Colorado-based writer, j/j hastain, is a flood of words. An ocean of energies and crossings. In j/j’s newest collection, Priest/ess Trilogy, worlds are entered and examined. Gender is questioned. Body becomes a new alphabet. After digging through these texts, I sent along some questions to j/j and was lucky to receive incredible words back.
AIMEE: With all that is troubling our country these days–doors and walls and STOP signs and HATE crimes, I want to know what keeps you here. What allows you to endure?
j/j: Here is where?
You mean what keeps me on planet? Not taking my own life and not yet having had it taken by another? Or here—on the precipice of vitality? Here—intentionally inhabiting body as it grows me through from Richter (various rough realities in on-planet trajectories) to psychic, material and energetic riches (realties which exceed on-planet rough patches)? Here—as in legs wide open to the oncoming matter? Mouth open to the gale? Hands open to the pelting hail? Here—the tender pride of complex gender between lover and me—between me and inner circle? Here—in the bedchamber where the light is taking over—finally leading to unconditional love songs of merge undeniable? Particles burgeoning to touch other particles in a manner conducive to both on-planet and off-planet versions of heaven?
My sense is it took more to get me here than it takes to keep me here (even if I have experienced it taking quite a lot to keep me here at times in process). Pre-incarnate negotiations can be complex—and I was not positive I was going to return—not because of lack of love for Earth and her inhabitants—but because of other commitments off-planet I was busy completing. Erecting crystal castles (no joke!)—creating heaven off-planet just as Gaia’s glistening age ensures by dimensional communion with God—heaven is possible on-planet.
It came down to this: if I chose to come here I—personally—believe it only makes sense to stay here, creating.
For me, endurance is plainly about will. Quite different than being—which is what “here” is all about. So—I guess I see the two correlating but they are certainly doing different things in/as me.
A: What elicits your words and the directions they take?
j/j: In many ways it’s a kind of matured obedience (not the negative implications of that word)—as refinement in (co) cadence—that drives the language. Drives. But the direction it takes is its own. Just like East and all of its emanations are its own, same with South, West, North, Below, Above and Within. Within is its own directionality. Due to this, Within goes Within.
What elicits the words in the first place? Cross-world alchemies and the reverb (intonation/vibration) that carries information back and forth between figural ‘lovers’ across spans. Words such as these—bridges and bows. Words—conduits, conductors, creases and crimps—artful agendas. Words—‘safe words’ or “no” or give it to me as a thought-form (push me past where I perceive my edge to be while fucking me, baby) between gritty bodies in the bed. Words—carnage of forefather dying into the land and becoming the beets and other root vegetables that forefather’s offspring picks to cook for dinner.
A: Can you talk about the disrobing of your vocabulary?
j/j: I am all about the disrobing that happens in charged scenario when someone is taking these robes off of me. Heat, dizziness. The musk of animals preparing to mate. Therefore—it could happen with most pleasure for me by nakedness of content, of cadence—even of the fact of writing becoming light (life)—by another wanting to see it naked.
Sure—this is the lover—but in this way—any reader can make the page blush like a virgin so happy on her wedding night to be joined, finally, with her Beloved. The naked page a “her”—though not necessarily a traditional (or gen) female nor a femme.
A: In Priest/ess, you wrote, “We can be ethical harvesters of secrets. We can make secrets edible to that most enigmatic child: the third eye.” Can you talk about your practice of spirituality?
j/j: Both secretive and extremely transparent—like all useful tools which assist in processes enhancing soul evolution would need be. When dealing transparently in the languages of secrets what would arise? Tracts and ducts wherein and whereby Divine could_________. To stimulate divinity by divining (designing) a space? What lyrical stimulus would flow? What idea by which wisdom becomes queered? Modern mystic is so—not by their own self-distinction as such—but by the sound of their gesture coming back to them. Like in Shamanism—it is the space-made—then inhabited by Divine—that is a fullness able to be used for positive transactions, transmissions, transmutations in the world (due to it touching another).
I want to provide a place in the world, on planet—where spirit can spurt because I have been rited as a place where spirit can spurt—and spirit spurting—offering another an opportunity to be involved in such elixir, potion, Amrita—the Grail waters filling the lake.
Any act dedicated to Divine—to God/dess or “Ma”—can be her efflorescence, her flowering. Festivity of flow. It’s a love thing—an offspring thing—what comes from me vivifies in a manner similar to from whence it came.
What are my values?
The Beloved, queer aphrodisiac (queer aphrodisiac is my patriotism). Reach (through queerness or through that which is not queer: both result in knowledge having been queered), receive and offer as what make the lemniscate circuit whole. Creatrix gender the genius activator.
A: How do you harvest your history?
j/j: Following guidance from “Ma” to the “T.” Taking great care with what I am being shown must be done for the betterment—for the best foot forward and best face expressing.
Literal answer to this—I once kept all of my old journals and diaries locked in a blue chest. This chest looked like the kind one would find pirate treasure inside. I would visualize it—sinking into the deep and never being found. Covered over with sea dirt and foam—sea detritus—from the urges of the rocking. Kept—truly kept by The Mother. Keeping me a secret. Keeping her promise to me.
When I was guided by Ma to open the blue chest and begin to integrate with an urgency I had never previously felt I did as I was told. I like doing what I am told in this type of regard. It is kinky. What I found within? Overwhelm of psychic spills, love poems, wanderlust widdershins, evening renderings, seedlings of the queer manifesto. I was shocked. Who I am was gathered right there—in a compostable heap below my wide-open legs. How would I integrate this? What could be harvested? By what manner made most sense?
A: How do you feed your present(s)?
j/j: Sense of self. Moving identity. Trans names. Presence in present tense is quite infused for the multi-dimensionalist. To be—though the most basic of human birthrites—is sometimes not the easiest place to be. What brightens it? Mystical gender. Mystical gender the face —the emanation that comes off of sexual chi. How does my sexual chi dress? What are its chosen mantles, negligees?
A: While reading your books, there were times I would just flip to a page and follow its language in the way I did when I read Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. It felt like stones toward a path, guiding me. What was your intention in writing these books?
j/j: Intention has the word tent in it. Refuge. For whom? For whomever comes with open heart into the tent with intent to enable hearth. It is less the “who” and more the “how” of orientation. An ape would do well in here—loving the world it loves. This notion—of “toward a path” is aligned with what I want. Living pages leaning. The full forest of trees—the mouth full of songs—the body full of moans—the being full of promise finding itself in a state of promises fulfilled.
A: In Priest/ess 2, you described your blood as ritualistic. As adornment. As worn. You wrote, “…my blood does not indicate my gender but my animality, blood remaining that which heals various dysphorias (like virginity being taken) rather than causing dysphorias.” Can you explain what you mean by this? In what ways are you animal?
j/j: I am an animal like an animal sweats—like sex has a particular smell to it depending on the way one’s lovers and their hormones mix. She calls the way mine smell, “salted caramel.”
I am an animal like it keeps walking even with a broken or missing leg. I am an animal in the way the consciousness meets with the physical/material dimension to refine/revise/play out pre-incarnate commitments and by that adds consciousness to planet. There is more to put in than to take out. We need not deplete our phenomenon of a planet (Earth) just because we are depleted. There is life-force to be found. Howl at the moon—not a cliché but an animal ritual in which very real moonlight shines back down and into the outstretched mouth.
I am the kind of animal that knows what I need by living closely with Earth rhythms. Fuck when it is time to fuck. Breathe deeply in the afternoon sun as the nap happens—let the body be what it came here to be. Drink water (resource) freely from resource. Draw both intentional and unintentional shapes (both beautiful) as the path. The path followed was always also the path created.
A: I love what you wrote about the pronouns in your body. You wrote, “I constantly do psychic surgery on myself: trim this here, add that here.” Can you speak about the process of this “surgery” and how it has become part of the ceremony of your evolving self?
j/j: It is nip and tuck by my own hand. I go to myself for revision. To what future versions of me do I want to be aligned? What is required of me orientationally in time and space to manifest the highest frequency vision I can see for myself? Who am I?–replaced by I am. I am is not a state in time and space. It is a vibration, self as vista or environment. In this I have every right to dead-head the roses that are depleting essence, weakening the functionality of my stem.
How is it a ceremony? I am intent with it. Intelligent design with an end-result in mind—result of which is vitality increasing—versus aesthetic. Ultimately I want my aesthetic to be inspired by what is going on inside me. Gender musks in the gender folds.
A: Something I ask my students each semester is to draw a STOP sign in their notebooks (the shape) and then fill it with all the words that STOP them from completing their goals, their desires, their dreams. What holds them back. I explain that writing it down offers a release. A way out of it. To move through and past. If I were to ask you to do the same, what might fill your STOP sign (words or images) and can you explain your process of moving forward?
I love what you wrote about indulgence in Priest/ess 3. “…doing so is not simply some pleasurable indulgence. This isn’t eating cake. It’s a mouth-full of putrid water from which it is hard to discern the future from. Within the mouth-full are tadpoles swimming. Are new rules begging? It is challenging to go completely into the scream: rite-like exhausting.” Can you speak on this challenge. The shape and smell of this “scream”? What is gained from this indulgent ritual?
j/j: (I want to start by saying I don’t regularly spend time doing releases that affirm what is holding me back—because affirming I am being held back is not useful for my manifestational agenda— though I do understand the value of cathartic releases of many types). This process, for me, would be more physical. Through somatic abundance being increased by dance in physical plane—it would be more like no thoughts, no words or ideas—simply fiercely shoving my own chi through the vessel of body (physical world) as a way of amplifying consciousness within it—then holding that kind of blowing-into-the-balloon—until I can feel it is on the edge of what it can currently contain—balloon-skin stretched out completely. Red balloon looking almost orange or even see-through. From that point—my toxins kept in the satchel made buoyant by my intention with breath—I let go. It is a mystery what happens next. Sometimes—the balloon slams to the ground and breaks open—toxins leaking down the niches and into the river to be purified by its curves and pounds. And sometimes—that laden balloon actually floats. Such floating state might be how a poem is made.
A: Writing is so solitary, though I (especially while reading your work) imagine your process as a collaboration with Earth. With land, water, soil, the creatures beneath feet. Can you lead us on a walk? What you see/hear/smell and how that fuels your creative process?
j/j: Gesture is collaboration, yes. Not in a void—but very much on planet—in the ardent and marvelous realm of forms—means at any moment I am doing anything—my field is touching another’s and that touch—in and of itself—means there is no aloneness.
It is not one. It is more than one.
Come with me on a walk in my favorite of places or a walk in a place that is not in alignment with my preference fields. Come with me into me—out here on planet. Come.
All manner of creatures exist in the lights and shadows. All manner of creatures exist in the senses. My memoir was recently described to me as a piece of abstract art she got lost in. A painting of abrupt lines stripped of all lines becomes what? Space, potential. I feel I have touched a lot of animate beings in my life. I feel I am barely beginning to touch to the degree I intend to touch.
Phallic candle, incense smoke, purification maneuvers, fig pith, bruised hands, my mother’s tears falling down the bib of her dress.
Today—it was in the way the sun had everything completely quickened—like tips of grass stalks or pine needles extra poignant. How I laid on a cactus whose fruits were leaking beneath my neck while watching the once-in-a-lifetime eclipse take place. Thinking of orgasm as a soul and bodily state of abundance that can in fact be required of the material dimension.