The golden ratio

Interview with Maja D'Aoust

MAJA D’AOUST: MAGIC IS A MATTER OF PERCEPTION. IT WORKS LIKE THE SUN AND RAIN THAT COMBINE TO MAKE A RAINBOW. SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T SEE IT, BUT IT’S ALWAYS UNDERLYING.

So here I am, a relatively level-headed and practical person, whose life journey took her to many weird and inspiring places, talking to a self-ascribed white witch.

Actually, I only recently realised that – apart from Poland, the country where I was born – I only ever chose to have lived on the islands, and on the ones with the left-hand traffic. Magic? Synchronicity? Coincidence?

First, there was Japan, my place of a very conscious growing up. Then – Great Britain, a country that gave me the work experience and one of the best educations in the world.

And now I reside in Australia, a land of my spiritual awakening. It allowed me to start living closer to nature and my own feelings, and made me question all preconceived ideas about the universe.

Still, sometimes I cringe at the things, which feel too woo-woo. But then I still keep on delving deeper.

Maja D’Aoust is a white witch from LA who leads an extraordinary life. She is an incredible vessel of knowledge and creativity. I talked with her about the ancient spiritual practices, her daily life and the work that she does for the global spiritual community.

Alex: You come from a family of scientists. Your grandfather was quite a well-known American geologist. How does that explain your interest in magic?

Maja: I grew up on Vashon Island, off the coast of Washington state. My mother was a hippie, a free spirit and an artist. Before I was born, she studied in a monastery in Tibet. Our house was full of weird books on every subject imaginable, from cosmos to world religions. So spirituality came about naturally to me. When I was 15 years old, I started to read about witchcraft and paganism. But at the same time, I was also fascinated with thinking and scientific analysis.

And then you decided to study biochemistry in college. A sudden change of heart?

I guess, my grandfather’s DNA (laughing). He was a very influential figure in my life. I remember that he could name any rock and tell you where it was from. I found geology an exciting and tangible world. Then, when I went on to study biochemistry, I found out that all of my favourite scientists – Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and Niels Bohr – were interested in spiritualism. All of them practised alchemy. Newton even made an astrological chart for every day. Remember: he was the person who figured out the laws of the universe! So it was science that led me back into the occult.

You believe that scientific and magical worlds are two sides of the same coin.

Well, the origin of modern scientific theory comes from René Descartes having an argument with Satan inside his own head during his sleep, right after he did a lot of meditation on the topic. Science was born out of magic and alchemy. It is just another way of being inquisitive about the world.

Why are you calling yourself: White Witch of LA?

The concept of the witch is very simple. It means: ‘the one who seeks to know’, or ‘the wise one’. Despite their bad press, in the past witches were mostly healers, using their knowledge of herbs and plants to help women with pregnancies and birth. They also advised on the other ‘ladies issues’ like fertility or abortions. I always like to stress that I am a white witch, so that people don’t ask me to mess with someone else’s life in exchange for money. Which they do a lot anyway!

You are very bold about what you do. Do you get criticised for practising magic so ostensibly?

I find that those who criticise are the ones not familiar with what I do. I have absolutely no problem with informed scepticism, but I don’t deal with ignorance. I often present public lectures and open divination sessionsin anancient practice called ‘the oracle’. Anyone can come and present me with their worldviews.

What do people most often ask about?

Their love life! But many also want to know how I can prove that magic really exists.

Can you?

Well, magic is a matter of perception. Just think: it works like the sun and rain that combine to make a rainbow. You don’t see it in the sky all the time. But in reality, rainbow is there all the time, because all the components are there. Magic is also something that is always underlying, but you have to shift your perception to detect it. Just like with quantum physics. Everything is made of waves, nothing is ever solid and everything always moves.

All is waves,

with nothing waving,

over no distance at all.

Greg Bear, The Infinity Concerto

In Greg Bear’s SF book, The Infinity Concerto, the main character tries to describe magic: “All is waves, with nothing waving, over no distance at all”.

Yes, that is very true. All of the occult philosophies are based on that fact. And magic is a universal force, which functions through the perception of the facility of the mind, and of our consciousness.

How can the non-believers experience magic?

I’d say that one of the most magical moments in life is synchronicity.

Let’s translate for the uninitiated. It means: meaningful coincidences.

Synchronicity is a beautiful thing. Sometimes I go about my life and notice some particular word or a number coming back to me, either through what people are saying or what I am seeing around. And then it will culminate in some news containing that same message. It is like following a magical breadcrumb trail.

So you are a professional witch who earns her living by making magic happen.

We all need more magic in our lives!

How does your typical day look like?

I always start from meditation. I try to meditate for 2-4 hours every day. Occasionally, I’d have a whole day or a couple of days when I just think and fast. But then I am also a mum of two teenagers, so part of my day is taking care of my kids. And then there’s my work with clients: all sorts of spiritual treatments and services. First of all divination: tarot, astrology and I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination system. People come to me for healing sessions, which utilise many Eastern practices, and my knowledge of herbs and plants. I also paint, as I believe that any creative practice helps to keep your mind and emotions flowing.

How do you explain what you do to people who don’t believe in the work of astrologers, witches, or shamans?

Alternative medicine and spiritual services are tools to help people live a better life. We are very holistic in our approach. Apart from my diploma in biochemistry, I have a degree in transformational psychology and I also studied Chinese medicine. I see a lot of people with difficult, life-long health issues like HIV or hepatitis, and I always tell them that they also need to see their GP regularly.

And then there’s the healing of the soul… It is more commonsensical than people think. All divination systems are sets of symbols and archetypes that have been around for centuries, and they serve as tools trying to explain our existence in the cosmos.

So how would a session with you work?

Let’s say a client wants to do I Ching. This is one of the oldest Chinese classical texts, a beautiful collection of archetypes and stories that help the human mind to place itself within the universe. To get a reading, you roll a dice six times and the numbers that come up form a hexagram. There are 64 hexagrams, all telling different stories that need to be analysed. I have a beautiful, old book with all the descriptions. And they can be quite literal! Once, I had an I Ching session with a woman who asked: “Should I move to Mexico City?” And she got an answer, which read: “Returning to the ancient capital city is a wise choice”. But often the answers are less direct. You have to dig into your soul to understand. I help my clients get there.  

What is the use of spirituality in your opinion?

It teaches people openness and humility. Humans always think that they are the most important things in cosmos. And we are not.  

Witchcraft and the Trump establishment don’t seem to go hand in hand.

All big men in power have always denigrated the witchcraft, but as soon as they were in trouble, the witch was summoned to the oval office. Even Ronald Reagan and his wife consulted astrologers on a daily basis. Not to mention Presidents Lincoln and Clinton.

Do you think that we have really approached the new chapter in a gendered politics and some sort of shift of power is brewing?

You can always track historical changes by nature. It is about equilibrium. If there is an imbalance, it will first reach its peak of negativity, and then decline and die, just like the Roman Empire. Nature has an inherent capacity of reinstating the balance. It’s called recalibration. Alchemy and physics teach about such correlations. Any time that energy peaks, it will be met with its opposite force. And if you get a large enough negative charge, it will attract a positive energy to it. But of course, it is our choice whether this negative energy gets destructive on the way out. Every change can create damage. I am just hoping for a peaceful transition.

Any tips on how to shield oneself from the toxicity of modern life?

In the spiritual community people often advocate cutting out negative people and negative energy. But I beg to differ. After many years of training martial arts, I feel that the answer lies in the golden ratio. Just like in health, arts and life – the balance and healthy proportions are the answer. So when it comes to the negativity and toxicity that we are all experiencing, I have one advice: just deal with it. Because you cannot remove yourself from life, at least until you are still alive.

* Maja D’Aoust – a white witch, author and spiritual leader living in Los Angeles. She lectures at the Philosophical Research Society. You can check her Instagram musings via @witchofthedawn.