‘South: Hecatic Seance Q&A’ by Ashley Johnson & Bailey Pittenger

— Nix Thérèse

‘South: Hecatic Seance Q&A’ is a haunting meditation on Southern ancestry that deftly toes its liminal spaces. While we don’t have a clear vision of where Hecate rests during this breakfast, an unsurprising move for the goddess of the crossroads, I’ve always considered seances to be enveloping rituals, ones that are much—or more—about being moved as they are about calling spirit back into the room. The wrapped hive of braids, that cloisters the eyes and nose, ironically makes me consider the gaps & pockets of air simply as narrower gates for Hecate to slip through, while the structure holds her presence closer. I like thinking of her as a mist running across the face and giving invisible root to the dogwood blossoms, with petals that burst fragilely from prickled centers. Isn’t that southern woman too: still somehow emerging soft? Hecate calls to us, “you’re every southern woman when you have a voice that speaks on as many levels as the rings in a tree, you’re every southern woman when you know what it is not to have a face…” Noting the tree-layers feels kin to dropping a bucket into a well’s deep recesses: striking and drawing out the knowledge/experience isn’t enough; you must drink them in too. A voice can reverberate forever, but who hears its echoes? Who holds it close, not just in the ear, but locked into memory? As Hecate and the speaker discuss this long lineage, I love that it’s one of the few times that the southern woman is rendered as presence but not ghost, shaded but not effaced.