I dreamed of New Orleans long before my first trip there. At sixteen I made plans to get a chartreuse tattoo and move to Bourbon Street. It seemed the ideal when young and rebellious and in love with the characters in Poppy Z. Brite novels. (I still love them.) Over time it morphed into a love of history, jazz, and Marie Laveau. I would dream of walking along the streets and often looked to documentaries to see if these dreams were based in reality. These days I know the streets like the back of my hand. For all her glamour and all her grit New Orleans has long been the muse of many. When you step onto the land there’s an enchantment that wraps itself around you. It’s duality giving us deeper context to glamour and mirror work.
She guided me during my first experiments with color films. Ones that explored her magic, mirror and crossroads magic, and Romani proverbs mixed with poetry. I played with grainy textures and swung from the porch swing as storms rolled in and the caretaker told me stories of his life. I want to breath in the history of cities and their people. I want to make human connections and weave stories. If New Orleans was a tarot card she’d be a combination of The High Priestess and the Devil and I mean that with the highest respect.
The city has been home to many authors who found it to be conducive to the writing muse. William Faulkner, whose house is now a wonderful bookstore. Tennessee Williams wrote various plays including the classic including “A Streetcar Named Desire” while he lived in the French Quarter. His first Vieux Carre apartment is at 722 Toulouse St. now home to the Historic New Orleans Collection. Truman Capote took a greyhound to the French Quarter ending up at 811 Royal to master the art of writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s boarding house 2900 Prytania overlooks Lafayette cemetery in the Garden District. There he frantically edited the galleys of "This Side of Paradise." So how does this play into glamour and archetypes? Writers in general can harness both the magician and hermit in one while dancing with the Empress. They have the power to become both the star and the world through words and mythology. Here’s where glamour steps in, by spending time in the haunts of historical figures and great writers we can harness that energy within us by connecting to the land memory and those who dwelled there. Looking for the creative muse? Stand in Tennessee Williams’s old apartment or on the steps of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s boarding home and connect with the soil. Connect with the memory and spirit and feel the words seep into you. Looking to tap into luxury and old world style, then walk just a short distance too Commander’s Palace and bask in the rich history. Commander’s Palace has made stars out of it’s chefs and there, you can tap into that star quality or even the chef within you.
On many of my trips to New Orleans I’ll pick certain destinations, certain hotels and Bed & Breakfasts and try to tap into whatever each one wants to share. Sometimes it’s the former streets of Storyville or to the crossroads where a former brothel may be. Other times it’s hotels where jazz musicians stayed on their journeys through the city. Last year, Sherene, a group of wonderful people, and myself lived in a world of glamour and ritual, where mirrors opened portals, and the breeze aided us in meditations. I believe fully in the power of mirrors and poetry as spells. I believe in bits of paper placed into building cracks and music as a frequency shifter. In fact I’ll let you in on a few little secrets. There is a Romani tradition that if you leave one of your belongings in a place you want to return to, you will always have a passage to entry. Years ago on my first trip to the French Quarter. My roommate at the time came into my bedroom and said “Pack your bag, we’re going too New Orleans on Saturday.” I had about $100 in my account but knew I needed to go. A friend of ours had a plane and was willing to bring us. I also knew if I took this gift, the door would open to even greater possibilities. In my bag I packed a key. I knew where I wanted to place it, where it would remain for many years undisturbed. And so I packed a bag and headed and didn’t mess with fate. The Wheel of Fortune was clearly on my side.
That was my Fool’s journey, the absolute trust in this gift to unfold in so many ways. With New Orleans being the Crescent City it’s hard not associate her with the High Priestess. The rich history and secrets of the land can lead you down secret streets and into small shops filled with candles and herbs. They can lead you to perfumeries and carousel bars for delicious sazeracs or sometimes to Galatoire's for an evening with friend’s a la “Streetcar Named Desire.” Many nights I’ve spent doing mirror magic in rooms where ladies in waiting would pose for incoming suitors.
“For A Gadjo” above shows you a peek inside that mirror magic mixed with poetry. Films and photographs can be visual spells. It ended up creating it’s own spell when it was shown at the Cinamatique Francais in Paris as part of the Romani Avante-Garde Film Sessions. Years ago I purchased a brush and mirror set specifically for glamour magic. As I brushed my hair I looked in the mirror and saw myself transform into the person I knew I was on the inside. Now I’ve been doing this since I was a little girl. I remember getting ready for either pre-school or Kindergarten with a brush and mirror set and brushing my hair 100 times based on an old myth I had heard. I remember as I did this I would pretend to transform in the mirror. I didn’t know it then but I was performing magic.
And so every time I travel I bring one of my magic compacts and this brush and mirror set which I ensorcel with magical oils, intentions and secrets, and wrapped in wonderful scarves. I brush my hair in the mirror and say, “Let’s see what doorways we will open today and what Empress magic we can make. Let’s allow the crescent city to open her arms and show us her mirror so that we may find our own.”
I was telling this to Sherene one night in the Soniat House, where we held our last retreat. The air was cool and we were trying to keep candles from going out in the breeze. “We should do this every year.” She said and I knew in that moment we’d be in New Orleans every year on. Us and the city, the city and us, we had just made a pact. So if you’d like to join us on this magical journey “The Tarot Diaries” May 12-16 (My birthday!) we would love to teach you the secret paths of the major arcana and how they weave their way through the streets. We want to share the warm breeze in a mirrored courtyard and morning coffee/tea and meditations. We want you to enjoy the daily spreads of the cards, the messages and the numerology and dream work within them, how to incorporate glamour and tarot into your daily practice, and of course we want you to experience the glamour no other city has to offer. And if you’re not able to join us in New Orleans do not fear, we are offering a 1 day intensive on the Major Arcana. Learn how to find your soul archetype, understanding the archetypes and how they work through you, in depth look at the journey of the fool and how it pertains to you, and of course incorporating the magic of the tarot into your daily life.
Simple oil recipe to bring joy to the home through mirrors. Clean your mirrors and add a little bit of this oil too the solution or a bit of rubbing alcohol.
Orange peel, cinnamon, clove, and a bit of sweet orange oil mixed with almond or coconut oil.