Writers Talking About Anything but Writing: V. Ruiz

An Interview with V. Ruiz on the Metaphysical, Cooking, and Trashy TV

Writers Talking About Anything but Writing is a series of interviews in which we ask writers to take a break from trying to document the world and just kinda chill out in it for a while.

Laura Villareal (LV): Let’s start with the metaphysical. Besides being a writer, you’re also an astrologer/bruja/espiritista.  I talked to Jess Rizkallah a while back about tarot in one of these interviews which I enjoyed a lot so I’m excited to talk to a practicing astrologer like yourself and hear more about other metaphysical practices. Your website lists your services, but what’s your favorite way to work with the metaphysical (tarot, natal chart readings, etc.)? Also, how did you first get into working with the metaphysical?

V. Ruiz (VR): It’s really interesting to see this question phrased this way because in many ways, astrology doesn’t feel inherently metaphysical to me! So much of astrology is ancient AF and also based in pattern recognition and history and science and data and all of these things that feel so different from witchcraft and tarot. I would say though, that astrology is my favorite tool of all of the metaphysical/occult practices I engage in. There’s so much in a natal chart that can help me understand what a person has seen, their orientation towards the world, the way others receive them, and so on. It’s like getting to hold a globe of the past/present/future of their lives. It’s an honor each time someone shares their chart with me.

As for how I got started, I, like many Latinx folks, grew up watching Walter Mercado which hooked me on the topic of the zodiac initially as a child. I have known my sun sign for as long as I can remember but it wasn’t until around 2010 that I discovered my actual birth chart. In terms of other practices, I was raised by family members who were very religious but who had strong belief systems related to the unseen. Part of it was based in Christian/Catholic thinking, but other things were not able to be labeled in the same way. My mom told me young that she would just get “feelings” or “know things” before/as they happened and I believed it. As these things started happening to me, and (now) my child, I knew there was more to life, things that couldn’t be labeled or easily described in mundane terms. I began practicing witchcraft officially around 2013 around the time I went to rehab for an eating disorder and I’ve been evolving and growing in these paths ever since. 

LV: That’s fascinating! I love how you describe reading the­ natal chart as like holding “globe of the past/present/future.” And I can relate to growing up with a mix of Catholic and beliefs in the unseen. And wow, you’ve been practicing witchcraft for almost 10 years now which is cause for celebration! In that spirit, I wonder if you can tell us about one of the most significant moments of growth you’ve experienced in practicing?

VR: It is wild to think about it. It doesn’t feel like there was ever a point where it wasn’t all so important to me. I think one of the moments that still stands out to me is from my early years in my practice: I went with some friends to a large spiritual event (there were like 200 people there) that involved drumming, trance music, dancing, and long meditations. The meditation was the final event of the evening, and we all went home around 3:00 A.M. Some of my friends were talking and saying goodbye in one area of the space, while I talked with others in a different area. We were talking about our experience during meditation, and I described the space where I was walking, and I remember being like “Oh and I saw C there too, and we both looked at each other and then kept walking.” And it didn’t seem weird or funny at the time, but when we all got back in the car, I found out C had also seen me and had described the same landscape to others. So, we had this big moment of feeling like we had connected in a different dimension or space. I think from that moment, I had this big opening internally of what might actually be possible.

LV: What a profound experience to know that you both connected in another spiritual realm.

Besides the metaphysical, one of your other passions is cooking. I love talking about food so I’m excited to hear about what you’ve been cooking lately. What kinds of food do you enjoy cooking most? Any favorite recipes? 

VR: UGHHHH, I love food so much. In my collection, In Stories We Thunder, I talk about my journey in recovery from an eating disorder and part of that healing process and journey has been embodying a space where I can nourish myself and provide pleasure with food. It’s hard at times because I have a shit ton of food allergies, so I basically had to learn how to cook to get the food I was craving without triggering a reaction. Right now, I’m really into making fish ceviche as the weather starts to warm. I finally got an air fryer so I’ve been making up for a lack of fried pickles by making them CONSTANTLY. I also love teaching myself to make meals with substitutions via experimentation. While I can’t have tomatoes, I learned to make a spaghetti sauce that is very similar to a tomato-based sauce. It requires a lot of work and steps but allows me to make lasagna lol.

LV: Good food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, I think. I’m glad to hear cooking is now part of your healing process. It must be difficult to find good substitutes for your food allergies, but the experimentation can be fun, right? There’s something satisfying when a substitute works well in a recipe, at least for me. And I love lasagna! What’s in the sauce you make?

VR: OMG YES SO TRUE. When a substitution actually works, and it works well, it’s this HUGE success. It pays off in so many ways. So, the sauce takes literally like 12 hours to cook, but I basically steep a variety of vegetables: carrots, sweet potato, butternut squash, onions, garlic, jalapeño, & various herbs. I always add a can of beets and a can of pumpkin. Most folks substitute tomato with bell pepper but I have a nightshade allergy so I can’t have bell pepper either lol. That simmers until it becomes so soft it is mush. Then you gotta add red wine vinegar, honey, the usual spices, etc. like you do the usual sauce. Eventually you blend it all together until it’s like a chunky or bisque texture. Then keep adding vinegar in splashes and letting it simmer. The beets give it the darker color but all of the veggies add to a similar flavor especially with the right combo of herbs. It’s called a “No-Mato sauce” LOL.

LV: Oooo that sounds so rich and delicious! The depth of flavor must be phenomenal after all that time cooking. I’m definitely going to try making some “No-Mato sauce.” Besides the joy of eating something delicious, food has a deep connection to memory for me. Are there some foods you cook now that are like that? Or perhaps a favorite comfort food?

VR: Food is so linked to memory for me as well. Some foods feel like a hug inside and I love that. Enfrijoladas are one of my fav because my grandma made it every day for me when I was obsessed with it in elementary school. It was also right after moving to a new city so it became something predictable and structured in a time of chaos. Tamales will always feel like a hug too, and I think with those, it’s also about the process: about the talking and helping during the making of it. Albondigas are a newer happy memory one for me. I always loved them, but then my grandma started making them with and for my child and so it took on a new meaning. She also makes them for my dog now without the salt/spices hahahah.

LV: Oh gosh, just hearing you mention enfrijoladas and tamales is making me hungry. Awww it’s so cute that your grandma makes some special ones for your pup too. It’s heartwarming how recipes and foods connect generations of family. I’m certain your child has wonderful memories connected to your cooking.

It’s not often that I get to talk about trashy TV—which I enjoy SO much—but recently I met someone who watches all the same ridiculous shows as me and it was glorious. LOL! So tell me, what are your favorite trashy tv shows and what do you enjoy about them?

VR: I just went through the entirety of Real Housewives of New York. I don’t know that any other show perfectly encompasses trash the way that one does hahahah. I think what I most love about trashy TV is that it is so low stakes. There is so much in life right now that is calling for people to learn and grow (as we should), and so much of my work and personal goals require dedication and drive. So sometimes, at night, it’s just nice to watch white women be messy as fuck and think to myself, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!”

LV: Oh gosh, I can’t get into Real Housewives because they’re often yelling and it makes me feel like the confused Mr. Krabs meme. I never know what is happening! LOL! I get why people love the franchise though. One of my favorite low stakes shows is Below Deck.  Have you watched other seasons of Real Housewives in different cities? I keep seeing the commercial for Real Housewives Dubai which admittedly has me interested in watching an episode or two. Are there other TV shows you’re really into right now?

VR: Omg that show totally makes me think of that meme. I can see why you’d feel like that! It’s utter chaos!!! I used to watch The OC one forever ago because I grew up in Orange County so it hit in a different way hahaha. I usually watch my reality TV while I’m working so I’m not super invested, but I like that they have so many seasons because I can take my time getting to know all of the main folks. I just looked up Below Deck because I haven’t heard of it, and now I’m very much going to watch it. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten into dating reality shows which is a whole new level of chaos. I can’t stop watching Temptation Island, it’s terrible tbh.

Aside from reality, I’ve been very into paranormal/thriller/mystery type of series and shows. Behind Her Eyes was one that still sticks with me. It was captivating on a whole other level. Maid hit me hard, it’s a beautifully made TV show. I read the book after watching it and while both are different, they’re still both so well done.

V. Ruiz, Interviewed by Laura Villareal

V. Ruiz is a Queer Xicana astrologer, artist, and writer fascinated by language and the magic it evokes. They currently live in Los Angeles with their little one, underworld roaming pets, and partner. Aside from studying the cosmos, they also enjoy their work as an Associate Publisher for Row House Publishing. In Stories We Thunder is their debut collection. You can find them ranting about astrology and magic online as The Celestial Bruja.

Laura Villareal is the author of Girl's Guide to Leaving (University of Wisconsin Press, 2022). She has received fellowships from Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts and National Book Critics Circle. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Waxwing, AGNI, and elsewhere.