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Sarah Faith Gottesdiener is a many-armed goddess and magical warrior woman who must have a to-do list of epic proportions. She is a designer, art director, and artist whose artwork and design is based in the spiritual, feminist, and mystical. She teaches workshops pertaining to tarot and moonbeaming (connecting with and working with the power of different phases of the Moon to manifest), and gives tarot readings to interested parties. Sarah’s work is done in the service of divine feminine empowerment and she considers it a huge gift and honor to be able to tell strangers sacred truths about their unique paths and evolution.
Modern Women is Sarah’s intersectional feminist gear company, combining the different elements of designing, art-making, publishing, editing, and collaborating under the unifying umbrella of Feminist and Queer philosophy. I became aware of one of Modern Women’s wonderful offerings, The Many Moons workbook, late last year and true to form, I ordered it immediately…only to have it sit on my shelf, untouched, until early March. Sigh.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. The Many Moons workbooks Volumes One and Two are full of information and research on the major Moon phases (New, Waxing, Full, Waning, & Dark) during the first and of the second halves of the year, respectively. Self-published by Sarah Faith, who is joined by a wonderfully diverse collective of experienced practitioners of various modalities, the books contain recipes, spell working suggestions and advice, manifestation musings, Tarot Talk, and self-help and development prompts to aid you in your evolution, healing, and to get your momentum and desires moving and flowing. These workbooks imagine a world where witches, women, femmes, & weirdos make their dreams come true, and help others and the greater collective in service of their higher self and of spirit.
…and you can jump in at any time! So what if you didn’t start in January? Sarah Faith notes that the suggestions are not limited to that time or moon phase only– they can be reflected upon and utilized at anytime. One should feel free to practice in varying degrees depending on circumstance and need. So even if you waited until the very last month in Volume One (le whoopsie!) it’s okay. It really is. And now you can pre-order Many Moons Volume Two for 2017, which begins in July and focuses on the last half of the year: July- December.
Haute Macabre recently asked some nosy questions of the extremely gracious Sarah Faith about The Many Moons workbook, and how the moon and its magic influences her creative practices. Read on for our illuminating Q&A and be sure to pre-order your copy of Volume Two, because–I am told–they sell out quite fast!
Haute Macabre: “Why the moon?” you ask of the reader/practitioner at the beginning of Many Moons Vol.1. I’d like to flip the question around and ask the same of you. Why the moon? Why moon magic? Can you talk about your connection to this luminous celestial body as it relates to your other passions and creative practices and feminist work that you do?
Its so hard to know where to begin with this question!
The Moon has become my guiding light. I speak a LOT about the metaphors of the Moon in my workbooks, so I’ll keep it short here— she’s a timekeeper, a reflection, a way of seeing, a force governing water and all water bodies, an activator, an instigator, a permission-granter, an illuminator…
From a practical standpoint Moon magic just works. At heart, I’m an intellectual East Coast skeptic and I only believe in things when they work. And working a whole Moon cycle the whole way through is incredibly effective. Working a whole Moon cycle addresses the 7 great Hermetic principles, it allows one to process mentally, emotionally, and magically transformations a body is looking to undergo. It is a holistic, natural way of seeing the world; breaking away from either/or and if/then thinking; this cycle is a process is progress. Internally and externally, externally and internally.
Working with the Moon in this way, and the way I attempt to communicate and outline in my workbooks, form a baseline of how I view and treat my own life. Its been a radical reimagining, and it is Feminist and anti-capitalist and anti-patriarchal for sure in nature. One of the things I strive to do in my own work is inspire and help others. Part of that is sharing all I know and all I have learned, in the hopes that others will be helped and/or inspired.
It’s important to share these tools, as these tools have— if I’m being honest— in part, saved my life. At the very least, they’ve certainly allowed for a richer, more present way of interacting with the world and engaging with processes of all kinds. Quite frankly, I’ve also been able to womanifest many things beyond my most sparkly dreams doing this work. So why wouldn’t I want to share it with others?
I’ve read a bit of your origin story for Many Moons Vol.1, how your muse straight up told you, “hey, you need to write a workbook!” How did the project take off from there? Was your Muse guiding you each step of the way, or did it sort of give you your marching orders and sit back and watch things unfold? How did you gather your contributors? Did you have a wishlist of folks? Did it all come together the way you envisioned?
Yes, this is true. For years I had been teaching classes and workshops on working with the cycles of the Moon. People from all over had contacted me and asked me to come teach, but of course, I can’t just hop on a plane and fly to Atlanta or wherever. All of my classes and workshops are priced to be somewhat affordable ($50 or under), so that means traveling a far distance to teach isn’t financially feasible for me. I had wanted to get this work out there more, so had thought of maybe of working on a book. But working on a book seemed too daunting, like it would take numerous years. So one day I got the message very clearly that I was to write a workbook, and I was to do this for 3 years. Ironically, I’ve now ended up writing four books, all well over 100 pages, in 2 years. So maybe I should have just written ONE book! haha. ha.
Anyway, back to Spirit, the muse, and process. We are all receiving messages, or available to receive messages from other realms and sources—that’s part of being a human, particularly a creative human. (And, yes, we are ALL creative humans.) From experience, I’m just open to listening to my intuition and messages that come in and acting on that. I get many, many messages and ideas all the time. It is up to me with what I choose to actually create and follow through on. Carrying it out in the 3-D realm is all up to me.
I was lucky enough to channel just about all of the first workbook. That is to say, it was incredibly easy to write, all the information was there already. And because this was a message from Spirit (or source, or the muse, whatever you would like to call it) and was guided by inspiration, I wasn’t interested in profit or like, becoming the Moon lady expert or anything. I’m not trying to brand myself as anything. I’m just a person, sharing things that have worked for me. I think that’s helped me with this project, particularly as all things “moon” are seemingly everywhere now.
Subsequent workbooks have all felt different. Number 2 felt a bit more like “work.” I had to have discipline, that edition felt a bit more grounded. I wrote the book all over the place—in planes, in hotel rooms, in different cities, as I was doing a lot of traveling at that time.
Number 3, the current one, that goes until June, felt pretty seamless. This one that is about to come out feels more “intentional”. I knew the project was 2/3 of the way through, so there were some basic witch craft stuff I felt like I needed to talk about, like spell basics and manifesting basics and such. This was mainly based on a lot of messages from people I would get about these topics, and I just needed a place to respond to them. Of course this is all based on my experiences, what I do, how I practice, what I believe, and of course, what works for me.
The other interesting messages about this edition were very clearly that I would get messages and downloads when I wasn’t working. When I was running, meditating, working out, in Yoga class, in the shower, on a walk, in a car. So there was a dual message from my guides, which was to intentionally rest and refresh. Like, my reward for enjoying life was to receive messages: it was really sweet and super needed! Much of this book started in text messages to myself— I’d have to pull over the car and write down messages and ideas before I forgot them.
I’ve been in a lot of bands, and a lot of collaborative efforts, my formative creative years were spent very much in “D.I.Y.” or “D.I.T.” culture. Much of what I do involves highlighting and lifting up other voices. It seems imperative, as so many others inspire me. I remember being a lonely queer feminist teenage weirdo and listening to records and making weird art alone in my bedroom at 2 in the morning and feeling like my life lines were amazing art, music, and writing. It was my oxygen. There are endless streams of people I admire and want to include in this project. Most of my contributors I know personally, or I feel like I know their work personally—that is to say I am familiar with their voice and excited about their businesses, or output. This is a queer, feminist, and intersectional project—meaning, I’m interested in including a spectrum of points of view and voices. Not meaning any disrespect at all, but a lot of magic literature I’ve read or been exposed to is very white, very binary, and very heteronormative. Part of the goal of this project is to attempt to widen this landscape. I’m not saying I’ve succeeded, I’m just saying that this is very much in my mind with this project, it is an intention. However, just another basic reason to have many contributors is that my interests and experience are limited, and I seek out people who have a different zone of genius. Herbalists, astrologers, body workers, musicians, intuitive healers, writers, artists, acupuncturists, other Tarot readers are all other practitioners I ask to be a part of this, to open up the discourse and provide insights and resources I simply cannot.
The first few iterations of this project, in my perfectionist mind, were a disaster. Some of this is just simply because this isn’t the way I make my living: I do this nights and weekends a lot of the time. Some of it is due to the fact I just don’t know what I’m doing, self-publishing. For example, I had never heard the term “line-editor” or other things like that. I’m completely new to the process of writing, editing, designing and distributing a publication at this scale and that doing is the learning. The current edition is the closest to satisfied I’ve been with it. The volume that is about to come out is just about as close to perfect as I can get, with all the limitations I have. I’m so excited to have it out in the world.
With regard to your art and design, I love this quote: “So much of my work is making things I wish to see in the world, things I wish already existed”. I get so excited when people live that philosophy and actively work to create the world that they want to live in. Have you always seen your role in this world as such? Do you have any advice or suggestions for a like-minded soul who feels the same but who doesn’t know where to start?
Well, I was just lucky to get exposed at a young impressionable age, pre-internet, to people actively trying to create the world they wish to live in. I’m also just incredibly lucky to be exposed, via the “women-loving” and riot grrrl explosion of the 90’s, and later, via Queer Portland in the early aughts, to communities of people who were creating their own worlds, for themselves. There are too many people to name here that inspired me, and that continue to inspire me. At the end of the day, I’m an artist. Being an activist is really not my calling. I really care about social justice and human rights for all, so I spend the majority of my artistic pursuits in that zone.
The advice part of this question was hard for me, as everyone’s journey is so different. But here’s some advice. Is there a theme of something you are into, that you’ve been reading or looking up or listening to, and you like the things you are ingesting, for the most part, but think it needs a certain something? Well, you are that certain something! Here’s another: does something make you blood-boiling angry? Can you connect with the antidote of that? Great. Now go be the antidote of that. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be.
In Many Moons Volume One, you mention what a powerful tool writing is, but I’ve also read you don’t consider yourself much of a writer. That you acknowledge the importance of a practice, admit you’re not great at it (though truthfully, I’d beg to differ), and then do it anyway–I think that’s a very powerful practice right there. Can you speak to the importance of trying, practicing, doing, in spite of fear and failure, and the energies we create when we do these things, the things that scare us, or are outside of our comfort zones? (The reason I ask this is kind of silly…I’ve almost been afraid to write in this very workbook…worried that I am somehow “doing it wrong” or writing something dumb, that sort of thing.)
Ok, so, let me clarify.
I don’t call myself a writer because I’ve never taken a writing class and haven’t written professionally, so to speak. As a child, one of my biggest dreams was to be a children’s book illustrator and writer, actually, and I’d fill up book after book of stories. None of them ever had any ending, I couldn’t get past the first 5 pages or so! Writing and illustrating childrens’ books is still something I would like to do. (Any publishers want to publish my young adult novels for sad young witches?)
The act of writing, like, pen to paper writing, is extremely powerful. It is from your mind to 3-D form. Every handwritten mark is different. Writing facilitates expression and connection to source. That’s why my workbooks aren’t E-books, and why I encourage people to keep a journal. It is why in spells we write things down: on different colored paper, candles, clay, with paint: it is creation.
The act of writing these books is a means to an end. Whether I am good at it or not is not the point, the point is to share information. I can try as best as I can to communicate, but writing as a practice isn’t something I particularly enjoy, nor do I have aspirations beyond this current means to an end.
And now, to speak to going outside one’s comfort zone. In the Tarot, the 5’s in the Major Arcana signify challenge and hardship of some sort. All of the 5’s in the Traditional Rider-Waite-Colman-Smith deck encapsulate some trial or tribulation; whether it be egoic, emotional, or behavioral. We have to wade through conflict to reach a turning point. The only lessons I’ve truly learned have come out of some sort of hardship, for the most part. (I’m not romanticizing conflict, btw. Because especially lately, I’ve been learning, more and more, out of a more peaceful places.) So I guess I’m just trying to say that for most creatives and artists, there is an aspect of pain, of frustration, that goes along with creation. But that’s also a really potent way to grow and evolve.
And to speak directly to your question about doing it “wrong”, I’ll just quote Rumi: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and righdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”
Do I understand correctly that this is the second year you’ve released a workbook of this kind? What can we expect from Volume 2?
Here is a very partial list of things that are covered in Volume 2, in no particular order: boundaries, group rituals, lots and lots of Tarot talk (including Tarot spreads), flower essence formulas how to’s, notes on how to connect to your spirit guides, a fire cider recipe, thoughts on manifesting, connecting with animal medicine and animal guides, an eclipse ritual for securing safety in uncertain times, quotes from Georgia O’Keefe, James Baldwin, Blondie, bell hooks, ABBA, Kerry James Marshall and Martín Prechtel, connecting to the holistic body, money spells and money/abundance talk, period talk, and messages about release around the Waning Moon, spell work basics, structures, and do’s and don’ts, lots of archetypal interpretation and symbology, and horoscopes for each sign for each month.
The contributors are: Adee Roberson, Jessica Lanyadoo, Janeen Singer of Holy Sponge!, Esme Weijun Wang, Missy Rhysing, and Diego Basdeo. The book is now available in my shop and you can pre-order here.