I first met Shuvani (“Gypsy” Healer) Katelan Foisy at the opening of Molly Crabapple’s “Shell Game” exhibit a few months ago and we immediately hit it off. We were introduced by a mutual friend that is well aware of our similar interest in metaphysics, divination and all things mysterious and “witchy”.
I have been around all varieties of people that identify themselves as Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Urban Shamans, Rootworkers etc. since I began doing Anthropological research on non-Abrahamic traditions. Katelan immediately stood out from the crowd because A) she is Roma (“Gypsy”) and I have never met a Roma that didn’t ask me to keep that information to myself or just tell people they’re Italian and B) she incorporates Hoodoo, Yoruba, Vodou and other spirits in her work and actually had and cared about having the support of elders representing these paths.
In my experience, many people just “grab and go” with other people’s sacred traditions and care little about if what they are doing is welcome or even correct. They believe that only their aesthetic attraction to it gives them the right to appropriate it. I had several funny but serious conversations related to this and the proliferation of “Native American” ceremonies with the chief of the Shinecock tribe when he had a store in Green Acres Mall. So, it was refreshing to see that Katelan was not only proudly representing her culture but seeking the wisdom of elders in others.
Two weeks ago, after I received THE best Tarot reading I have ever had from Katelan, she invited me to attend her full moon circle on 10/18 at Catland Occult Bookstore in Bushwick. It was like nothing I have ever seen or experienced because the elements of the ritual were so culturally diverse. It felt like the world and everyone in it was present. There were Vodou veves, cauldrons, sage wands and many other items beautifully arranged among dozens of calmly flickering tea lights. A few people that have never attended a circle had excited but anxious faces and I overheard a few “OMG, what have I gotten myself into” conversations whispered in the corners but as soon as Katelan and her co-host Damon Stang appeared bearing warm, friendly smiles and messages of peace they all dissolved into the bowl of rock salt placed on the side of the door for the exact purpose of releasing negative energy.
The soft pat of a single drum soothed the heart as Damon assisted us with smudging away whatever garbage we came in with. Katelan held up a mirror to each of our faces and offered a blessing before we began. The ritual was uplifting and blessedly free of unnecessary theatrics, power tripping or corny kumbiyah stuff. The focus remained on the objective and at no point did I feel anyone was trying too hard or had obviously watched way too many episodes of “Charmed” and I appreciated that.
It was a lovely evening with two lovely people that care about what they do, why they do it and how its done. At the conclusion of the rite, everyone felt refreshed, relaxed, reflective and grateful for making the choice to attend. I was one of them and I am looking forward to attending the next “Witches Compass” on November 15th.
For more information, visit Katelan Foisy.
Image: Tayannah McQuillar
Tayannah McQuillar is a writer and the Founder of Demimonde Public Relations (www.demimondepr.com) @demimondepr