If you don't know her already, Jennifer Sodini broke out onto the alternative media scene in 2013 with her website Evolve & Ascend. She describes the project as a creative collaboration expanding into the collective consciousness. Providing initiation through the art of conversation, and progression through unlearning.
She is a lifetime esotericist with a strong media savvy that she leverages across several different brands she has spearheaded. Frankly, I'm amazed and inspired by her output. Not only does she manage the content of several sites and Facebook pages, she writes, creates video content, produces podcasts and has a day job in media. Creativity and spirituality cut across everything that she does and is driven by a purpose of inspiring, educating and enlightening the public.
I've been a follower of Evolve & Ascend for quite awhile and really appreciate the blend of magic, consciousness, art and fantasy. Aesthetically, the design and presentation of her content is very top-notch and professional. She is always sharing something positive and curates very insightful content that seeks to shine a light on the confusing and discordant times that we face. I was excited to speak with her directly to delve deeper into her background, her occult and artistic influences and some of the very interesting projects she has in the works including a full-length book and film.
Join us for an initiation through the art of conversation, progression through unlearning.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always felt like an outsider looking in, an “observing participant” if you will. I have vivid memories of childhood when I used to sit on a bench alone during recess, taking notes/drawing pictures, watching everyone play – feeling fascinated at the beauty and mystery of human interaction. I never felt like I was a part of any particular group, but instead a type of “avatar” trying on different personalities in order to “fit in” and avoid loneliness.
Yet, deep down inside, I was still lonely, because I was always afraid to be “me”. “Me” being an extremely sensitive person, that felt, and saw the world around her with a different lens – always observing, learning, absorbing, but never wanting to conform to a particular mold.
My grandmother nourished this side of me, but when she died it unleashed a lot of darkness. I truly believe the dark moments in time, have been an initiation into the journey, which has lead me to where I am today.
If it weren’t for darkness, I would have never come to understand the light – and if it weren’t for adversity, I wouldn’t have found strength. Feeling like an outsider compelled me to find the “others”, and to create a space to attract similar minds that wanted to look through the lens I’ve been so familiar with throughout my life.
My grandmother had a set of oracle cards (the origin/history of are still a mystery) that she used to lay out face down across our dining room table. I remember her having me lift each one up individually, and asking me what the card made me feel – and how I interpreted it. We would do this again, and again – and the exercise was a catalyst for my intuition to grow and expand. In elementary school, and continuing into high school, I would always give my friends oracle card readings – and they would be strangely spot-on, which was always a shock because the cards were really subjective and not your typical tarot. Ultimately I think my grandmother gave me a really powerful gift in allowing me to cultivate my intuition this way, because the cards forced me to think, and feel – and weren’t bound by any set definition.
Not being bound by definition was something that I think my grandmother held really close to her heart, albeit at times she went to extremes. She had a vendetta against the Catholic Church, and put an addendum in her will that we would forgo an inheritance if we went to Catholic College or any “cult-like institution”.
My grandmother took her proclivities to a darker place, and was really enamored by witchcraft, demonology, and Aleister Crowley. I still have her copy of his book, Magick, with all of her highlights and notes. She was a great teacher, through the lessons she imparted while she was alive, and through her death as well.
I found out later in life that my grandmother’s mother was a member of the Eastern Star (the female sect of Freemasonry), and the Daughter’s of the American Revolution – so I guess esotericism has been in my DNA to some degree.
Oh yes! While most girls my age were enchanted by Barbie, and Disney Princesses, instead I looked up to characters like Aeon Flux and Tank Girl. I think I always had an independent, rage-against-the-machine type of ethos. Even the music I listened to as a young child was a bit outside of the box. I remember the first time I saw the music video for "The Beautiful People" by Marilyn Manson, and it jarred something within me – the aesthetic and the words struck a deep chord at just 12-years-old.
Growing up in a beach town, that was basically a WASP-nest, these types of interests made me feel like a witch in Salem. I was never baptized, and because of this – a lot of my friends would tell me I was going to purgatory (or hell), and I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that a loving God, would punish me for not participating in that ritual. Perhaps that’s why I related to freethinking personalities and characters instead of what was deemed “normal”, because I never felt accepted by those who fell into the “normal” category.Where there any significant rites of passage or initiation that you experienced in your formative years?
I believe my grandmother’s death was both a rite of passage, and an initiation. She died right before my 13th birthday, and the transition from childhood to tween is difficult for most of us, but particularly difficult when your whole world shatters. Her death lead to a series of changes that tested my strength and presented challenges that caused me to face myself, and get outside of my comfort zone. The sadness of that loss/period of time caused me to want to look deeper at all that is, beyond what I had learned from my grandmother, and to try to understand the governing forces of why, and how. Loss has definitely been a continued catalyst for learning…
My grandmother’s copy of Magick by Aleister Crowley was the first book I ever read on the occult, but the first times I read it, I had no idea what I was digesting. I was only probably 10 years old, and the material was so dense. At that moment in time I don’t know if it changed me, but instead planted a seed within my subconscious that allowed me to understand the words better as an adult.
You know the feeling when a warm breeze touches your skin, when you experience goose bumps or the chills, or when you have a sense of remembering and can’t understand why? In waking life, being empathic/intuitive means you are constantly being met with these feelings when you interact with other people. At times it feels like I am a sponge, absorbing the energy of the room and persons I interact with – and it can either be completely draining or invigorating. My body feels like a compass of exposed nerves at times, as my heart, solar plexus, and senses provide feelings that inform me of my surroundings.
In dreams my intuition goes into hyper-drive, and at times it feels as though I’m experiencing another reality that is as real as this one. I am constantly having abstract prophetic dreams that continue to play out the next day (or days) ahead.What is it to live magically or to approach life form a magical perspective?
Simply put, to live magically is to find beauty in each moment, to find awe in all, to appreciate the gift of imagination, and to have faith in the power of thought.
Approaching life from a magical perspective is to view reality through the lens of interconnectedness, to reflect on what you are reflecting, and to view each day as a lesson, where the key takeaway is continued evolution of consciousness and creativity.
I resonate strongly with Enochian magic, and Ma’at magick. Both are various systems of spiritual communication, while Ma’at (in particular) places emphasis on the power of heart, and intention.
I believe strongly in the power of intention, and alignment with the heart space when it comes to practicing ALL magick – because when you open yourself up, you open yourself up to ALL energies.
Fear is a magnet for the darker energies, and any intention bred from fear will result in an outcome that is less than desirable, with karmic retribution. Love is the magnet for light, and practicing alignment with love and truth is the key to a pure and successful system of magick/manifesting.It appears like there’s a large interest in conscious media relating to alternative spirituality, alternative politics and social awareness. Is consciousness development an underground or mainstream pursuit?
When I started Evolve and Ascend in 2013, this type of information was still looked at as fringe, but in the past two years it seems there has been a growing interest in consciousness, spirituality, psychedelics, etc.
I think that it’s a sign of the times because during any dark period, one searches for light, or for higher truth to find peace during strife. It’s become a trend, which I’m not so positive is a good thing.
Developing consciousness, and learning spiritual truths is our birthright – but the influx in “snake oil” salesmen I’ve seen with the growing trend can be a bit unsettling.
To quote one of my favorite films, The Never Ending Story: “Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control... has the power!”Is there a distinction between superficial interest in consciousness and true dedication to self-evolution? Would you agree that it’s not just about a meme or an idea but an actual personal practice?
Yes, consciousness is not a personality accessory - it’s a way of life. It’s not an easy path, nor is it a meme or a t-shirt. It’s difficult, and requires discipline, and dedication.How is consciousness related to our health and why might that be something that the corporate elites want to keep us from realizing?
Mind, body and spirit all connect – when we feel good, we look good, and we are happy. It’s not in corporate interest to keep us healthy, because that means a loss in profit, or a loosening of the control systems they’ve put in place.
From a female perspective, the idea that Disney instilled regarding “one day my prince will come” is a culturally programmed belief that is completely unhealthy. I feel that perpetuating a notion of completion from another person, takes away your own power to complete yourself, and this concept ripples out into consumer culture as well.
Buy this car, it’ll complete you, buy this purse, it’ll complete you, buy this home, it’ll complete you. Happiness comes from within, it does not come from a person or an object – and unfortunately our society doesn’t place an emphasis on cultivating inner happiness, but instead what you can gain from the material world.
How do you relate with the principles of the divine masculine and feminine?
I believe that in order to fully actualize ourselves we must find the balance between masculine and feminine, as well as light and dark. These two energies will always coexist, just as the fact we have two hemispheres of the brain.
I may be radical in my perspective, but I believe in embracing both sides – not just one. Logic is just as important as intuition, creativity is just as important as reason. It is through balance that we find our balance, and embracing both sides lends us to finding inner completion.
I feel like male society and energy is really confused these days. There has been some very much needed push back against male-dominance and abuse of power in an attempt to set things into balance. That being said, form your perspective, what are the aspects of manhood that are necessary and to culturally condition out of the male psyche would pose a great disharmony and imbalance to society?
Interestingly enough, the vast majority of my colleagues are male – and I appreciate the rationale of the masculine energies. Men have an ability to see with logic, and reason - to speak rationally, with words that are intended. To disregard the divinity of the masculine would be to discount the importance of the strength of the male mind, and the wisdom in reason.More and more it appears people are dividing and holding out in certain corners of belief and attacking outwardly. What is the reason for this and what can be done to overcome it?
To break down a system, we must break through where there is still weakness. This election, and the current social climate revealed how much we are still divided – and it is through identifying our collective weakness, that we can find our strength.
Some say we are currently living in the Kali Yuga, and with Kali being the goddess of destruction – perhaps it is through all of this adversity that we can finally create a new type of unity, and to come together as one.
Not one person likes being told what to do, or how to do it. One can only present an idea, and pose questions in order to inspire action. I ask those who feel compelled to participate in any movement, to ask why, and what their intention is before doing so. Ego likes to play tricks on spirit, and its important to understand if the motivation is coming from ego or truly from wanting to facilitate change.What is the strength of appropriating and sharing spiritual ideas and practices cross-culturally?
Creating a dialogue and dissolving boundaries of culture/language allows us to find a commonality, an invisible thread that connects us to each other. The “disconnect” is what has caused strife, but opening a conversation about what connects us can lead to new potential.How is creativity interrelated with occult practices for you?
For me I believe creativity is the highest form of spirituality, because you are actualizing outside of yourself what once only existed in the mind. It’s the intention of occult practice made manifest into form. If you look at all that has been created by man it first came from imagination/necessity and then was manifested into the world – this is magic in the purest sense.Who are the spiritual personalities or writers that have most inspired you and where you are on your path?
HP Blavatsky, Rudolf Steiner, Alan Watts, Dion Fortune, Alice A. Bailey, and Rumi.Who do you see as the most important spiritual teachers today?
To be honest, most of my inspiration comes from the ancient tradition or writers who are now deceased. My most important spiritual teachers now are the people I meet and interact with on a daily basis, and what the Earth allows me to experience.Along the same lines, what artists have impacted and inspired your life and work?
Hieronymous Bosch, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, Moebius, Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Werner Herzog.
|Art by Phazed|
Evolve and Ascend allows me to nourish, explore and impart the spiritual wisdom I’ve learned – while Phenomenalisms allows me to have fun, and enjoy my creative/whimsical side. They both relate to one another, but are different enough to allow the flow of inspiration to continue.
Something great about your site Evolve & Ascend is a series of videos that were produced as an introduction to the Seven Hermetic Principles as written in The Kybalion. Can you comment on how you work with them on a day-to-day basis or other thoughts you have about the importance of that book in general?
The Kybalion helped refine my lens of reality, and to look at the world from an even greater perspective. I talk often about how everything connects, but it isn’t until understanding the layers of connection that you can fully appreciate what that means. The Kybalion gives you tools of connectivity, and the principles which expand your conscious awareness.
One of my favorite pieces published on Evolve & Ascend is 7 Must-See Psychedelic Fantasy Films. I’ve been thinking about the fantasy genre a lot lately and how it relates to the occult, magick, child’s mind and psychedelic experiences. What does fantasy represent to you and how significant is it to your life?
Fantasy represents imagination in action, and active participation in dreams. It is beyond significant to my life, I feel like it is my life – because I try to live each day actively participating in my imagination and dreams.
Living life with a beginner’s mind, and a child-like whimsy/appreciation for everything you encounter allows you the ability to find appreciation even for the simplest things.
Psychedelic experiences are like taking an escalator to this perspective, but simply breathing and looking at the magnificence of the world around you is an easy way to live in this mindset on a day-to-day basis.
You're bringing back a podcast you started called, Liberation Frequency. Can you give us a recap of that project and its future?
The podcast originally began about three years ago. My former partner and I originally met as friends when we were doing work for an alternative radio station in 2009, and we reconnected when a new station was going to form (2013) - and I was offered a morning show discussing the topics I talk about on E&A.
Needless to say, the radio station didn't pan out - but we fell in love, and he suggested I do a podcast version. I wanted to create a space to explore spirituality, creativity, consciousness, psychedelics, and fringe - but in more of a conversational format - and he had the prior knowledge of running a radio station/editing audio. The first season was incredible, but I felt like it was my training wheels as it was my first official endeavor in that realm. I took a break from podcasting due to some personal issues, but now moving forward into the future - I am looking forward to starting anew, and going full force with it. The intention is to open minds in an easily digestible format, to entertain but also inspire the listeners to ask questions and explore new perspectives. Hence, the tag line of the show: "initiation through the art of conversation, progression through unlearning."You wrote an esoteric analysis of one of my favorite fantasy films, Legend. Can you give us a flavor of what that film represents to you and why it’s important?
Legend is a poetic allegory of the balance of light and dark, innocence lost, and heroism gained. Metaphor and fantasy are a great initiation into these truths because as your awareness changes, the lessons reveal themselves time and time again.What can hallucinogens accomplish and what can’t they accomplish in the honest pursuit of spiritual growth and understanding?
One may watch this film in childhood, and appreciate the fantastical elements, but looking at it with an esoteric perspective as an adult allows you to see beyond the surface.
Hallucinogens will show you what you need to see, not always what you want to see, and they aren’t for the faint of heart. Some experience ego death, which allows you to embrace your spirit – but for others, it nourishes the ego, and unleashes the “beast”.
Hallucinogens are a great tool for those who are ready to experience the deepest layers of your psyche, but approach that realm with a humble mind, because it can be a slippery slope.There is a huge resurgence of interest in the many different forms of entheogens. Which are the most beneficial and how would you compare and contrast their benefits?
Psilocybin has been a great teacher for me. The humble wisdom of the earth, embodied in the flesh of the mushroom has revealed great truths, and helped me overcome subconscious fears, and trauma that my ego may have otherwise perpetuated.
Ayahuasca opened my mind, heart, and eyes to the worlds beyond our world, to the reasons of reason – but perhaps opened me a bit too much. After my experience with ayahuasca, it forever changed me, but I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone. Without the proper grounding, and integration back into this reality – it can be an arduous journey moving forward.
There’s a section on E&A about “sacred sites” in the world. Can you explain how that works and some that you have been to?
Some believe there are certain energy points or vortexes across the globe that will shift your consciousness by experiencing them/participating in the energy field. I haven’t yet been to any of the “sacred sites” mentioned on E&A, but I look forward to traveling more and doing first-hand investigations in the years to come.Are we culturally disconnected from the earth and it’s powers? How can we get reconnected to nature and benefit more from being in tune with it?
We live in a consumer society surrounded by concrete jungles, and this has detached us from nature, which is our true home. Reconnecting to nature helps us find our truest breath, and allows us to give pause to the busy world we live in. Taking just a few moments a day to step outside, find a tree, sit on the beach, and breathe – can help you tune in, and activate a deeper connection.Would you ever be interested in living communally in a spiritual setting? How important are spiritual communities?
Personally, the idea doesn’t resonate with me. I think a hierarchy always develops and somewhere along the line the intention escapes the initial idea. I believe finding a spiritual community is absolutely important, but communal living is still a work in progress.Cymatics were recently brought to my attention. Can you explain that and how it can be worked with?
Cymatics is the study of the visual effects of sound on matter, and if we look at life as a kind of radio receiver, it allows us to reevaluate what vibrations we are putting out with our own tone and intention.
A simple way of working with the concept of cymatics is to ask ourselves what frequency we think we are emitting with our tone/intention? If your frequency has the rhythm of love, beauty, happiness, and kindness – are you seeing that in your reality? Or do you feel like you are vibrating at a low level, and creating patterns of chaos, fear, hatred, judgment, and the illusion of separateness?
Doing guided meditations is something I've always wanted to explore. I'm a YouTube meditation junkie, but I've yet to find my goldilocks zone for meditating that has the right voice, visuals, and sounds. As I explore this new endeavor, I want to facilitate a creative new way to meditate that synthesizes beautiful music and visuals, with words/vibrations that unlock higher levels of consciousness. I'm consulting with experts in the field, and a doctor friend who is originally from India and has dedicated his life to compassionate, kindness, and the scientific study of meditation.
Over the years I have had different concepts on the first “real” book I wanted to release into the world, but have held back because I wanted to make sure that it is an important work that will shift perspectives and change lives. The book I am currently working on, I believe, will do just that. In the coming months I’ll be able to share more, but for now – I am still keeping it a bit under wraps. ;)
It’s a modern take on the film Fantastic Planet, looking at humanity from the perspective of the “other”. Combining elements of Lord of the Flies, The Dark Crystal, Planet of the Apes, Terry Gilliam and Werner Herzog – this screenplay will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
What do you hope your audience is inspired to do in response to the work that you put out?
It is my greatest hope that my audience finds inspiration to be themselves, to create what they wish to see in the world, and to dissolve the illusion of fear/separateness. If I can inspire someone to look at our world with a greater perspective, to connect to the heart, and to love all of the aspects of their journey through life – all of the hard work is worth it.
|Photo: Richie Brown|
Follow all of Jennifer's projects below:
Her personal website
Evolve + Ascend official site
Evolve + Ascend Twitter
Evolve + Ascend Facebook
Evolve + Ascend YouTube
Phenomenalisms official site
Liberation Frequency Podcast