Fine Art Witchery: Where the Arts & Magick Meet

An exploration of the metaphysical intersection between the Fine Arts & Witchcraft: including history, current usage, and practical application.

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The Struggle of Sacred, Sensual, Sexual

In 5th grade, we had an assignment to make art depicting "innocence and the light and grace of God" (or something similar). I chose to draw a young boy and girl standing bathed in the light of the Holy Spirit (in dove form), their backs to the viewer, their bodies lightly covered in transparent shifts.  To me that showed the purity of creation, a clear symbol of innocence. I thought it was a beautiful drawing. 

My classmates called me a pervert and were horrified. My teacher told me they needed more clothes.  I didn't see anything wrong or shameful in what I had drawn.  

I grew up with big books of museum art full of nudes, wallpaper with naked women bathing in my parents' bathroom - which was no different than the metallic lions and tigers in the jungle on the walls of the bathroom my brothers and I shared. Bodies are used in art because they are amazing things.  I inherently understood that being naked didn't automatically mean being sexual. 

American society is a bizarre mix of over/hyper-sexualization, body loathing and sex shaming.  It's so much to unpack in so many areas of our lives, it's mind-boggling.  

In the bellydance world, there's the constant declaration "we're not strippers!" - but what's wrong with stripping? Or burlesque? Nothing.  The heart of the matter is much closer to: "What I am doing is a sensual art that has a multitude of cultural layers and requires great skill to do well - be a freaking grown up about it."  

As an artist, I often to look to the human body to explore my ideas. Frequently I'm turning to my own body for reference because it's really handy (especially late at night), but also I look to my friends and close ones as well. Then I run into the issue that at many shows, female nudity is fine (to edge of what some what call pornography), but you can't show penises. And then there's #nipplegate. But why is there shame in any of these things? These things are merely parts of our bodies. 

As a Witch, I watch the various paths and their approaches to gender, the body, and sexuality.  From those that insist on the gender binary or gender exclusion in order for their rites or magick to take place - to those that find the sensual and sexual in all essences of being - rain on your skin, the beauty of a sunset.  That level of understanding and vision is something I aspire to. 

As a woman, I'm constantly barraged by ads for bras, hair removal, weight loss, and other beauty products. I got stares in many places as I traveled across the country this past summer, because part of my head is shaved and I have prominent tattoos.  I grew up being teased for being too skinny, too dark, too hairy, too smart, too intense. I have to wade awkward waters where random people comment on how sexy I am, like that's something I'm supposed to care about, or anyone but my partner should talk about with me. It makes me wonder where the walls and barriers are, and whose are they? Who gets to determine that? 

The other day, I ran across a picture labeled "occult art" that basically was a normal woman engaged in a gang bang of "devils."  And I thought, what is occult...or art about this?  Sure, it could be a fun kinky image, but it didn't really hit essential occult for me - and the composition had room for improvement.  Then I came across Max Dashu's post on Toxific and Pornified Goddesses.  Again, I was left wondering, is this art? Does this speak of the divine?  That kind of art doesn't appeal or speak to me, but maybe I'm not the target market.  Does that make it bad?  Or maybe that's how the divine instructed the artist? I don't have an answer. 

It truly is a struggle because we have so many landmines to navigate - in our own heads, in society, in our religions, in our schools. At the root of it all - what if we had a more healthy, balanced view of our own bodies, and all the kinds of power held within?  What if we allow ourselves to recognize the divine within us -and each other?  What if we're able to let go of fear, shame, and guilt? What is possible? What great art and society can come of it? 

In his presentation at Many Gods West (called "Loving the Darkness,") Sean Donahue talked about when we give into fear, guilt, and shame, we curse ourselves and our worlds. When we give into and be open to love, we bless ourselves and our worlds. When I look at each subculture I'm involved in, and the larger society, I can truly see that at work. We can choose what we bless and what we curse, but often fail to realize what we're doing, as we're doing it. 

It's the place where you are alone, looking into the void.  You ask the darkness, "Am I enough?" It answers back, "I love you, and you have always been enough.  It is only for you to believe it."

We are sacred, we are sensual, we are sexual.  If we stop separating the sacred from the secular, we are open to see the divine.  If we view ourselves as sensual, then we tap into the beautiful reality and mystery of life and death. If we see sexual as natural, innate, and of our own power, we reach beyond the ideas of taboo and titillation, and look into the face of creation. 

Art: "The Witch" - from the Divine Feminine Trio, 2015, mixed media on cedar, painted by the author. 

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Laura "Tempest" Zakroff is a professionally trained visual artist, designer, writer and a Modern Traditional Witch. Her artwork explores the realm of Myth and the Esoteric and has been featured in numerous publications and shows across the world. She is also is a world-renown belly dance performer and instructor, focusing on sacred and darkly inspired fusions that pull from the traditions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. She is based in Seattle, WA.


  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert Friday, 11 August 2017

    Very interesting and well put. I too grew up with an artist mother and parents who didn't hide their bodies. My mom used to invite me into the bathroom when she bathed as it was a good time for us to talk an share.Thanks for this nice article. I agree that our society is extremely silly. My husband has a wonderful art piece he can' show anywhere because it includes nudity and Men embracing.

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