January 10th, 2019
In grade 10 English class we are assigned a group project, which includes the following:
a) Pick a national issue and research it.
b) Pick someone who can make a difference and write them a letter with the intention to get a response.
c) As a group, make a 15 min interview-style documentary video where you present your research ‘in character’.
Here’s the thing. Whether it is because I choose ‘arts funding’ as my cause and decide to write to The Honorable Sheila Copps, our then heritage minister, or whether it is because I ride that thin line of being just popular enough to get elected to Student Council and just unpopular enough to still be wearing oversized T-shirts from Northern Getaway, I find myself in a group of…one.
Never one to dismiss a challenge, I take on the work of four people and decide to work my ass off and get an A+ on this assignment and SHOW THEM. “THEM” being the 16 year olds in my class who care more about flirting while eating fries with mayo in the cafeteria than what grade the Student Council Secretary gets but you get the idea.
This means that I force my sister to get behind our camcorder and I play every character in the video. Every. Character.
The video is a series of interviews hosted by a fictitious interviewer named Moira Foreman, in a mock-CBC special called “Moira Foreman: For the Arts”. Moira is what one could call ‘coiffed’, with a penchant for 80s blazers and direct stares that last one more beat than is comfortable. Moira, with her hard-hitting journalistic tendencies, interviews a cast of characters with different viewpoints on arts funding. There’s Celeste Belle, the apprentice ballet dancer; a groovy teenager obsessed with Sugar Rush who keeps reapplying watermelon Lip Smackers; an elderly gentleman who huffs and hmms and is probably a Conservative; a be-pigtailed weirdo who does “Did You Know” segments where I use the camera’s mirror split-screen function that still gives me nightmares…and a woman named Verena Magadar. The second ‘e’ is about as long as this paragraph.
Verena is part stereotypical psychic, part sits in the box at the ballet, part smug silk scarf collector. She is both wise and eclectic and gives exactly zero fucks about calling spades, spades. She leaves no one guessing about her thoughts on arts funding and I am not lying when I say I think I get the A+ entirely on Verena’s coherently ‘channeled’ responses to Moira’s questions. That, alongside the fact that Sheila Copps writes me back via her secretary on Super Official government letterhead thanking me for my ‘concern.’
Tory, you might be wondering what this possibly too-long explanation about a grade 10 assignment and a fictitious woman named Verena Magadar have to do with you. You are someone I meet at Shecosystem one hot summer day in 2017. I am struck by your kind eyes, your excitement about your new divination system you’ve come up with – The Tessera Oracle – and your shrewd interpretation of my inner state when you offer a reading. You see, at this point I am entirely unfamiliar with divination systems and you pour the pieces on the table and I get to interact and feel them and see what I am drawn to. I am immediately attracted to their beautiful design and their weight – both physically and emotionally – as I find myself responding more to some than to others. I rejoice when I hear your Kickstarter Campaign gets funded by (I’m exaggerating, but barely) about 8,932 times the original ask.
Just over a year later it is fall and you so generously offer to select a custom Tessera piece for each retreat attendee and, in a gesture of extraordinary kindness, you tell me to keep the full set I had asked to borrow for the retreat. When you do this, I am teary from happiness and gratitude because you have made something that is not only truly beautiful, but truly powerful as well. I now own something that tangibly supports what Verena has been telling me all along: that the truth lies inside me and is often quite sassy.
You see, post A+, Verena Magadar is not content to be brought to life for an interview series and then be buried in the archives, rolled into VHS tape oblivion. Over the 20 years since we ‘met’, she makes herself known during vital moments in my life when I call on her opinion. She is the self-proclaimed, jauntily-scarved Chair of the Board of Directors of my intuition. She is part of the fabric of my relationship to myself so much so that, on occasion, those close to me have also sought out her wise counsel. All that is required is a scarf and she emerges, keen to share the truth, use the word ‘Darling’ and grace you with a knowing eye twinkle. She is considering opening a boutique that sells “What Would Verena Do?” scarves to accommodate the amount of text messages I receive from close friends (seriously) asking: “Is Verena available?”
I think your product is perfect. I think anything that points us back towards ourselves and our hearts is a worthwhile investment and a truly beautiful thing. Your spirit is infused into each piece, while also leaving each to become part of the story of whomever interacts with it. I am touched by your humility and your creativity and your courage to put your offering out into the world not knowing how it would be received. It is clear to me you take delight in allowing inspiration to come your way, even if it comes in forms that challenge or disturb, and delight is something we could all use more of in our lives. Your Tessera Oracle set is delightful: fun and firm and full of quality and exactly the right amount of sass. Verena and I are obsessed with it.
There is nothing I love so much as being witness to others following their calling and creating delicious spaces for you to connect and be inspired. You’ll find a series of love letters to creative kindreds I’ve discovered whose passion, talent and depth of spirit are palpable on the blog, and who generously donated their products to the women attending our retreat. Does this describe you or someone you know? Feel free to learn more about our partnership model here for our upcoming retreats. Want to attend a retreat in person? We have our Spring retreat coming up March 22-24th. Learn more and register today!
To learn more about Tory and her divination system, The Tessera Oracle:
Product Model: @jodianne.beckford