Reclaiming the Serpent


This is a gif I made today. I don't think it is necessarily in response to the election, but it probably has something to do with it. In general I have a fascination with women and snakes because, as I mention in this post (x), some goddesses were once associated with snakes. But after the spread of Christianity, the snake was forevermore associated with Eve and sin. I've done a few photo projects about reclaiming these ideas, and I will probably do many more. Anyways, a phrase that has been stuck in my head is "holy rage". The power that lies in our anger. The world has never been fair to women, and it certainly looks like it's not heading in a great direction after the election of a man who brags about sexual assault. But I think the best thing we can do is be angry. To fight back. Trump's election made me truly heartbroken and frightened. I was devastated that my country still hated women enough to elect an extremely under-qualified man over an extraordinarily over-qualified woman. It made me feel powerless in my womanhood. 

I have realized however, that while those feelings are certainly valid,  I needed to look beyond that. Yes, I feel crushed and sad. But there are immigrants, LGBTQ+ citizens, Muslim men and women, and people of color who feel truly threatened. I recognize that as a white cisgender woman in a straight relationship, I can't imagine the pain that so many other people in this country are feeling. I recognize that while Hillary Clinton was beaten down by misogyny, Donald Trump had risen to power on a platform of racism. The majority of white female voters in this country voted for him, showing me that this was a election about race more than anything. As Van Jones said on CNN, this was a "white-lash" against the incredible black president we have had the honor of having in office, as well as the continually louder voices that speak out against the hate crimes committed in this country. White people are afraid that as this country becomes more diverse and more vocal, they will lose their own privilege. And as ashamed as I am to be a part of the white demographic right now, I need to understand my privilege. I need to fight back with the privilege I have, even if I don't feel directly in danger. It's imperative that we fight back with whatever power we have. As horrendous as this has been, I am so inspired by the way people around the country have been using their voices.
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It's here, my favorite day of the year!!! This October felt very important. I feel like I stepped into something significant this month. October is always so special to me. The veil between worlds is thinnest now and I really can feel it. One of the artists I featured last post wrote an amazing description of the history of Halloween so definitely check it out here: (x). Even though the month is almost up, I feel that I have begun to uncover more of myself and I don't want to give that path up. As we enter the "dark half" of the year, you can expect more witchiness, magic, femininity, and nature. This time of the year is always so cleansing to me, I just love it. 

I worked SO HARD on my costume this year, and I am so pumped to share it. I decided to embody Gustav Klimt's "Judith with the Head of Holofernes" from 1901. This work depicts the Old Testament heroine Judith, who used her sensuality to lure her enemy Holofernes (the general who was trying to take over her village) to her. After she had gotten the man drunk, she cut off his head, thus saving her village. She is looked at as a symbol of piety and modesty. Even though she used her sensuality to lure a man, she did it for her religion and people. In the Renaissance, this idea was explored through many paintings under a theme called "Power of Women". This topos explored the ways in which women could dominate men. It seems that Klimt tapped into this idea, making his Judith more of a femme fatale character. When he first painted this, his mostly Jewish elite audience was shocked, thinking that perhaps he meant to title the piece after Salome, a more sinister character. But no, his woman was Judith and she became the symbol a woman who is both sexual and respected. I love her unapologetic vibes and I was so excited to make this costume.

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Inspiration: The Season of the Witch

Prehistoric and Classical Art 
I feel I need to begin my discussion by mentioning that women were once worshiped for their magical abilities. This Minoan Snake Goddess was praised for her closeness to nature through snakes, since snakes slithered on the earth. Snakes also shed their skin, so they are symbols of transformation which became a major theme in witchcraft and magic throughout the world in general. Hekate in Greek mythology was a well-respected and worshiped goddess of witchcraft and magic. She was also thought to be a protector of children, even though witches were later thought to be harmful towards children. Know your roots, kids! The witch was sacred before man tainted her.
Medieval and Renaissance Art
Now we jump to my favorite period. A time when women were thought to be witches simply because they were women. They were burned, drowned, and hung simply for understanding things that men did not. Art from the time reflected men's fears, depicting witches simply as naked women. Their nudity was thought to be a symbol of temptation. A witch could tempt a man into wickedness, and therefore men made their art a warning against them. I wrote a whole article on this in Lone Wolf Magazine (x) if you are interested! 
Francisco Goya
Goya used his witch paintings as a criticism of the tactics used during the Spanish Inquisition. He used them to make fun of the superstitions held by the government that he saw as medieval and wrong. His paintings feature traditional witch imagery: the women are nude and sometimes levitating. Goats represent the devil, proving how ridiculous the fear of the devil is. Goya's witches aren't used to comment on the female sex, but rather the social environment that the artist lived in. 
Pre-Raphaelite Movement
With the Pre-Raphelite movement, artists sought to regain what was "lost" with the Masters of the Renaissance. They thought that the strict formulas and poses for art-making were too restrictive, so they wanted to return to the bright colors and attention to detail of the Italian Quattrocento. Their subjects were often women and the beautiful subjects of literature. They were concerned with nature and oftentimes magic. For this reason, the witch imagery that came from this era marked a switch in the witch identity. No longer were they necessarily evil women to be feared. Instead, they were women close to nature, their beauty and symbolism emphasized. Characters like Morgan Le Fay  and Circe were popular to paint, since they represented themes of magic, transformation, and prophecy. Basically, magical women were actually revered during this period of art.
Marjorie Cameron
I have a lot of feelings about this woman, so I will try to keep it short. Marjorie Cameron was an Los Angeles-based artist, mostly prominent during the 50s and 60s. She worked with her husband, Jack Parsons, who was a scientist in Pasadena. Together they worked to unlock secrets of the occult. Her art reflected her explorations, as she often drew amazing witchy women and surreal characters. 
The Amazing Witchy Artists Today!!!
I follow a lot of witch artists on Instagram and I just had to share a few with you. I love the amazing surge of magic happening within women right now. I mean, it's always been there, but it's just exciting to live in a world where we can share our art and magic so easily. Some favorites are Poison Apple Print Shop (x), Mori Raito (x),  and Rebecca Artemisia (x). 
This blog (and my life) has no shortage of witch musings. Naturally I have to get extra witchy this time of year, so I wanted to do a post on my favorite subject: witch art! The image of the witch has changed quite a bit throughout time and I find this evolution to be fascinating and indicative of attitudes toward women, sexuality, and nature. I hope this has inspired you just a lil' bit. I could honestly spend my whole life studying the evolution of witches in art (and I just might). Just remember that the "witch" wasn't always the green-skinned lady in The Wizard of Oz. Witches have a colorful history, and their stature as terrifying women alone is enough to make them feminist icons. 
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The Plague Doctor

I spotted the work of Zai Zai Jewelry on Etsy (x) about a month ago. She makes fantastic necklaces out of polymer clay and there were quite a few I simply needed. But this one...I knew I needed this one for October. I dropped very heavy hints to Ian and he got it for me for our anniversary (3 years woohoo)! This is honestly the most unique necklace I have ever seen. I showed it to Ian's dad and he said"...what is the significance of the breasts?" To which I answered, "I really don't know but aren't they fabulous?" This necklace is called The Plague Doctor in reference to the mask that the woman is wearing. These masks were used during the Bubonic Plague to shield the doctors from the airborne illness. They would stuff the beaks of the masks with herbs and flowers to help with the smell and provide protective properties. I think this necklace was so arresting for me because the heavy mask next to the woman's flesh just feels so wrong. She seems to symbolize protection but also vulnerability, like a Goddess of the Plague or something. 
Things like this are obviously right up my alley: I, being a girl who loves studying medieval art and practices, can't help but get excited every time someone references these things in their art. I like that the style is slightly steampunk, so it almost brings the piece into the realm of Victorian gothic. I knew I needed some eerie pictures to go along with it so I shot these in my bathroom. I think I will feature it again as the winter months come, hopefully outside next time so I can get some more evenly-lit detail shots. For now, please enjoy my ghostly take on the Plague Doctor Goddess. 
Necklace -- Zai Zai Jewelry // Bodice -- UO circa 2011 
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Cabinet of Curiosity III

I've done a few of these posts, but for y'all who don't know, Cabinet of Curiosity is a collection of things I am vibing with. It's inspiring images, clothing, jewelry, et cetera. This month I am feeling particularly witchy of course. Channeling the fantastic film The VVitch, as well as these sabbath photographs from the 1910s. Loving jewelry with runes and symbols, and wanting to wear flowy tops that are still cinched close to the body. I am loving the low-cut bodice situation going on in the top right...does anyone know what that cut is called? All links can be found on my Pinterest! (x)
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Katrina Van Tassel

Following my Tim Burton post, I just had to post an outfit inspired by a Sleepy Hollow character, right? Originally I had planned to create this look with a black and white corset I was going to make myself, but GET THIS: literally no fabric store around me had black and white striped fabric. Luckily I fished some faux leather from my stack of fabric and crafted this fun little belt/corset. This outfit was of DIY importance for me. I feel like a lot of blogs have not been taking advantage of the DIY direction that fashion is moving in. I love how so many pieces these days are deconstructed and edgy, but it seems like people aren't brave enough to take that on themselves. We seem to be in an "anything goes" period of fashion, and I really wanted to take advantage of that. I turned an old striped blouse backwards and sewed some fancy sleeves onto the end of it. I tied a ribbon around my neck and cut my own damn jeans. I don't think we should be afraid of taking fashion into our own hands--that's the whole point of blogging right? This is a very silly and fanciful look, but for October and one of my favorite movies, I thought it was the right time to get creative. 

On Katrina Van Tassel: my oh my, she is the woman I want to be. I mean, she has seen some shit and lost a lot of people, but still she's so cool. For those not familiar, Katrina is the daughter of the richest man in Sleepy Hollow. Katrina exists in most (and I assume all) retellings of the Sleepy Hollow legend, but she rarely is given any more agency than her position as a Van Tassel and a beautiful woman. In Tim Burton's 1999 film though, she is a witch (really a healing woman) who falls in love with Ichabod (played by Johnny Depp and I would fall much quicker if I were her, let me tell you). Young Masbeth says of her: "[She is] a strange sort of witch, with a kind and loving heart." It's refreshing to see witches in this film shown as "children of nature" as Ichabod says it, especially when 100 years earlier New England was running wild with accusations of witchcraft--a term that then meant dealings with the devil. I always love the recognition of witches in film for what they really were: people (mostly women) who understood nature and its ways of healing. Katrina in Sleepy Hollow casts spells to protect her loved ones, follows men into the woods to help them solve mysteries, and wears some amazing dresses. I just had to honor her with my own reimagining of her iconic black and white gown. 
Outfit details: 
Shirt -- TJ Maxx many moons ago // Corset & Sleeves -- DIY // Shoes -- Target // Jeans -- H&M // Nail Decals -- NailPop
Thank you to Maddy for photos in the graveyard by her house!

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Inspiration: Tim Burton

Red alert! Red alert! It's October inspiration time. It just so happens that my Halloween inspo is my all-year inspo, but I feel that now is an appropriate time to share. Of course I'm talking about Tim Burton today. When people ask me what I want to do when I grow up, I generally respond "I want to be the female Tim Burton." Well, Tim Burton pre-2010's. (A lot of Burton fans will tell you he went bad after 1999 but I disagree, if only for the sake of Corpse Bride...okay Sweeney Todd too.) Since I'm an art history lady, I want to talk mainly about the visual aspects of Tim Burton's films and how they have inspired me.
BEETLEJUICE. BEETLEJUICE. BEETLEJUICE. Every time I watch this film is it so entertaining and hilarious. I'm not super attached to it, but this is really where we first see Burton's visual style and a theme that will continue through his films: Suburban Goth. Lydia, played by Winona Ryder, is the ultimate muse here, having famously claimed "My life is one big dark room." Seriously, goaaaals. Her bangs and costumes are flawless. Her wedding dress at the end was actually made in DTLA by a designer who makes dresses for Latin American parties like Quinceaneras. Next time I am rollin around the Fasion District I am going to be wondering jealously who got to dress Winona Ryder. Lydia's mother, a wine mom with a taste for *modern art* is dressed all in Japanese designers. Most iconic, though, is Beetlejuice's striped suit. This aesthetic carries through the rest of Burton's films and I feel like the black and white stripe pattern that I so lovingly wore in my emo days is of direct Tim Burton influence. Also check out this cool article: (x).

Omg Edward Scissorhands. Why did I feel that Edward was the perfect man for me when I was 13? I liked leather and misunderstood boys, I guess. This is where we see the true Suburban Goth, with those fucking amazing rainbow houses in contrast with the dark castle on the hill. The juxtaposition between boring people and weirdos was too real. As Tim Burton's first project with Johnny Depp, and really the film that put Johnny Depp on the map, this film holds a special place in my heart. Edward is just a kind boy lost in a world that doesn't understand him. Pair that with the fact that I had reason to believe that I too would find a tortured soul that looked like Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands made me feel "not so alone" as an equally tortured teenager.

Aw okay how could I not mention Nightmare Before Christmas? My boyfriend and I just watched this and admittedly we agreed the best part is definitely the opening in Halloweentown, but this film is fantastic nonetheless. We saw Danny Elfman perform the score at the Hollywood Bowl last year and it was honestly one of the best concerts I've ever been to. In thinking about the visual language of this film, I think it is so much more about movement than any of Burton's other films. The spindly legs of Jack Skellington are so spideresque while Sally is the perfect stiff ragdoll. I am still shocked by how striking the eerie light in this film is--I have no idea how one achieves this in stop-motion filmmaking. More than anything, I think I love this one because it is kind of an exercise in monster-making. The artists really got to dream up all of the Halloween monsters and come up with their personalities in a very funny and charming way.

This is probably my favorite Tim Burton film: Sleepy Hollow!!!! More outcast Johnny Depp goodness. I don't know how I am supposed to believe that no one likes Ichabod because damn, those cheekbones. And then there is my favorite lady, Katrina Van Tassel. More on her coming soon... Because it is set in New England farming village in the fall, the colors in Sleepy Hollow are pretty stark, mostly blacks, greys, and browns. But that, my friends, is what allows for the blood to look so deliciously striking on camera. Burton does an almost orange-red blood which makes it all the more Halloween-y. I also especially love the little nods to steampunk with Ichabods "instruments of his own design." Sleepy Hollow is so Victorian and lovely, even though the time period might not exactly match up with the Victorian era.

And last but not least, Corpse Bride! Again, this one was of emo importance to me. "Can a heart still break once it's stopped beating?" All that unrequited love stuff had me feeling all the feels. This one is actually set in the Victorian era, with main characters named Victoria and Victor. Obviously owing to advances in stop-motion filmmaking, this film appears to be so much sleeker than Nightmare Before Christmas. This allows for more close-ups on the beautiful props used and generally a more ethereal look. The juxtaposition between the living and dead worlds are very fun, but ultimately I just love the character of Emily and her ability to move between the two realms. She is so fun but also a classic Victorian beauty and I mean she turns into butterflies so that's pretty cool.

Tim Burton has always represented escapism for me. So many of his stories are set in suburbia or some Victorian version of " strict normality", but so much magic and weirdness happens there. His films always made me believe that the world might be a little stranger than it appears, which is very important to me I think. He provides Halloween as well as year-round inspiration for me.
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like a lady

Maddy said to me, "You look very safari." I was kind of going more for cool lady who wears men's clothes and goes on adventures...which I guess could be safari-esque. Okay but secret time: I was really thinking about Catriona in Penny Dreadful. I'm sorry for the reference point--this blog honestly gets nerdier with every post, but I just finished Penny Dreadful a few days ago. I watched the whole series in like five days. It was so good and I don't really know how I hadn't watched it before this. 
Okay anyways, the point is I wanted to look like a badass slightly steampunk vampire hunter...probably didn't necessarily achieve that but I like this outfit nonetheless. I wore it out to Apple Hill with my friends. (Apple Hill is a region in my hometown made up of orchards and pumpkin patches. It's basically a fall dream.) It was a gorgeous day and made the world feel like October. Finally! 

Outfit details:
Sleeveless Trench--SheIn // Overalls -- Madewell // Boots -- Madewell // Scarf -- Vintage
Cuff -- Madewell // Necklace -- my childhood closet? // Sunglasses -- Garrett Leight

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Muse: Half-Hanged Mary

A small tribute to a woman of history. The words are from Margaret Atwood's poem "Half-Hanged Mary" about a woman whom she believed to be her ancestor. Half-Hanged Mary was executed for suspected witchcraft in Salem, but she did not die. She seems a fitting muse for the beginning of the wildest and most mysterious month. The photos are mine, taken of my friend Arianna who encourages me to be my wildest self.

This is who I am. I want this space to follow.
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Inspiration: Ziegfeld Follies

A post for the last day of September that really just signifies me looking forward to October. Things are about to get real spooky on my blog. I just love Halloween and I can't help but make the entire month about it. For now I want to share some amazing costumes with you to kick off the best season of the year. I recall finding a book on the Ziegfeld Follies during my freshman year of college and falling absolutely in love. The Ziegfeld Follies was a revue show in New York in the 1920s. It was something like a Broadway show but also a vaudeville variety show. Most importantly, the "Ziegfeld Girls," who I imagine were like the 20s equivalent of go-go dancers, were dressed in the most exquisite costumes EVER. Here are some photographs of the costume collection entitled "The Illuminants."
"The Illuminants" is a costume collection based on different sources of light. The girls are dressed as the moon, a lightbulb, a lantern--and the one on the left just above is the Northern Lights which I find to be fantastic. Something about this collection in particular embodies the wonder of the 20s for me. It reflects a time when technology was changing but old superstitions still remained. The same could be said for today, I suppose, but I just like to think about how sparkly the world would have looked at this time when universal electricity was new and exciting. I've always felt like I responded very strongly to different light sources and as a photographer light is very important to me, so I just love this.

I'm not positive who designed these costumes, but I  would assume it was Erté, who designed a lot of the show's pieces. Erté was a sort of "King of Art Deco" and was a contributor to Harper's Bazaar as a fashion illustrator, as well as to show business with design. Erté just makes me dream.
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