This week’s Witch of the Week is a friend, colleague, Artist (of many mediums) and fierce Witch. I have been a fan of hers for quite some time, so to be able to pick her brain and present this interview to my readership is surreal.
Laura Tempest Zakroff is a professional artist, author, dancer, designer, teacher, and Witch. She holds a BFA from RISD (The Rhode Island School of Design) and her artwork has received awards and honors worldwide. Her work embodies myth and the esoteric through her drawings and paintings, jewelry, talismans, and other designs. She blogs for Patheos as A Modern Traditional Witch, Witches & Pagans as Fine Art Witchery, and contributes to The Witches’ Almanac, Ltd.
She has two books published by Llewellyn Worldwide: The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Ritual Vessels and Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols with two more on the way – The Witch’s Altar (co-authored with Jason Mankey – November 2018) and Weave The Liminal: Living Modern Traditional Witchcraft (January 2019).
You can catch her writing along side me on The House of Twigs as well.
Laura resides in Seattle, Washington, with her partner Nathaniel Johnstone and at least three cats.
Find out more at www.lauratempestzakroff.com
Q. You have this amazing ability to approach some of the most serious aspects of the Craft with humor and sarcasm, while remaining respectful. Why do you think it’s important for us as Witches and people to laugh at ourselves sometimes? I have seen people argue it takes away from the sanctity of the Craft, but I disagree and think it adds realness.
A. “There’s two ways of looking at this approach. First, I believe there’s a big difference between taking the Craft seriously, and taking ourselves too seriously. Far too often, people over-focus on “what will other people think of us” versus being true to ourselves and our path. You can spend countless hours trying to make sure the exterior view is “just right” or you can get actual work done. People will believe what they want regardless of what you think you’re presenting or telling them. It’s just not real or effective to invest that much energy into a veneer, when your actions and who you really are will speak much deeper. Secondly, people are more apt to learn and absorb new material when play is involved. Play, humor, sarcasm – it can simultaneously stimulate the brain while aiding in helping people to relax. It makes the material accessible, understandable, and relate-able to more people. I’d rather seem more people learn to empower themselves properly then worrying about occult elitism and other snobbery.”
Q. Anyone who has watched you perform can see that movement if one of your many forms of Magick, and the oneness you have with your body and Spirit is visible to the audience. It’s otherworldly. Where do you find inspiration for your dance? What made you want to become a belly dancer in the first place? For me, the belly dancer is the embodiment of the Goddess, would you agree?
A. “Mythology, artwork, music, spellcraft – I find my inspiration anywhere and everywhere. When I perform with The Mechanist & The Star Goddess, Davis and Nathaniel are creating music on the spot and I’m responding to them – and in turn they respond to me. We’re also influenced by the venue, the people who have gathered there, the vibe of the day, etc.
“I got into bellydance because my best friend at the time introduced me to things she was seeing in the Bay Area of California – so I went looking for what I could find similarly in Rhode Island (where I was living then.) Everyone in our tradition signed up for classes as well, because it felt like such a natural thing to include into ritual. I wouldn’t say the belly dancer is the embodiment of the Goddess – I’ve done too many genderfluid performances and know many other performers who identify outside of the gender binary. Plus there’s a lot of fakelore about the history of the dance that makes it seem very narrowly Goddess-centric, when it’s a dance that’s done culturally by a wide variety of ages, genders, and faiths. I WILL say that learning to incorporate movement into ritual is an incredible way to access the Divine in multiple forms – not only exterior deities and spirits, but to connect with your own spiritual essence.”
Q. You are known for your Sigil Crafting skills, and making the Craftform accessible to everyone; what is it about Sigil Witchcraft do you enjoy the most? Why do you believe people are drawn to this form of the Craft? Especially since for many years people I ran into were completely turned off by Sigils; only associating them with Chaos Magickians.
A. “For me, art is my primary form of expression AND method of spellcraft. I love opening people’s minds to doing it for themselves. The ability of human beings to be able to mentally associate an abstract concept with a drawn mark is ancient – it’s one of the critical thought processes that sets us aside as a species. For thousands of years, humanity has employed the use of art and symbols to work magic and affect the metaphysical – it’s definitely not something that was invented by a white dude last century or a secret ensconced in 15th century European grimoires. There are MANY methods – mine pulls from those ancient roots, yet bypasses other approaches to deliver a vision that people feel more connected with. Everyone has their own personal library of symbols and things that have meaning for them. If you work from what you’re familiar with, while expanding your horizons, it can have a profound and powerful effect on your magick. My method strengthens the ability of the right brain to visualize, which I think people find very familiar and inspiring.”
Q. What is one piece of Witchy advice you were given that you have never forgotten?
A. “Oh so many good things, but I think my favorite actually came in reference to dance: “There’s something you can learn from every dancer. Sometimes that’s what TO DO, and sometimes it’s what NOT to do.” Definitely applicable to witchcraft!
Q. What is one piece of advice you would give to anyone newer to the Craft?
A. Power comes from within, it already resides within you. All you have to do is learn to trust yourself – which sounds simple and easy, but it’s definitely the hardest thing for most people to learn.
Laura is on a mission, or several missions I should say.
She paints the world (quite literally) with her beautiful colors of dance, Witchcraft and Artwork; she gives her readers real advice that can be applied to their Craft and lives.
She is a force comprised of rebellion, resistance and an Ancient energy you have to feel to believe.
A Woman like her has earned the name Tempest; not only that, she embodies the storm.
It is for these reasons and so many more that she has been named The Nephilim Rising’s Witch of the Week.
A reference list of all her past and current projects, along with sites (you can also find links above):
A Modern Traditional Witch (Patheos Blog) – http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tempest/
Fine Art Witchery (Witches & Pagans) – http://witchesandpagans.com/pagan-paths-blogs/fine-art-witchery/
The Witch’s Cauldron: The Craft, Lore and Magick of Ritual Vessels (Llewellyn, 2017)
Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols (Llewellyn, 2018)
The Witch’s Altar: The Craft, Lore and Magick of Sacred Space (co-authored with Jason Mankey, Llewellyn, November 2018)
Weave The Liminal: Living Modern Traditional Witchcraft (Llewellyn, January 2019)
Contributor to Llewellyn Annuals (Magical Almanac, Witches’ Companion, etc)
Contributor to The Witches’ Almanac, Ltd
Illustrator for Witches & Pagans, SageWoman
The Mechanist & The Star Goddess – https://www.facebook.com/TheMechanistandTheStarGoddess
We Are Aradia – https://www.facebook.com/WeAreAradia/, www.wearearadia.org (under construction)