Witches Found: Art Magic With Marigold Santos

"Magic is the idea to incite change through choice."

Amy Torok
Mar 27, 2019
38 min read
Witches FoundArt WitchcraftTranscripts

"My interest lies in transformation, as I reflect on fleeting childhood memories and my family’s immigration to Canada as an autobiographical point of departure. Experiences as history, fragmented into memory, and re-told to become personal myth are negotiated through the act of drawing, one that operates in narrative, and in fiction. This is the realm of play where I situate my work.

Notions of attachment/separation, being grounded or uprooted, ultimately relates back to investigations of ‘self’ and ‘home’ and are explored through an invented temporality (where I look forward, sideways, upside down, while simultaneously looking backward into a history never physically lived) manifesting in conceptual hybrids and multiple distribution of selves.

In these recent works, imagery arises from the otherworldly; figures mobilize and embrace growth, transience, and a self in process that provide loopholes as points of entry that makes aware the contradictions that dwell, and do not seek to resolve awkwardness and discomfort.

It is in ambiguity and lack of absolutes that I draw upon my imagery; one that supports a narrative that is disjointed, accumulative, and plural. It has become a language in my own story telling that continues to change and evolve, a language that is constantly being defined by the relationship of one image to the next.

We like precariousness."



Show at the MAI Montreal: http://www.m-a-i.qc.ca/en/event/malaginto/

Show in at the AFA Edmonton: https://www.youraga.ca/exhibitions/Santos

CBC: Marigold Santos is reconnecting with her Filipinx roots — through tattooing

Further reading:

What is an ASWANG? – The Aswang Project

Do you remember Milford Kemp??



[00:00:00] Marigold: The label witch is something that has been created 

[00:00:06] Amy: to 

[00:00:07] Marigold: be a label of fear and oppression. Hence with the reclaiming tradition, why it's so important to be a witch because it's like saying this is me, this is what I'm defining to be a witch. My name is Marigold Santos. I'm a visual artist based out of Montreal, Quebec and Calgary, Alberta.

I'm a Philippine ex Canadian And I am also a Libra middle child. 

[00:00:33] Amy: And this is what you feel suns you up as a, as a person, a Libra middle child. Yeah. 

[00:00:38] Marigold: You know what? It does actually. I feel like being a Libra has been something that's been coming up a lot recently. And. It gives me joy, so I'm okay with, with saying that.


[00:00:48] Amy: how did you get into astrology? Is that something that's like one of your main forays into witchiness? 

[00:00:55] Marigold: You know what? It could be. Definitely an entry point into the witchiness of things. I think that Astrology carries a lot of magic around it, and there's a lot of potential. And to me, I feel like magic is really all about potential and the ability to choose.

You know, one way or another. And I think there's a lot of power in that. So, if I had to say, power and magic are very intertwined and choice is really up there as well. Yeah. 

[00:01:25] Amy: I think that your art also deals with vulnerability. The power of vulnerability as well. Like, there's something in your artist statement, and I'm probably going to misquote it, but I think you said like, You love precariousness.

Yeah. Now that's something that most people would try to avoid would be precariousness. So can you get into that? 

[00:01:46] Marigold: Yeah. When I talk about precariousness I talk about precariousness and identity because I think oftentimes we really try to, and I do it myself too, sum ourselves up. And actually the ambiguity of everything is really a special thing, where you don't really have to, you know, get caught up in a binary and be one way or another.

And actually the spectrum in between is really where all the, the specialness sort of sits. And so, precariousness to me is really this idea about teetering and not very or like this instability. And embracing that flexibility and a lot of that too can be tied into my work where I really celebrate multifariousness and fragmentation and hybridity, and all of those things can contribute to this idea of precariousness and identity.

I really celebrate multifariousness and fragmentation...

[00:02:37] Amy: And do you think that, I mean, it seems obvious, but I'm going to ask the question anyway, is that related to your family being a family of immigrants? 

[00:02:45] Marigold: Yeah. My immigrant. My background is a really big part of my art and a really big part of my identity. Being, my family had immigrated to Canada from the Philippines in 1988.

So I was a young girl, I was 7 when we moved to Canada, or I turned 7 rather. And for me at the time, my main concern as a child was just to integrate as best as I could into Canadian culture and that meant learning how to speak English and learning how to dress like a Canadian kid. understanding this different geography and weather and social landscape that I was not used to.

And being a child, you know, your experience of the world is quite limited still, but it's also a very raw and pure way of really experiencing things as well. And so Yeah, it just it's deeply, it's deeply rooted to that time where I kind of made this, these choices that to sort of adapt and become resilient.

And I didn't even really know it until way after the fact. And as an adult reflecting back onto that time in my life and why. It features so prominently in my artwork. 

[00:04:05] Amy: That was going to be my next question is that how does that, how did those feelings manifest in physical 

[00:04:10] Marigold: form? Yeah. So, reflecting on that time where it was such a pivotal moment where I.

Stopped speaking my mother tongue and adopted English and to this day, I don't speak Tagalog anymore, but my parents speak to me in Tagalog and I understand it fluently, but I just don't speak it and I respond back in English and I think I really think about those moments about being a person that is affected.

By the multiple homes and the multiple senses of self that you can develop when you are a person of diaspora. And so, my work now really deals with this idea of identity and selfhood that is very fragmented, that is very multiple, but that the power in multiplicity is the essence of the work. And, and again, I talk about like the power of choice and the power of multiplicity and gaining strength in those and those notions.

And that's really where the magic lies. 

The power in multiplicity is the essence of the work...

[00:05:06] Amy: You said magic. Can you define magic? Your definition, obviously, we gather perspectives one at a time here. So, yeah, 

[00:05:13] Marigold: for me, magic is a lot of things. It's really not one thing. Magic is potential. Magic is the idea to incite change through choice. And the result of that is also magic in some ways.

Magic is imagination and creativity. And I think magic is the unknown. So it's all those things and more. 

[00:05:37] Amy: And your art deals with sort of like, permanence and impermanence. You're talking, you're speaking about diaspora. So how did you get into tattooing, which is the most permanent, I think, art form?

How did, how did you transition from being a, you know, a painter, sculptor into a 

[00:05:52] Marigold: tattooer? Yeah, I mean, for me, my work... Already at heart of it is it's, it's quite interdisciplinary. So, I will cycle through painting and drawing and sculpture and installation work, some performance work, animation, sound, all sorts of things.

And tattooing was just a natural progression to go there. So I don't ever consider myself a tattoo artist. I just am still a visual artist that also tattoos. So it's just another way for me to be making marks. And for me what I found was that in my studio. Most people will know my work as very big paintings, really large scale.

[00:06:29] Amy: And we'll, we'll post a bunch of visuals on the Instagram and in the show notes for this episode so you can see with your eyes what we're talking about here. Go on. 

[00:06:37] Marigold: Yeah. And so, and that's a very intimate thing that I have with my work itself. It's very private. I'm in the studio and not a lot of people see my process.

And I kind of keep it that way. But tattooing is this other thing where I have a very intimate moment with somebody else and it's a very private, intimate moment between me and a person where we have a... agreement and kind of like a sacred space together where we are sharing a moment and that is specifically, they've asked me to permanently place one of my images onto their body that they then live with for the rest of their lives.

And so this is an honor. It is an honor for me and it's an honor for each other. Oftentimes after tattooing, I say to them. You know, I, I really give a big thanks and I say like this tattoo is going to follow you for the rest of your life and it will it will follow you to every country you visit and it will see every lover you have until the day you die.

And so thank you for. Having me be part of your life, basically. So it's quite, it's quite important to me and it's quite special. And I wanted to also include that in my art practice. 'cause like I said, painting drawing in the studio is a really private time for me. And so it was it just opened up my practice to, to have other individuals in there.

[00:07:54] Amy: And you said you kind of prefer that nobody sees your process, but can you describe it to us or is even the. Even the 


[00:08:01] Marigold: to cry the process of making work in the studio or process. Oh, yeah it's it's I guess it's private only because To me, like my space of a creative agency, which is my studio is just a really special space.

And so it has my energy in there and my energy sometimes is, you know, tired and lazy and procrastinating. And other times it's really hyper focused and I just give, I give the credence to that. So if, if I want to come into my studio and spend three hours mucking about. Then I will, you know, and it's sort of like a warmup, and I don't think people really need to see that

But then other times when I'm in the flow, I'm really in the flow and I don't need to, like, I, I would prefer not to be interrupted so that I just just allow that process to sort of flow out of me. Mm-Hmm, , and then I can go for a long time. Do 

[00:08:55] Amy: you do any performance art? Where that, that process is, 

[00:09:00] Marigold: I Have done some performances that I can think of off the top of my head. One when I was doing my masters at Concordia, I did because I'm also a musician. I did this performance where I drew on my skin. I drew a whole bunch of these eyeballs and these marks, and then I picked up my guitar and I. I sang a song about these ghost children which were versions of myself as a woman immigrant and sort of having myself be fragmented.

And I sang this song and it was a loop, and it looped and looped for 20, 25 minutes. I also did another performance where I made a whole bunch of black fingers out of wax, and they were cast of my fingers, middle fingers, a lot, and thumbs, and they were individual, and I stuck them on the gallery walls, and then I lit them one by one, and then as they were all lit, the wax would drip down the white walls, and the wax was black, because they were coming from these fingers.

And then afterwards, I blew them out and they extinguished them. And then the remnants of those black wax finger candles just drip down the gallery walls for the rest of the exhibition. They've 

[00:10:12] Amy: remained in the gallery in that space. So there were people there who saw how the drips happened, and then there were other people who showed up later and just saw the result.

[00:10:21] Marigold: Yeah, and they could just surmise what had happened. 

[00:10:23] Amy: Mm hmm. Super magical. 

[00:10:25] Marigold: Yeah, that exhibition was one in Calgary at Stride Gallery. And Stride Gallery has almost like two rooms that join up to be one. And so when I had that exhibition, I really wanted to have... Two distinct exhibitions. So two distinct bodies of work, but that had a relationship with each other and had a conversation because clearly it's my work.

So the first side was called Coven ring. Ding! Ding! 

[00:10:51] Amy: We heard the C 

[00:10:51] Marigold: word! Kevin Ring, and Kevin Ring really had to do with the work that I had made that drew parallels between witchcraft and boxing. Boxing like fighting. Yeah, and it's kind of a strange thing because, you know, at first glance you don't really...

Can't really tell what those parallels might be, but at the time of at the time of my work, I was starting to really research a lot more about witchcraft. And I can tell you a little bit about later why, when we talk about Filipino folklore, but, but to go back, I started just Just researching witchcraft in general.

Yeah, there's actually, you know, the more that we talk, Amy, there's a lot more that I can, I can really tell you about and share, but yes, so I was researching witchcraft, but at the exact same time I had taken up boxing as a recreational sport for myself. Just completely unrelated. But as I was getting very serious about boxing, I was also starting to research that because naturally that's what you do when you're an artist. And I found this essay called On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates. Oh, she's 

[00:11:56] Amy: like a feminist author. For those of you who haven't heard of her, we love her around these parts. Yeah. Joyce Carol Oates. Look her up, y'all.

[00:12:02] Marigold: And the thing that people don't know about Joyce Carol Oates was that she's actually a boxing aficionado because her father used to take her to these boxing matches when she was a kid. So she's very well versed in, in boxing. And she wrote this really amazing essay about Boxing called on boxing and what I found really important in that essay was how she was talking about in the ring, which is a magic circle, which is a circle that has these boundaries between spectator and the sport how there is a ritualistic tendencies.

There's an agreement between who's watching and who's in the ring. But she also just talks about how your opponent is your mirror other and how when you're essentially point, you're fighting this other version of yourself. And I've, I found that quite important, especially because my work really deals with multiplicity 

[00:12:52] Amy: in a consensual way.

When you're in that boxing ring, it's not like you're just going and beating on someone like there's consent is practiced 

[00:12:59] Marigold: in the ring. Yeah, it's an agreement, you know, it's an agreement between you and your opponent and then your opponent is your mirror self. So, whatever moves you make and whatever gains you make.

and losses. It's really this dialogue between you and yourself in some way. So I found that really important and really applicable to my work. And also boxing is really interesting and weird. There's like, you know, there's a lot of regalia that you wear, you know, you, you come into the ring with these robes and 

[00:13:26] Amy: the trumpet, his soundtrack of victory behind 

[00:13:29] Marigold: you.

Yeah. And so a lot of there's a lot of, you know, there's these hanging. Heavy bags that become surrogates for the body that you punch, and they're, they swing, and you know, I, and they're, they're hung from the ceiling, and you know, it's kind of macabre, and it reminds us of, you know, persecution, and sort of like the dark history of witchcraft, but there is, there was a lot of things that I was just quite interested in, you know, this idea of even like footwork, you know, and dancing.

[00:13:59] Amy: I'm going to interrupt for two seconds to ask if you remember Milford Kemp, who was the Jimi Hendrix of Montreal. Do you remember that guy? He would be up on the mountain on Sundays with like a little, and he dressed like Jimi Hendrix, like Big hat with a feather and he I started talking to him because I love a weirdo like I'm like you what's your story?

Yeah, exactly. I feel comfortable with you most people would have just been terrified of him because he was quite a Character, you know, but I started I gave him a tip You know, he was busking. And he said, oh, here's my DVD. I said, great! And he was also, he was a dancer and a boxer. And I thought of him because of what you just said.

Like, he would map out, like, almost like a choreography in the ring. And then he would draw it. And so he made these, like, pieces of visual art that looked like, I don't know, fractal, geometric. But it was like a dance that he had drawn inside the ring. So yeah, boxing and witchcraft, like... We never would have thought of it, but here we are.

[00:15:01] Marigold: Exactly. You never would have thought it and I didn't either. And it was really like that essay that I, that I read that really introduced, and also I was in the ring and I was punching and sweating and considering my footwork and really like. Conscious of my body in a different way, you know, so that that body of work yielded a lot of imagery of individuals or figures that were covered in robes and those robes were painted with various different patterns and magic our sunsets and.

White witch moths, all sorts of things that really like kind of integrated both together and I made this really big heavy bag that was painted very realistically and then surrounded by gold as though it was some sort of like sacred object, which to you it was? Which it really was. Yeah. And it's a body, you know, it's a surrogate of a body.

And so, going back to this show at Stride, Coven Ring was on the one side, and on the other side was this other show that I had called Invisible Mother. And Invisible Mother also really deals a lot with witchcraft. And Really, the essence of that show is tapping into this idea of the mother figure and how the mother figure becomes foundations for a lot of thought and and a lot of lessons in life, but that through our learning, a lot of women have been persecuted and through their loss have we really learned and gained.

So it was a lot of honoring of that. And that's where those, Those which are those, well, they were which fingers and those black candle fingers really was a sort of shrine. That were lit in honor of, you know, fallen women over time. And you can really take that as you will for, you know, just. You know, women's efforts along history in general, um, but specifically in my work in that particular body of work, it was really informed by many things.

One of the things was this story of the hand of glory. Do you know the hand of glory? I don't, 

[00:17:02] Amy: so, and I'm going to assume that some of our listeners don't either. So you're going to tell 

[00:17:06] Marigold: us. And I, and I had just like discovered the hand of glory while I was doing, research on the Mandrake plant, and so I'm 

[00:17:14] Amy: sorry.

Why? Why are you researching that? Because you're an artist and you research random. 

[00:17:18] Marigold: Yeah, I just research random things and the Mandrake plant just to just to tap into what you're saying there was interesting to me because it was, it is a plant that The bottom half of it, which would be underground in the ground, the root systems look like a body.

They look like a female body for the most part. And then the upper part that's above ground or like the leaves. And the mandrake plant has been used for various things over time. But I was interested in that because there's a particular character in Filipino folklore, which we will get to. And so that really reminded me of the mandrake plant.

But back to the hand of glory, there was. In my research, I discovered this, this thing, this object called the hand of glory and what it was Apparently, there is only one that exists in the world, and it's preserved in some sort of museum in Britain somewhere, if I can remember this 

[00:18:11] Amy: correctly. Usually, that's where all of the artifacts end up in our 

[00:18:16] Marigold: western museums.

Exactly, and apparently this hand is supposed to be the severed hand of a hanged man, who was a criminal, because that's why they had hanged him, supposedly, allegedly. And, let's see if I get this right, this severed hand then gets pickled in the rendered fat of that man. And then what happens is this hand becomes a magical object where you can light the fingers and the fingers then, so then the, another criminal supposedly can then hold this hand.

If you get a hold of it, a hold of this hand and you can. Light the fingers and I think once you do, you can place a hex on people who are asleep in a house and apparently if you like light the fingers and one of them doesn't light, it sort of indicates that somebody else is still awake in the house and the only way to extinguish this hand is through dousing it with milk.

And particularly breast milk. So, so just really interesting, fascinating things. And then through my research I found this thing that said, well, the very first hand of glory was was supposedly from the separate hand of one of the first, which is that was persecuted, you know? So I thought like, you know, that that was just incredibly fascinating to think that of course, like this very powerful object tool could.

Summon up all this magic, and of course it's going to come from a woman. Mm hmm, mm hmm. And so then that really started a big bunch of work of dealing with wax, and fats, and dripping, and transition, and magic, and again, fragmentations. We're talking about dismemberment and severing. But yeah, that work was really quite interesting.

And so the other thing too, to get back to this whole Mandrake business, was that the Hand of Glory was Mandagore, which something is like Mandagore, and it was like a bastardization of like Mandagore Mandrake. There was something, there was some sort of relationship there. I, I can't really remember off the top of my head, every single detail.

I am just an artist that does some research here and there. Yeah. 

[00:20:29] Amy: And again, here at Missing Witches, we are not looking for anybody to be the expert on anything other than their own perspective. Yeah. So we're gathering perspectives one at a time. So how heavily ritualized is your process? It sounds like, I mean, a lot goes into every piece.

[00:20:46] Marigold: I Would say that I do have my own various rituals for my creative process. Everything from how I start my day and putting on my specific uniform, which is usually like a boiler suit that's covered in. paint and splotches and lots of artistic things. 

[00:21:06] Amy: And it's sort of, bits and splotches from all of your works leading up to 

[00:21:09] Marigold: that point.

Exactly. And right now I'm also wearing a boiler suit, but, if you don't 

[00:21:13] Amy: know what a boiler suit is, it's like coveralls. It's like a garage coveralls or like a military, like a full one piece. 

[00:21:18] Marigold: Exactly. And I have very, I have many because I just like to collect because I'm an artist. And... 

[00:21:24] Amy: aussi. 

[00:21:26] Marigold: Oui, exact.

So, but this one is my presentable one. So I'm wearing this for you, Amy. But the one in my studio is very, it's covered and it's crusty and I love it. And it's comfortable and yeah. And you know, that kind of thing factors into my ritualistic parts of making my work. All the way down to also listening to very specific things.

I listened to a lot of music, a lot of podcasts, a lot of audio books while I'm, while I'm making. But whenever I'm painting or drawing and I have to make decisions, then I turn all the music off and I have to be, it has to be very quiet and I have to make, yeah, I have to make like really important decisions without any kind of distraction or yeah, that, that sort of thing.

Also, you know, constant snacking. I'm always constantly snacking on chips.

And you know, just little snacks because I just love snacks. And you can also just see this tattoo across my fingers there, uh, across my knuckles. It says, or my, what would you call these? Yeah, middle knuckles it says Mirinda, which is a Tagalog word for which is my mother tongue and it says snack.

And people see this and they go, Oh, is that your grandmother's name? And sometimes I just go, yeah, cause I don't really want to say it. It basically means snack or two snacks. 

[00:22:52] Amy: I was actually a little bit distracted earlier by this piece. I'm pointing at another hand tattoo that Marigold has. It looks kind of like, a honeycomb but like a little more scientific and a little more representational.

Do you want to describe 

[00:23:06] Marigold: it? Yeah, this is actually A hand poked tattoo that I received from Julie on Instagram. She goes by the people's ink and she calls herself a brouhaha, which is a witch. She's a Philippine X healer. And she specifically tattoos. Filipino tribal tattoos that have been influenced by various different tribes in the Philippines, and she tattoos them on POC bodies.

So I was honored to have her tattoo my hand, my right hand, which is my dominant hand and my working hand and I'd asked her to give me a talisman that honored my ancestors. So we had come up with this image together and the pattern that looks like honeycomb is actually snakeskin. 

[00:23:52] Amy: Do we see lots of repeating patterns in 

[00:23:54] Marigold: nature?

Definitely. So snakeskin, there's centipede legs. These are ferns that are five pointed to represent like the family members that I have. And this really back part here is sort of the back end of a boat. It's a boat that you travel into the afterlife. Mm. And then there's a little star here, which is the star from my mother's providence.

Big respect to her is she really comes up with a lot of the designs together with, with her clients. And it's a really beautiful ritual when you go and get a tattoo from her. So it's a, it's a ceremony from beginning to end. Where you say prayers, and you bring offerings to your ancestors, and then she does the poking technique, and then you sort of do sort of a thank you and gratitude afterwards.

And, yeah, it's a really beautiful thing, and I highly recommend everyone looking her up, cause she's... Can you say the name again? Yeah, so her Instagram name is... Or her Instagram handle is The People's Ink. The 

[00:24:53] Amy: People's Ink. And we'll link you to that in the show notes for sure. 

[00:24:57] Marigold: So, being Filipino is a really big part of my work.

And all of the folklore and all of the magic and all of the supernatural that I'm very much passionate about. Interested in is all deeply rooted in my heritage. And so, there is when, when I started doing my master's degree in Montreal, I was already starting to begin thinking about this idea of fragmentation and multiplicity through my my personal experiences being an immigrant and our, our immigration as my, you know, departure point for my work.

And at that time, I was thinking about the things that you take with you and the things that you leave behind when you're moving around. And that could be as big as moving country to country, but it can be city to city or even neighborhood to neighborhood or even homes to home or even room to room and how you sort of leave traces of you behind.

So I was really interested in this idea of like attachment, detachment and and the leaving and the traces. And at this, at the time, I thought, well, you know, as a child, what do I bring with me? Because I don't really have much to bring with me. I'm really young and my experience of life is so small. But I do recall the stories and the narratives that were told to me.

So I brought those with me. Those were the things that I brought to Canada. And I have this aunt who I love very much. And her name is Rosalyn. And she would be the one to tell me all of the folklore. And As a kid, I really wasn't interested in, you know, fairy tales and sort of pleasantries. I was really drawn to, like, the more grotesque and dark parts of the folklore.

And specifically, there was this one character called an Aswang. An Aswang. An Aswang. It's spelled in various ways. It can be A S U A N G or A S W A N G. And the story of the Aswang as a character can really differ from region to region or from who's telling the story. And so as we know about folklore, that's usually how they mutate and change and evolve over time, which is a beautiful thing about oral traditions.

So with the Aswang, the way that I understood it, A specific one is called a manananggal. That's a little bit harder to spell, but a manananggal translates to to separate or to remove. But so this specific one is usually a woman usually with long black hair can be somebody in your neighborhood, can be somebody that is a neighbor looks like a regular human in the day, but at night has the ability to self sever.

So their, their ability to divide at their waist and they have to discard their lower half and hide it somewhere in the night while their upper half flies away and hunts and does some pretty gruesome things like eating viscera and eating babies and these very. scary, gross, macabre things. And then at the end of the night, the upper half has to rejoin their lower half, otherwise they die fragmented.

So, this idea of attachment detachment was a really important thing for this character's survival. I usually just say she's a hybrid between a witch and a vampire in that she's sort of this viscera sucker. And she, she eats. the viscera. But she's also a witch because she sort of operates on the outskirts.

And so immediately that character started to become and inform everything about my artwork going forward. So even if you look at my works now, and if you look at the works at Covenring or anything that I that I make or draw. The Aswang character is embodied in all of them. So, you might see characters that have multiple limbs that might be severed, disjointed.

You might see a figure that's covered in, like, a shroud. All of those versions are all my reconfigured versions of what an Aswang is to talk about. This idea of multiplicity and, and strength and empowerment through personal experience. And so another thing too is if you see the WANs, the kind of most newest iteration of it would be the ones that are shrouded and they have what look like some sort of garment that kind of covers them, that looks like it's blotchy with ink.

And basically what that. Quote garment is is really a skin. It's not really a fabric and they're not really hiding behind a fabric They're actually revealing themselves through the fabric and the fabric is a skin that's covered in blotches that are meant to represent ink and blood and dirt and rot and the cosmos and all of those things really speak about experience and the way that you apply ink It is a very, it's very hard to control ink, but you can to an extent, but then you also have to give in to its fluidity.

And so every time I make those drawings or paintings or tattoos they all are very different and those Aswangs show their experience through their skin. So it's not so much about concealing. It's really about revealing through choice. So 

[00:29:59] Amy: you've sort of taken this. Iconography of like a monster ish creature and, and used it as a symbol of empowerment.

Yeah. And I think that is like witchcraft at its core. 

[00:30:14] Marigold: And I'll tell you another thing too. So, there's this really amazing paper that was written by Herminia Quimpo Manez and it's about I think it's called the Aswang Mythology and the Politics of Gender. Mmm. Mmm. I might actually have messed that title up, but it's something like that.

Anyway, so it's Herminia Kimpomenes. And in this essay, she argues that the Aswang actually comes After colonizations, the Philippines was colonized for 300 years by the Spanish. And so before they were colonized, they were a people that were quite egalitarian and they had healers and shamans called Babaylan.

[00:30:55] Amy: Yes, and for those of you who are listening right now, tune in next Sunday for our episode about Urduja, a very famous and wonderful Law of Land. 

[00:31:03] Marigold: Amazing. So, so bye bye then. And so what they say actually in what she argues in this, in this paper is that during the colonization and during the missionizing of the people they had to take.

Pre existing belief systems and invert them in order to catholicize and so these shamans who were in charge of midwifery and healing and spiritual practices that were all life giving were then demonized and villainized to become life taking and so she argues in her paper that even this idea of severing from your lower half means that you're severing away from your reproductive organs and you're starting to represent sort of the The opposite side of life giving and And this 

[00:31:49] Amy: colonial fragmentation of this 

[00:31:51] Marigold: Yeah, and so she really becomes this malicious, malevolent creature.

And we saw 

[00:31:57] Amy: this with Medusa too, right? 

[00:31:59] Marigold: Yes, with Medusa. 

[00:31:59] Amy: It was like a for those of you who don't know the backstory behind the head of snakes, Medusa was a rape victim. Yeah, 

[00:32:06] Marigold: she was a... She was a victim of abuse. And, yeah, Medusa is a really powerful figure. And I actually do a lot of tattoos of Medusa heads because she's quite important.

[00:32:16] Amy: And, and I mean, a lot of us can relate to this, like, Oh, you're an angry, insert whatever you are here, an angry woman, an angry this, an angry that. And completely discounting the steps that angered us. Yeah, exactly. There's 

[00:32:28] Marigold: a process of that anger. And that anger is an important thing. It's an important protest.

[00:32:33] Amy: How does witchcraft manifest in, like, your regular day life? Yeah, 

[00:32:37] Marigold: I guess, you know, it's really interesting because I don't, I haven't really like looked at it through that, that lens where I go, well, what are the things I do? But you know, talking to you more and more, I do have a lot of rituals that I, I do that are quite witchy.

And I think it's important to think about witchcraft as something that's very open ended, you know, and I think that's, what's important. And if there's anything that I want to convey is that maybe my witchcraft is the fact that I am very open. I think that, you know, to be open and to allow a porousness to happen between you and your experiences, the people you meet, the way that you see a situation, the way you start your day, I think that's really important, and I think that's maybe the best way to describe what my witchcraft is.

But that said, I also do some very specific things every day that I don't know if you can necessarily call this witchcraft, but I just have those, everybody has their rituals or morning rituals, their specific way they take their coffee, their specific way I have to have my red rose first thing in the morning, 

[00:33:47] Amy: you're talking about the tea, not the flower.


[00:33:49] Marigold: yes. 

[00:33:52] Amy: Anyone say has to come into the room with a single red rose every morning. No, we're talking about a cup of tea. Don't get so bougie. Yeah, 

[00:33:58] Marigold: just like cup of tea. And it's the most un bougie. I do love my red rose and I do love a single egg in the morning. It's this thing where, you know, if anything, when we talk about bodies, it's the thing that I really feel like as soon as I ingest it, I feel awake and I feel conscious of my body.

ofTentimes when I do wake up in the morning and before I go to bed, I do just say a thanks to the universe. I do that. Because I have a lot of things to be grateful for and I definitely. I'm aware of my privilege and that's something that I carry with me and I have gratitude for to make sure that I'm conscious and always conscious of what it is that the gifts that I have and also yeah, my place and how to share it.


[00:34:48] Amy: I think gratitude is definitely one of the witchiest things out there. Just like, because of all the things that we take for granted. Like that breath that I just took, that air was just sitting there ready and waiting. But we don't thank the air. Witches do. Yeah, 

[00:35:03] Marigold: it's true. You're absolutely right.

Yeah. Thank you, Amy. 

[00:35:07] Amy: Thank you, air. You know, thank 

[00:35:10] Marigold: you, air. Thank you, air. Yeah. I definitely thank my body a lot for getting me to and from. That is something I do. And also when I was boxing I don't competitively box anymore, but there was a time that I did and that was, it was a really time consuming moment in my life and it was the kind of thing where I couldn't really have anything else outside of it because it occupied so much of my brain space and so much of my body.

And you know, you had to be very conscious of what you ate and how you exercised and how you spent your free time. And it really didn't leave a ton of space for other things. And so I really gave that my all. And I, it answered a lot of questions that I had at the time, but those questions are answered now and I don't really need to go there.

Plus I really am so protective of my head now more than ever. Like your physical, my physical head. Cause you know, when I was boxing, it was. It was, it was very violent to my head and, you know, to my body and, but, but the head and we think about brain trauma a lot these days and that's something that I'm just so grateful that I didn't really do a lot of damage, but anyway, it was a really powerful moment in my life.

I don't think I can recreate it and I'm so happy to leave it where, where it is and what it's done for me. So when I think back, I have a lot of gratitude for the strength that I gained 

[00:36:26] Amy: during that time. And that's another great thing about being a witch is that you accept that change is good. That the moon has phases and so do we.

You're not like, well, I'm a professional, you know, competitive boxer and that's what I am now. And I'm going to like die on this hill. Like, you're allowed to stop asking the question when you get the answer. You're allowed to, what's that quote? You're under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.


[00:36:51] Marigold: It's again, remember like my magic and my witchcraft is the power of choice. So you can choose and do whatever you want. 

[00:37:00] Amy: Let's get into that more because a lot of your early life you had no choice. So do you think that your focus on this idea of choice is a reaction to that or? 

[00:37:11] Marigold: I mean, that's a really good question.

I don't really think that my inability to choose because I was a child really affected me. If anything, I really honored that time because I honor the fact that my parents made an incredible choice, which was to leave the Philippines and to come to Canada for a life for their kids. So there's three of us.

I have an older brother and a younger sister, the Libra middle child. I love my siblings very much. And so, yeah. Yeah, if anything, I really think back to those moments and think about how powerful that was for them to leave their families behind and come to a country that they didn't know anybody in and weren't strong in the language and, you know, it's a completely different landscape, social landscape.

Geographical landscape and to make a life for themselves. And so, if anything, I just, I'm able to do and think and feel the way that I can because of them. So it's not even really as much of a rebellion, even though sometimes I do think a lot that there is a lot of Push back. You know, as a kid, I went to church a lot.

Like I went to my, my, I was raised Christian and Roman Catholic. So, obviously I don't go to church anymore and I haven't. And I feel like that was a very conscious choice. And that was like a choice to really disavow that and be a free thinker. And I think that's really, again The power is 

[00:38:37] Amy: being a free thinker.

Would you say that it's not Catholicism that you rejected so much as dogma in general? 

[00:38:42] Marigold: Yeah. Yeah. Just the dogma. But you know, I think like This is really funny because it's not exactly the same thing, but sort of, but I think like even like growing up, I was just really skeptical of male figures, to be perfectly honest, I really was like I hated and to this day still do Santa Claus.

Oh my goodness. 

[00:39:06] Amy: Give us your perspective on Santa Claus. Oh my 

[00:39:08] Marigold: gosh, who is this old white guy who's supposed to tell us if we were good or bad and then with what? Hold gifts. How dare you judge me. How dare you judge me? , I remember my mom, she would, you know, put these Christmas gifts out and then she would sign like to Goldie Love Santa.

And I would, I would glare at her. 'cause I would be like, do you think that I'm so dumbest to think that, that there's a true Santa Like, mom, this is your writing. Come on. Mm-Hmm, . I was like. nine But I tread lightly on that because I don't want to ruin that for other people who have kids 

[00:39:43] Amy: You know one of my one of my girlfriends has a son who's like 10 now and so he you know, and she's like a very honest and very like Atheist person not that those two things necessarily always go together.

But for her she's like very direct Very atheistic, but she's like, I'm not going to tell my kid this so he can go to school and like ruin Christmas for 

[00:40:04] Marigold: everyone else. 

[00:40:05] Amy: Exactly. I find Santa Claus very problematic too. Some of our listeners probably know this already, but the idea of a kid thinking that they weren't good enough.

Okay. Your mom is like struggling at her minimum wage job and she can't figure out how to get a Christmas present for you. And you're thinking as a little child, well, I was bad, so Santa didn't bring me anything this year. Like, it's so problematic on so many levels. But this is like your, your white male, old man, authority, Christmas of the Christmas authority figure.

So that was like your first taste of like. Yeah, this patriarchy business is not working for me. Yeah. And 

[00:40:42] Marigold: I also just didn't appreciate this, you know, hoopla, the mall where you'd have to line up and sit on his lap. Come on. Yeah. Come on. Like, I don't need to say any more. 

[00:40:54] Amy: Yeah, patriarchy has this weird way of normalizing really like Really weird

[00:41:03] Marigold: But also, I hope that for those people who I'm related to, sorry. Cause they got kids, they got kids and I don't want that. I don't want it ruined for them. Yeah. 

[00:41:14] Amy: But maybe like as a society. Society we could like sort of change that thing. I 

[00:41:19] Marigold: mean, that's what I would like I mean for me to have a little voice and that is as much as I can do, you 

[00:41:24] Amy: know So let's just say I mean, we're a long way away from Christmas right now.

So you'll have plenty of time to prepare So maybe start laying this groundwork if you have young children like maybe it's not healthy for like a Being to be watching you and judging you and then if we can extend that into our dogmatic notion of God Then we can get some world changing going So you are so multimedia Can you get into like I know you said you're a musician, but you've also done like sound Art.

Basically, you're like dealing with all of the senses. Yeah. So, get into that, please. 

[00:42:04] Marigold: I feel like that just again has to do with my idea of being open. I, I think just like as an artist, I have my favorites of how to make my, my images and how to make sensations. But, I don't really want to rely on just one.

Right. And so that's why I've got the tattooing for me, that really taps into this idea of intimacy with another person. And it's very small, a tattoo, even though the tattoos I give are, you know, Big because they take up space on a body to me that they're quite small images still because 

[00:42:37] Amy: you were talking before.

Usually you're quite large scale. So a human body doesn't even have enough skin space for you to do that kind of 

[00:42:43] Marigold: large scale. Yeah, exactly. And it's also really nice because they're. I can finish them in one sitting and, you know, a few hours or maybe even a couple sittings, but regardless, they're not like these paintings that take weeks and weeks and weeks to complete.

So that for me is, is pleasurable and there's joy in that in, in the various ways of making work, I suppose. Working with sound. Is something that's been interesting to me because I, you know, learned how to play guitar when I was younger and singing is something that's part of my family. My dad's a really good singer and I just really like singing and having a voice.

Also, I'm Filipino, so we karaoke all the time, just like part of it. But yeah, so kind of incorporating music, sound and that sort of texture into my work was. And recently I have an exhibition opening where I collaborated with a musician, Mahmood Hussain. And I, I recorded a poem that I wrote about this burning woman that was made out of gold.

And how her ashes kind of go into the air and they become, and they settle and they become the dust that we take. We take into as charcoal and we make markings on our skin and then I say that in Tagalog Which is my mother tongue that I don't speak fluently, but then I record myself singing sort of repeating this poem and then Mahmood went and he sort of digitized it, and he's an electronic musician, so he made a composition and a soundscape.

And that is going to be like the soundtrack to this film that I recorded of an actual sculpture of a gold woman that I made. That is made out of gold and plaster, and she's laying on a pyre, basically, of stones, and then I set her on fire. And she... She's on fire, and she smokes, and then parts of her body disintegrate one at a time, so her leg falls off, and then her head rolls down, and then her other, and then what's left is this golden hand on top of the pyre, and it's, it's really beautiful imagery that I could never have planned.

What was 

[00:44:56] Amy: the the hand that we were talking about before? The hand of glory. The hand of glory. Yeah. The sacred hand? No, that's not it. So you're left with this. Alternate 

[00:45:04] Marigold: Hand of Glory. Yeah, yeah, in some ways it's really quite fascinating. I mean, hands have been a really big part of my visual imagery.

So if you kind of go back and you look at all of my work, a lot of it just, it celebrates the hand in so many ways. So there's lots of severed hands, a lot of blackened hands, and a lot of hands that are ornate and decorated. And yeah, so hands are quite important to me. So I could not have planned that, and that was an unintentional thing that happened.

It just was the universe. Oh, 

[00:45:34] Amy: don't you just feel like that's like a gift from the gods when you're just like experimenting and then the experiment is like so much more successful than you could ever. And that, again, that feels to me when I'm in that process of creating, when it really pays off like that.

It's, it's like spell work. Yeah. Producing fruit, you know. Yeah. That's what it feels like to me. Yeah. 

[00:45:54] Marigold: And in that situation where, you know, we set this woman on fire, there's just no way to ever know how that's going to go. You know, you're working with flame and smoke and wind. Yeah. Uncontrollable. And so how do you know how that's going to burn off?

You don't. 

[00:46:08] Amy: And that's the most exciting part. 

[00:46:10] Marigold: Yeah. Yeah, so hopefully you'll get to see this show, Amy. You're 

[00:46:14] Amy: doing a show here in Montreal, which is opening... 

[00:46:17] Marigold: It opens March 23rd, and it runs until April the 20th. 

[00:46:21] Amy: Okay, so you guys will hear this and have plenty of time. Where is it? It's at the... Our Montreal listeners 

[00:46:26] Marigold: actually.

Yeah, it's at the MAE, and that's the Montreal Arts Intercultural Museum. And what 

[00:46:32] Amy: neighborhood 

[00:46:32] Marigold: is that in? It's on Jean Mance, so I feel like it might be considered Plateau still. Or maybe it's on its way to being downtown. The 

[00:46:41] Amy: MAI on the Plateau, please go and check out this exhibition. And can you tell some of our listeners who are like, maybe I'll go down to this, what can they expect to find?

[00:46:48] Marigold: So, that exhibition is called Malaguinto, which means golden. And that exhibition features all of my new ceramic works that I've never had. Ceramics! Yeah, ceramics! So it's a lot of like sculpture, ceramics and every single one has been drawn on by me. And then also there's 22 karat gold on each one.

So it's sort of this thing where I'm, I'm tapping into this idea of gold and alchemy and also pre colonial Philippines had a lot of gold in it as well. So a little bit, a little nod to my culture. 

[00:47:22] Amy: And that was part of the reason it was such an important place to overtake was to get all that sweet, sweet gold.

[00:47:29] Marigold: Yeah. And I just, I feel like the history of the Philippines is something that I am. I'm sort of mining, if I can say every day, and there's just so much to learn. And also just like growing up in Canada, you know, you don't really, you don't hear about it every day. Obviously I don't. My parents didn't really sit me down and say, here's some history books now read about like where you come from.

So it's a kind of thing where, and I think everybody does this, they go back and they They unravel their histories a little at a time, and that's really what my work is about, and me as well, is that, you know, taking apart things and unpacking things slowly and processing them in between. And then 

[00:48:11] Amy: putting them back together 

[00:48:12] Marigold: in your own...

Yeah, weaving it together differently and creating my own mythology. And then you've 

[00:48:16] Amy: got another show... 

[00:48:18] Marigold: Yeah, and Edmonton at the Art Gallery, Alberta. There's an exhibition there called Surface Tether, and it's featuring a lot of my big paintings as well as some photography of tattooing that I've done, and there's 

[00:48:29] Amy: some landscape work 

[00:48:30] Marigold: in there, too.

Yeah, it's actually so surface other really deals with body as a landscape and landscape as bodies, 

[00:48:37] Amy: which makes perfect sense in tattooing that that relationship. 

[00:48:39] Marigold: Exactly. Yeah. So I have in that exhibitions and very big paintings with a swan sort of decomposing in the land. I have ink drawings of the swan shrouded figures.

There's a lot of just very still, quiet paintings of landscapes, desert scapes almost. With gradient skies and then photography that was a collaboration with Stacey Watson and it's a it's a session, a tattoo session that I have with my friend Lou Bear, who I tattooed across their chest, one of my desert landscapes.

So it's really like an amalgamation of all of the things I talk about and kind of happened in that one 

[00:49:18] Amy: session. And again, we see this a lot in witchcraft where we take Things that might not necessarily make sense in other people's minds to put together and put them together to manifest new And different things.

New possibilities. New possibilities and all kinds of choice. Yeah. Exactly. So before we completely run out of bandwidth here, help me wrap it up. Like what is the gospel according to Marigold Santos? 

[00:49:41] Marigold: That you are empowered and that you always are. That 

[00:49:43] Amy: you are empowered and that you always are i'm gonna say that one more time No, you are you say it one more time for the people in the back row 

[00:49:51] Marigold: That you are empowered and that you always are.

Thank you so much 

[00:49:55] Amy: And y'all if you're in montreal if you're in edmonton we're gonna post links go and check out marigold's art I mean you heard us talking about it now go experience it. We love you 

[00:50:07]Outro: You aren't being a proper woman, therefore you must be a witch. You must 

[00:50:14] Amy: be a witch. Thanks for listening to the Missing Witches podcast.

Be sure to come back Sunday where we hear the story of another Philippinex marvel, warrior, witch, Babaylan, Urduja. And hit us up at missingwitches at gmail. com or on social media at missingwitches and blessed be.

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