With each Tending the Hedge feature I’ve shared, I’ve talked a bit about the ethos behind the series, highlighting individuals who share their magic with the world, and who may inspire us to do the same. And today’s featured magic-maker has been a *huge* inspiration to me!
From her website:
Kristen J. Sollée is a writer, curator, and educator exploring the electric intersections of art, gender, and occulture. She has written for mainstream and academic publications including The Huffington Post, VICE, NYLON, Time Out New York, BUST, The Journal of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture, and Current Musicology; organized dozens of multi-disciplinary music and art events and exhibitions; and lectured at colleges and conferences in the U.S. and Europe on topics as disparate as feminist witchcraft, Japanese visual culture, and the performance of masculinity in 80s glam metal.
She has been a lecturer at The New School since 2014, and her signature college course “The Legacy of the Witch” follows the witch across history, pop culture, and politics. Sollée’s critically-acclaimed book inspired by the course, Witches, Sluts, Feminists: Conjuring the Sex Positive, was published by Stone Bridge Press in 2017. She has appeared on NPR, Viceland’s Slutever, and Huffington Post Live and at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, George Washington University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Alabama to discuss the political history of the witch archetype.
Kristen is also the founding editrix of Slutist, a sex positive feminist website that was active between 2013-2019, and she continues to produce the Slutist Tarot deck by Morgan Claire Sirene.
Kristen’s work has recently been featured in National Geographic, Teen Vogue, The Times Literary Supplement, Atlas Obscura, Dazed, and The Guardian. Her second book, Cat Call: Reclaiming the Feral Feminine, was published by Weiser Books in 2019. Her third book, Witch Hunt: A Traveler’s Guide to the Power and Persecution of the Witch, was published by Weiser Books in 2020.(source)
I think it’s pretty safe to say that there would be no HWB without the work of Kristen Sollée. It was Witches, Sluts, Feminists that finally gave me the courage to embrace the title of “witch,” and longtime readers may remember this as the first title in our featured #spellbooksaturday series. Her subsequent works, Cat Call and Witch Hunt, are just as engaging, the types of books you want to start all over again once you’ve finished.
Understandably, then, I positively shrieked when she agreed to do this interview. (Really, I can’t pretend I’m not ecstatic, I lack all chill about this.) And so, with profound gratitude and excitement, I am so pleased to share the most recent feature in my series, Kristen J. Sollée.
What are your pronouns and what is your sign?
Are you a witch? If so, what does that word mean to you?
Absolutely. Witchcraft is a technology of change. And I’m an agent of it. But it took me a long time to embrace the word witch, as I never felt witchy enough compared to certain friends, certain practitioners I knew. Just as I didn’t feel feminist enough to call myself a feminist, or like I’d published enough to identify as a writer! By my mid-30s, however, I finally realized no one owns these labels, they are ours to inhabit and remake at will.
What drew you to your work? Why is it important?
I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing some form of fiction, poetry or non-fiction. But that’s not to say I ever planned to write books. I honestly never allowed myself that goal, it was only short-form writing I set my sights on. Magazines, journals, etc. But then a series of synchronicities changed all that and now I’ve somehow published three books and am working on a fourth!
My work is important to me because it’s the only way I know how to exist in the world. I can create and destroy, synthesize disciplines and histories, and make (some) sense of the world through the written word. And I’m beyond grateful for the folks who’ve said my writing has been important to them making sense of the world, too.
How can others engage with this work and tend the hedge in their own communities?
A majority of people can write, even if they don’t define themselves as writers. But the power of the written word is undeniable (and plenty of science and magic backs this up). A writing practice can be so life-changing. Anything from automatic writing to basic journaling to crafting stories about alternative histories or imagined futures that no one else will see can offer answers and insights you wouldn’t believe possible. I think when you do that you can uncover your strengths and growth areas so you can better connect with and give back to your communities.
Did you enjoy this feature? Check out other magic-makers in the Tending the Hedge series!