My name is Vanessa Irena and I’m a artist, musician, and writer. My work focuses on the exploration of ecstasy through devotion to the body, the spirits of the land, the dead, and the stars. I was born and raised in New Orleans, LA and currently live in upstate NY. I received my BFA with a concentration in painting from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and have been creating and performing music since I was 4 years old. I hosted the dark electronic radio show TOTAL CONTROL on Brooklyn’s Newtown Radio for two years, and have contributed writing to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. I was once named one of Twitter’s funniest people by The Daily Dot and created the viral Facebook meme page, Share If You Agree.
I solo produce experimental devotional music as ekstasis (formerly as knifesex) and I 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. Prior to releasing my solo work I provided lead vocals and production to NYC band The Harrow, and performed as a live member of Public Memory. 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. I also have a substack which also includes my experimental audio podcast, glossolalia.
I have studied and practiced yoga and yogic breathwork as well as Buddhist meditation and mindfulness for over a decade. I’m a traditional astrologer and diviner with a specialized interest in medical astrology (the astrology of the body), astrological magic, astroherbalism, and the tarot. I have studied with Chris Warnock, Chris Brennan, and Judith Hill among many others. I’m a certified nutritionist, folk herbalist, and proponent of physical fitness as a magical and spiritual practice. I practice both weightlifting and ecstatic dance and view the body as the primary locus and instrument of witchcraft. I have a devotional relationship with the saints and, in particular, the female mystics whose lives and work have allowed me to reclaim my relationship to Catholicism and my own queer sexuality. I believe every action we take to heal, thrive, and become well is a devotional act to ourselves and to the ancestors.