Aepril Schaile is a Priestess, Performance Artist, and Poet. She is the owner of Aepril’s Astrology and puts out The Nuit Report, a weekly astrology oracle and occult based teaching. She is a natural born, practicing Witch, and a Thelemite. It has been said that Aepril’s performances project a “world” in which the audience lives with her for a moment in time; her work shamanistically invokes aspects of the Dark Goddess. She has been a featured Bellydance Artist/Teacher in Paris, London, Rome, New York, L.A., and throughout Europe and the US. Aepril holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Art. Aepril has moved to Ireland from Salem, MA, where she has been adjusting to her new life and performing at private ritual events. She was interviewed and filmed performing as the Morrigan for the Scarlet Tongue Project, an exploration of the relationship between women and anger (focusing on female artists); the film is scheduled to be released spring/summer 2018. She is working on a book of poetry, and other occulted things!
Aepril Schaile recently presented at “Trans-States:The art of Crossing Over” occult conference at Northampton University, UK, where she presented the Lucid Dream Chamber interactive/immersive installation. The room was created to invoke a sense of dream using visual and audial cues and atmosphere. Each participant entered the room alone, and “co-dreamed” the experience with Aepril. Aepril stayed in a receptive trance state throughout. The performance explored liminal space and called into question the nature of projection, belief, ideas of self-and-other, and the lines between dream and “waking” reality. She has also recently performed at “Svb Rosa”, NYC “as” the Qabbalistic sephirah Da’ath.
In a previous conversation with you, when I asked how long you’d been a witch, you responded by saying you were born a witch. Most of us have had experiences when we were children that pre-shadow our magickal abilities or predisposition. Did you have any experiences like this?
When I was a little girl I would spend hours conversing with invisible beings. After my mother would put me to bed, it was how I would wind down and relax…chatting with Invisibles–and even playing games, or making up plays. One could say that these were “just” imaginary friends, but what is the world itself if not what we imagine? At any rate, I remember telling another kid about doing that, thinking everyone did, and I was stunned to find out that not everyone did that! I remember this other kid being like what the hell are you talking about? And I felt ashamed, and weird. And I was careful to keep it to myself after that. Didn’t stop me though, and of course I still do it.
So it was things like this that I believe were the first evidences of my daemon, or True Will or calling or whatever we’d like to call it. I would spend hours in the woods in the back of my building. I communicated with trees—I felt that I could hear them, almost like music in my mind.
How did you come to find the occult aside from natural experiences?
It’s come to me in so many directions…its all a blur! Especially my teens and early 20’s; I was volatile and feral. Much of my energy was spent managing the pain of what I now understand to be CPTSD. Paradoxically, I believe that the traumatic experiences in part enabled me to become more medial and psychic. One coping strategy for managing interpersonal trauma is to become hyper-vigilant, so I learned to tune in to what other people were thinking and feeling to preemptively anticipate what they might do next. When one doesn’t have safety or normality growing up, one can be open to other ways of looking at reality—maybe more so than others who have had more secure lives. So I had no problem trying magick on for size! Also, I wanted to leave my body as an escape, and one of the side effects of that was the gift of astral travel. I remember reading about that and thinking oh my god…that’s what that is!!
My first magick book was Celtic Magick by DJ Conway. I read that around the same time as The Mists of Avalon, which really captured my imagination and opened up a world of possibility. Books like this validated me. Reading about witches and priestesses gave me a new model of powerful femininity—something I had rejected as being weak. Later as a young adult I had a lot of exposure to Wicca, but I resisted the form and structure of it (though I drew from it in my own solitary practices). I didn’t start to value community ritual until much later.
During a major Pluto transit in my mid 20’s, I spent a year in a cabin in the north central Vermont woods. Very isolated, no internet, wood stove for heat, outhouse. I lived there with just my wolf-hybrid, Coda. In the deep winter the snow would be up to the windows, -30 F at extremes. This was when I feel my true Initiation occurred. You asked about my exposure aside from natural experiences, but for me they are inseparable. I had direct Gnosis. During this time I went through the classic shamanic sickness and self-healing, death and rebirth. I had regular OBE’s, and I was so very close to the Invisibles… I could hear them in the wind. The Veil simply dissolved. As I metamorphosized, it was almost like a sculptor was chiseling away layers of dross that I’d somehow accumulated, and my true self was revealed. I’d been a smoker since my early teens, and I spontaneously stopped. I started dancing, singing, playing music, none of which I’d done before. And began to master astrology. I used mythological story as my map. Hours and days would go by and I was just in this chthonic wild world, where day would just become night and night would change to day and it was all just a blur. I covered the walls top to bottom with scribbled poems and self-portraits. I felt like my very molecular structure was being rearranged, and it was excruciating. When the process was complete, and I came back to society, I was a totally changed person. I was initiated by Nature Herself.
You recently moved to Ireland from Salem Massachussetts. Have you noticed a major change in the spirits and energy between the two places? How have you re-oriented yourself to the magick of Ireland as opposed to the magick of Salem?
I feel that my energy system is recalibrating yet again! Not as dramatically as I described above but it’s definitely happening. Some of it has been obvious in its unfoldment, and some quite subtle yet powerful. I have gotten much more deeply interested in plants, and I’ve been studying that. It’s been fun to develop my new apothecary, and of course my collection of graveyard dirt from all over! In order to bond with the body of the Goddess, I’ve immersed myself in the rivers and caves of this land, ascended mountains and danced in the forest invoking Her holy presence through my own bones and flesh.
This land has layers and layers of human history, and much to say about that. My ancestors lived here, so that’s another feature for me, and this past Samhain was quite special. I feel that I’m coming back to a much earthier, organic form of witchcraft informed by the land here, after more recent years focusing primarily on High Magick. And the Morrigan has called me back to Her quite strongly. She has been speaking to me in Irish, which I don’t yet understand. (Among other things, She sent me a message via Facebook Messenger in a dream! Haha!)
There is much more of an emphasis on history here, and I’ve been learning many things that have caused changes in perspective. This also makes me very aware of how much we’re NOT talking about the history of the land in the US, and about the indigenous people whose spirits are still present there.
I do miss Salem! I miss the flamboyance, the pan-spirituality, and long conversations with dear friends over red wine about sex, art and magick!
As a Thelemite and a Witch, do you blend these practices? There tends to be a hard line between the two practices among practitioners in my experiences, with most people being one or the other and not both. How do you feel these practices differ and what commonality are between them?
I came to Thelema in Salem, which has a culture of Thelema and Witchcraft existing simultaneously with minimal conflict.
Thelema is not a possessive religion, but rather to me a philosophy of living, and a community. “Do what thou wilt!” That means practicing Witchcraft, too, if it is ones Will to do so. The practice of Witchcraft is part of my True Will, and is a vehicle for the Great Work. My experience as a Priestess in the Gnostic Mass (Liber XV) is invoking the Goddess into myself as vessel; this is what I do in my other magicks as well. Witchcraft is just part of my essence.
If I remember right, you’re somewhat of a Jungian. Most who don’t dive deep into Jung’s work view his concepts such as archetypes as purely “mental” and “psychological” (while also disregarding his interest in Hermetic philosophy which would make that statement more in depth). Do you view the gods as purely psychological or as real independent beings, or both?
Both. I don’t see why the two ideas are mutually exclusive. For instance, I see The Morrigan as mySelf, speaking to me from my personal unconscious and the collective unconscious, and as an ancient entity who is very much alive and with whom I have conversation and relationship. And to whom I pay respect. I treat Her as I should treat my most holy Self.
There is only one Mind, Infinite, and we are the Universe experiencing itSelf. Even daily mundane life is a hologram; it’s a projection of Mind. So all relationship is us experiencing ourselves at a certain level. This is an advanced idea, and can be psychologically dangerous for people who aren’t ready for it. But as we go up the Tree, things get more and more paradoxical and less literal and certain. What we’ve counted on as being true is revealed as only being true at a denser level.
One of my favorite parts of the Gnostic Mass is the moment when we say “There is no part of me that is not of the Gods”. To me that means that we are the gods themselves; there is no separation. To see the gods only as separate beings who do stuff at us is way too literal, and then we get into big trouble. We have to mature past that to acquire mastery. Otherwise give our power away. And they don’t necessarily want that for us. They model to us what we can strive to become like at our very best.
Psychology is a science, and divorcing ourselves from the tools that science offers isn’t very smart! I think doing so is an understandable response to the ways that scientific/materialist/literalism discredits those of us who communicate with the Invisibles. However, psychology is the science of the soul, and it could be argued that Quantum Physics is the science of magick. Anyone who doesn’t know much about psychology, particularly Archetypal and /or Jungian Psychology and Shadow Work, is going to have trouble becoming a master Mage. Without those tools we’re at risk for getting caught up in the traps of our own mind, conjuring undesired things with our magick. Not to mention conflicts with other people–for example, “witch wars”.
I saw you dance a few years back in person where you were dressed as Babalon. I was completely mesmerized by the performance, it seemed as if you were aspecting or channeling Babalon herself. As a witch, it was undeniable to me that Babalon was running through you. Is there a spirit-possession element to your Dark Goddess dances, how do you go about that?
I’m honored by your kind words about that performance! I see my art as my primary vehicle for magickal work. Music and dance are the easiest ways for me to Priestess. The Goddess tells me what’s what, and then I bring Her through my body with the support of the technique that I’ve trained in. Babalon loves to bellydance! Bellydance can be used as a magickal technique for expressing the 156 Current of Babalon and the re-integrated divine Feminine as Holy Whore. Where does everyone think the tradition of wearing coin bedlahs came from? Haha! The coin belt, the tradition of throwing money at the dancer, the erotic nature of the dance (eros is much more to me than “sexual”, though that’s part of it, and no, bellydance is not to be confused with “exotic dance”) It’s right there.
Sometimes when I dance, I can be a witness and watch myself doing it. I’m being ridden! I don’t always know what’s going to happen. I practice my form and create choreography and become the vehicle, but the rest is Her. It’s a shamanic practice.
When I came out on the bellydance circuit, I was dancing as the Morrigan. I scared the fuck out of some of the audience members, who’d never seen that. But it hit a chord and it was after this dance that my career began as an internationally touring dancer. I see the work that I do as a performer and teacher as really acting as an undercover agent for the Dark Goddess.
Thank you! I’m so pleased that this is how I make my living! I didn’t set out to do that. I just wanted to talk about a big Grand Cross that was happening, and I videoed myself in my yard with my phone talking about it and posted it to YouTube. I got requests for readings, and so I set up a little Blogspot with a PayPal button. I just kept it simple and called it Aepril’s Astrology. Now it’s what it is…a full time job that I do in addition to my dance/art!
One of the things that I find fascinating about your astrology is your focus on the Black Moon Lilith, which a lot of astrologers don’t incorporate. Can you briefly explain what Black Lilith Moon is and why it’s important in someone’s chart?
I have Lilith rising in Scorpio. So I can’t help but discuss her lots!
I think of Black Moon Lilith in the chart as a point of high contrast, polarized experience. Exile vs. belonging; intimacy vs. alienation; rejection vs. acceptance. It’s also where we find our true, undefinable, ineffable essence, untouched by cultural influences. It’s who we’d be if we were raised by wolves. She is said by some to be the true essence of god, which I love because that says to me that we ourselves, in being who we truly are, are at our most divine.
Lilith shows where Current 156, and/or the Witchcraft current, flows (or does not flow) through us. Lilith Herself is an ancient being; a shapeshifter with many different guises. She tends to reflect back to us our deepest longings and most terrifying challenges. She’s been claimed by modern feminism as a symbol of uncompromising female empowerment, but I see her as much, much more than that. She does not compromise because she can’t, not just won’t. It’s not Her nature to do so, any more than a river or a tree or a wolf can be something different than they are. They just ARE. We all have a place in our deepest core that needs to be authentic regardless of the consequences; that same core is where our most powerful magick lives. That’s Lilith.