Vanessa Irena

Vanessa Irena

artist • musician • writer

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I am a multidisciplinary artist, musician, and writer. My work focuses on the exploration of ecstasy and the body as a ritual and devotional instrument. I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and currently live in Upstate NY in the Catskill Mountains. I received my BFA with a concentration in painting from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and have been creating art and music since I was 4 years old.


I produce experimental devotional music as ek-stasis (formerly as knifesex) and released my first solo EP, Deipna, in January of 2017 and my first full-length album, dedicated to the goddess Babalon, in November of 2017. I released my first published work, Saint Raphael The Archangel, a pamphlet I co-authored with Alexander Cummins in July of 2018 through Hadean Press. I also released a collaborative musical piece with Alexander Cummins, a ritual invocation to Mars, in December 2018. In 2019 my interview with Alkistis Dimech was published in The Brazen Vessel, through Scarlet Imprint. I released the chapbook Ecstasy: A Devotional Guide to the Female Mystics, in July of 2022 through Hadean Press. In 2023 I became a self-taught metalsmith and launched my online store, Sword + Scythe where I create handmade magical amulets, astrological talismans, and spirit-led adornments. In 2024 I formed the musical project House13 with my partner and we produced the original score to the film, The Woods.


I am an astrologer and diviner with a specialized interest in medieval and renaissance astrological magic, horary, and medical astrology (the astrology of the body). I have studied astrology with Christopher Warnock, Judith Hill, Chris Brennan, and Bernadette Brady among many others and am indebted to their scholarship. I am a gardener and folk herbalist, and proponent of movement as a magical and spiritual practice. I practice both weightlifting and ecstatic dance and view the body as the primary locus of witchcraft. I am also an initiated Lukumi Olorisha apprenticed to elders within the afrodiasporic community. I believe every action we take to live fully is a devotional act to the ancestors.