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Explore SF: Witchy Times in Presidio Heights

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By Vanessa Hutchinson-Szekely

Audio: intro/outro music by Jef Shadoan

This column is in the spirit of a “Dear Abby”, with a focus on solutions in the form of micro SF neighborhood deep dives and curated holistic health-centered itineraries

Episode 6 of Explore SF: Witchy Times in Presidio Heights

Dear City Counselor, 

My sister is fried, and I want to do something special for her in THE CITY. 

She got laid off from her high tech job which she hated, started smoking again and is in full blown “mid life, wtf am I doing” mode. 

We live in the Dogpatch, roomies for life, and are always hanging on the east side so please blow my mind with some ideas to work all right-left sides of our communal brains, disconnect us from our reality and turn her heat back on. Nope, not talking about this hella cold winter-spring frost situation we’re in that everybody can’t stop griping about, but the real fire that keeps one’s head to toes sparkling.

Nothing says metamorphosis more than change, and transformation is essential right now. 

Can barely contain the excitement to read your response.


Sis Tips Are Required- from the Dogpatch with love


Hello STAR,

Have I ever been more juiced to respond to a letter than this butterfly mission?

For starters, your sister should call in all the ancestors, goddesses, healers and warriors to remind her that she lives in her sovereignty and that she can handle hard things (nod to the the podcast by the same name hosted by the impressive Glennon Doyle & her phenomenal wife soccer champion turned Wolfpack author Abby Wombach).

Change has been thrust upon her, and through change we become the selves we’re meant to be, shedding our small hermit shells in the seekage of bigger ones, thus continuously becoming our greater and better selves. Constantly shifting, constantly cycling.

The gift that is this layoff cannot be underestimated so let’s pump her up with encouragement so she can make those brave choices to lean into her next moon phase with wild fierceness and abandon.

Time to MUNI it up out of the Dogpatch and into Presidio Heights!

You weren’t expecting this were you?! But yes, you are going to a secret CITY zone sans tourists as part of your quest to help her incubate, shed and rebirth. This is all part of the classic heroine’s journey of transformation.

Mural by Oakland-based artist Alexandra Bowman

Though many locals wouldn’t describe this neighborhood this way, we’re shedding light on perspective.

Get ready for witchy collective consciousness, nature bathing, animal kingdom soaking and all your wishes being met.

From here, the Empress (obviously, we’re going to reference Tarot cards) shall rise and return to the Dogpatch ready to tackle the next bloom.

First off, immediately book your sis a Transcend Hypnotherapy sesh with Kahina. Yup, that’s right. She’s going to start by dropping into her subconscious to move out of her own way. And, she can do this from the comforts of her own space as online is a possibility.

Experiencing this type of healing will ground your sis and help her ditch the smoke sitch, and release the negative energy. Plus, she’ll get a recording to listen to later so this isn’t just a one hit wonder.

Welcome Kahina as one of her first guides to help her along her journey.

Subconscious tapped into, it’s now time to zigzag your way directly to the Laurel Inn as you’re going to post up with your sis for a hotel night so that you can both reap the rewards of her evolution.

Is this the cutest art deco hotel in THE CITY?! Nestled away from the bustling zones, sprinkled with pastel decor, kitschy patterns and the kindest vibes from the hostess with the mostess, Gill Eklof, this place is one to choose for a special night out or just one in which to lounge by the fireplace caressing a glass.

Happy hour starts at 4pm so plan accordingly.

However, it’s not yet time to take a snooze in one of their comfy beds as The Coven Project, a collective of women owned businesses, is a 3 min walk from the geometrical wonders of the hotel.

Head there immediately, and follow all of the women on Instagram to stay on top of what magical things they’re brewing. The amazing gals at the helm of this ship are: @parttimedesertdweller, @neatkind, @therajahpress & @pickymonday.

In this one small space, your sis will cast away her old self and exit her cocoon looking so fly. Have @parttimedesertdweller or @neatkind outfit her (and you!)  in a vintage/second hand choice wardrobe.


Or ask @therajahpress to deck her in jewels.

And then suggest to her to pick up a ceramic mug from @rainamast as a souvenir to commemorate the new rituals she’s establishing.

Moving forward, clutching her coffee mug she’ll be reminded of her own strength and ability to rise from the ashes. Feels solid to hold something beautiful in your hands that was created by Raina Mast, another High Priestess.

In full Phoenix mindset, set out from this bonanza of excellence (this place also houses more inspiring products from these vendors: @elliesessentialblends, @ina.botanicals.tea, @intentionalgoods_ and @maisonbarbara_sf)

and hit up the Presidio trails.

The Presidio is an incredible park with so many trails from which to choose.

Let your intuition guide you, or follow this lead: stroll down “Lovers Lane” as you listen to Lucius. Cheers to this full blown sensoriel experience!

The title “Lovers Lane” opens our eyes to the expansiveness of the concept. Consider your sister-selves as ultimate lovers, not of the romantico kind but soul sisters who deeply love & support each other to all the moons and back.

And, I can’t say enough about these powerful BFF harmonizers. Lucius, two radiant princesses, performed at Hardly Strictly last October, then killed it at the Fillmore show in November (literally had us all sitting on the floor during a song while glittering on stage) so we’re so fortunate to welcome them back to the bay this month around Bottle Rocket (5/26 and previously in Menlo Park 5/25 and then Napa 5/28).

Their energy will remind your sis to keep moving, to never give up, even when she’s all vulnerable and feeling out of sorts like the hermit out of her shell. It gets better!

And, like Miley Cyrus, another female belter, sings to us in Flowers, you are your own lover first and this weekend is all about self-love and self-transformation.

Ok, back to our tree and non tree pals. Do you know who I’m talking about?

The goats!

Last month I found myself lost in the Presidio, and I stumbled upon a herd of these fearless creatures.

Once again, this is a reminder to let go and embrace change and its unfoldings. The goats may not always be there in reality, but what GOAT* person is your sis transforming into? That is the question. Bated breath over here as she creates her answers.

Speaking of awakenings, while you’re diving through the eucalyptus friends, you might also suggest listening to the Chani Nicholas astrology pod. Have you heard about her?!

She started a modern astrology social justice empire and wrote a book called “You were born for this” that should quickly find its way to your collective nightstands.

Could her voice be anymore magnetic as she lays out the planetary movements and helps you connect to your inner goddess. And, if astrology rocks your solar system worlds, then let me take a minute to recommend getting an actual local reading! Talk about earth shattering.

Just had one done recently by Carol Drobek and wow, what an outstanding experience. She asks for your date/location/time of birth 1-2 weeks in advance and then dives deep into your chart.

And, during your meeting she’ll spend some serious quality time revealing it all to you. I left with color copies of my chart in hand, so many handwritten notes and a recorded session to refer back to for constant processing.

She’s such a cool cat, a total CITY character: artist for life, red glasses, stories from eons ago that stretch across neighborhoods and so much wisdom to share.

Furthering your communal journey, time to go from astrology to philosophy:

“Discomfort is the price of admission for leading a meaningful life”
– Happiness Lab quote via local painter Colette Hannahan.

Thank you Colette for these sage nuggets.

Marinate on that gem together, and see what comes up for you both?! Then, head over to the Presidio Kebab (food finally!)

for a Mediterranean feast to discuss it sister-style over roasted beef or lamb, a mountain of hummus, crispy fries, and the largest Greek salad. Drown it all in tzatziki and hot sauce.


See if you can squeeze into the booth, for a full surround sound furniture embrace. The folks who run this establishment offer top service fulfilling your deep gyro needs while simultaneously reminding you that love sometimes comes in the form of a high backed blue upholstered chair.

Is it happy hour yet? Are we still in the same time zone?

All of this subconscious work may leave you thirsty. Lucky for you the Laurel Inn also provides quite the selection of mocktails. Off menu so check with the bartender for tips galore.

My faux Paloma quenched my tang dreams for a midday beverage sans alcohol. So VIP.

Drinks downed, it’s time for the final Presidio Heights shoutout for your sister’s makeover: The Vogue Theater. Amelie is playing 5/31 and 6/1: Who’s meeting me?

Remember that sweet whimsical French movie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet about the Parisian who orchestrates so much mysterious joy and synergy in those around her?

The Vogue, an independent movie theater run by the same incredibly rad art foodie folks who run the Balboa and the 4 Star (and my favorite restaurant The Laundromat…..can’t wait for that City Counselor episode where I can fully bask in my love for this place), is your go to spot for full escapism. Lose yourself here in the memorable flix choices, then run back to the hotel to collapse.

Your sis needs her rest right now. More than ever before. Hopefully, this trip incited her to crack herself open to embracing change as the wonderful thing that is bringing her to the next better version of herself. Lucky for you to be her sibling, and to witness her metamorphosis firsthand.

Sleep in the next day and then further enjoy how Presidio Heights makes you feel like you stepped into another world, without ever leaving the 7×7.

Take BIG care,

Big Belly Breathing, as THE CITY Counselor

P.S. Acronym alphabet: GOAT- Greatest Of All Time

Presidio Heights Recap:

** This article is only part Satire, i.e. ALL the characters and quotes are fictional BUT the recs are pure gold.**

** If you have any places to recommend for THE CITY Counselor, throw me a DM.


  1. 12/1/22: Reset & Boost Your Vibes in The Inner Richmond

  2. 1/1/23:  Maximizing the Fun Factor in Mission Bernal

  3. 2/2/23:  Breaking out of Boredom in the Parkside Taraval Corridor (English)

  Sortir de l’Ennui dans le Couloir Parkside-Taraval (French)

  1. 3/1/23:  Muse Moments in NOPA- Divisadero (English)

Retrouvez sa Muse dans le quartier de NOPA (French)

  1. 4/6/23:  Is the Mission the Most Electrifying neighborhood in THE CITY (English)
    Explosion Culturelle dans le quartier de la Mission (French)

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Vanessa Hutchinson-Szekely

Vanessa Hutchinson-Szekely

She is born and raised in THE CITY and has her hands in many pots.

Using her background knowledge of local landscapes, the constant search to maximize the fun factor and her holistic health and wellness expertise, she will listen to your problems and propose excursions to help you reset, recalibrate and explode back onto your scene in BAS' regular column "THE CITY Counselor".

Also, with her experience in public education she regularly writes about better supporting (and paying) educators.

Other than that, she's teaching yoga, hosting a podcast for kids with guided meditations in English & Français, or creating videos for her YouTube channel where she reads picture books to kiddos, in both languages.

Check out for more information and follow her on the socials.

Or, just hit her up for some knee to knee chitty chat café sessions.