Glamour, Ritual and BDSM: Conversation with Gabriela Herstik

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Danielle Blunt: My name is Danielle Blunt. I use she/her pronouns, and I’m a professional  dominatrix from New York City. 

Gaby Herstik: My name is Gabriela Herstik. I also use she/her pronouns. I am a writer and author and a witch, living in  Los Angeles. 

Danielle Blunt: Today we wanted to talk a little bit about glamour, magic and how it intersects with BDSM and kink. First of all, I love following you. It’s just like so much beauty and  intention behind the images that you put out there. And that in itself feels like a form of magic, and  there’s this beautiful honoring of the goddess and the feminine. And I would love it if you could talk a  little bit about your relationship with glamour and maybe segueing into how it may or may not intersect with kink. 

Gaby Herstik: Yeah. Well, thank you for those beautiful compliments. I love your photos and always makes me feel like a fabulous pervert, which I love. So for me, glamour is using acts of beauty and fashion as a way to transform from the outside in. Magic is really using energy and working with cycles to transform from the inside out. And I think that when we work with glamour, at least when I work with glamour, I’m using color and sense in clothing and intention behind how I present myself. To change my frequency and align myself with whatever my intention is, even if that’s just to cultivate a sense of beauty or confidence. A lot of my  relationship with glamour is in honor of the goddess, which to me is the creative aspect of the divine  that is not the logical part of our brain. It’s not the structure, but it’s really the fluid, intuitive sexual, and  also creative energy of the universe, of that kind of divine energy. 

I have been interested in fashion as long as I’ve been a witch, which is about 14 years now.  And I went to school for fashion writing. I thought I was going to be a fashion editor, and I ended up  writing books about witchcraft and kind of segued into that. But through that all, glam has still been a  very important part of my path. It is a way that I reclaim the way that I’m seen, it’s the way that I choose to honor myself as a reflection of the divine. 

So I think that a lot of people kind of think that beauty and fashion and makeup are frivolous, but to me,  it is an act of yeah, casting myself in a specific light. So glamour in itself actually has its origins in folklore and magic. It is that which fails, what lies beneath it. 

What is a glamour?

So a glamour would be like the idea of changelings of a fairy coming to a little newborn baby and  switching out the human baby and stealing the human baby and replacing it with the fairy baby, and then casting a glamour on it. So the parents don’t realize that this isn’t their child, because it looks like  them. That is a form of glamour. 

My practice with magic in my life is really, my life in general is really rooted in self expression and beauty and sexual independence. And a lot of my work with glamour is a way to embody the goddess and to invite her into my being and to recognize myself as a reflection of her. And as I have been exploring submission the past three or so years, that’s kind of even intersected with glamour more. So this collar is a collar that I have, that I dedicated and ritualistically cleansed and consecrated and  devoted to the goddess. 

So every morning I put it on, and I look in the mirror and I say, “I am devoted to the dark goddess of  love and myself.” And it really, for me, it really is like, because I think submission is such an embodied  practice or at least hopefully it is. Because if you’re not in your body, what’s the point? It really is a way for me to honor that aspect of myself as divine and wearing things that make me feel like a sexy submissive, whether that’s a collar or lingerie. It helps me get into the mindset. And I have all of my toys  hanging on my wall, and even that kind of reminding me of the beauty of submission helps me to appreciate and honor that aspect of myself even more. 

Fetish and Magic

Danielle Blunt

I love that. And I feel like visuals are such a big part of kink. I’m thinking right now about the role that visuals and glamour play in femdom and goddess worship and in feminization, crosdressing and sissification sessions. 

It’s both this like very tactile sensory experience that can be incredibly overwhelming, especially from different height differentials, or if someone is on their knees, submitting. I think that the intimacy and the way that eyesight can hone in on one particular part of the outfit and create this obsession. And I think of obsession as an act of devotion, worship, and ritual in a way that brings you into an altered state. 

I had this one session with a client who was really into some feminization, sissification and  cuckolding. And he got me this really beautiful golden necklace. It was this huge, chunky, golden necklace. And I love gold. Adorning myself in gold is part of my magical practice. So this client was laying in my lap, gazing at me and the necklace and his mantra work over and over again was talking about how he got me that necklace and how he was going to think about me wearing it on a date with someone else. And that mantra recitation became the whole focus of the entire session. Focusing his attention on this talisman, the obsession and worship of this  object and this way that totally transformed the entire space and scene, so that nothing really existed besides that necklace that served as the link between us in our D/s dynamic. 

Gaby Herstik: I love that. And that actually is the original definition of fetish is a magical object or talisman, so that’s perfect. 

Danielle Blunt: I think the more that I’ve been getting deeper into kink, the more I’ve been thinking of fetish in that way, because I never really considered myself a fetishist because a lot of the fetish porn that I was watching didn’t seem to have that magical energy imbued within the object. And it just felt like it was just worship of an object, that the object was never transformed through worship. There are a few fetishes that I’ve played with and watching their sexual energy begin to transform, a boot, or a body part, or anything into something beyond, which I think is both an act of fetish and an act of glamour to some extent. That energetic shift is what made me more interested in exploring fetishes of my own. 

So when I put on a pair of boots, it changes how I feel about myself, how I carry myself, how I’m  perceived by other people. And having people then worship that object that I put that care into and that I also ritualistically clean or have other people ritualistically boot black for me creates this connection, that without that object, it might not be there. In this D/s relationship we are both focusing and putting our energy into the same object for that goal of connection and transformation into altered states. 

Gaby Herstik: I love that so much, and I feel like when I think of that, I think of it as like a feedback loop, like as a figure  eight, and in the center, that connecting point is that object, that object as a point of connection. That’s  so beautiful. 

Glamour and Embodiment

Danielle Blunt: I feel it’s the same in any good sex. It’s a matter of taking that same energy, finding alignment and attunement and transforming space and time together or with yourself. So whether or not an object is involved in that encounter, I think it really  is about having the same intention or an aligned intention and being able to do that work together if you’re with another person, or being able to feel embodied and do that work on your own. 

You said something about scent being a part of your glamour work, which I found really interesting, because I think of my dominant persona as a form of playing with femininity and feminization in a way that I don’t necessarily in my personal life. So it’s not just my professional life, but just part of my kink is stepping into this hard femme persona. And I’m more casual hard femme in my personal life, but  the ritual of getting dressed and wearing a different scent that I wear before I go into a professional BDSM session or a personal play. And creating a ritual of taking it off and caring for the leathers as I transition out of that head-space helps hold the space or the container for the play and gets me into that dominant mindset. It allows me to work with the energy that’s being offered. 

Gaby Herstik: I love that, and I feel like that’s such a powerful form of glamour, and it’s like, even like glamour is like the aftercare/ it’s like, that’s like your way of taking care of yourself. And I love that. I love using glamour  as an act of, or as a piece of like a liminal space in which you transform into something else. And I love that you have all these objects that help you find that power. And I really think that people shit on glamor are the people that have never experienced that. You know when you feel it. When you step into a good outfit, it is a different head-space, and it does transform the way that you  are viewing the world, because you feel different through it. 

Feminization in BDSM and Goddess Worship

Danielle Blunt: Yeah. And if you find what makes you feel embodied, and I think that’s originally where we started to have this conversation, because you were posting some things about glamour and goddess worship, and it reminded me a lot about my work within feminization sessions, feminine induction sessions and sissification sessions. And I think a lot of what I’ve found in my work with feminization, which I do with all different types of people across the gender spectrum. 

Some people find feminization very humiliating and I don’t. I find it can be a form of humiliation play, which I don’t play up too much in my work, because I don’t find being feminine to be humiliating. But if someone is humiliated by it, I will call that out for them. Like, “What do you  find about being feminine that’s humiliating?” Do you think I should be humiliated by what I’m  wearing?” 

So I’ll definitely play with humiliation. But one thing that’s really stood out to me, especially as I have more and more people who come to me for feminine induction sessions coming out as a trans woman, non binary femmes or genderqueer, is that the time that they spend with me is one of the only times that they feel embodied, because it’s that act of transformation and the act of putting on this feminine armor that allows them to relax into submission. 

And I think those are always the sessions that I really enjoy.  I think for some people it can be both humiliating to get to that point of submission as well as embracing their femininity that allows them to surrender. Like some people need the humiliation to get there. And then for other people, they just feel so comfortable and relaxed that they can finally let go and surrender. 

Gaby Herstik: That’s so beautiful. And I remember when we were first talking about this, how you were mentioning  you don’t really do feminization as an act of humiliation, like that’s not the purpose. And I love that. I  think that’s so wise, and I just really appreciate that angle. And you have to be able to give space to  people to be their true selves and really go deep in that. It feels like such an embodiment of the goddess  to be able to give people that space and to allow them to experience these things and honor that shame that might come up, because they have been told their whole life that doing this thing is shameful even  if it’s not necessarily innately shameful for them. 

What role does shame play in BDSM and Magic?

Danielle Blunt

Yeah. And that’s definitely something that I say is, “I’ll play with your shame.” And I don’t think  there’s anything wrong about feminization and humiliation sessions. It’s just not something I’m  particularly interested in. And I think people can have incredibly cathartic experiences through that. And while I might not be actively humiliating someone, I think shame is a very potent tool to play within BDSM scenes and I think in magic. 

Gaby Herstik: Absolutely. 

Danielle Blunt

And figuring out and … Shame to me, makes me ask the questions about what led me to feel that way or what led me to have this certain relationship with this object or my body?

Gaby Herstik: Yeah. I totally feel that. And that’s something that even over the last week, I’ve been really diving more deeply into, like offering shame as … or working with shame as an offering to the goddess, especially to the the dark goddesses. I feel like it’s a really powerful offering, and it’s still something I don’t quite understand about myself yet, but it’s one of those things I feel like is an ongoing process. Yeah, I don’t know, working with it is such a potent tool of transformation and also just release and catharsis, like you said. 

Danielle Blunt: Yeah. That makes me think of … Have you read The Radiance Sutras? 

Gaby Herstik: I haven’t. They’ve been on my list. 

Danielle Blunt: I highly recommend it. And that was into some of my studies of tantra, and what I loved about this translation that I had of The Radiance Sutras. It was that each act, whether it’s “good” or “bad” is a way to meet the divine. Honoring darkness, honoring shame, and all of those are equally as important as honoring and meditating on joy and happiness 

Gaby Herstik:Absolutely. 

Danielle Blunt: and embodiment. And that it’s through intense focus, or devotion, or fetish, or glamour that you’re able to reach that altered state which is the divine. 

Gaby Herstik: I love that. I’ll have to look that up, because that’s definitely up my alley. I definitely feel like even tantra, obviously, it’s different than BDSM, but that kind of awareness of the way energy flows. And the power of the subversive and the power of the things that you’re not supposed to do as like a sacrament to the divine is something that, I think, for me, really draws me to BDSM, like the space that I have to do the things that I’m not supposed to do and turn those into an offering to goddess is something that really inspires me and draws me to this path. 

Danielle Blunt: I love that. And I think that comes back to feminization or sissification sessions as well, especially for men, that femininity is something that you’re told that is shameful. And we said this in the beginning of the conversation, was that so many people don’t respect or understand glamour or fashion or makeup, and see it as something that’s frivolous. So I think the act of reframing it and having these incredibly ritualistic feminization sessions, which I very much think of it as like feminization induction, like I like to think of the energy as similar to the little boy at a sleepover and his older sister and her friends come in and induct you into feminization rituals. And you’re just sitting there and just like, “Ooh, I feel like so special and honored to be able to be a part of this thing that I’m told that I’m not supposed to enjoy. To be let into this sacred space.” And like you’re being taken over by this thing that you were told that you’re not supposed to explore, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing. 

Gaby Herstik: I love that, and I feel like there’s also a level of empathy, because once you’re in that space then you’re able to understand it and kind of extend that to the men in your life  So I love that interplay between that. And I love that you’re able to offer people the space to explore that without judgment. I think that’s really important too. 

Danielle Blunt: Yeah. And I think there are. There are so few spaces for people to feel that. I feel like there’s more now than there were a few years ago, which is really amazing. And I think social media plays a really interesting role in people’s ability to express themselves and try on different parts of their persona or their gender and transform themselves. And just like a continual act of transformation. 

Gaby Herstik: I feel like that’s what BDSM is. It’s just constantly unfolding different aspects of yourself  and ritualizing it and honoring whatever feelings come up, even if they’re something we’re told we’re not supposed to have. I think that’s so powerful. 

Danielle Blunt: Definitely. And I think that’s sort of where this conversation stemmed from was one of your posts about  glamour just like really stood out to me. And I was like, “Oh, I would be really interested in creating a  feminization ritual with you.” So I hope that, that’s something that we can do.

Gaby Herstik: I would love that. I would love that. 

Danielle Blunt: … another time. 

Gaby Herstik: Yeah, that sounds great, and it’s just an honor. I admire you so much, and I love … Remember when you  made a post that said, “Femdom is your religion.” And I’m like, That is just so beautiful and so powerful. And I feel like it’s same, same, but different to my own relationship with the divine. So it feels very special to be able to talk about that. 

Danielle Blunt: Yeah, I definitely felt that similarities and differences and the relationship to glamour and feminization in witchcraft, in both of our practices. 

Gaby Herstik: Yes, I love it. 

Danielle Blunt: Wonderful. Well, I’m excited to create that ritual with you. 

Gaby Herstik: Me too. I feel like Libra season and Scorpio season will be the perfect time to kind of dive  into that that glamourous ordinance. 

Danielle Blunt: Beautiful.