: Rhythm / Devotion : is a series of interviews intended to illuminate the connection to ritual & rhythm in our daily lives. This series explores the intimacy of routine, the magic of the ordinary, & how these small acts of devotion set the stage for larger workings in the world ~
What is your name & where are you in the world?
My name is Samantha Maria Blancato and I’m currently located in Eastern CT on unceded Mohegan and Pequot Land.
How do you define yourself?
Good question… I practice such a variety of crafts that I feel like my list of titles could easily get lengthy, so I choose to trace each back to their root - which is to say, at the heart of it all, I’m a Witch and an Artist. I grow and care for Plants & our Earth & make Art & Medicine in a variety of earthly materials.
Will you walk us through what a day in your life looks like? Begin with how you greet the morning & guide us until you close off the day in the eve ~
I move in rhythm with the seasons, so my days hardly ever look the same. But currently as we flow into Spring and are also collectively experiencing this pandemic, my days are looking roughly like this ~
I rise early and wake up our home, which entails opening some curtains, windows, lighting a candle/ burning some herbs/ sweeping, saying good morning to all the seedlings taking over my living room & turning on their lights, giving them a good drink. Then I stretch, rinse my face with cold water and give myself a couple sprays of hydrosol. Then I’ll slowly make a warm drink, eat something light, and bake something, usually sourdough bread. And while I do this I think about my dreams from the night before, distilling them down to their key parts/essence before writing them down. Sometimes I have to write them down right after waking up, before even getting out of bed… but generally I wait. I’ll sit at my altar, refresh it, record my dreams and any messages coming up.
Then a couple tinctures & I head outside next to tend the garden, currently that’s looking like a lot of seeding, watering & compost spreading. I'll harvest a little and then head back in to make some medicine, right now I’m working on my Spring Apothecary Shares so Im sanitizing a lot of bottles, making labels & the booklets that come with them as well.
Then I start to think about/make dinner. Afterwards I’ll spend some time on Art usually, this can look like so many things. Sometimes just reading a book that will later inform my work, or making more body casts to incorporate into sculptures, working on a drawing or painting, or even just sitting and looking at something I’m currently working on for a while.
Before bed I’ll bathe & then lather in herbal oil, make some infusions for the next day, pull some cards, and then say goodnight to everything, turning off plant lights, closing some windows and curtains. Once I’m in bed, it’s a book or a movie… and a bit of obsessive list making for the next day/ week.
You are an artist, herbalist, & medicine maker ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or your space to enter into this practice?
I have a pretty small workspace currently, that I use for everything I do, so keeping it really bare, open, clean & organized is crucial. I rearrange daily depending on what I’m working on, and I always prep my workspace before getting started, usually by giving the table a good wipe down, laying a clean cloth, lighting a candle, setting whatever mood that best fits what I’ll be doing/ where I’m at emotionally. Usually I work with background noise, whether it’s music or a podcast.. But I’m finding myself working in complete silence these past few weeks, and it’s really been making me fall deeper in love with some of the things I do as I take in some sounds of the process that I formerly wasn’t hearing or paying attention to. This has especially been the case with working with clay, painting, and of course, making medicine.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
I’m a big believer in taking a step back and taking frequent breaks. This is something making Art has really taught me. I have ruined paintings by overworking them, or rushing to finish them when really more time needed to be taken looking rather than working. I think about a lot of my work for probably just as much time as I spend actually making it. The minute that I feel myself fall out of that flow state of being, I know it’s time to stop for a bit. Of course with tending plants and doing some of the more laborious tasks that come along with being a farmer & herbalist, this isnt always an option. But when it comes to anything really creatively oriented, I really try not to push it, trusting that letting the process unfold organically will always yield better results. It’s not always easy to exercise this patience, but it is always worth it.
Do you have a movement practice?
Kind of.. I’m pretty fluid about it, but I stretch every morning & swim almost daily once the water is no longer freezing. If music is on, I’m dancing. If I’m outside, I’m typically barefoot & frolicking around like a child. I have never really had a disciplined exercise routine or anything like that, I mainly try to get my heart rate up & sweat on as much as possible, which isn’t hard working on a farm, and also to stay flexible and in tune with whatever my body is asking for.
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around ritual/routine?
Structure is definitely something I’m still learning from and adapting to. I think it’s really important to have rituals and routines to anchor yourself to, and I also find that it’s equally important to know when to abandon / adapt them. As I enter into the portal of my first Saturn Return, I feel structure will be a prominent theme/ thing that continues to come up & that I will be thinking a lot about and evolving my relationship with.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
I’ve been listening to Janet Kent & Dave Meesters podcast, The Book on Fire. They’re currently reading & discussing Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch. Silvia’s work has totally changed my life and their analysis of and conversation about this seminal work is done so well and a real pleasure to listen to, especially right now. I’m always reading a few books at any given time, right now they are: Beyond the Periphery of the Skin by Silvia Federici, The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, and Song of Increase by Jacqueline Freeman. I’m watching the second season of My Brilliant Friend each week, and lots of good films, like Celine Sciamma’s, Portrait of a Lady on Fire and some old favorites like, Practical Magic and The Double Life of Veronique.
Any last words of wisdom?
Arundhati Roy just wrote a piece that I think everyone should read ~ find it here
In one of her earlier works, War Talk, she says something that has stuck with me to the point of having it pretty much memorized, and it continues to feel like a good thing to share with others -
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones were being brainwashed to believe. The corporate system will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: we be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.”
How can we find your work?
IG - @stregabotanica
Apothecary & Wesbite - stregabotanica.com
Thank you so much, Samantha, for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
I connect the flower essence of Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) as a beautiful companion to Samantha Blancato & her work in the world.
I made an Evening Primrose essence on the weekend of a Piscean full moon in September, 2019 at the Cabbage School, which is located in Leicester, NC. This essence contains not only the energy of the final full moon of the Summer, in the final sign of the zodiac, but two shooting stars that I witnessed barreling their way across the night sky as the essence was being created.
This essence was made with a few unopened Evening Primrose flowers & a few open ones ~ thus giving it an energy of both ripening & readiness ~ further instilling the message that Evening Primose softens us, opens us up at our own pace & from the inside out.
Evening Primrose essence connects us to our innate desire to create & opens us up even more to it. I find that it acts as an inspiration & can be really helpful for those who are afraid to give themselves over to a more interior, creative space in themselves.
Evening Primrose is also specific for those who have felt unwanted or rejected, who have consistently been made to feel small from a young age & therefore they close up deep within, often closing off their emotional, intuitive, creative places & centers of power. Evening Primrose is nice for those who are tight-lipped, need to be in control, or tend towards excess rigidity & tension as a means of protection, as an essence it helps us to feel the relief in letting go. Letting our creations go.
Evening Primrose is a night blooming flower, & can help us to feel the safety & protective quality of the night’s cloak that we need in order to begin our process of opening up. Because of this, it strengthens our connection to the creative, night-blooming forces inside of us & it grants us the ability to open old wounds in order to truly address them, helping us feel comfortable in this vulnerability.
For those who seek creative respite & expression but have difficulty accessing it or knowing how to begin, Evening Primrose is for you. For those who want to strengthen, deepen, & share their connection to the dark creative wellsprings within, then consider Evening Primrose a prick of starlight to guide the way. Once you follow one, you will see the dark is actually smattered with constellations, & it is only in the dark that we can truly appreciate the clarity of light. Allow this essence to & it will expand your vision, openning you up to all the possibilities kept in the promise of a shooting star.
Find a bottle of Evening Primrose essence for yourself or a loved one here ~