Bust out your crystals and your tarot decks, we’re getting hardcore mystical with the hippest witch the west side over. Maja D’Aoust, or Maja the White Witch of L.A. as she’s known ‘round these parts, is not just queen of all things ethereal (because we said so), she’s also rad. as. hell. Which we knew anyway, but after she casually added, “I just want to give DMT to all of Congress so they can be like, ‘Oh shit! Shifted reality is real!’” while we were settling in to chat, we knew things were about to get profound AF (a hashtag is born…). Read on to hear about the cosmic origin of desire, why we all want to have sex with lead singers (Brandon Flowers, cough cough), and delivering the truth about aliens to a crew of drunk bikers in Joshua Tree.
RR: When and how did you know you were a witch?
MD: I had strange things happen from the time I was a very small child, and my mother was very witchy, too. She was a Scorpio hippie who was very interested in religion; she had traveled to Tibet, studied with Tibetan monks, so she had all kinds of information about alternative religious stuff. Plus I grew up on this hippie island near Seattle called Vashon, so I was literally in the forest with a bunch of hippies, and I immediately gravitated toward nature and pagan things.
Then when I was two, I had an out-of-body experience. I got pneumonia, and I was so sick, I think my spirit was like, “Ok, maybe I’m outta here!” I remember my mom was in bed with me, and I kind of floated up. I could see us in the bed together, and I watched us from a top view. When I woke up, I told my mom that I’d seen us in bed, and she was like, “What are you talking about?” I told her that I’d looked through the attic, and she was like, “We don’t have an attic, what do you mean?” So, that’s when things started to get kind of weird.
A lot of people think magic is something that you have to find, or get a hold of, or use, or that it will just kind of happen or not happen—but to me, magic is like a rainbow because it’s always present; it’s always everywhere. The only thing that shifts is our perspective.
After that, I got pneumonia four or five times sequentially when I was little, so I was sick all the time, and I think it’s kind of that I was near death a few times that spurred things on for me. Most of the people interested in this kind of material have had some kind of crazy near-death experience, or some inexplicable crisis. It tends to open the door into witchery, because people will see something and be like, “What the hell was that??”
RR: How do you define magic?
MD: I use the rainbow analogy. A lot of people think magic is something that you have to find, or get a hold of, or use, or that it will just kind of happen or not happen—but to me, magic is like a rainbow because it’s always present; it’s always everywhere. The only thing that shifts is our perspective. A lot of people think, Oh look at this magic I made happen! But it was already there in a potential energy form, and then it just unfolds. The rainbow colors are actually always in the sky, and the only thing that shifts is the sun and the water—once they hit the rainbow, then we can see it! So I think magic is the magician shifting their perspective to see, or feel, or sense what we don’t see normally because we’re in our little caves.
And there are literal perception things you can see if you do the occult techniques—things you can physically see, like ultraviolet colors, if you do certain techniques. My Native American teacher, Dr. Kelvin DeWolfe, teaches a staring technique called “the hunter”—you can actually stare in a certain way, and you’ll only see things that are alive, like animals, or people, or birds. The hunters would use this technique in forests so they could see the animals. It’s fucking crazy. Like if you were staring at that tree over there and there was a squirrel on it, the tree would fade out and turn into a two-dimensional cartoon, or like a theater set—you’d see it all go flat, and then the only things you’d be able to see would be moving or alive, like the squirrel.
Another example is from Egypt. At the top of Egyptian pyramids, it says, “Look to the horizon at sunrise” because when you focus your eyes on something that far away, it fades out and becomes a backdrop. It’s insane. But now, what does everyone look at? A screen or a book—something very near. The magic is being able to extend your sight past yourself, past the horizon—when you get epic, all the wizards can see past the stars. Sorcerers can see past the veil that covers us because it’s all just light in our perception. Like how we see the sky as blue right now, it’s actually not blue; the stars are there, we just can’t see them. There are tricks you can use to see the stars in the daytime. It’s just about shifting your perception.
RR: You always look incredible. Do you feel like what you wear plays a role for you as a witch?
MD: Thank you! Yes. I like to use visualizations—like I said, it’s all about perception, so I like to incorporate light into as many of my outfits as possible. I like to shine and get people to see little glimmers of light, so I use lots of sparkly things. It’s funny, I have these sparkly boots, for example, and I walked into the post office, and everyone else was wearing khaki or gray or whatever—no offense, but very boring things! And there was a sunbeam shooting through the window that hit my boots and turned them into a disco ball! And everyone in the post office was like, “Oh my God! That’s amazing!” All of a sudden, everyone was full of joy and wonder instead of being all bored in the post office. I like to use the way I dress to encourage that joy and wonder. And I’ll use white a lot, too, because it has that light reflective quality. So most of my wardrobe tends to be directed toward color frequencies or some kind of light-related activity.
The magic is being able to extend your sight past yourself, past the horizon—when you get epic, all the wizards can see past the stars. Sorcerers can see past the veil that covers us…
RR: When I saw that your website was Godismyboyfriend.com, I DIED—it was so right on. What’s the backstory?
MD: I love that you love it and that you get it because I’ve gotten a lot of response about it—people who thought that it was absolutely inappropriate. And all of those people were older men, interestingly enough. I’ve never received a critique on the name of my website from a woman.
RR: Yeah no, it resonated for me immediately.
MD: Yeah, I came to that conclusion when I realized that I see the “other,” or God, or consciousness—whatever you want to call it, as the Beloved. Some people see it as this judgmental old man on a throne, which I don’t understand at all—that’s like… patriarchy business. In Hinduism there are lots of stories of God or whatever you want to call it, approaching different people in different forms because that’s what they’ll recognize. If you go through the alchemical material, a lot of the esoteric material, they treat that “other” as the Beloved, or your mate. Like, you’re mated to this energy; it’s your opposite—your anima or animus. Which means it’s really your own spirit, which is what everyone looks for in relationships. So if I’m looking for a boyfriend, I’m really looking for a divine form in some other individual. I feel like God is energy that you have to come into a relationship with. I also like it because when you say God is your boyfriend, it’s about your sexuality; it takes sex out of a bad place and puts it into a sacred place. I mean, sexuality is about creation, so I’ve never understood people who put weird taboos and judgment onto sexuality. The idea that sexuality isn’t part of spirituality is total bullshit, I think. That’s why I feel like one of the better ways to describe a relationship with divinity is as a lover… at least for me. It’s more fun!
RR: You used to teach Witch School over in Beachwood Canyon—I saw you there about a year ago giving a lecture on alchemy. In that lesson you talked a lot about synchronicities, and that really struck me. Can you talk about what you think synchronicity is and what cosmic purpose it serves?
MD: Yes, that’s a great question. For me, when I start researching things, I’ll start to get all these synchronicities. Like for that lecture you saw, I was researching castration, weirdly enough, and as I was looking at the history of castration, someone at that moment sent me a link to a story about someone who’d just been castrated! So it’s these sort of impossible things that happen.
Synchronicity occurs; it’s not that I feel like I created it and I had this personal experience with the universe, it’s more like… EVERYTHING is connected, and I’m in the middle of it, and this is evidence! So I see synchronicities as evidence of the interconnectedness of the universe—not evidence that something was meant specifically for me, but I am meant to have that impossible moment, that experience. The thing the synchronicity is about isn’t even as important as the fact that it occurred. Just that they occur means that there is some weird fucking shit going on!! But it doesn’t have to do with egos, and it doesn’t have to be about solving racism or ending hunger—they can happen with small, stupid things like brushing your teeth.
We get our desire all tied in with this judgmental shaming stuff, but it’s like… how can we judge the stars?
So, absolutely everything is connected, and once you start putting certain things into your consciousness, you’ll start seeing those things being mirrored in reality. That’s why for me, synchronicity is also about these mirrors we have—that what goes on inside of us is part of what goes on outside. That’s the manifesting thing. I’ve seen that happen so many times! When we concentrate on something, we attract it and make it show up! It’s like gravity; it’s a universal law.
RR: There’s this amazing quote on your site in the “Astrology of Sexuality” section that says that the word desire comes from “de sidere,” Latin for “from the stars.” Talk about the connection between that etymology and how you think about desire.
MD: I am a big word nerd, so I think about etymology a lot. I get obsessed with the source of words and language in general. Spells are about language—if you’re making a spell, you’re making a code, like a computer programmer. A programmer arranges the numbers and then… Pac-Man! And then you rearrange those numbers, and now you’ve got World of Warcraft or whatever. They’re just different arrangements. Similarly in magic, if you take words and arrange them in a specific way, now you have a spell for Saturn. Arrange them a different way, now you have Mercury. So if you take a word—there’s information inside of that word. When I started looking up the etymology to find out who made a certain word and what it meant to them, I started finding out that I thought words meant way different things than what they actually mean! And that true meaning fills it up with so much extra stuff—like with desire, for example, if I am going to understand that the word “desire” means something that comes from the stars—that’s an outside influence that I don’t have any control over. So then it makes you think—where does my desire come from? What made me want that thing? And who is desiring what I desire? Is it me? Is it some supernatural force? Your desire is like hunger, it’s like wanting to breathe. Where does that impulse come from? When we look at desire as coming from the stars, we see that it’s something bigger than ourselves. It’s universal—it’s not your fault or happening because you did something wrong. The idea that we want something we can’t or shouldn’t have, so therefore that thing is bad, is so off—these are human needs; it’s existential. We get our desire all tied in with this judgmental shaming stuff, but it’s like… how can we judge the stars?
RR: I’m super into astrology, but a lot of times when I talk to people about it, I get haters telling me how stupid or silly it is. As a professional astrologist, how do you see the relationship between humans and the cosmos?
MD: I love answering this question! Isaac Newton, who of course is the father of physics and figured out the physical laws of the universe that we still adhere to today, was an astrologer and did astrology every day of his adult life, and that’s actually how he came to a lot of his theories, was through astrology. But he would catch shit for it constantly from his peers, too, and one of the answers he would give to people was: I study it, and you don’t, so you really can’t have an opinion!
So, those people who’ll say, “How can Jupiter exert an influence upon me here on the earth?” Again, everything in this entire universe is connected to each other. There are actually rays of Jupiter—they’re called “cosmic rays”—that hit the planet earth, that hit you. There are massive amounts of people who talk about how different life forms on this planet affect each other—you know, the butterfly’s wings flapping causing the whirlwind. So, if you don’t think that planetary bodies can exert an influence over your human form on planet earth, how about every woman who menstruates with the moon?? These are natural, circadian rhythms. Astrology is about looking at the rhythms that are occurring now, looking at their energy signatures. It’s a language, just like science. And I can guarantee you that those people who are poo-pooing astrology to you have never even had a chart reading! So again, it’s like—I’m the one studying it; you don’t know what you’re talking about.
But also, it’s annoying that there are a lot of inconsistencies in astrology; there are a lot of things that don’t make sense. I don’t think about those things; I just use astrology as a system. And the reason I continue to use it as a system is because I get effects. I’ll be talking to someone, looking at their chart—like one woman, for example, she had Leo in her 6th house, the house of health, and she had a planet in there from her childhood. Leo rules the heart, so I said, “Were you hospitalized for a heart condition as a child?” She told me she’d had a fucking heart transplant when she was six years old! So then I’m like… well, what the fuck?? I don’t know what to say about that! Another guy had Pluto and Capricorn in his 6th house. Capricorn rules the knees, so I found the date that it was there and asked him, “On this date, did anything happen with your knees?” He told me he’d had knee surgery on that date! So… that’s the reason I continue to do it, because I get hits that are correct. It’s not that it’s infallible, but it really works for guidance. I’ve done thousands of charts, literally, and I’m constantly getting feedback that it’s right—to the day. So, I don’t care what kind of shit talking anybody does about it, I’m going to keep using it.
RR: I love that you’re also a visual artist. Do you find art to be cosmic?
MD: Divinity is creation—and destruction as well; it’s everything all together. But when we engage in creative acts, I feel like those are some of humanity’s closest ways to mirror The Creator. In Kabbala and a lot of ancient Jewish traditions, they would make a golem; a golem is like a Frankenstein. The story of Frankenstein was actually based on golems. It’s about man making a man. So if God is supposed to make man, what happens when man makes a man? That’s creation—you’re trying to act like God. With Frankenstein, you can see how that all went awry, and in the golem stories, the golems would take on a life of their own; you couldn’t control them. So they would make these men out of mud, the golem, and then they would use a magic word to bring it to life—abracadabra or whatever—and then life would happen! So the idea of creating something that can then take on a life of its own, to let it loose… it’s like, you can create something, but then you have to let it go and be what it is— just like children. Art is up to other people to experience; you can’t control it, everyone is going to have their own reaction to your art and put it into their own meaning category, regardless of the meaning you had. Sometimes everyone will experience it the same! That kind of art is transcendental. Like, say you make a song, and everyone has the same experience with it—that’s transcendent. If I say a word, and now you can feel what I feel—now we’re connected. That’s magic.
Art is a way to get immortal, to capture something for others to share.
RR: Yeah, that’s why I think we always want to have sex with lead singers—because they’ve connected with us. We’re like, “You get it, I get it… let’s get it.”
MD: [Laughs] That’s right, we feel what they’re feeling. Why else would we be so attracted to those lead musicians? They make us feel something! Whereas if you’re just hanging out with them when they’re NOT on stage, you have to deal with all those other feelings, and then you figure out, “Oh! This isn’t what I thought it was gonna be,” but it’s because all you were really chasing was that feeling that was expressed in their art. So art is pretty special because it can freeze in time one of those emotions, whereas everything else is dynamic and changeable. We can feel that feeling for a moment, and then it’s gone. So art is a way to get immortal, to capture something for others to share. The divinity is in the sharing because it connects. Actually, the etymology of art is “to bring together.” Science, by the way, means “to cut apart.” So art is pretty epic; it can change the world.
You’re also an oracle—holy shit! Tell us what that’s all about.
MD: That’s one of my favorite things to do! The first oracle performance I did was in Joshua Tree at Pappy and Harriet’s. Jeffertitti’s Nile invited me—they’re this band that’s been all over L.A. for years; they’re so fun and good. So I went there, and Pappy and Harriet’s is this, like, biker bar in the middle of the desert. I get up as oracle, and I invite people to ask any question they want about the mysteries of the universe. And it’s all bikers, and a bunch of marines, and army guys because there’s a base nearby. And of course there’re all these hecklers who are like, “Where’s the music?!” You know, they’re there to see music, and I’m up on stage, like, “What’s the world about?” Then someone asked about aliens, and I immediately had a response, and everyone was like, “What??” From that point, there was a shift in the crowd; they went from being skeptical to turning into little kids who wanted to ask me all kinds of questions.
That’s what usually happens; I’ll start out and people are unsure, or they don’t like it, or they feel uncomfortable, but then someone will ask a question that starts the momentum, and it just keeps going. I love it because I get to find out what kinds of things people want to know. I always get asked what love is, aliens come up all the time, people ask about death, stuff for themselves—like, “What’s my mom gonna do about whatever?”—so it’s a full range, from the personal to the cosmic. And magically enough, most of the people in the audience will say, “Oh yeah, good question, I wonder about that, too, I have that going on, too,” so it opens the connections.
RR: What does the word “occult” mean to you?
MD: This is a good one! Hardly anyone knows what that word means. Most people think of the word “occult” and they immediately think of a pentagram and a devil face! [Laughs] I don’t know how that happened! The world “occult” originally came to be a description of planetary bodies, so the origin was astrological. It was a term to use when a planet went behind another planet—similar to the idea of an eclipse. When a planet is occulted, it is hidden. The way that ties into magic is with the rainbow situation, the hunter technique. It’s occult because you can’t see it, until you put some magic in there, and now you can see through to the thing. So the word “occult” means to see through an illusion into the reality and the truth.
RR: Whoa! That’s the Scorpio power.
MD: So Scorpio, right?? So imagine if someone is lying to you; if you want to occult that liar, you have to see through that illusion they’re presenting in front of you, and see the truth behind it—which is really a big problem; most people will suffer because they didn’t perceive something that was already there in front of them, and then later they pay for it because they trusted that situation or individual who, if they’d been paying attention, they would have known from the beginning not to trust.
Becoming aware of something is an occultation, too. This is a good game you can play—Slug Bug. If you play that game, you become aware of [Volkswagen] Bugs, and suddenly they’re everywhere! But they were always there to begin with; it’s just that now you’re paying attention. Any occult stuff is learning to train yourself to become aware of more things that were previously hidden to you because you weren’t paying attention. Occultists are just people who are raising their awareness.
RR: How do you think psychedelics interact with magic?
MD: In a big way. It’s like sickness—I got started in magic as the result of a sickness. Sickness will alter your perception real quick. Anything that alters your perception is an important tool in magic. The reason psychedelics are used is because nearly all of them will have other medicinal properties in addition to altering your state of consciousness. Like, any of the hallucinogens will also act as purgatives. That’s why a lot of people throw up after they have peyote, or mushrooms, or ayahuasca. They also act as liver tonics; they tonify other areas of your body medicinally, and some of them can be used to treat other issues. So think about this: If magic is when we can see differently, what do pretty much all psychedelics do? They change the way you see! If you take DMT, which is not a proper psychedelic, it’s more of a disassociative, where you actually go somewhere else—which is fucking crazy—if you take DMT, you can see through the veil and see things that are not there: you can see other realities, you can see vortexes. Scientists can poo-poo this all they want, but the fact of the matter is that people do see that on this substance—that’s the important part.
But a lot of people think they can just take psychedelics and be able to see all this stuff… It’s not something that happens automatically, or everyone at Burning Man would be enlightened.
And the other important part is that people will see the same things on psychedelics. So this is where I’m like, wait a minute—if it was just everyone’s brain going haywire and misfiring, why the fuck is everyone seeing a jaguar?? What is that?? People who live in places where there aren’t any jaguars, consistently see jaguars. So that’s where you realize psychedelics are opening something, and it’s not because of the plant. It’s something that’s already there that people are getting access to. That’s how I view it. But a lot of people think they can just take psychedelics and be able to see all this stuff, or they wonder why they can’t see it when they’re on psychedelics. It’s about your consciousness, too, and using techniques to amplify your consciousness. It’s not something that happens automatically, or everyone at Burning Man would be enlightened.
RR: I know you believe in angels, and we live in the city of angels… Do you think L.A. has a special angel energy about it?
MD: That’s such a good question! L.A. is a really charged area. In a lot of my studies and experiences with angels, it almost seems like angels are a level of consciousness that you get to. So, the name Michael means “Who is like God” which is actually more of a question: “Who is like God?” An angel is more like when you get to that question and you ask, “Wait! Who is like God?! Michael!” And now you’re on that level because your consciousness can go up that high. So angels could be these separate things, or they could just be layers, like a step you can stand on. If you were to localize them, then you have to ask: Is there such a thing as time and space?? Then you can get real crazy. They’re like electrons—they can appear, and reappear, and appear in two places at once—they can be a million places at once! There are no rules for that shit! But I do feel like the more people that focus on a thing in one area, the more they bring that energy in.
RR: I mentioned before that you were teaching witch school, but you’ve stopped that to start a whole new project that sounds super exciting. Give us the deets!
MD: Yes! I’m starting a non-profit called The Well Wishers, which will focus on getting this information to as many people as possible. It’s going to be donation-based, and we’re currently accepting donations. It’s with myself and several other spiritual teachers that I’ve been fortunate enough to come across, who have real information that we can give to people—like with the hunter staring that I mentioned earlier. Ideally, through the donations we’ll be able to offer the classes to anyone who wants them for free. It’s a place where we can talk about all of these things, experiment with them, do group consciousness work, have open forum debates—subjects that other people might think are too taboo or too silly to even consider, I want to bring into open dialogue. I want to teach people how to deal with difficult situations and give them resources. I often find that a lot of my clients will be dealing with the same issue at the same time, so I’d love to have support groups, but esoteric, occult support groups [laughs] to help people navigate their problems, or handle health and healing, or meditation. I want to teach people to meditate in a way that’s realistic. Most people think that meditating is just sitting there and not thinking, and then they never do it because it’s too hard! But there are kinds of meditations that are way better to do—I’ve found techniques that really work, and you can feel them immediately in your body. So we’re going to help people get their energy up, deal with issues that come their way, and basically empower people that wouldn’t have resources to get that information.
Photos by Isabella Behravan