Culture

How To Be a Modern Witch: An Interview with Author Gabriela Herstik

Shining a light in the dark and pouring forth her heart into her life-work, multifaceted human being, Gabriela Herstik, has tuned into her intuition and ignited her mission to spread awareness of consciousness beyond the physical. On the edge of the release of her new book, ‘Craft: How To Be A Modern Witch’, I caught up with the sorceress to discuss her first experiences with witchcraft, tuning into the darkness, her rich ancestral history and so much more.

Congrats on the upcoming release of ‘Craft: How To Be A Modern Witch’. What are some of the most potent discoveries that you have learned about yourself in the process of writing the book?

That’s a good question. I was able to see how big and important this has been within my life for such a long time. I do recognize that I am writing about things that are unconventional. I did a lot of research and recognized that I was writing about stuff that hadn’t really been involved in my practice for awhile because as you know, your practice evolves along with you. I learned how deep my practice has been. I learned how important my spiritual path has been and how important it has been for shaping who I am. There really is such a need for goddesses, spiritual paths, religion, etc and these are things that are not necessarily going away any time soon. Back when I started writing about this stuff about four or five years ago, it was right at the height of the fashion/witchy trend so people really liked looking like a witch, but there weren’t many people who were actually familiar with the practice of it. Ever since then, it has exploded yet now, people are into the practice. It has made me see that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I learned so much about myself and my own relationship to witchcraft throughout the process of writing this book. It has been very reaffirming of my passions.

I perceive that witchcraft has become a selfless practice for you. Ultimately, as you continue to gain ground and tune into your intuition, you are serving to aid in others lives through the medium.

Exactly. Something that I love about myself is that I very much know who I am. I am unapologetic about it. I think that as you recognize that about yourself, it gives other people the permission to do the same. It inspires others to do the same – it goes hand in hand! If human beings are living their truth, it reminds others that it is okay to do so as well. It is okay to do things that are unconventional and/or go against societal norms, and a lot of witchy things do.

Yeah, absolutely. It is so powerful to embody and embrace exactly who you presently are. Tell us about some of your first experiences with witchcraft and connections beyond the physical plane.

I am actually really ethnically Jewish. My Father is a Rabbi and I grew up with a Mother who was always very spiritual. For instance, her first memories with me are breathing with the crystal pyramid when I was two-years-old. I was always a very Aquarian, crystal child. I have always been very interested in consciousness, life and death and I would also talk to my Father about God, religion and more, but my path with witchcraft specifically started when I was around twelve-years-old. I was gifted a fairy oracle deck and I immediately became entranced by the realm of fairies which led me to picking up a copy of a book called ‘A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk’. Actually, a few years earlier, I went to the witchcraft museum and learned about Wicca with my Aunt on Halloween, and while reading this book, I had a flashback about that Halloween and learning about all of this stuff.

I originally identified as Wiccan when I first traveled down this path, but now I identify as Neo-Pagan, but overall, I just became obsessed with it all. My parents thought that it was a phase and they actually sent me to a month-long Jewish camp in which I cried every single day for a week. I told my parents that I was a witch and they really didn’t get it at the time. Ever since then, my path has really evolved and it is now very intuitive. I work a lot with the cycles of the moon. I still love working with the fairy. The fairy has a very special place within my heart and soul because I feel as though they have led me down this path. I have been working a lot with Venus, she has been my Matron Goddess for about a year. I work a lot with Fashion and Glamour Magick. Both sides of my family have a relationship with clothing and have worked with textiles. Both of my Father’s parents were in concentration camps for three years, and my Grandmother was a seamstress and was able to stay in the seamstresses corridor in Auschwitz because she has the same name as the head seamstresses niece. Therefore, working with fashion and incorporating my magick into my everyday lifestyle is very much tied into my ancestry, and that is something that I really recognized this past year while writing this book. I have a specific chapter dedicated to fashion magick and it ended up being one of my favorite chapters and one of my editors favorite chapters as well; that felt really reaffirming.

I perceive that you really collected pieces of your ancestry and your life experience to create a singular life purpose that is perplexingly so much more than singular. It’s universal. Has discovering witchcraft deepened your human relationships?

Absolutely! It is the way that I interact with everything. Witchcraft is energy. I incorporate consciousness, awareness of my own emotions and my own cycles and how they relate to the Earth into my daily life. Witchcraft is a part of my spiritual practice yet they are almost one in the same. As for casting spells, I don’t do that every day, but witchcraft is the way that I connect with the world. Witchcraft is the way that I hold space for others. Witchcraft is the way that I live my life. Witchcraft has given me ways to create energetic boundaries. I am a really empathetic and intuitive person and that is something that witchcraft has led me toward understanding.

I have a group of woman that I practice with and meet up with a few times a month. I have a bigger group that meets up to do rituals together, yet beyond that, the way that I see things has shifted because when you’re aware of the things that you don’t necessarily see with the eye, everything shifts. I believe that my relationship with witchcraft is something that is deeper than just lighting a candle on a full moon!

Akin to the moon, I perceive that you encounter the waxing and waning of your emotions and feelings. Have you experienced periods of the darkness that you have been able to transform into the light through witchcraft?

Oh my goodness – absolutely. 1000% percent. I totally think that being conscious of the way that you’re affected by the natural world is really important because I think that we all are no matter what we want to admit! My spiritual practice has so many layers to it. Having the ability to understand my emotions and have these spiritual tools like meditation, tarot and crystal healing along with having the support of a coven has totally helped me in understanding reasons as to why I feel certain ways. Beyond that, I have been going to therapy regularly for six or seven months which I definitely feel has also led me toward being more aware and stable within these feelings and emotions. For magick to work, you have to meet it halfway: you have to meet it in real life. Therefore, for me, part of that is making sure that I am mentally healthy and able to practice as fully as I can without putting any of my energy into jeopardy. The mere understanding that I am also cycling the moon and that I am going to grow means that parts of me are going to die which is transformative.

Witchcraft has been an anchor for when things got rough.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Herstik

Powerful. Back to you mentioning therapy, good for you. I perceive that within life, the more than a human being embraces and embodies their humanness, the better and more full their human experience will become.

Absolutely! You’re able to understand yourself so much better. You’re able to also have so much more self-compassion when you understand that things aren’t always going to be easy or perfect. Things are going to hurt. It is really important to remember that we are humans having this experience and that means that we are not perfect. We are going to need help. Remembering that we are not meant to do this alone has been a really big thing for me. Community has been a very important thing for me.

Conscious community is indeed sacred. Is there anything else that you’d like to bring to our attention pertaining to the release of ‘Craft: How To Be A Modern Witch’?

Yeah! My book explores a variety of aspects pertaining to witchcraft. Everything from magick, working with the cycles of the moon, the holidays of the witch, fashion magick, tarot, astrology, crystals and more. But, one of the main things that I tried to emphasize was that everybody’s practice of magick and witchcraft is going to look different. Nobody is the same. Your practice is unique. Your brand of magick doesn’t have to look like anybody else’s. My hope for this book is that it gives people the tools to create the practice that is unique for them. I want everyone’s unique practice to feel juicy and delicious and feel like the cocktail that no one else can take from them. I really think that witchcraft is a way to work with energy. I really hope that people can find something that works for them and makes them feel good within the book.

Absolutely. As I previously mentioned, I perceive that you really took a selfless approach when curating this book. Let’s end with a bang: what is your idea of happiness?

I love that question.

A lot of art. A lot of love. A lot of magick.

My idea of a life of happiness is having the freedom to do what I want whenever I want to do it and to be able to create whatever I want while using my passion and love to be able to help the world. Also, being able to see the world and experience new things.

Gabriela Herstik/Craft Social Links:

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