I took some time to speak to one of my favorite small business owners, Xenia Viray. She owns the Brooklyn-based Myths of Creations, which you can follow on instagram. Look out for her Intuitive Medicine Box and seek out her sliding scale healing, which is a combo of tarot, reiki, and talking work.
What does 'ritual' mean to you, personally?
For me, ritual is simply a container for meaningful action. I am really big on erasing any lines between that which is "sacred" and that which is "practical." I think that dichotomy is the effect of colonization + capitalism and it’s just disempowering. When you look back at indigenous and ancient traditions, often what was sacred was also in alignment in what people needed to survive. That is why the natural world is so often worshipped in ritual. You would have a harvest festival to celebrate the natural world and also because you were cultivating the land; that which was “productive” was also sacred. There was no fracturing of the two.
After the industrial revolution, mass media, and what is now a pervasive digital culture, we are more vulnerable to receiving subconscious messaging than our ancestors were: Maybe back then, the ritual of growing your own food, slowly cooking it communally and sitting around a fire or a table was one that was just called eating dinner. With all the messaging we have received, maybe it’s just called “wasting time” or “downtime” now. I think that language is harmful.
Here and now, in 2018 in New York, we have to go out of our way to get back in touch with the feeling of being in tune with seasons, in tune with the planet, in tune with our bodies.
So maybe what our ancestors did by nature is the exact same thing we are trying to choreograph and “bring back” now, but the current iteration is just so over-the-top and planned out because we aren’t doing it by nature. It’s like a purposeful culture shift to combat the cultural shifts dictated by capitalism.
To be honest, at the shop I think a lot about how to reverse this process. I look at the protocols for doing different tasks and see where I can imbue them with meaning and connection. I make counting the cash box a moving meditation. When I open the shop I always try to fill my own cup with water before I begin my opening duties to make sure that I am taking care of myself all day long, because if I don’t do it in the first five minutes of arriving, I set my tone for the day.
Ritual is whatever closes the gaps between your values and your actions. It's what gives you pause before your automatic scripts start running.
How do you incorporate ritual into your everyday life—especially as it pertains to wellness?
I have learned a lot this year about how health on every level connected.
For example, maybe an herbalist tells you roses are good for self love, and then you start to examine what other disciplines have to say about that belief and see if you can find any correlations. Maybe what they do in herbalism is linked to how they are used in witchcraft. Maybe the fact that rosewater is a natural astringent in homeopathic beauty can link up to your observations about the rose that are purely aesthetic.
Half of the way I practice ritual is making a practice of asking these questions and making the space for learning. The other half is pulling that ritual into my skincare routine, my nighttime routine (every night for self-love I drink cacao nibs, rooibos, rose + honeybush tea.) I use rosewater in all of my products because it reminds me to love my skin and my face.
In the more straightforward realm, Twice a week I try to find a yoga class that will address both my physical and emotional needs. I love any class Megan Trieber teaches especially her gentle flow. (She talks about opening up meridian lines and the chakras.) I also can't live without my dance classes at 305 fitness especially if Maria Macsay is teaching. It's a hip-hop cardio class but Maria is Reiki II attuned, and you better believe you can feel it. In that sense, I feel like healing my chakras and my energy is the same thing as when I think I’m carrying too much protective weight and I am trying to shed some. It’s all one motion of the same principles.
I also often put intentions into my food. Like if I am cooking, I'll thank the vegetables and the eggs and whatever is in the food. Sometimes I just look at a vegetable and acknowledge the sort of absurd miracle of this thing coming out of the ground because of the sun and the soil and the water.
Taking salt baths is part of what I do when I feel like my heart is way too heavy or I have just been holding on to too much. I like to make the bath super hot so that my muscles can just melt, and fill the bath with salt because that cleanses the aura. And when I am really taking care of myself, frozen banana smoothies, CBD supplements and either 20 minutes of writing or meditation. Oh and I do tarot almost every day, talk to my guides like every hour and clean out the energy in my shop every single night and every single morning because I have a tendency to feel overly responsible for other people’s feelings and wellbeing so I like to use copal resin to completely energetically clear the space.
How would you describe your inner magic? What inspires it and makes it come to life?
My inner magic is definitely the practice of perceiving in a continuously different way, making connections, getting underneath things. I feel really drawn to the mysteries of personality and always want to learn more and go deeper and get a little farther underneath and this manifests in a couple of ways: i am really good at connecting people (my moon is in Gemini, which is the ultimate connector, so it's an instinct for me.)
The other thing I noticed is that when I have the capacity to hold space for people, and often this is customers, they open up to me and feel really safe to listen and share. This makes connections in my life that are really deep. I would say people feel seen and heard when they need to. My other inner magic is constantly creating. I am an Aries and so I cannot leave things alone. I have a new idea every half hour. It's really overwhelming and part of the reason I give so many of my ideas away.
Do you have a go-to simple ritual when times get rough?
I like to leave the space. Abraham Hicks calls this changing your vibration. Some people get outside just so they can get some fresh air. I really live in the mental field so if I can just reconnect to my body and even look at the room from a different part of the room, I’m already feeling different, and different is often better for me.
Bonus: Favorite witch movie ever?
Don’t kill me but after The Craft I gave up a bit on Witch movies. I want to cheat and say the 100 Years of Solitude or reading any Magical Realism is really where it’s at.
(I agree—especially Isabel Allende's The House of the Spirits. Best book ever).