*Photo by Zohn Mandel.*

You’ve likely seen Rachel Howe’s illustrations or read her horoscopes or maybe you have a couple of her stick and poke tattoos. Though she may be better known as her brand, Small Spells (@smalspells), she is, in fact, a real human with real emotions who lives in the real world. Sorry for the snark. Social media has me feeling sassy lately.

Rachel is a spiritual advisor, illustrator, and stick and poke artist. She currently lives in LA and has quite the story. I originally interviewed her for a print publication Hannah and I were working on. But since we put a hold on that and the audio was recorded on my phone, I didn’t want to keep this from the world any longer.

This conversation is from a year ago (January 2018) and a lot has changed for Rachel but she confirmed the sentiments and lessons remain true. It’s a long one, but there are a lot of valuable nuggets in here. I hope you enjoy. If you do, let me know. Maybe I’ll do more of these!


Shannon: How did Small spells come to be?

Rachel Howe:
Small Spells started maybe five (six) years ago. I was doing ceramics. That was my first venture into working for myself. During that entire time, pretty much, I was doing healing work. Sort of halfway into it, I started doing stick and poke tattoos and writing a lot about astrology. When I got burnt out on that, I stopped and made the Tarot deck I designed.

That really got me into working on art and illustration projects and then healing. I see the Tarot deck as kind of where it all intersects.


SB: It’s kind of a fantasy of mine to productize something and do less service-based work.


RH: Well that was a big lesson from doing ceramics because I was making everything on my own and basically working seven days a week, like 16-hour days and really not enjoying it and not making enough money because it was so labor intensive.

It wasn’t working and I needed to figure something else out. Making products that aren’t handmade by me is huge. That way, I can do more of the designing and get it out there more easily and then have time to do in person appointments with people, and writing projects.


SB: So how long were you doing ceramics for?


RH: I was doing it full-time for about two and a half years. It taught me a lot about having my own business through a lot of the mistakes I made. I just kinda started doing it without much planning and not really thinking of it as a business.

Then it kind of backfired to where it was making me enough money to live but not sustainably. I could pay my rent but it was so month-to-month, I couldn’t take a vacation. If I went somewhere for a week, the whole thing fell apart because it only worked if I was working all day, every day.


SB: Do you feel like that’s the case for most solo ceramicists?


RH: It’s time-consuming, the materials are really expensive and the price point for the end product is not very high. I’d think maybe the same as for items that are hand-sewn. It’s super time and labor intensive. I was basically not figuring in my own labor when I was setting prices.


SB: There have been so many times where I’ve heard friends say things such as I love so and so’s work, but I just can’t spend $30 on a mug.


RH: But really that mug should be like 80 or $100.


SB: Wow. Because it’s like a piece of art, right?


RH: Because it’s handmade and it’s like when you take into consideration that’s barely covering expenses. I don’t want to pay more than that for a mug either. But I mean that was a thing. It wasn’t sustainable at all.


SB: Do you think if you had someone helping you on the business side of things like managing that for you, that would have been more doable or not really?


RH: I don’t know. Now when I do business stuff, it’s still very on the fly but I don’t want to make it sound like I know nothing about it. My job before I started working for myself was the studio manager for an artist and I was in charge of a lot and worked with the bookkeeper. I actually had a lot of work experience doing that kind of stuff. But as far as a business plan went… I didn’t know what a profit margin was with ceramics. Later, when I learned that term I realized my profit margin with ceramics was terrible and that’s why I wasn’t sustainable.

Now I take that into consideration. It still cost money for me to produce things, so I try to be more careful to have a really good mix of offerings. I think, okay, this thing is more expensive to produce and I still want to keep things affordable but I really want to make it. And then this other thing is maybe cheaper to produce, but I can make more money off of it. It kind of balances out rather than just have everything be insanely expensive to make and not priced the right way.

SB: So you were doing that and hadn’t quite learned the business side of things yet. How did you get into healing?


RH: I’ve been interested in metaphysical things my whole life but it kind of happened all at the same time. I learned ceramics and Reiki at the same time. I was going through a big life change and was ending a relationship. I really wanted to be proactive about how that was going to affect me. So I was like, okay, well I’m going to try healing. I’m going to put all my energy into these things that will help me as I move away from this relationship.

I feel like learning Reiki opened a door and then everything sort of followed. When I was getting certified, my boss gifted me a Tarot reading and the reader and I really connected. She ended up mentoring me and I started learning how to do Tarot readings.

Then I started getting into astrology and writing horoscopes on Instagram, which were mainly to help me process everything I was going through. But they became pretty popular so it kind of just happened. I think it happened in a nice way where it wasn’t the main thing I was do

ing so it could organically unfold and I could just learn without pressure.

With metaphysical work, you really have to trust it. I think if it had been like, okay, I’m going to quit my job and do healing stuff and it has to succeed, it would have put all this pressure that makes it really hard to trust. I think it was good that I was doing it on the side. And then at some point, I was ready for that to become my main focus.


SB: So as you were learning healing techniques and astrology on this side, did you, were you thinking this, is gonna eventually be my main focus or did it just happen?


RH: Totally. I mean, it was changing how I thought about what I wanted in my life. It was definitely making some deep changes in me because it was healing me. Every time I learned about a new healing modality, it would help me. I was doing a lot of yoga at the time as well.

When I started working on the Tarot deck, I had a strong sense that this is something I really needed to do and that it would give me security. It will be really helpful for my life. I really devoted my entire life to that for like six months. All I did was work on the deck. So yeah, I think both things sort of just organically became a bigger part of my life.

SB: Have you always been so proactive about overcoming life’s big challenges?


RH: For most of my life, I was not. And I think something in me was just like, I’m not going to let this set me back in the way things had in the past. I’ve been trying to reconcile stuff from the past when I wasn’t so careful about taking care of myself. The way I try to think about it positively is: I had to spend all that time not taking care of myself to teach me the importance and value of taking care of myself. Now I can prioritize it and help other people like learn how to prioritize it. i

It was all a response to this transition in my life. A few years before all of this, I shattered my elbow in a bicycle accident. That’s when I took some ceramics classes as sort of therapy and was getting into yoga. I really had to be proactive about strengthening it and in a gentle way; in a way that’s sustainable. It sucked when I broke my arm, but it also again, taught me a better way of taking care of myself. I may not have never learned that if I didn’t break my arm.


SB: I can relate on a number of levels. I turn 30 next month and I’m just now starting to learn how to really take care of myself in a meaningful way.


RH: Yeah. I’m a little older than you, but a lot of that was around when I was turning 30 and a little after. I somehow stopped caring about a lot of the distractions of my twenties and was just like, okay, I want to get serious about myself and my life and have it be something that I want and I feel like there was available energy for that. I feel like in your twenties, all your energy is more like outward and worried about people.


SB: I’m about to sunset a project that I thought was my life, I thought it was going to be my future and I’ve been thinking recently about how so much of that entire thing was me being concerned about who else was in the room and what they thought of me.

RH: Ooh, yeah. Like that’s not going to actually feed you.


SB: Yeah. It’s totally twenties thing. It’s so weird how all of a sudden there’s a shift at the end. So you’re doing ceramics and healing stuff on the side. You were writing the horoscopes, you said that really helped you with the process. What about that specifically helped you?

RH: I think I was just going through a lot. At this point, it’s been like a six-year process. So I feel like it’s actually wrapping up. Well, Uranus has been transiting my Sun and so that’s in this seven-year cycle, which is ending next year. It’s very about disrupting everything and turning everything upside down.

I feel like I’m a dramatically different person than I was six years ago. As I’m going through that personal growth, which can also be emotionally traumatizing. I think as I was doing more healing stuff, it made me more aware of my relationships and interactions with other people. The more you open up, the more things kind of have an influence on you, I think.

So things were happening that were so reflective of what I was feeling inside and I was just like, this is crazy. My intuition was also opening up and I was just very much wanting to understand why…how is what’s happening in my life happening. And then I just started paying attention more to the astrology and it was helpful to be like, okay, this isn’t just me being overly emotional or isn’t me being crazy in my head. Actual things in astrology are having an effect and I’m more open to it. So I’m able to see it more. That realization takes a lot of pressure off.

If things are crazy right now, I don’t have to fix it. Like if a planet is transiting your natal planets in a way that’s causing dramatic change and you’re aware of it and you’re just going to let it do its thing, then you don’t have to control it. If things are crazy, you don’t have to try to make it go back to normal or something. You can just be like, okay, this is a journey, let me figure out ways that make it easier for me to go on that journey rather than trying to be like, well, this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Because then you’re fighting against the natural flow of things.

That’s basically what I was writing. All the horoscopes were like, okay, like this is what’s happening in the planets and I would just go on how I was feeling and how it was affecting me and just write about that as if it was universal. And then people started responding to say that that’s exactly how they feel. I guess I’ve been doing those for like four years now.

SB: In the beginning, were you writing them in a way that was like, this is for me?

RH: No, I think the language I was using was like, this is what’s happening. But what I was drawing on was this is how I feel, which is also how I give Tarot readings. My intuition comes in—it’s like I’m feeling this, and then if I put words to it, it’s talking about you. But the intuition has to come through me in order for me to do so. I’ve had to learn how to how to trust my emotions and that they’re not like irrational and crazy. They’re information… they’re giving me information.

SB: Can you explain a little bit deeper if possible, how that works? Like with Reiki or just intuition? You know, like if we’re sitting here and you want to do like intuitive reading to me, how does that work?

RH: I don’t know how it works I feel like it’s different each time because it’s like the interaction between my energy and whoever I’m reading’s energy is going to be specific to that relationship. Sometimes things will come through really strongly. Sometimes I’ll see things or sometimes I’ll just know things. I guess the feeling is like I know something and I feel it to be one hundred percent true. I’d stake my life on it. It just feels really true even if I don’t know how I know it.

One way I’ve described it is as though I’m trying to describe something that’s invisible and I can’t. But as I talk, the words to describe it somehow come out. I’ve learned to just let words come. I just start talking. It’s like an unknowing.

I think it’s different for everyone. Sometimes I wish I like heard voices and they were just telling me what to say. But then I’m like, no, that would probably be awful. I don’t actually want to hear or see things all the time. When I say see things, I mean like in my mind’s eye, not physical.

For me, it comes in as a feeling. So, in the beginning, I had to learn to refine this so it wasn’t stressful on me. When I was first giving readings, I’d just be feeling all the feelings and I’d describe what I felt. But that meant I was feeling a lot of negative feelings in that moment.

It’s so hard to describe. I talk a lot about energy and energy is sort of the umbrella term. I think in a person’s energy, there’s your personal human energy. Then there’s your higher self-energy, your spiritual energy, energy from other people, energy from other spiritual things around you. Like there’s so much I think participating.


SB: Wait, so is this something you walk around with all the time or something you drop into?


RH: There isn’t really one way to do it. It’s something that had to be secretive and has been oppressed for so long. Every teacher has a different way of talking about it. The woman that taught me Reiki talked a lot about energy and that was really helpful.

But at some point, a different reader called me out for reading people all the time. I had no clue. She was like, you’re trying to read me right now. And I was just like, what? I didn’t realize it. It hit me that that’s why I felt terrible all the time because I was constantly reading my friends, like everyone. If somebody said something, I could pick up on the energy underneath that. It was really confusing because half the time their energy is different than what they’re saying. So it could be isolating and it’s also not fair to someone else. You need to take someone at face value unless they’re specifically allowing you to explore their energy.

I don’t know how I did it, but after I had that reading, I stopped reading everyone all the time. I think it was just having the awareness of it. I think sometimes when I’m tired and depleted, I might start doing it accidentally, but it definitely makes me more susceptible to negative energy. It’s just having knowledge. That’s not helpful because unless you’re in a reading situation where someone is like open to hearing what you’re going to say, then there’s no point in me knowing what’s underneath. I feel like if it’s for my safety or something, it’ll come through really loud, but it’s not fair to walk around kind of sensing things about people when they’re not wanting you to.


SB: It sounds like a superpower though.


RH: Except for the fact you can’t do anything with it. Then it becomes all the stagnant energy in me because I wasn’t releasing it because I wasn’t aware I was doing it. It also can’t be transformed into anything because we’re not explicitly talking about it. So it’s just holding onto it. But it’s been a lot better since.


SB: Do you think you’ve always been an empath? Do you think you were born with such a strong level of empathy?  


RH: I think everyone is but to different degrees. I teach a workshop about intuition sometimes and mostly what we end up talking about is the blocks to your intuition. Some people might be more sensitive than other people. But I think we’re all capable of having that sensitivity if we can access it better and more clearly and not have it negatively affect us if we work on our blocks and our issues.

Doing Tarot readings have been so healing for me in part because…okay if we’re doing a reading and I’m the filter…the cards and energy are coming together to provide guidance and information for you. I’m just the conduit for it. So it’s coming through me. It’s the same when I do Reiki, I’m a conduit. If I’m feeling bad about myself, if I feel negative, if I have blocks and issues, that’s the filter that it’s going to come through for you.

I realized that really quickly—the guidance that’s coming through is always loving and always meant to be positive and helpful. But if it’s coming through me and I’m not feeling good or if I’m not healed, basically…I’m the translator. So that’s going to be a bad translation. If I was tired or if I was preoccupied with my own problem or something, I would give a worse reading than if I felt really good and if I have meditated beforehand and I wasn’t feeling bad about anything.

It kind of forces me to fix myself in order for me to help other people.


SB: So meditating to one thing. What else have you done to unblock?


RH: Some plant medicine ceremonies have been helpful. I’ve tried a lot of different things. I did yoga really seriously for two years and that was really helpful. I stopped drinking alcohol. I devote a lot of time and energy towards my health and wellbeing, like way more than I think normal people do. Either ending relationships with people that weren’t helpful to me or trying to change those dynamics. I’m trying to work on my dynamics with my family because that’s another thing too. If I don’t feel good about my family and where I came from, which a lot of us have issues with their family, I’m like that is so a part of me that as long as I’m holding onto anger or anything about that, I’m holding that in myself about myself.

I’m just constantly checking in with myself. I moved from New York to LA as part of my healing journey. I mean, New York is basically completely ego-driven. I knew that I needed daily nature and that wasn’t possible there. I try to go on a walk or a run in nature every day if I can. Just being here, you can go to the desert or the ocean. There are so many different types of nature here. Even just walking down my street, there are fruit trees. That’s very healing.


SB: As someone who works in energy, you feel like that environment plays a big role?


RH: Oh yeah. That was the thing in New York, I was like okay, I’m giving out a lot of energy, a lot of healing to other people, but there isn’t really the resources to replenish myself. I’m not a rich person, so there’s so much less available to me in New York. If I wanted to go into nature, it costs money and it takes time to like go to the spa. Whereas here it’s, you just go to Koreatown and it’s like 20 bucks. No big deal. Just sort of like self-care for myself. I was going to acupuncture weekly in New York and that was like the only thing saving me.

SB: So I’ve been reading a lot about manifestation and unblocking and the subconscious. Is that something that you subscribe to?


RH: Yeah. Well, when I think about manifestation, I think less about making something happen. I think more about allowing something that could happen easily to happen because everything is coming together for it to happen and you’re just allowing it. It’s not like I could manifest something that’s not available to me or isn’t right for me. I think manifestation is you and the universe working together to get you on your right path. If it’s something that’s drastically wrong for me, I can’t just make that happen. But if it’s just about getting me on my right path and then the things that I want will happen and they’ll feel right.

I just have to clean up my house so that I’m available to do that. I think a lot of what’s really good for us is not necessarily the things we think we want. That can be a really big block too because you might eventually get what you want but it may not look the way that you’ve been imagining it or the way you’ve been planning for it.

SB: So how do we know when something’s drastically wrong for us?


RH: I think you just feel it. One thing I do sometimes when I have to make a decision about something or when I feel like I’m being pulled toward something, but then it’s like either a big risk or feels like it’s an important decision, I imagine myself doing it and then I imagine myself not doing it and I see how it feels different. There are a lot of things we’re meant to do that are hard. You know, they’re good for us, but they’re not like super easy to do.

If I think about doing something and I’m like, okay, well it’s going to be really hard or it’s going to be a disruption or it’s going to cost a lot of money, but I just feel like I want to do this, you know, but I’m not sure. Then I imagine not doing it and that will tell me right away. It’ll either feel right or wrong to not do it. You know?


SB: Yeah. Have you worked with people like truly being comfortable with tapping into those feelings? I feel like people – and I’m projecting here – are resistant to exploring what they actually want.


RH: Oh totally. We have resistance to everything and it’s all based on fear. A lot of times, it’s about our attempts to control everything. I’ve tried to sort of train myself to think like I want this to feel good. “This” can be like anything. But if I have that, I still have an intention but I’m not controlling how it’s happening for what it looks like.

I think a lot of times people are like, ‘well I need like these like five things to happen in this way.’ If you’re doing that, you’re locking yourself into that and then if it doesn’t happen in that specific way, you’re disappointed and you don’t feel good. Or take the idea of success or something. You can think, all right, I want to be successful, but maybe that could look a lot of different ways. It’s more about if you feel successful than having things you’ve decided equate to success.


SB: Do you think that’s what it comes down to – measuring our successes on the material things versus how you actually feel?


RH: Yeah. We’re so used to being validated by the people around us, we need feedback and for things to be physically happening so somebody else can look at it and validate it for you. But imagine if you’re just validating things for yourself based on how you feel.

If I just want a home for myself and I just want to feel at home in it, it doesn’t matter if it’s tiny or if it’s huge. But if you’re like, oh, having a big house is a sign to other people….I’m going to impress other people. I can have my friends over and there’ll be like, well, your house is so big. If that’s what you want, then it has to be more physical. But if you’re just like, I just want to feel at home somewhere, then there are a million different options for you to feel that way and they don’t have to look a certain way or be a certain way.


SB: And you think your intuition will just lead you there?


RH: Yeah. That’s also the exciting thing. I think we miss out on a lot when we’re trying to control the journey instead of enjoying the process. I knew that moving here was the right decision for me and I knew it was going to be really good for me and I had a sense of some ways it was going to be good for me, but I didn’t have the specifics. So now, I can just let it be good for me in whatever way that it’s actually going to be good for me.


SB: Right. So sticking with that example, have you come across times when something shitty happens and you’re like, oh no? Do you start second-guessing yourself or do you always know to trust the process? I’m projecting again…


RH: I don’t second-guess myself. I definitely have where I can fall into negative moments, you know? I feel pretty content on the whole, but I definitely can fall into things like fears about money or just the normal things that people have fears about. I still have fears but I 100 percent trust my sense about things because it has only proven to be good for me. If I ignore my intuition, it will be bad for me. It’s only proven itself to be good for me when I follow it, you know? And it’s kind of like the more that you do that, the easier it becomes.

By now, I’ve changed careers like three times. I’ve had a job since I was a teenager. The idea of not having a job was terrifying and I blew through a lot of savings. I remember actually being {air quotes} mad at the universe when I was getting the sense that ceramics was no longer working and that I had to make this deck. The ceramics were doing well. So I basically shut down a successful business because my intuition was like you have to make this deck, it will be really good for your future. But at the time, I was like, are you serious? You want me to do this again? I just gave up my sense of security and now I have to give it up again. Give me a break.

But it’s turned out really well. And I keep growing in ways that I like and being happier so I’m not going to be mad at the universe for helping me. Sometimes when things are hard to do, it’s helping us grow and evolve.


SB: Was it easier the second time around?


RH: Yeah, it’s been easier. The move from New York to LA was actually super easy considering I had lived in New York City for almost 20 years, and then I moved across the country. I just trusted that this was good for me.


SB: What were some of the things telling you to move?


RH: A part of it was my desire. I like it here. I’ve thought about moving here for a while. I’d wake up every morning in New York and be like, I really just wish I could go on a hike right now, and I can’t and that really bums me out. Or I just want to be outside and not have there be a million people around me. I just want to be outside by myself and I can’t do that here (in New York).

It’s also a matter of just observing. When I was still doing ceramics and a friend of mine, we were all in this communal studio and she got her own studio. I saw her doing that process and I was so happy for her, but knew I didn’t want that. And then my sister who also lives in Brooklyn, her and her boyfriend got a house in the Catskills, which is what you do if you live in the city and you need nature. You go upstate. So I saw her do that and was really happy for her but again, knew I did not want that. I grew up in New Jersey and was just done with the east coast.

It’s just neutral observing and being like, oh, I’m not feeling sorry for myself that I don’t have these things. I’m neutrally observing and realizing this isn’t for me. And that means this path that I’m on just maybe isn’t for me because this is what people do if they’re on my path and I don’t want that.


SB: Yeah, yeah, that’s fair. Knowing what you want, right? So, switching gears, have you always drawn?


RH: Yeah. So I’ve been an artist since I was born. I was always the artistic one in my family. I have two sisters. I went to art school and my art practice has changed. I’ve always loved drawing. Even when I was in art school, I studied fine arts and you were supposed to either do painting or sculpture and I was like just gonna draw. But my style now has changed and evolved.I kind of stopped drawing when I was making ceramics because all my creative ideas were committed to that practice. When I started drawing again it was because I was doing the tattoos. So then the style of drawing became minimal line work because it’s for a stick and poke tattoos.


SB: To interrupt you real quick, how did you start stick n poke?


RH: A friend showed me how to do it and then I was just doing them on myself and on friends and I’d put them on Instagram—I had a big following from the ceramics and then the horoscopes—and strangers started asking me for tattoos. At first, I said no because I was nervous about it. Then, I was just like, well that’s so flattering that people want my drawings on them and this is such a good outlet for my drawings.

I worked in the art world up until I started working for myself and doing ceramics, which I felt was more sort of design and craft and I felt very over the art world and just didn’t want to participate in such an elitist thing.


SB: So that stereotype is true of the fine art world?


RH: Yeah. I mean, it’s all about money, basically. I worked for a private art dealer, at a gallery, and for an artist. Working for the artist was the best situation. At this point, art is like an investment for rich people. Decisions about what is art and what is good art is very tied up in money, which I think makes art corrupt. I was just done.

I care about art, I love art. I love all forms of creativity. I didn’t care to be labeled in art or about the context of the art world. I didn’t want to make a drawing and then have it be like, oh, now it’s this special thing that’s for sale that a rich person can have.

When I realized people wanted them as tattoos, I was like, that’s such a cool way to own and support art. It’s such a personal investment on a whole different level and like more interactive. It’s more like the person getting it is participating in it.

I don’t ever want it to be like my main thing, but I do enjoy giving them. They’re very meditative. They feel like they have some healing properties. Tattoos have been used in history as spiritual tools. It’s like protection…having imagery on your body…there’s a long history of that.


SB: Cool. So your current illustration style kind of developed from doing stick and pokes?


RH: Yeah but also, what I love about drawing is that literally, everyone can draw. To me, it’s the most direct communication between your brain into like an image. And so I started using it a lot to illustrate more metaphysical ideas I was having.


SB: Especially if you’re always feeling all this energy. Not to put words in your mouth, but is that what was happening?


RH: Yeah, yeah. I feel like my main motivation is that…I think we’re all spiritual. We’re all potential healers, we’re all intuitive. We all potentially have access to so much inside of us that can be so positive for us and we’ve been really disempowered to access that. And so this idea of clarity or making things more understandable and more accessible is really important to me. You know?


SB: And that really comes through your art, by making it simple.


RH: Yeah!


SB: Nice. What does your process look like?


RH: I only really draw when I feel like it because whenever I try to draw and I’m like, oh, I should draw something, then it just doesn’t work. The feelings aren’t there and it doesn’t look right. Sometimes in meditation, I’ll have ideas. I’ll have ideas and then I’ll just draw them.


SB: What would you tell someone like me who loved to draw when I was little and just stopped at some point. I think it was because my brother was naturally a talented artist and I had to really try at it and I got frustrated or jealous and just stopped. But anyway, what would you tell someone like me wants to just start drawing again?


RH: I mean try to get back into that child’s mindset, you know? I think what you’re describing is so common for everyone. We all enjoy doing things and then something, some sort of judgment comes in and we stopped doing the things that we enjoy. The fact that you enjoy something is a message that you should do it. If you don’t enjoy something, that’s a message that you don’t have to do it. That’s a huge problem for people because a lot of us don’t trust if we enjoy things…we don’t even know if we enjoy things half the time. So it can be really hard to get down to ‘oh I do enjoy this and that’s a valid reason for me to do it’. And whether or not the outcome is good or not is not important.

To be honest, I started smoking weed again a few years ago after stopping and that’s super helpful for creativity. I’d just make silly drawings when I was stoned that I thought they were hilarious. It’s just super fun. It takes a lot of work to do it without judgment because I mean, there are careers about judging art. There’s a job that is being an art critic.

Art can be really sacred and that’s so beautiful. I can have an idea of how something looks in my head that only exists in my head and then I can – with my hands – draw it so that other people can see it. That’s such a beauty connecting activity for humans to be doing.


SB: So you’re pretty Instagram famous…what’s that like? [both laugh]


RH: The only thing that kind of impacts me is the crossover between personal and public on the platform. Sometimes I want to share stuff that’s just for friends, but I don’t want to have two accounts because hat’s too much Instagram in my life.

When I first moved here, I got stopped in the grocery store and people would ask ‘are you small spells?’ I put it out there that I’m here but it was still shocking. First of all, no one in New York ever acts like they know who you are and you ignore a famous person if you see them. And so I was just like, oh my God. It was like the first time I went to the grocery store and two people approached me. And then I was at dinner with a friend and someone else came up. It was just happening a lot. And I was just like, I do not want this to be my life. It was too much crossover between my personal life and my public life.


SB: Is it just too intrusive? Is it like ‘I’m not inviting you into my space right now?’


RH: It was more just like I don’t want to be living my life aware of if other people know who I am.
I mean, everyone is super nice. I feel like my audience is just really nice people. It was just happening a lot and then it kinda stopped so it’s fine. It did make me think twice about like sharing personal stuff, you know?

I’m not monetizing Instagram. I mean, I use it for my business but it’s not like I’m doing ads or anything. The information I’m trying to put out there is for everyone, I’m just trying to share it.


SB: We were talking about being true to yourself with the art stuff. If there was one thing (or more) people could do to be more true to themselves, what would it be?


RH: I think listening to yourself and trusting yourself. I feel like one thing that’s really different about how we live now versus how it used to be…my whole sense of the world was based on other people telling me what the world was. I was really not in tune with myself. I wasn’t connected to myself and didn’t know what I liked when I was a teenager. I remember when I first went to therapy,my therapist asked me all these questions and I was just like, I don’t know. I didn’t know what I wanted, how I was feeling. I was so disconnected from myself for most of my life. I looked to everyone around me to affirm what reality was or how I was supposed to feel.

And I feel like now, my goal – I get close to it most days – is just doing what I want based on how I feel and completely using that as my guide. If I feel bad, it’s my responsibility to do something about it. It’s not anyone else’s fault why I feel bad. I can just walk outside or do anything to move my body, drink some water. Everything is a temporary state. Because I feel bad, it doesn’t mean everything is bad. It means something is off for me right now because my natural state and all of our natural state should be being happy and content . When we don’t feel that way, it’s like trying to tell us to make adjustments.

The adjustments I have to make that are right for me are different than yours. Our healing is specific to our wounds. The only way we know is if we listen to ourselves and believe it and then act on it. I know that’s a lot to do and we could have endless lists of blocks to doing that. And I still am every day like uncovering blocks too that I have and didn’t know about.


SB: Does anyone ever fully unblock?


RH: No. I mean, probably not, it’s just endless layers. I was with a group of friends the other night –  it was sort of a witchy evening – we were doing a meditation and I came to this realization about myself that if I had come to five years ago, it would have devastated me. I found it fascinating. I’m holding onto this really negative idea about myself. It just became clear to me, something clicked. Now I can fully see it, which means I can release it now.

When something fully comes up and is showing its whole self to you, that means it can be released because it’s nothing. It didn’t feel good, but I was like, this is amazing. If it’s coming up now, it means that last week, I wasn’t prepared. So every time a new thing comes up to be released, it’s a sign of positive forward movement. Because when things come up, they’re ready to come up. No matter how much healing I’ve done, this specific clarity hadn’t come up yet. So that I was able to just be focused on that and ask: what is the positive flip side of this?

We’re all constantly going to be triggered or something’s going to come up, but over time you have more tools to handle it better.


SB: Totally, but it’ so much easier said than done until you’re ready to make a change.


RH: Totally. Yeah. Because it’s so easy when you realize something about yourself to beat yourself up over it. To think, now this is like a truth that I have to carry. Now this is a burden. So when things surface, to be able to catch it and quickly turn you into something else…that’s good.

Basically, I realized I’m scared of myself because I’ve hurt myself so much in the past. I’m scared that I will hurt other people because I know how badly I’ve hurt myself because I’ve just gone against my what’s best for me. So many times I’ve made mistakes or whatever.

I immediately transformed that int: yes, I’m capable of hurting myself so badly but because of that, I’m capable of healing myself. I quickly grabbed it and turn it into something positive: that my healing abilities are greater because I hurt myself so bad. If I had an easy life and not been so self-destructive, then I wouldn’t have to be as strong of the healer. That whole process made me feel really good.


SB: That’s good to hear because, in the past, I’ve also been super self-destructive and feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it. I find me asking myself: why, why?


RH: Yeah. But also, we don’t need to know why. I learned to shed that a while ago because I would be getting intuitions and I’d be like, but why, who is this speaking to me? But I’m never gonna know. I’ll know when I’m dead. It’s better to let go of that questioning. I don’t have to know why I had to have such a hard life. Or why it feels like I made all the wrong decisions when I was younger. I don’t have to know why as long as I am transforming it into something that works for me and can help other people because that’s what makes me feel good.

If I get stuck on the why, then I’m going to spend my whole life feeling sorry for myself because I had such shitty luck and I don’t know why and that just ends the conversation. But if I accept that this is how things were, I can see that over the past five years with putting more effort in, I have been transforming that and I will continue to be transforming that and that is currently my gift. This idea doesn’t have to hurt me because it’s actually serving me now.

It just kept going. I fully believe in like energy and the subconscious picking up on things other people. If they can sense that I’m scared of myself, they’re not going to trust me. They’re not going to want to get close to me. It’s making a wall between me and other people. It’s keeping me from fully connecting on a deep level to other people. It’s keeping me from intimacy, this fear of myself and those are all things I want. So that’s even more incentive to like change it into something positive, you know?


SB: I love that. I want to ask you a few specific questions about process, but also you mentioned money a couple of times. Do you mind if we talk about that? Is the deck your main money-maker right now?  


RH: The stuff I sell on my website is the consistent income. I also do appointments and workshops. I have money to live, I have money to grow and expand. I have money to put back into future projects I want to do. I can travel but I’m not making tons of money.

I’m definitely making a good amount of money for my life right now. The thing is that it’s not consistent. That’s the thing with working for yourself is that some months are great, and others you just don’t know. The more fear I have about that, the more I feel like it closes off the energy. Also to be realistic, my parents don’t give me money, but if I was in a desperate situation they would help. It’s not like I don’t have any resources. So I want to acknowledge that.

I’m also smart and practical about money. I have money when I need it. I don’t want it to always be like that. I would like to keep getting more established so that I don’t have to worry about money every month.


SB: It seems like that’s happening really naturally for you too.


RH: Yeah. Which is also scary because I am taking some steps outside of my comfort zone in my career. It’s getting bigger which is exciting but also a little scary.


SB: Anything you’re willing to share?


RH: I’m getting a little outside space which is going to be pretty low key, but I’ve never had like an outside studio. I’ve always worked from home so that was kind of big. I’m also working on a book proposal. So those are both more public, like very public.


SB: That’s exciting! Your book will kill it.


RH: I’m really excited about it but it’s a lot of work. I have to be more disciplined than I’m used to being, which I want to be. I came here to grow. I felt like I had reached a ceiling in New York. It all feels good. Now I just have to step into it and do the practice of it.

That’s what it feels like because I write almost every day, but now it has to be like more structured with deadlines and such.


SB: Writing a book is obviously a bit of a risk but do you think it will be a risk with a payoff to help with the consistency thing?


RH: Yeah. One of my issues has been really committing to my business. I feel like now that the deck has been out for almost a couple of years and it feels good to have something that feels like it can be continuous. I still feel good about it and I’m happy that it’s out in the world.

Before it felt like I’d put something out and it’d disappear, you know? So I’m more comfortable with the idea of writing a book now. Whereas, I think that the permanency of it would have felt scary before. I think it will be good for my future. Again, having a block against committing to my business also turns into a block against supporting myself.


SB: What do you think that block is like? Is it fear?


RH: I mean it’s probably fear of judgment. It’s fear of failure, your fear of being wrong, fear of doing something wrong, right?


SB: Yeah, fear of making the wrong career move until you think about five years ago and realize, yeah that change sucked at that moment but was best for me. I’ve switched jobs and have gone nuts making the decision. But looking back, it was just a blip in time, you know?


RH: Yeah. When we think about things in the big picture, I think it tends to be stuff that’s really good for us, but it’s also really intimidating to think about. It’s a lot easier to focus on what’s happening right now.

The way that I want to commit to my business is to start thinking long-term partially because of the financial stuff. If I’m only sustaining month-to-month, I can’t really project into the future.

The more established I get and the less constricted I feel about operating month-to-month, the more I can think bigger picture and start doing things that are more of investments into myself and my business rather than just sustaining things. That feels like a good development. It feels like I have to kind of grow up and do these things.


SB: What does the word process mean to you?


RH: Everything is a process. Some days, I feel like I’m not being productive enough. But you can still move forward even if you’re not like producing. There are so many ways of moving forward and we’re constantly in like all parts of the process and you have to look at all of them. Asking is my body doing what it needs to do today? Is my mind doing what it needs to do today? Is my creative spirit doing what it needs to do today? I’m not going into an office eight hours and then going home. You may feel very productive, but it’s like half of you is not being addressed. The days where all of those things are being worked on moves me forward more.

I think the process is really exciting. In the past, I was a perfectionist and I feel like I’m letting go of that a little bit because I know that the real power is in the process. The end outcome is not the point. The process is where all the exciting things are happening. But again, that’s if we’re tuned into ourselves. If we’re only tuned in to other people, then we have to deliver the end result and that’s what they’re going to validate us on. But if we’re prioritizing ourselves, then we can enjoy the process.

When I do what’s right for me – like go for a run before I start working, I yield better results and enjoy the process more. I think the process is everything on everyone should be much more focused on that. It takes pressure off because if you’re like, maybe I’m going somewhere, but that’s not as important as the action of me going and I want to actually enjoy the going then I get to do whatever I want to do that supports the journey and not just the end result.

SB: That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate about this project, but it’s messy.


RH: Not to veer off, but I think that’s part of the problem with capitalism being the main form of how we’re all conditioned to live. Capitalism is completely dependent on the end result and the process is not important.

That’s the whole thing with ritual – you’re bringing this certain energy to something that changes the thing you’re doing and if you do the thing without that energy, it’s going to be different. There are things I do where I’m just doing them and then there are things that I do where I’m like specifically trying to connect with spirit. Those things are more meaningful.

Capitalism doesn’t care if the process is violent or traumatic or oppressive or exploitative. When really, if you make a thing and that person making it as exploited, it’s going to carry that energy in it. And I don’t want that thing. It makes a difference.

I prioritize the process for myself and I prioritize the way things are done over what the end result is because I know that that’s where the magic is held. Anytime you prioritize process in doing something in the right way or ethically or with positive energy instead of negative energy, it makes a difference. The more of us doing that, the more we’re going to demand that in our environment.


SB: I’d love to see a study on that.


RH: Everyone in America sick, physically and is anxious and miserable. I feel like it’s proof enough that we’ve been doing things is not good because no one is happy and no one is healthy. Any little thing that each of us can do to try to do better, I think it will change how things spread out into the world and how they affect people.


SB: Great point. This has been amazing. Thank you so much!