The best part of the Many Moons publications is getting to collaborate with one-of-a-kind magic makers. For the June Full Moon of the 2020 Many Moons Lunar Planner, Maria Vashakidze of Seagrape bath + body gifted us a ritual centered on celebrating pleasure. Maria Vashakidze is the owner and formulator of Seagrape bath + body, a community oriented brick and mortar shop with a line of in-house made, self-care products as well as hand-crafted ritual and home goods. Maria is a white, Jewish Russian/Georgian immigrant working on connecting to her ancestry while tending the unseeded territory of the Chinuk Wawa, Chinook, and Multnomah peoples temporarily.
Learn more about Maria below:
You are a witch, an artist, craftsperson, a business owner… I know the list could go on and on. In other words, you do a lot of different things—all that require a lot of different talents and energy! This is sort of a few questions, so here goes: are there some identities that chose you, or that you chose? Are there some roles that surprised you? What are a few baseline, spiritual practices or belief systems that keep you focused and grounded as you do your work in the world?
First of all, thank you for asking so many amazing and important questions, and for doing this work in the world! There are definitely identities that both chose and surprised me: artist, queer, immigrant, and witch all settled in my life little by little as I built my personal power and confidence through the years. Art has always been the language I utilized to process the world around me. It was one of the things my family of origin invested in for me while we lived in a war ridden post-Soviet Union country. It never felt like a choice to make art, it has always just poured out of me, the sparks of ideas and inspiration never seeming to end. Being an artist bled into being an entrepreneur really naturally in college, where I used art-making as a way to talk about desire, self-love, worth, queerness, and loneliness to better understand my family’s rejection of my queer identity and seek to stand in my own pleasure and power.
My current baseline spiritual practices include touch, bathing, and beauty. I invite those energies in through every day, mundane practices like making myself beautiful meals and self-massage. My ritual is quiet, private, and frequent as I move through my day as mindfully as possible, making everyday activities like sitting quietly with a cup of tea in the morning a daily practice. I also really value beauty and look for it every day.
My belief systems revolve around abundance. I think everything can be an opportunity: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I believe pleasure is our birthright and we have to fight like hell to unlearn the mentality that has been instilled in us by capitalism and the patriarchy. I am working on cultivating sacred commerce within my line of work, supporting myself as an artist as well as other independent makers. This is part of the way I am sharing my vision of abundance as I cultivate community and work on staying grounded.
For your June Full Moon contribution to the Planner, you offered us a spell around pleasure and self-care. Is choosing yourself a constant practice for you, or has it gotten more natural over time?
Cultivating pleasure is still something I think about and engage in actively every day, though some days it’s easier than others. Helping people call self-love and desire through scent and ritual into their lives allows me to do the same for myself—creating a renewable source of energy and passion to show up for community. It has definitely gotten easier over time because I’m learning to ask for help. In stating my needs (even if/when there is a rejection) has opened space up for desire to be present. I can then see and feel that desire, turning it into Magic, a real energy I can use to call what I need into my life. Boundary work has also made showing up for myself consistently easier. Saying NO to things I’m not excited about has allowed me to say YES to myself, and everyone benefits from that in the long run.
I’ve always been deeply impressed by the way you prioritize self-care and dare I say, simple luxuries in your life. Have you always been this way, or did something happen to really focus your dedication in the realm of self-dedication?
Self-dedication is actually pretty new in my life. There was a long stretch in my 20’s where I made decisions based on trauma responses and co-dependence. I dug my heels in all through my Saturn Return, waiting for the discomfort to be over, only to find out the following year was full of Saturn transits. It wasn’t pretty but I made a split-second decision to come back to myself: cultivate a home I felt safe in, a business that not only fed community but also me, invite beauty into my life, tap back into my wildness and sexuality, travel for pleasure, and accept help. It sounds cohesive in retrospect but it was messy in the moment, though everything snowballed quickly as soon as I made a decision to come home to myself. Now, I cultivate this as a Magical practice.
What is your current favorite Moon phase? Why?
I love Quarter Moons and feel most centered and in balance during the First/Last Quarter phases. Most of the rituals I work on are about balance, cultivating pleasure, running abundance magic, and building relationships. I like the halfway mark of the phase as an invitation to both look back and look forward, the shadow and light both present—full of potential and opportunity.
What are a couple of things that you are excited about? Why?
I am always excited about baths! I also love to travel and am currently planning a trip to bathe around the world. Last year, I went back to the Republic of Georgia to visit my childhood home, connect with the land, and bathe in the many sulfuric springs built in the center of town. As an immigrant with no sense of belonging on any piece of land, it has been really healing to do the work of connecting back to my Georgian and Russian roots through the element of Water and Fire. I feel a deep sense of peace and connection to my ancestors and guides when bathing. Though the trauma of immigrating as a child has kept me from embracing my cultures until my 30’s, I am thankful to feel the resilience of my bloodlines with me now.
My goal is to take small groups of people bathing around the world with me, connecting to and cultivating pleasure in the process. I want to engage our senses through food, art, scent, plant allies, and elements to arrive back in our bodies!
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