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Michael Domitrovich, A Most Edible Spirit

September 27, 2016
  • Photographs by Kristiina Wilson
    Text by Jenni Miller
    Hair + Makeup by Joey Maalouf

    Michael Domitrovich is part of the new generation of seekers and healers, a former chef and playwright who moves fluidly between the divine and Divine, the sort of autodidact who gathers spiritual inspiration from John Waters and fashion and genderfuckery as much as he does the Yoruba deity Oshun and Cypriot mystic Daskalos. He gave me a tight, warm hug immediately upon introduction and peppers his conversation with laughter. For lack of a better term, he just radiates good. We chatted for nearly an hour before Kristiina and crew got him all glittered up for YDY.

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    Jenni Miller: EdibleSpirit is just one of many things that you’ve done and continue to do. When did you begin EdibleSpirit as a professional gig?

    Michael Domitrovich: EdibleSpirit itself has only been around for like a year-and-a-half-ish, but I’ve been teaching full time since 2012. I started reading cards in 2006/2007-ish.

    I lived in L.A. for two-and-a-half years, I moved out there in early 2010, and that was when I stumbled into this tea parlor and I ended up spending five hours there meeting the owner and her daughter and all of these people. I gave like five readings in the time that I was there. There was this really amazing Russian dude who claimed to be a Freemason that was going to sneak me into one of the meetings, and they were also filming The Hills in the background. So, it was a very strange moment, and by the time I left, they offered me a job reading there.

    And then, I could kind of work word-of-mouth in L.A., because everybody has a psychic there, everybody has someone that they work with there, and so it evolved very organically. But then, when I moved back to New York in 2012 all of a sudden I had to be able to explain to everyone what do you do, how much does it cost, what’s it going to do for me, when’s it going to be over, what are the benefits? And so, that was really when I shifted into more of a teaching capacity, then started EdibleSpirit as a hub for functional, accessible spirituality.

    New York made me have to figure my shit out and be able to talk about it and write about it, and then all of the sudden, I was doing all of this “spiritual writing” and was like, oh, I need a place to put this stuff up. I need a place that people can find me. I should probably start having some social media. I want to write about all of these things in an interesting and accessible way.

    EdibleSpirit is about finding that approachable, accessible, digestible spirituality that you can use to improve your life and get more of the things you want and live more authentically without having to be so cheesy or woo-woo about it or needlessly esoteric or boring or sad or lame.

    Spirituality can sometimes really not feel cool at all. And, it’s not like I’m trying to make it cool, but I personally believe that if it’s just about the other side and the esoterica of it, it’s kind of a cop out. You’re not actually working to try to integrate these powers and forces and things into your daily life, you know?

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    JM: Who would you say your influences are belief-wise or the things that you’ve read or studied with?

    MD: I had an amazing teacher in L.A. who was actually a former Skinemax B-movie star. She turned 40 and took a Reiki class with her aunt and all of the sudden started speaking to spirits. She was amazing, because she always made it no big deal. It was like the keys to the fucking universe, no big deal, everyone calm down, and just start talking to your guides and start talking to your ancestors. And like, she made it very natural and easy.

    So really, to me, it’s the people that don’t take themselves too seriously. I really like this guy named David Elliot who wrote a book called The Reluctant Healer, which was a big book for me, because it was very much about like, I’m the last fucking person that I thought would be doing this. Like, I’ve always been involved with food and the arts and all these other things, and the process of coming into my own as a healer has been just dealing with the fact that this is what I’m really good at and what I’m really passionate about and what I would do forever and ever and ever. So, David Elliot’s book was very much like that. It was a very simplified book about how he became a healer and also what he thought about it.

    The stuff that I don’t love is the really big, institutional stuff. I love Deepak Chopra. The Chopra Center and all the stuff that’s around it, it’s a lot for me, because it’s like, I don’t necessarily want to have to go on a retreat. I don’t necessarily want to have to give you all my money. I want information that I can use to empower my life and the choices that I want to make, you know?

    Let’s see, who else do I love? Oh, this woman named Barbara Hand Clow who is an astrologer, who wrote a lot about the planet Chiron early on, and she wrote this book called The Alchemy of Nine Dimensions that’s all about awakening to your multi-dimensional self and the rebirth of the goddess on earth, and she was really cool, and she was an early teacher that I found that really influenced me.

    The truth is is that I actually have — I always called it my guru chip, like, the chip on my shoulder where I don’t ever want to surrender myself to anyone. I’ve worked too hard to be who I am, to love who I love, to accept myself, understand myself, appreciate myself, love myself, that the thought of surrendering that self to someone else just always seemed kind of dicey to me.

    So, I would actually always try to develop ideas and understand the work that I was doing in a vacuum, because it’s the same way that I write plays; the same way that I write other things. It’s like, I will either get influences from something totally different than the medium that I’m working in — so, if I’m writing a movie I’ll listen to a lot of music, or if I’m writing a play I’ll read a bunch of books or magazines, even, sometimes, you know? I like to cross forms and cross medium.

    And so, for me, I look to great teachers and great people that inspired me —and other people that are really being themselves and being true to themselves and being honest with themselves like, oh, John Waters is my favorite filmmaker. Bruce LaBruce is my second-favorite filmmaker, because I always like the fact that you can be making a cohesive statement about something using really nontraditional forms. And, I like that about both Bruce LaBruce and John Waters, because there is no difference between the sacred and the profane, and if you use the profane correctly, you can create something transcendental and really powerful and amazing and create a screen goddess like Divine, who, to me, is just as powerful in my consciousness as the Virgin Mary.

    The Virgin Mary represents compassion and love and forgiveness and acceptance and understanding; Divine, to me, represents radical self-love, transgression, rebellion, and radical self-love; radical beauty. I am fucking Divine. I’m beautiful, you know?

     

    The way that I work is that my guides and the sources that I work with will then reveal to me all of the stuff that’s not in line with that essential truth, and we can talk about it and then refocus and reemphasize and empower your own self by saying like, “If this isn’t who you are, it’s never going to be who you are, so what can you do to get rid of the things that you’re not so that you can be who you actually are?” The way that I describe it to super bros or really left-brain, analytical people is that I work with people to help them conserve their energy; to help you not waste energy being someone you’re not or doing something that you don’t believe in or acting in a way that isn’t actually in line with how you are.

    For me, healing, spirituality, even reading is all about emphasizing radical self-acceptance, radical self-love, radical accountability and responsibility to be exactly who you are. Because I believe that everyone is a healer, but that the only way you get to discover the healer that you are is by discovering who you are first, loving that person, articulating that love, getting better at describing what you love, knowing what you love, so that if someone says to you like, “You’re fucked up,” you’re like, “No, I’m fucking awesome, and here’s why.”

    I know how much I love myself, but what happens is that — I see it with clients all the time — the more you sustain that empowered, internal, authentic state, you accrue a certain amount of love and mojo and energy and power until that love and mojo and energy and power just boils over, and you start to give of yourself in ways that are really authentic and aligned with who you actually are. Poof. You’re a fucking healer, you know?

    JM: You mentioned Beyoncé, and I think I love Beyoncé, and I feel like this dovetails with what you were saying about New York versus L.A. Beyoncé has all this Oshun imagery, and it’s like how the occult has infiltrated pop culture and this thing, you know? I think it’s about the way people have become more open to seeking in the past years.

    MD: Oh, 100 — and I think that’s partially cultural, just that it is becoming more acceptable, but there’s an undercurrent of evolving consciousness, which is just that the problems keep getting bigger, so the solutions have to get bigger. So, people are — I believe it’s happening on a really core level where people are integrating bigger sources of power — bigger, more ancient traditions. Ayahuasca is huge all over the place, all sorts of people are going to sacred sites all over the world and actually understanding what that means, you know?

    So, I think this connects to this conversation is that I believe that if you look into the world, if you look for healing, if you look for signs that you’re good, that you’re okay, that you’re whole, that you’re beautiful, that you’re true, that you’re authentic, I think that the whole world can start to permutate and shift and show you that you are right. So, basically, that every single thing in the world is an opportunity for healing, an opportunity to love yourself more, to grow more, to change more, to be more true, to save more energy. And so, I think there’s a magical thing that is happening. I mean, if we want to talk about Beyoncé too, I think that clearly, all of the statements that she made in Lemonade: visual statements, verbal statements, all of that stuff, it’s very realistic.

    Santería, voodoo, the indigenous traditions, most of them didn’t come from a kale juice and infrared sauna kind of place. They came from a place of need, of real need. If you think of Beyoncé as a channel for healing — which I believe everyone in the world is a channel for healing — then she gets to be the one who calls up these images potentially in response to all of the crazy shit that’s been going on in the country… I think that’s what’s really powerful about her is that when you are that epic of a star, yes, you have your personality, but you are a channel. It’s not about you. You are surrendering. You are giving yourself in service to your fans, to the world constantly, usually for the sake of helping and healing and empowering and bringing all of these amazing messages that she brings to us.

    But, I think what’s so cool about this last round is that it’s deeper than girl power, it’s darker than girl power, because, I believe, the world is deeper and darker than girl power right now. We need more than just girl power. We need ancient fucking wisdom to pull our heads out of our asses, you know?

    I find that people get disempowered a lot of the time, because the problems that we face are so massive that they don’t see how doing one little thing can contribute to that. Or, even worse, they don’t see how working on themselves or healing themselves can contribute to larger social change.

    My argument is if you heal your own shit you have more energy so that then you can learn how to manage that energy in service of others. It’s not supposed to be a dry path. Not everyone is supposed to be a reader/energy worker, but if you have clairvoyance waking up inside of you, it means your eye is good. Do something visual. Make something beautiful. Or, a lot of clairvoyants are really good at numbers and being accountants. So it’s like, maybe you’re not supposed to be the lead singer in a band, but maybe you are the business infrastructure that can support someone like a Beyoncé or like a Janis Joplin and help them to get their message out into the world.

    But in the end, you have to learn who you are so that you can give the very best parts of yourself.

    JM: On the flip side, social justice work can be really brutal. People just fucking burn out and break down.

    MD: Oh, totally. But, my argument is is that that’s because people don’t recognize the sacredness of the service that they are giving.

    I have a friend who works with trans sex workers uptown; way uptown. He is super sexy butch, tall, burly dude who, because of his inner softness and sweetness and gentleness, actually can speak to and relate to anyone. He’s also an artist and does all sorts of other shit with his life, and I’ve watched him over the years learn how to manage his energy so that he can continue giving in the way that he’s giving.

    So, to me, the simple version of it, as I say, that when you wake up to your healer self or to your service in the world you get the benefits and the bonuses which are psychic powers, seeing synchronicities, seeing the big picture, finding the way things are connected, feeling a sense of purpose, because you know you’re contributing something. But you also have responsibilities that come along with it, which is like, if you’re not here to heal, then nobody can do it for you. So, you actually have to learn certain boundaries and to say no and how to manage your time and find a really good balance.

    But If you’ve done anything service related, even down to fucking waiting tables, but especially something like working with challenging situations, heavy situations, scary situations, situations where there’s violence or abuse or any of that stuff involved, it’s not normal. Most people don’t fucking do that, you know? Most people are very content to just keep getting shit for themselves and never thinking about how to go there.

    So, what I’m arguing is that I believe that spiritual healing is the bridge that takes you from, “What do I need?” into, “What do I need in order to give and serve in the way that’s most authentic to me?” And it’s trippy, because that’s literally at the core of every session that I do with people. Maybe we don’t talk about your service, because you’re still overcoming something super traumatic that happened to you when you were a kid… I believe that we’re wounded in the way that we’re then meant to help others heal… It’s a life’s work to be able to go from a place where I can’t get out of bed to not only getting out of bed, but getting out of bed to help other people that can’t get out of bed.

    I just believe if we could all prioritize taking care of the planet and taking care of each other, actually, everything would work out. But, we don’t have the trust inside of ourselves to believe that if I do that everyone else is going to do that, so we then just go and build up our own reserves and get what we can, and then we don’t worry about it.

    I think little by little by little you don’t necessarily need a massive tipping point of, like, than half of the world wants to help each other. You just need enough of a critical mass. That’s what’s really fucking cool about people like Beyoncé and stuff, and other beautiful healing channels, is that one person can reach 70 million people at the drop of a hat.

    So I just try to provide interesting and sweet ways, simple ways, accessible ways of tapping into that stuff. A lot of times the writing I do or the work that I do doesn’t even sound like we’re talking about healing. I try to take one big woo woo, weird thing and break it down into parts and come up with really simple practices that can help you get those benefits in your life.

    JM: Obviously just this slice of your amazing wardrobe that you’ve brought is gorgeous, and the things that we’re talking about as far as channeling through Divine eyebrows, whatever — how does your spiritual practice inform the way you express yourself through fashion and vice versa?

    MD: Yeah. I’m giddy about it. This shoot this day came at a moment where I went through —I’ve been doing a lot of healing work. So then my dad got sick, and I went for it. I started everything, and then what happened was all of this stuff started coming up from my childhood. I started dealing with the man that I’ve become, but I also believe that everyone has a masculine essence and a feminine essence that runs through them — a current that runs through them — that wants to express itself authentically, and that everyone has the perfect balance of masculine and feminine essence inside of them: yin/yang, positive/negative, active/receptive… Sun/moon. Sun/moon is a great one, right?

    Once I started actually dealing with the man that I had become, the woman that I had let go of or buried wanted to come back. I started encountering this in different healing practices, and then this download came to me one day where I was like, you need to teach a class called Boys Versus Girls.

    So I created this workshop that’s like a guided meditation. It’s an alchemical workshop where I’m not telling you whether you need to be more masculine or more feminine, but what we’re going to do in the workshop is create space for the ideal balance of your masculine and feminine essence to express themselves. I think we’re challenging ourselves: we’re challenging our masculine essence, we’re channeling our feminine essence. It moves around. It balances. The whole point of the workshop is to create space in all of your chakras, in all of your bodies, in all of your energetic centers to allow that balance to work itself out.

    … I started doing those workshops, and then all of this stuff started coming out of me, and I wanted to look pretty again, was how it felt to me. I’m, like, a giant, hairy, Greek man who was like, I want to feel pretty. I want to feel pretty again. When I was a kid I would do my nails and do my makeup, do eyeliner and stuff and dye my hair, but I did it for shock value. Or I would wear a skirt or a sarong or something for shock value in order to get people to look at me and pay attention to me and validate me.

    The difference was after I started doing these workshops and opening up to it I was like, oh. It’s for me. This is for me. This makes me feel pretty. This makes me feel cute. I don’t even need you to know that I have something on. I would rather have my giant, burly beard and just like a little bit of eyeliner and know that it’s there and feel really cute and feel really pretty. And then what was crazy about it was, as I started indulging my feminine essence, I felt like more and more of a man. I felt more and more confident, secure, grounded. And even if I didn’t know how I was going to get something done I had trust and faith in myself that I would get it done simply because I was accepting myself more honestly and more — by making both sides of myself.

    … I’ve never been into camping it up and putting eyeliner on when I was doing tarot readings. I always liked to actually look very vanilla and J.Crew and boring, preppy even, and then little by little I just started — it didn’t feel like drag. It didn’t feel like I was putting something on. It didn’t feel like a look. It actually just started feeling like me, and then weirdly enough, now, I’m like wrapping my head frequently when I go out and wearing a lot more makeup.

    Then, like I said, I started doing all of this healing and was slowly integrating this stuff into my life, and then the day that I was like, yes, I am a pretty girl and a burly dude, Joey called and was like, “I want to do this photoshoot.”

    … I want to wear the bro-iest clothes that I can possibly wear but with the prettiest things that I can possibly find. So I really like to mix and match, I really like to emphasize — it’s not even about emphasizing the feminine aspects of my face or my features — it’s really about that inner balance that says, “This is who I am, this feels authentic to me, that’s just right.”

    JM: You mention being of Greek heritage. I’m interested in is the way our upbringings, cultural, whatever, rub against this. So how does it feel to be from a very patriarchal, Greek, masculine culture and then be like a child of a very loving, feminine goddess?

    MD: I have always been the gentlest in my family. My whole family always knew that I was open, vulnerable, raw. Never soft; it wasn’t soft. It was actually just that: open and loving. So, I’ve always been a little counter-patriarchy anyway, and most of the people in my family were cool about it. My mom was the weirdest one about it.

    What happened to me is that I had to go through — this was part of my self-healing process, was actually recognizing that my grandmother thought tarot cards were the devil, because she was Greek Orthodox hardcore. I had all sorts of preconceived notions about Cuban witchcraft was, hoodoo was, and I thought it was evil, too. But once I had my first reading with a Santería in Cuba I realized it was different.

    I found this book by this guy named Daskalos that was actually recommended to me by Olympia Dukakis — the mother of all Greeks — and she said to me, “You have to read this book called The Magus of Strovolos that was written about a Cypriot mystic in Cyprus who is the only mystical healer that was ever recognized by the Greek Orthodox Church.”

    The fact that this book found its way to me was shocking. The fact that it found its way to me before my grandmother died was awesome, because the book is about this healer written by one of his disciples — and then, the guy has written a bunch of other books that are collections of his talks — and basically he’s teaching a Christian approach to the truth, esoteric Christianity. There is a tradition of Greek mystics on the Orthodox Church, but it’s just very, ugh. Like, so… cut off and monk-like and terrible. So, the teachings were interesting, but it wasn’t exciting to me. What was cool about this guy Daskalos was that he was placing all of the witchiest shit in the context of the Greek Church.

    So, once I understood that stuff intellectually I devoured all of his stuff, and then I actually had a few conversations with my grandmother about what it was all about, and I had enough of a healing that it was able to contextualize the things that were actually happening to me within the larger framework in my upbringing and of my tradition and religion of origin. That was really necessary. But you see how that connects to what I’m saying about the self-healing journey which is like, if I thought that I was doing the devil’s work something inside of me had to rise up and say, “No. What you’re doing is good. It just doesn’t make sense to you. It doesn’t make sense within what you’ve been taught,” and then here comes this teaching about this Greek that puts it all in the right context.

    I do another workshop that’s called Family Clearing, which is where you take the amassed karma of the lineages that come before you and kind of shrink-wrap it into a more manageable form, and you say, “Hey, family. I will deal with my portion of this, but I’m not dealing with the weight of yours. Put it in a zip file, give it to me, I will process it, I will work with it, but I am no longer going to be burdened by the weight that you’re giving me.”

    I think that kind of healing is happening with people anyway and that every last person in the generation, everyone who’s at the younger end of the generation, is inheriting the karma of their family or their tribe or their people through their DNA, and that what’s particularly weird about this moment is there’s just more lights going off, more wake-ups happening, more people being like, “What the fuck was that dream? What was that vision? Why am I hearing this? Why is this thing happening?” I literally think that it’s what we said before that that power that is there in your lineage to help you deal with the things that you can’t handle is also a part of that lineage. So, you get the shit of the karma, but you also get the powers to help you work with it.

    A lot of people I work with are fashion, film, TV stuff, actors that are just trying to do their thing, but all of a sudden — their mom’s Haitian, and they start having visions about herbs and medicines and witchy stuff, and maybe it’s not so that they can go and be a healer. Maybe it’s so that they can make themselves a tonic so that when they need to throw down on American Horror Story they have all of the mojo and energy inside of themselves, you know?

    But most people are so overwhelmed by all of the shit that’s going on that you don’t stop and turn and look. It’s not like you have to think about your shit. You just have to love it and adore it and work with it. The more you do that, the more chances you get to be true and to give and to hopefully light other people up that have maybe struggled with the same things that you’ve struggled with, you know? So, I’m just super stoked.

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