Season of the Witch with Erin Merriman

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( Photo by Filth and Beauty)

Defining a Witch is to me like trying to explain the personalities of my children. As their mother who grew them, birthed them, I see them as everything all at once. They are good and bad, they are big and small, old and new, and all the things in between. One may be shy at times and bold at other times, one is fearless yet scared at the same time. And then they change. They are slippery. How to define them? Little witches, I guess.

I have kicked around definitions of many things, but squirmed and wiggled when called to define myself. ‘Mother’ is one of my definitions and I’m okay with that because I chose it and there is no escaping it so here I am, I accept my motherness. ‘Artist’ I will claim because I can’t seem to contain the creative flow. Woman’, hmmmm okay. But I like to think of gender as being much more fluid than Woman/Man so I will hold off on defining myself by my gender for the sake of further shifting gender consciousness.

Feminist?’ I’ve been put to the test of defining myself as a feminist and felt like it was a word that separated and limited me in a way that felt uncomfortable. I require something much more inclusive and expansive. Something with lot’s of space and room to create and heal and bend. Something that allows me to throw down for womankind and the entire web of life, known and unknown, past and present.

I need a better word. We need a better word. A word without hard and fast rules, something that leads us both inward and outward, connecting instead of separating. Something that allows time and space for us to flatten out the well-worn grooves of collective consciousness, smoothing them back to divine, limitless, undefinable possibility.

Witch is the word.

I have spent many years mulling over what it means to be a witch, and how to talk about it.  It has felt to me in the past like the possession of a divine secret, a quiet power, alive in a knowing glance to another witch where you both understand something undefinable in a moments time. And that thing you understood together is always there with you. But for years I have felt like it is something I am not supposed to talk about.

This past Summer, a dear friend of mine Sophia Rose sang me a song about being a witch and it opened up the flood gates. I realized I had to talk about it. Sing about it, even.

PLEASE, before you read on, click over and listen to this song as you read this post.


Witches I Love

 

This is the first of a series I have been afraid to share until now, affectionately called Witches I Love which aims to distill the essence of the modern witch by asking my favorite modern witches to chime in their wisdom and experience.

The purpose of producing this series is to help us open the aperture or our minds a bit wider to understand the power of living within infinite spectrums of brilliant color and depth, in a world which largely sees things in black and white.

A big thank you to all for being here and bearing witness, I hope these women’s words are both helpful and empowering to you, and we would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the subject. Are you a witch? Please tell us about it in the comment section!

This first interview is with Erin Rivera Merriman, San Diego based Witch, healer of many modalities and conscious community creatress at Active Culture Family.

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(Opening Ceremony and Space Blessing for Bell Jar, Los Angeles, CA)


Season of the Witch: An Interview with Erin Merriman

 

What does the word Witch mean to you?

I’m so glad you asked. As a student of communication i’m increasingly floored by how often we think we are communicating, because we have this common vocabulary, when in fact each person is using the same words to mean different things. Words are very holographic, slippery, and alive. I think it’s really awesome that as this word “Witch” is being reclaimed, you are taking the time to attempt to establish some shared meaning around it!

I think of a witch as a female identified or female bodied person who believes that we dwell within sentient universe, and consciously engages the art of ritual and spell craft to symbolically communicate their intentions and desires for what they would like to experience in life, so that the plants, animals, and other cosmic energies around them who are a yes to her desires, who share a similar agenda or intention,  can participate in bringing them about in an expedited way.

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(Photo by Filth and Beauty)

A witch understands that her menstrual cycle connects her to the cycle of life and that by aligning her outer activities with her inner rhythm and adding in awareness of other influences, such as seasons and astrological circumstance, they can further amplify the effectiveness of their movements in the world. The term Witch is neutral. The question I always ask when relating with other magical beings is what energies are you aligning yourself with to empower your intentions, who do you serve, and to what end?

That said, there are all these different flavors of mystical feminine being, and it can be fun to find the label that most resonates…Witch, Yogini, Priestess, Dakini, Nun, Abess,…the list goes on, and furthermore we are always free to make up our own! As in the dialogue around any identity, like gender identity, its important to allow people the freedom to self identify, because they are the one having the complete inner experience, the only one who can say what concepts resonate with their way of life.  A label we choose for ourselves can be expansive and help us explore the world through a different lens. A label someone else puts on us is always limiting.karmaclearing

( Full Moon Ceremony, San Diego, CA, photo by Dori Varga)

How would one know that one was a witch? 🙂

So often people think “She’s a witch!” when something that can’t be explained through any rational process happens, but in reality, the universe is full of unexplained phenomenon, women just happen to be socialized to be more embracing of the validity of these unexplainable occurrences. I personally reserve the term Witch for women who both consider themselves witches and actively practices witchcraft. Magic is another word for the wild nature in us. You can also call this hormones, sexual energy, or Shakti. Its the uncontrollable aspect of the feminine, so all women are a little bit witchy. Often a natural intuitive ability, like having premonitions or seeing spirits, or unexplained phenomenon would lead someone to pursue witchcraft as a means of feeling empowered as opposed to burdened by their gifts.

It’s important to me the acknowledge the craft aspect of witchcraft. It is an art form. Being an intuitive, a clairaudient or clairvoyant is something that you just are. But being a medium means that you use that ability in a particular way. Being a witch to me means that you work with ritual or spell craft to interact directly with the natural world in attempt to empower your intentions, whatever they may be. Intentions that seek to influence the actions of others in any way without their express permission for you to do so is black magic. Intentions like “ I want to heal my relationship to my father” that have to do with yourself is white magic. And then there is the path of the Tantrika, which has a completely different vocabulary around engaging magic. We honor and worship and serve Goddess by becoming her. We don’t so much as ask her for help doing our will but surrender to the will of the divine, recognizing that the even greater pleasure than getting our own way is to surrender to the divinity and perfection of what is already unfolding.

Talk about intention and manifestation…..How do they work together?

When we are in very high vibrational environments, we often experience this idea of instant manifestation- that reality is reconfiguring everything at lightning speed to match our thoughts, words, and desires. I think this is happening all the time but at a level too subtle to notice. The magic is “there” but we are not “there.” I have felt this energy. Some cultures would call it Lakshmi. We often call upon it as “abundance” but it reveals itself to me as a column of beings, a kind of roving energetic wishing well, where all these beings are just waiting for a chance to get in the game, but the rule is, they have to be asked. So there really are these beings who just love us and are dying to help us out, but they need our permission, so when you say “I want”  or “I intend” or “I pray”  it gives them that permission to act on our behalf.

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(Photo Filth and Beauty)

For example, if you think you are having bad sex, and you think “this person is bad at sex”, and then you get a new lover and they are like “Tell me what you want?” and you realize you don’t know, you have no idea what you like, so your partners have a very small chance of pleasing you, because you are asking someone with very limited access to our ecosystem to show you something you don’t already know…it’s like that with manifestation. The people who are really good at it are seasoned at self inquiry, and then gifted at distilling and articulating their desire very very clearly. When the sentient universe/ Goddess knows what we want, it makes it much much easier for her to give it to us.

How do you think that a collection of witches is magnified in power to an individual witch?

Covens have always naturally formed. In Shakta Tantra we have these Goddess collectives called the Asta Matrikas and the Mahavidyas, that are made up of these really powerful feminine energies. In my experience, when they come together around a common intention, huge outcomes are possible. I feel this way about being part of the Spirit Weavers Gathering.  It is so many deeply devoted women in one spot, pulling for all of womankind to heal and cooperate and serve one another so that all may have the opportunity to bloom into their fullness, and the result is exponentially more that the sum of the parts. It really is a transformational vortex.img_4943

(Photo/ Spiritweavers Gathering by Filth and Beauty)

I have been shown that these covens/ Goddess collectives are initiation grids. It is alchemy when we gather. The container becomes this fully stocked pharmacy of vibrational medicine, where you are free to choose who in the group to spend more time with than others, and if you mix this particular blend of people’s individual medicines together, you get a prescription that is perfectly calibrated for your individual awakening needs.

Where would you direct a woman who is interested in exploring her inner witch for the first time? (books? Plants? etc)

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-10-01-53-am(Kava Temple: Sacred Sexuality Ceremony at The BE Hive, Hollywood, CA)

In terms of books, Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss is kind of THE  primer for the spiritual journy if you are a true beginner to these explorations.  New Moon Magic is growing in popularity, and it is increasingly possible to find a women’s circle to sit with on the new or full moon to explore simple ideas around lunar magic. Robin Rose Benett’s Healing Magic is another great primer on the path of the Green Witch, through which I received my first formal initiations. If you are drawn to or already versed in Hinduism, Yoga, or Tantra, Laura Amazonne has a great online course called Mysteries of the Yoginis that gets really detailed about the Yogini Cults of ancient india, which were basically coven’s or groups of witches who banded together to practice magic in the name of Goddess and support one another in living life outside the matrix. 

Planting some Mugwort and taking time to meditate with her and cultivate a relationship slowly over time is another intuitive, organic way to begin to wade into these waters. As a sacred medicinal plant in many cultures, she is beloved among witches and herbalists around the world and well known for opening the veils between the worlds and strengthening intuitive and visionary abilities. You can smoke mugwort, chew her leaves, or sew her into dream pillows to enhance natural dream abilities.

A really fun beginner practice is to choose a divination tool to work with such as dreamwork, tarot, or a pendulum, and begin checking in with it for guidance at the beginning or end of each day. Don’t be discouraged if at first it seems like nothing happened. Sometimes it takes years of cultivation before psychic gifts really begin to blossom. And the truly powerful gifts tend to be bestowed upon those who demonstrate dedication and intention to use those abilities in service of the greater good.

How do the facets of our souls (shadow side, sun-lit side, good, evil) effect the process of owning our power?

As we become more empowered, we need to also grow our capacity for accountability of our words and actions. The shadow is all the parts of ourselves that we refuse to own or acknowledge, that we refuse to give love to. A great way to know the content of your shadow is to make a list of all that you are judging in another person. We cannot accept traits in others that we are unable to love in ourselves.

When working with big energies, our own emotional processing time is absolutely essential. I find that practitioners in particular need to really look at what feelings came up and what they were trying to communicate to us on a daily basis. If not stalked relentlessly, when we speak or act from that unconscious place as all humans do, the effects are more destructive. We see that we need to become more intentional with everything we do, when we understand we are holding strong medicine, and that if not consciously directed towards higher outcomes, can unconsciously do harm.

I think its exceedingly rare for someone to be truly evil in the sense of intending to do harm as primary motivation. I think it is more often when we cannot tolerate the vulnerability of a situation, when we act from fear, act to protect a wound, or under the influence of addiction, that we do the most harm.

Why do you think it is so hard for some of us to own our power? Speak to the woman who knows she has it but is afraid to use it.

I learned at a young age that power corrupts. I think we have seen people come to power and use it to dominate and we don’t want to do that. We all have huge egos and I know I have avoided the spiritual maturation processes out of fear that any power that came my way might be hijacked by my ego, might allow me loose touch with the struggles of humanity, might make me slowly loose my compassion for those who weren’t able to “manifest their visions.”

I have feared the increase in criticism that comes with increased visibility for your work. I have feared loosing friends as a result of my journey to embody unpopular philosophies which I have found to be part of the deeper truth of me. And to me empowerment is just about the ability to embody your truth despite the social consequences. I was bullied in a very relentless and creative way for all of high school. I received long letters filled with criticism about me signed by every boy in school. I now see that this was a necessary part of my training.

Sometimes it happens in life that every single person in your immediate environment tells you that the way you are is wrong. But sometimes, eventually, that very process makes you aware that the thing inside you that you can’t change no matter how hard you wish you could, that that is the YOU in there! That very thing is in fact your medicine, and it can go underground or be hidden behind a mask, or some become so convinced that it can never be shared that they leave early (as in teen suicide) but even that choice to leave is choosing the self, knowing that we do have the right to be what we are, even if some feel that there is no place for them here, on this planet, in these times.

To those who know it’s there but are afraid to embody what they are carrying, I say you have no other choice. If you are seeking health, weight loss, family or marriage healing, career success- none of that is possible while hiding your light. It is the only way to be happy, even if it involves a short or long period where it feels the world is burning all around you in order to begin living more authentically.

To those who are afraid to use it I beg you to stop effing around and move on to mastering your ability to share your gift with confidence and ease because these are challenging times and WE NEED YOU!

Tell us a little bit about your personal witch journey. 

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(Kava Temple at The Gaia School of Earth Healing, Los Angeles, CA)

I’ve always been drawn to the unorthodox, to people making uncommon choices. In my very small, sheltered town, it took me a while to be exposed to anything that really interested me. My mom really paid attention to what made me light up, and always nurtured me as an artist, driving me to yoga, and art classes, and accepting my increasingly weird outfit choices. She let me wear a pentagram necklace and combat boots to church.

Her unconditional love was probably the first condition for me to begin to open more psychically. In the beginning, when I started to really shake up my reality, it was always a result of a desire to creatively explore my identity through hair, make up, and clothes. It was shocking to me how opinionated and triggered people became by my desire to experiment with my appearance. I was dying my hair and giving myself piercings regularly. There was nothing else to do in our tiny rural town, and I wasn’t hurting anybody, so I didn’t get what the big deal was.

The most life changing thing was my mothers weekly ritual of taking me to the bookstore and letting me pick any book I wanted, no questions asked. I quickly discovered the small shelf at the back of the store market “occult” and that was it. Every week, I devoured different books on runes, tarot, moon magic, mythology…this coincided with my first heartbreak and the beginning of bullying, emotional trauma that triggered a genetic pre-disposition toward fibromyalgia, so my hobby like interest in magic, combined with a strong cocktail of hormones and heartbreak  marked the beginning of both daily migraines and the quest to heal them, a quest that would last for 17 years.

Thankfully, I met an woman 3 years older than me who was interested in the same things and we were able to just dive fully into exploring. It started with these play/ pretend rituals where we would just bring whatever seemed magical to the beach and build mandalas in the sand and make up mantras and chants. We thought we were just being a couple of bored, theatrical weirdos, but those early spells had long lasting impact, and at some point we had to have some distance from each other to go through our own trials and initiations, a lot of suffering and deep healing in order to really mature on the path and realize that its about awakening from the trance of mainstream and even alternative culture and realizing the true nature of the journey- that it’s a path towards doing healing work.img_9247

My own path has asked me to change just about everything from the way I was raised through divination, diet, yoga, acupuncture, shamanism, plant medicine (as herbalism and as teacher plants like Ayahuasca and Psilocybin.) The layering of all of these wellness modalities  has allowed me to learn to live from that ceremonial place more of the time. I pray for strength to continue to dwell in the half step, in the margins, not grasp for here or there, because to me this is where magic lives, in the spaces in between. Everyone has their own magic, their own medicine, AND, there is such sincerity and passion and unmistakable depth among those who are really living for this path, who have persevered through times of deep doubt, to continue living for something that most people agree isn’t even real!

I have been required to subsist on faith alone for long periods of time, and had to say, “Well, if I’m wrong at the end of my life, I’m wrong, but I am all in, come what may”, and that really changes the game, when you are no longer loosing energy to the question of weather or not you are going to turn back, take some anti-depressants and try to fit in.

I am currently most focused on studying my points of access to educational vibrational fields of consciousness through the dreamtime, and studying Shakta Tantra ( a more shamanic,  earth based, matriarchal means of liberation as compared to other lineages of Tantra) . The vocabulary and experiences spoken of in that tradition most closely match my inner reality so am choosing to be an apprentice in that house of magic right now.

My quadruple Aries fiery devotion can be a bit much for some people, and I find the best place for the full unmoderated  expression of my Shakti to be to pour that into a daily Sadhana practice, practice moon magic and sex magic…As I get older, there seem to be more and more opportunities for weaving ceremony into my day and in my everyday life, and more people walking alongside me. It’s a good time to be a witch.

Erin Rivera Merriman is a priestess, artist, and teacher of the metaphysical arts. Raised on a 100 acre tree farm in rural Connecticut, she was taught from a young age the importance of community stewardship and living in harmony with the natural world. Erin’s study as an Herbalist in the Wise Woman Tradition, combined with her training as a Zen hospice and prison chaplain, and recent studies in classical Shakta Tantra have shaped her unique, multidimensional approach to women’s health and empowerment.  Through ceremonies, workshops, coaching sessions and intuitive readings, she is honored to be with you as midwife at the edge of your comfort zone, as you conceive, incubate, and give birth to your own highest vision for your life. To learn more about working with Erin, visit www.activeculturefamily.com

 

Love Battle at Foxglove City

7U6A8051Here are some shots from a recent afternoon Foxglove Love Battle session that transpired in my neighborhood with two of my dear young muses, Birch and Cameron.

In a city without many empty lots left overgrown, I love this one lot that we chose to shoot at, to it’s fullest. It is like my own wild piece of countryside behind a white picket fence, old knotty apple trees, plants made lush and green by years of goat manure from the former homes previous owners, who were urban goat farmers and edible weed lovers.

Welcome to Foxglove City, please enjoy the photos:) 7U6A7948 7U6A7725 7U6A7896 7U6A7884 7U6A8094

And lastly, this beautiful shot of the braids coming down ( The deconstruction shots are always best!)

Do you have a little secret garden around where you live? If you don’t, I encourage you to find one:)

Secret Garden Braids

xo, HTHG

Words on Hair and Life with Jayne Matthews of Edo, Kindred Hair Sister

12 years ago, a girl friend and I decided to move to San Francisco. We had had it with Seattle, we were barely twenty and felt as if we had outgrown our hometown to the point of mind numbing boredom and alcoholism. We packed up a uhaul, complete with my 99 Chevy Corsica with the huge brass ‘PANTERA’ cutout bolted to the front grill, and headed to the Bay.

On our way down, we got arrested for smoking weed in a tiny town outside of Portland. We were stoned and stunned. They let us go with a court date a month later, a bummer we couldn’t fathom being able to afford to attend.

When we got to SF, we moved into a 3 bedroom apartment in the Mission with 12 boys from Minneapolis. The apartment had a tiny basement and a tool-shed bedroom conversion in the back yard. Next door to us was an apartment full of rowdy and amazing lesbians from South Carolina.

I quickly figured out life: I could survive off 1 burrito a day from El Matate, and still have enough to afford to drink my Anchor Steam at night after a long day waiting tables at All You Knead on upper Haight street. I walked to work every day, falling in love with the city by the bay in a way that still makes my heart swell to think about.

One day, during my daily walk, every person I passed was eating an Ice cream cone. From the bums and junkies to hippie burn outs and hipsters and corporate stiffs, moms, kids, dads, everyone. It felt like the best dream possible, but really it was just free ice cream day at Ben and Jerry’s.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 11.55.38 AMEvery day on my walk, I passed a gorgeous hair salon called Edo and I would slow down so I could see what was happening in there. The stylists looked so unique and happy and the hair happening in there was eamazing nough to make me know that some day I REALLY REALLY wanted to apply for a job there and learn and create along side these people. But first, I needed to get my California Cosmetology license. And to me at the time, that seemed like more red tape and grown up stuff to want to deal with.

12 years later, having left San Francisco (different story for a different day) I have had the pleasure of connecting with Edo through Instagram. I took the opportunity to reach out to Jayne Matthews, Edo creator and owner, and found in her a kindred hair sister. Today, I am thrilled to present you all with words on hair and life with Jayne. Ladies and gents,

Hair and Life with Jayne Matthews, Kindred Hair Sister

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What is the Edo origin story? What inspired that particular salon, at that particular time?

My mom was a ceramicist when I was growing up and my dad was a drama teacher who collected flea market antiques. They both taught me that being a small business owner is fun and creative and a great opportunity to build community.

 My first real haircut was when I was 11 years old and I held the mirror and directed my mother as she cut steps into the back of my head, leaving one long braided tail down the side. I was thrilled. It was from that moment on that I knew and I will be doing for a living.

 In 1996 I met the girl that was to become my closest friend I’ve ever had in my entire life. She moved into my five bedroom flat on Haight Ashbury and we immediately went to work painting every room a different color and thrifting and decorating.
We found that we were extremely good partners as far as building things. Two years later we saw this funky little church on the corner of lower Haight Street with a cardboard sign that said ‘for rent’ in the window.

 I had been working at a shop under a extremely eccentric Japanese artist/ hair stylist named Ernest Takai who taught me how to carve deeply into the hair to create organic shapes. I knew he was selling his salon and moving it back to Japan.

 At the time my boyfriends mother had helped start the Burning Man festival and told us she would lend us $20,000 as long as we supported local arts to keep San Francisco and the art and craft community alive. We signed the lease on the little church, and we had our little salon. We called it Edo after ancient Tokyo for the man who taught me to carve into hair, and in honor of the fact that In Tokyo entire families work together on one project for many years, even generations.

 For the first three years our huge downstairs basement area was all art studios. There was a circus cabaret jug band that practiced there, and our friend wrote a book about the five years he spent riding trains in one of our basement studios.

 As the salon grew and the boyfriend went, we took over the downstairs to teach hairdressers how to carve into hair and make it more organically shaped to fit their face rather than architecturally shaped to fit a design.

 Now we just needed someone who would teach us how to build the boutique salon with the grassroots vibe of what we were already doing.

 

As a business owner, what would you say your biggest lesson has been in the course of your journey?

Absolutely finding a mentor that you 100% connect with. At the end of 1999 I snuck into my first Bumble and Bumble class and somehow I connected with the teachers so much they let me stay. We were the first boutique salon to carry their product…… before then they had only been in huge fancy salons.

 Michael Gordon and his curriculum for business and being transparent and having one-on-one relationships with your work family really taught me that what matters in business is love, not money. If you really love what you do the money will follow.

Anytime I make a decision compromising what my gut tells me because we are broke, it never works out well……. it’s only when I go with the love and the creativity that things start work beautifully again.

 Also, my relationship with my business partner and shy copilot Chri has been an incredibly special part of the entire experience. If you’re going to start a business with another person make sure it’s somebody who complements you well and when things get hard go to therapy! We went for a year 🙂

 

What is your personal specialty, hair wise?

FullSizeRender_14When I cut hair, I cut petals, rather like a pinecone. I carve into the hair without making it stringy but making it like a flower with petals.

 I’m extremely good with looking in a persons eyes and the cheekbones and their jawbone and figuring out where to leave bits that will accentuate their face and bring out their own natural beauty. FullSizeRender_8

 I also love color. I love doing all different types of blondes from Champaign blondes to golds and pastel blondes. Of course I can do dark hair is well, but I’m just really inspired by the translucency of pastels and blondes. Especially muted tones. It just feels so Victorian.451416B0-7878-4E93-AF08-DBAB9FDD093A

 What are your favorite lines of color, hair products, etc? What brands do you love?

I’m not really a brand loyal list. Sometimes I find myself using hand lotion when I am doing cuts at home. That said, if I was on a desert island I would bring  Davines Authentic Replenishing Butter. It makes the hair so smooth and soft and silky yet still have texture and movement and defined curls. It’s amazing for short hair as it gives a little bit of separation but also amazing on curly hair and on straight hair! It’s just amazing.

 I also love John Masters Sea Spray. It’s made with three ingredients salt, water, and lavender. I use it on the roots of almost everybody to give beefy hair at the crown where the hair tends to get oily. And of course, I love hair powder. Nobody in the world can wear a set of bangs without a little hair powder to suck up those forehead oils. Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 12.55.13 PM

 I’m a big fan of New Wash from Hairstory Studio. Of course I will always be a fan of them because of Michael Gordon, but it is so brilliant to wash your hair without stripping it’s natural oils. I only wash my hair about every eight days and New Wash feels like a perfect solution.

 Tell us about your transformation into motherhood, your detox, and your life overhaul into a super conscious, toxin-free organic stylist, followed by the revamp of Edo?

It was the hardest year of my entire life. We try to put on a happy face, but if somebody could’ve really looked into my eyes and seen the fear and pain and stress I was in, they would have seen a different story.FullSizeRender_13

 I came back from maternity leave, and our 16 year old shop had to undergo an indefinite earchquake retrofit, and we had to move into a tiny little pop up with low ceilings . We were still using ammonia color and Bumble and Bumble styling products and as they were being washed and blown dry into the hair the steam filling the air gave me the worst case of asthma and a migraine headache like nothing I’ve ever experienced. My bones even hurt and my mouth tasted like metal.

 It basically felt like I was being poisoned….. which I was. Dr. after Dr. was convinced I was just having a panic attack and there was nothing wrong with me. Finally I found an incredible naturopath who tested my blood and found it filled with aldehyde.

 This was strange to me as we don’t do any keratin treatments inside of Edo whatsoever. As it turns out, formaldehyde is just one word for a big umbrella of chemicals that are snuck in to every day ammonia hair color as well as most styling products from blow-dry creams to spray powders.

 The heartbreak of my life wasn’t that I had to stop breast-feeding my daughter at six months old so I could go on a cleanse that would flush the toxins out of my body. I immediately removed myself from my own shop and sought out the only organic hairstylist that I knew and the entire bay area and begged her to let me work out of her shop and teach me to use chemical free products. IMG_4306

 My daughter was six months old, we had been kicked out of our shop, and I was the primary breadwinner for my family. I had no idea how I was going to support us without doing what I had been doing my entire career……traditional ammonia hair color and bleaching.

 I picked myself up and plopped myself into Plum salon and threw myself in to this weird new oil-based colorline. I’m not going to lie…… I messed up a lot of hair but eventually I got it and once I did, I realized it was incredible. I

 it was like relearning everything I had previously known about hair color, while raising my daughter and going through a massive detox. Not to mention a major salon build out project that was way beyond our means.

Here’s the interesting thing about it though…….Five years ago I met someone I really connected with. I went to her home in Sedona and did a six-day fast with her and had a vision that I was no longer OK pouring chemicals down the drains and into our oceans and into our landfills and poisoning myself, the family that worked for me and trusted me to keep them safe, and my clients. It hit me so strong but I had no idea what to do so I stuffed it way down inside. And it came back out with a vengeance!
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With a lot of therapy with my partner, a lot of faith, and a lot of stubbornness on my part we re-opened Edo Salon and Gallery last year as an eco-friendly hair salon. My business partner was frightened out of her mind (she manages most of the money side) but I swore to her that this was the answer and there was no way I could stay unless the chemicals went. In America there are 156 chemicals that are in our beauty products that are 100% illegal in Australia and Europe. I wasn’t okay with that.

If you weren’t a hairstylist what would you be?

I have been slowly going to school to become a life coach so I can help people with their personal journeys and also help small businesses really figure out who they are and how to create a healthy culture. So I would say number one, I would be a life coach.

 I would also love to be a photographer, I would love to own a vintage clothing store, as I used to deal vintage clothing before I was a hairstylist and I love finding treasures, and then oddly enough sometimes I dream of doing clothing styling for editorial……. It’s just in my blood. I have been playing dress-up since I was a child. I was sent to a Waldorf school so we had no television, no Barbies, no Legos, no plastic toys. We had a huge basket of dress-up clothing and a lot of musical instruments.

Where do you get the most inspired? What artists do you just love?

FullSizeRender_6Well lately I’ve been getting the most inspired by Instagram which is hysterical. I get really inspired by gardens but I do not have a green thumb. I just love the organic shapes of flowers and plants and the way that they evolve together.

 Off the top of my head some artists that I currently follow in love would be Liz Rob, Matthew Barney, Jose Ramussi, and I am totally inspired by Eva Hesse. I have the pottery and weaving obsession going on as well, but I’m trying to be more selective about choosing art.

 The next artist showing at Edo is one of my favorite people, April Rose of Rainbow Kimono! She is so colorful, so eccentric, yet so humble. I just love her both her work and just her as a human being.

How is the work/life/mama balance going? Do you have any tricks or wisdom to share about how you navigate being a boss woman and a mama?

FullSizeRender_18I have an incredibly supportive partner who is endlessly nurturing to both myself and to Sylvie. I try to stay off the Internet and have dance parties with scarves and spend as much time really looking into her eyes as I can when it’s our days together. So when I’m at work, I’m at work and when I’m with Sylvie, I’m really with Sylvie. Every little moment with her means so much.

 And meditation! I try to get to work 10 minutes early so I can sit in my car and meditate. It’s not glamorous but it changes everything.

 What are you excited to see more of in the hair industry?

 People taking the time (and that includes myself) to really do something special and interesting and connect with nature and photograph it to inspire others. Using hair as a means to help people connect with themselves and the natural world.

 I would really like to see hairstylist taking their health a lot more seriously. Working in our industry means having regular exposure to really dangerous and harmful chemicals…..And as sick as I got, I don’t wish that on anybody. I hope for a movement like the farm to table movement, to happen in the hair world.

 

What are you ready to say goodbye to in the industry?

The harsh chemicals and the competitive energy.

Tell us your favorite go-to hair tricks for great DIY hair at home.

FullSizeRender_4 After five days of not washing, my hair and a huge tangled mess and I just pull the hair apart and do a big fat French braid from right above one ear down to the other ear and snake it around back of my head again and then kind of pull it a part so it purposely looks like I teased it even though really it’s just bed head.

 It’s funny, I get the most compliments when I wear this way and it’s literally the one I go to when I can barely get my fingers through my hair.

 Another trick is to stick your head in the sink and wash the bangs only and even maybe the crown a bit but leave the length dry. So quick, and so great for a shiny clean top to your messy chignon or braid.

Any future projects that you are dreaming about?

I’m excited to become an educator and teach people about organic hair color. I still feel like I’m learning it myself but that’s what I’m working towards. I’m also looking forward to doing a residency in Nevada City every few months and taking care of all the incredible Artist in that community live and create in that magical world and desperately need a hairstylist.

Hear that, Nevada City? You lucky gold country artists can look forward to some hair love from Jayne in the coming year. The rest of us can just enjoy her creations and her journey by following her and Edo Salon on Instagram, and booking an appointment with her next time we are in the Bay Area.

Jayne, and Edo, we are so glad to know you. Thanks for helping to keep our industry real, inspired, and community and art driven. We salute you and all you do!

xo, HTHG

 

 

 

Freeyourhair/Manic Panic Experimental Color Project 3. Sky Cries Mary and Tape the Rainbow

brettebretteHello Dear Friends. Welcome back to the 3rd project in the Manic Panic/ HTHG Experimental Color Studios. If you are here for the first time, a little background information on the collab:

This little project was in an effort to provide HTHG readers/viewers and Manic Panic fans a little look into some experimental techniques for creating new color patterns and textures in the hair.

7U6A5136The techniques used in this color series borrow inspiration from the fine art world, and involve the creative use of tools such as small paint brushes, stencils, spray bottles, and braids. The purpose of the videos is to share with you our process for experimenting with color, as well as our results…….our hope is that you leave with some inspiration to experiment yourself, and push your own boundaries and beliefs about hair color.

We want you to notice the depth of inspiration for conceptual coloring that is all around you……Use it as your muse to mix and blend your Manic Panic colors into custom shades.

With the Experimental Color Studios, we aim to demonstrate the versatility of using Manic Panic color, and show you that the opportunity for incredible color with this revolutionary line goes so far beyond what meets the eye.

The world of hair and beauty is moving fast, and new techniques scream through the industry at light speed…….It is a wonderful time for us as colorists/stylists to bridge the gap between hair, expression, and art and take the industry in a really exciting direction.

HTHG and Manic Panic are here to help inspire you and push you, encourage you to try new things and share your results so that other people can learn and be inspired. Let’s make this hue revolution explode into technicolor rainbows.

Thank you all for being here, and thanks to Manic Panic for inspiring me and pushing me to experiment since I was a 11 year old baby riot grrrrrl.

For more inspiration, we invite you to follow @howtohairgirl @manicpanicnyc #freeyourhaircolor

7U6A5055Today’s project is very close to my heart, both personally and hair-wise. I had the honor of being given full creative dream on my dear friend Brette’s pre-lightened hair. Every colorist knows, this is like putting a kid in a candy shop and telling them it’s all free.

bfujaThe occasion of this particular hair color job was a reunion show for the 90’s psychadelic prog-rock band Sky Cries Mary, where Brette was singing alongside the original band members which included her dad Joe Skyward, who is fighting prostate cancer……. The show was a benefit for Joe and for raising awareness about men’s preventative health. This show, which sold out at Nuemo’s in Seattle ,  was the first time that the band had played together in 23 years.

Sky Cries Mary was an anomaly in the Seattle music scene in the 90’s, when most music coming from the region was very dark and shadowy. The SCM sound was uplifting, positive, and colorful while still being totally rock. They used bright and trippy oil projections for their backdrops, and sang songs with lyrics that were as psychedelic as the come. In an interview with Roderick, lead singer and songwriter for the band, he was asked why his lyrics are so positive, in the context of a place and industry that is saturated with darkness and negativity. He answered

‘There is enough negativity in the world today and I don’t think writing music about negativity does anybody any good’

7U6A4636This uplifting, colorful positivity was both the inspiration and the backdrop for Brette’s colorful hair scheme…….But before we dive into hair, I have to share a little memory of Brette’s just to give a little more context of the importance of this reunion show (and of her crazy colorful hair.)

I was 7 my first time in San Francisco. I stayed at the studio while Sky Cries Mary recorded Exit to the Axis: A Return to the Inner Experience. I remember the trip like a dream…..Cruising down Market street with my brother Jaxin and the band, eating pizza and watching Planet of the Apes marathons. Dancing my heart out to Blondie in all the bands costumes, and going to the Alameny Swap Meet. I bought a Barbie there, and cut off all her hair and dyed it with beet juice and blackberries and named her Guacamole. Then, we drove to Mexico and camped down the Pacific Coast. It was one of the most formative Summer’s in my life.

This memory, and the return of Sky Cries Mary, called for an insanely dreamy hair color scheme. Also, Brette had a very special dress from Rainbow Kimono to wear that night, and it was important that hair and dress played beautifully together. Needless to say, her hair got taped and rainbowed, and we called the hair creation ‘Heartsong.’

Split the vein, divides the sun.

Hear the rain, watch them run.

This is the moment of the fall.

The big tent tumbles one, tumbles all.

-Circus Church, Written by Roderick for Sky Cries Mary

( Maybe play A Return to the Inner Experience while you do this color on a friend;)

Tape the Rainbow

Here is how her hair unfolded.IMG_8157

The night began with red wine, a plate palette full of Manic Panic colors ( Electric Banana, Cleo Rose, Mermaid, After Midnight, and Pillarbox Red) mixed and blended to custom rainbow shades, and my 5 tubs of Tinge Pastel Color Conditioner.

We were going for dreamy washed out color-fade, with flashes of brightness in the under-layers. tinge

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.34.19 PMWe began by sectioning off the top of her head, in a rounded rectangle, clipping off the top.

In the underneath section, I applied Turquoise Tinge at her roots, working my way through in small sections, and thoroughly saturating the roots.

Below the root, I applied Silver Tinge throughout her hair. Then Below that, Purple, Pink, then Peach, creating a nice soft melted watercolor rainbow.tape

Next, I made a thin, 3/4 inch deep sub-section along the inside of my top section. Basically, sectioned off a rounded rectangle shaped strip of hair to apply the bright colors too.

I laid the sub-sections on 3 strips of foil, so that they fell in natural fall around the head. I combed them so that they were nice and straight on the foil, then I used scotch tape to both secure the hair to the foil and to create gaps in the color application. I taped at different angles and at different places across the hair, to create organic and un-uniform effects. I then applied my Turquoise Tinge at the roots.MP

 

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 2.35.47 PMThen, It was time to tape the rainbow. I used my magic Manic Panic Mixes to make a rainbow down each taped section of hair, painting the color onto the hair and foil.

I began at the top, with blue, then moved to green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple. I painted right over the tape, and I overlapped each color just a little bit at each transition.

 

Towards the end, I added another foil strip below the first ones to extend them to compensate for the length of her hair.

I made sure to apply the color thick and with some muscle, so as to make sure it saturated through the whole strip of hair, without leaving any hair uncolored.finish

Then, I covered each strip with foil, and squished the foils flat against the head to help work the color in and melt it together.

With the existing hair at the top of her head, I repeated the Tinge pattern: Turquoise at the roots, Silver, Purple, Pink, Peach.

She sat for a half hour or so, then rinsed her hair out. My bathtub was a rainbow for days.

7U6A4143 4.47.39 PMBrette’s Heartsong Hair was magic. She rocked it like a color priestess on stage the next night, and is enjoying the insane fade-out process as the color melts and blends and lightens all around her crown.

Viva la Color Revolution. Thanks for being here!

xo, HTHG and Manic Panic

 

 

 

Earth Punk Hair

Hi Dears.

My daughter Marley gave me the gift of inspiration when she described her personal style as Earth Punk. She had been reading pages from her diary from when she was 6, and had described her style at the time as Girly and Fancy. She remarked at how those words just really don’t describe her anymore. I had a proud mom moment hearing her identify her sense of style with the Earth and Punk.

It got me thinking about the beauty of the unconventional, the undone, the natural state, the free-thinking, and the organic deconstruction of perfection which gives us a look into the process. Expressing ourselves. Experimenting. I’m talking, of course, about hair;)

Earth Punk, to me, is all of these things. The ‘Earth’ part is the regard for what we have naturally, and what we are given by the Earth around us. Our natural state, and the gifts of the elements which we are always surrounded by.

The ‘Punk’ is the DIY part of it, and the free-thinking/alternative seeking qualities…..The rejection of standards and mindfulness to aid in the creation of an authentic life, authentic style, authentic haircut. It is taking matters into our own hands, cutting our own hair, following our own path, and watching the beautiful process as it unfolds.  Mindfulness and DIY are cornerstone ideologies of Punk.

Today, I wanted to share some Earth Punk Hair, to inspire you all to appreciate your natural wild hairs, to think outside the box, and to notice how the Earth plays into your life. The weather outside, the plants you eat, the ground you walk on, the products you use in your daily life, the resources you consume.DSC039427U6A3323 DSC05161 DSC04862 DSC05223 IMG_4787 DSC04140 DSC06488 DSC05229 DSC05298 DSC04941 DSC04961 DSC05582 DSC05690

This weekend, take some time to be mindful of the small ways that you take care of yourselves, and think of some ways to give back to the earth, even if it is just by being grateful for what it provides. Smell a flower, pick up trash, get your hands dirty. Enjoy your hair in it’s wild, natural state. Experiment. Forage for flowers to adorn your crown. Give thanks to the plant that you pick from. Play around. Do some Dirty Girl Hairstyling.

Channel your inner Earth Punk.

Check out our shop if you are needing an overhaul of Mindfulness and Embrace the Natural in your hair care routine. We at HTHG believe that hair is a great place to start .

xo, HTHG

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