sacred heart prayer card

According to fossil evidence, Rose Quartz, known the world over for its beautiful pink coloring, is at least 35 million years old, with records dating back to 600 B.C.. During that time, it was given amongst lovers, family and friends as love tokens. It was also used in beauty rituals as far back as Ancient Egypt where evidence of it as facial masks has been found in tombs amongst grave goods. Metaphysically, it is best known as the master 'love stone', used in love spells, helpful in matters of self-confidence, anger, disappointment, and seemingly always mentioned in tandem with "healing" - a word so dense with promise it makes me both hopeful and strangely put off. I feel a bit lonely in my discomfort; I've never been one to only seek beauty in its traditional forms and it seems like Rose Quartz is the fairest of them all -the glittering prom queen who about to have a bucket of blood poured on her.

My favorite lore around this stone concerns the Goddesses Isis and Aphrodite / Venus, which are all connected by similar attributes and were conjoined when the Romans annexed Egypt. The Egyptian Goddess Isis, one of the most revered deities over time, is believed to have used Rose Quartz "maintain her eternal youth and divine beauty" and therefore influenced the beauty culture ( see above ) in ancient times. Aphrodite is the Greek iteration of Venus, with whom she is often syncretized - sharing many overlapping traits: such as her beauty, passion and pleasure, love, and fertility. Each Goddess was considered to be a standard of ideal beauty and representative of love, yet also each was associated with the enemy of love - death. Isis, in a gruesome yet romantic gesture, collected the disembodied pieces of her murdered brother/husband Osiris, and resurrected him - becoming impregnated with Horus simultaneously. This myth was revered in Ancient Egypt, fertility rituals around Osiris' resurrection abounded.

For the Greeks, one of the most popular myths centering Aphrodite is also a genesis tale for Rose Quartz in and of itself : Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful mortal Adonis who was killed by a wild boar ( perhaps a jealous Ares in disguise, or sent by Artemis as punishment ). As he lay dying in the forest, Aphrodite came to his side, herself also bleeding after becoming tangled and wounded in a bramble bush. Their co-mingled blood is thought to have fallen on Quartz, ever after giving Rose Quartz is pink hue. Adonis, like Osiris, was also resurrected in some tellings and his tale was also associated with grieving rituals in connection to the natural cycles of life.

Personally, I've struggled both with writing about Rose Quartz as well as pairing it with my jewelry. It's a stone that has long been deeply connected with the romantic aspects of love, healing, forgiveness, beauty and well-being - but for me, I've shied away or have had discomfort with each of these notions and descriptors. Each of them has also been, for me, tangled up with grief and death - shadow feelings. However, while I think Rose Quartz often lacks its shadow in popular descriptions of it - I think it's powerful for these exact reasons. As much as it is beautiful, it is often turned to as a balm during our worst moments - the ugly and horrific times of heart brokenness; representing our hearts in all their nuance - capable of the beauty of love but also the madness of loss. In this way, it illustrates the tensions between beauty and horror I unconsciously & consciously seek in everything. It is a phoenix, burning down like the Tower into ashes but also comforts us while we rise from the rubble. It is a fierce shield that guards us, but it is also has a soothing gentleness. In this way each Rose Quartz jewel carries a dual aspect of 'psychic armor' both the energies and medicines of the snakes and bats that form the gloomy silver settings of the jewels, and Rose Quartz, a beautiful balm that assists us during our darkness moments, a reminder of the sweet-bitterness of being alive on this timeline.

To learn more or to give one of these limited edition Rose Quartz jewels a home, please visit our shoppe HERE.


The Blood Wolf eclipse is occurring in outer space as I start here, sleepless.

Lately, I've been attempting an essay about cremation, about fires. I've had fits and false starts since September when I heard on the radio in real time that the National History Museum in Brazil was on fire; many of its collections would be reduced to char and ash: a million rare butterfly specimens shriveling in the heat, their iridescent wings exploding like stars. I felt wordless and still. A storehouse of memory, lobotomized.

I have a particular cabinet of curiosities formed from this one fire, fires that continually burn in my thoughts:

The Hartford Circus fire of 1944.
The 1893 fire at the Chicago World's Fair.
The burning of the Natural History Museum in Brazil.

Frida Kahlo's cremation:
"Incinerated, she sits bolt upright in the oven, her hair on fire like a halo. 
She smiles at her friends before dissolving"*

Thinking of bodily fires, I remember reading about the Japanese death practice of Kotsuage: when family members sift through the cremated ashes of their loved ones for bone fragments with chopsticks, gathering them in an urn in bodily order, foot bone fragments first, and upwards, so their beloved is not turned upside down in death.

This collecting reminds me of Percy Shelley's funeral pyre on the shores of where he drowned. His heart ( possibly due to calcification from tuberculosis ) resisted burning and was snatched from the flames. Mary Shelley kept it wrapped in his poem 'Adonais' within her desk until 1889 when it was buried in the family vault.

There are connections here, a constellation of grief.

On Shelley's gravestone:
lines from Ariel’s Song, via Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”:
“Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.”

* via Hayden Herrera
  • Jessica Schnabel Horkey


Patti Smith's room at the Chelsea Hotel

In her new book, M Train, Patti Smith discusses the loss of a jacket, a friend's jacket that she coveted and was then gifted by said friend. She wore it for a time, ( it most likely became a kind of talisman to her ) and then it was lost, inexplicably.  I felt this loss. As the reader, you 'watch' her searching for it, can relate to the loss of a beloved object, imbued with sentiment, memory, a kind of magic that is synthesized when we wear something close to our skin on a daily basis. ( I feel very much this way about jewels, especially)

Throughout the course of the book, Patti loses many other objects, places and people. She loses an envelope filled with polaroids of Sylvia Plath's grave; we learn that she considers her polaroids to be a kind of 'string of rosaries', evidence that she was somewhere, that she exists. She leaves an olde polaroid camera on a bench. Her beach side bungalow is nearly entirely destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. She loses a Murakami book filled with personal notes. She loses the cafe she sat at daily in her solitary revelry, when the owner decides to close up shop. She loses her friends, her husband, her brother. While each loss may have varying degrees of effect on her, and on us as the reader, ultimately it made me a bit anxious for her. &, for myself, somehow.

In pale comparison, at the same time I was devouring her book, I would go on to ( temporarily) lose a tote bag filled with books, two of which, ironically, were other books of Patti's waiting to be read, and a few other out of prints on Surrealism I had amassed after spending hours in the stacks at Strand books. I also thought I lost a beloved hand knit cardigan. It's vintage and chunky and is falling apart a bit at the neckline, but it's one of the things I live in in the winter. I recovered both things after much searching with near surety that they were lost to the same ether that Patti's jacket is lost within. I am not usually absent minded with objects; I felt spelled by the book. As if I had adopted either her bad luck or her dreamer's carelessness. It was a curious feeling, and thankfully, the spell lifted.

These temporary loses led me to weird tangents of thoughts on objects. I own a lot of 'things', I've spent a life time collecting personal debris that I have knitted and built up around me in my loft. ( I inherited this obsession with collecting from my grandmother, who I also inherited my penchant for winged eyeliner from, & also, perhaps more poignantly, from my father; memories of trash picking with him as a kid late at night are still so vivid ) I've filled up my solitary loft life with books, carefully articulated skeletons and skulls under bell jars that collect veils of dust from living in high-ceilinged rooms, moldering lace dresses with tiny rows of hook buttons, old brass candlestick holders in the shape of cobras smothered in layers of black wax, a flat file drawer filled with ghosts; tin types and cabinet cards lost to the sea of time and ashore within my possession, locks of hair terminated in moth eaten ribbons, . . . this strange list goes on and on. This list, these objects, also make up what I consider to be a connection to the past & I know this is the sort of list that kindreds also may hold folded in an inner pocket. This is how I choose to be seen I think, behind the beauty and grotesque natures of the objects I have gathered up over the course of my 34 years of life. This collecting obsession has caused me trouble; more than one X has practiced a kind of reactionary measured cruelty to my weird needs.

See also: More than one X has complained about my all black ( mismatched blacks at that) wardrobe, my desire for olde couches, my inability to eat vegetables, my obsession with filling every possible bit of wall space with artwork, my vampire hours & so forth. In reaction to their reactions, I enjoy living alone these days.

See also: Symptoms on living with a black hole, ever widening inside your body . . .

Talismans make up much of my daily thoughts, I obsessively sketch in my notebook* ideas for new jewels, micro fictions I hope to one day publish. I imbue scraps of paper with my lover's handwriting on it with intense sentiment, I feel I could write my best work on an antique writing desk from the 1800's that is so tall, it may only ever fit in my loft and that I had to burn sage around for a month once I had it in my possession for fear of antique New Orleans' ghosts being attached to it since it was culled from down south. I run my fingers over the spines of my book when I'm sad.

When Patti's favorite cafe closed down, the owner gifted her the table and chairs she spent countless hours sitting at. He even offered to help her carry them over to her apartment. I like this idea. The transplanted object, both losing and gaining context, but still cradling Patti's books, her pens, her hands. Still a locus of creating, a liminal space she perfumed with her thoughts.

I'm currently living in a kind of transitory life. My lover lives in the Mid-West where the cold strangles you, where birds of prey fly freely, where the color of the ground mirrors the color of the sky when it snows and the line of the horizon is nearly indecipherable. I live on the East Coast where across the street from me, a warehouse is clothed in spray paint, where glass glitters in the streets, where plastic bags get snared in metal fences, where people are endless . . . . Being without my objects, my psychic armor, my own locus of creating and inspiration has caused a kind of displacement, and I try to find my new context. I think of what my own 'string of rosaries' may be; my notebooks, the small collection of books I have on the NoCoast, the pieces of jewelry I made for myself that I wear for protection and luck.

Patti Smith's loft space on 23rd street 

* or, 'lint collecting'

If you've found yourself here, it may be because you had searched for the writing that accompanies each jewel in E L Y S I U M, which I like to think of as their 'spirits', and found it to be unfinished. This is the first time in the nearly 11 years since I have started Blood Milk that I was unable to finish / feel good enough about my writing at the time of release. While the histories and associations and magics behind each piece are still forthcoming, I also wanted to share some of the back story of this collection here, now. I didn't want my work to feel lifeless to those of you who connect so deeply and with my endless gratitude, to the writing, to the worlds I create around my jewelry. 
The Underworld, specifically its Queen, Persephone, has been a touchstone for nearly all of my work across genres. She is rooted in death; connected to the cycles of life and nature, she moves between realms - she ascends and descends. She has always felt like the 8 of swords to me, a card I have connected with since I was given my first deck as kid. This feels like the natural flow of things, or perhaps to me, as a strange, awkward, over thinking, over feeling kind of girl who oscillates between wanting to blot myself out, to move into a cave with my library, and the need to be and feel connected to others and the world around me. Like Persephone, I move between realms, I withdraw, I emerge. I imagine this may be how many of you feel also, especially if you are bookish, introverted, prone to melancholia as I am. It isn't the easiest way to be on this timeline. I'm misunderstood or I'm brushed off by the larger worlds of things I love and have wanted to be in community with ( writing world, the jewelry world. ) I've been embarrassed by both my rage and my melancholy. I've felt like a shipwreck, I've made myself small, I've engaged in scarcity thinking. I consider these feelings and moods and states of mind to be my Underworld, and I work at it. I return again and again to books and stories for bearing and comfort: to the ancient archetypes of the Goddesses of myth: Medusa who's rage/gaze transforms her enemies/would be murderers, Hekate, who protects and guides the liminal people, Persephone who moves between the spirit world and the natural world. I have been on a quest to belong to myself, to make amends with the moments in my past that haunt me, to accept my shadow and all its horrific, societally unacceptable, and uncomfortable ways of being. I'm on that long, endless journey to be whole, to be healed, to do less harm and it sucks and feels unnatural most of the time. There are, much in the same ways as death and melancholy, romantic notions tied into this kind of work, but it is also brutal and raw and ugly. I don't expect to feel entirely healed, but that is ok. 
Can objects, can jewelry assist in this process ? Can they comfort ? Empower? Protect ? I like to believe so. Jewelry has existed since antiquity; used as currency, as bonds between people, as a means of identity ( Signet rings were used as signatures, their unique faces were pressed in wax ), and magically, as talismans and amulets to both protect and attract. I believe silver to retain memory - of the deep earth in which it grew, to the memory of the fauna I use ( in this collection, bats, snakes ), to the personal memories we imbue them with as we wear them against our skin, rub our fingers and thoughts over them. For me, as their designer, they are tangible representations of my inner landscape, my Underworld. It is my hope that they bring comfort to their wearers, that they become yours in your uniqueness as they had once only been mine, existing in my dreams before emerging into the realm of the 'real.'
Much of what inspired the physical design of this collection was a return to the genesis of my work, ( much of this was in process during my 10th year of business .) The Persephone's diadem ring has existed in one of my earliest jewel sketch books. The Medusa portals echo one of my first cast pieces, 'The Lily Dale Pentacle' in its shape, its boa rib bones one of the first molds I ever made. The use of bones in my work tethers each piece to the natural world, the wildness of the animal world, the acceptance of death in this world as a way of life. Bones have been used as a means of divination for centuries, as well as having been used in talismanic jewelry for equally as long. They represent the death/end. of these individual creatures, but they also live on ( eternal return ) in each piece of jewelry. In this collection, these bones have been manipulated to create shapes that were influenced by more traditional jewelry proportions, as well as by the elegant and fluid lines of Art Nouveau. In many cases, the bones seem almost 'hidden' in their design. 
Dear one - if one of these jewels chooses you, if you choose one of them, it is my wish above all else that they make you feel safe. That they may close up a small part of the gaping wound that lives within you. That they bring you strength as you face your shadow. That they bring you love and serve as reminders of your loved ones, that you know you are loved. That they connect you to me and to all the others that wear them like an invisible web of kindred hearts and minds. That they may assist in confronting yourself, in interrogating your patterns. That they may carry your grief. That they may be hands that help pull you up from the Underworld. 
Thank you for meeting me here. xx