By Jenn Stanley for BCN #133
March 17, 2021
There’s a phrase you may be familiar with if you or someone you know practices witchcraft: “An’ it harm none, so mote it be.” To local artist and green witch Rachel Mars, following the path means a recognition of magick and one’s own accountability for the effect they have on their surrounding world.
“Basically, my work is art. Sometimes it’s focused on scent, sometimes it’s visual, sometimes it’s the creation of a mood,” she tells me via email after her recent appearance at ONCE Virtual Venue’s My Synesthesia Valentine event.
Despite closing its physical doors on Highland Avenue for good due to the pandemic, ONCE Somerville has remained a local mainstay of creativity and performance with their virtual venue and efforts to support artists. Held on Zoom with both live and pre-recorded elements, this sensually focused variety show included a quirky and inspired collection of music, puppetry, video, lecture and discussion about all things synesthesia.
Synesthesia is when different senses are activated by seemingly unrelated sensory input. Someone who experiences this may see music, hear sights, assign gender or personality to numbers or letters etc. There’s some evidence that there may be a strong correlation between synesthesia and ASMR--a calming, tingling sensation brought on by soft sounds and other stimuli.
Like many of my own experiences, synesthesia is something more than a few males have told me wasn’t real and that I made it up for attention. They were the same boys who pried the guitar from my fingers in high school as I was trying to learn. Girls hands are too small for guitar, why don’t you just stick to singing, they’d say. Fuck those guys (but also do yourself a favor and DON’T fuck those guys).
Mars’ personal experience with synesthesia is more related to something smelling so good she can taste it, or hearing music that gives her chills. Her advice for engaging our senses as a way to nurture our souls and help us survive psychologically the rest of this covid winter is to get intentional about our environments and day-to-day routines.
“Light candles, drink tea made from locally sourced ingredients, make your own fire cider, take the dog for a walk, look, listen, breathe,” she suggests. “There is magick in everyday moments and all those little things for those who would see it.”
Mars says she hates making the videos and misses speaking to a live audience. Still, her set was a flawless winter warmer of red satin and evergreen as she taught us how to create our own olfactory wonders with things easily found outside or in our own pantries.
Her business, The Green Witch, gradually came together a few years ago, around the same time she connected with the folks at ONCE Somerville.
“In the beginning I was seeking out womxn-owned venues to let my all femxle artist group host pop-up events in their spaces,” says Mars. She was brought into the ONCE community by events manager and booker, Bridget Duggan. “She introduced me to the amazing, creative, eccentric crew at ONCE and it’s been an absolute delight to work with them over the last few years.”