Interview with Trista Edwards (Marvel + Moon Founder, Cancerian, Natural Witch & Poet)

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Tell us about Marvel + Moon—and how it came to be. What are your hopes and dreams for it? Will you be selling other magickal stuff along with your goddess soy candles?

Marvel + Moon actually started as a blog. A sort of loose travel blog/online diary to wax nostalgic and a place to showcase my travel photos. The name, Marvel + Moon, was inspired by my constant seeking of magic and wanderlust in travels, life, art, and creativity. I really use 'Moon' as a verb here—as in to spend too much time thinking or looking at someone or something you admire or want very much. Also, I’m a Cancer sign and my ruling planet is the moon. I’ve very moon orientated and emotional. Very Cancer. Marvel, of course, is to be filled with wonder and astonishment. These two verbs seemed to fit who I am and what I desire—I marvel and I moon after so many things in life.

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The blog transitioned into my candle shop not long after I graduated with my Ph.D. in creative writing the summer of 2017. After five years in grad school, I learned that what I thought I wanted to do, collegiate teaching, was perhaps not the path for me. Writing, poetry and creating beautiful artifacts have always been my number one passion and goal in life. I have always been a crafter since I was a child. I love making things. Candles have always held a special place in my heart. I love the ritual of igniting a match, the setting the glow creates, how scent can be a storehouse of memory and emotion that transports you to another time and place or perhaps just temporarily alleviates the stress of a current situation. Candles can transform a mundane setting and make it magickal. I use ancient goddess of mythology and poetry as inspiration behind each candle—the scent I choose, the herbs and stones that I place on top of the wax, which serve as talismans for each respective goddess. To me, these candles are extensions of the written word, of story, of the Divine Feminine that has always been a part of my creative world. I want to expand beyond candles into other products, especially products that focus on bedtime ritual, and I hope one day to have a brick and mortar shop with curated goods from other magickal makers and also host workshops and readings that also focus on the blending of poetry and the occult. 

 

I know you are currently working on a full-length poetry collection. Any details you’d like to share about it? Title? Theme? A sneak peek to a poem?

I do have a poetry manuscript circulating around at some presses. I’ve been a finalist for some contests a couple times but I’m still seeking publication. I’m always tweaking it, but I really do believe in it and I know it will find the right home. The title is currently Spectral Evidence and it has a lot to do with a lot of the themes we are seeing with the current #MeToo movement—which are themes that are not new by any means—about women not being believed at their word. The speaker(s) in my poems also deal with living in a world where current religions or other institutions or dominant modes of belief don’t serve them, so they invent their own mythologies and find veneration in their own talismans and rituals.

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Spectral evidence, of course, is a reference to the Salem Witch Trails and the witness testimony that a witch’s, i.e. young girl, ethereal shape could descend upon a person in their dreams and inflict harm or make them do things they did not want to do. This "evidence" was held up in court and sent many women and men, old and young, to the gallows. I see this being akin to the present-day claims from men who sexually assault women because "she was asking for it." Claims we still hear like that if "she didn’t want the attention (re: harassment), then she wouldn’t have worn/said/done X, Y, or Z; and, in a way, it was the woman’s 'shape' that made him act." A lot of poems are about the violence surrounding this, but also a lot of my poems are about young women turning the idea of spectral evidence on its head and inventing their own stories that give them power. I have three poems up at OCCULUM (which is a stunning dark and hypnotic journal run by Arielle Tipa) that are also in my manuscript and that I feel all three speak to these themes in some way or another. You can read them here.

 

I adore your poem "Equinox," which was published in The Boiler. I love how vibrant and luscious it is yet at the same time how heavy and haunting. What inspired you to write it? Was it difficult to write? 

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Thank you! I love the The Boiler and I was honored to have a few of my poems published there. Two things really inspired me to write this poem. One was the quote from Thoreau, "the gun gives you the body, not the bird." And the second was my anger at what I thought was the inadequate sentencing of Brock Turner. I took from Thoreau’s quote, looking at it simply standing alone, implies that the body is just a vessel and any violence that falls upon doesn’t really kill the spirit of what it is. A bird is not the body that houses it. A bird, what it signifies, is a thing that can’t be contained. I thought about how complicated this idea is when we apply this concept to sexual assault. It was difficult to write. Perhaps others may disagree but for me, in circumstances of assault, there is no body without the bird.

 
The journey of history begins with hunger
and the reach for its end. The orchard’s
 
in vertigo. Leaves gather in halos
about their mothers. And when every apple,
 
every dappled blood-red orb, offers
a little world, a lysis, you take it.
 
Thoreau once said, the gun gives
you the body, not the bird. 
 
And so this orchard gives you winter,
not the apple. The molded, hewed world
 
of bodies in parallel formation, reaching out
to be reached for. Don’t we just want the body?
Just yesterday another boy took a girl
behind a dumpster and used her body
to reach his own end. This is not healing.
Her body reaching for flight, for day
to be greater than night. For the rot
to rot faster as the boy mauls her
like carrion. Thoreau was wrong.
There’s no body without the bird.
Can we handle this bird, this possibility
of flight? When we pull the trigger
 
and snap the ripest apple from branch,
come at it with teeth, are we not asking
for punishment? Not for the taunting
fowl of hunger but for ourselves—
something greater than or equal to
the darkest unforgiving appetite.

- Trista Edwards, Equinox

 

What is the difference between light and dark witchcraft? As a light witch, how do you practice witchcraft? What is a ritual that is very healing and calming for you?

I don’t particularly believe in dark witchcraft. I suppose, at the most, I might say anybody performing any kind of action out of malicious intent would be "dark" and something I don’t ascribe to or promote, but really I believe light and dark attributes are both necessary and the dark is not necessarily bad. The dark part of ourselves, or our shadows selves, are just as important to our personal growth and maturation and empathy as the light. I practice witchcraft through poetry, scent, personal ritual, and connecting with the natural world. I live for taking the mundane world and making it more magickal.

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I would say that a ritual I turn to again and again is the healing powers of a bath. We seem to see this trend, particularly on Instagram, of people sharing beautiful photos of their bathtubs as their favorite bath bomb hits the water. I love it! There may be some backlash that this is a fade or trite or another way for millennials to display their narcissism. To that I say, "Fuck it! Who cares!" Maybe there’s a reason so many people are turning to a more ritualized bath time. Water is healing. Personal ritual is important. I do think self-care is wayyyyy more than just a bath bomb in the tub but it can certainly be part of self-care as a whole. For me, it's to create a space. Scents, candles, music, lighting, flowers, crystals, poetry, fruit, wine. It's all about taking the mundane and transforming it. I create space to love and heal my body and quiet my mind. It is a ceremony. It brings me peace, if only temporarily

 

What is your most favorite and unforgettable travel memory?

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I have so, so, so many wonderful memories. I am fortunate to travel a good bit throughout the year. I have family scattered across the country, so that definitely provides further incentive. I would say one of the most unforgettable travel memories I have would be from year or so ago when my best friend and I took a trip to Salem, MA. We live in different states and we don’t get to see each all that often, so we decided to fly into Boston and rent a car and go into Salem—something we had talked about for a long time. One night we went to a beautiful restaurant in historic downtown and drank bottle after bottle of wine. We laughed and we cried and we dreamed and celebrated just being together. Obvious to everybody around us, the wait staff eventually had to ask us to leave because it was closing time. We had lost track of time and were completely involved in our celebratory reunion that we never noticed we were the only two patrons left. It started to rain and instead of calling a cab, we decided to walk back to our Airbnb. So we kicked off our shoes and went barefoot laughing and dancing through the dark streets of Salem as the rain came pouring down. It was a pretty magickal moment. I will never forget it.

 

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Trista Edwards is a contributing editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.