Having a routine where we pay tender attention to ourselves, whether in the form of a soak in the tub, or even a signature makeup look, can be seen as an act of magick. This type of practice is a ritual, which we perform regularly as a means to better ourselves and the world around us.
Before, we explored the concept of cosmetics as a powerful tool in witchcraft, and how the word “glamour” is rooted in magick. Gabriela Herstik, author of Inner Witch: A Modern Guide to the Ancient Craft (and HelloGiggles alum), frequently explores the connection between glamour and witchcraft in her work and practice. The “fashion alchemist” imbues both her sartorial style and beauty routine with magick, and vice versa.
Below, Herstik talks about creating makeup looks inspired by tarot card readings, shares tips on how to build a beauty altar, and discusses the trend of big brands co-opting mysticism.
HelloGiggles: In your book, Inner Witch, you talk about casting a glamour with your clothes and makeup. What is glamour?
Gabriela Herstik: The word glamour is actually rooted in folklore. Glamour is something that veils what’s beneath it, like a magick concealment. A changeling is a faery baby who is switched with a human baby, and cast with a glamour, so it looks like the human baby and the parents can’t tell. If we think of glamour in our own society, we think of someone beautiful, or fabulous. But glamour is simply curated beauty. I don’t look the same without makeup as I do with red lipstick, a cat eye and my brows done. I just don’t. That’s glamour!
HG: How does it relate to your personal style and beauty routine?
GH: For me, glamour magick is a way to infuse my clothing with intention. It’s a way for me to claim the way in which I’m seen. It’s how I choose to move through the world. I can choose to wear something that works with my mood, whether that’s wanting to be strong in the face of potentially getting cat-called, or connecting to my softness and heart, or feeling sexy and slutty. While spirituality transforms us from the inside out, fashion and glamour have the potential to transform us from the outside in. We have to wear clothing anyway, so when we add a layer of intention to it, it can be very powerful magick.
HG: How did you start connecting the two?
GH: I’ve always been interested in fashion and spirituality, but the overlap really started to happen about four years ago when I was in college. In the past couple years, I’ve started taking glamour way more seriously.
HG: You get inspiration for your makeup from your tarot pulls. How did you start doing that?
GH: When I was a sophomore in college, I started a series of outfits inspired by The Wild Unknown tarot deck for my then-fashion blog, Breathing Fashion. I did nine different looks inspired by nine tarot cards over two years. This was one of the first times that I really started to explore the intersection of magick and fashion. After this, I wrote my first freelance piece for The Numinous, on how the death card in tarot inspired my style and was my first muse.
This experience was really transformative for me, and after working with the cards in this way, I decided to use fashion and beauty as a way to embody the cards I was pulling. I think I started matching my makeup to my tarot cards like three years ago, and now when I’m not sure what to wear, I will use the tarot as inspiration. Personally, I think embodying the tarot through clothing and glamour is a really powerful way to know the cards and live with their energy.
HG: What are some specific beauty items/products that you use that feel the most magickal to you?
GH: The $3 liquid black eyeliner from e.l.f, red liquid lipstick from Fenty in “Uncensored,” and the orange lipstick, “A-Go-Go,” by Kat Von D. These are my favorites for transformation, and helping me feel like a sex goddess! However, I also LOVE salt baths, and Epsom salt with lavender is one of my staples. I also love rose oils, perfume oils, and my Venus palette from Lime Crime. These all help me embody the radiance and sensuality of my matron goddess Venus, while also helping me feel like a goddess of the underworld (I’m hella Scorpio!).
HG: What is the significance of beauty as a ritual?
GH: Reclamation. Self-love. Devotion. A ritual is anything we do repeatedly to connect us to something else, whether that’s a higher purpose or love, or just intense presence. Rituals of beauty are often devotional acts of self-love. When we carve out time to honor ourselves and transform ourselves physically, we’re often met with a change internally. Societal beauty standards are obviously fucked up, but rituals of beauty for our Self don’t have to fit into these molds. This is significant because we can choose how to celebrate and love ourselves. When we see beauty as a ritual for its own sake, outside of the idea that beauty has to look a certain way to be valid, we’re left with presence and the opportunity to honor ourselves and what lights us up. Creating sacred moments of devotion for ourselves, to honor our light and story and creative self-expression, can be deeply transformative acts of magick. Bringing intention to our beauty routine, and offering something as ritual whether it’s putting on lipstick, or lighting incense, or washing your face with blessed water, can help us feel empowered, confident, connected, and divine.
HG: What is a beauty altar and what can it help with?
GH: An altar is an energetic focal point of a space, usually to honor a specific intention. So while you can have an altar for honoring ancestors, or for a holiday, you can also have one for beauty! I’m a true believer in the fact that it’s a wonderful idea to surround yourself with pretty things that make you feel pleasure. A beauty altar is kinda like that! Optimally, you’d create a beauty altar on your vanity or in your bathroom; wherever you do your beauty routine. You can have pretty bottles, crystals, talismans, icons of gods or goddesses you work with, flowers, and other treasures on your altar. You can also dedicate this space to an intention, whether it’s to feel more connected to your sensuality, or to give yourself permission to stray outside the societal norms for beauty.
An altar can help you focus on yourself. It can be an energetic resting place for you to go to honor where you are. As far as a beauty altar, this can be a really safe space to do any work around self-love and self-worth. A beauty altar can help you connect to your own divine essence, and it can help you honor your own beauty. It can be a safe space to dissect what you actually like versus what society tells you to like. It can also just be something that brings you pleasure.
HG: What are some ways someone new to witchcraft can start incorporating magick in their own beauty routine?
GH: Before you start getting ready for the day, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then ask yourself what you need that day. Be honest; do you want protection, or to feel sexy, or something comfortable? Honor this! This is step 1 in adding intention to your beauty routine. Another way to work with glamour is through color, which is HUGE in magick. You can look up “color correspondences” to kind of understand the energetic effects of each hue and then pick what you’re going to wear. Wearing different colors for different moods, or to adopt different mindsets, is really powerful!
If you have a tarot deck, try pulling a card for inspiration and then matching your makeup or outfit to the card. You can also match your look to any crystals you work with (like rose quartz or turquoise), and you can also do this with flowers (like roses). If you’re into astrology, you can also find inspiration for beauty in the cosmos by seeing what sign the moon is in (which rules over our subtle body and intuition). I also will match my makeup to the full and new moon phases as well.
You can also engage with this practice by creating talismans, or a charged object that’s usually worn for protection, abundance or a similar intention. You can meditate with an object in your non-dominant hand and envision a light from your heart growing and growing until it encompasses the object. Then you can state your intention with the object and charge it, envisioning this light seeping into it. You can wear or carry it with you once you’re done. I also think there’s something really special about wearing heirlooms or pieces handed down from family members; this can be really beautiful and important.
And if your family or culture has traditional clothing worn for ceremonies or religious services, connecting in this way can also be a really powerful reclamation of agency and self.
HG: What do you think about the trend of mysticism and beauty right now?
GH: I love the overlap of consciousness and spirituality and mysticism and beauty, when it’s done with love and understanding, and not as an exploitative capitalist take on something cool. If you want something “witchy,” hire real witches to help! There is such a long history of beauty and mysticism, and it’s something many of us keep close to our hearts. I love seeing brands who value the ethics and messages of different spiritual lineages through their products, whether that’s through herbs, crystals, the way they create their products, and what’s included in the products themselves. I think when brands see mysticism as a trend, they’re missing the point and really not taking a step back to see bigger market patterns. Mysticism comes in waves, and has been en vogue forever. When beauty companies ignore this and don’t put any real though into their products, it just feels disrespectful. I’m not here for cheap copies or people using witchcraft as a marketing trend. You can tell when it’s done in an ethical manner, and when it’s just all kinds of inconsiderate.