TALKING TALISMANS WITH LAURA LEE JEWELLERY

Purveyor of talismans and mystical amulets for the Now Age, Laura Lee shares her story and the symbolism behind her work with long-time fan Ruby Warrington…

As a rookie journalist working in Central London over a decade ago, I would walk past a little store on my way to work each day. Time permitting (there was always time), I’d stop and drink in the delicate pieces of jewelry that seemed to me to be especially infused with meaning.

The maker’s name was Laura Lee, and when my birthday rolled around that year there was only one thing on my wish list – a simple pearl pendant that was both as captivating and mysterious to me as the Moon. Generous lover that he is, my husband obliged.

This was long before I discovered my Moon was in Cancer, the astrological sign associated with the pearl – but I treasured my new amulet just the same, and it became the first of many talismans I have loved, and sadly lost, over time.

How thrilled was I then, to have the opportunity to collaborate with Laura on this post for The Numinous – in which she shares her journey with the stars and the personal talismans that are the touch points of her creative life.

The Oracle Multi-Coin Necklace £485

Ruby Warrington: Why do you feel like talismans have such an important role to play in modern women’s wardrobes?
Laura Lee: I believe it’s part of the human condition to question our existence on this incredible planet, the answers to which can be so mysterious and overwhelming we often feel the need of some support to make it through. Looking to the stars and other belief systems can help us in this pursuit, and since I reject the concept of most organised religions, astrology and the use of crystals and talismans is something I can relate to instead.

Beyond this, the need to protect ourselves and our loved ones is a primal and fundamental instinct and our “armor” can be worn in the form of amulets and talismans. I feel very exposed without my layers of necklaces, while I feel like I’m also sharing my story by showing them to the world.

Diamond Set Star Drop Earrings £250

RW: What is your story? What makes you, you?
LL: Part of my story is my double Leo personality, but it’s also in my mixed heritage and nomadic early life. My dad is a quarter Australian Aboriginal, quarter Chinese, quarter Japanese and quarter German, and my mum is English-Irish. I was born in London, have also lived in the States and Australia, and have travelled extensively – I am equally at home on many different continents.

RW: And what other personal pieces do you wear?
LL: My grandmother’s emerald and diamond ring and my Aunty Stella’s gold band (which was my other grandmothers wedding ring – my Dad and Stella’s mixed-race aboriginal mother). These pieces bring them closer to me and remind me of their lives and loves and adventures. Another amulet that I don’t wear but have near me always is my mother’s charm-laden bracelet, the piece that was responsible for becoming a jeweler. The charms tell the story of my mother’s journey – beginning in London, it was an adventure that finished up in Sydney, via America, Europe and Asia.

Diamond Luna Ring, $485

RW: What’s been your personal journey with astrology? And what have been the biggest teachings of the practice for you?
LL: I was very interested in astrology, the I-Ching and all things mystical as a teenager, and I had my chart done when I was about 20 and trying to work out what to do with my life. The astrologer I saw told me I would have two boys, which came to pass, and then there was a mysterious Scottish man who I’m still waiting for… 🙂 But she also told me I would always be a maker and work using my hands, which has also been true.

RW: What aspects of your chart do you relate most strongly to?
LL: I’m a double Leo which makes me pretty determined and stubborn – good qualities if you want to stick to something as long as I have with my business. I’m passionate too, which keeps me driven to create.

RW: Do you wear the symbol of your sun, moon, or rising sign? Why?
LL: Leo is ruled by the Sun, and I am very partial to the Egyptian and Mexican tradition of worshipping the sun gods. Visiting ancient Mayan and Egyptian sites made a very deep impression on me creatively.

Soleil Gold Coil Necklace (front shows Sun design), £445

RW: And what’s your relationship to the symbolism of the moon?
LL: I was born in the 1960s and so the quest to put a man on the Moon, and to then actually see men walking on its surface was pretty mind blowing. It’s stuck with me throughout my life – although it was actually the view of Earth from the Moon that probably remains the most wondrous image of my lifetime. So to me, the moon symbolizes adventure, the vastness of our galaxy, and the incredible inspiration of human endeavour.

RW: What does the wheel of fortune symbolize for you? How can we all work with this talisman?
LL: I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of luck, and how whole lives can be determined by the seemingly random nature of when and where you are born, and to whom. And so in my collections, the Wheel of Fortune reflects the capricious nature of fate. Worn as a talisman, it’s a reminder to take advantage of the opportunities we have born into a certain culture, place and time. My mantra is always not to waste time – carpe diem and make the most of your days, because life seems to go so quickly. I always feel blessed that I was born in London and in a time of (relative) safety.

To find out more about Laura’s current collection visit Lauraleejewellery.com 

M.I.A. MATANGI: “BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU THINK”

“We all tweet incessantly the way parrots in the jungle do; we never consider how far the smallest idea can travel and how it can affect the people it reaches.” M.I.A. (a.k.a. Matangi)

Music with a message has always been M.I.A.’s MO. As global consciousness expands, her latest release, Matangi, is like a missive from another realm on the the power of our thoughts. If there has been a theme to 2013, our first year on post-Mayan planet Earth, then isn’t that exactly it? We are what we think.

With this understanding comes an awesome responsibility – because, oh s***, now the ball is in our court. For M.I.A. Matangi is here to remind us all that we better beware of our thoughts, and that we better back that up by speaking (not to mention tweeting) our truth.

Everybody’s favorite rap-tivist explains the story behind it all.

WHO IS MATANGI?
Matangi is a 5000-year-old concept of a Goddess who fought to keep thought and information pure. She sits on a gem-studded throne with a sitar. In Hinduism, the Goddesses have different life roles, and when Matangi is in a tranquil, meditative state, she plays the sitar.  Her instrument symbolises each part of the human experience…the consciousness, the breath, the heart, the body…and she plays to keep the universe and the people in harmony.

WHAT’S THE MESSAGE IN HER MUSIC?
She’s here to remind us that information needs to be spoken from the heart. If it’s not it’s false, and she defends that and fights for that. She fights the pollution of frequencies – which is all to do with words and how they come out, the articulation of inner thought to outward expression – which can happen through music, or any of the 64 ways to express your inner thoughts.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU KNOW ABOUT HER?
She’s the ninth of the ten Goddesses that Shiva’s wife splits into when he’s at work – because when she’s not being Shiva’s wife, she’s got s*** to do! His wife is called Parvati – and Wikipedia says she’s also the Goddess of power, because if Shiva is the god of destruction, you can’t destroy without power. In Hinduism it’s all about couples – and while the men are alright they’re not the main thing, which is really cool.

WHY DOES MATANGI’S STORY RESONATE WITH YOU?
I found about about her because my birth name is Mathangi, and how funny that her mantra is “aim” – which is M.I.A. backwards. But right now you can apply her myth to what’s happening in the world. Matangi also carries a parrot – she’s got her sitar and she has a sword in one hand and a parrot in the other, which represents the nature of humans.

WHAT PART OF HUMAN NATURE?
It’s an intelligent bird because it can repeat words, but it doesn’t have the consciousness to understand what it’s saying – and how funny, today we have a thing called “Twitter” – where we tweet, and then we re-tweet! And we’re judged on how many re-tweets we get. Not by the one intelligent thing we said that no-body re-tweeted, but because we said something stupid like; “I’m having a cheeseburger” and 1000 people re-tweeted it. Hinduism works in symbols, and the parrot means nothing in itself. It’s there to remind us to be conscious of what we say.

Matangi by M.I.A. is out now.
@MIAuniverse

BODY GLYPH: A CEREMONY FOR MOTHER NATURE

“Nature sustains us, and is a living force to be remembered and to be honored. She clothes us in sunlight and shadows, leaves and sand, flowers and geometry. This is the beauty of life off the runway and beyond seasonal trends.”

Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg 

When I first saw Oliver Halsman Rosenberg at a party on the roof of the Standard Hotel this summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before we’d be featuring him on the site. The NYC-born artist and global nomad wore bones around his neck and silver paint on his face, and is the living embodiment of the consciousness-expanding message of his work, “body glyphs” which use the human form as a canvas for messages divined from the world of the unseen.

Described as; “vibrational mantras manifested on skin,” Oliver’s latest project, Ceremony, is a collaboration with the photographer Polina Sirosh. Begun in Tulum, Mexico, on the cusp of the Mayan calendar change in the winter of 2012, the project continued over the summer of 2013 in Berlin.

Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg
Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg

HOW DID THE CONVERSATION ABOUT THIS COLLABORATION START?
I was in Tulum as part of a Design Hotels’ “Pop Up Ashram” project at Papaya Playa, where Polina was living with her husband Claus and two kids (in an amazing home in the jungle right on the beach). She saw me doing my body glyphs at an event there, and proposed we do a shoot. At first it was for fun, but we got such magical results that I moved into her guest hut and we continued to work together for a few months; shooting on the beaches, in the jungle, on ruins, and in cenotes.

WHERE DID YOU SHOOT AND WHY? 
Polina lives in Berlin part of the year, and she invited me to continue working on the project with her there. We used her house as a base and a studio, and then we would drive out into the amazing forests and fields that surround the city. We both have an attraction to the purity of nature, and for this series we wanted to explore and be inspired by the landscape.

Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg
Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg

HOW LONG DOES EACH PAINTING TAKE, AND WERE THESE ALL PRODUCED ON SITE?
Each painting takes three-four hours. Because I never know how Polina will ask the models to pose, I need to cover practically every square inch. I used her rooftop as the studio. It had an amazing view of the city, and created quite a meditative space under the expanse of the Berlin sky.

YOU HAVE DESCRIBED TO ME BEFORE HOW THE PAINTING PROCESS IS ALMOST LIKE ‘CHANNELING’ AN ALIEN LANGUAGE – WHAT’S THE MESSAGE WITH THIS PROJECT?
The calligraphy I do on the body is a language, it’s poetry, it’s math, it’s energy, and it’s meditation all at once. It’s always unique and un-premeditated. Often I just sit with the model, and based on her vibration different patterns emerge on her skin. One model I started to paint with King Tut colors and patterns unconsciously, and it turned out she was part Egyptian. For me it’s just a precious gift I have that I am trying to take care of, and explore in creative ways with creative people. I think with this project, Polina and I both wanted to communicate to the world is that Mother Nature is precious, perhaps the most precious and magical resource we have. And that the body the temple where we worship her. So this project is a celebration of all things natural.

Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg
Photo © Polina Sirosh/Oliver Halsman Rosenberg

WHERE WOULD YOU LOVE TO SEE A WOMAN WEAR ONE OF YOUR ‘PIECES’?
Polina often talks about a fantasy she has about being able to wake up in the future, and instead of wearing clothes, just step inside some machine that prints a fresh pattern of mine on her every morning. As far as seeing women wearing my pieces, I am really curious to see what the designers ThreeAsfour come up with for their next season’s line, which will be based on some textile patterns I created before I went to Berlin in Aug. But I guess the ultimate would be to see my future beloved wearing an otherworldly bridal dress at an altar out somewhere in nature.

Catch Oliver’s body glyphs in person as part of NYC fashion group threeASFOUR‘s PERFORMA 13 event on Nov 10th at The Jewish Museum (RSVP only). The glyphs also feature in the threeASFOUR Fall 2014 collection, premiering Feb 2014

BECOMING MY OWN ASTROLOGER: ASTRO TWINS RETREAT


I’ve always thought astrology was the coolest thing. The idea that my soul chose to be born at a particular time, so that in this life I would embody certain personality traits to help me on my karmic journey. And as a believer in what’s meant-to-be, isn’t the circumstance of your birth the ultimate?
Continue reading “BECOMING MY OWN ASTROLOGER: ASTRO TWINS RETREAT”