Sister Meets...The High Priestxss

Sister Meets...The High Priestxss

Hi Yuri and Portia! Congrats on launching Self Love and Shadows. Whereabouts in the world are you both?

Yuri: I’m travelling right now! I’ve managed to create a sort of travelling art residency for myself, and I’m currently situated in The Gambia.

Portia: I’m also travelling at the minute! Spending more time in America, visiting my dad and connecting with people over here. I’m mainly in London, but have recently been feeling called to other places.

How did the pair of you come together to form The High Priestxss? 

Y: It was Portia’s idea!

P: The idea was quite organic…I felt like I wasn’t allocating enough time and focus to the side of myself that is intrinsically spiritual, and was longing for that sort of community. I also felt like none of the current communities that evolve around that exploration were ones I could feel at home in. Yuri was really blossoming on her journey and getting into tarot, and I was deep in my interest in all things astro, so we began sharing information and our learnings. 

I noticed from our talks that the two shared a common ground — they were both different mediums in which to communicate a universal intelligence/source. It just clicked that we needed to come together to create a sort of duo, where we could work together using tarot and astrology readings to give people a more in depth exploration of themselves. But then also show that the information given by each, tarot and astrology, were always unwittingly running along the same themes. So the craving to find out more, and to feel more connected to ourselves and to share this experience with others on the same journey, came about quickly. The need for a universal network and community came apparent very shortly after.


Can you tell us about the process for Self Love and Shadows — how did you come up with the idea, and how did you decide on the items? 

Y: We actually started with the visuals we shot with Sophie Stafford, which you see throughout the zine. We wanted to shoot something beautiful and esoteric that is missing from the ‘modern witchcraft’ space, that represents our decolonial perspective and is a point of difference from the new age spirituality/love and light aesthetic. I guess they were originally just intended as ‘content’ but when we reflected on the images, we realised that they were telling us the story of what we were feeling at the time — the story of us beginning a deep journey of shadow work! So suddenly it became clear that we should fashion these into printed material that will help us each work through our healing, and also help others at this time of huuuuge revelation of our collective shadows. The ideas for the contents of the zine came to me one morning, where I jotted them all down as soon as I woke up (when the mind is the clearest). I spent one evening on the layout and order of the contents. I had a lot on at the time, so I sat down at my table with all the images and ideas, meditated and called in my ancestors and said “Right, we just have tonight to do this, so please work with me on what should go where so it makes sense and looks good!” So thanks to them I went through and arranged it in one pass, before spending a few weeks writing/meditating on the content! The contributors then added their pieces in, and it all wrapped together nicely.


Why the title Self Love and Shadows? You describe it as “a handbook to your ongoing journey into the dark.” Can you explain what that means? 

P: Well these are the two focuses we found ourselves ultimately learning about on that journey. We’ve become aware that there are parts of ourselves we can be blind to, because we don't want to face the parts of ourselves that need to change. The unknown scares us — the idea of failing, fear that we're not good enough, of being a ‘bad’ person or something that society will look down upon, all stops us from wanting to face the reality of ourselves. But the truth is we’re human, we are imperfect, it's a part of our learning. We just need to act on the information as much as we can, day by day, to evolve and get to journey on a type of self mastery. Thing is when our mental health is suffering, and the majority of people we know are also suffering from depression and anxiety, we have to think something must be wrong. That there's something we are disconnected from and that ‘thing’ is ourselves. We have to explore what is unconscious and in the dark to get to the bottom of who and why we are. Bring it into awareness so we can stop self sabotaging, heal and be the best version of ourselves as we can.


How do you want people to feel or act after reading the zine? 

Y: We want people to feel as if they have a thread to hang onto, something that helps them make sense of what we find when we look into the unknown! I would love for people to read this zine and feel excited or at least hopeful about shadow work, rather than apprehensive or overwhelmed. Working through the zine, there will be pieces which resonate with you at different times, and it is by no means a linear journey. For myself, I actually started with the last exercise called ‘Playing With The Devil’. It’s a shadow art activity, and I only realised I had done the exercise once the piece was finished. Only in the past few weeks, I did the ‘My Yin, My Yang’ tarot spread for myself (although I had tested it on others before) as that is when it felt ready for that insight. So really I want people to feel patience for this work, and to know that they can come into it as and when they feel to!

 "We want people to feel as if they have a thread to hang onto, something that helps them make sense of what we find when we look into the unknown!"

Yuri, as a previous Sister cover star, this feels like a very different venture to heading up your own fashion label Hanger. Why the change? 

Y: Haha it really is! But it also kind of isn’t at the same time? When I think back to what I was doing with HANGER, I was always trying to tell a story, to show people a slice of what I was currently contemplating, and to hopefully be the catalyst for some kind of new perspective or realisation. In short, I have always been an Aquarius, haha! The main difference with what we are starting to do with The High Priestxss is to present and discuss these ideas in a much more direct way, and also with the added practicality of being able to guide this kind of inner/outer work through workshops, and providing tools which help you heal yourself. I also have to say I genuinely loved making clothes, films, and experiences with HANGER, but am absolutely over it with the fashion industry, so there’s that! But I’ll admit I keep having inspirations for slutty garms which are gonna have to be put out somewhere… Anyway, I’m also very conscious that the aesthetics of ‘spirituality’ right now majorly needs a rebrand. How are we supposed to evolve our souls if the school we graduate from looks boring and un-enticing? That’s what I’m trying to solve.


How does it feel to step away from Hanger, especially coming off the back of appearing on ‘Next In Fashion’? 

Y: Like a delicious relief! I’m very happy that I know when it’s time for me to quit. After all my experiences with “Next in Fashion” I was at a point which was either a) really try to do this industry/media thing and literally *become* a product in a landscape that doesn't even like me or b) abandon the path and run for the hills. So I clearly chose the latter! I’m so grateful for everything that experience taught me that I did and did not want in my life; from showing me hate from random people online, to love and connection with people all over the world. Also, to be honest, I always forget that I was in that show! Haha, I haven't been that version of me that I was in the show for years now, and I find it easy to forget what the old me has done. 

Together you’ve previously activated healing spaces in Protein Studios and Shoreditch House. Can you explain what those entail?

Y: Honestly this is where we come alive! When we’re holding space for people to let their guard down and be sensitive, it’s like the melting of armour, even when in the midst of a busy event with music blaring. For me the *real* magic is when we’re doing things face to face with people.

P: I agree! This is when it really feels like we're giving people what they're unknowingly desperately seeking. We're getting so used to everything being online and digital, it's so important we don't lose touch with our basic needs as a human — face to face connection. A space to be vulnerable, a moment to let go.Our events centre around group discussions and oracle readings, guided workshops and various exercises which utilise The High Priestxss tools to aid the journey. It's really about creating a space for total acceptance and safety.


Portia, how did you start your journey into astrology?

P: Astrology is a passion that first began to take my interest when I was about 16. My mom had a good few books around the house, and I realised quite young that I had a big interest in ancient practices and also ancient Egypt. This interest snowballed steadily over time, picking up in my early twenties when I would just be researching the planets and the stars in my spare time. I realised there was so much information to learn about each planet, each sign and each house, so I took my time with it. As I learnt more and more, I started to dissect my natal chart and realised that I was being really educated in aspects of myself that I hadn't been able to understand before, but was now making so much sense. It became a practical learning, helping me to honour myself and understand my natural tendencies in really deep ways. At this point I became obsessed, collecting other people's charts and creating an archive to study so that I could also understand my loved ones on a deeper level. This led to my relationships being more fulfilling and deep, and my understanding of the universe just began to completely blow my mind.


What do you think about apps like Co-Star, do you believe true accuracy and alignment can come from technology?  

P: Of course, just like a satellite is being monitored and receiving and giving information to us, an astro app will too. However, we will always be stunted by technology as nothing is like the human brain. Technology and computers are created by the human brain, so will always be second best.I think the apps are a way of simplifying things so people in the mainstream are able to start their journey of understanding their chart and astrology as a subject, but they always leave out a plethora of important information. Co-Star is great for the absolute beginner. The Pattern is great for those that aren't into the talk of planets and space, but if you really want to get to the nitty gritty you need to read books and research highly recommended sources that give the full history and understandings of each planet, sign and house, and then you will be able to learn how to read a chart! There's also schools you can go to. It depends on what you're drawn to and the level you want to achieve.

Don't rush it, enjoy the journey. The learning is never ending as you see things play out in your life.

"That it needs to be pious, serene, humble, beige! It can be chaotic, exuberant, it can be *blood red*. For me ‘spirituality’ means to be ‘of spirit’ as in to have awareness of and remembrance of the fact that we are spirits living a human experience!"

What do you think are people’s biggest misconceptions about spirituality? 

Y: That it needs to be pious, serene, humble, beige! It can be chaotic, exuberant, it can be *blood red*. For me ‘spirituality’ means to be ‘of spirit’ as in to have awareness of and remembrance of the fact that we are spirits living a human experience! This means the acknowledgement of the complete reality of being a human, warts and all, in a way that is consciously experiencing and *living* life — not just bobbing along in the sea of existence. Also you don’t have to look or be a certain way to be spiritual, and not everyone has to connect with African or native practices to be legit. There are white indegenous cultures too! Everybody has roots somewhere (our ancestry is bigger than we can fathom) and you can honour them without co-opting something more ‘exotic’. 

P: For sure people believe it has to look or feel a certain way, but truth is you can be connected to your spirit and be spiritual however the hell you please! Whatever feels good for you, and it's not going to always be pretty and positive. That's not realistic. The aim is finding peace, accepting yourself, learning, evolving and that can be really painful. But it is always worth it! I believe being spiritual is acknowledging we are not only 'animal'. It's not only the body and the mind. We have spirit. We all have experienced it or are to experience it, and being spiritual is just participating in that journey of discovery. It's whatever you want to call it or however you want to do it. It's not anyone else's business to tell someone else how to do it long as it's not causing harm. It's a personal journey, one that should be individual to that person. As Yuri mentions, find out about you, your history, your roots, your blood. What story does it tell? Connect to that story.


What advice do you have for people who are curious about spirituality and everything that you both practice, but are unsure where to start (other than buying Self Love and Shadows, of course)? 

Y: So I know a lot of people roll their eyes at this but yes, it starts with meditation. You know everything starts with the self, as the self is also a direct reflection of all creation. Also there are many different ways to meditate outside of the Zen practice people know of the most (total clearing of the mind) — thoughts are not your enemy! Try an ‘active’ style of meditation while doing something you do anyway, if sitting still or falling asleep is a problem (while showering/walking/doing something habitual). Our thoughts are not there to be overcome, but to be observed (because we are not the thought, it is merely popping up into our mind). When you can get into that perspective of observing your thoughts you access your true mind, you are seeing from the perspective of the actual ‘you’ (spirit) unidentified with your thoughts. Also if you want to start with some reading material we actually have quite a decent an online library of magickal/astrological e-books here that we keep forgetting to tell people about! 

P: Hahaha it does start with meditation! But find your way, it's not going to look the same for everyone. The goal is peace, mental clarity and shutting off the noise of society so you can hear what your soul needs. It will guide you! Quiet the mind and then follow the signs <3

What’s next for The High Priestxss? 

Y: We actually wanna turn this into an arts organisation! We need to see more magickal black art, don't you think? If anyone has any bright ideas or would like to be involved in any way please shoot us an email! (thecoven@thehighpriestxss.com).

P: Yes! We want to build and connect with other like minded people. Hit us up if you wanna be involved! We look forward to it!

Buy Self Love and Shadows here and follow The High Priestxss here.

You can also buy Claire’s cover of Sister here.

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