rules to live by

Vanessa Hudgens Goes Where the Spirits Tell Her

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Getty Images

Vanessa Hudgens not only believes in ghosts, she hunts them. At least, that’s what her most recent project suggests. The actress’s new Tubi documentary, Dead Hot, follows Hudgens and DJ GG Magree as they travel to Salem to learn more about witchcraft, commune with the spirits, and of course, explore haunted buildings to see if they can detect any real ghosts.

A few days before the film’s release, Hudgens hosted a coven of influencers, journalists, and Julia Fox for an evening of witchy delight. There were bubbling potions (seriously, the cocktail of the night continued to bubble the entire time it was consumed), tarot readings, and spell castings, followed by a fireside chat with spiritual guide Leslie Garvin. Spring has finally arrived in New York, but inside this Chelsea townhouse, hung with mossy floral arrangements throughout, it was decidedly October.

Hudgens says she has “always felt connected” to the spirit world. But it wasn’t until she traveled to Scotland to film The Princess Switch that she felt a deeper bond, or her “conscious witch awakening,” as she calls it. “It helped that I was surrounded by witches at the time. It really piqued my curiosity, and I was at a point in my life where I was looking for my own definition of spiritualism and connecting to a higher source,” she says. “I was really curious, so I thought, maybe we should document this, because I’m sure that other people are curious as well.”

Considering her spiritual inclinations, it stands to reason that Hudgens is guided more by her intuition than by any mortal rules. Still, she came up with some of her personal policies to share, below.

How did you come up with the idea for Dead Hot?

It started as a hobby. And then after we had shot a ghost hunt, I was still kind of unsatisfied and, if anything, was left with more questions, so I decided to look at the broader picture of witchcraft and spiritualism. Witchcraft has been demonized in film and television and stories over centuries, and so many women were wrongfully accused and killed for witchcraft. I think that the only way to heal ancestral trauma is to shine light on it. I was just really looking to find answers for myself and hopefully bring answers to others as well.

Do you have any history of that sort of spiritualism in your family?

No, I was raised very Catholic. My mom’s Catholic. My dad wasn’t religious. I kind of found it on my own, but I also believe in past lives. I think that there was a lineage there for sure. I’ve had multiple mediums tell me that in most of my lives, I’ve practiced the craft. I was like, “Dope, love that.” Like, that makes sense, because I feel like I have such a connection and strong intuition that guides me when I have my own practice that certain things don’t just appear out of nowhere.

Do you have a favorite famous ghost?

Casper. I loved Casper. And then he turns into the cutest little boy ever.

While you were in Salem, did you have any favorite hangout spots?

I loved going into all the shops. I’m such a sucker for a metaphysical shop. Like, give me stones any day and I am so happy. But I just love the overall look of the place. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and I feel like the spook level is consistent year round there.

Do you pull tarot?

I learned tarot and I keep my tarot cards in my bag. Whenever I’m traveling or starting something new, I’ll always just pull at least one out. I always have them with me.

What was your most recent pull like? 

It’s hard work. We’re in a hard work phase. I think it was the seven of wands. It’s all about keeping the connection with your cards alive.

Are you into astrology?

Yeah, extremely. I love moments that make me feel small, where I realize what a tiny little dot in the overall cosmos I take space in. It’s also why I love traveling and going to beautiful landscapes and being one with nature. It just makes you feel so small. You look at the sky, and you think about how the galaxies just continue and continue and continue. The spirit world is constantly alive around us, and whenever you have an encounter with a spirit, it makes you feel small because you realize you’re part of something bigger. I think that that’s a really grounding experience. So I love it in all shapes and forms. I love astrology. I think everything is all written in the stars.

What’s your number one rule pertaining to ghost hunting etiquette? And witchcraft etiquette?

Always say goodbye and set boundaries, because I don’t want to take home any unwanted spirits. This goes for witchcraft and ghost hunting, but always call on your guides and angels and ancestors to be with you.

You’re considered the queen of Coachella — are you going this year, and what’s a rule you think people should follow when going to the festival?

I don’t think I’m going this year. But my number one rule would be to wear cozy shoes, because you’re walking a lot. And bring a jacket, because it gets cold. Practicality.

What makes a successful dinner party?

Good company. Because the food could be whatever, but as long as you’ve got good company, I would say that’s a success.

What’s the best rule to follow when it comes to giving advice?

Only give it to those who want to hear it.

Would you ever send an edible arrangement?

I think I have. I’m a big chocolate-covered strawberries gal. That’s always a win.

Do you think that it’s okay to ghost after one date?

It depends on how bad the date was. I guess if it was a terrible date, and you don’t click, I think that it’s totally fine to just leave it as it is.

What’s your number one rule for meeting other famous people?

I always introduce myself, even if people may know who I am — because if you don’t introduce yourself, are you really meeting?

Do you think it’s fair to hold a seat for someone?

Yeah, a hundred percent.

What rules do you have around your phone, for yourself and for others?

Do I have any rules for my phone? No. I kind of just use it as I need it, or if I want to. I don’t spend that much time on it. So it’s not really a problem. Maybe keep it charged? But my phone’s always dead. I don’t have a phone rule for myself, but if you’re avoiding me at dinner and you’re on your phone, I will tell you to please stop.

Do you have any rules in your home?
No shoes.

Do you usually prefer more personal gifts?

Gifts is not my love language. I love giving a good gift, but I would rather spend time with someone and take them on an experience rather than give them a gift.

Vanessa Hudgens Goes Where the Spirits Tell Her