Jaliessa Sipress is an Astrologer, Writer and Artist who is dedicated to making wellness more accessible. Redefining Our Womanhood Founder, Kailyn Lynch, sat down with Jaliessa to explore our ancestral legacy of manifestation, and the power of moving beyond our fear.
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KL: I’m really interested to hear more about your background. What were some significant moments for you growing up?
JS: I was born in Utah, actually, but I grew up in Portland, Oregon, which is where I am currently. My background is really all over the place. I would say I think in terms of spiritual work and personhood, I think I definitely have found myself on the outskirts of the communities that I grew up in. Specifically, growing up in mostly white communities and church communities, and just feeling whether it's because I had a single mother or whether it was… because I look different, or because I was Black or the multitude of reasons… Because I was queer as I started to grow up… Just sort of feeling always on the outside, and then ended up choosing to put myself there.
KL: How did you, outside of just being a business, how did you find yourself awakening to becoming a healer and artist? Was there a pivotal point where you aligned with this sort of identity?
JS: I think in the first reading I gave, I recognized the power that I was holding and the space that I was holding and the gravity of that. I didn't really see myself as higher than them or higher than that. I think it transforming into an identity really happened when I lived in a house with other Black queer witches. Them centering their identities, the identity of being a witch; and the identity of being Black, and the identity of being femme and queer and all these other things. It just sort of happened. There was a consistency that I was creating around my work then, and the traction around it happened naturally.
KL: I love that, because I'm a really huge believer now that things that are natural to us, like our gifts, calling; whatever you kind of identify it with, I think it's something that's just innate. I think about my own spirit guides, ancestors and the Source that I'm connected to. Do you feel like all of those for you guided to this point, or it's something just innate? Do you feel your connection to be a storyteller, artist, and healer is a higher calling that you were pulled to?
JS: I think any of us can do anything. I think I can do anything that I want. But I think that if I'm looking for a road that's going to fulfill me and expand me, then I have to be doing what I'm doing now. That’s what my work is really about. When I talk about life’s purpose, and moving more into talking about life’s purpose, it's not about telling you what you should or shouldn't be; what you should and shouldn't do, it's about the way that you do it, and how you're showing up. It’s the intention behind it. It's interesting that we're having this interview right now, and that you’re asking me this question right now because I had this huge breakthrough yesterday, actually, of where I'm moving next and what I want to move into and I think it is around this idea of purpose.
KL: That’s beautiful, and there is so much humility behind the intentionality of your work. There is an understanding that it’s beyond yourself.
JS: I’m a human being so everything that I say even if it's coming from your guides is going to be filtered through my lens, and my understanding of the world. How I feel now… I'm still scared. Sometimes when I call this deity or this ancestor, I'm never really sure what's about to happen. I think that's part of the human experience. I'm refining and speaking of what specifically I have to offer, and what my experiences have taught me and what communities I'm actually able to serve. That's where I am;I'm scared but doing it anyway; always, because spiritual work is literally work in the unknown. You're literally just like closing your eyes and sticking your hands in a dark bag. But, I'm doing my best, and trying to always check in with my integrity.
KL: I really want to know how do you want to redefine the wellness industry specifically? Especially right now, I think there's a lot of trends at the moment of spirituality and even mental health in itself. What would you like to see the wellness industry look like for women of color and people of color?
JS: Yeah, that's such a big question. I mean, redefining the wellness industry, I think, for me, it's not having such absolutism. I think I'd like to see people asking more questions. I think people should ask of themselves, of their communities, to question the practices they use, and why they use them. Questioning who they're learning from, and why they're learning from them. Why they're attracted to a specific space. There is a certain power to being a spiritual person, because you don't have to explain anything that you do. You're just like, “Oh, spirit told me!” There’s a lack of accountability that happens. So, I'd love to see us creating our own forms of accountability. Whether that's individual or collective.
KL: That’s really where we have to start. Really, you know, it goes back to we don't question who makes up what is healthy? Who defines what mental health is? That’s where we need to start is like questioning ourselves, how we feel and understanding what works for us and what doesn't. I think that's like, perfect. It's the perfect place for us to start for sure. I wanted to touch on your work with manifestation. I think that's something else that is super trendy right now. I think it's also a bit problematic in the way of spiritual bypassing things that we need to learn and go through. I think people like the whole healing trend and the whole manifestation trend because it's a way of spiritual bypassing in the sense of getting past the tough things. So, I wanted to get more of your perspective on manifestation, and how people of color can kind of use it in a more helpful and healthy way.
JS: I think that the biggest theme that comes up for me around marginalized identity and manifestation is that it's about figuring out where we do have power instead of focusing so much and where we don't. It’s not to say that one or the other is more important. It's just to say that we spend so much time knowing how disenfranchised we are, knowing the ways we're oppressed, and how impacted our communities have been since colonization. But how much energy do we give the flip side? How often do we look at the places where we have power, look at the places where we have triumphed? Look at the places where we have built communities and systems that have sustained us? For me, manifestation is just about reframing the question and reframing the perspective. You live in a body; you were put in a body this lifetime that's marginalized. How does that make you more creative? What does that make you a vessel for? For example, growing up without money and growing up poor it makes me more creative. You have to know how to stretch something more. If you're living in this body, in this time, this reality, how can you make the most of it? And then take it even a step further. Black women, specifically, have had to create things out of nothing. That’s what magic is. That's what the food that we have is, you know? Soul food started as scraps that nobody wanted, and became something that so many people love now. It’s being able to take things that people thought didn't mean anything, and make them mean something that serves us instead of further marginalizes us.
All photos and artwork via Jaliessa Sipress