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 Jameela Dallis. I live in a home I’m blessed to own that is around 100 years
old, but essentially new to me in Durham, North Carolina. My little yard is filled with
many flowering things, but it’s the mugwort, vetch, and elder that love growing with no
help from me.
How do you define yourself & your work?
I’m a multifaceted writer and facilitator. I’m an art lover, collector, and curator. I’m an
eclectic witch and solo practitioner. Nearly all that I do is informed by beauty and a
desire to know and connect more meaningfully.
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’m not much of a morning person although I have gone through phases where I’ve
made more of an effort to be one. I like to begin my day slowly. The first thing I do is
take my thyroid medication with my bedside water. I need to take it 30 minutes before
caffeine and on an empty tummy. Lately, my bedside water is living in either a rose- or
cobalt-colored glass. If I wake up with a lover, maybe we make love, or if I wake up
alone, maybe I make love to myself.
But! If I had a dream that seems important or somehow memorable–lingering in the
front of my mind–I will either write it down in my journal or use my phone to make a
voice-to-text note. (If I’m with a lover, I might tell him to wait to make love until I record
If I’m alone and have time to spare, I’ll check messages and scroll a while on social
media. It’s probably not the best habit for the mornings, but it makes moving into the
day a little lighter. Then, when I’m really ready to get out of bed, I usually open my thick,
dusky pink velvet curtains. Beneath them are semi-sheer, lighter pink curtains with gold
treads. I welcome the light although often some has already made its way in through my
undressed French doors that connect my bedroom to my wellness room. (My bedroom
stays a bit dark throughout the day because of its deep marine blue walls. It’s like a
cave and perfect for sleeping.)
I rarely eat breakfast. Usually, a black pour over coffee is enough. I usually use beans
from my local Little Waves Coffee Roasters. If I’m feeling like tea, I’ve been loving a
loose-leaf white tea with fig and Tupelo honey blend. If it’s tea, I’ll add a bit of precious
Moroccan honey from my recent travels or nearly-molasses-brown honey from
But, if I’m in the mood for breakfast, I love a chocolate or ham and cheese croissant,
thick Greek yogurt, or even slightly soft bacon and a sunny-side-up egg.
Either while in bed alone or while making coffee, I listen to NPR’s Up First and, lately,
the Washington Post’s The Seven so I have an idea of what’s happening in the world.
Then, if it’s a weekday, I log into my 9-5 job. If it’s a Saturday, I ease through my
morning--maybe watering my plants outside if it’s the growing season, maybe writing in
my journal, maybe listening to a podcast like Sarah Faith Gottesdiener’s Moonbeaming.
Then, I really start my day. If it’s a Saturday, I have yoga at 10. If it’s a Sunday, maybe I
have a whole morning of ease until it’s time to make lunch or meet a friend.
During the week, I try to take little breaks during my 9 to 5 job. I’m blessed to work from
home, so I can have natural light and maybe an open window if the weather is
agreeable. I try to unplug from work for lunch because my days are often full of Zoom
meetings. Sometimes I make lunch for myself, order from my favorite lunch restaurant
Toast, call a friend or ex-lover, take a walk, water or talk to my plants if they need some
attention, or a mix of all of the aforementioned things. Sometimes I simply take a nap on
my golden-toned couch, head propped up on two mismatched pillows.
After work, I often have plans with a friend or a freelance project to work on (e.g., a
poetry workshop or an article), a tarot client, or I go for walk in my yard if things are
blooming. If I have a lover or boyfriend, maybe we get dinner together. Maybe I feel like
getting dinner by myself. Or make dinner in my kitchen. No matter the location or who
made it, I love a beautiful meal, and making space to sit and savor food is important to
Then, depending on the night, I may stream something on my television, write in my
journal, daydream, draw, sketch, or paint, although I paint less often these days. May I’ll
do a ritual for a lunar or cosmic event, or maybe I just need to do nothing but mindlessly
scroll on social media. Sometimes I need that bit of nothing.
If I’ve not left my house all day, which sometimes happens, I may walk up to my favorite
neighborhood cocktail bar. Or take a short drive over to my favorite wine bar for a single
glass of something lovely like an orange wine from Croatia or a cabernet sauvignon
from some storied vineyard in France or California.
Then, dreams call. Lately, I’ve been so tired, I’ve been falling asleep on my couch at
least 1 or 2 nights a week. (Sometimes with journal open!) But, when I’m more
intentional about bedtime, I often say to myself aloud, “Alright. Time for bed.” Before
bedtime, I wash my face with something gentle—I’ve just begun using Ranavat’s
Luminous Ceremony cleanser and like it— then put on a favorite face oil from Herbivore
or Sunday Riley, and I floss and brush my teeth.
One of the last rituals of the day is refilling my bedside water. Sometimes I’ll take a
tonic—especially if it’s a new or full moon. I’ve been using Dori Midnight X Moon Studio
potions and love them.
Ideally, I’d make love every night—with a lover or with myself. Then, I dream.
You are a writer, tarot reader, & a scholar ~ how do you prepare yourself &/or
your space to enter into these practices?
My process is sporadic and varies depending on what I’m writing, when my deadline is,
and how much down time I’ve had leading up to whatever practice I’m entering.
Sometimes it’s something in a dream that returns throughout the day, a phrase or word
that I must write down in my journal.
For my 9 to 5, it’s hard to find blocks of meeting-free time to really sink into a project.
And I’ve learned that taking a lot of notes digitally—in the comments of the interface
design tool, in my tabbed MS notes notebook, or on virtual stickies—really help me
piece together thoughts and break more easily into a writing sprint.
When I want to prepare a workshop, article, or do something that’s more
creative—more of my own fashioning, I set the space. Even though I have a dedicated
office painted a golden turmeric color, I tend to do my creative writing in my living room.
I sit on my couch or a golden leather Moroccan pouf—its top is beginning to fade and
there are a few cracks in the leather. If on my couch, I have a wooden laptop table. If on
my pouf, my laptop is on my walnut-hued live edge coffee table. Sometimes I light
candles or incense. I like my space to smell good. Light filters in all day from my living
room’s east and south-facing windows. My gangly night-blooming cereus lives next to
my east-facing window. Favorite paintings—some I’ve collected from local
artists—adorn my walls. My grandmother’s burgundy velvet chair watches me. Favorite
books, pictures, and postcards line 2 bookshelves. Usually there are cut flowers nearby
on my long dining room table (my home has an open floorplan)—beauty is a must.
Sometimes I play music—maybe something like Workin’ by the Miles David Quintet (an
album a 1-night-lover introduced me to many years ago).
Oftentimes, I write in bars. (I used to write in bars more often than I do these days.) I
carry a portable Bluetooth keyboard, but, more often, I write in my journal. Sometimes a
different space is what I need to get something going. The effect isn’t really the same in
coffeeshops and this is most likely because I’m a night owl.
But, no matter what I’m doing, I always need something to drink: water, sparkling tea,
kombucha. If I’m at a bar, I’ll have a glass of red or a thoughtful cocktail. Sometimes I’ll
add a flower or gem essence—single or blended—to my water. I have several from
Sometimes I take a dropperful to build my courage if I’ve been procrastinating or just not
sure where to start. Citrine, Hornbeam, Larch, Century are my frequent go-tos for
writing or communication tasks. An amazonite crystal may be nearby
Sometimes before working with a tarot client, I’ll take Pearly Everlasting, Amethyst, or
Jasmine. I also usually do a little sound tuning with my F or G 432Hz crystal bowls to
get into a different state of mind—into one of receiving and listening intuitively.
What do you do/not do if you are feeling stuck around your work?
If I’m feeling stuck, I’ll often take an essence I’ve mentioned in the previous answer.
Sometimes I’ll go on a walk if it’s not already too late to go walking alone. Sometimes I’ll
pull a few tarot cards. Other times, I freewrite—in my journal or digitally. I almost always
will have a notes file for any project I’m working on. I put a lot of drafts and not-quite-
right phrases there.
Other times I might go for a quick row (I have a connected rower) or make love to
myself. If I don’t already have something to drink. I’ll stop and get a refill or make
something new. I’ll also call a friend, watch TV, peruse social media. And, sometimes,
I’ll read a few pages of a book—usually poetry. Something short to get my mind in a
Do you have a movement practice?
I practice yoga (via livestream) on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. I try to
row at least once a week. I love walking. I’m trying to take more weight-lifting and barre
breaks (I have a ballet barre in my wellness room), but it’s a challenge!
What does structure mean to you, or what is your philosophy around
I don’t think I’m a very structured person, but I know what I like. Yet, I often say I’ll try
most things once. I think ritual is important as long as whatever I’m doing is important to
me. There are routines I must do (take my medication in the morning, log in to work, pay
my bills, etc.). While I aim to be on time and meet deadlines and I am probably an
obsessive calendar user—there’s definitely structure there—I acutely balk at routine.
So, I’d say my philosophy is complicated. In short, ritual should serve my soul, and I am
free to shift and modify if something isn’t working for me.
What are you listening to, reading, or watching these days?
I will always love David Bowie. His posthumous EP No Plan, Tonight, and Black Tie,
White Noise are current favorites. One of my late lovers was a Talking Heads fan, so
they’re often in my rotation; “Heaven” and “Pulled Up” are favorites. There are a few
Fleetwood Mac songs I’ve been listening to on repeat: “Silver Springs” and “Landslide.”
Nina Simone’s Wild is the Wind, Thayer Sarrano’s Shakey, and Q Lazzarus’s single
“Goodbye Horses” have also been on repeat. I return to Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes,
Portishead’s Roseland NYC Live, and Low’s I Could Live in Hope often.
Besides new articles and the occasional piece from The Paris Review or The Atlantic,
I’m not reading as much as I’d like, but I’m loving my friend Dawn Sperber’s new books
Now, That’s a Trick and My Bones are Love Gifts. I also enjoy email newsletters from Sarah Faith Gottesdiener, Dori Midnight, and Mystic Mamma aka Mijanou Montealegre.
I’m looking forward to reading my friend Jessica Q. Stark’s new collection Buffalo Girl.
Any last words of wisdom?
We can say no to people we love and still love them. Boundaries are a form of self-
respect and self-care.
How can we find your work?
I’m @yemaja328 on Instagram.
My website is jameeladallis.com
Thank you so much, Jameela, for your beautiful work in this world & for sharing your rhythm devotion with us ~
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I connect the essence of Dogwood as a beautiful companion to Jameela Dallis, her rhythm/devotion, & her work in the world.
I made my Dogwood (Cornus florida) essence made in Raleigh on an afternoon in April 2018 with my dear friend Jean, just after her second birthday.
To make this essence, Jean & I walked out the front door & we cut a few of the dogwood flowers, with its wing-like white bracts, from the tree in her front yard into a tall glass of water. We left this glass tucked up against the trunk of the dogwood & went inside to read a story, have a nap, & then eat a snack before retrieving it.
Dogwood essence is an invitation into the body. It asks: how do you take care of yourself? What do you need? Where & what is comfort for you? Dogwood helps us to move with surety back to our inner nature, with clarity into pace with the rhythms of our life, & in tandem with the basic needs of our bodies, uninfluenced by anyone or anything else in this tending.
Dogwood is all about beauty, grace, ease, & a lavish kind of simplification. This essence helps move us towards nourishing our core by encouraging us to tend to our innate needs, to spread out within ourselves, inviting us to take up residency within our first home: the body. In encouraging us to spread out within ourselves, dogwood reminds us to release that which is not ours: the baggage, clutter, or cultural ideas we bring along with us, in turn allowing for greater self-expansion of our own authentic nature & desires. There are ways of meeting yourself, loving yourself, tending to yourself, & honoring yourself that only you know--dogwood puts us in touch with this & encourages us to do so unabashedly.
Dogwood helps us find balance through major transitions in our lives, easing the shifts, allowing us to embody them—ultimately teaching trust in the body & its many phases, cycles. Like watching a ballet, dogwood reminds us we are able to hold pose in the world while also remaining open & fluid.
Call on Dogwood to spread your wings, to build relationship to embodiment, & to nurture yourself in the ways in which only you can. Dogwood gives us room to wonder at ourselves, our bodies, & also at the world.
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Find a bottle of Dogwood essence for yourself or a loved one here ~