One of my very favorite things about putting together the Many Moons Workbook project is getting to include the work of people I really admire. Having been introduced to the beautiful work and ethos of Rachel Blodgett, of Serpent & Bow years ago, I was really honored that Rachel agreed to submit a piece to the upcoming Many Moons about ritual, creativity, and the New Moon.
Serpent & Bow is a labour of love born from the studio of Rachel Blodgett. Working with botanical dyes, Indigo, beeswax, and natural fibers, Rachel creates garments and textiles that honor the connection between physical body and spirit, serving as talismans of courage, liberty, and the life-sustaining power of hope. Rachel was gracious enough to answer some questions below about her life, work, and her relationship to the Moon.
Hi Rachel! You create one of a kind, handmade works of wearable art infused with magic. Your work seems very organic, natural, and original to you. It feels born out of your own life and practice. Had you been doing this a long time before you created Serpent and Bow? Do you have any advice for creatives wishing to develop an authentic, unique voice?
Consistent methods of self care in the form of a spiritual practice, physical activity, as well as a studio practice, keep me centered and tuned in to what I am channeling with Serpent & Bow. My artwork has always been a tool that I use to connect with parts of myself that are not expressed or engaged through day-to-day interaction. Some of the practices I like to use to connect to self/spirit/the earth are: taking walks, morning pages (a practice of writing three pages daily upon waking, outlined by Julia Cameron in The Artists Way), baths, setting my altar and drawing images for it, singing/making up songs, going to dance or movement classes, swimming, gua-sha, cold showers, prayer, meditation, many many different things. Visiting my grandmother. I like doing different types of rituals daily, to keep myself tuned into the fact that each day is a NEW day—it keeps me awake! So sometimes my plan is just to do something I haven’t done before and see what happens/how I feel. Also playing a secret game with myself called The Internet Doesn’t Exist.
I can imagine that because the creations you make are so multi-step and meticulous, that you spend a lot of time alone with the different pieces: dyes, fabrics, symbols. Do you develop intimate relationships with them before they go out into the world? Does this relationship inform other inspirations?
I try to pay attention to the energy in my body while I am creating such intimate, often custom, pieces for other people. I consider my practice with Serpent & Bow to be a service, and part of that service is in delivering pieces that contain specific energies or intentions that people have requested. I don’t want to put my personal anxieties onto a pair of underwear that are meant to increase someone’s sense of self compassion! Over time I have learned how to take care of myself and intuit what is meant to be channeled into these pieces without becoming overly attached to my personal ideas around them, because they aren’t FOR me.
My job is to get still, listen, and let the imagery and work come through. Sometimes they are for me, though, and in that case, I will get very specific about the energy I would like to express for myself so that I can transform in the way I envision :).
There are always new inspirations that come from all parts of my life—often when I have noticed a big shift in myself, I will see that the way I paint has also changed. Especially with the indigo pieces- each batch comes out differently and there is always some reflection of myself in that because after all, I am a human, and I can’t remove myself from the process entirely. I try to make sure any personal reflections that come through the paintings are positive ones!
For the 2018 Vol 1 edition, you wrote a piece offering suggestions about creating a New Moon Talisman through ritual and intuition. For you, what are the similarities between rituals and creativity?
For me, creativity is ritual. Sometimes I try to set my studio practice aside and pretend I’m not an artist, just to see what comes through. I always end up composing new elaborate schemes to make things! Sometimes I joke that I just think in underwear because somehow everything leads back to underwear for me… But maybe one difference would be non-attachment to the outcome. Actually no, I think in ritual and in creativity, it is helpful to release too much attachment to specific outcomes. In my creative work and in my spellwork, I like to focus on the phrase “This, or something better”; always reserving the potential for possibilities not yet envisioned!
Currently, what is your favorite time of the Moonth?
As I write this, we are in Full Moon, so Full Moon is my favorite. I can feel this sense of ‘too-much’ around me. The world feels noisy and i’m distracted by this sense that my home is cluttered, so I’m excited to clean my house, release what is no longer needed, and reduce chaos. Tying up loose ends feels great. And then I’ll be able to look around and consider what to plant under the New Moon. New Moon is my favorite too. The extremes!
Has anything interesting happened in your life as a result of paying attention to the different cycles of the Moon? Have you learned anything new about yourself and your patterns as a result of this?
Oh yes, many things. I love getting to know the moon. I feel like there are always new reflections in my life about what Moon magic or a relationship with the moon can be. I love the idea that the moon is a different image in the sky every day, offering to us that there is no monotony; things are always changing. And then she comes back around next moon, so if we missed something, there will always be another chance to work with her in her fullness (or whichever phase you are working with).
I used to always bleed with the Full Moon, and I remember back to who I was during that time. There is a belief that those who bleed with the full moon are more vocal/extroverted, or outwardly offering something to the world during that time. That was true for me. And now I bleed with the new moon and I have been more inward focused.
Lately I like to think about how the moon is very Earth-specific. On Earth we have certain trees and we have humans, and we have ocean, and we get to create a relationship with the moon. I like that—it gives me a sense of nostalgia about being on Earth since I don’t know what happens when we leave Earth. That idea makes me feel excited to be here and keeps me inspired by the relationships we can tend with each other, the plants, and the Moon while we are here.
Other than the upcoming workbook, any projects or anything coming up in your life you are excited about?
I have just recently gotten to a point where I am starting to visualize what I would like for Serpent & Bow to become in the future. In the earlier days of starting my business, I didn’t really know what I was getting into, and I was working with very little as far as money, materials, and energy. Physically, I was not well. Over time, I have been blessed by the support of those who resonate with my work, and it has allowed me to trust that investing care into this process is important, worthwhile, and supportive to a greater community. Lately I feel more energized than I have ever felt, so it is an amazing blessing to consider where to put that energy. I am excited about scheming up more ways to use Serpent & Bow as a platform for supporting the changes I desire for the world. Also bodysuits. There will be bodysuits in the future.
Follow Rachel on Instagram here.