Interview with Zaneta Sykes | 2020 Many Moons Lunar Planner
The best part of the Many Moons publications is getting to collaborate with one-of-a-kind magic makers. For the August Full Moon of the 2020 Many Moons Lunar Planner, Zaneta Sykes gifted us a ritual around sound and place. Zaneta is a queer multi-identities sound artist, creative expression activist/educator, percussionist, witch, healer, and Tarot reader, whose work spans a wide range offerings, from the magical to the non-profit. Zaneta co-directs the arts non-profit inner arts initiative, reads Tarot for creative healing, trains teachers to decolonize music ed, creates soundscapes for spell work, holds ceremonial performances, and offers classes for drumming, sound art, and magical and creative empowerment.
Learn more about Zaneta below:
Hi Zaneta! I was wondering if you could speak about how you came to work with sound and spirituality, and what blooms when the two intersect.
i think it started around age 3 when i began playing drums. my dad was a drummer and we lived close to the park. instead of formal lessons, we would go to the park to practice, sitting at a picnic table with a drum pad and sticks, and playing as we listened to the trees and the birds. that was probably the beginning of my spiritual connection to sound and listening.
i got deeper into sound in college, when i was diagnosed with ptsd after my dad’s passing. i picked up field recording, the practice of recording sounds in nature, and it became a way to understand the power of sound and the impact it has on my internal experiences, especially sound as a trigger. i would record sounds like the wind through the pines, and when i went back home to listen to what i recorded, i would discover hidden parts of myself that didn’t get expressed in daily life, such as grief and loneliness.
in the last few years, i've realized that sound is an energetic cycle that connects us all. this cycle is divided into listening and expressing. listening is the act of receiving and embodying vibrational energy from external sources. when we listen we vibrate as a result of hearing sound, which means we hold that sound in our bodies. expression on the other hand is the sending of energy outward, i.e. singing or speaking. when we approach sound with intention, just like spell work or divination, it becomes more than hearing or art. the sound cycle is a magical practice of connection which help us work with energy for personal and collective healing, and helps us remember our interconnectedness.
For your August Full Moon contribution to the 2020 Many Moons Lunar Planner, you offered us a ritual around sound and place. What is currently the sound of healing to you?
what a great question. lately, the sound of healing is the vulnerable power of a voice unused to hearing itself. it’s that shakiness you hear when a person is singing and they're not sure if what they're doing it ‘right’, but they are putting themselves out there anyway.
when we sing in this way, it’s like jumping into the abyss with no safety net. even if you’re scared, you do it anyway because you know that your right to express yourself supersedes any fear of rejection. as a creature of this great big earth, you have the right to sing the song of your heart.
Do you have any daily spiritual routines? Any consistent practices that you have changed your life? What do those look like?
most mornings i write down my dreams from the night before. i’ve actually launched huge creative projects based off my dreams, and often i will remember a specific name that will yield some kind of synchronicity in my daytime reality.
showering is also kind of a sacred practice for me. before i step into the shower, i call in any energies that i'd like to work with, and my soap is spelled depending on my intentions. once i’m finished, i hold my hands to my heart and i let myself know that no matter what i do, where i go, or what happens today, i love myself unconditionally.
i try not to do too much before i’ve grounded and shielded. i use a grounding meditation that i created especially for healing multiracial identity and immediately afterward, i do some channel work—this could be playing my favorite singing bowl, chimes or bells, and singing whatever my heart needs in that moment. improvising in sound is my go-to way to connect to magic and re-align with spirit.
What is your current favorite Moon phase? Why?
i actually love them all, as they each are essential and necessary. but i recently discovered i was born under a waxing crescent and i’ve been noticing the differences that i feel under its influence. there’s this gentle supportive energy that says “all is possible,” which really centers curiosity, wonder, experimentation, and play. This phase really reminds me of the page of wands, and historically that’s been a hard card for me to connect with. the crescent moon is an opportunity to actively shed the armor of my heart and lean into any stirrings that arise.
What are a couple of things (anything, a record, something you are learning) that you are excited about? Why?
two things: my friend mel hsu just released an album called ‘a prayer for broken glass’ that is an amazing triumph of human heart. her process and art exist in a beautiful space that gives no fucks about the patriarchy or capitalism. i highly recommend you listen and get familiar with mel hsu’s work.
secondly, i’m excited about yule. ever since i’ve moved to brooklyn from los angeles, winters have been rough. but i started celebrating the wheel of the year, which is really just living in harmony with nature's rhythms. so for yule, i’m going to take some quiet time to really connect with the energy of the winter solstice and maybe make some art.