of food blossomed into a love of cooking. As a vegetarian home chef, I created my first version of this rub in my own kitchen, experimenting with flavor combinations that would elevate my veggies in the way those toppings served to adorn that corn. After a few revisions, LA Club Night Everything Rub was officially born.

A wet rub—rather than a marinade—I coat just about everything in this stuff. It offers a deep smokey heat with just enough citrus tang to bring out the agave sweetness. It is the bright star of my iron skillet mushroom, red bell, & squash fajitas, one of my hubby’s favorites.

 

Iron skillet veggie fajitas bathed in LA Club Night Everything Rub – can’t touch this!

 

Cheers to beautiful Julio, Elote vendors, and dance club nights with friends on balmy Los Angeles summer nights!

 

Ingredients:

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

1/4 cup diced chilis in adobo (increase to edge up smoke and heat)

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 tablespoon ground cumin

1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more as needed)

Dash of agave nectar – about a 1/4 teaspoon (find it in sweeteners aisle)

Salt & pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 teaspoon pinch of each)

 

Make:

Combine ingredients in a glass prep bowl and stir with a fork into a paste, mashing the chilis in adobe. Add more olive oil, if desired. Scoop over your heart’s desire until well coated.

Allow to marinate at least 1 hour or, better yet, overnight!

 

Content, recipe, & photos by Tess. Lotta (© 2017 Tess. Lotta)

 

 

Rebel Grrrl/Rebel Witch: Lughnasadh/Lammas & Path of Totality

I came across the astronomical term path of totality just before Lughnasadh when preparing for my ritual work, and the revelations have stuck with me throughout Lammas celebrations, meditations, and divination work. For this Sabbat, my spiritual work has been focused on exploring the shadow I may be casting because of the shadow I may be denying.

The path of totality refers to the area of land darkened during a total solar eclipse. During the eclipse, the moon will cover the sun, effectively casting a shadow. Those of us in the Los Angeles area will be able to see it as a partial eclipse (about 61.38%), starting at 9:05 am to the maximum eclipse at 10:21 am.

At that moment, the sun’s atmosphere is visible, including its corona. And, at that moment, the moon confiscates the sun’s light, hiding it from us and encouraging us to stand within the shadow.

If we were honest with ourselves, most of us would admit to being uncomfortable with our shadow selves, as C.G. Jung refers to the repository part of the human psyche and personality in which we relegate what we label as negative psychological elements. In essence, Jung articulates this as the aggregate of the things we define as inferior or unacceptable within ourselves and each other—what he refers to as the “personal shadow.”

This is where all of our denied expressions of emotions and unexplored pain go, for example. Regardless of what we’d like to believe, denying and avoiding healthy expressions of anger, disappointment, sadness, loss, etc. does not mean it goes away. Often, that unexplored fear, for example, festers and manifests as unconscious habits and behaviors that rip ourselves and each other apart. These bits of nasty baggage sabotage our relationships and keep us feeling isolated and unhappy.

At its most horrific form, our collective unexplored shadow—our cultural, religious, political, and social shadows—surface as what Jung might categorize as en masse manifestations of the archetypal shadow, such as the historic epidemic of rape and violence against women, hatred toward certain groups, and the ferocious devastations caused by greed.

Full on heavy shit to think about….Blessed Be!

When the eclipse is cast on August 21, what will your shadow reveal?

#RadWomenUnite: Marian Gonzalez

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© Tess. Lotta

Marian Gonzalez is an icon of Rebel Beauty. Not only does she hold a huge and kind heart, she possesses that addictive quality of effortless beauty—the kind of glow that grows from investing courageously in community, family, and one’s own freedom of spirit.

I met Marian in 2015, while shooting a bout for the Los Angeles Lady Arm Wrestlers. Known to her LA LAW compatriots and fans as the gothy Martian aristocrat Princess Zarkoja, Marian’s seemingly ominous wrestling persona is underscored by the comedic chops of a theater actor.

LA LAW wrestlers commit not only 100% to their character, but also, alongside equally dedicated volunteers, to the entire endeavor of their seasonal bouts, events that raise funds for local nonprofits. A member of three theater companies (Sacred Fools, Broads’ Word Ensemble, and LOFT Ensemble), this type of dedication is not new to Marian, and as readers will discover in this interview, it is just one spark that fuels her lovely and captivating fire.

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When and how did you become involved with Los Angeles Lady Arm Wrestlers (LA LAW)? 

In 2012, I participated in the first two LA LAW events as part of my friend Alyson’s entourage. Her character was THE TECHNICIAN. Her entourage was composed of adoring actors. I went in drag as Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart. We were both pro-wrestling fans, so she loved that. The next year, I asked if I could wrestle.

From what I witnessed, you are one of the fan favorites! How does it feel to experience that? Importantly, why do you continue to participate in LA LAW? Is it all about the match win? 

Zowie. You can’t see it, but I’m blushing. It is humbling to hear this. Occasionally, I’ve run into people who recognize me—while working as an extra, attending trans activism events, or riding the train. It is amazing anytime I hear someone tell me they like me. But, it makes me so happy that they come to our events and enjoy themselves. Every ticket sold helps people, and I like running into people who have helped.

I do have to say it makes me feel fifty feet tall when someone tells me they’re a fan. This is the closest I’m ever going to get to the inside of a wrestling ring for the WWE, and it makes my heart soar to not only do this, but that people enjoy it.

As fun as it is, a lot of hard work goes into it. I train year round for something that happens two days a year. It feels good to win. I guess I shouldn’t pretend to act like I don’t care, but the wins aren’t the reason I do this.

LA LAW is a big, nuts happening, but its purpose is also to help the community. And, we are a performance event. What matters to me is raising money for the groups we help, putting on a good show, and empowering women. On the night of the event, the show is what matters.

The ladies of LA LAW are all tough as hell. Arm-wrestling any of them is tougher than against any dude. If I lose, I lose. Maybe Zarkoja’s story that night turns to plotting revenge. I just want folks to have fun.

 You shared in regard to wrestling that, “Feeling like I have some control over my body has helped me deal with my dysphoria like almost nothing else.” It would be awesome to hear more of your voice on such an important point you raise. 

Every transgender person is very different. Our stories are greatly varied. One of the things so many of us do have in common is the horror that comes with our bodies changing in ways that we don’t want. Our vessels change in ways that are in defiance of who we are. Sometimes we figure it out early, and we know why puberty is so upsetting, even if there’s nothing we can do about it. Puberty hit and I had no idea why changes that delighted the boys my age made me so sad. It hurt all the more as I got older.

I didn’t understand that I was a woman, but I felt a definite and clear idea that I wanted people to think I was. I just knew that it would be unlikely that anyone would ever believe me. I had no idea what any of this meant. But, the world told me there were so few ways of what women should look like. I certainly didn’t look like that.

At most, I saw the drag queens on Sally Jessie Raphael were what I should have looked like. The guests revealed to be male on “Guess If This Is Really a Woman or Man” episodes on Jennie Jones were  what I should have I looked like. Yet, I certainly was not shaped like either of those! There was no hope. I didn’t feel suicidal, just sad. My vessel betrayed me. I think I may have been depressed.

Being me, it felt like everyone else had control over their bodies, like they had agency, like they weren’t just borrowing their bodies. They looked like they actually lived in them. I wondered what that must have felt like.

Being trans, any control you have over your body is sweet and joyous. Whether it’s stumbling across the right kind of shape wear that helps me stop panicking, or the doctor telling me that my prescription for hormones will be waiting downstairs, to suddenly feel like you have agency over your body feels like moving a mountain.

Tell me about the ways in which wrestling has helped you deal with dysphoria? What do you see as key empowering moments in your journey and why were they empowering? Does your LA LAW persona, Princess Zarkoja, tie in with your journey—how and in what ways? 

I’ve been severely overweight most of my life. I dropped a lot of it. It felt good, but the shape of my body still felt weird.

Around the same time I came out and started presenting as female, I rediscovered pro-wrestling. Women’s wrestling was swinging back towards less of a novelty. They got to develop characters and storylines. They got to actually wrestle, and as hard as the men! Being the kind of lady I am, that on its own felt very Girl Power. The more I watched and cheered the more I noticed something about them.

Every one of those women were unmistakably female. They had broad shoulders and thick arms. They looked like me. It is one thing to believe to your core that what a woman is shaped like is what a woman should be shaped like, to believe that the horrible standards placed on women’s bodies is a deeply structured system that is good and pure to fight against. It is another thing altogether, a very difficult one at that, to feel so positive about one’s self.

Being strong, like capital “S” Strong, wasn’t just a male quality. It was a female quality as well, but it was still seen as a MAN THING. So, when I watched Bayley, and Charlotte, and Chyna, I felt at home. I’m strong, and I feel good about it.

I train six days a week for two nights with LA LAW. Someday, my life might need to take me in a different direction, or I won’t be physically able to do this anymore. But now, my body doesn’t feel like a thing I am borrowing. It feels like it belongs like me. And I know that I’m going to always feel that way forever! And, it is so nourishing.

I gave myself permission to be the woman I am. I want that for every woman. I want every woman to revel in giving themselves permission to be the woman they are. And if Pamela Martinez and Joanie Laurer could be superheroes and women, then I could be a super villain. So, the Most Exalted Princess Zarkoja, True Princess of Mars, is, like her name suggests, vain and bitchy. I love that asshole.

At our photoshoot together, you shared an experience of being misgendered Reflecting on this, in what ways has taking custody over your own body helped you with the ongoing effort of living safely and with dignity in the world?

Not all trans women pass as cis. Not all of us want to. But, if we want to be treated like humans, we sometimes still need to.

I don’t feel great talking about passing or passive privilege. I feel nervous about acknowledging my privilege. It’s not just that talking about it or acknowledging makes me feel like it will go away. But, it makes me feel gross to want it and have it. It feels kind of shitty to acknowledge as someone who passes that I don’t too much care if I pass, so long as people acknowledge that I am a woman. For the most part, that is true.

I just assume that about the world around me. I just assume that people are willing to treat me as who I am. But then, cis women often start talking to me about their cycles. I hear about how it makes them feel and how it’s a part of them (also, it turns out, I have a cycle, too. No one warned me this would happen, but it does, and it’s wonderful and awful and I love it). And, through all this, it is easy to say that I don’t care about passing.

But I do care. People treat you one way if you’re trans, but they treat you like anyone else if they think you’re cis. And, it can mean my safety.

Getting misgendered is a sharp stab that comes into my heart. It feels like an attempt to invalidate my identity to the world around me. Whether it’s subconscious or not, it says to me that even though the person they are seeing is wearing a skirt or makeup and has visible boobs, they don’t care and want to let you know that you are who they say they are. When it happens within earshot of others, my blood turns to ice.

It is one thing to own my identity and feel rooted firmly in my real gender. But, often it feels like it is a courtesy given to me by cisgender people. And, sometimes, it feels like they’ll take it away.

In the spring, I’d decided to change my hair. I had the same haircut since before I’d transitioned. I guess I’d been nervous about changing something that was seen as a signifier of female. So, I got brave and bold and got bangs.

After about a week, I noticed that I hadn’t been misgendered. I’ve made the joke that it feels like my face finally makes sense. If you’re trans, that joke is hilarious.

I still do get misgendered. It’s just far less now. Maybe bangs helped me reach a new level of I Don’t Care. Ugh. Privilege is gross.

I used to be afraid of showing that I was strong. I’d pretend that it was really difficult to carry the laundry or to lift my own suitcase. I’d be afraid that I’d be seen doing something like carrying the groceries and someone would scream that they just saw a man wearing makeup.

After my first time with LA LAW, I didn’t care anymore. I’d lift my own suitcase. And everyone else’s while I was at it! I was Big Barda! I was Bull Nakano and Becky Lynch! Finally, I get to be Pippi Longstocking, like I’d always wanted to be.

You are an actor and member of small performance art theater. When and how did you get into acting/performing?

I was a theater kid in high school. I got very lucky in my junior year when I found the one elective that had a space open. It turned out that I loved acting. It felt like a piece that had been missing.

Not a whole lot came from it afterwards. I didn’t consider studying acting at all. Then, a friend asked me to help be the run crew for a show at Sacred Fools. That was fourteen years ago. I didn’t really start getting serious about pursuing this career until after I came out. I don’t know how to want to do anything else.

Tell me about a few of the personally rewarding aspects of participating in a theater group/company.  

My wife and I met in the theater. Certainly, that’s one of the most rewarding aspects.

Getting on stage and becoming someone else and collaborating with other people to make a thing that makes people smile or feel—these aspects have a spot in my heart, especially with the laughter. Laughter is one of the most honest things a person can feel, and it makes people feel really good when they laugh. The sound of laughter coming at me from something I’ve done makes me feel like I’m doing something right on this planet for other people.

You can choose your friends, and you can choose your family, too, sometimes, even if you don’t intend to. If you’re queer, sometimes you definitely end up needing to choose your family. I’ve found friends that I’m very close to and people who are family. We’re there for each other always. They’re theater nerds like we are.

Do you feel small theater is important to or has an impact on the larger Hollywood industry? Is it more about the craft of acting that is important?

Certainly, it sometimes seems that the prejudices in casting and representation so prevalent in Hollywood influence the theater community. After being told I did good work in a callback, I’ve had producers tell me I’m not being cast because the show isn’t about “topics like that.”

Obviously, so many of us want to be able to work in film and television. However, there are so many actors and so few opportunities. Theater is fantastic in that you get to actually perform and collaborate with other artists to design and produce something that will affect someone in any way. You grow as an artist from so many people putting so much of their souls together to make one thing.

What are a couple things  you find challenging about theater acting and how do you handle these challenges? 

Yeah, it’s hard to be trans, a lady, and brown if you’re an actor. People are often only willing to see you in certain roles. And then are often reluctant to produce works that call for people who aren’t specifically stated as being white, straight, and cisgender. It can be hard to even get an audition sometimes. People still even list breakdowns of characters as Male, Female, and Transgender.

I don’t know how well I handle it. It is pretty easy to feel dragged down. The best way I know is to keep charging forward the best I can. I’ve created my own work in the way of a performance artist routine that’s kind of like a vaudeville routine. And, also, through the opportunities I’ve had with LA LAW. I keep looking for places where I can fit. This helps sometimes.

You and your wife have been married for twelve years, an impressive amount of anniversaries compared to many relationships. How do you feel marriage—working at a long term, committed relationship—has changed you for the better? In what ways has marriage to your wife challenged you to grow? 

I couldn’t have figured out who I am without her help. Certainly, I wouldn’t have felt confident enough to explore my identity without her support. Coming out is scary.

I’m terrible at communication, sharing what I feel and think. This isn’t helpful in a marriage. Working on it has been a difficult process. Growing emotionally has helped me engage with her and the world in a healthy way.

Learning patience and a willingness to listen to the needs of someone who is not me has come hard. I really wouldn’t have been able to come out without her. Learning to be honest and open with her means I learn to be open and honest with myself.

Any final thoughts to share? 

For all that I’m feeling empowered and confident and joyous, I’m scared a lot these days. More than usual. Every year more and more trans women of color are killed. I’m past the average life expectancy for someone like me. Every day I’m alive feels like a statistical anomaly, and it makes me mad. It makes me impatient with creeps, too.

As much as my mortality is the constant background noise, it occupies so little of my mind. I just try to be careful. Most of my headspace is about monsters from history, and trying to figure out which bits of local lore I tell people is real or imagined.

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Dial In:

Marian was recently cast in her first film role in the upcoming Just a Little Bit Longer. On August 19th, she’ll be performing in Fast n’ Loose at Sacred Fools.

Find out more, including her podcast, click here to find Marian’s website!

Kitchen Witch: Michelle Pauline’s Chimichurri Bitches!

 

Michelle’s veggie campfire tacos graced lovingly with Chimichurri Bitches!

Michelle Pauline’s Chimichurri Bitches!

Prep time: 30 minutes

Welcome to Kitchen Witch’s Food Alchemist, my new guest chef feature. For this inaugural post, I’m psyched to share Chimichurri Bitches! sauce.

Guest chef Michelle Pauline is the star behind this particular creation. A visual artist, sculptor, and art instructor, Michelle is also a top-notch culinarian. Her take on classic Argentinian chimichurri verde, Michelle’s recipe offers a variation that includes cilantro.

A mistress of grilling & cooking on an open campfire (or any dang fire she can tame with a metal grate, her fire resistant gloves, and a foil baking pan), Michelle debuted her Chimichurri Bitches! at our annual artist-girls camping trip this past June. And, my Goddesses, were we treated to the deliciousness of her foodie mastery. Super happy campers, indeed!

Chimichurri Bitches!

A spectacular condiment on anything (seriously, our morning scrambled eggs leapt at the chance to be so bathed), Chimichurri Bitches! was, simply put, the crowning statement of Michelle’s campfire tacos, a dinner offering that paired well with the incredible sunset descending on our campsite. As one of three vegetarians in our troop, I about wept after the first bite of toasted corn tortilla crammed full with a combo of perfectly roasted sweet potatoes, red and yellow bells, jalapeños, and tart tomatillos slathered in Chimichurri Bitches! perfection.

Yay! Campfire peppers a’ roasting!

While the parsley version is a superb homage to traditional chimichurri, I am a devotee of cilantro. This tangy goodness is perfectly tailored to leave a luscious bite of jalapeño and red pepper flake on the tongue, while the bold earthiness of the cilantro and parsley with the oregano enhances main dish players, such as caramelized roasted veggies and, per tradition, grilled meats (from the raves of the carnivorous campers, the chicken tacos were bomb diddy). It is the best chimichurri I’ve spooned over anything!

Nice grill marks! Michelle, Cheryl, and Avonel scooped coals from the campfire into a BBQ at the cabin to grill the chicken breasts…just a little S&P for seasoning.

Like its creator, this sauce is unpretentious, big-hearted, adventurous, unique, and just a bit mischievous. Cheers to Chimichurri Bitches!, campfires, sunsets, and super rad girlfriends. Thanks, Michelle, for the recipe that follows!

Chef Michelle prepping a plate o’ tacos for me!

Ingredients:

1 bunch flat leaf parsley (see option variation below)

8 cloves garlic

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Juice from a 1/4 lemon

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 roasted jalapeño

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (this can be done to taste, but it needs at least a little bit)

1 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Option:

Add 1/2 bunch cilantro instead of parsley

Make:

Roast jalapeño by pre-heating a frying pan or seasoned cast iron skillet over high heat. Add jalapeño pepper, turning pepper to sear each side. You want them charred but not burnt, as they will get bitter. Continue until the entire skin of the pepper skin becomes blackened. The flesh should feel soft to the touch (be careful when you test—hot stuff!). Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let them sweat a bit to cool and then peel and remove the stem (see note on the seeds below).

Peel garlic cloves and roughly chop using a food processor (or blender).

Add the fresh herb of choice (parsely or cilantro) to the processor and pulse to roughly chop.

Toss the rest of the ingredients into the processor and blend up, but not too much. You don’t want to make the herbs bitter with too much processing.

Transfer to a jar and let this baby marinate in its own juices for a day. This shit is good on anything! Even cardboard.

Note on jalapeño seeds & heat–they are hot: if you don’t want as much heat in your sauce, once the pepper has cooled, remove the seeds…..tee hee, I said, “heat in your sauce”!

Sorry not sorry :)…I just had to post the sunset!

The Crew! I love how the fog rolling in made us look like a doom metal band. I’m on the far right, looking like a thug in my Crocs – lol!

Content & photos by Tess. Lotta (© 2017 Tess. Lotta)

Recipe by Michelle Pauline (© 2017 Michelle Pauline)

Rebel Grrrl/Rebel Witch: Litha/Summer Solstice/Midsummer – Align and Catch Fire

Fire & Stars in the Sequoias

Litha/Summer Solstice marks the astrological event when the Earth’s axis is aligned with the sun. As a result, we are provided the opportunity to revel not only in the longest daylight of the year, but also a powerful astrological configuration. And, thanks to the full moon on June 9, we are privileged with the opportunity for powerful complementary magic. A full moon ushering in a solstice equals an influential dyadic spark just waiting for us to tap in and ignite.

As an eclectic witch, my spiritual practices often veer from the strict adherence to traditional Wicca. While I embrace many of the correspondences related to Litha, including adding elements to my altars and ritual work that regard the associations that speak to me, I stray from idealizing the virility of a Sun god as the focus of ritual work and celebration of this Sabbat. Instead, my Litha is more about inviting the sun–its heat, illumination, radiance, and transformative power–to do its magic and teach its lessons.

This year, I have the great fortune of a long weekend trip to the Sequoias with a group of female artist friends. One of the things I love about these annual expeditions is the spontaneous magic that happens when chilling around the campfire with a pack of rad, strong women armed with wine, humor, stories, truths, creative insight, and self-reflection. Within that intention, our nightly campfire becomes a ritual space.

Protected by giant Sequoia Devas and surrounded by my sisters, this is my Litha—a time to recalibrate and set alight a freshly realigned inner compass. As the earth rotates away from the sun, the June 21 Solstice will wane, and the dark blue hues of night will begin to pierce the fiery oranges of summer light.

How will you catch the fire?