Below I present to you an interview with Sara Mastros.
Sara is a professional practicing witch with whom I first connected with via Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery course. As she is one of the more active members of that group, I took notice of her obvious passion and skill in regards to her witchcraft and reached out to her asking for a contribution to this interview series which I am delighted to say, she obliged.
Sara is one of the proprietors of Mastros and Zealot an absolutley awesome magical supply website offering phenominal talismans, wands, books, tools, spell casting services, divinations, courses, spell kits and more!
Sara is also the author of the upcoming magical tome The Orphic Hyms Grimoire.
Q: What do you consider your greatest magical achievement?
A: I want to concoct some sort of exciting story to answer this, but the simple answer is that I think my greatest magical achievement is probably just living a charmed life, where I’m free to be the person I am. I sleep when I’m tired, and I wake up when I’m not tired anymore. I eat when I’m hungry. I have amazing friends who visit when I want company and solitude when I want to think. My house is happy, warm, safe, and full of laughter (and sometimes tears). There are, of course, specific workings I’m very proud of: a barren friend and her miracle daughter, a kidnapped child returned safely home, my ability to walk up and down stairs without a cane (which a doctor told me I’d never do again just 2 years ago), but I’m much more excited by the day to day reality of a life drenched in magic.
Q: Who are your personal heroes, those who most inspired you on your own journey?
A: When I was young, I was very into Joan of Arc, and when I was little, I wanted to be a nun, but as I learned more about Catholicism that interest faded, and was replaced by a host of other witch queens of legend, especially Circe and Morgan le Fey. Einstein has always been a hero of mine; he was the guiding light on my path as a mathematician. Pythagoras has always excited me as both a mathematician and a mystic. Ariadne, who led Jason through the Knossos maze lit up my imagination when first I heard her tale, and Daedalus as well. Benjamin Franklin, the wisest of our founding fathers, is always an inspiration. Johnny Appleseed becomes more and more fascinating to me every time I learn something new about him. Solomon, the great Magician King of ancient Israel was probably an asshole, but he sure makes for a good story. Sarah Tzvi, the sixteenth century Jewish witch-prophetess is an extraordinary inspiration. It’s a shame so few people know of her, and that her story is so often buried under that of her husband, Sabbatai, whom much of European Jewry accepted as messiah on the basis of her prophecy. I often toy with the idea of writing historical fiction about her.
In terms of people I know, I’ve had many influential teachers from whom I’ve learned a lot but my real magical hero is my bff, magical partner, sworn co-conspirator, and the Zealot of Mastros & Zealot:Witches for Hire. We were both baby witches on a mission when we met, stupid and cocksure, brilliant and on fire with magic. For twenty years, Simon Zealot has been my constant inspiration. He calls me on my bullshit when I get too big, and empowers me when I feel small. Our paths sometimes diverge, but they always meander back together again. There is no one I’d rather Work with. It’s hard to walk this path alone, and I’m so glad to have found such an amazing companion on my journey.
Q: What importance, if any, do you place on full visual manifestation of a spirit during evocation?
A: Absolutely none. I think auditory manifestation, so that clear communication can take place, is much more important. I do not think I am capable of it. I was almost 15 before I understood that when other people used the word “visualize” they didn’t mean it metaphorically. I have summoned spirits that others saw, but I have never seen them. I have been working on my mental-blindness for a long, long time, but with very limited success. Historically, even on hallucinogens, there is no visual component for me. I have now gotten to a place where, on VERY high doses, there is a little bit of fractal swirling on people’s faces, or my own face in a mirror, and there are occasionally visuals in my dreams now. What success I’ve had has come primarily from working with Euryphaessa, the “wide-shining” titaness of the sky, light, and sight. She is best know as the mother of Helios, Selene, and Eos, but she is an amazing goddess in her own right, and one I highly recommend.
Q: What was your first “oh fuck, this shit is real” moment in your personal magical practice?
A: I don’t have an exact moment, really. I never really believed that it WASN’T real. I didn’t come up officially “pagan”, but doubtless a priest would have called us that. I grew up with a “spiritual but not religious” Jewish mother and an agnostic “free thinker” Greek father. When I was young, my mother was in grad school studying early childhood literature, and so my childhood was flooded with amazing and powerful stories from all over the world. Myths and fairy tales have always been my holy books. My late mother didn’t appreciate the word “witch” when applied to her, but she didn’t exactly deny being a with either. I grew up believing that the world was alive with spirits, most of whom were friendly if you were, and nearly all of whom could be bargained with.
The first time I ever heard the word “witch” outside of a fictional context was when I was about eight.. Your younger readers have to remember that times were different then. There was no internet, and information simply wasn’t available then the way it is now, especially when you lived in a small town, like me. One year, when I was about eight, for my birthday, my grandfather sent me a book of folk tales, and it came with a mail-order book catalog. One of the categories in the catalog was “Witchcraft”. It was in the nonfiction section. I knew what that meant! “Mom, mom!! Did you know that witches are REAL?!? Not just in stories? Witches are NON-FICTION!” To which my mother replied, “Well, there are certainly people who think they are witches.” She did not seem to appreciate the importance of this revelation. I told my friend down the street that witches were real, and she told me that witches were evil, and got their powers from Satan, and I shouldn’t mess with that stuff. That did not diminish my enthusiasm. I began scouring my extensive library of myth, fairy tale, and folklore for hidden magical teachings, which, of course, I found in great abundance.
Down the street from our house, there was an abbey (The Cloistered Dominican Nuns of the Perpetual Rosary). They had an amazing garden behind their building that I used to sneak into. Behind their fence, it smelled of roses, and thyme, and lily of the valley in profusion. There was a fountain that tinkled and sparkled in the light. And, in the middle, there was a statue of a glorious goddess, whom I immediately recognized, for all my eight year old erudition, as the Queen of the Faeries. She was beautiful and powerful, and I loved her on the spot. One day, at this time of year, I discovered a crown of flowers on her head. From then on, I used to weave her daisy crowns and leave them at her feet. I have always wondered what the nuns, who even then were mostly elderly, and not often in their garden in the evenings, much have thought when they found my offerings, and the rings of tiny footprints in their mud. The Queen of the Faeries became my very good friend, and I was devastated when, that summer, the nuns fixed the hole in their fence, and I could no longer visit her.
Several years later, for my 13th birthday, my aunt gave me a book called “The Encyclopedia of White Magic” which I think she thought was fiction. It was not. It was, in fact, a relatively solid introduction to British Traditional Witchcraft. I learned the seasonal holidays, and I learned some basic spells, but mostly that book just confirmed what I had learned from fairy tales, and encouraged me to keep learning and experimenting. My own internalized misogyny pushed me away from witchcraft and into newer and more “proper” forms of magic, like kabbalah, ceremonial magic and groups like the OTO and Golden Dawn, but my heart has always been with the old ways.
Q: What is one piece of magical tech you could not live without?
A: I’m a total sucker for a spell with a complicated internal rhyme scheme and a compelling metrical structure. Language, to my mind, is at the core of what it means to be a human being, and for me, the most primal kind of magic is that where you simply speak your will into being. There is no question that human minds are hard-wired to respond to certain kinds of rhyme and rhythm, and I believe that hard-wiring goes far deeper into the structure of the universe than we often admit.
Q: At what age did you start practicing magic and why?
A: As I said above, I was so young that it was just a natural extension of my childhood. However, here is a story about the first two official “spells” I ever worked. The first was a curse I discovered in the “primary sources” supplement of my seventh grade history textbook. It reads:
Scorching Fire, Warlike son of Heaven
Thou, the fiercest of thy brethren,
Who, like Moon and Sun decidest lawsuits–
Judge thou my case, hand down the verdict!
Burn the man and woman who bewitched me;
Burn, O Fire, the man and woman who bewitched me;
Burn them, O Fire!
Scorch them, O Fire!
Take hold of them, O Fire!
Consume them, O Fire!
Destroy them, O Fire!
I slightly modified this spell, and cast it on the kids who bullied me. (I was bullied very, very badly in school) Several hours later, one girl poured a test tube of something on me in chemistry class, and then “accidentally” lit her hair on fire in the bunsen burner. She was burned, but not badly. Later that week, another girl tried to bully me and later fell down the stairs and broke her wrist. That was more or less the end of me getting bullied. I feel a little guilty about it now, and were I doing it over, I would have tempered the spell, but I can’t entirely say I regret it.
Q: What is your advice to the young aspiring magician just getting started today?
- Read as much myth, fairy tale, and folklore as you can get your hands on. I am terribly saddened by the way these stories are rapidly passing out of the world, transformed into Disneyfied nursery stories for babies. Every magical secret is contained in these stories, if you learn how to listen to them.
- Discuss magic with anyone who will listen, and listen to anyone who talks. EVERYONE has something valuable to teach you, if you are willing to listen. A homeless schizophrenic man taught me my first banishing ritual. LISTEN when people teach you. That’s not to say you should believe everything everyone says. But you shouldn’t decide to believe it or not until you’ve heard it.
- I’m not kidding around. PAY ATTENTION. So many people go through their whole life in a fog, staring at the ground (or staring at their phone) and then wonder why they are never sent signs or teachers. This isn’t so much advice for young magicians as it is advice for everyone. PAY ATTENTION to the world, and she will open up for you like a shy poetess.
- Get your hands dirty. Do dumb things. Do dangerous things. If you’re afraid to experiment, because you might get it wrong, or you might anger a spirit with your ignorance, or just because magic is kind of scary….well….then, maybe magic just isn’t for you. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. You’re under no obligation to practice; there’s nothing wrong with just liking to read about magic. But, you’ll NEVER become a magician except by doing a lot of magic, most of which will be stupid and wrong and terrible. Chuck Jones (the animator of Bugs Bunny) wrote in his autobiography something like “There are thousands of terrible drawings stuck in your hands, and you have to get them all out to get to the god ones.” I think that’s excellent advice for learning just about anything.
Q: What are your current magical endeavors?
A: A lot of my magic is a little too “fragile” to be talked about until it’s completed. Over the Beltane full moon, I’ve been making love/romance/sex drawing talismans (which can be purchased at MastrosZealot.com/store) Last night, I hosted the first in a series of trance-possession Witches’ Dances for the community. I’m currently working with the Orphic hymns, re-translating them, and contextualizing Orphism for my own modern life.
Q: How do you respond to Christian evangelists knocking on your door at dinner time?
A: Were an evangelist (or anyone else) to knock on my door at dinner time, I’d invite them in and offer them dinner. Hospitality is a cornerstone of my religious practice, and my magical practice as well. Embodied or not, when people come to my house, I feed them, and tend to their spiritual needs as best as I am able.
I used to get A LOT of Mormon missionaries where I used to live. I always invited them in, gave them a drink, and listened to what they had to say. I am, generally, very interested in the myths of other religions, and also in why people believe the things they do. Most of the young men who came to my door appeared to have never had anyone who really listened to them talk about these things, and over the years, two of them came out, crying, during these discussions, and several confessed that they struggled to believe as they felt they were supposed to. I did my best to counsel them.
In my current neighborhood, I rarely get Mormons, but I used to get Jehovah’s Witnesses every Saturday morning, waking me up. I put up a sign that read “Missionaries: I am happy to discuss religion with you, but please call again after noon.” They have not come back since then.
Q: What effect and focus do you think magic should have upon politics and world events?
A: I think everytime we separate magic from the rest of life, we do both it and ourselves a disservice. Magic should affect politics and world events in the same way that it should affect everything else, carefully but confidently! I’m pretty political, and I’m relatively active in both mainstream left-leaning politics as well as more radical leftist activism Because I am a magician, my politics are interwoven with magic. Like all my political activity, I think the best effect and focus ought to be in constructing a world that is just, equitable, and free for everyone. I’m tempted to wax rhapsodic about my specific opinions on tax theory or judicial oversight of administrative action, but instead, here’s a simple spell people who perhaps don’t want to spend hours geeking out over fiscal economics might try: http://traifbanquet.blogspot.com/2017/05/american-witchcraft-great-river.html