Karyn Crisis first came to fame as the frontwoman for the progressive/hardcore/death metal band Crisis. Her fiery lyrics, dynamic performances and vocal fluency–from a lilting soprano to the scariest growl in metal–won her international acclaim. After several albums and side projects, Crisis the band called it quits, but Karyn continued her musical and spiritual journey. In 2009, Karyn moved to San Francisco and married Davide Tiso of Ephel Duath. There in the California Bay Area she began to explore her psychic abilities and mediumship, and has become a well-respected lecturer and healer. In 2014, she joined forces with Tiso, Ross Dolan Mike Hill and Charlie Schmid of Vaura, to form Gospel of the Witches; the band recorded 13 songs which compose the band’s debut album, Salem’s Wounds.
Alex S. Johnson: Hello again, Karyn. I’m delighted to have the opportunity once more to interview you. I’m curious if there was a crisis, so to speak, or a tipping point in your life that led you down the road to Gospel of the Witches and mediumship?
Karyn Crisis: I have been aware of the spirit world since I was a child: both “ghosts” and astral people as well as higher Spirit Guides of various types. Much of my life I found the “ghosts” annoying and worrying, because many of them were in bad moods or were territorial. In contrast the Guides were helpful and encouraged me to dream big with my music and art and also gave me information to heal damage done to me by the American Medical Association.
I almost died when I was younger, so my psychic perceptions naturally increased after that. At the end of 2005 when I left my band Crisis, I asked the Universe to teach me what these experiences were all about and what was my role in them. So from that point on, I began a journey that connected me with healing abilities, understanding of my psychic senses, and then training how to organize my life as a Medium. The “ghosts” were just trying to haunt me into myself, to make me aware of my ability to communicate with them and also to help them. In 2008 when I went to Tuscany, Italy, everything was taken up a notch when I “met” the spirit of an Ancient Teacher of the Old Ways named Aradia. From that point on, long story short, Gospel Of The Witches came into focus, my professional life began as a platform Medium, and many pieces of my life made sense to me finally.
Musically, artistically, I put a tremendous amount of intention into everything I do. Whether or not the expression seems sophisticated or not, there is a great amount of sensation imbued in every action. It’s most important to me how things “feel” along the way rather than how they are observed from the outside. In magical practices, physical objects are representatives of everything under the surface, if you will; everything that energetically takes place behind an action.
AJ: What part does ritual and magic play in your life, if any; if so, do you design your own rituals?
KC: Magic is the art of moving energy, simply put. I already was well acquainted with my own personal “magic” through art and music, if you will, through my voice. After 2008 I began learning magical practices and old rituals. I learned the system behind them (the Natural Laws of Energy which are largely misunderstood), which means that I know how to use “magic” without any tools. However, I also learned the importance of ritual, what it represents, and the wonderful resonance of ancient lineage that it reawakens. My daily life is magic and ritual, though I am not attached to robotic rituals. I use a system, and that system is expressed many ways.
Artistically, naturally I have always thought of my work as a ritual before I knew anything about organized rituals. I consider every word or brush stroke important. With words especially, I’ve always thought about word choices as important, the pitch they reach to have meaning, a color expresses emotion in action…
AJ: Tell me about the very evocative initiation imagery in “The Ascent” video, if you would.
KC: The video for “The Ascent” is inspired by a story Davide help me translate from Italian author Carlo Napolitano. The story is about a man seeking the Great Mysteries in Italy and what happens to him along the way deep in the forests. Essentially, he becomes like the Hanged Man of the Tarot, an “upside down” perspective put upon him turns his world upside down.
I took the idea further, that this action is like a ritual, a rite of passage for any seeker of any path. So in the video you see me in the forest, guided by a Spirit Guide, taken into this ritual by several druids, “turned upside down” if you will, introduced to the Feminine Mysteries, and am transformed.
AJ: A long time ago I dubbed you “The Exorsister” in an article. It seems somehow prophetic now. By exorcising personal demons, do you think you cleared the way for mediumship?
KC: As I mentioned the Mediumship was always there. However, it was unorganized and I didn’t know the rules: I was just born into it. I didn’t have time to “think” or ruminate about whether the Spirit world existed-it was always as real as the physical world, and much harder to ignore. However, there definitely had to been some healing and learning and changing on my end to find my way to being trained under an NSAC Certified Spiritualist Minister and tested in public myself. In order to keep good quality “spirit company,” there are techniques than need to be used to keep that vibration (that channel) bright and high-quality. Part of me was already there, but daily life Karyn certainly faced much darkness and despair…I had to learn a certain amount of control over that to be able to open up responsibly to Mediumship. My personal demons were just my own thoughts; they weren’t people, so-to-speak, but my thoughts did keep me, at times, from embracing who I am and what my individual circumstances are and how that can be a positive thing!
AJ: Having covered the metal world for a long time, I’ve seen a lot of the pitfalls and dangers. How have you been able to steer clear of them–or have you?
KC: Without you mentioning which pitfalls and dangers you mean, it’s difficult to comment. For me, the pitfalls and dangers would be worrying too much about what other people think once my work is released out into the world, putting too, much weight on financial success as my worth. If you mean in terms of partying and self-destruction, those are not pitfalls that were ever tempting to me. The real danger in my opinion is letting all the “stuff” around music kill the creativity. Music is a really difficult world. Just because you have creativity bursting from you doesn’t mean you will be able to find the outlet, whether the outlet is a band, playing live, releasing an album.
People are really flakey. People have bad intentions. People use each other. In the music world, there are many of these people. However, there are long-lasting, wonderful experiences to be had from music. While the business world is really destructive–I think of it as a giant bulldozer flattening entire cities, the cities being musicians and their hope and hard work–musicians and music fans are truly amazing people. The longest lasting friendships I have are all with people I met while touring.
AJ: What current projects are you most excited about?
KC: I’m about to go to Italy to complete research on the ancient Medicine women who were there, who became targeted as “witches” during the Inquisition that lasted 700 years in Europe. I’ve made a short film about it you can watch here
I’ll be traveling and meeting with practitioners, historians, locals, and authors to recover their stories beyond the myths, the folk stories and rumors, beyond the religious and military’s anti-healer campaign. I will start in the north, where the Inquisition began and go deep into the forests to see what secrets they hide, then onward to the remains of a temple for the Goddess Diana where people left clay figures for healing requests. There I will bury prayer requests of friends. Then I will travel south to Benevento, an important pagan crossroads in Italy, and the home of the Janara.
I’m also working on the next Gospel Of The Witches album.
KC: Thank you for your time and support over all these years, Alex!
AJ: Thank you, my friend. Good catching up, and I look forward to the results of your trip and the new Witches album.
How to contact and learn more about Karyn Crisis and Gospel Witches: