A PRIESTESS REMEMBERED. A PODCAST BORN: A DIVINELY GUIDED TALE OF HOW THIS CAME TO BE, AS EXPERIENCED BY YOUR HOSTESS, ANDEAN PRIESTESS, WITCH & MEDICINE WOMAN ALEXANDRA RAQUEL HUGHES
Hello and welcome to Episode 1 of the WitchHunt podcast.
My name, as pronounced by my beloved mother, is Alexandra Raquel Hughes. And everyone calls me Alex.
I will be your host every new moon and full moon when I interview amazing women from around the world who identify as Witches, Priestesses, Medicine Women and others who use other words to describe their magic.
In this episode I want to tell you how this podcast came to be, and why.
But in order for it all to make sense, I need to share a bit of my own story to provide context.
And as with many stories of personal transformation and awakening, it is challenging to find a beginning.
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, she says (this is a quote):
I believe that our planet is inhabited not only by animals and plants and bacteria and viruses, but also by ideas. Ideas are disembodied, energetic life-form. They are completely separate from us, but capable of interacting with us — albeit strangely. … Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner. It is only through a human’s efforts that an idea can be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.
Therefore, ideas spend eternity swirling around us, searching for available and willing human partners. When an idea thinks it has found somebody — say, you — who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention. Mostly, you will not notice.
Because, she goes on to say, our minds and lives are simply too busy.
She says: The idea will try to wave you down, but when it finally realizes that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else.
But sometimes — rarely, but magnificently — there comes a day when you’re open and relaxed enough to actually receive something. Your defenses might slacken and your anxieties might ease, and then magic can slip through. The idea, sensing your openness, will start to do its work on you. It will send the universal physical and emotional signals of inspiration …. The idea will organize coincidences and portents to tumble across your path, to keep your interest keen. You will start to notice all sorts of signs pointing you toward the idea. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of the idea. The idea will wake you up in the middle of the night and distract you from your everyday routine. The idea will not leave you alone until it has your fullest attention.
And then, in a quiet moment, it will ask: “Do you want to work with me?”
So my magical podcast idea came to me this summer in a moment of quiet while I sat on a beach looking out over the Mediterranean, trying to connect with Aphrodite, north of Barcelona in my husband’s homeland of Catalunia.
She didn’t say “do you want to work with me?”
She said: “You’re doing a podcast. And it’s called WitchHunt.”
What’s so funny about this idea is that she had been hovering around in my unawares for months. But another amazing Medicine Woman did get a tap on her shoulder from Her.
Let me back up a little bit.
My sitting on the beach marked a moment in between two worlds for me.
I was there, smack in the middle of an international move from our 4 year posting in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, to Toronto, Canada, where I decided our family should be.
A few months previous, just before I entered the bowels of our move, I’d arranged a session with one of my teachers and guides, and who now I consider a friend, Indigenous Medicine Woman mentor, space holder and seer, of Ojibwe lineage, Asha Frost.
I was desperately trying to figure out how best to reach more women who needed support slowing down and pausing in a soul-feeding way. I’d created a beautiful offering called the Sacred Pause Experience and was exploring using Facebook ads to help spread the word about it.
Funnily enough, I can’t remember what Asha said about the Facebook Ads, but I can remember 3 very clear take-aways:
The first was affirmation that I was a Priestess.
The second was that I was to bring other Priestesses together.
And the third was that I knew how.
She kept saying: “You know how, Alex. You know.”
And I sat waiting for the how to come. And it didn’t.
So, rather confused, I stepped out of our session and back into life and our big international family move which, if you’ve ever done one, keeps your mind pretty damn busy. Like idea-inpenetrably so.
But Sister Asha had told me to trust. So I went about life with the question looming.
Now, it’s worth noting that Asha was not the first to tell me I was a Priestess.
Two other wise women had also affirmed my role as a Priestess. The first was Deanna Lankin, a well known Canadian artist and Visionary Host who lives on the Islands off the West Coast of Canada and Carla dos Santos, an extremely skilled Brazilian astrologist based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
While my awakening is one that I can trace over the course of decades, I also know that for whatever reason, when the pandemic hit it intensified massively.
It’s a moment when I felt a strong calling to slow right down and go inwards.
I did the numbers, shut my coaching practice down and over the course of 3 months took what I now call my Sacred Pause. This looked like a lot of time resting, meditating, and healing. Time in my Brasilia garden and in my bath became my daily therapy. There was much shadow work to be done.
This is when Deanna Lankin came into my world.
Part and parcel of my shadow work involved me finally taking action and finding someone to help me remember 6 years of my childhood that I’d hidden away in the dark caves of my mind after my father left my mother, myself and my unborn sister.
I was found Deanna through Sarah Jenks’ Whole Woman membership — also a very important part of my awakening journey. Through this membership, Sarah helps heal the patriarchal brainwashing that holds them back and lean into the power of having a sacred life. One of the woman in the group had posted one of Deanna’s videos. I saw it, and was called to work with her.
Deanna is an astrologist, past life regression and beyond quantum healing hypnosis practitioner. And through our beyond quantum healing session, she helped me access my memory, heal the wound there and SO MUCH MORE.
A beyond quantum healing session is much like an hallucinogenic trip, but without any drugs. The guide helps you set clear intentions for the journey and then takes you into a dreamscape where your soul or subconscious leads you through a series of scenes — each one with messages (some more legible than others) responding to your intentions.
In one of those scenes I saw myself in a different time and place, standing over a woman in a sacred Andean temple space. I was holding my arms up, and an effervescent white healing light was glowing around the woman. I was a Priestess doing healing work.
Now, more context that will help you understand why this Andean Priestess image took on so much meaning for me.
I am the daughter of Marta Maria Raquel de Hughes. And she the daughter of Raquel Maria Llanos de Meckel and Walter Meckel.
Raquel, my abuela and my mother were born in the Andes. My grandmore, of very humble indigenous beginnings and my mother less so, as by the time she was born, she’d made her way up the ranks of domestic servitude and found love and security in her marriage with a German American mineralogical engineer who’d left Ohio to manage an American-owned mine in Potosi, Bolivia.
I’m not sure if it was her looks, or her cooking, or her magic that charmed my grandfather. But either way, it was in town, famous for having provided enough silver to build a bridge from Potosi to Spain, that my mother was born.
And while my grandmother managed the home, entertaining the upper echelons of Potosi society in the most white and European way she knew how (and believe you me, she took this project on with great pride), my mother roamed freely throughout the hills with the local children — children of the indigenous miners. It was with these children, their family’s and her nanny, that she learned their ways, and developed a holy reverence towards our Pacha Mama.
70 odd years later, the breadcomes started appearing.
I can’t exactly remember in what order they appeared, but I can say that within the 12 weeks of my Sacred Pause Experience,
a course called Sacerdotisa Andina — Andean Priestesshood, in Portuguese — landed in one of my social media feeds. And I knew, despite my basic Portuguese, that it was meant for me.
Then my dear friends Sinclair Kennally and Micheal Spandel, offered me a Symbolic Modeling session which took me into an inner world of symbols that lived within. I met colonizer and colonized in the forms of coal and light.
Then there was my bqh healing session, where Deanna identified my kundalini awakening — she saw it as my initiation into Priestesshood.
Affirmation after affirmation after affirmation.
So when, months later, Carla read my stars and told me that I’d been a priestess for many, many lives and that my calling this time around was to find balance by supporting the Divine Feminine to rise and heal the toxicity that lives within women, you know, as a consequence of an internalized patriarchy — completely aligned with the divine download that came through my work with Rha Goddess’ book, the Calling, I was not surprised.
The pandemic had called me to slow down and go inward in a way that I hadn’t ever done before. And in a way that provided no answers for what was to come.
But the breadcrumbs kept me on path.
So when Asha asked me to trust, I did.
I also want to add here, the importance of surrounding yourself with guides and teachers.
I’ve mentioned many already, but there is one woman in my life who precedes all of these women, and who continues to be an inspiration to me and my business.
Her name is Kate Northrup. Not only did Kate introduce me to a “do less” way of living my life that is aligned with nature’s cycles, and in so doing, a space opened up. That space that llows for Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC to happen.
And then, on top of reminding me time and time again, to seek my answers within she was the one who presented me to Sarah Jenks, Asha, Sinclair, Rha Goddess and so many other incredible sisters through her Origin Collective membership..
If you’re listening Kate and Sarah and Asha and Sinclair and Michael and Carla and Deanna, Rha thank you.
It is through sisterhood, we rise.
But not really, because that is actually what this podcast is about, right?
So there I was immersed in the sacred through these magical women’s teachings and energy, surrounded by sisters virtually. My garden and my bathtub became my temple. And my rabbit and horse, my familiars.
The word Witch wasn’t a big part of my identity at that point.
However, It was through self-observation and on-going ceremony in my relationship with my body and the natural world around me that I came to identify and then honor myself as a Witch.
Basically I found myself doing Witchy things — I started gardening by the light of the moon, dancing and praying in a tree circle in my garden. I found myself talking to the moon, to the trees, the sea.
It’s as though my doing witchy things became my being a witch — from the inside out, so to speak.
Also, during this time, what Elizabeth Gilbert calls BIG MAGIC happened.
I birthed my Sacred Pause Experience — a bundle of 4 rituals, each energetically aligned with one of the 4 phases of nature’s cycle. I birthed Sacred Living, a course on cyclical living, ritual, talismans and sacred space. And I birthed what has now evolved into a high touch program called Sacred Leadership. I created and piloted these through a flow of creative energy that simply used me as its vessel in less than one year.
Fast forward to me and Aphrodite on the beach in Catalunia. This marked the end of that year of creative energy, the end of my tiem in Brazil and a new beginning for my family.
It was moment of calm in the midst of an international family move in a pandemic storm.
But then life happened.
The podcast was to wait. Until now.
Today, after quite a rollercoaster of a move, I find myself in Toronto with my husband and 3 kids settled, or settling at least. And myself re-rooting in the country most familiar to me and in a global context that is completely weird, and frankly, when I’m not careful, nerve wracking.
It took me months to let the idea land, and to tell others about.
And yet more to answer my own doubts and questions, and to build up the courage to take inspired action.
I knew the podcast was my calling. But I worried that the name WitchHunt was too triggering, or perhaps using words like Medicine Woman was a form of offensive cultural appropriation. Who was I to call myself these things? Or to have a platform where we explore them? I don’t have a PhD in any of it.
And was it right to only refer to women? .
And despite the title my divine idea had bestowed on the project, I didn’t want to exclude women who didn’t resonate with the word Witch, but wanted to include all those who were waking up to a healing, a knowing, a wholeness, a more intimate connection with natural and cosmic cycles, with their magic.
So I had to broaden the circle and include Priestesses and Medicine Women in the invitation, taking the risk of cultural appropriate and fully aware that these 3 labels were still only a small part of the sacred women’s circle.
My learning aside, inclusivity is an important principle upon which this podcast is designed
Inclusivity and making our own.
Inclusivity of our magic, our messiness, our shadows, our wound, and our terrifying power.
Inclusivity of all beings open to this within themselves and open to this within those they share this beloved planet with.
And making our own, as in making the word Witch, for instance, our own. And for making the act of WitchHunting, our own too (It’s about time, Goddess damn it!)
I’m learning here and if anything I say at all feels exclusive, please let me know in the kindest way possible. It’s through conversation that we learn. Please open one up, and let me know how I can do better. I promise to listen as long as there is no “othering” or judgement involved.
I’d also like to say that I’m fully aware that the titles of Witch, Priestess, Medicine Woman and others are enmeshed with stories that are laced with deep trauma and healing, great pains and power. And that one of the most important reasons behind us using them here is to take them back; to make them our own. And of course, to have them known.
While this podcast holds the intention of illuminating, uplifting and celebrating the long lost wisdom and magic in women, it is also about putting words to unspoken and difficult-to-describe experiences. And in order to do any of this, there is a courageous act towards visibility that needs to take place.
I heard somewhere that the word taboo derives from the word sacred? Taboo is what we do not talk about.
And for us weird women of magic, us stepping up to be interviewed on a podcast called WitchHunt is an invitation to embody both the dangerous feelings around speaking the taboo and the liberation of speaking what is sacred. I feel this very deeply each time I press the record button.
And in fact before being able to write and record this very podcast, I went into a nervous breakdown. Granted, I’d been working too hard, not honoring my mind’s boundaries — constantly thinking, CONSTANTLY and pretty much working all the time. It was a combination of things. But what I know it to be, mostly is my fear of visibility — as a witch, no less!. And it petrified me. Literally.
So baby step after baby step I mothered myself back here to face my fear. And here I am surrounded by candle light and incense, speaking to you.
It’s an act of courage to be here.
Yes, And… given the state of the world, we know it’s time.
Our work. Our wisdom. Our magic is needed.
Ok, so that’s one thing.
While I don’t like the word “normal” — and nothing about these womens’ stories feels normal — this project is also about “normalizing” the awakening of the divine feminine, as she expresses herself through us.
I cannot count the number of times that people have asked me what I do, or how I am, and I’ve held back by whole truth and offered a “normal muggle” answer. I stay safe and let them know part of me.
In doing this, I’m letting my whole self be known.
Also, and intimately related, as a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser who wants everyone to feel happy and good all the time (yes, welcome to womanhood in the patriarchy, right?) I’ve decided to not only embrace and make visible my whole witchy Priestess self, but also to embrace messy.
I needed to start this magical project, even if it isn’t perfect. Even if it may piss some off.
So I begin here with this episode, and move onto other beautifully raw unedited until now episodes with the most amazing magical women.
Our first interview, scheduled to air on January 2nd under the new moon’s energy is with Creatrix and Radical Sex Witch, Carla Wainwright. It’s called TURNED ON BY LIFE and is super juicy. And the episode after that is called DECOLONIZE YOUR NERVES with Sorceress and Nervous System Healer and Alchemist, Elisha Halpin.
Just thinking of these episodes and the gifts they will bring reminds me how blessed I am, we are, with your presence, blessed with the energy of loving hearts, mind-blowing deep wisdom of the magical women I have the privilege of interviewing.
I will end with the words of Lisa Lister, from her book Witch.
It’s an invitation and a blessing. If you feel called, put hand on heart, close your eyes and go inward for a moment.
Visualize yourself yourself entering a circle of witches.
The air is thick with the smoke of burning mugwort…There’s a fire burning, with flames licking at broken treak branches; and around it, women are gathered.
Come join us.
Take a look around the circle, and let your eyes meet the eyes of the women that are gathered with you. You may recognize some of them…or you may not.
They may be from this lifetime, or they may not.
One sister is chanting the various names given to the Mother God: Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna over and over, from deep down in her womb.
It feels ancient and timeless.
You are home.
And so it is.
Thank you for being here.