Sarah Faith Gottesdiener: You, like many witches, do a lot of different things. You are a brilliant ceramicist and potter, a photographer, a teacher, a designer, and a tarot reader! I know you also research and write and I’m sure there are a ton of other things about you that I don't know about. I'm wondering if the way you approach one is the way you approach them all. What similarities do you see between art and magic?
Blue Firth: I now see them as very much the same thing. I try to see each of these facets as part of my magical endeavour, even when it's hard to see how that might work — while lecturing on graphic design, for example. But I didn't always feel like this. It took me a while to honour the fact that magic was a system and a way to approach life. More than just a repository of symbolism, inspiration, and concepts that I could use to realise artworks. I hid my belief behind clever concepts and intellectualism, feeling that no-one would take me seriously.
Now, making objects from clay, sharing, and exchanging knowledge and communicating genuine values through design are all direct magical acts for me. I approach them all from the position of a witch.
Do you use magic to aid you in your art practice? What is the relationship for you between the unseen and the seen?
I do use magic in my work — in ways both explicit and slight. I might use spells to aid inspiration, or the lunar cycle to plan my schedules. But what a fab question, about the seen and unseen. Maybe I should define how I understand the unseen...that might help. For me, the unseen is that which we can't see, stuff we don't understand, things we don't yet know. It's where imagination is, and where intuition and inspiration are. I've spent a long time making work about this — I even began training as a paranormal investigator. But what excites me the most are ideas around sacred places — being able to feel the unseen in order to experience history. To tap into the resonance of a place. The basis for a lot of this came from certain TV programmes I'd watch as a child and from writers like Alan Garner and Nigel Kneale.
On a more practical level as a potter, designer, and teacher everything I do is ultimately about materialising things. A mug, an urn, a brand identity, a lecture. It's producing tangible things. And yes, of course these come out of practice and skills and the accumulation of knowledge. But the ideas and inspiration, the joining of the dots of what to make next…where does that come from? It's there, in the unseen, that the impetus for everything exists, and magic helps me connect to this.
Like myself, you are someone who does both your own rituals and creates rituals for others. I know you also design bespoke rituals for clients. I'm curious about the types of questions you ask in order for a ritual for someone else to be effective.
Gosh, yes — this tends to happen through a lot of talking about what the ritual is for, and then trying to find correspondences that work for the client. Signs, symbols, colours, tastes, sensations. Finding ways to make it easy, personal, and comfortable for them to use without fear. Then we would talk about structure, timing, and tools, looking to a client's daily rhythms and preferences. For me, an effective ritual should feel natural and charged with our own uniqueness — not like you are acting out a set of rules.
Do you use ritual and magic for healing? What does a good ritual do for you? Do you have any good spell stories? Like a spell that went really wonderfully, or ... really terribly!
Yes, absolutely! The moment when I knew I was following the right path was when I looked back on how integral rituals were for my own healing when I was dragging myself out of a mental breakdown. I suffer from anxiety and panic — a commitment to daily rituals gave me the time to gently confront these feelings and begin to understand where they stemmed from. So, for me, a good ritual helps me connect to feeling in a raw, intuitive, messy, beautiful way.
Hmm…a good spell story. I'm still in the web of one particular spell. Earlier this year I conducted a spell that was incredibly specific about something that I wanted to happen. It was tied up in feelings around self-worth, visibility, and success. Two months later I got an email out of the blue from a huge publisher wanting me to be the editor of a book. I couldn't believe it—essentially this is what I had asked for. I had an evening of elation and then sheer panic set in. I had such a tussle with myself. Anxiety for me is when my intuition is desperately trying to make me listen and yet I had got what I asked for.
To cut it short, the book isn't happening (well, not in that way). What I got from the spell was the gift of clarity about what I actually need, not what my ego might like. I find spell work is like therapy — you need to commit, lean in, and listen to yourself.
What is your current favourite tarot card, and why?
Right now, it's the Queen of Swords. I return to this card quite a lot. It gives me comfort to literally see clarity over turbulence. A reminder that doubt and confusion are momentary, and to choose compassion and honesty. I'm trying to make some significant changes in my life, and as I don't consider myself especially brave, the Queen of Swords is currently giving me a little knowing smile every morning. Like a grandmother giving me a secret wink.
What does being a witch mean to you?
Being a witch commits me to a practice of interconnection with the self, with nature, and with community. It is being honest, caring, intersectional, and critical. It gives me room to explore and terraform. It pulls me up when I make mistakes and grants me time to heal and learn when I need to. It gives me choice. To ask questions of the structures we exist within, to stray true to me, to implement change and enter into a relationship with everything you can't explain and find difficult and beautiful about life and the world. But it’s also a space to exist in that is in-between and liminal. A space I can be a conduit of, and the space I am myself in.
What do you wish more people knew about magic and witches?
This immediately made me think of your song, There's a witch wherever you are—I love those songs! So, that—witches can be anyone, anywhere. That it's okay to ask questions, and it doesn't have to be incredibly serious. Magic is fun, it's joy! Also, everyone’s definition will be different. We can be ourselves, we can be together. How excellent is that?
Sarah Faith Gottesdiener is an artist, designer, writer, teacher, and Tarot Reader. Her artwork and designs are based in the spiritual, feminist, and mystical. Her book from St. Martin’s Press, The Moon Book, was published this year.
Find Sarah here: modernwomenprojects.com