The publishers were generous enough to send me a copy of Wormwood Star: The Magickal Life Of Marjorie Cameron by Spencer Kansa to pore over and I could not have been more seduced by a book cover in my life than as I ripped open the package in frenzied anticipation. Marjorie Cameron’s hypnotic eyes starred back at me with such pull that I immediately dug into the pages.Read More
And then one morning you sawed me open, cutting your hand in the process. Blood swam in, and silver, and nothing was ever the same.Read More
I am happiest traveling and immersing myself in other cultures, lands, and stories. As part of enhancing this experience and learning about the world, I often seek out the gloomiest locations and weirdest things to do. Recently, I learned that this constitutes "dark tourism," which is usually associated with visiting places and things associated with death, disaster, and the macabre. The debate rages on about the positives and negatives, with some critics calling dark tourism the commercialization of death.Read More
Women’s bodies are so often under the purview of men, whether it’s our reproductive organs, our sexuality, our weight, our manner of dress. There is a freedom found in decomposition, a body rendered messy, chaotic, and wild. I relish the image when visualizing what will become of my future corpse.”Read More
Marvel + Moon & C&C Apothecary <3Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
I lost someone this year. It was a big, complex, fucked up, messy, bloody, lonely loss. And it was a massive, long-time-coming, poisonous, wounded relationship that only in its last years healed. I am filled of guilt, sorrow, and confusion over it. Maybe you feel the same way about someone you lost. Maybe you didn't lose anybut but you're trying to process a traumatic event—in which case, this is for you, too.
This ritual is about trying to find some relief. It may sound selfish, but the relief I'm talking about here isn't just internal; I also want to send peace to our dead, if that is something you feel comfortable doing.
First things first: There is so no one-size-fits-all or quick remedy for grief, trauma and PTSD—no potion, no prayer, no salve, no savior. Pain is a process we move through. Whatever your belief, whatever your disposition, there will always be a small black stone inside your chest, and it will always hold your suffering. I think of this stone as two palms, cupped, holding in the pain so that it doesn't poison the rest of the body. We must manage our little stone, because for many of us, it won't ever go away. It's an organ, it has a job.
So, here are some of the ways I've encountered death and trauma and ritualized my grief. I believe it's important to do so because it can't be kept in the shadows—because when it's kept in the shadows, it ends up hurting even more.
Grief Cleanse Ritual
Take a bath; quiet your mind. Become clean of all residue, psychic and physical. If you have a bath soak or an oil you like, use it. This is the time to be OK with the pain. Close the door, cry, remain still, be aware of the grief. Let it move through you; be naked with it. I like to use rose oil in my bath— to me, rose is a potent and balanced (it smells beautiful but it has thorns, like our emotional processes).
SO much of grief is exercising strength—in public, on buses, in the street, with other family members, and with yourself during times when you need to sleep or eat or work. That is exhausting. In this ritual, you are allowing grief to run through you, while simultaneously cleansing yourself of it. Your tears will fill the bath, you will bathe in your sorrow, and you will also go back to the root self: nude, defenseless, alone. This may sound frightening—it is—but it's so good to say, "you are free to feel."
If you want to, speak to your dead. Pray. Invoke something. Think on that black stone in your chest and all the hurt it contains—all those memories and fears and all that suffering. In your mind, bathe it glittering white light. Sooth it, tell it that you're thankful for it storing all that darkness for you. Imagine it settling, closing, taking the pain with it—until the next time you need it. Imagine the rest of your body flooded with beautiful, clear light. Let yourself be an alter for good. Be at the alter of yourself.
I believe water is the most potent element. It is what we're made of. It is the ultimate destructive force, and yet it is also the most freeing. In the water, you are as connected to the earth as you could be. Grounding, the act of touching the natural elements, is a powerful tool—it returns us to our authentic selves, and it eliminates all the messiness of life and expectation. It is a dazzling, simple way to come home.
When you finally drain the tub, sit with it; do not get out. Talk to the sorrow—let it know that it's okay, let your dead know it's okay to linger sometimes, let your body know it's okay to feel. But then also ask that you have strength and resolve when you need it. Say whatever you need to say to yourself or something else.
Send white glittering light to your dead, to those who are affected by sadness, and to anyone who hurt you (if you feel comfortable). This act is radical and generous, but it's not always something we feel compelled to do (and that's OK).
The water draining symbolizes the switch; now you can go back to your life and not let the grief overtake you at all moments. You've created a place and time for it. Thank the water. It is always there for you; it's a friend, a deity, a comfort. It will always be there as an alter for your sadness—and your peace.
*** If you're not in the throes of grief but find that that pain still haunts you, it could be a good idea to do this every new moon as a way of checking in with those feelings. Since you're not actively in pain every day, this may be a good way to say, "here is my time to confront you, death." I think this is a healthy way to tap into that spectrum of feelings; it may help you, as therapy, in a long-term way.
Write me; tell me what you thought. What sort of ritual do you need?
Lisa Marie Basile is an editor, writer and poet living in NYC. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Luna Luna Magazine and the author of APOCRYPHAL (Noctuary Press, 2014), as well as a few chapbooks: Andalucia (Poetry Society of New York), War/Lock (Hyacinth Girl Press), and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her book NYMPHOLEPSY (co-authored with poet Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein), was a finalist in the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards. She is working on her first poetic fiction novella, to be released by Clash Books/Clash Media. Her poetry and other work can be or will be seen in PANK, Spork, The Atlas Review, Tarpaulin Sky, the Tin House blog, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, Rogue Agent, Moonsick Magazine, Best American Poetry, Spoon River Poetry Review, PEN American Center and the Ampersand Review, among others.
Staring at myself in the mirror, I imagined I was singing these words to my reflection. And I did fall to pieces. I wanted to love myself with the intensity of the lovers in the song. It made me think of my love relationship with myself. I remembered that even on bad days, when self-esteem is running on low, I need to love myself fiercely.Read More
That’s what happens when I don lip shade, I create a change, a stirring within myself that promotes a certain kind of energy that I emanate into my immediate surrounding. I can change a color to suit not only my mood but also my desire for the conversion I seek within. It is confidence. It is magic.Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
Today is THE day to harness the power of the solar eclipse. The symbolism of the moon and the sun and the earth aligning is ripe for ritual and meditation—and it's an event that has perplexed humans for years, uniting all of time in its wonder. A once-in-a-lifetime event, the solar eclipse lets us contemplate our place in the universe while literally viewing the journey and changes of the celestial bodies that oversee our very ability to exist. It is a magical experience and one that should not be taken lightly—it's light and darkness converging at once (which we here at Luna Luna celebrate).
To harness its power there are many things you can do:
First, get to earth—even if that means a patch of grass somewhere in your neighborhood. Earthing allows us to connect with nature, and there is said to be a charge when we place our bare skin on the earth. If you can, do this. Stand there (but do not look up without the proper glasses), and let the solar energy sweep over you. Be present in this moment. Witness this. Soak in its power. Stay mindful of the fact that you are alive and connected to all living things.
Second, as you would charge any crystal or stone, set out to charge your items today. This will allow for the magnificence of the eclipse to be infused in your belongings. Wash and dry your crystals, place them in line with the sun or on a roof (or preferably in a patch of earth), and think on what that crystal will symbolize once it's charged—will you turn to it for energy cleansing? Wisdom? Protection? (New Yorkers and city-dwellers, a wooden bowl will do on a ledge). Bathe the crystal in the light of the eclipse on this day, charging it throughout—next time you meditate or hold your crystal, think on what you charged it with. Whether or not you believe in or turn to crystal work as a mainstay in you practice, often the ritual of doing something is enough to make you think on an idea or goal.
As a water witch, I'm always keen on charging my water with the light of the sun. Solar water, moon water, and in this case—a mix of both, is great for rejuvenation. When I charge my water, I often like to use it as a sort of medicinal mix for days when I feel low or sad or powerless. Keeping a (cleansed and blessed) vial, mason jar, or shell (especially fun for spells) full of this water symbolically allows us to tap into the water's sunlit powers. Let the water charge during the eclipse and that whole day.
What can you do with the water? You can drink a bit when you need a boost, you can use it for a ritual on the skin, you can feed your plants the water and have them live on with the Eclipse's energy. You can use it to clean small stones and crystals.
The Eclipse offers a powerful opportunity to think on our goals as individuals. Do you want to be more patient? Tap into your creativity more often? Do you want to find personal strength? Do you want to take care of yourself more? Do you want to let go of something you've been grieving?
I'll probably take the time to journal about my goals and fears—what I want to release, and what I want to invoke. I'll likely list out my creative goals, personal goals, short-term goals, long-term goals, and my hopes and wishes for the people in my life and the world at-large. I believe that writing-as-ritual is a powerful way to set ideas in stone and tap into the finality of the written word. Especially under an eclipse, this is a powerful and symbolic move that will only heighten your intentions.
Create A Sigil/Work Sigil Magic
It's a great time to work with sigils or to create a new sigil that will be your power symbol for the days ahead. As the Eclipse is happening, start exploring—or drawing your own.
More to learn more? These witches are using the Eclipse to de-stress, pray for America's future and bless their items.
LISA MARIE BASILE IS THE FOUNDING EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LUNA LUNA MAGAZINE. SHE IS ALSO THE MODERATOR OF ITS DIGITAL COMMUNITY.
HER WORK HAS APPEARED IN THE ESTABLISHMENT, BUSTLE, ENTROPY, BUST, HELLO GIGGLES, MARIE CLAIRE, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, GREATIST, COSMOPOLITAN AND THE HUFFINGTON POST, AMONG OTHER SITES. SHE IS THE AUTHOR OF APOCRYPHAL (NOCTUARY PRESS), WAR/LOCK (HYACINTH GIRL PRESS), ANDALUCIA (THE POETRY SOCIETY OF NEW YORK) AND TRISTE (DANCING GIRL PRESS). HER BOOK, NYMPHOLEPSY, WAS A FINALIST IN THE 2017 TARPAULIN SKY BOOK AWARDS.
HER WORK CAN BE FOUND IN PANK, THE TIN HOUSE BLOG, THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, THE HUFFINGTON POST, BEST AMERICAN POETRY, PEN AMERICAN CENTER, THE ATLAS REVIEW, AND TARPAULIN SKY, AMONG OTHERS. SHE HAS TAUGHT OR SPOKEN AT BROOKLYN BRAINERY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND EMERSON COLLEGE. LISA MARIE BASILE HOLDS AN MFA FROM THE NEW SCHOOL. @LISAMARIEBASILE
Most of these need no introduction. And if you don't know about them, just watch them. You won't regret it. Or maybe you will...and that's part of the point.Read More
"These apples are prepared," she would say. And every time she switched them out, I would watch. Her routine was always the same. The new fruit carefully placed on the small altar under the framed picture of the Virgin of Guadalupe. The bowl of apples, fresh flowers, and a votive placed on a white lacy fabric. Usually the candle had a picture of Jesus or another saint depending on Mom’s mood. She would lovingly decorate her table and spend a few minutes each day praying. Asking the Virgin to protect us, and our home. Maybe if Mom had done some elaborate gesture, voodoo dance, or animal sacrifice it might have helped my skeptical mind to consider believing. Nothing my sixteen-year-old brain could conjure to invoke the kind of power it would take to make the apples work ever happened.Read More
This time of year is erotic. The light forces us to engage with our bodies, our sexuality, our shadow self, our animal self. We shed clothes. We give way to our inhabitations. We blame the heat for kneeling to our desires. There is a darkness in this as much as there is light but unlike certain Puritan aspects of society that has taught many to reject this facet, I celebrate it.Read More
BY CHLOÉ ROSSETTI
*The author wishes to express this content warning: sexual assault, and child sexuality.*
This essay is part of Enough Enough Anthology, a project by Lexie Bean for trans and non-binary survivors of sexual assault/domestic violence to write letters to their body parts. Submissions are open until August 1st.
The anthology will be published in book form with Jessica Kingsley Publishers in spring 2018.
Nipples, I think about you constantly.
THE LET DOWN
let down n. The release of milk in a nursing mother or lactating animal
I had another top surgery dream last night.
In this vision, a group of friends and I had all traveled en masse to a far-off, tropical locale—not the usual Florida; maybe New Orleans?—to support a friend’s top surgery. It was humid; frangipani air hung on the body. It felt magical.
The friend was laid out on a white sheet, unconscious in a way that seemed more like they were having a very sweet dream. We were all sitting in a circle in the open air around this friend while the surgeon performed the deed. We were holding sacred space; chanting; praying; smiling; singing.
The surgeon, who was genderless, also felt like a spiritual practitioner, as surgeons sometimes do. The way that they performed the top surgery was so gentle and noninvasive that the scars were barely visible afterward, and the nipples, maintaining their sensitivity, didn’t have to be moved.
Everybody hung out afterwards, and there was food and costumes and dancing; it felt like a Mardi Gras, perhaps like the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras of my Australian adolescence.
It was dusk. People were drunk. There were fireflies.
I saw my former roommate there.
“I had another top surgery dream last night,” I admitted.
He smiled at me.
This is a very sweet top surgery dream, I think. Usually, when I have top surgery dreams I am trying to breastfeed, but all I have are drainage pumps full of milk.
I really, really want to breastfeed.
Sometimes, when my partner sucks on you the way he does—gorgeous, sensuous, feminist—I feel like I want him to keep doing it until milk, laced with oxytocin, springs from you into his mouth. Then he and I will be bonded: like mother and child, like kin, like lovers. This is not shameful to me. I am kinky and I have many kinks. But I’ve thought about it a lot, Nipples, and wanting to nurse is not my kink. If anything, it is my recovery.
let down n. A decrease in size, volume, or force
My first boyfriend and I, and you, were 16 when we started dating. He was my first kiss. None of us had made it past first base before. You and I hadn’t even made it to a base before.
He was obsessed with sucking on you; remember? He started doing it a month after we started dating—without asking. We would make out, and then he would almost immediately lift up my shirt and start sucking, like I were a soda machine at an all-you-can-eat buffet. I felt sick, dead.
This wasn’t meant to be your introduction to pleasure, Nipples.
Once I remember him doing it in public, at night, walking down a suburban street to his house. We were making out, giggling, frolicking. Then he stopped me, lifted up my shift and bra, and, to quote Bikini Kill, sucked my left one. Do you remember that?
Do you remember the things that happen to you?
My left breast was, and still is, smaller than the right one. I remember when, noticing this while sucking away at you, he looked up and said to me, “This one just needs a little more encouragement” and sucked on that one for longer.
I withered inside and stayed small, Nipples.
I remember when we were 17 and away at a junior national fencing competition, reuniting and reveling with teen fencers from around the country. I was hooking up with a hot female friend in front of my ex and his friend. It was for us, not them. They were just there. My ex toasted over us—as in pretended to have a glass of alcohol, or perhaps did have a glass of alcohol, and made a toasting gesture, verbally admiring the view with his friend. Something along the lines of “We’ve got booze, we’ve got a view…”
I blocked them out of my hazy, drunken mind. I was busy. My hot friend was giving me head. It was none of their business.
My ex’s friend moved over to me and saw that you were exposed, erect.
He sucked on you. He did not ask me.
The next day, I told some friends. They laughed at me.
let down n. A disappointment or a feeling of disappointment
There was a woman I was in love with in my high school friend circle. We hooked up a couple of times back then. We haven’t spoken in years, not since she moved to the east coast of Australia, leaving her history with all of us behind.
In her later teens she behaviorally fled her Christian fundamentalist upbringing and troubled familial support system, spiraling out into drugs and unsafe promiscuity. She lied a lot. She clung to her arms in her sleep until she bruised. She fucked my boyfriend/ex-boyfriend. She hooked up with my crush in his bed while I was in the next room, unaware and still hopeful. When I moved to the States for college she moved in with my ex, or so I heard years later, and they told everybody that they were in love. And then she moved to the other side of the country to rejoin her family and religion, getting married to a guy who sexually assaulted her.
They have a baby now. Are they happy?
I loved sucking this woman’s nipples.
One time, she stood over me and lifted up her white singlet halfway, exposing the bottoms of her breasts. She posed for me, tugging on her cap and miniskirt, thrusting out her hip: a slutty cheerleader. I lifted up her shirt and starting sucking. I didn’t ask her.
Another time, at a family-and-friends-type party at her parents’ house, she had a panic attack. I followed her upstairs to comfort her. She told me that her father, who always unsettled me, had been sexually assaulting her. I had many questions I didn’t ask.
This scared me out of my queerness for almost a decade.
I still have a great sexual appetite for people with breasts, though I rarely act on it now. I theorize that I am still too wounded from what went on before. That’s part of it, I’m sure. Mostly, though, I’m afraid to violate the breast-havers with my desires.
I play it in my head, over and over: I see my lover’s breasts and grab them with my taking-hands, letting all the toxic masculinity deposited onto—into—me by so many bodies ooze out at once. My lover withers, as I did, becoming distorted and fixated too.
Maybe I was always destined to be a breast- and nipple-lover.
I drank so much breast milk from my mother that she had to pull me off her, lest I sucked her dry.
One time, when I was less than two years old, we were in the bath with her. You were tiny back then. I twisted my mother’s huge nipples and cried out: “Pretty buttons!”
My first crush was Jessica Rabbit. I would stare at her breasts and get hot between my legs. I was three. I rewatched Who Framed Roger Rabbit? until I wore out the VHS.
As soon as I learned to draw, I would draw Disney-princess-type women in princess-cut dresses with Jessica Rabbit proportions: enormous breasts, tapered waists, blue eyes, blonde hair, massive lips, long lashes. I was an overweight “wog” girl—frizzy brown hair, big nose, double chin—and half a boy inside.
I wanted to be Princess Jasmine. I wanted to fuck Princess Jasmine. I wanted Aladdin to fuck me. I wanted to be Aladdin.
When I was seven, my friend came over and taught me how to make my Barbies make out with each other, topless, undressing each other with their plastic knife-hands—clothes getting stuck on right-angle arms—and fondling each other’s nippleless breasts.
Later in the scene, I made a Ken doll assault a Barbie, and then I made Barbie take Ken to court for sexual harassment. I made my friend do Barbie’s voice in the courtroom. I fed her the lines. My friend didn’t want to. She was seven too.
When I was ten I saw a dance performance with my family: a dark-haired man and a blonde, statuesque woman were doing the tango. The woman looked like Barbie. The man dipped the woman and lifted her back up; she kissed him passionately, grabbing his face with both hands. I wanted the woman to kiss me. I wanted to be the man.
Recently, a new lover fucked me without asking me. We were in bed together. Things escalated. I couldn’t find my “No.” I cried the next day. He listened.
Before the fucking, this person told me that my breasts were “magic,” because he sucked on you, Nipples, and I had an orgasm.
I’m still amazed by your superpower. You give me orgasms. Nipplegasms.
And you know what? My breasts are magic. Pendulous, soft, and creased with colorless stretch marks, with huge alveoli and a hair or two around the edge. They hang heavy, and taper beautifully into the soft points of you. They are gorgeous. You are gorgeous, and you are highly responsive. You give me orgasms. You are magic.
This was what I masturbated to as a horny sixteen-year-old with a nipple fixation:
Fantasy #1: Coming into my hot 34-year-old high school teacher’s office and begging for an A. Opening my uniform (a colonial-chic navy Aboriginal-print dress with a tie) to reveal my pert teenage breasts. We make out. I put his hand on my right breast and he fondles me. I guide his head toward you, Nipples, and he sucks on you. Then the principal is about to come into his office. I hide under his desk, which has an opening for legs but is opaque otherwise. He sits at his desk, hiding me from the open side, and bids the Principal enter. I unzip his fly and suck his dick to climax while he speaks with the principal, barely stifling his pleasure. I greedily suck his semen down.
Semen is a bit like breast milk, don’t you think?
Fantasy #2: I am a journalist covering an event at the Playboy mansion. I have on a black pencil skirt with matching garter stockings and pointy black pumps. My white sheer blouse reveals a sexy black bra, with matching high-cut, black lacy underwear.
The Playboy bunnies are wearing outfits that look like black bathing suits with holes to let their gravity-defying breasts poke through. The holes and edges of the suits are laced with white doily fabric. They look like French maid bunnies.
One of the bunnies is assigned to me as a tour guide. She is sexy, and looks like a cast member of Baywatch. I take a tour of the mansion and grounds. Finally, I am led through a series of underwater grottos. We pass another Playboy bunny straddling a man, squatting on his dick and riding him wildly and he lay flat on his back, receiving, helpless to her desire. They are both fully clothed except for his dick and her breasts and cunt. The bunny suit has another hole, it seems. They moan and scream with nasty, opulent pleasure, fucking away in that damp, gray grotto on the cold, stone ground, splayed out next to a shimmering swimming pool bathed in light from a skylight overhead. My bunny leads me nonchalantly past them, shooting me a coy glance as I stare. In the next grotto, a tall waterfall tumbles lustily into a lagoon. My bunny asks me if I’ve seen enough, if there’s anything more that I’ll be wanting from her. Am I interested in what I saw? Curious? She takes me behind the waterfall so that nobody can see. She is soaking wet. She puts my face onto her breast to suck. I suck her nipples. Then she sucks mine: you.
I am masturbating and touching, pinching, twisting you as I write this.
My obsession with breast removal, breast sucking, and breastfeeding are all parallel, as in they do not touch.
I remember a sixth-grade classmate giving a speech about Amazon women and how they cut off their left breasts. I was eleven. I returned to this image for a long time. I later learned that it was to better shoot with a bow and arrow. What about the lefties?
One time in eighth grade: I was rifling through a glossy magazine, and I saw a slender, modelesque woman with buzzed blonde hair and almost no makeup, wearing a singlet that clearly showed a flat chest. The caption read that she didn’t want her breasts anymore, so she removed them. I wonder where this person is now. Who is she? Is she trans? Was this article woefully gender incompetent, or did she still use she/her pronouns at the time of her surgery? Why did I fixate on this image for so long?
For years after my experiences with my first boyfriend, I saw and felt dark energy in my right breast, the larger one. The one that needed less “encouragement.”
My first energy healer told me that I needed to sort out my relationship with my breasts. She saw the dark energy too. She saw that I sometimes wanted them gone.
My transmasc friends tell me that one can lose sensation in one’s nipples after top surgery. This prospect horrifies me.
Once, when I was 20, I cried about not being a man. I was in the arms of my gay male friend, in college, in bed. It was late. He kissed me. I cried some more. Then I got up and put on mascara. Or was the mascara another time?
One of my greatest sexual appetites is for queer men who fuck other queer men. They don’t see the queer man in me.
I met a beautiful 53-year-old transman last year. He was a radical faerie, and had transitioned seven years ago. He had always been butch, and was always attracted to queer and gay men. He had sex with men before his transition but “it never felt right.” Now it feels right. He told me that he underwent the physical transformation so that people would see him for who he was, so that he could have sex with the people to whom he was attracted. It wasn’t as much for himself, I don’t think.
I highly identify with this story.
Maybe when I am middle-aged, and done breastfeeding, I will transform into a queer man and have sex with the faeries for the rest of my life.
I have worked with the same energy healer for the past five years now. Her name is Eva. Many miracles, too many to name here, have occurred as a result of my work with her. One stands out: The dark energy is gone from my breasts now. I am very kind to them. I am still confused by them, sometimes, by their existence on my chest, but I accept their presence in my life as long as they are there. You will always be there, Nipples.
Eva helped me recover my gender too. I am a hybrid.
Like the car; like a mule; like an orchid.
Chloé Rossetti is an artist, writer, performer, energy healer, and maternal pantheist based in Brooklyn, NY. Founder of Radical Nourishment, their work focuses on the intersection of ecology, collectivism, agency, ecofeminism, pleasure, sensuality, social integration, decolonization, and love. They implore anyone looking for companionship as they rewild their lifeway, especially in the urban environment, to get in touch with them.
So why do bad readings proliferate? Or, to put it bluntly: why do so many card readers suck at something they love? Well, there are a few reasons.Read More
First, gather the supplies: soft fabric, a sharp needle, sturdy thread. Buttons, beads, and bits. Cotton scraps for the stuffing.Read More