EP81 Portraits, Graffiti, and Dada with Lucia

May 25, 2018

This week Andrew is joined by the wonderful Lucia! A fun, and artisticly rich episode with discussions of their Art, and practice and how it can move us all forward to the future. 

Connect with Lucia on her website, and don't forget to check out the Oracle of Initiation while you're at it. Be sure to give her instagram as follow aswell: @mellissaelucia

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ANDREW: Welcome to another episode of the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today catching up with Mellissae Lucia. Who ... We've been ... I had Mellissae on ... five years ago? I didn't look it up before we started but it has definitely been awhile. And, a lot of things have changed for both of us during that time. But, as we've been going through our lives, I've been watching the amazing artwork, and the sort of interplay of artwork as magic, artwork as divination, artwork as life, that mirrors a lot of pieces of my own journey as well, and, you know, also, the conversations I had in a previous episode with Syrus Ware as well. So, I wanted to have Mellissae on to talk about this and to talk about a bunch of other stuff. 

So, if you haven't listened to that first episode, there'll be a link in the show notes. Go find it and give it a listen and freshen up, because we're definitely going to reference a few things from it. 

But, for those who haven't been following you, Mellissae, who are you?  


ANDREW: What are you up to? What's going on?

LUCIA: Hi Andrew, delighted, delighted to be here! 

I am Mellissae Lucia, and I've changed a lot in the last couple years, and I'm very pro name changes [laughs].

ANDREW: Uh huh. 

LUCIA: It drives some people insane! But I'm going by Lucia these days, partially because of the graffiti. Also, when I thought about, what's my graffiti name going to be?

ANDREW: Uh huh.

LUCIA: Lucia came up.

ANDREW: Perfect.

LUCIA: And so, I am Lucia, and, the people who have known me for so many decades, if you call me Mellissa or Mellissae, it's all gonna work.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And I am an artist, and an oracle, an empath, an entrepreneur, and I am a person who follows the signs and follows the synchronicities, and has found this ability to have courage, but also joy, drive everything that I do. And, so there's a whole variety of things that I do, from having created a visionary deck in the New Mexico desert, down in graffiti tunnels, called the Oracle of Initiation. I teach online courses, I teach in person, and adventure is the greatest joy of my life.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, so you mentioned one thing in passing here, which I want to sort of talk about first, right? What ... Tell me about the graffiti.

[bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: Like, what is it about graffiti for you? And even more so, how did that move you to change your name? 

LUCIA: [still laughing] Ohhhhh ... Well, I've had a lot of different spiritual names, and Mellissae Lucia is my pen name, and when I was writing my oracle book in ... 2011, that I was writing the book ... to go with this six-year project of making my Oracle of Initiation deck.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And [sighs], my legal name is Melissa Weiss Steele. So, that's my father's name, and my deceased husband's name, and I like that ... There's a very traditional side to me, actually, that likes the solidness of that name. But I wanted a more magical name and I wanted a name that was going to possibly ... What I found is that mystics, empaths, whatever words you want to call us ... That we struggle with being seen. That there have been so many lifetimes of being killed for who we were that there's some really pretty serious base chakra issues about: Am I going to be taken out in this lifetime for letting everybody know that I'm psychic?


LUCIA: And you know, creative, whatever, intuitive, words you want to use. And so, Mellissae Lucia--in some ways, it also was Tibetan numerology, so it was designed to be auspicious in abundance and connection. But I wanted it to be this public face, this filter for the woo woo side, of going out into the world. So, I like name changes. And the last couple of years, as I say, I'm gonna be, we're gonna talk about this, but I'm gonna be 50 this year. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my whole life! It's like things have landed. I've integrated. And all of my gifts are now available to me, a lot of them, in ways that I've dreamed of, that I've worked towards for decades.


LUCIA: So, the Lucia, for the graffiti ... I fell in love ... well, I fell in ... There's a song from ... I mean, there's a phrase from the movie Brown Sugar, about when did you fall in love with hip-hop?

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: I fell in love with hip-hop when I was 12 years old, at the middle school. And I was in Seattle, Washington. And this was Grandmaster Flash. So, this was 1980. This gentleman walked behind me, this young guy in middle school, and started singing the words to the song "It's Nasty," which is amazing. And my whole body lit up! And, you know, I was pretty shy as a young one, and I went, "What the hell is that?!" 

ANDREW: Uh huh.

LUCIA: And, like, it owned me from then on. And I am an 80s/90s hip-hop fanatic, and talk to me about it any time. And to me that's our tribal roots. That's our ... That's the basis ... Those are our bards, our griots, those are our contemporary truth tellers. Hip-hop is one of those places, you know, the tribal beat and all of that. That's why it's worldwide because it's archetypal. So, graffiti is part of that. And when ... In the mid-80s, my mom took me to Paris, bless my mom, and in Paris, they had this stencil graffiti that was INsane. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: The skill level was off the charts of this stencil graffiti that was all over Paris. And I, once again, I'm a very passionate person. I fell head over heels in love with the graffiti. And for some reason, it took me decades to do it myself, but I do wheat paste, and I do my collages, my digital physical collages. And they're very pop culturey, irreverent, punk rock. [laughs] We're both punk rock; that's part of one of our connections, and so ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: But you need it. You need a name, you need a tag. I don't ... I'm not aerosol, so I'm not spraying my tag. But you want to ... This this is a conversation with "Oh, look at that, mmmhmm. There's some of my Andy Warhol..." I've collaged some of the Andy Warhol Polaroids cause they're brilliant. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: But it ... So, the name change, I wanted to name a hashtag, so it's hashtag Lucia graffiti [laughs]. Go on Instagram; it's all over Instagram!


LUCIA: But it's ... It's been this incredible joy, because ... You know Adam Ant, we're gonna bust out the 80s. [singing] "You don't drink, don't smoke. What do you do? You don't drink, don't smoke ..." I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't generally do drugs, but I need some risk. I need some challenge. I need something that's disobedient, that's rebellious. But I choose to not be incarcerated. I choose to not have my life fall apart from addiction, so, I need things that are going to give me that risk, like trespassing, without taking my life. So, graffiti is that for me. It's sharing my art, a conversation with the other street artists, self-sanctifying myself. And I get my risk, my adrenaline risk and I love it.

ANDREW: Is that a ... Do you think that's a punk rock thing? Is that also part of your empath stuff? Like where does that need for risk come from? 

LUCIA: I am ... I'm a very ... It's funny, if you meet me I actually come across as pretty friendly. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: I'm pretty sweet to a certain degree. I mean if you can read energy, you can tell that there's a lot going on, but generally my public face is pretty friendly.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: Which has its complexities to it. People judge that in some ways. But I can also burn paint off the walls. And so, I think there's always been a broad range of impulses within myself. Like the Martha Stewart side and then this hard-core mystic side. And so, I think that somehow that risk helps me to integrate some of these complexities. Like there's this part of me that's really ancient and doesn't want to become a junkie, but I want some of those feelings of what it might feel like. Or, you know, like have so many sexual partners that you get sexual diseases or whatever. I haven't done that. And so, but I need ... My level of intensity needs that sometimes.


LUCIA: But I think it is ... I think that's why I was drawn to punk rock, why I am drawn to hip-hop, is that they're very fierce ...

ANDREW: Right. 

LUCIA: Energies. And they're very rebellious maverick energies.

ANDREW: Yeah. I ... Cause I have that adrenaline piece, right? Like I need that kick of adrenaline somewhere, you know? And when I was younger, it used to sort of be ... There was this moment. I went skydiving with a bunch of people I was working with ...

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: Everyone's like, "Let's go skydiving." I'm like, "Great, let's go, let's do it, I'm ready." And at the time, I was doing like, downhill mountain biking and full contact martial arts, and like all this stuff. And so, I climbed in the plane with everybody else, and as it took off, I had a little butterfly in my stomach, and then it got to be my turn, and I jumped out, the chute opens, and I sort of float to the ground and so on. And I remember landing and going, "Yeah, that was cool." 

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: And everyone else was like, "Oh my God, oh my God, that was the best thing ever!" And like a couple days later, I had this moment of like, I think I need to slow down. I think that I just have such a different relationship to adrenaline, to excitement, and to risk that ... That I was like, I don't know where else this goes, and I don't know that if I allow it to continue ...

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: That it doesn't end up unchecked in some really dangerous way, or, you know? The cost starts to get higher and higher, right?

LUCIA: Right.

ANDREW: So. Yeah.

LUCIA: Well, and you're also ... You're a father. So, you're a father and you're a partner.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And so, I would imagine ... I didn't get kids in this lifetime. But I would imagine that that could be a piece of it. But what do you do now for that need?

ANDREW: I rock climb. Like at a gym. So, you know. 

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Relatively safe. But definitely sort of out there, pushing myself, and you know, it's ... You know, when I'm like 20, 30 feet up the wall at the gym, and I'm like, trying to make the next move and don't think I can make it, you know, or not sure I can make it. There's nothing else, right? There's no thoughts, there's no feelings, there's just this complete presence in the moment and the focus on that.

LUCIA: Yeah! Yes.

ANDREW: And then, either the elation of completion -- Oh, I did make the move! — Or the zing of adrenaline as I miss the move. And then the, and then the, like, oh, and the rope caught me, which is cool, and now I'm going to try it again next week, and next week I'll get it. You know? So.

LUCIA: Well, and this is something, this is really beautiful. This is something that I've been thinking about a lot. As I alluded to earlier, I'm 50 this year.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And I'm the happiest I've ever been. Like some thing, some critical mass, has happened. And being an empath, I've become an empowered empath, is the words that I'm using for it. Now, and I'm still working on articulating this, like I'm catching up with who I am. But there's some piece ... I've been ... Because I'm a teacher, I'm a systems maker, I design online courses, I teach workshops, I'm fascinated with the steps of how you create things. That's ... As I say, I have a very visionary mind. But I also have a very practical Capricorn systems mind: "What are the seven steps that we need? And what are the 14 steps that come off of each of the seven steps?" I love designing things, and so I've been thinking about what happened for me, that was applicable to other people, to have this critical mass of confidence? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: Because what I found, with empaths, and with people who are pretty sensitive, and so pretty much anybody who's listening to this podcast is an empath, you're gonna be a highly sensitive person. 

ANDREW: Most likely.

LUCIA: And what I've found ... Right? Right? All of us. That's who we are. And so, I've been sitting with this ... I call it the confidence gap. And I had this for decades, so that's why I understand this.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: Is because we are such weathervanes for other people's issues, because we can feel them, depending on what type of an empath you are. We don't always know our own voice, or our own center, we're usually battered around by everything that's around us, and so what I found was, I became ... My controlling perfectionist would come up. 


LUCIA: And, what I've done over the last couple of decades ... The couple of things that I've come to at this point ... Like I say, I'm still working on articulating this ... Is courage and joy. But there's this ... For me, there's this critical mass where you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone over and over and over again. It's like a training. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: It's energetic cross training. But it has to be driven by joy. There has to be some passion at some points and sometimes it's hard. I'm not gonna say it's always a cakewalk. But, those two things ... If you don't have those two things, they work together, like there is this ... You gain the confidence, you gain the power, you gain the ability to trust yourself through doing those things that are out of your comfort zone, but it has to be fun as hell at some point too, to really enliven you and so. Just thinking about, you know, all these pieces that we're talking about, the risk, but also the presence, you know, it's like being in the zone. And everybody has different things that bring them into the zone, but that's what feeds one's ability to be more embodied and confident in yourself. And so, I think that's really important for revisionaries. We're the new myth makers and the visionaries. But so many empaths and incredibly creative people that I know are shut down and really not able to be or willing to be seen in the world and share their gifts because of this confidence gap. And so, you know, it's my soapbox to try to figure out how to help us become more embodied and confident.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: So, I love hearing your risk stuff. That was great.

ANDREW: Yeah, and I think that that's ... I mean that's certainly been a lot of my experience, you know, when I was younger, I was definitely shy, and introverted, and so on, you know?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I don't even remember why it started, but at some point, I decided that if I was afraid of something, I should do it ...

LUCIA: Yeah!

ANDREW: And if I was really afraid of something, I should do it twice as fast, right? And that led me to the place where I then decided I needed to back off from that, too, but I think, you know, sort of looking at that kind of how do we step into our discomfort and work with that, right? How do we step into that and make magic in that space, right? Because ...

LUCIA: Right!

ANDREW: You know, it's one of the options that we can use to generate energy. To convert and change it into something else, right? You know?

LUCIA: That is beautifully—I'm a big notetaker, I'm a scribe. And when —

ANDREW: Uh huh.

LUCIA: Because ideas are elusive. This is one of the things I teach people in my courses, is, you gotta write this stuff down —


LUCIA: Cause it floats through like the wind.


LUCIA: So, I love that idea about how do you create—It's alchemy. I mean it's really, it's alchemy. This —When you step in, when you show up, and you say, "Okay, I'm going to do something that's out of my comfort zone," and you know, I believe we have this whole corporation of guides and ancestors and spirits around us who are supporting us. I ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: You know some of us have the higher self idea that it's all our higher self, and we are in this ascension process, I believe, and becoming gods incarnate. And, I do believe that there are distinct beings that are helping to guide us. And so — and a destiny and all of that — and so, at least what I've seen, is, you show up, you make those leaps of faith, the universe will meet you. Now maybe not in the timeframe. That's another tricky thing, is timing. But you — this doesn't go unnoticed. Like you are building this ... this confidence bank account.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And so, I, you know, I love that idea, about the magic, the alchemy, of showing up, and then doors opening.

ANDREW: Well, you know, for me, one of the things that I've sort of — I've talked about in a few places, like in an episode I did where I was the guest recently with Fabeku, if people want to go back and look at it. But I was talking about these portraits that I do, these magical portraits, you know ...

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And how these magical portraits ... And working with portrait and image and you know, playing around with growing my Dali-esque mustache ...

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: ... and all these things. They're all acts of magic, right? They're all acts of transformation. They're all me turning this energy back towards myself, and working on that ...


ANDREW: And one way or another, to liberate that. You know, you're a person who's done a lot of portrait work and also, you know, other sorts of representative stuff with yourself. You know, what are you doing with that these days? How is that in your orbits?

LUCIA: Oh, that's such a yummy yummy yummy yummy question. I like flipping paradigms. I think that that's the punk rocker in me! [laughs]

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: I like this and the ... You know, the spiritual, mystical teacher/student in me. I like this, you know, it's Oden hanging upside down in Yggdrasil and getting runes, you know, and sacrificing things. I like this idea of flipping things and finding the power in them. And so, something that ... And in my oracle deck, the Oracle of Initiation, that photography series, the painted body, they look—If you haven't seen the Oracle of Initiation—the images look like petroglyphs coming alive off of a cave wall. They are these beings of light, particularly the graffiti tunnel ones. And there's no Photoshopping or editing to the images, and those were done between 2007 and 2008. And that was before the word "selfie" had come into the common lexicon ...


LUCIA: And, I — they're sacred selfies. There's somewhere between 40 and 50,000 images because it was a ritualistic ceremonial process. I—the camera became—I became one with it. It was held in my hand, but I was dancing between the worlds. They let me take pictures between the worlds. And so, that whole process, that was the enormous game changer, and, as I say, I like to try to figure out how to support other people's transformation. There's only a tiny percentage of people who want to go get nude and tribally painted in graffiti tunnels and on the land and do this. Now the people who want it, want it. But, there is this piece about becoming other through this witnessing process. And so, now I'm doing—you know, what is it, 12 years later? Am I doing the math right? Yeah, 12 years later. I've been ... I have an online class called Sacred Selfies. Now, so selfies get this bad rap. It's like this—it's everything that's wrong with social media. It's these young people, who are self-absorbed, aren't self-referenced, and are trying to get attention, and the duck lips and the tits and It's — no! This is self-portraiture, and witnessing of oneself is an ancient process. And it's a way of recognizing who you are, finding self-authority, self-agency, and it's fun! Like everything that I want to do is fun! It may be intense, but it also needs to be fun. And so, the sacred selfies ...

ANDREW: Well, you could go to an art gallery, that has like—

LUCIA: Yeah!

ANDREW: A big selection of work from the last couple hundred years or the last hundred years anyway, maybe even more ... 

LUCIA: Yeah! 

ANDREW: You're going to see plenty of portraits of the artists doing portraits of themselves. Right? This impulse to be seen and to understand how we are seen or how we present ourselves in the world is part of the classic human conundrum, right? Like ...

LUCIA: It's so simple!

ANDREW: That's why we have an ascendant, right? In astrology. Like ...

LUCIA: Right!

ANDREW: It is an element that is a part of our nature of the world, right?


ANDREW: You know, and I'd be curious, how does our ascendant influence our feeling about selfies? Now there's a wonderful inquiry to —

LUCIA: Right! Well, that —

ANDREW: Pass on to some of my astrological friends. 

LUCIA: [laughing] Ask them! Well, and that's the sacred selfies piece. And Carolyn Myss, one of the teachers, interesting spiritual teachers. She said a really interesting thing some years ago that really struck me. She said, historically, as spiritual beings and guides and teachers, we've done this hollow bone thing. We've done this thing where we want to get out of the way, be an agent of spirit, and just like, the ego is gone. Like, we just are this hollow bone. You know, it's classic, you hear it. She said, particularly since the 80s, we've been doing this interesting thing where we're weaving, or merging, our ego selves, like our earth plane selves, the integrated ego, cause ego's not bad— Ego, if it's in a wounded state, it has its issues—

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: But ego, unto itself, you wouldn't get out of bed or be able to interface with people on the earth plane if we didn't have an ego. So, she said what we're doing is, we're integrating this hollow bone, surrender sacrifice sort of a classic historic energy of the healer/transformer, and we're bringing our ego along with it, we're bringing the personality, in a really integrated beautiful expansive way. And I love that! So, to me sacred selfies — that's what you're doing when you're playing with it in a really intentional way like that.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, and I think that, you know, this relationship to the ego and the idea that, you know, I mean, for me, the ego needs to be, to borrow a phrase from like kind of ceremonial magic about this stuff, right? It needs to be redeemed, right? By the higher self.

LUCIA: Yes. Yes.

ANDREW: But it doesn't get to be abandoned. Right? 


ANDREW: You know, like if we think that we're going to ditch our shadow self at some point —

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing] Good luck!

ANDREW: Be free of that business! Right?

LUCIA: [laughing] 

ANDREW: But like, there's this notion that we'll somehow be complete and free of all of these things, but like, that's not what Jung meant by integration, right? Like, that integration process is a process of having a living, dynamic communication between all of those pieces, that is balanced, monitored, adjusted as it needs to be, and continuous, right? Like, we don't reach the end of the work. Right? You know? And I remember talking to my, you know, one of my Lucumí elders, and he was like, one of the biggest mistakes people make is that they think that being a priest means that this person's going to be perfect or that being a priest makes you perfect. And it's like, it doesn't. You know? It's just another layer of things. And all of your human foibles, and all of your need to do your taxes and all of these other things —

LUCIA: [laughing] Ohhhh....

ANDREW: And all of your desire exists, you know? And you gotta roll with it. And you gotta balance it, and you know, work on it, and keep it where it needs to be. It's ... You know, you don't get to take your hand off the steering wheel, right?

LUCIA: Right. I love that. I love how you said all of that, that piece is that you — Living, dynamic, communication, and that's what, you know, clearly, culture as we've known it is melting down because it's needed to. Right? Nobody can miss that. And I ... What you are talking about, you know, speaking to your elder about—I call that— This idea— It's very prevalent in our tribe, of spiritual perfectionism.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And to me, there's this idea, that somehow, I'm supposed to be relaxed, and forgiving, and let anybody do anything, that's bullshit. There is discernment with relationships, with what is going on, and so, I feel, what we're seeing in the outer world and then working through in ourselves, is these last vestiges of these inherited — I called them lineage codes — but inherited shadows, you know, the ugliness of the racism, and the sexism, and all these sorts of things. And that we, you know, there's, we're throwing bombs into these things, and if we popped the boil, it's all out there, you know, it's all been there, but now, it's being seen in a way, in certain communities and certain cultures, it's not hidden anymore, the shit that's going down. And so, you ... Along with the bringing joy into the work that you do, there's also some points where you gotta get real, and figure out how to release and integrate some of this baggage, this, you know, epic baggage, that we've inherited of wounds.

ANDREW: Sure. Yeah, I mean, we all come from cultures that have all sorts of unhealthy things in them. You know, I mean, there's no culture that I know of, that I would say is free of it, you know? And, you know, and as we become hopefully wiser, maybe more literate about how bias and prejudice and the, you know, all the effects of history and culture play out, you know, it becomes part of our work to cut that away. And to free ourselves from that, you know? And that's not easy either, right?

LUCIA: Nope.

ANDREW: Back to the courage piece, you know? It takes courage to look at that and say, "Huh, I was being an asshole there, huh, look at that, that's a really, you know, inappropriate notion, that I inherited from here, from there, from I don't even know where," right?

LUCIA: Right.

ANDREW: And to have the wherewithal to sort of look at that and try and chip away at that, but in the same way, as the integration process, that's also an ongoing piece of work because, you know, we can only understand as much as we understand and we can only work from what we know, and as we as individuals, and to some extent, you know, collectively, as well, have become clear, and have better models, and an understanding of these things, then we have the space to do more work and to become freer or better integrated still, you know. Yeah.

LUCIA: Exactly! That, Andrew! That! [laughing]

ANDREW: Just go and do that, everybody! Just go and do those things! [laughing]

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: So, one of the things I'm curious about, is, I've been seeing a lot of, in your work and in other places, a return of Dada, and a return of sort of surrealism, you know, and ...

LUCIA: Yes. 

ANDREW: I've been bringing it back around in my Land of the Sacred Self Oracle that I've been doing, and you've been doing it in your cutout work and in other places. Why do you think Dada is so important? Why is he coming back? 

LUCIA: Well, that's a beautiful question. I grew up in a family of professional artists, and what I didn't realize when I was growing up, was that that was uncommon, that everybody didn't get this ... Everybody ...

ANDREW: Uh huh! 

LUCIA: And my family's amazing. I mean, my family is as amazing as they are wounded, and my family is epically amazing.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And so, even as a kid, there was this ... What I found is that people who have embraced their curiosity, who have embraced their creativity ... This doesn't always mean your job is going to be being an artist. But this is about being alive, and curious, and full of wonder. This has a very childlike energy in it, in a wonderful way, and so I grew up with people who were always messing around and exploring and breaking outside of boxes and looking at things in different ways. So, we would— One of the classic surrealist Dadaist games is the exquisite corpse. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: Which you can do with words and you can also — we would do it with drawings — and it's basically this process of taking a piece of paper, folding it into different sections, and deciding if you're going to do a human figure, or just something that's random, and each section that is folded ... A person in a group does some drawing and then continues the lines of that drawing down to the next folded section. Well, then they hide, they fold over their section, so that the next person just sees these leader lines ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: And they start their drawing, you know, they were told they got, you know, the torso or the body. They do their torso of the body and their style with their vibe. And then you unfold it, and you have this miraculous montage, this collage, of everybody's goofy, strange, wonderful ideas of what this figure or open-ended thing was. And it's so delightful! And so interesting, and so strange. I love things that are odd. And I've always loved things that are odd. And odd connections, and so the Dadaists and the surrealists, who were— A couple of movements, if you don't know —Art, cultural movements in the early 20th century, early last century, into the, you know, probably, 40s, 50s — and they were groups who were very connected to dreams, very connected to randomness, they wanted to— I call it getting— I'm going to swear, is it totally bad if I swear here?

ANDREW: You've already been swearing. Go ahead. Carry on.

LUCIA: So, get the fuck out of the way! Like that's one of my tenets, Because as I said earlier, my empath became very controlling and perfectionistic to try to manage how scary the world was when I was younger, so for me, all of my art Is about getting the fuck out of the way. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

LUCIA: And, because I believe that there is this dialogue, this incredible rich dialogue that the universe wants to play with us and co-create with us, and ... But you've got to get out of the way ...


LUCIA: You've gotta not be uptight. And, let randomness blow you away. And so, to me, I think that part of ... And also, historically ... But particularly the Dadaists were during the first world war. So, they were also reacting to this absolute horror that was happening in Europe, particularly across Europe, of all of that of the war. And so, they were trying to find a way to connect, to humanize, to not lose their humanity, and to try to bring some play and joy into a world that was horrific. And I feel like in some ways, we're there again, in some ways, we're a lot more — I don't know if we're more addicted — but we're more distracted, with the Internet, you know, they didn't have the Internet and things, you know, porn that you can access at any moment. And I'm not anti feminist porn, so don't go there, but I'm just saying this is a distraction for people, and so I think that we are looking, I think people are hardwired for magic, for ritual, for ceremony, for surrender, and I think most people have lost access to that. 

So, to me, the surrealism and the Dadaness, and the things that I do where I ... You make your own handmade cards, and I called them funky fortunes, but I have also called them Dada divination, wild style divination ... Is that this is a way to get you out of the way and remind you that the world is enchanted, the world is magic, and there's actually clear directives and messages in that. So that, you know, like you… The Dadaists would cut up, take a poem, cut it up into all of the different words, shake it up in a bag, pull the words out one by one, and glue them back down onto a piece of paper to get this new thing. When you do that, really interesting, not random, NOT RANDOM, things occur. And so, to me, I've done a bunch of videos on unorthodox oracles ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: I like to mess around. I am irreverent. That’s the punk, that's the hip-hop in me. So, I think that we are trying to remember that the world is enchanted, trust that in ourselves, and we want that interface as a balm to the world blowing up. 

ANDREW: Hm. [cross talking at 33:00] I mean, yeah, I think, I definitely think that ... Well, I think that this notion of re-enchanting the world right, that comes out, I've heard a variety of people talking about it. You know, I think that that's, that's an important thing, right? When people ... I like a quote from Terrence McKenna, right? When you find yourself lost or when the world doesn't make sense, or when horrific things happen or so on, right? When we find ourselves in what feels like it might be a dead end, we start looking backwards for some semblance of sanity somewhat, right?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, I feel like in this sort of, in the modern era in which we live, you know, there's this weird mix of scientific materialism and fake news and actual war and genocides and horribleness and, you know, all of the race and crimes against women, you know, and all of the things that are going on, as that stuff emerges, it's part of that sort of deconstructing what's going on and seeing what's really happening there, right?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, not that it hasn't been there all the time but it's more visible than it ever has been, for many people.


ANDREW: Not for everybody. 

LUCIA: Sure.

ANDREW: Cause, obviously anybody who is the subject of those problems, and crimes, is fully aware. Many communities have always been aware. But ... But like a lot of people start looking backwards for what makes sense, right? 


ANDREW: And so, there's this sort of return to more magical ways, a lot of people are looking to get back to living magical lives, and the saints are returning to people, in a common practice,

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And art is regaining its magic, you know? It's shedding some of this sort of legacy of postmodernism and all that kind of stuff that for me, didn't go anywhere, you know?

LUCIA: [laughs]

ANDREW: You know, I went to art school and I was fully in all that stuff for a while, which is why I made no art when I left art school. I was like, this is all bullshit, I have no interest in this at all.

LUCIA: Yeah.

ANDREW: And, it's not that I don't see things in it that could be interesting, but it just wasn't me, right? And so, finding my way back to surrealism and to the magic of those dream and trance states and all of those things — to me that's where a lot of the power is, and that's where the power to change myself and others is, which is what I'm really interested in, you know?


ANDREW: And so, like when I was working on my oracle deck, it would do these drawings, and I would start just by making a shape, right? On the page, or on the screen cause I was drawing digitally. And I'm like, "All right, what's inside the shape?" And then I would like, basically turn it inside out in my mind, and go inside the shape and find out what was in there, and I was like, "Oh! Is there something outside the shape now?" It was this sort of, almost perpetual Escher-like shifting between perspectives.


ANDREW: And then at the end I was like oh, and now the dream is finished revealing itself, all right, this one's done. Next. And, that lack of trying to control it ...

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I think is so important right? Kind of like your process with your Oracle of Initiation. You know, you didn't sit down and think, I'm gonna control all these things, you went and did a thing, and in that process, that, as you put it, the between the world's vision emerged, right?

LUCIA: Oh, I just — Oh, Andrew, I love so many things about what you said. So, you know, part of what I feel really is a natural ability with all humans is ability to be much more intuitive, much more instinctive, and once again, you know, this gets back to the addictions in some ways, and the other people's voices that need to be clutter cleared. I believe that we really all have this ability to be very tuned in ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: But only a certain percentage of people have apprenticed to that skill, and, you do need ... I mean, some people come in with a certain ... I came in obscenely psychic. I am super psychic. And very very very very empathic. For about 20 years, I had a hard time leaving the house. I was in the cave. I was in the mystic's cave for 20 years. But, I do believe that we naturally really have ... And that artists, that's part of what artists apprentice to is this, the muses, the getting the fuck out of the way, whatever you want to call it, and that you, what you're saying about, you do the circle, and then, you like merge into the circle. But like, what's in the circle? Like the circle is this field, this entity, this creation field, and I believe that everybody actually has access to that. You know, there'll be different mediums that people will use in different ways that you use it, but that's what I feel is really something that's lacking is that people's ability to access that because it's SO nourishing on a core level back to this zone. 

You know, that's what I found when I made my oracle deck, was this— I went back to what I truly loved. I went back to what the core aspects of myself were and, as I say, this is why, at 50, when, in this culture, for women, you're supposed to be freaked out, because your value is going down, because I still believe, for women in this culture, the main ticket that we have, the main value, is attractiveness, and then that's a massive issue that, we won't go into all that. But I figured out how to tap into and source this massive curiosity and joy and creative passion— obsession, basically, that I have —And it feeds me like nothing else has ever fed me! And so, you know, what you're talking about, I feel like that's just really an enormous piece of everything that we’re talking about about the integration and the finding our power, and the living our lives that we want to lead, is this access to this.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. Well, it's one of the things that, because I have the store, and stuff like that, people are often asking me, like, "Well, how did you become successful? How did you make all this happen?"

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And nobody really likes the answer.

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: Cause the answer is mostly I made a lot of art, and I kept showing up. [Laughs]

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: And I'm telling them the answer. Right? Because for me, being in that zone and being creative and making things, everything that I need to do to support that shows up when I commit to that process. Right? 

LUCIA: Mmmmmmm.

ANDREW: And when I don't commit to that process, then everything that I, everything that I do— It isn't always more labored, but it can definitely be way more labored —And I'm like, "Oh yeah, I haven't made art in a couple weeks. Shut up and go make some art, Andrew." And then, all of a sudden, everything flows from there, right?

LUCIA: Well, and this, I think that this is some, you know, a piece, we could go back to that piece about courage, courage/dedication is ... Nobody else ... Elizabeth Gilbert's recent book, Big Magic, I feel like it's the modern version of The Artist's Way. You know, it's the next step in this. And, right now I'm actually listening to Questlove, from the Roots. His book on creativity that I'm really excited about. But, part of what is happening, I think in, in the world, is this need to sanctify ourselves, is, you know, that's partly what Elizabeth says in Big Magic. She gives a lot of really, actually very practical good information about actually owning yourself as a creative person. And so, you did that. you said on some level — there is —I want to do this, there is value for it, I'm not going to let everybody else have ideas about why I shouldn't do this and I'm going to do it and I'm going to keep showing up. And that's a huge issue, I think, for a lot of people, and I think women, in the Western world, have had, not that men don't have their struggles, and I don't want to totally do a gender separation thing,

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: But there are some messages that women have gotten about being very accommodating and taking care of everyone else.

ANDREW: Sure. 

LUCIA: So, what I found, working with women, and being, having the people pleaser in myself, is that there's this road to believing that your visions are worth pursuing. And then having the courage to keep showing up and showing up and showing up because it's a bit of magic and alchemy and then it's a bit of down and dirty doing it, doing it, doing it, doing it. And so, that's what you did! So that's so beautiful and so essential. So essential. 

ANDREW: Well, and you know, and as somebody who is raising two female-identified kids, right?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I see a lot of these things. I'm always looking at what are the messages they're getting, what are they being told, what's being reinforced, where can I give them a bit more punk rock to say fuck that shit, you know? Cause, like —

LUCIA: Go, dad, go!

ANDREW: You know, it's great! So, you know, my kids — we give them more freedom than many people are comfortable with, right? In our neighborhood and stuff like that. You know, we let them go to the playground by themselves and so on. You know, and I think that it's important, and I think that, from my perspective, and from a [garbled 42:40] perspective, it's not that dangerous, you know? It's not, you know, it's not a problem now. But it freaks parents out, right?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: It freaks adults out a lot to see, you know, kids out by themselves anywhere. You know? And if you're not, like, 15, they're like eyeballing you and be like, where's the parent, right?

LUCIA: Right. 

ANDREW: And so, last summer, my youngest was over going to the playground with her sister, and some adult was like, "Are you by yourself? Where are your parents?" And she gave the best answer, which is, "That's none of your business." And kept going!

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: And I'm like, yes, exactly! Right? Because, because we don't have to, we shouldn't, capitulate, you know, I mean, I might have been more graceful or polite or something about that, but you know, it's perfect! And it's clear and it's a firm answer and, you know, people want it both ways, right? They want, like, don't talk to strangers because it's dangerous, but let us intercede and you know, treat us with respect and talk to us, right? It doesn't work that way! You know? And that's not — that's not real, right? So.

LUCIA: You are raising riot grrls, and I love you!

ANDREW: [laughs]

LUCIA: Thank you! Well, and, you know, part of it also is, I feel that, with this, because, you know, being 50, I was a kid in the 70s, and there was, depending on where you lived, there was a lot more freedom in the 70s, we didn't have media that was so sensationalized, and every parent didn't think constantly, "My child is going to be abducted." The amount of children that are abducted by strangers is like being hit by lightning. If children go somewhere, it's usually a disgruntled parent or a family member or something. And I'm not saying that that's okay. But ... But what, and in the 70s, we messed around in the ravine, in the gully, that was down the way, without adults around, you know? I studied the early childhood education and I was a nanny for years. And so, this is a —

ANDREW: We — I lived at the edge of town—

LUCIA: Yeah? 

ANDREW: Where I grew up? And we would hike, I think it's five kilometers, five miles, something like that, to the summer camp, when it was closed, that was in the woods, a good hike there, and play on their playground and climb on the buildings and whatever, when I was like in public school. You know, like, I don't know, maybe 10 years old, probably less, you know?

LUCIA: Yes! 

ANDREW: Nobody knew where we were!


ANDREW: You know we were so far in the woods, right? There was nobody around, and there was nobody there! You know? And nothing ever happened. And again, not to say that stuff didn't happen elsewhere that I wasn't a part of, but like, you know.

LUCIA: But you — you know — I mean, really, you know, generally, the ... Like, a kid will break their arm or something. I mean, it was like — but that's not— That's not —What I learned in studying early childhood education is, what I feel is, we are creating weak people. We are creating people who don't understand their instincts, who don't have stamina, and when you leave, children are not supposed to be with adults 24/7. Adults don't want to be with children 24/7. No disrespect to children.

ANDREW: True fact! [laughs]

LUCIA: Nobody that, you know — that's — but, so, when kids are alone, there is a tremendous amount of social interaction and power and confidence and jockeying that they learn, that when adults are hovering around, they don't have, and there's things about their edges and their boundaries. It's one big long rite of passage that they need, and I'm actually fairly concerned about what this means that kids are sitting in front of a device shut up in a house, for their health, for their spiritual and energetic stamina. 

And so, but what I love about your riot grrls, your beautiful riot grrls, is that they're— You're teaching them also to trust their instincts. We don't trust — particularly girls — to trust their instincts. And so, going to the park alone, your girls are going to be alert. You know, your girls are not going to be — they'll understand that this is a privilege that they have, and they're going to learn and hone their stamina to read the vibes. And that's what you have to do in life. And if, if something doesn't feel right, well, you run home! Your girls would run home! Right?

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. No, for sure!

LUCIA: Yeah that's —

ANDREW: I mean, I think it's interesting. I don't worry about the digital age and the impact of tablets and things or whatever on people. I'm curious about what they're going to do with it. Because I think that sooner or later, right?

LUCIA: Yeah. 

ANDREW: All these impulses that you and I are talking about, that we've explored and brought out and whatever, those are just human impulses, right? 

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, growing up in a more digital age or, you know, where stuff's happening in other ways, sooner or later, those impulses are going to gain enough momentum or have enough urgency that they're going to emerge from those people too, right?

LUCIA: Right. 

ANDREW: And then they're going to show us something we've never seen before.

LUCIA: Yes! 

ANDREW: I'm very fascinated about that. I have this— This oracle that I made for myself, and a lot of it's just sort of little things that I feel like I need to be reminded of. And one of the sayings on one of the cards is, "The youth know the way." 


ANDREW: And I'm like, all right! When it comes up, I always — it makes me think about, what are they know? You know, and like, not in a like, old man shaking their fist, what do they know? Although I have old man moments too, right?

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: But like, what do they know? What are they doing? What's going on? What is the meaning that they're perceiving in this? What is the value to them, right? 

LUCIA: Right!

ANDREW: And, you know, when we can run into those things with curiosity, you know, I think it's fascinating, and for me, then I get to sort of experience something new. And I get to think about things in a different way, and to me that's wonderful, it's not easy to always sustain that kind of approach and it's not always easy to access what's going on with those people. Because, you know, 16-year-olds don't, really don't want to talk to me necessarily? You know, certainly not random ones on the street, right?

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: But I'm curious, you know? And it's one of the great things — like I'm a scout leader for my kids' cub troop, right? And to spend time with those youth, and, you know, they're 8 to 11-year-olds. And then at bigger things, you know, there are teenagers and other ages there as well. For me I get to see what they're about and what they're doing and what they're interested in. And when I'm at my best, I get to be like, "Wow, what are you getting from that? What's inspiring about that?" You know?

LUCIA: Yeah.

ANDREW: "What need is that fulfilling in you? And how come I don't understand it at all?" You know? And it certainly, it can be fascinating. So.

LUCIA: Well and I feel like, with some of the younger people, and some of the millennials that I've connected with, they came in with a different operating system than we did. That their whole structure of how they're wired is very different than what we got and what we inherited, what the cultural expectations, the boxes, the prejudices, that they — what I've seen— You know, they get bashed for being self-absorbed and all of that. But what I've also seen is that they have this visionary— These visionary aspects to them that are epic, that blow me away! The visionary in me goes, "Wow! I'm a model T car and you're a rocket ship!" And so I do, I wonder what, like you say, I don't even know, I feel like I came in to help anchor some of those folks and then the folks more of my age who are those in between, we're pretty visionary, particularly for our time frame, but we got nothing on what those younger people have, and you're right, they're going to do things, make the science fiction moods that we found of having a TV in our hands, they're gonna make that look like that's kindergarten. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

LUCIA: And so, I'm pretty thrilled about it too. 

ANDREW: Well and I think that that's a great mantra or you know, something to sort of both embody and keep the ego in check, right? I'm visionary for my generation, I'm visionary for my time, I'm visionary for my upbringing, you know? Because like, we look back and especially because like I've read a lot of stuff by, you know, cause I was into ceremonial magic and into sort of Crowley stream of stuff, you know, the guy was visionary for his time, in certain ways, in certain aspects.

LUCIA: Yeah! 

ANDREW: You know? And he was totally horrendous in many ways.

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: Because of his time, and because of his upbringing. And because of his personality, you know?

LUCIA: Right. 

ANDREW: And, you know, I hope that I never have as many downfalls is that dude had. But, to think that we don't have them, right, is just folly, right? You know?

LUCIA: It is folly; it's all folly! I mean that— That— I mean that's really— It is— We, as humans, I think we get all caught up, and we get ... We get into all these spins. The reality is we're a bunch of goofballs. I mean, that's the reality of it, and were just stumbling around like toddlers, all of us, and anytime you think you really know, you're totally sure, good luck with that! How's that working for you? I mean, you know, that's— You gotta — You know, that's the thing, of being a recovering perfectionist, I can laugh at myself now. Before I judged myself. Judged myself terribly. Now I go, "Oh yeah, you're insecure there, oh you're, you know, being kind of neurotic or whatever it is. And then I like kind of laugh, and pat myself, like, "Oh, baby, you're so clay footed! Isn't that fun?"

ANDREW: Uh huh.

LUCIA: It's a miracle. So, I think— That's what I would hope for all of my brethren listening to this: Can you come to this place where you love and accept yourself enough, even laugh at yourself!

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

So, this kind of brings it to one of the other things that I wanted to chat about with you though, right? It's been a real journey for you, right?

LUCIA: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: Like, you were saying 12 years ago was when you made the Oracle of Initiation, right? Or something like that?

LUCIA: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And now here you are living that in an embodied way, much more, you know, and with other people in a much more embodied way, right?

LUCIA: Yeah.

ANDREW: How did that journey happen? How did that go for you?

LUCIA: [sighs] It's ... Never in a million years, could I have told you that I would have this life that I have now. And I think that's true for everybody—


LUCIA: But I went down some really alternative paths. You know, I took some paths that were not taken, some serious, right turns, left turns, off of where I was coming from. And it helped me have the life that I always dreamed of that I didn't even realize was possible, like, to tell — I've gone from a model T car, from a Big Wheels, you know, a Big Wheels toy, to a rocket ship, in the growth game that I've had. 

And, part of it was not by choice. My own issues of safety and security and control—I wouldn't have left the life that I had at that point in Seattle. I grew up in Seattle in a family professional artists. And was always very creative and independent in my own way, but I also really wanted kids. I wanted kids more than anything. I loved kids. And I actually still love kids. I just don't want to give them the time that they deserve. I have another dialogue that I want. My creativity is my dialogue. And so, kids are not going to get that dialogue from me, you know. Other people think you can take some for the team and raise the kids. But ... My ... You know the journey of wanting to be married and have this Martha Stewart sort of a lifestyle— I come from a family of designers, and architects, and artists. And I love homemaking. I have a homemaker in me. I love food, I love beautiful design. 

But that— I didn't realize how mystical I was. I didn't. I had forgotten. I had blocked a lot of it off. Of how intuitive I was, how psychic I was. And so, the universe and myself conspired to send me in this totally different trajectory than where I had been. And my husband died of cancer when he was 37. I was 33. And he was wonderful. And I'm not just putting him on a pedestal because he's dead. He was a gift from the angels. He was so much healthier than me. He was a very healthy, loving, integrated man. To be honest, I've only — I've met a small amount of men who have had the access to heart and love that he had. He was extraordinary. And, he died. 

And I didn't have kids, and I had some resources, I didn't have to go get a 9-to-5 job, and I spent basically seven years on a quest to revitalize who I was, defined who I was, and I always knew that art was central to who I was. Like I, I breath, I, every cell in my body is art, I am living art. Adventure. I love exploring! That's the happiest ... I'm the happiest in my whole life when I'm exploring. And then, spirituality in the land. You know there was my spirituality, my mystical spirituality was evolving. But so, in that seven years on that quest, I did about 15 lifetimes worth of study, and engagement, and incredible teachers, and learning, and then I made the oracle deck. You know, I made this deck. And so, we're going to— After this, let's talk about the dreams. You know, the last interview that you and I did. I had had some dreams about you and your Orisha deck.

ANDREW:  Yeah.

LUCIA: But my oracle deck predominantly came out of dreams. I was having dreams, other people were having dreams, these amazing dreams of animals and humans shapeshifting. Of people getting up off of one divination card and moving to another, like being alive, and I followed the stepping stones. I followed the path, I courageously— And you know, here's another thing about courage and following your path— I will bet you, I would bet you money, I would bet you something, that if you paid a survey of people enough money to live two years, three years, five years, and follow their passion and go for theirs, there would still only be a small percentage. There's something that you have to click in to go for it. And people ... a lot of people say it's the money. And I have the mortgage and ... and kids do make it different. I'm humbly ... I don't have kids, I'm humbly saying that you make different choices when you're responsible for children, I'm very humble about that. And still, you still can make other choices and I, something in me had the ability to tap into this courage and this fierceness and this not knowing and follow these impulses and that's how I ended up in New Mexico with the structure— It took me six years to do the deck —But the structure of the deck was all in place. But the artwork of these dreams of the animals and humans shapeshifting and the light beings moving around. It wasn't happening in 2D art processes. I got a new camera. This was before my iPhone adventures. Now I'm obsessed with what iPhones can do.

ANDREW: It's amazing.

LUCIA: It's amazing. But, I had this epiphany, my work comes through epiphanies and I was driving along, and I had done this — I had been trained in this body of work called the Earth and Body series. They were sacred selfies. This was from 2005 to 7 that I took around the world. And I learned how to get out of the way and be drawn to locations. I would disrobe so that I would be vulnerable and connected to the earth, like becoming primal, back to the earth. I'd hold the camera in my hand, you know, it became an extension of my body, and I would take these mystical opening between the veils pictures. And so, when I got to New Mexico, found some new graffiti and tunnels, that was vibrating in a different way ... You know, like my mystical capacity had opened more, my conduit was more open, and then this epiphany came, of taking those nude Earth and Body photos, and there were 20 to 25,000 of those, and taking it to the next level and tribally painting myself and adorning myself. Which I had done, I had done sacred selfies since I was a kid with Polaroids, with photo booths. It's just one of my jams. It's one of my things. And so, I started doing ... in June 2006, I went down into this graffiti tunnel that I found, had gotten paint at the theater store, had all of these horns and scarves and amber necklaces and things. And I took these pictures with a new camera that you ... that would ... it was more sophisticated, and you could get pictures in lower light. As part of how my images happened is about ISO and about sparkly things and some ambient light in tunnels. And the graffiti. And, I took these photos and they blew me away. And so, this was this whole journey, this whole trust walk, and when I started it, I didn't know I could do such an epic project, and ...

ANDREW: I think it's such an important thing to note, too, right? 

LUCIA: Yeah. 

ANDREW: I think that if people knew what it would be at the end ...

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: They would probably never start. Right? 

LUCIA: They wouldn't, cause it's too hard. 

ANDREW: It's too hard. It's too far from where they are. The innovations and inspiration that the journey or the road provides aren't there in the beginning ...

LUCIA: Yeah. 

ANDREW: So, it's one of those things, right? You ... Starting the process and allowing and trusting that the process will come forward to something is the big ... is one of the biggest things, right? You know? And it's tough when you don't have history with it to trust it, right? It gets easier with time, but ...

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.


LUCIA: Completely true. And that's it, I mean it's tough to trust it when you -- I'm writing this down -- when you don't have history, and that was the thing that gave me history. That was the thing that has changed my life, where I saw, because I'm, as I say, I was very insecure for many years, and I am a good synthesizer, I have a brain that is able to synthesize things well. I'm ... You know, we also have this culture where people are not supposed to be proud of what they have, particularly women, like you're supposed to be humble, people will think you're arrogant. No, fucking own what you're good at. So, I'm smart. I can synthesize and make connections. You know, that's the visionary plus the structure person. And I didn't realize how skilled I was at that because I was insecure. So, in, you know, in my oracle book, it's 300 pages and I'm so proud of it. It's my woo woo Ph.D. I got my Ph.D. You know, we don't get -- I should have a Ph.D. in the woo world behind my name from that deck. 

ANDREW: I felt the same way when I made ... I did this ten week, two-and-a-half-hour class, course on the Thoth tarot, right? 

LUCIA: Whoa....

ANDREW: I was like, when I finished that, I was like, that's my Ph.D.  That's it right there. 

LUCIA: There it is! Right? The decades and decades that we've been studying with this. And so, that ... doing that project ... and as I say, it took me six years to physically make it and then publish the book, and then, we're 12 years in now, and there's always a learning curve with print on demand and self-publishing and all of that. But it ... it was the game changer. And as I say, not everybody's going to do that. But you've got to find something that is like that, that is your game changer if you really want to anchor in your visionary self. You're going to have to over and over again show up and do things that are out of your comfort zone, and you're going to need to love it on some level, or you won't keep doing it. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

LUCIA: And so now, I'm at this point finally, I'd say probably 20, 25 years’ worth of what I've visioned, what I've prayed for, you know, it's a combination of working for it, and then there's some grace. Like you don't earn it. Like somehow it just anchors in. It's both/and. And now it's just anchored in and now I finally ... like I feel myself in my body ... Cause empaths also have a hard time being in their body cause this world is really loud. But I'm finally in my body in a way, and I've come out of the cave, you know, I'm not in the mystic's cave anymore, that 20 years is over, and when I'd show up and teach at conferences and workshops and public speak, I kind of stand there in myself and go [gasps]: "Wow! This is so cool! Like, I'm in my skin. I'm happy with myself." And if I, you know, make a mistake, or I do something, or I say something, you know, I'll stick my foot in my mouth sometimes, I don't shame myself for months any more. I'm like, well that was kind of awkward. And we move on!

ANDREW: Yeah. 

LUCIA: It's so ... So, literally, I got the keys to the kingdom through following this path and now also I'm starting ... I didn't make a lot of money for a long time. You know, I had other money that I was living on. You know, this is also something that people don't talk about. If you don't have the confidence to feel that you're going to be able to magnetize other people, don't quit your day job. You will not have a thriving career as a woo woo person if you haven't sanctified yourself. And I work with people around this. 

ANDREW: And it is, it is not easy. Right? 

LUCIA: It is not fucking easy! 

ANDREW: When I started ... you know, cause for a long time, I wasn't in the bigger tarot community or in the bigger spiritual community. I was just, you know, working at a shop in Toronto and just doing my thing, and when I started going around and meeting people, I was amazed at how few people were making their living ...


ANDREW: Doing stuff ...


ANDREW: And I was making my living doing it, and how many people were being supported by their partner ...


ANDREW: Or had a day job or all these things, and no shame on that ...

LUCIA: Yeah! No!

ANDREW: You do what you gotta do ...

LUCIA: Exactly.

ANDREW: But the perspective that I had seen and that many people kind of cultivated was that they were ... that they were making it, but they weren't making a living, they were, you know, they weren't making enough money to support themselves.

LUCIA: Solely on that work. 

ANDREW: Solely on that work. And I think that that is a thing that very few people talk about, and a lot of people sell the dream and a lot of like, woo woo, blah blah marketing types and coaches or whatever sell people on that, and it's not that it's not possible, but it is not easy.


ANDREW: And it is not as straightforward and probably not as fast as most people would talk about it happening. 


ANDREW: If you're going to jump into doing this kind of stuff full time, do it! It's amazing! And it's going to ... it might take a while, and if anybody tells you that they've got some clear-cut system where you're going to get there, don't believe them because I've never seen it, so. 

LUCIA: No. And that's -- part of that's the confidence gap that I talked about too. With people that are really intuitive and visionary, because we usually do have such a sensitivities, it's our greatest gift, but there's also a way of embodying the ability to navigate the earth plane, and it's like the yin and the yang, it's like the receptive intuitive part is very very skilled, very ... and that was true for me for years. I'm bringing in now more of that put it out into the world energy, that was not as accessible to me, and so, I get really irritated by those people who are offering that "I'm a coach, and I'm, you know, working four hours a week from a beach in Bali, and I'm making six, seven figures." There are such a tiny percentage of people who do that, that it's insane, and I think it sets up this unrealistic expectation. As I say, I probably, I made, when I had other money coming in, for probably the last seven years or something, you know, but from a ... I'm making more now, and I'm self-supporting. But there, when there was other money coming in, I probably made about ... on average about $1,000 a month, was what I made. Well, most people in the Western world, unless you live in like Mexico or something, you don't, you can't live on $1000 a month. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

LUCIA: And I ... you know, I've been building my brand, pretty strongly for at least a decade. And that's part of it. It doesn't totally happen overnight, but there is this piece about confidence and sanctifying yourself, and as I say, I work individually, I coach people on this, because I have now anchored that in, and I'm making the resources, but I didn't for many years, and it's very, it's complicated, and you don't just say, bam, and I'm gonna start, you know, coaching clients and make $1000 per month, you know, on one client or whatever. That doesn't happen overnight. And so, there's this process. 

ANDREW: For sure. 

Yeah. A big deal. And like I say, I agree, I don't appreciate this sham that's going in the spiritual world where people are pretending that they're making it, and if you do have a day job or a partner is supporting you, that's beautiful, you're being taken care of, but this idea that you're just going to like, print a business card and make a website and somehow clients are going to flock to you, that is unrealistic.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. For sure. So, the last thing, before we wrap up, cause we're already running a bit long here ...

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: Would ... It's just such a lovely conversation and I don't want it to end. 

LUCIA: Me too!

ANDREW: So, you had a dream before the last time we recorded. 


ANDREW: Right? And the thing that was fascinating about this dream was that I had told almost nobody that I was considering making an Orisha tarot deck, and you came on, and you were like, "Oh, I had this dream," right? And I don't know if you remember any of it. 

LUCIA: [laughing]

ANDREW: But it was something like, I was showing you these cards that I was making, and explaining them to you, and they were like floating in the air or something and revealing themselves. You know, and ... yeah, it's fascinating because here we are, however many years later, and this September, my Orisha tarot deck will be coming out through Llewellyn and will be available everywhere, right? 

LUCIA: Yeah.

ANDREW: And it's been such a long journey, because ... Because I took it so seriously. Because for me, I wanted to make sure that I was respecting my tradition, you know? Because this is my religious practice of the last almost, you know, 18, 19 years, you know, and I've been a priest for the last nine and a half years now, and I wanted to respect the culture that it comes from, and I wanted to ... I had so many things that I wanted to accomplish with making this process that I, that even though I kept feeling like, "Oh, I should just get it done, like, I should just finish it!", it took such a long time to get completed really, you know, and it was like it was sort of percolating and growing and changing me along the way, and allowing me to become who I needed to be in order to give birth to it, you know? 

LUCIA: All of that. All of that. It's ... You know, it's so interesting, the mechanics of visions. I find the mechanics of being a conduit, being a translator, so fascinating, these pieces, and how we support each other, and how we're part of this web that helps bring things true, and this idea that I, that other people got dreams for me, for my deck, that I got this dream for you, when you weren't even speaking it, you know, I got on the psychic phone line, the psychic lay lines, and I got the phone call, I picked up the phone call, and then I told you I got the call, I gave you the message!

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

LUCIA: And it's fascinating to me when we open these channels and we tend to these things, what comes through, and I also ... I really want to give you some love and respect for all of the work that you do around inclusion and diversity and respect and honoring in a lot of different communities, because ... I'm putting in a plug for something, I feel like part of our job as creators and visionaries and new mythmakers, is social media was created to help market and make each other successful. So, you ... I feel it is your responsibility, as a leader, my responsibility as a leader, to share the products and things that we really respect, share the people. Like your and Carrie's things that you're doing ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

LUCIA: Together. Those things are amazing. I always share those. But Courtney Alexander, you know, you interviewed Courtney Alexander, and the Dust Onyx, I ... That is one of the ten most excellent decks I have ever experienced. And I teach people how to make your own decks ...


LUCIA: And Courtney blows me away.

ANDREW:  Yeah.

LUCIA: And so ... part of my soap box is, and it has been for my whole life, it's a whole longer story, but this merging of different cultures and spirits from different cultures and social justice. And so, one of my soapboxes is, the divination world is very northern European. It's very white. It's ... Most of the decks that have been created are from a northern European perspective. And those are fine if we have more diversity. We need more authentic diversity. And whatever it is about access to resources, whatever that is, there's a lot of issues around that, but so Courtney is ... she calls herself a black queer woman and she's bringing information from her ancestors and the African lineage and the deck is excellent and so she's almost up to her $50,000 to print her next round, so you all need to go find Dust Onyx. But, for you, Andrew, I'm so thrilled that you're bringing through a deck from these diverse traditions, and you are a person who has apprenticed to it, who has, you know, put in the time, it's of your heart, it's of your soul, because we so much, print on demand is such a miracle, and it's a miracle that we can ... I mean, you're working with Llewellyn, which is a bigger publisher, which is a very prestigious thing, I mean that's awesome, and we can print our own decks now. And, so, I just, I thank you so much for showing up and bringing through this ... this ... You know, we're going to flip the dominant paradigm partly by getting paid, and so also Courtney, let's pay Courtney, let's have Courtney set up her publishing house for marginalized groups. Let's see more decks from people of different cultures. Nonbinary gender ones. I want to see decks from 16-year-olds. We need more diverse, so I just ... I really honor you and all the work that you do, and I cannot wait to see what you bring through about your deck. 

ANDREW: I'm going to be very curious if it feels familiar to you. You know? 

LUCIA: Yes! From the dream! Oh my god!

ANDREW: Cause I asked you last year and you were like ... "I couldn't, I can't remember seeing any of them, I just knew what it was," so I'll be curious when it arrives, if it likes unlocks something that you perceived. So, I'm going to wrap up by saying, so, speaking of youth and making stuff ...


ANDREW: I was just at Reader's Studio, in New York, and my kids made an oracle deck to sell ...

LUCIA: I love those!!!!

ANDREW: And this is the second iteration of it, and they ... my youngest had made one to raise money for a charity called Rainbow Railroad, which people should go check out, and what they did was they made these cards and they were selling them individually and then somebody bought a set of them or whatever. But by the time this goes live at the end of May, my kids will be making more and selling them through the Hermit's Lamp website, so go check it out. 

LUCIA: [gasps]

ANDREW: You can see what... 

LUCIA: Ohhhhhh!!!!!

ANDREW: Young visionaries of finding and embodying divination are up to.

LUCIA: Our little sassy riot grrls!!! Riot grrl deck!!!

ANDREW: Exactly. And yeah, if you're, other people out there who have stuff that need support or whatever, like, bring it up, send me an email, let me know what's going on, because, you know, we've all got to help everything move in the right direction. 

LUCIA: Me too. Me too. Like I say, I feel like that's a part of our responsibility is to share on social media and expand each other's tribes so we get paid. Getting paid so that we can take care of ourselves. You know, there's so much issues about money, but ...

ANDREW: And take care of each other, right? 

LUCIA: Take care of each other. I love it!

ANDREW: All right. Where do people find you, Lucia? 

LUCIA: Oh! Well I have the Oracle of Initiation website, so that's OracleofInitiation.com, I have a Mellissae Lucia website that shows all of my, some of my bodies of work. I'm very happy on Instagram. You can find everything happening on Instagram. Under Mellissae ...

ANDREW: The pinnacle ... It's the pinnacle of social media. It's the best thing ...

LUCIA: I love, I love it. 

ANDREW: Let's hope Facebook doesn't ruin it. 

LUCIA: And I'm on Facebook also and then my events, my online classes, my experimental photography classes ... it's once a year now that I teach the how to bring the vision of your deck through to production. It starts in January, that class, which is, it's epic. That's another Ph.D. of mine. And I'm going to be teaching a lot of different places and public speaking more, and then, for women and nonbinary gender ones, I do this amazing four-month process in the New Mexico desert where I created my deck, where Georgia O'Keefe lived, where we have a week immersion in New Mexico, and it's a very small group, intimate, basically priestess, intuitive, empowerment embodiment training called Temples Illuminated. And so that happens once a year from September till January. And that, you have to, it's not marketed anywhere publicly, that's really, you have to interbe with me, because that's pretty deep and powerful but delicious work. And so .... And then I do intensive week-long things in New Mexico at this point too, which I'm starting one with a woman today, we're going to go up to Georgia O'Keefe land and do art and mystical stuff. Woot woot! 

ANDREW: Love it. Thanks for being on.

LUCIA: It's great to catch up with you again. 

ANDREW: Wonderful, always, to catch up. Always good. Have a good day! 

EP80 Stars and Magic with Austin Coppock

May 11, 2018

Austin and Andrew talk about astrology from a lived perspectice. The conversation runs through ways in which both have worked with the planets magically to grow as people and achieve practical magic. This is conversation is a rarity in which the actual application of planetary magic gets to be the star of the show. 

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You can find Austin on his website here. His newsletter is defintely worth reading. 

 Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.


ANDREW: Welcome to another installment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Austin Coppock. And I know Austin from his wonderful chats with Gordon White on Gordon's podcast, where they do a twice a year sort of check in about what's going on astrologically and what's coming down the line. And, you know, it's always very insightful and it sets a nice framework for sort of thinking about the bigger pictures of what's going on. So, I've been listening enjoyably to those and thinking that having Austin on here to chat about what happens as we live with astrology and think about astrology and you know, all that kind of stuff as we go through our lives would be wonderful. 

But, in case people don't know who you are, Austin, why don't you give us an introduction? 

AUSTIN: Okay. I suppose I'll start with my most public face. I am a professional astrologer. I write about what's happening, what's going to happen, in different time frames, ranging from the daily to the decadely. I've also been a consulting astrologer full time for the last ten years as well -- eleven years -- and I also teach a variety of classes about astrology and also some about the astrological magic tradition.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. And, how did -- I'm curious how you got into astrological magic. Because I came out of sort of western ceremonial stuff, which I got into as a teenager and spent a long time playing with and working with, and one of the things that was my favorite was this sort of planetary work and those kinds of things. You know? And it's actually one of the few pieces that sort of endures from that time, as something that I still sort of play with in my life and in my practice, but where did that come from for you? How did you find your way into that? 

AUSTIN: That's a good question. I have a convoluted but hopefully coherent answer. [laughs] So, when I got -- when I first got really into astrology, when I was maybe 19, 20, it had a lot of paradigmatic implications to me. The fact that it worked -- and it didn't just work in a fun -- it was more than just the extremely colorful Rorschach test, which I thought it was at first.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And, it does function very well in that regard, right? But it's -- when I started seeing it reflecting life and death level events -- I actually predicted some deaths that happened during that time, which is not something I do in my practice now. Maybe, maybe, if someone really wants to do that, and I think their reasons are good, but you know, I didn't take it seriously. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And so that's a pretty good way to get you to take things seriously. To just --

ANDREW: Yeah! 

AUSTIN: To throw death in there, right? [laughs] And so, that got me -- that also made me take seriously the paradigmatic implications of astrology. If, you know, if astrology could say things that serious, then a lot of what I had been taught about the world was either incorrect or woefully incomplete. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And, around that same time, I started training with some people who did internal martial arts, where -- cause I'd been doing martial arts for, I don't know, since I was a kid -- but, I'd never really experienced anybody who could do anything that made me think that chi was anything more than a metaphor --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: But then I started training with a guy who was from a school, and then I went to that school, and, you know, the teacher could do things that were impossible if, you know, if this chi wasn't actually describing part of reality. [laughs] 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And so that brought, I'd say, that played a, that was another piece in changing what I thought was real, right? You know? In a very physical way. You know, getting your ass kicked by something you can't explain really makes you think about it. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: And so, as I got -- I started doing massive amounts of chi gong and meditation, and that -- it was sort of in the space that that opened up, that's where the magic came through for me, and it came through hard and fast and confusing, as I think it does for a certain percentage of practitioners --

ANDREW: Sure. 

AUSTIN: And so, I, you know, I'd intersected with some magical material before. You know, you're ... Back when people went to bookstores, or ... like, you know, you go to the astrology section, and right next to it, is, you know, there is Crowley. 


AUSTIN: And there's Modern Magic. And, you know, I popped those open, and there are tables of astrological correspondences. So, I was aware of this material because of its proximity to astrology, both physically and as an art, like literally the books were next to each other, right? Which is, by the way, you know, a reason to go to bookstores, right? [laughs] Yeah, I mean, yeah, I can get it on Amazon, but a good bookstore, you're going to encounter things that are proximal to, you know, to what you're doing. It may be that what you think you want is actually just, you know, a pathway to the thing that's right across from it on the shelf, right? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Anyway. And so, yeah, I jumped into the magic, I memorized, the, you know, Golden Dawn correspondences, and I went crazy with some shadow tarot and Typhonian OTO stuff, and spirits, big spirits popped into my life from traditions I'd never had any intersection with, which was very, that was some of the most confusing. Some of the -- you know, some of the spirits whose names are, you know, primarily found in Haitian vodou popped into my life, and I literally had to look up what these awesomely powerful figures were, cause I didn't even know the names. 

ANDREW: I think there's some sort of fundamental connection between that sort of Thelemic occurrence, right? And those African diasporic spirits, right?


ANDREW: Not to interrupt your whole line of thought. 

AUSTIN: No no no no no, that's a really interesting, there's the, well, I'm not, it would be impossible to characterize me as a Thelemite at any point, but, you know, if we're talking about the larger Thelemic current, you know going from Crowley and then to Grant and then working with Linda Falorio's, I don't know, you could call it reification of the tunnels? What I found -- what I got from that was like a deep magical enema! [laughs] It like blew open, it opened up all of these channels. It made all of these ... It created all of these wonderful emptinesses and absences, which you need ... A channel needs to be empty in the middle, right? 


AUSTIN: And that allowed a lot of stuff to come in. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And that's funny, I don't hear people talking about that material in terms of creating, sort of, you know, it's sort of like draining out the nightmares from a tunnel, so that there's a ... so that that beautiful and fecund absence can then, you know, things can emerge from that, that more primordial state.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And part of my experience was probably because I was coming from, you know, a couple of years of intense Taoist practice ...

ANDREW: Right.

AUSTIN: You know, where, there's a lot of ... there's a big focus on returning to the fertile void state, or Wu Chi, and then you're supposed to do that at the beginning of every Tai Chi form, and every pretty much any internal form ... and you know returning to that, and then emerging out of it, and so that was, you know, it's still a very important space. But anyway, that's what I ... that's part of what I got out of that tunnels work. And I was led by various loa to make some excellent changes in my life, and when then not too much longer ... or you know, and I experimented with some of the sort of Golden Dawn lodge-style planetary magic ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: You know the six and seven stars, and the Denning and Phillips Planetary Magic book, and that was interesting, but it didn't ... It didn't quite sing. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Actually, you know, just a funny anecdote. The first sort of formal astrological magic operation I did was this evocation of the spirit of Jupiter -- or it was like a -- yeah, it was an evocation of the spirit of Jupiter, and I got this figure that was like this good-natured pigheaded mayor of, you know, like, he was like, "I'm the mayor!" you know, like kind of big and jovial, and I was like, "Pigheaded, huh?" Like not stubborn, but like literally had a big hog head. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: And only maybe last year I was reading Jeffrey Kotyk's dissertation, and Jeffrey Kotyk does some really interesting work. He's looking at astrological texts in Tang era China, and what he's finding are translations of core Hellenistic astrologer, astrology texts, like Dorotheus, as well as a lot of Persian and Indian material, and it's being kind of received, and redescribed, and it gets all the way to Japan, all of that material gets all the way to Japan by the 10th century, which is a very different shape of transmission than what most people have been thinking. Anyway. 

So, in one of these texts is like, how to make a magical image so that this planet, you know, you'll have this planet's favor, and it won't fuck you up. And the Jupiter one is, involves the hog. Like in some of those traditions they see the animal of Jupiter consistently being the pig. And so, these are, you know, these are these funny things where you just experience something and then you find out, you know, sometimes years later, that, oh yeah, thousands of people saw exactly that when they looked, you know, deeper into Jupiter's sphere. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: But anyways, you know, so I was doing experiments, and then the -- someone placed the Picatrix in my hand and said "I think you'll know what to do with this," and this was -- this was -- I think this was 2007. And this was when -- this was before the Warnock Greer translation of the Latin, and it was the first volume from Ouroborus Press, and that was all that was available then, and so, I cracked that open and read it, and I was like, "Oh yes, this is it," and went about experimenting immediately. Well, as soon as the next favorable election was. 

ANDREW: Right. 

AUSTIN: Because the ... That current of traditional talismanic astrological magic doesn't, how shall we say, it brings all of the sophisticated timing that astrology provides directly to bear on the operation, and it -- in my experience, it allows for a much much much much much higher voltage current, to transform the things around one, than the lodge style approach to planetary magic. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. I think it's -- I've done both, at different times? You know, I've spent a lot of time in the OTO and, you know, doing a lot of that kind of stuff, and in the Aurum Solis, and doing that sort of planetary work --


ANDREW: Within that, and so on-- but, you know, it's funny, like the things, a lot of the more formal stuff was fruitful for whatever it was that it was being worked on, but some of the better things that I ever did were works where I was only focused on myself, right? They were sort of like these internal planetary workings, you know? 

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So like I remember, the most significant of which was that I spent a year invoking the moon at each of its transitions between the signs, and doing essentially like a communion ceremony with that, and internalizing that energy as a way of attempting to redress the imbalances that I experienced, both through my understanding of my chart, which was fairly limited at that time, but also through sort of my psychological and emotional imbalances that I was experiencing, you know, and that sort of repeated cyclical work was so helpful at shifting those things, you know? And I no longer remember where I got the idea from, because it's not anything I ever really came across, it was sort of definitely came out of a hybrid of what I was seeing done and it's almost the extent, the depth at which I felt I needed to work in order to make those shifts, right? So, yeah, I think there's a lot -- it's fascinating.

AUSTIN: That 100% makes sense to me. And I've also sort of ended up doing stuff like that. I still do stuff like that, even though, you know, there wasn't a text that suggests that.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: I think that that cycle of work, or course of work model, with a particular planet is ... That is, that's sort of the slowly sanding down the rough edges of that sphere within you and the way that it manifests in your life, and that in many ways I would say that that's the foundation of, how shall we say, being like the archetypal perfect astrological magician. Is that you get to know, and you do your best to perfect all of the spheres within you. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Now, that makes -- that's connected very closely to some traditions of astrology in India. I've recently begun studying the Parashara tradition with a teacher, with a lineage holding teacher. And the way that they address, one of the ways that they address remediation is, I don't know, you know, my Mercury sucks, so how do I improve that area of my life, right?

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: Is that [missing time -- 00:16:33-16:55] 

ANDREW: Can you hear me? 

AUSTIN: It happens.

ANDREW: So, you were just talking about, basically you just started mentioning the India thing, and how they were remediating their Mercury, or whatever they were going to --

AUSTIN: Yeah. Right. So, the ... One approach to remediation is basically, it's basically a cycle of planetary work. You know, they'll use a deity connected to a planet.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And so, you know, you'll do a particular mantra, which is -- You know, when you really look at the structure of mantras and how they're used, you know, it's a blurry line between prayer, spell, conjuration, and mantra, in a lot of cases, but you know, you would do that, you would do your work regularly according to the astrological calendar. Like if you're working on your Mercury, you'd work Mercury, every, you know, every Wednesday during a particular planetary hour, and, you know, for your Mercury you might use, you know, a Ganesh mantra, where [missing time 00:18:00-18:07] whereas another person might use -- divine forms associated with each planet, it's not just one for one, but that's very, you know, when you look at it from a distance, it's very similar to doing a cycle of work.


AUSTIN: I -- have you ever done, sort of like a planetary prayer or attunement every day on the day and hour of the planet for a week or two? 

ANDREW: I mean, not so much with that. You know, I mean, I did Resh, so the four points of the day, for a long time, the solar adorations, and I did, you know, I did a lot of sort of working with and invoking those kinds of things, but a lot of my other practices that were ongoing were structured purely at the times that were convenient, so I would ... I did a year of mantra work and I would just do it at the same time every morning every day because that was the only time that fit into my lifestyle, so I didn't have the luxury of, or maybe even the consideration at that point of time of tying it to other forces. 

ANDREW: Well, we're stuck again. 

AUSTIN: Yeah. I found some ... 

ANDREW: So, you were just asking me if I had done a sort of series of works that were tied to a planetary hour, which isn't really something that I had done, in a concrete way. I mean, transitions and stuff like with the moon, whatever time of day it changed signs, I tried my best to be in the temple at that time, but otherwise, not so much, but I'm assuming from your question that you have.

AUSTIN: Oh yeah. It's a not terribly difficult or time-intensive way to really get a sense of what the different planetary currents are, in an experiential way ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And, you know, and, by, you know, essentially kind of sipping from that cup, every day, you get a sense of both what the planet's essential quality is, as well as how that is changed, modified, obstructed, or supercharged by what's happening now with that planet.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And so yeah, that's something I just kind of, I didn't set it as like, you know, we're going to do this every day for a month. It's just something I probably do, five to seven times a week. It's just, you know, I just, you know, take 15 minutes. They're not big rites, but it's just hooking in, because the day itself, that's sort of the juice the day itself is running on, the quality of time, which intersects with the day. It's an easy and useful course of work. I believe Gordon White actually suggests that to his members in his membership sort of group project area. I was happy to see that. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Well, I think it's so helpful to really understand astrology, at least in my experience, to have more experiences of it. Right? So often people come into my shop for a reading or whatever, like, I want a reading for this person, giving them some advice, and they're like "Oh, I have this sign, so I could never do that," so I'm like, "All right. But, like, I think you have options, right?" But people have these notions that they've acquired about what their charts mean or what this and that means. But these practical experiences of it, you know, I think they hand the real truth of the ability that we have to shape or modify or soften or ameliorate things to our advantage, as well as building that understanding about how we interact with what's going on now both in the world and in the sky

AUSTIN: Yeah, totally. I find myself thinking about working with the energies present, you know, on whatever day as well as those present in my natal chart. I tend to default to thinking about them in Chinese medical terms, traditional Chinese medical terms? Right, you can, with any, you know, any point on the energy meridians, you can tonify it, you can basically boost it, you can strengthen that energy, you can disperse that energy, you can work on circulating it or cleaning it, you know, in a sense there's like pacify, clarify, and stimulate. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: You know, and you might have a chart where, oh, let's say, Mercury is playing a really key role. Like let's say you have Mercury in the 10th house, and so you know, what you're going to be ... That means that your professional life will demand a lot of mercurial action from you. I for example have Mercury in the 10th, and so it's my ... I always have to put things into words ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Because I speak and write about these topics. And so, there are ... there's a lot of demand for Mercury, in my professional life. 

ANDREW: Right.

AUSTIN: Now, you can have a situation in a chart where a particular energy is of pivotal importance, but you don't necessarily, you aren't necessarily blessed with the abundance and clarity of that energy that you need or that, you know, it would be really nice if you had a little bit more of that. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And so, you know, that would be an example where you wanted to boost that energy. Right? Cause where you're like, no no, I need more, I have like 12 more pages in this book and it's due, you know, in three days, the draft is due in three days ...

ANDREW: Yeah! 

AUSTIN: And so, you know, that would be an example of like, needs more. You know, that's where you'd stimulate or add a bunch more Mercury to it. Then you might have, oh, I don't know, maybe a gnarly configuration, let's say Saturn conjunct, oh, let's just say Saturn ruling your 7th house, right, where Saturn is going to speak to the development of romantic matters in your life and let's say Saturn's in kind of a rough condition, and it's, you know, it's just kind of all Saturn all the time. Even when you're with somebody, you feel, you know, you feel confined or alone, you have a hard time breaking through your own walls, right, there's too much Saturn. And so that would be, you know that would be a point where you'd want to calm or sedate Saturn. 


AUSTIN: And this is actually something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Partially because I'm teaching a class on traditional astrological talismans for the first time, but, there are other reasons as well, it's just come up, is that, is looking at the structure of conjurations and prayers, to the planets particularly, there's a big, there's a difference between praising, you know praising, exalting, and thereby evoking the energy and power of that sphere. Like that stimulates it. Whereas, you know, if you look at, I don't know, for example, some of the Orphic hymns, the Orphic hymn to Mars, is really, it's a "don't hurt me, bro" prayer. 

ANDREW: [laughs]

AUSTIN: It's not a like, "oh lord of the battlefield, fill me with Viking strength," right? It's a like, "you do all these things, and I recognize that, so could you not do that to me? Would that be cool?"

ANDREW: Exactly. "How about you do that outside the walls of my city, or my house, or my heart," or whatever? 

AUSTIN: Right. You know, "oh, lord of the forge, let's beat some swords into ploughshares, right, cause you can do that too, that's not maybe your favorite thing but you can do, let's do that version of it?" 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: And, anyway, I've just been thinking about how, cause you know, in the past, those are the differences in function of the different planetary calls and conjurations have been less distinct for me. And also, you know, in the Parashara tradition, there's not one god, one planet. Well, there kind of is, but there kind of isn't. You would address, so, I don't know, let's find a good example. Okay! Let's ... for gods that intersect with Mars. Right? Let's ... There's Aries, obviously ...


AUSTIN: And then -- But we could also look at Ogun. Right? Ogun is not Mars. But Ogun can definitely work through and help you work with martial energy. Right? It's important not to conflate them. But, you know if we compare the stories and the quality of the Greek Aries with the West African Ogun, there are different elements that are emphasized. Ogun, for example, has a very constructive quality, you know, industrial strength labor. The ability to heat, beat, and shape the metal and thereby the material world. Right? 

ANDREW: Sure. 

AUSTIN: And the machete not only chops off heads, it also clears the pathway, right? It clears the forest. And so, if we look at the traditional planetary significations of Mars, Mars is absolutely the, you know, the planet where you see blacksmithing and heavy industry, you know, it's all there. And so, you're going to get a different, you know, if you're sort of going through a planet to get to a god, and then you're asking a god to shape that planet, or help you work with that planet, you know, the different figures that, you know, the basically, the name that you pick, the god that you see in dwelling the planet is going to change the nature of the operations as a result. Does that make sense? 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure.


ANDREW: You really want to shape it by being clear what you need, right, and what you want. Whether that's more or less or a particular aspect, or hey, do what you're doing but don't do it in the house, or you know, whatever, right? 

AUSTIN: [laughs] Yeah. 

ANDREW: You know, I think of -- I have Mars in Aries, right, and I think --

AUSTIN: Oh, okay!

ANDREW: About it. Number 1, it's the gas in the tank. I have a lot of gas in the tank a lot of the time. Right? Sometimes I rely on it too much and that doesn't go so well. But it's also the thing that had me doing martial arts for a long time and constantly being like, more, harder, faster, let's go, let's go, let's push the limit, right? And then you know, there came this point where I was like, "less, less of that! That is not helpful!" You know? And I remember, explicitly, I went skydiving with a bunch of friends, and everybody landed and was like "Oh my god, it's the best thing ever," and I landed, and my pulse wasn't even going, because I was doing so much high adrenaline stuff all the time ...

AUSTIN: [laughing]

ANDREW: And I was like, "Yeah, it was cool, whatever." And then a few days later I was like, "No, this has to stop. This is not -- that energy is too unbridled for whatever reasons, and now I need to pull that back," right? 

AUSTIN: Well -- so generally speaking, a planet that is in a sign that it rules, like Mars in Aries, one, it, unless it's being interfered with by other planets, that area just works naturally, it's like "Oh yeah, you know, like, how do, what do you do when it's go time? Oh, you just go!" Like, that's the Mars in Aries answer. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: Whereas, you know, Mars in Cancer might be like, "Yeah, but it's really uncomfortable to go, and I might, you know, like, you know ..." There's the sideways crab walking. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: So, it's great to have a planet in the sign that it rules, but there is the danger of excess, because that feels so natural and easy, even if it's hard. 


AUSTIN: Right? Mars is how we deal with things that are hard and fast, but you're like, oh no, it's natural and easy to deal with things that are hard and fast. 

ANDREW: For sure, my motto back at that time was, "If I'm afraid, I should do it, and if I'm really afraid, I should do it now." [laughs] That was it. That was a number of years of my life, right? 

AUSTIN: Well, that is a recipe for maximum adrenaline, right? 

ANDREW: Right, exactly! You know? So, it's fascinating. But then there's also this thing where, it's time to turn it down, right? Time to roll that back into other things, you know? And so, there was then that process of kind of shifting that focus and doing some work and switching more to internal martial arts --


ANDREW: The Qigong and Tai Chi type stuff, you know coincided with my interest in the I Ching, and a lot of explorations through that and so on, so you know, yeah, it's one of those things where yeah, I grabbed that energy by the horns and like slow it down, and it was very frustrating for a period of time, because it did not want to be slow. But you learn a lot, you know? 

AUSTIN: I had a very similar experience. [laughs]

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure! Go ahead! 

AUSTIN: Oh no. If I keep going, I'll tangent on martial arts for an hour, so --

ANDREW: [laughing] Well, that'll be a separate episode. We'll have some martial arts talk. So, I think that one of the things that always interests me about astrology is this sort of, this notion of, it can explain everything, in a certain way, like that's definitely sort of the sense of it, right? There's patterns, there's the pieces, there's what's going on. But you know, I hit this point in my own astrology studies where I felt like I had to choose between continuing to proceed full on into tarot stuff, which you know I felt like kind of my superpower area, and the level of study that I would need to kind of continue to understand these complexities and that. And the one thing that I found, though, kind of over time, was that there were things that emerged that I started looking at that were never what I really would have expected. You know, I find the indirects in my chart super-instructive, whether that's just my chart or whether that's the nature of them, or, you know, like those kinds of things, but I'm curious, like, what are, you know, and people know what their sun and their moon and whatever are probably, right? But like, what are some of the other ideas or other things that you look at that are maybe not, you know, a first glance, you know, from reading a book on it kind of idea? What are the placements, or the angles, what are things that sort of stand out to you as things that seem significant?

AUSTIN: Well. I mean, that's a big question. 

ANDREW: I know!

AUSTIN: I mean starting with sun, moon, and rising sign --

ANDREW: And if it's too big a question or too unfair--

AUSTIN: I think I can chunk it down. 


AUSTIN: So, two things. One, so, you know, the very basics of astrology are the positions of all the planets in the zodiac and those positions in the houses, so that's actually quite a bit, right there, and then the relationship between the significant angles or relationships between those planets, the aspects and their meaning, and then, a lot of people after some study will get that far, but the one thing that's been underemphasized before the semi-recent traditional revival is the role of essential dignity in a chart, which is, you know, what is the difference between a planet in a sign that it rules versus a sign where it's exalted, versus detriment, what is triplicity dignity and all these things, and that gives you a whole.... That gives you a tremendous amount of depth, and it also allows you to gauge not just the type of result -- and we could say, oh, you know, Mars rules the 7th house of relationship, and so we will see, you know, that person will tend to be in fiery and passionate affairs, they don't want to get bored, they don't mind a little adrenaline in the bedroom. But is it ... There are much more functional and much less functional versions of that. And that's -- you know, judging not just type of event, but quality of event. You know, you could have something that was fast and violent but very favorable, and of course you can have things that are fast and violent and extremely unfavorable, and so, essential dignity plays a very important role in being able to predict that appropriately. 

A lot of people are aware to some degree of transits, which is, of course, the relationship of where the planets are now to where they are in your natal chart, and that's a widely used prognostic technique. But one of the -- And that's, you know, the 20th century's made good use of and developed that particular technique. But one of the things that is an absolute staple in any sort of pre-18th century astrology, going back a solid 2000 years are what could be classed as a whole ... Time lord techniques. And so, time lord techniques basically will give you periods of your life that are ruled by a particular planet. And so, you know, for example, the largest scale one is called zodiacal releasing, which is from the second century work of an astrologer named Vettius Valens. And so, in zodiacal releasing, you'll have these big chapters of your life which last between eight and 30 years, and, you know, they're ruled by a particular planet, and so this gives you a tool for looking at biographies, and like, you know, the ... What does it mean to come to the end of a 15-year chapter of your life? It's a huge thing, right? And so, the idea, though, let's say Mars is a 15-year chapter. The idea isn't just that yeah, it's Marsy, it's that's the time period where all the significations and meanings of your natal Mars will become obvious and enfleshed in your life. The time lord techniques are, they're basically, the metaphor I usually use is, they're the mechanism by which the latent becomes apparent in a person's life, with any given planetary position, they're an internal clock like puberty, right? 

ANDREW: Right. 

AUSTIN: You know, it's getting ... It's growing hair in new places time; that's just what time it is. And that can be favorable, that can be unfavorable; the environment can facilitate that, the environment can impede that, but it's that time. And so, time lord techniques as a whole give you that clock for when you'll see that part of a person's life unfold. Right cause we, you can look at your chart and you can find all of those spheres within you at any given time, but it's not, excuse me, they're not characterizing the theater of life and what's actually happening equally all the time. It's sort of whose turn is it? So that provides a whole perspective on a chart and life, and I would say is essential to making even reasonably accurate ... It's essential to making consistently accurate predictions about what a time period will be like for someone.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. That's fascinating because we all have these pieces, right? But when are they active, and what does that mean? And what does it mean to have something that's active later in life than earlier, whatever, right, because you're not tied to, if I understand you correctly, they're not tied to exactly the same way that everybody's Saturn return is at roughly the same time, they're tied to different patterns, right? 

AUSTIN: Exactly. Exactly. 

ANDREW: And so hence why somebody peaks early or peaks late or overcomes obstacles at some point or you know, those things, it's their chart, right? 

AUSTIN: Or they wake up one day and they're like, you know, I feel like, they're just sort of ... So if you do consulting work, so when you get consulting work sometimes somebody will be like, "yeah, I just, I don't know, I'm doing this and it's fine but I just feel like I'm going somewhere else and I don't know what it is," and consistently, somebody will come to me with that, and it's like, well yeah, you're moving out of a 27-year period into a 30-year period, of course it's going to be kind of disorienting. Like, people can feel those shifts. And that's part of learning astrology and appreciating astrology, is like seeing, oh, this person doesn't know this obscure Roman astrological technique, but what they're telling me is exactly what this says. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: And of course, when you have perfect matches like that, you can be like, well, this technique says exactly that about your life, and we can talk a little bit about, you know we can contrast the nature of where you're coming from and where you're going to, and help you see it more clearly, but there's also, there's something grounding in finding out that it's not just all in your head. If a stranger can do math on the positions of the planets in your birth chart and figure out that you would be in this place emotionally at this time, then it must not just be an eccentricity. You're responding to something deeper.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: You know, the deep weave of the fabric of your own life. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Well and I think it, I personally love it when people are experiencing that even if they don't have the words for it, right? Because then when you can bring it up with them, whether it's what you're talking about or like, I did a reading for somebody recently and the central card was the Hierophant in their reading, and about halfway through the reading, they're like, "So, I'm going to tell you now, I didn't want to tell you earlier, but like, this card's been coming up for like the last year ALL the time," and we had this big conversation about it, and I was like, "Oh, perfect," which goes with what I was telling them in the beginning which they were arguing with me about, which was "you actually already know everything that's going on here, and exactly what you need to be doing, but let's talk it through and talk about why you're not owning that," you know? 

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And so, like they ... having those moments when you can pinpoint something like that and hand that back to a person is so empowering, right? Because then it takes us back to this place where ... back to the earlier part of this conversation really where we're experiencing these things, and if we're attentive, if we have space in ourselves and our lives where we can feel those things or be mindful of them, then we can do something with them, and even if we don't know what we're doing with them, we can go and find someone to help us do something with them. 

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm, Mmmhmm, Mmmhmm. Yeah, it's, I think an important part of astrology is really paying attention to the quality of different time periods and realizing that, you know, time is as dramatic a landscape as space ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: You know that they're, you know, there are times that are hot and dry, and there are those that are cold and wet, and there are, you know, there are those that are abundant and full of life, there are different landscapes, and, you know, if you bring the desert protocol to the meadow, you're going to be out of sync, right? And if you bring the meadow protocol to the desert, you're going to be very unhappy. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. And I think that, you know, well, I wonder, were people more living closely with the cycles of nature and the cycles of things. You know, these things make a lot of sense, right? You know, I had the good pleasure of doing ceremony on the same piece of land every month for two years, right? The cycle of, you know, there are those times when I was standing there and there was like a foot of snow and it was blizzarding and I was looking at this tree and doing the ceremony, and there were those times where it was like, you know, so hot, like 35 degrees Celsius, and sunny and clear and standing there looking at those trees, you know, and being in those spaces through all the cycles, I think really can cue us into those planetary changes too, and the way in which the same thing is different at different times. You know and which we --

AUSTIN: Ohhhh.

ANDREW: ... have this false continuity of things, which they continue but they're different, right? 

AUSTIN: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Would you say the same space is different at different times? Or the same place? 


AUSTIN: Like -- I think that's a really nice way to put it. Yeah, and the seasons are the, you know, the place to start with that, for that realization, and then that is most certainly a rabbit hole, cause it goes beyond the seasons. But that -- just living with the seasons teaches you that that is true, that the same place is different at different times, and once you realize that that is the quality, then you can follow that to more subtle levels. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. And I also love it when there are options to see the planets themselves and so on. I remember, when I was, maybe 15 years ago, or so, back when Mars was maybe the closest it would be for some time, that sort of zenith of that arc ...


ANDREW: And I remember the balcony of my house, we could see it, going across the sky, you know? And we would just go out there and turn off all the lights in the house and watch Mars move and watch the moon move across the sky and the various other things, and you know, it's such an amazing, to be able to sort of sit and connect with those things, you know? 

AUSTIN: Oh yeah. And you can feel 'em. [phone rings] I'm an asshole. Let me turn my phone off. That was our invocation of Mars calling for disruption. I apologize, giant podcast faux pas, I'm actually so not a phone person that I forget that it's around ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: Anyway. But yeah, with the light, the visible light of the planets is important. And that's another piece that astrologers have done a really good job recovering over the last 20 years, is making, reminding astrologers that a chart with 12 signs and houses -- and glyphs -- is a very useful thing, but that is an, that is a way of looking at the sky, it's like a decoder ring --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: But the sky is primary, right? That is the fundamental and primordial thing, and we can do things with it. And especially if you're doing any sort of energetic or magical work with the planets --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: [laughs] It's certainly much more useful to be able to see them and feel them. I mean who hasn't looked up at a full moon and been like "Whoa!" and just gotten a little blast from that? 


AUSTIN: Not just cognitively but energetically, you're like "Ooooookay!" That is strong drink, sir! 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well and just like that you know you see the -- you know, it's on the horizon there, when the moon's coming up over the horizon it's huge, and you don't expect it to be that size, where the colors are different and all these things, you know? Yeah. 

AUSTIN: Yeah, and that's -- yeah, that's in a sense the root of astrology, but sometimes, when a tree grows tall enough, the little flowers haven't had a chance to meet the root, or don't realize what's feeding them, and so, one of -- it's interesting astrology a lot -- in a way that's almost parallel to magic -- has benefitted immensely from a surfeit of translations of older works. You know, we have, you know most of the 2100 or so years of the astrological tradition in textual form and available now for the first time in a very long time. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: And so--

ANDREW: And that's a profound depth of history, right? You know, like, people come to tarot and be like, oh, it's from wherever, and like, yeah, it's not that old. But astrology's that old, right? 

AUSTIN: Well, and yeah, that is, to that 2100-year-old figure, that is the age of pretty much exactly the same system that people are using in the 20th century, people in the 20th century are missing some pieces, you know, cause things don't necessarily move in an evolutionary manner, right? It's not better every year --


AUSTIN: It's, you know, things get lost in transmission, things get added, things get lost again. But that core signs, houses, planets, aspects, angles, is there 2100 years ago. And, you know, a magical and prognostic relationship to the sky of course has to predate that immensely. If we're going to follow that, we're going to end up at a time depth that is so far beyond written documentation.


AUSTIN: And so, you know, astrology's benefited immensely from recovering its own history, which can, which, you know, and sometimes, and you've probably seen this in magicland, where people recover a piece of history, and they're like, "Oh, well you have to do it like the Hygromanteia. Everything you're doing in a Golden Dawn-style lodge is incorrect because this older thing says something different. Right? There's that sort of cranky traditionalist approach, and we get, we have, we certainly have some of that in astrology, but you know, as long as we can avoid that excess, it helps not only does it give us access to quite literally the wisdom of our ancestors in a tradition, but it can also contextualize new developments, you're like, "Oh, I think, this other technique, I came up with this new technique," well, now you have a context for that, and you can see examples using the same logic from different traditions, and so properly rated, the tomb is fertile soil for new life. 

ANDREW: Yeah. If you approach this stuff with curiosity, as opposed to like with the fervor of fanaticism, or the dismissiveness of what you're doing, then what can be fruitful will really emerge, right? 

AUSTIN: Yeah. 

ANDREW: Oh, yeah, you know what, let's bring back this piece. Let's try this for some time and see what happens, right? 

AUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, I mean, reconstruction is also inherently experimental, I think? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: It can be approached with dogmatic fervor, but you don't know what's going to happen when you perfect the reconstruction. You can hope that it'll be a better version of the thing that you're already doing, but you literally don't know because you've never done it. You know, you've never -- one of the metaphors Gordon White likes to use for some elements of magic is that it's, you know, it's like plans to build an alien spaceship? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: You know, it's alien technology, and the instructions for how to build it are all in the book, but you won't know what it's like to fly that thing or what it's really gonna do until you put it back together. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: And you know, astrology, I would say, especially from our point of view in the contemporary West, very much alien technology. It implies an entire worldview and thinking and mechanics that are alien. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I think, that's interesting. So, one of my biggest magical focuses recently has been centered around leaving the earth, as sort of a notion, right? 

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And coinciding with that, I've been collecting meteorites and working with meteorites, as a sort of energetic connection to this sort of interstellar traveler, right? 

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: That idea of, "I need to go somewhere else and I need to be somewhere bigger," is the notion that I often come back to, but it's exactly that, I have no idea what exactly that means, right? And I don't really know what that technology is going to be like in action, and as I've been doing it over the last six or eight months and working with these things, I'm noticing the changes and some of them are not at all what I would have expected, right? You know, obviously I'm not actually leaving the Earth, or you know, so on, but I'm trying to use this as a metaphor and a model for changing consciousness, and you know, it really, it's fascinating how that makes pathways to ideas that never even existed, and it's amazing what comes along for the ride. Oh, you know what, I don't remember putting that in the hold, but I guess that is part of the journey, then, right? 

AUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. On a general note, it seems like the stellar and perhaps even the interstellar as a layer of the real has been beckoning to the human over the last couple years --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: I've felt increasingly drawn to work with the stellar layer of astrology and astrological magic and it did things, exposing myself to that radiation did some interesting things. [laughs]

ANDREW: Fair enough. So, what does the stellar or the intergalactic mean in terms of astrology, like? 

AUSTIN: So, on a really simple level, but very important level, the planets move, and the stars don't. From our point of view. And certainly, you know, the planets are, they're racing around the sun, and first they're against this stellar backdrop, and now they're in line with that star, and you know, that's what planet means. The Greek root for planet means wanderer. It's a wandering star as opposed to a fixed star. And the planets are also quite literally subservient to the sun, to our star, they are all once pieces of the same undifferentiated matter, and they, you know, they obey the sun in motion and are fed by its light. Right? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: So, we're dealing with, you know, something, we're dealing with the children of stars rather than stars. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: Whereas each of the stars whose light reaches into our system is its own sovereign; it's its own parent. If we're looking on a ... just on a physical level at ranks of beings in the physical world, there's nothing really beyond stars. Maybe black holes? I don't know. Their nature is still illusive. But like stars are the biggest things, they're the biggest distinct beings or entities.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: And, so, what's interesting is the stars are considered ... So, if we look at the Picatrix, which is, for people who aren't familiar with it, the big book of astrological magic ...


AUSTIN: It's an 11th century, originally written in Arabic, translated and modified a little bit, showed up in Latin a few centuries later and has been tremendously influential. You know, so the Picatrix, when talking about the intersection between stellar and planetary, says that you know if you want something to, you know if you're doing a working, right, and you want the pattern that you're impressing into the world to be enduring, and you know, eternal, enduring to not just be a quick change or a difference next month, that you then align, you align the power of a star and a planet. You let that star manifest through that planet. You get -- the planet is like the lens that brings it into our system, but the star is going to provide a higher-octane laser with which to etch a pattern into life. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Anyway, there's so much to talk about with stars. 

ANDREW: Not un -- not dissimilar in some ways to using a god to come through a planet or using, you know, you're lining up those other energies and then you are creating a bigger vibration or power or possibility through them, right? 

AUSTIN: Exactly. Well and that's the art, the traditional astrological talismanic art, is you have the planet, right? and that is, we can see that as one link on a chain of being, but you don't just, you know, you don't just heat up that planet, you have the words that you speak, the way that you're dressed, as well as the way that you speak, should all be of the same nature, your surroundings ideally should be of the same nature, and the material you make the talisman of should be a representation of the same nature at the level of stone, right? The incense should be made of plants that are of the same nature at the vegetative level, right? And, you know, basically, when the art is perfect, everything at every point in the chain of being, you know, from the unnamable all the way down to the dirt beneath your feet should be exactly of one nature, and that's, you know, there's a huge difference experientially and results-wise when you bring every level to bear on making -- impressing a change into reality. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: So, you know... whereas, you can get away with not having the incense, or just doing a paper talisman instead of stone, and you know, maybe having the planet like, not in the best condition, you can do stuff, and stuff'll happen, but it's when, it's when you have, it's in a sense on every level the same reality as far as you know. And it's all tuned to the same, you know, you get that pow.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Cause I mean, necessity wins out when you have to do something today for something tomorrow, that's the end of the conversation, just do the thing, right?

AUSTIN: Well and, what I would say, cause again I've been teaching this material for the first time, traditional astrological talismanic magic is absolutely not emergency magic. It's making lasting permanent life-altering changes. It's like building -- it's literally carving a stone, and it's carving the stone of your life. It's building a temple. It's building the pyramids. It's big and lasting, and so you can actually fuck yourself up pretty good if you use that protocol when the elements aren't aligned very well, because you'll impress really deeply into, you know, into the talisman, a pattern that might be good enough for tomorrow, but you don't want to let that pattern colonize your life. You know, some of my sort of hard core astro-talismanic friends, all of us have stories ranging from horrible to hilarious about when we thought this was good enough and made it anyway and we knew we were wrong. Like a friend of mine told me a story about how she made this fixed star talisman, and basically there are a lot of things that are good about the star, but if you look at the lore, there's this association with wounded feet ...

ANDREW: Okay. 

AUSTIN: And then, she picked a time where ... she picked a time to work that star where Mars was extremely prominent and configured to that star, and she got ... and she was wearing the talisman for a couple weeks, and all the good things that are associated with that talisman happened, and she fell down the stairs and couldn't walk properly for six months. 

ANDREW: Right. 

AUSTIN: And that wasn't what she asked for, it's just that that's what that moment in time could provide. And if, you know, if she just did a sort of like, more of a petition, like a quickie spell, to that star, just got enough juice to, you know, move that brick three feet over, or to have the energy to do, you know, whatever labors were demanded over the next week wouldn't have had that, but with the full on talismanic art, you're impressing that pattern really deeply, and you'll get the pieces of that moment in time that you didn't ask for but are part of it anyway.

ANDREW: You get the whole picture.

AUSTIN: Yeah. And that's why the rules are so picky. You can be like, yeah, but what if I have to? Then don't do a talisman, don't do that style of talisman, do a planetary position, you can do that, it'll work. 

ANDREW: Go to the Picatrix and call somebody up, and be like, "hey, come and help me with this thing for a few days," whatever. 

AUSTIN: Yeah. Exactly. I do micro-planetary magic every day. You know I'll heat up the altar, I've got little informal planetary altars all around my office and house, and so you know during my ten minutes of just, like, checking in and tasting the brew, I might do a little thing to nudge something, cause that's all I need, and I don't need a lot of power to nudge it. You don't need to go full talisman for most things. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah. I had Jason Miller on recently and we were talking about, don't do emergency, try not to let it get to emergency magic level, cause that sort of stuff always comes up at some point in our lives, but let's have relationships, let's be in the magic, let's live the magic, let's be in the flow of the magic and work with that, and hopefully we'll be in that place where things become required. And like you say those little adjustments, right? 

AUSTIN: Yeah. Always steering? It's funny that you bring Jason up, because, so, I absolutely have to plug my book that's coming out? Because -- I say mine, but there are eleven other authors. I coedited it -- it feels like my baby, but, you know, even a baby is not your possession, right? Although one does tend to be possessive. So, this is an anthology of essays about astrological magic. It's going to be -- it's being published by Three Hands Press; I coedited it with Daniel Schulke, and it's got an essay by me on the fixed stars, and Daniel on the planetary viscera of witchcraft, which is a wonderful meditation, I had the pleasure of editing that recently. But Jason is also one of the contributors. And I brought Jason on for exactly what he delivered, which is you know, okay, when the stars aren't right, what can you do? How can you maybe get something that looks Venusian from Mars? You know, it's that practical, you know, getting into it, I brought him into it for the nuances of practice and how, the better you understand the planets, the more you can do with any one sphere, and he gave the example of how, there's a person who's having trouble with their love life, and all the Venus work in the world wasn't really changing things, but when Mars got brought on, and the focal point was the courage to face rejection, and the willingness to assert oneself, then everything clicked in, right? And so, we can say, relationships are Venusian, and that's true, but if when we're trying to untangle a particular knot, sometimes, in that particular case, it was Mars that needed to be tugged on, not Venus. And then, so, what I tried to do with the contributors that I invited was to provide both a historical overview and also to get people to articulate the traditional principles, and there are several people who did that really well, and then I also wanted -- I'd say the other half are about working with that material, and what you discover in practice, and what are maybe other ways of looking at things, what are -- how shall we say -- what are details of practice that aren't covered in thousand year old books, and what comes up along the way, and so, I believe at this point that we did a really nice job of sort of bridging the present, past, and future. But that will be up to the reader to decide. So that's called --

[cross talking 00:47:57] 

AUSTIN: Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. It took a long time! [laughs] So I'm rather looking forward to its publication. It should be out in May and is called The Celestial Art

ANDREW: The Celestial Art. Lovely. Well, maybe this is a good point to -- I think that I could spend all day talking with you about these things, but maybe we should wrap this up here for now, and why don't you tell people where they should come and hang out with you? You have a great newsletter, and stuff like that, so, yeah, where are you? 

AUSTIN: Yeah. So, I'm at myname.com, I'm at AustinCoppock.com, and I offer online classes, both live and as well as the library of past material, I write on a -- not a weekly but a decanly basis, I wrote a book on the decans, or the division of sky and time into 36, and I've started doing my astrological column on that pattern rather than the weekly as an experiment. And I also write a short paragraph about every day's astrology, just a little bit about okay, here's what's in the air at a given time, and so yeah, you'll be able to find all my stuff there, and I'm on Facebook, I'm on Twitter. I didn't quite make it onto Instagram or anything that came after Twitter. I'm at that age where I'd adapted enough and began to ossify and dry out and wither. 

ANDREW: [laughing]

AUSTIN: I was like, I can't do any more of this! Another one! 

ANDREW: There's another astrological endeavor, right? Which signs and or placements give people predilection for one platform over another? Because I think Instagram is the pinnacle of social media and the best thing ever, so. 

AUSTIN: That -- I -- well what I was going to say is that totally -- we could say it's definitely fiery --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: Right, it's not as textual? It's more image based, it's a little bit more dynamic, yeah, and so you said you were ... you sun was in Sagitarrius and Mars in Aries? 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AUSTIN: That's a great start for fire! [laughs]

ANDREW: For sure. 

AUSTIN: If nothing else is in fire then you are more than sufficiently enflamed. 

ANDREW: My ascendant is in Leo, and yeah, I've got a bunch of, a pile of stuff in Sagittarius, so, yeah --

AUSTIN: Okay! [laughs]

ANDREW: I got gallons of fire, yeah, for sure! 

AUSTIN: I'm more water than anything else --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AUSTIN: So, I don't, yeah, Instagram seems a little loud for me, visually and otherwise. [laughing]

ANDREW: Fair enough, fair enough. Well, thank you so much for making the time today, Austin, it's been a real pleasure.

AUSTIN: Yeah, it has. Yeah. I enjoyed it. 

EP79 Sex and Spirit with Ty Shaw

April 27, 2018

This week I'm joined by the one and only Ty Shaw. We dive deep into our connections with the Orishas and Ty talks us through some of her sexual empowerment work and how they all connect. Her work covers old traditions and new traditions, and her dedication to her practise is inspiring. This is one not to be missed!

Connect with Ty through her website

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Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.
ANDREW: Welcome to another installment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am hanging out today with Ty Shaw, who is a fascinating human being. She practices a bunch of different traditions, and brings a lot of, you know, experience in a lot of different ways through life and spirituality to the conversation today.
So, for folks who don't know who you are, Ty, why don't you introduce yourself? What -- Who are you and what are you about?
TY: Oh, my god. Ooh child. Well, I am Ty Shaw, like you just said, and what am I about? I'm a Iyalorisa, palera Mambo, and a lot of other things, oh iyanifa, that's the most recent one! Always forget to list that one!
ANDREW: Right.
TY: And basically, what I have been doing is working with people within the tradition. I was obviously with my spiritual house, and the various, you know, people that I service in my communities, but my sort of day job now is in the space of sacred sexuality coaching, intimacy coaching, and really bringing, particularly, well, people in general, but women in particular, in alignment with sort of their spirituality and their sexuality, and kind of bridging that gap, and working in a space where people understand that when you talk about sacred sexuality that you don't have to look to India or to China or to Japan or to these other places, that we do have concepts of sacred sexuality from an African context ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: If you're willing to actually look at what we're doing and examine what we're doing.
ANDREW: All right. Well, why don't you enlighten us on that? Because I know, you know, being a babalocha, right, you know? That sex, at least sex in general is very, we keep that inside of the Orisha tradition, you know, not inside of the tradition, but outside of the relationships and the connections there, you know, and people are often like, very slow to even get into conversations like that, because there is such an emphasis on having proper relationships and where those lines are ...
TY: Right.
ANDREW: So, where does that come from in what your experiences are for you?
TY: Well, that's exactly why I do this work. Because our traditions are very conservative in how they look at sex ...
TY: Which to me, is not only counterproductive but contradictory, because everything we do mimics a sexual act on some level. If we want to take, say the babalawo for example, when the oluwo is pounding ikin, the oluwo is mimicking copulation, such that ikin, or odu, can give birth. When we go into the igbodú and we want to birth a new priest in the process of a kariocha, we are using the leads, singing the songs, doing the invocations ...
TY: To get certain elements to give birth. You know, if we're sitting on the mat and we're divining with the odun and odí falls, or some iteration of oché, or something out of ogunda falls, we're going to be talking some sexual shit. [laughs] You know what I'm saying?
TY: Can you talk -- we deal with deities who cover these specific things. And, we deal with energy. We're priests. We understand that, just from a basic scientific perspective, that energy is neither created nor destroyed. It's how it's directed. So that means there is no difference between spiritual energy and sexual energy. And the fact that we vibrate on a different level as priests because we actively cultivate our energy -- we're cultivating our sexuality as well. And I think the fact that our traditions are so conservative, and don't allow for these deeper conversations, even though the liturgy, odu, the deities themselves, do speak of these things and act in these ways, because we haven't had these conversations and developed that language, we have what we see now, which is the manifestation of a plethora of, or an abundance rather, of sexual dysfunction, in an out of ritual in an out of the room, and a community of priests who are manipulating energies, but really have no basic concept of what energy is, how it works, and what you're conjuring. [laughs] So that's why I decided to get in that space.
ANDREW: Yeah! So, when you're ... because lots of people who listen to this are not going to be practitioners of ATRs, or, you know, diasporic traditions or those things necessarily, let's pull this apart just a little bit more. Because I know exactly what I think you mean -- I mean, you're going to tell me if I'm right -- but -- I think one of the things that we want to make clear, is that some of the dysfunction that I think that you're talking about, I mean there's obviously the people who are having challenges themselves, which is a separate issue, but then there's the sort of dysfunction of people taking advantage of relationships, godparents, or other people who should be obeying a taboo that is like a parent to a child ...
TY: Right.
ANDREW: You know, or having relationships and using their power and position to take advantage of people. Right? We're talking about these kinds of things, right?
TY: Right. Right.
TY: Well, one thing about that, we're talking about even in our intermittent relationships, we are seeing a lot of abuse coming to the surface, because of Facebook, sexual abuse, women who are being raped by their babalawo husbands, or men that I've encountered in this tradition who come seeking guidance and were molested by a godparent. You know? We have an abundance of people of color, amongst those people of color are women of color, and I personally in my adult life don't know any women of color who haven't experienced sexual abuse or sexual assault. So, we have this abundance of sort of sexual trauma, that comes up in our relationships in so many different ways, whether it's the baggage we bring to the tradition, or whether it's the abuse of power because of the dynamic within the tradition. But we still because of our conservativism, we don't have that conversation.
ANDREW: Right.
TY: And when we do, it's an accusatory one: You abused me. You did this. You didn't do booze up the bembé. You tried to take my husband. You know. But we don't necessarily have conversations around what the solutions are. What we're going to do about it. How do you fix them? If you're a babalawo that's married, and you have your apetdabe, how are you cultivating that sacred relationship?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: Because that's our version of it! [laughs] You know what I'm saying? In a certain way. On a certain level.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: How are we cultivating our intimate relationships? How does that affect our vibration and our energy and how we cultivate our Ase as priests, and then what does that look like in terms of how do we treat each other in our interpersonal relationships?
ANDREW: Sure. And how are we dealing with our own ... I mean, even if we don't have the kinds of traumas you're talking about, you know, we all exist in a culture that, you know, experiences toxic masculinity, and rape culture, and all of these bits and pieces and all sorts of exploitative pieces left over from a long time, in our culture, right?
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: And how do we look at ourselves and become clear about what is our desire? What is real? How do we communicate? Where does consent fit?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: You know, all of these things, right? Like these are important pieces ...
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: Of cultivating ... Well, I mean, being a decent human being, for one, but like, and certainly being a spiritual human being for another, right? You can't.
TY: Yeah. And we can't deal with these forces that again, we're engaging in sort of spiritual sexual acts in the process of giving birth and getting odu to conceive and put something out there that's new, and then appeasing this newborn thing via ebbó. We do these things, but there's a disconnect, there's some sort of cognitive dissonance, you know, between the act and the metaphysical understanding of the act, you know? Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: I also think that people don't understand energy, as you kind of said earlier. Right?
TY: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
ANDREW: You know, one of the things that I noticed when I became a priest was, all sorts of people who started hitting on me who weren't hitting on me before.
TY: Yeah, because you were orisha.
ANDREW: Right? And I got Shango on my head, right? I mean, that's going to draw some heat, right? And, you know, and the thing is, is that, if I wasn't mindful of it, if some of my elders hadn't said, hey, this is probably going to happen, take it easy about that, then you'd get into all sorts of trouble, right? Because what's going on is those people aren't necessarily attracted to me ...
TY: It's that energy!
ANDREW: They're feeling that energy, and they want more of that, but we don't understand how to get close to spirit, or how to be intimate with human beings, and not frame that in a sexual context. Right?
TY: Or, if it's in a sexual context, that doesn't mean we have to act in a debased way. How about receiving the energy because we are, like Shango is the pillar of virility, male virility, male marknotism, that's his Ase, and it is sexual, there's no way around that. How about we accept that that's what it is, internalize it, and use it for what it does? As opposed to saying, well, I feel arousal, this means I must screw, this means I must ... you know. As opposed to no, these are what vibrations and energy do, and you know that's why I started getting into vibrational medicine, you know, prana, reiki, tantric projection work, because we already have heightened vibrations as a result of having gone through ritual. And ideally, we're cultivating our Ase, cultivating ori, we're developing and uplifting that vibration. But so many priests I would have a conversation with about energy, vibration, how we magnetize it and move, there was just such a lack of understanding, and a lot of times I feel that we're doing ebbó, we're killing chickens, but what you need is a chakra cleanery, what you need is a past life regression, what you need is some spiritual counseling, it's an issue on a base level with your vibration. Which ebbó does address, through the power of sacrifice, but you're still not internalizing that in your vibration.
ANDREW: Well, it's like I popped my collar bone out of place, recently, right? And, you know, I went to my osteopath and put it back in place, but the reason I popped it out of place, was cause muscles in my back were out of balance, and that is a physiotherapy thing, and so now I need to be ... you know, and so, and I think that that's true on many levels, right? Spiritual practices can make adjustments ...
TY: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: And, in different kinds of spiritual practices, can be that physiotherapy ...
TY: Right.
ANDREW: But it's rare that one does all of them at the same time, right? You know? It's like you go for a reading with the Orishas, and they're going to, you know, realign your vertebrae, and be like this is where you should be and then you're going to leave, and all those wonky muscles and your habits are going to want to pull you back out of place, right? And whether that's energetic, or your circumstance, or your psychology, or whatever, right? Or the various baggage you're carrying with you? That's all that energy that wants to kind of disalign you again, right?
TY: Right. And I think that's one of the major critiques I've had, like if anybody has seen my Facebook videos, I've done a lot of critiquing about what I think is healthy versus what I don't think is healthy, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And in that sort of process, not understanding energy has led this new generation of people that are kind of coming into the tradition with a level of ... how would I say, like a lack of respect for tradition? And in that process, they stereotype and pigeonhole certain energies because there's a fundamental misunderstanding of energy. So, like for example, I see this wave of new women coming into sacred sexuality, and not everyone's a child of Ochún. Because they think, okay, Ochún, sacred whore, sacred prostitute, no idea where that comes from, but this is what they say, and this is what they think, right? When it's like, Ochún, first of all, it's a stereotyping of this energy, because you don't even understand what you're talking about, it's a pigeonholing and it's a limiting of her, because depending on the road, you might be dealing with the crone, you might be dealing with the witch, you might be dealing with the demure healer, you might be dealing with something like Ochún Ibu Kwanda, the warrior. Who ain't got nothing to do with your coquette. [laughs]
ANDREW: Yeah, for sure, right?
TY: When people don't understand energy, when we don't understand how things work, and we stereotype, and we pigeonhole, we do everybody a disservice ...
TY: We don't, we don't get access to the thing, you know, that's really going to ...
ANDREW: Yeah, I think that, I think it's challenging, because there's such a profound and sort of largely ... If you're outside of the tradition, largely inaccessible depth and diversity that's there, right?
TY: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: You know, how many roads of Ochún are there? How many roads of ... you know? You know, this, that, and all those other spirits, right?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: And what do those things mean, right?
TY: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: And what do ... and what if you're dealing with, I mean, you know, if you're dealing with those, or running into those, or if those are the paths or avatars that are sort of engaging with you, it's completely different to have one versus the other, right?
TY: Yeah, right.
ANDREW: There's the Yemaya who pulls you down to the bottom of the ocean, right?
TY: Yep.
ANDREW: And leaves you there!
TY: And leave y'all!
ANDREW: Right. And then there's those other paths that are going to love you and hold you while you cry and pat your back, right?
TY: Oh, there's this my path, Achaba, who's just the shady one, who don't want to ...
ANDREW: Yeah. Right?
TY: You know. There's koha ibun shade ....
ANDREW: [laughs]
TY: But I love her, I love her. But that's why, like in my work ... Okay, I had become a palera , I became a iyalosha, I became a mom, though I became a iyanifa, and then I was like, well, why do I want to do any of this? What does this mean to me? What does priesting look like for me?
TY: Do I ... Am I going to be able to do it in the way maybe my elders did it? Do I believe in the same things? What is this priesthood thing going to actually play out for me? And I found that in ... And I'm a young santera, you know what I'm saying, so, I mean, I'm 5 in Ocha this year -- no, I'm six. Am I six already? Shit! But anyway.
ANDREW: It's really stacking up, right?
TY: You know, so I'm a baby olosha. Infant. And, in the process of me coming into adulthood as a nealOrisha, growing up and kind of going through adolescence, now, I have to ... I decided to consciously ... consciously move into priesthood. What is this priesthood thing going to look like for me? Where is going to be my medicine? What's going to be my point of departure? And that has always been whole person healing. What am I dealing with? What is Yamaya bringing to my doorstep? And yes, I can solve this with ebbó, but after ebbó, what is going to -- and that creates transformation -- but what's going to last? What's going to stick? What's going to change behavior? You know? And that's when I decided to go ... that my route was really as a healer ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: Getting into the spiritual development of the person, and then when I was trying to figure out well what healing would look like, outside of energy healing and spiritual cleanings and stuff, what I found is, that what people were lacking was the counsel and a way to really work through trauma, particularly trauma held within the body, of a sexual nature. And our tradition was no exception to that. So, it spoke to me of just the niche, that made sense, that I could kind of slide on into, you know?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: So right now, it sounds like priesting for me is looking like being really woman/Goddess-centered, really witchy, and really focused on long-lasting transformation.
TY: In or outside of an igbodú or a new set of elekes, or the reception of a new Orisha.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: [laughs] You know what I'm saying?
ANDREW: For sure, because so many, you know, I'm also a relatively young olocha, you know, but lots of people who come around for that part of what I do, they, so many of them almost show up with their shopping list, right? They're like, I'm coming to you, I want you to give me my elekes, please confirm that I'm a child of whomever, you know? And like, and so on, and it's like ... I don't know. Like, you know, let's see what happens, right? Whereas, when people come to me in my sort of card reading and you know, that other magical side of my life ... A lot of those things are more like what I think that all of it should be, which is, let's see what's going on, let's talk about what you need, let's work on this, and make that change so that it endures, right?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: Because it's so easy to, you know, when I made Ocha, Shango basically said to me, it was like, "Hey, welcome, you're here, so go fix your life, cause you've got some things that are messy that you made, and now you gotta go fix em cause Ocha can't do it," and I was like, "All right. Huh. That's not what I was hoping!" [laughs]
TY: Right?
ANDREW: You know?
TY: Shango has a way of just popping that bubble. He kind of gave me something similar, in my Ita, Shango, he came down talking bout "You do not know how to live, and now you need to learn how to live. Learn how to live in this life, or you'll learn how to live in the other," we hear that refrain. You know?
TY: And I think I had a similar trajectory, like, I love teaching, you know, cards, crystals, all the airy fairy witchy stuff, because even though I had extensively studied African tradition, I studied traditional forms of witchcraft as well. I was a proper neoPlatonist high ceremonial magic type of witch [laughs] for a ...
TY: [[00:19:10] astrological magic, like, I came from Bea too, so ain't nobody going to get me to leave my cards behind, and none of that, but ... And I felt like there was space for that. Like there were, you know ... And spiritualism gives you that opportunity, right? To bring in anything you want? But, people would come with their shopping list, well I want this, I want to be crowned tomorrow, I need you to take me to Haiti, and then after that take me to Africa, and I want this and I want that, and usually my attitude is like, that's cute, that's what you want, you know, good for you, you are clear on your desires ...
TY: Which is ... [laughs] What do you actually need? Now that we've gotten through your laundry list, what's actually getting ready to happen here?
TY: Cause guess what, I don't move, unless Yamaya tells me this is what has to happen.
ANDREW: Oh yeah. For sure.
TY: [laughing]
ANDREW: That piece of ... I don't know what the right word for it is ... understanding ... that the Orishas that sits on our heads, you know, and live with us, that nothing happens without their say so. Something so largely foreign to most people's concepts, right? You know?
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: Like I remember, many years ago, I got this reading, and Aleyo was like, "No tattoos for you this year," and I was like, "huh, all right, fair enough, I'll stop," right? I had a bunch of stuff planned and I stopped. And a lot of people couldn't understand how I could be just like, "okay"? Like what if he never says yes again? And I was like, "Well, that's cool, I'll roll with that." But that's so hard for people to roll with, right? You know and because ... I think in part because we're encouraged to be ego-centered in a way that is hard to wrestle with ...
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: But also because of all these traumas that we've been talking about, right?
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: How much harder is it for someone to put that kind of trust in somebody, if they have, you know, whatever kinds of traumatic experiences and abuses from people who should be ... who were supposed to be there facilitating them? Parents, priests, guides, whoever, right?
TY: You know, I agree with that, because it's about several things. It's about shifting from a very Western individualist self-absorbed ego-centric way of being and moving through the world, which I'm not even judging, because those are actual tools we need to survive in the West.
TY: [laughs] Okay? A certain amount of selfishness is necessary for your survival in this place. However, it does create a learning gap. Because you kind of have to cross that bridge to understand how everything functions in this particular tradition. And the unique thing about this tradition is that it's not just all this ... I think we also get really idealistic and we think that we have all these proper African values, and we don't. We have diaspora values, because if you rob them [22:09?] of cultural nuances they don't recognize in Africa. They're not doing that. And we have to separate the caricature of Africa that we have, this ideal ... this, you know, ideal, you know, Africa that doesn't exist. What we're dealing with is post-colonial Africa, that has just as much white supremacist misanthropic bullshit as any one of us.
ANDREW: Yeah. Well and also, you know, which part of Africa are we talking about, right? You know? Are we talking about ...
TY: Thank you! Thank you!
ANDREW: Are we talking about, you know, Ifé, are we talking about the Congo, are we talking about wherever, like, you know, I mean ...
TY: Right. Right.
ANDREW: I know people come in and they're like "well, you know, I was talking to a Sengoma, and that's exactly like what you do," and I'm like, "No, not really," like, in a general way it's animist and whatever, but other than that, no, it's not the same at all, right?
TY: Right. And that's a problem. they think of Africa as a monolith, as one like homogenous sort of thing. They don't understand the level of nuance. And this is why I've always battled these faulty notions and assertions of purity in this tradition and who's more pure, who has the right way, who's the closest to the root? And it's like, nobody, because what is properly African is that we've always assimilated, and brought in what works, and transformed and adapted. And if you go to Nigeria right now, what they're doing in Ejife, is not what they're doing in Oyo, is not what they're doing in Abayokuda, is not what they're doing in Oshopo. They're all doing something different! Compound to compound, region to region! Because there's always been sort of that gap to allow for spirit, to allow for adaptability, that's how we learn.
ANDREW: Well, and I think that that's the power of lineage, right? You know?
TY: Sure.
ANDREW: Like, what you're going to do, you can't do anything ...
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: But you can do anything that fits within the bounds of your lineage, right?
TY: Exactly.
ANDREW: And that's the real meaning of, like, oh, in my house we do this, it's like, you know, lots of people use that as a justification for what they don't know or to just do whatever they feel like, or be like, oh, I can't get that, so you know in my house now, now we give turkeys instead of chickens, cause they're easier to get, or whatever, right? And it's not ... that's not valid, right? What's valid is understanding what's going on within your lineage, and then honoring and working with that, because that is something, those are the spirits that we're calling on to work, right? You know, in one way or another.
TY: I've always been a bit of a lineage snob. Particularly in this day and age where people feel that they can self-initiate and they can get their head marked via tarot, and they can get initiated online, this, because, the thing about lineage, right, when I ... I try to explain this to new people, it's like if you're a Christian it doesn't mean that you all believe the same thing, you might be a 7th Day Adventist, you might be a Baptist, there are denominations here. And I feel that we've gotten to the point in our traditions where we have denominations, okay? And within each denomination, lineage becomes important because that's going to imply style, technique, and approach. Okay? We may all believe certain things, but how it plays out, how it looks in ritual, our approach to ritual, technique, that's going to be based on lineage. I think Palo is a great example of that. When you tell me the ramen, you tell me the house, now I know what kind of Palo you do. Because that's what lineage dictates. What types of agreements do you have with the forces you have the ability to access and conjure, and what do your ceremonies look like? Because everything outside of ceremony, ritual, and the protocols associated with them, that's what we dictate and what we have a blueprint for. Everything outside of that is between you and your spirit. You got to work that out! And that's why lineage gives you the blueprint, right, for how ritual, what makes you a certain thing, what makes another thing a thing, then outside of that, that's all you, boo!
ANDREW: Yeah, for sure, right?
ANDREW: It's all about getting to know what your particular Orishas like and want, right, you know? I mean, cause people always want to do big ceremonies, and more often than not, you know, if I cook a little amala ila for Shango, he's gonna eat up and get whatever I want, right? You know? Like, it's easy, once you sit and listen. Once you understand and build that connection. But, you know, but that quest for purity or truth or like, the solution, you know, it's not always bigger and better things, it's learn to work what you have, right? And then apply that and then you can go from there.
TY: And insofar as learning to work what you have is concerned, I think that's another challenge, because one of the main critiques I sort of have of our traditions right now is that I don't think people are practicing African tradition or African-inspired tradition. I feel like they're Christians in elekes. Because they kind of bring all their Christianity and dress it up in nice African fabric and put beads on it, but it's still Christianity.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And I find that that is especially true with how we understand and approach Orisha. Sometimes our relationship and approach to Orisha is devotional, and sometimes it's not. I'm not always on my knees begging like I'm praying to the Lord, sometimes I'm sending Orisha on a mission, and I think people have forgotten that, and I see that that disconnect comes in mostly since the African American involvement in Orisha tradition. The reason why I say that is because [00:27:56--garbled] coming up with these older Cubans, Puerto Ricans ... I have seen them be like hiding drugs in Ocha, or getting a custom Elegua out cause they want some shit to go down or they busting somebody outta jail, it wasn't this elitist thing, and it wasn't so ... the level of Christianized judgement, and this just pray to Orisha and give agomu, I don't work with Uheria, that's very different, because we have songs, we have liturgy that calls us powerful sorcerers and sorceresses, and how we work with Orisha. I think that we have to reexamine what our relationship is. Is it this Christianized devotion? Or sometimes do you work with Orisha like any other sorcerer in any other tradition? And what are these ideas that we're bringing in that are foreign and counter-productive? Because if you are just purely devotional, right? and you just throw in so that you can appease Orisha and get on your knees, do you really know what that Orisha likes and how it could work for you or how you could get up and make something pop when you need it? Do you really know that? Or do you know how to appease Jesus on Sunday and beg? And does that make you a priest? Or does that make you a slave to some spirit? And you call it Ocha?
ANDREW: Mmm. Well. I had the, I think, good fortune, it's one of the best gifts that I think my parents gave me, which was to not be raised with anything. So, religion was nonexistent in my household. Which, you know, I think was tremendously liberating compared to where a lot of people come from when they come into these things, right? And I think that this question of what is, what does it mean to exist with a magical religion, right?
TY: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: Is something that is quite different than what a lot of people expect or understand, right? And it's neither as simple, at least in my experience, as "Hey, dude, I was sitting on the couch playing video games all month and I need some like money for rent, hook me up," right?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: That doesn't necessarily work either, right? I mean, maybe? Maybe the first time, maybe sometimes. Or you know, “bust me out of jail,” or whatever ...
TY: Of course, there's spontaneity. Right.
ANDREW: But it's also not.
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: Not that either, right? You know? And sort of this distinction between the things that we want and need to live in this world and live in this life, right?
TY: Uh huh.
ANDREW: I mean, they are there to facilitate those things.
TY: Right.
ANDREW: And --
TY: I think it --
ANDREW: Go ahead.
TY: No, no, I'm sorry, go ahead.
ANDREW: Well, I was going to say, and, they are there cause they can see how we can free ourselves from the problems we make for ourselves, or the problems other people bring, and sort of move beyond them, or move and minimize them as we go through life, right? Because ...
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: You know, life is complicated, right?
TY: It's the battle of the Osobos and the Iré, right? All these forces of negativity that exist in the world on many levels ...
ANDREW: Right.
ANDREW: And some of those come from us, too, right? And learning to overcome those ones that are ... Not in a "we're all sinners" kind of way, like we've all got baggage, we've all got tendencies, maybe we're lazy, maybe we're too greedy, maybe we're hateful or whatever, and those things undermine our lives, and we need to ... you know, it's that balance of both, I think, right.
TY: Right.
ANDREW: Cause literally people come into the shop and "I need you to Santeria somebody," and I'm like, "whatever, “Dude, I don't even know what you mean, but no." Like, forget it? You know? yeah.
TY: I see -- I mean, I see your point. I guess what -- not I guess -- one of the things I'm resistant to is elitism in this tradition.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: Because it has become elitist on a number of levels just because of the price point, the introduction of just the academia, you know, into this? So, there's also an intellectual elitism here ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And with that elitism, there's been sort of this political attempt to Christianize in terms of its values, and what we do, we don't do that, and it's like, um, but we do! Because I remember very distinctly being called for those basement ochas that we had to do in an emergency cause somebody was going to jail, or, you know, [laughs] somebody has some illness, and it was a bunch of poor people in that ocha in a project apartment saving somebody's life. I remember when it wasn't elitist.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: You know? And there wasn't any shame around doing an obra versus an ebbó. And how I'm distinguishing those terms, when I say an obra, a work, something that you don't throw for, that you go, you put it together, and you tell Orisha, versus ebbó that comes out of a divination and Orisha done told you!
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: I remember that, there being a distinction and watching santeros move in that way. I remember that there wasn't the stigma and the shame around, yo, maybe I do need to come up with my rent cause I'm getting put out of my house and I need to go to Elegua to open a door.
TY: I remember because there was no stigma around that.
ANDREW: Well and, I hope I didn't come across wrong, because I think there should be no shame. Right? We are all where we're at, and we're all in places and life is complex and variable and many things happen, right?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: And, you know? There are those times when we need to make those things, or to, you know, kick 'em in the pants a little bit and be like, "Elegua, dude, rent's due on the first, it better be in my account before that, my friend, it needs to happen, or we're all in on the street," right? or whatever, and I think there should never be any shame in any of that or in needing healing or, you know. I mean, all of those things, I think that we're all human and we all need those things all the time and we'd be foolish to think that that's not going to be the case, right? But I also do agree that there's a tendency to try and niceify, right? You know?
TY: Yep. You say it even more in Nigeria. You see it even more in the Nigerian priests, with this attempt at, you know, Christianizing Ifa because of the onslaught of just attack from Muslim- and Christian-kind in Nigeria.
ANDREW: Sure. Right? And you know, and it's ... you see it in a lot of, you know, more fringe places, right, you see it in the LGBT community, right, and all those extra letters too, where, it's like, well, look, we're just like you, we're this way, we're that way, and that's true for some people, and for other people it's not, right? And I think that those kinds of diversity ... it doesn't benefit anybody either to leverage one group down so that we could sort of be up, right? You know in the way that like, historically Palo and Lucumí traditions went through that conflict, right? You know, there's the historical divide, right?
TY: Well, still.
ANDREW: Well still, but like, you know, there were specific historical events where, you know it was like all of a sudden, well, you know, we'll throw the Palo community under the bus for this ...
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: And show how legitimate and good we are, right?
TY: And they're still doing it. I was very resistant to making Ocha for a lot of years, because I was palera for a long time before I became an olosha.
TY: And one of the things that I've [35:39--inaudible]... that I was really resistant about, was what I call Lucumí-, or Yoruba-centric [distortion/inaudible at 00:35:51]. You know, Yorubas tend to posit themselves at the top of this whole priest -- overstep their boundaries, an Orisha priest telling you, you have abatowa crown, get rid of your nganga. How? Why is it you feel that your tradition gives you the right to tell somebody what can and can't happen in a completely separate practice? Okay? And that's your eccentric elitism. That's Lucumí-centric elitism. And we see it because Lucumí is the most expensive initiation, that people feel like once they get crowned they've arrived, honey, they got the big crown ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And it perpetuates this contention. It also perpetuates a lot of misinformation. Like Cholla is not Ochún. She will never be Ochún. Saramanda is not Ogun. Nusera is not Elegua. [laughs] You understand what I'm saying?
ANDREW: Yeah. Well and I think it's part of that desire or ignorance that promotes generalization, right? You know?
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: I mean, it's not 100% true, but I often sort of think, if there's an odu that says you shouldn't do that, then that means there's not a general prohibition against it because it's required to come up, right? And I mean, it's a little too cut and dry maybe, but I think there are so many things where people want to sort of posit a set of rules, like obatala should never drink, you know?
TY: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: These people are going to be this way, this spirit's going to be that way, once you're a priest you should never do whatever again, and it's not that way, you know? It doesn't need to be that way.
TY: Right.
ANDREW: And that is that sort of stereotyping and you know, sort of modeling ideas that are not universal ...
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: But people want to make them, either because it gives them power, or cause they don't know better, right?
TY: Yes. And in some cases, it's just superstitious and unnecessary. Like, I'll give you an example. I went to an Orisha birthday, to go see someone's Orisha, and you know in the process of ocha birthdays, we're sitting, we're gossip, we're talking shit. We get into a conversation about firearms, right? Because I don't go nowhere unarmed, okay? I'm a black woman living in the USA. I'm going to be ... if you see me, you're going to see ...
ANDREW: I've seen your Instagram!
TY: [laughs] You know, so ... we were talking about firearms, and there was a priest that was much older than me, I feel like she was in her 20s, and she was like, well you know, none of us carry weapons, we've all blunted all of the knives in our house because many of us have ogun [garbled at 00:38:38] in our Ita, and we give that over to Ogun. And I was like Er? What the hell does that have to do with your ability to protect yourself? Number one, did ogunda come in some harsh osogbo that told you to deal with the entire house, and what does any of that have to do with my basic human right to defend myself?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And then her response was, you know, well [inaudible--some missing audio? at 00:39:07] Ogun, I'm not going to take on Ogun's job, but I'm going to tell you, I'm going to tell you, I'm going to tell you, there's nothing he could have ever told me in Ita that would have had me unarmed for the rest of my life, not as a single mother, hell no. There is nothing you could have told ME that would have made me put down my firearms. And there was nothing that I heard her say out of her Ita that made any of that make sense to me.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: That sounded crazy. But I hear this level of superstitious ignorance that manifests in general taboos for entire houses, all the time. Now suddenly one person's Ita is everybody's Ita. It's crazy!
ANDREW: Sure. Well and I see -- I've seen that prohibition with that piece of advice come out in a reading for somebody, and it didn't surprise me, cause that relationship in that house was on the edge of exploding into physical conflict maybe, right?
TY: Right.
ANDREW: And so, like there are times when that stuff can come out and should come out, but that's where you gotta look at your life and see what's going on, right? Like I -- Somebody came to me for a reading and you know, it was one of those like, hey, the Orishas love you, hugs and kisses, see you later, right? And it was like, okay, when should I get initiated? And I was like, why?
TY: Cause you're not about that. Right.
ANDREW: “Are you sick? Are you broke? Are you ... like, what's going on?” And they're like, “No.” I'm like, "You're good, you don't need it, don't worry about it." You know? So, I think that that, yeah, it's where you need to be understanding about yourself and your relationship, right?
TY: Yes, yes, and move beyond superstition. I think that we have a very sophisticated methodology and system of divination that doesn't give us ... we don't have the burden of having to have superstition. Or even faith, to a certain extent. We do divination, we do ebbó, ebbó works. [laughs] We trust that it works because we've seen in work. You know? We have divination and confirmation.
TY: Which is one of the reasons why I like this tradition. Cause I ain't got to be believing in no pie in the sky! You do divination, you do the ebbó! [laughs]
ANDREW: As Crowley puts it, right?
TY: Right, right!
ANDREW: As Crowley puts it in one of his books, success is your proof, right? That's it. Certainty, not faith, right?
TY: Ase, and I've never done well with faith. Which is why Palo and Vodou make me happy, you do something, something happens.
ANDREW: Right.
TY: [laughs] You know? So. It's all of that, all of it.
ANDREW: So, I have a question for you about the intimacy counseling and the work that you're doing with people, right? So, is that a energetic thing? Is that a spiritual practice? Is that like -- Where do the intersection ... Cause I'm always curious with people who practice a bunch of different things and then have outside people come and engage that, right?
TY: Yeah.
ANDREW: Are you engaging people within their own practices? Are they coming to you for practices? How does that look and work for you?
TY: So, usually, it depends. People who have no relation to this practice but just need sex and intimacy coaching usually look like regular old clients. They book an appointment, we have some talk therapy, and then I do a healing. That healing may be energetic, like in tantric projection work or energy work that they need to clear out some trauma. It may be a past life regression or some spiritual cord that I have to cut cause of what they're dealing with. It may be physical, because as a somatic sex educator, we also guide people through certain body practices, so for example, if I have a person who is ashamed of their body as a result of trauma, has never masturbated. I might do guided coached masturbation, or I might have a couple who want to reinvigorate their sex life and they want to learn new techniques, so I'll guide them through it. So that's where the body-based therapy might come in.
Someone in the tradition, it will probably start with some type of spiritual reading and see what's happening with you spiritually and then how that plays out in your life in the form of coaching. And the sex tends to be, especially in the tradition, talk therapy only. It comes out in my spiritual counseling, so like for example, I might do a divination, and let's say I see a lot of odí falling, and I know that there might be some addiction stuff, or some sexual trauma, some abuse, some other things, that that letter would point to. Well, I'll do the ebbó, I'll get that out of the way, but then after that I'm going to book a spiritual counseling session, and let's talk about what made that manifest on that, and what really needs to happen with you energetically and spiritually and hold space for that. And sometimes that is talk therapy around their sexual trauma, because of course, that letter fell and that oftentimes points to rape or molestation or all kinds of stuff, right?
TY: In addition to that, as a tantrica, when I lead workshops with people, mostly single women or couples, they're looking to bring the sacred into their bedroom in a certain way. In terms of my tantra training, I came through, I'm an initiated tantric, I was initiated in the Shri Vidya lineage, a Debi Kudarum, very goddess-centered, and to me, it ain't nothing but some Indian Palo honey, I don't know, cause you know, they with them goddesses, they put out them yantras, honey and you get to chant and then that thing MOVES, okay, but in addition to Shri Vidya tantra, I studied Ipsaun tantra, Shakti pat, I received several activations, and I am now studying grand trine active shamanistic tantra. So, I will teach them how to do tantric projection, like no hands, no touch, energy orgasms, healing the body and the trauma energetically, and even just tantric lovemaking, tantric interaction. And I've found that people in this tradition, even though the two don't overlap, they are very interested in it, because again, we don't have a space to have these conversations. We don't have a way of talking about how we can relate in a spiritual manner [laughs] that, you know.
ANDREW: Well, we're all human beings, right? We want to ultimately, I think, one of our desires, for almost everybody, is to want to show up on every level for the sexy times, right, you know? Cause once you understand or experience other levels of awareness ...
TY: Right.
ANDREW: You know? You want to bring that everywhere, right? But as you say, it's not really a ... there's not really a mechanism for that.
TY: Right, right. I mean but the thing is I feel that we do, we do have our concept of sacred relationship because for, in my opinion, when the awo, and his apedibi, Soday, and marry, that's our sacred relationship, when the Ialosha and the Babalosha marry. They ... that's our sacred relationship, because now you have the bringing together of these two powerful entities that can birth something. Now what's going to change it is the context, the intention, the consciousness, and what you're going to put forth in it. But the fact that it exists ... I think is ... I think if it didn't exist there would be no need for the Babala to have an Apedibi, to have that feminine counterpart to the masculine, you know? To bring about that balance and uplift his Ifa. [laughs] You know what I'm saying? So, we definitely have it, but do we understand what we have? Do we not articulate it? And then what does it mean? So, you know, doubling back to your initial question, your average person looks like talk therapy and then whatever body-based somatic therapy they may need according to their issue. The average person in this tradition, I kind of keep separate, and it stays on like a counseling, I have to counsel them one on one, because a), having the conversation itself is damn near taboo, as conservative as we are, and b) you can't bring that into ritual, you've got to do ritual first and then have a separate conversation about that.
ANDREW: For sure. Yeah. Mmmhmm. I've got to say I dig how you're navigating all that.
TY: [laughs] Yeah.
ANDREW: So, I've got one more question for you before we wrap up.
TY: Uh huh.
ANDREW: So, how do you sustain all these traditions you're doing? I get a little tired just hearing about it! [laughs]
TY: On a schedule. [laughs]
TY: Well, I work for myself, so I wake up, usually I have sunrise meditation and yoga, and then I tend to my ancestors and whatever loa might be that day, so Tuesdays I'm on my Petro, and you know, whatever, Thursdays I'm on my rada, and then I go ahead and reap my Orisha, my ifa, and I keep it moving. At night, I normally deal with my prendas ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: And I try to keep my workings to them around what's going on in the sky, and I mostly work that outside and at night. And you know, loa gives you a schedule, cause loa has to be served every day, and you know, it's certain people that you serve on certain days. Orisha, all they need daily is to breathe, pour libations and keep it moving, you know? I might throw to my Orisha, you know, my head Orisha once a month, Elegba, maybe once a week, appease him, you know, my little Sundays or Mondays, I keep it moving! You know, they, it's just ... it's such a part of my lifestyle, it's I wake up, yoga, meditation, greet Luwan, have your day, come back, say hello to the Palo people, go to bed. You got ebbó to do, do your work.
TY: [laughs]
ANDREW: I love it. I mean I think it's one of those things, right? So many people ... I hear many people who kind of say that they want to live that kind of life, right? You know, that that's what they're looking for.
TY: You gotta be built for that life.
ANDREW: Yeah, cause you know, I mean, it's one of those things, right? I mean, you know, I mostly just, I mean I work with my, you know, my spirit guides and my Orisha, right? But like, it takes up a chunk of time and energy and it takes a real consistency of focus that I think that is challenging, you know? I know that I certainly when I was starting out struggled with it. And that sort of scheduling it, and just being like these are the ways that things happen, that's it, right?
TY: Yeah. That's it!
ANDREW: The obligation needs to be sustained, right?
TY: Yeah, and I think because I didn't do it back to back. Like I had years in between each so I kind of was able to get acclimated, develop a routine, before something else came in, you know? And they're separate, I keep them separate, like they each have their own room, their own space, all of that. But they function in similar ways.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
TY: You know what I'm saying? They function in similar ways.
TY: So, every day if I get up and I greet my ancestors, that's gonna be a new tradition. And today, you know, I might have to blow some rum [inaudible at 00:50:04] You know what I mean? So, I mean it's not as far in or as complicated as some people make it sound.
ANDREW: [inaudible--asking to repeat]
TY: I said it's not as far in or complicated as some people make it sound. Even if you were just the palero, right? You're not sitting with your nganga for hours every day! You're not doing that!
TY: Or most, you get up, you greet, you light 'em up and you keep it moving, unless you got something to do!
TY: That doesn't change, cause you got other things.
ANDREW: That's true. And they've got other places to be too, right?
TY: Right!
ANDREW: Like they're not sitting 24 hours a day waiting for everyone. “Oh my god, I'm not bringing the tv down here, you know, we're not watching our shows together, I'm getting sad about this,” that doesn't happen, yeah.
TY: They should be out there fixing the problems in my life, not sitting here! [laughs]
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. That's awesome. Well, thank you so much for making time today, Ty.
TY: Yep.
ANDREW: People want to come and find you online, where's the best place to come and hang with you?
TY: http://www.iamtyshaw.com.
ANDREW: Beautiful! Go check it out!
TY: Yes.
ANDREW: All right. Well, thank you.
TY: Yes, thank you! We'll talk soon. All right, bye.

EP78 Practicing Magic for Real Life with Jason Miller

April 13, 2018

Jason and Andrew talk about the lessons they've learned around practicing magic as a way of life. They also talk about what it is like to live in community with those who don't practice. And of course Saint Cyprian gets talk about too. 

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ANDREW: Welcome to another episode of the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I have Jason Miller back with me today. And, you know, I've been continuing to watch what Jason's been putting out into the world, and, you know, he's been on my radar to have back and continue our conversations about magic and living a magical life and, you know, and, I kind of want to talk to him more about teaching and helping people discover how to live that kind of life today. 

But, you know, Jason, in case people haven't met you yet—and you should go back and listen to the previous episode with him—Who are you, Jason? What are you about? 

JASON: Oh, man. I'm all about … I'm all about getting paid and laid! No, I’m kidding ... [laughs] Yeah, no, so, I'm not against getting paid and laid, but that's certainly not what I'm all about. I am about doing magic in a way that is impactful. So, I have noticed over the course of the last 30 some odd years that I've been doing magic, that a lot of people, they put a lot of effort into a ritual, and they'll get a result, and it’ll be like, you know, I spent three hours summoning a goetic demon, and the next day I found a wallet in the street, isn't that amazing? I -- it had like 200 bucks in it! That's incredible! And it's like, great! Where are we going to go from there?

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: Like, you know, how is this really going to make a big difference in your life? I mean, if you're in danger of getting tossed out of your house because you're 200 bucks short on the rent, it makes a big difference. But still and all, whether it's for pure spirituality, for love, money, etc., whatever, I'm about using magic, making it meaningful, making it have a big bump in your life...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And being able to look back and measure it and say yeah, that made a difference.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: The man I am today ... 

ANDREW: The man I am today! You know, it's funny, that piece about looking back is so important. I recently went through and cleaned up all my shrines and all my, like, bits and pieces of magical workings and stuff, you know, like, cause, especially as I'm running along through life and work and whatever, stuff accumulates in the corners, right? And I had done this piece of work that I was continuing to work at, to break through to the next financial level, right? And when I was cleaning it up and going through the whole thing, I forgot, that I had as part of that done one of those write a check to yourself from the universe thing, right? 

JASON: Oh, yeah? 

ANDREW: And I was like, huh, look at that! I'm currently making exactly that and I'm frustrated that I'm not getting past it!  

JASON: [laughs]

ANDREW: So, I tripled that amount, and put a new one in and then fired it up again, and I was like … And immediately everything just started escalating like crazy, right? 

JASON: It's amazing, the little tweaks ... 

ANDREW: So easy to lose ...

JASON: Yeah. The little tweaks that we can make. I remember, a few years back I was having difficulty. Same thing again, you know, I would make more money, but somehow more expenses would show up, and they'd just eat away at that. And it was so frustrating. And it's a common enough problem, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: I would sit down and one day I would ... just sat down, and I might have cleaned my altar just before that time too, because that's my go to, like when things are stuck, clean up! [laughs] You know?


JASON: And not only do you get just a better view, but you ... You do find those little bits and nuggets of the past that tie it all together. But I sat down in front of Saint Cyprian and I was just like, “I can't seem to fix this, man! Like, I get more money, more money needs to go out.” And Saint Cyprian said, “Okay, well, you know, this month, do the same exact magic, but ask for the amount of money that you need leftover after everything is taken care of.” 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.



JASON: And that's exactly what happened. All of a sudden, there was this excess that I could then put towards, you know, savings, better use, house, investments, etc., etc.

ANDREW: Yeah, well and especially ... We're both family people, right? 


ANDREW: And with a family, those unknown expenses, I mean, it's so easy for them to creep up and whatever. We're so lucky in Canada, you know. My daughter just had strep throat, but because of the new way things are done here, the trip to the doctor is covered, and prescriptions are covered. So. But you know? Previously, like last year, before that came in, it'd be easy to go, you know you could go drop 50 - 60 bucks for this, and a pile of money there, and you know, every time you turn around, it just adds up and adds up. Yeah, I think that the power of being clear about what the solution is, and the power of how do you pray or ask or craft your sigil or whatever you're doing to solve the problem is such an important piece, right? 

JASON: What …Yeah, and you know, because we're not just praying, you know? We don't describe ourselves as religious people necessarily. I mean we might be religious people, but we're not religious in the sort of, you know, the old grandma, “I'm going to go pray and hope that this happens, and leave it up to God, and thy will be done” kind of thing. 

ANDREW: Sure. 

JASON: Because otherwise why bother with magic at all, right? 


JASON: So, we're sort of getting actively involved. And even if we're working with the same powers, the saints and gods and angels and buddhas etc., we're as sorcerers saying, you know, I'm part of this, I'm part of this chain of events here, so I'm contributing, I'm inputting, at which point, yeah, the responsibility falls on you to ask for what you need skillfully, to recognize when you've, like in your case, been given exactly what you asked for, and then moved to the next level.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: It's, yeah, it's, I don't know, it's our responsibility. But I see a lot of people turn their sovereignty over to the spirits when it comes down to stuff like that. It's like, “Well, they know what I need.” And, why are you even bothering, then, man? [laughs]

ANDREW: Yeah. I think that it’s … you know ... there's this thing, I was reading through your new book, The Elements of Spellcrafting, and there's this section where you were talking about caveats, right? You know? And, like, I think that for me, whether I approach the Orishas, or whether I approach the other spirits I work with, you know? Whatever element of “Thy will be done” exists in the universe, I just assume they're doing that math for me as part of it, right? 

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: There are things that are just never going to happen, there are things that, you know, maybe shouldn't happen, and, you know, and there are things that are maybe part of other people's will being done, and they're going to not allow me to be interfering with that, right? In the same way that, you know, it's not the monkey paw, right? Like, you know, they're not going to kill somebody so I can get their inheritance. And then I'm going to turn around and forget to say, "Bring them back as they were, and you know, instead, live a zombie love life or something," right?

JASON: [laughs]

ANDREW: You know, I think that there's a degree of intelligence in these processes, right? 

JASON: Yeah!

ANDREW: Unless you're working with something belligerent, in which case, I tend to be like, well, why go there? What's the value of that? And you know, there are values, but, if stuff doesn't want to work with me, I don't know that I want to work with it, you know? 

JASON: I -- see, I'm the same way. There are ... I guess there are some borderline cases, where there are spirits that are happy to work once they've been … In the grimoire tradition, they've been constrained ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And then if made offerings to and a relationship is built, but to even get their attention requires that initial like, "Will the power that blah blah..." But in general, I'm the same way, there are so many ways to do something, especially now, with just the access we have to so many, so much information, traditions, and things like that ... And also, it helps ... You know, [ringing phone] these things don't tend to happen when we are building relationships with powers ... So, of course, now my phone ... [Answering machine voice] Telemarketers, man! 


JASON: Sorry about that!

ANDREW: They're just trying to make their money, too. You know? It's all part of ...

JASON: I know, I know ... [ringing phone]

ANDREW: Speaking of prolific elements, you know? [laughs]

JASON: Right. We’re talking about demons, the demons are like, “Hey…”

ANDREW: “Hey…”

JASON: “Let me talk to you about your credit card balance ...” [laughs]

ANDREW: Let me talk to you about a time share ...”

JASON: [laughs] So, yeah, I forgot even what I was talking about now ...

ANDREW: Well, we were just talking about ...

JASON: The demons erased it. 

ANDREW: When you're having relationships with spirits, it's something quite different. 

JASON: Oh yeah! Yeah, it's so different than looking up in a book and saying, "Well, what's the spirit that handles this, and I'm going to contact them and make a deal…" 


JASON: As opposed to "these are spirits that I make offerings to regularly, every day, all the time, I acknowledge special days," and, you know, you build a relationship. 


JASON: So then when it comes down to somebody in the Strategic Sorcery group the other day asked "Why are the spirits so literal about everything? I'm getting exactly what I ASK for, but just outside of what I intended." And I said, "Well, you know, get better at asking for stuff, but the other thing is, build up a relationship, let spirits into your life, and you can ... you ... they'll get a better window into what you need.” It's not necessarily belligerent, the assumption there is that they're all knowing, all powerful. You know? You gotta let 'em know. 

ANDREW: They're not stalkers, right? 

JASON: Right. They're not stalkers.

ANDREW: They're not here 24/7, they're not looking at everything, they're not Santa Claus, right?

JASON: Right.

ANDREW: You know? Like, they don't know everything, if you don't sit down when you have their attention and tell them, right? 

JASON: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And here again, if you have a relationship with spirit, much of the time the solution to the problem is like, "Hey, my friend, I have this problem, I need to talk to you about it."  

JASON: [laughs]

ANDREW: “Blah blah blah, here's my problem, here's what it looks like, here's what I've been doing, you know, I don't know what to do next, or I just feel like I've got no luck, or like whatever you feel, and be like, hey, please help me out with this. And sometimes that can be it too, right? Just a conversation, kind of like, you know, hey, help me out, my friend, not even like, “and I'll give you this,” or whatever, right? 

JASON: Absolutely. Absolutely. Cause that ... that giving, that back and forth, it's already present in the relationship. Just like with real people, you know? I use ... I always talk about borrowing 50 bucks. You know, if you accost somebody on the street, they're not giving you 50 bucks. 


JASON: If you ask a coworker, maybe they will, maybe they won't. But if you ask a friend, of course. They're gonna be like, “Yeah, here, do you need any more? are you good? Pay me back when you can.” Because you have a lifetime of the back and forth and it makes all the difference. 

ANDREW: So, every time I tell people that you're going to be on the podcast, and some other people too, but they're always like, “So tell me about Cyprian. What about Saint Cyprian?” 

JASON: [laughs]

ANDREW: “What's going on with Cyprian? What do I need to know about Saint Cyprian,” right? What ... I mean, I feel like we talked about it last time, from what I remember, you know? But I'm curious. Especially because it's been a little while. Saint Cyprian seems to be growing further and further into the world these days. What do you think is up with that? Why is that happening? 

JASON: Oh. [sighs heavily] Well, I'm going to go ahead and say that one of the things that's happening is that the focus is not so squarely on white European magic any more. And ...

ANDREW: That's really true. 

JASON: And, you know, I can ... I will thank the younger generation of millennials for some of this, that, you know, while there's certainly a lot of crap I could give the millennial generation--I'm a Gen Xer and I'm sure you are too, but--One of the good things is there's not quite as much focus on the white European magic, nor what white Europeans, especially Victorians, had to say about magic from elsewhere. So, Saint Cyprian was sort of, has been huge in Portuguese and Spanish-speaking world for many years. 

ANDREW: Yeah.  

JASON: You find tons of little, I have some Spanish, everything from actual books of Saint Cyprian, to little like pamphlets, trade magazines, in Spanish, that are, you know, about Saint Cyprian. And then of course you've got the Scandinavian books of Saint Cyprian in Norway. So, all this was sort of happening outside the German/English pipeline, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And, so it was already this huge presence that just needed to poke its way into the English-speaking world. And then once it did, we do what we do with everything, it explodes. And he became immensely popular. I'm super proud of having written a really halfway not even very good article surveying the cult of Cyprian, but I wrote it back in 2007 so I can pat myself on the back, and you know, get the "before it was cool" cred. [laughs] But, you know, the amazing work has been done since then, with Humberto Maggi, and José Leitão, their translations of Cyprian books, and the commentary on them is just huge.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And he's ... just a great worker. You know? People are looking at Christianity and realizing that there's a lot more to it than the evangelical anti-magical Protestant mindset. And maybe some of that is that we have a generation of people here who were not necessarily brought up in church, so they're kind of looking at the church with magical eyes rather than “Uhhhh, this is such a drag!” eyes. Which is why you're getting ... More and more people are going to Latin mass. Like young people going to Latin mass wherever it's available. So, you have this interest in Christianity, and people are looking at, "Well, where is witchcraft really preserved?" If we can let go of some of the Margaret Murray thesis of pagan cults that survived in secret, well, you know, a hell of a lot of it was that folk magic came into Christianity and the ceremonial magic, the whole grimoire tradition. So, once information about a saint of sorcerers became available, I think it was just, people wanted to take it and run, and have.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

It's a very accessible notion, right? I mean, it's in our culture, you know, North American culture, the idea of saints and what we do with them. There's a ... whether you're raised with it or not, it's around enough that I think it's not super foreign, you know? 

JASON: Yeah. No. Absolutely. And it's, you know, Cyprian himself had already existed in such varied forms. You know, the emphasis in Europe is ... are on the books and spells that Cyprian himself was said to have penned, whether before or after death. And then in the New World traditions from Peru up to Mexico, the emphasis is on calling Cyprian himself as sort of a mediator between light and dark forces.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And you can see this in the mesa traditions where they have … The shamans have the two mesas laid out and Saint Cyprian right in the middle. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: And so, Cyprian exists as this eternal between. He's between everything. He's between heaven and hell, he's between Christian and non-Christian, he’s a … you know, he builds bridges. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And it's just brilliant. the only things that I think some people who maybe were raised with Cyprian in the non-English, you know, object to sort of, you know, white people taking it and running with it places that it never was historically. The only thing that I really see that I ever object to is when people attempt to completely deChristianize Cyprian utterly. And say, "oh, that was never really part of it," I'm always like "well, we already have Merlin and other ...


JASON: You know? It's the very fact that he was a bishop that kind of makes it special. 

ANDREW: Well and I think that that's kind of leading up to what I was going to ask you as a question, being, what's the thing people are getting wrong about this, right? Or, what's the pitfall people fall into, you know? Because, you know, I have conversations with other, you know, olochas and priests in the Orisha tradition about what people are kind of misunderstanding as they approach traditions. Right? You know?

JASON: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, you know, I think that, you kind of already nailed it, right? You know, like, what is Cyprian without Christianity? 

JASON: Yeah. yeah. And, you know, what is Cyprian without Justina? Justina, I think, gets downplayed quite a bit in favor of Cyprian, but it's important to remember that it was her that turned back his demons with the sign of the cross. It was her that wielded the power that attracted him to Christianity in the first place.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And so, I think one of the other things, apart from the deChristianizing of Cyprian, and I get it, I mean, Christianity has, I mean, for every good thing about Christianity, there's a horrible thing about Christianity. 

ANDREW: Yeah. At least one. 

JASON: At least one! And some people have been really just damaged to the point where this is not a useful thing in this life for them ...

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: To even worry about Christianity one way or the other. They left it, and good, because, you know, it was causing them a lot of pain. So, I'm not one of those people that's like, you know, “You have to be Christian.” But, you have to be, I think to work with Cyprian, you have to be comfortable, at least looking at Jesus, Christianity, and all the rest of it as a usable power, as a valid spiritual power, and it's always weird to me how people who are so open that they can embrace, sometimes, dozens of traditions at the same time, and, you know, while “Hecate, Queen of Heaven, and ...” yet, once it's Christian, because of the baggage, it's like, oh no. No. That is false, and I reject it ever. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And I think, as you say, I think it's part of all of our journeys; ideally to try and resolve and free ourselves of those baggages, you know? And I think about how when I started doing misas, and sort of espiritismo, and Alan Kardek style, you know, ceremonies and stuff like that, you know, and praying for my ancestors who were Catholic, or, you know, Anglican or whatever, with the prayers that they asked for, without any attachment to that, you know, came from, you know, a number of years of deconstructing less so explicit Church history, cause I don't have much of that, but more so, negative cultural influences on that stuff that I was basically, you know what? Screw you and your son! You know? For about 19 years, right?

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: And, you know, but being free of that really allows for, has allowed me to meet spirits where they want to be met, where that feels appropriate to me, and therefore, when my grandmother was like, say the Lord's Prayer, say the Apostle's Creed, say the, you know, the Hail Marys, say this, say that, I'm like, "Cool, I'll say those prayers for you, it's fine." 

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: But it's not straightforward, you know? 


ANDREW: For many people. And definitely for me it wasn't, in the beginning, so. 

JASON: Yeah. yeah. And there ... You know, my advice is always, if that is bringing trauma and discomfort, there are other powers. You don't have to work with Cyprian. And I guess that's the worry that everyone has that something becomes sort of insanely popular and people get involved only because of its popularity.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: I don't know how much of a danger that really is. I've always been one of those people that's kind of … It’s like, “Is the band good or is the band not good?” How many other people like the band isn't really relevant ...


JASON: To my enjoyment of them. But for some people it is. They want to be in on the thing no one else was in on. 

ANDREW: Well, and, you know, it's funny, so, I spent time in the Aurum Solis, which is a not very popular not very well-known ceremonial order, right? 

JASON: Ogdoatic!

ANDREW: Yeah. And, you know, I mean, in some ways, my time there was one of the most liberating of things, because unlike many other systems, where they gave name and form to whatever dualities and core principle and so on, they just use generic terms, and generic terms that they had set up for themselves for people within the order to work with, and so, it was always open-ended, and then if you were working Enochian or goetic or this or whatever, you shifted and you melded it to where you wanted it to be, or where it made sense to put that together, unlike in other systems, you know, like when I was into Crowley stuff, and here's your specific, you know, ordered organization and structure, and you know, in other places where it's like, well this is always this person. It's like, eh, they could be many things ... 

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: I want to know what would make sense here, you know? 

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: Cause there's more of this idea of there being an archetypal or source that was putting on source as we danced with it, called it, rather than having predefined form that we were required to meld ourselves to. and in that process, I actually became very malleable, and very free from a lot of other stuff, which was pretty handy, so. 

JASON: Yeah, that is. Now Aurum Solis, they went like full Christian at one point, didn't they, awhile back? 

ANDREW: I left the order around 2000, 2001. I think that as far as I know they were going more in like a sort of witchcraft, European witchcraft direction when I was leaving.  

JASON: Really!

ANDREW: Which wasn't really my particular thing, yeah. But it's been a long time and I'm no longer involved so I couldn't actually say. 

JASON: Okay. Yeah, I seem to remember something about Denning taking the order into like a, you know, reforming it as a Christian-only order, and then un-reforming it as a Christian order, just only a few years after that, when people were like, naaah, that's ...

ANDREW: Yeah, it's hard to say. I don't know that part of the history. It certainly wasn't a part of my time. But, I mean, like many of those experiences, my work was mostly about my local person rather than the bigger picture of things too, right? Which is... 

JASON: Yeah.

ANDREW: Both a pro and a con, right? Cause it's great when everybody's on the same page, but when your local person and your international person or head of the order is doing something else, then you know, that's kind of, becomes disruptive, so.  

JASON: We, in, you know, I was in the OTO for a while, and we had formed a camp, still around today in Philadelphia, Thelesis. It's now, I think, an oasis. It's ... the OTO has small camps, and then they have oases, and then they have lodges, and so on. And when we started it out, it was like a bunch of people that were disgruntled from the New York scene, and then we made all these connections in Philadelphia, which had an OTO group, and then everybody left. So, we just gathered the people that were sort of abandoned. 

ANDREW: Sure. 

JASON: And we were the weirdest OTO group in the order at the time, because none of us wanted to do the gnostic mass, like none of us wanted to do it. 

ANDREW: Right. 

JASON: None of us wanted to do Resh, the four times a day, you know, he is the Sun God, he is the Fun God, rah rah rah kind of thing every day. And so, we were just, we were essentially just a magical group, and we were using the OTO as sort of this unstructural umbrella and, that we would report to. And for years, like we had Behutet Magazine, which is still running, but we wouldn't allow any Crowley reprints, or poetry, and all the other magazines at the time were, you know, like “Here's a reprint of Crowley ...”

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: “And my poems!” And so, we were like, “nope, none of that,” and it was all about the local people and what they wanted to do and it was great. It was great. It has changed now. I think they're much more in line with the overall order than it used to be. But, it's the way things go.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, I think that there are certainly in my experience, there are the times and places where a group of people coalesce for one reason or another, you know, and those moments and times are wonderful, and you know, when I was younger I used to think they would last forever, and now I find myself ...

JASON: [laughs] Yeah. 

ANDREW: ... in, you know, in those moments, I just savor them, knowing that likely they'll pass at some point. You know? And may even be far and few between, so, you know, just revel in them, like, oh, how wonderful to have all these connections in this thing right now, you know? 

JASON: It is, it is. And, you know, I don't know how involved you are in your local community. I live in the sticks, I live in New Jersey, but, you know, down in the pine barrens, and I do miss having a big local community, and the time, too, because between business and kids, that eats most of it up. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 


ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, local magical community, we have, we sometimes, maybe three or four times a year I have just a, call it a magically-minded social night at the shop, and just open, show up, make some tea, hang out, whatever. So those are always great. Everybody's invited, so if you're hearing this and you want to come, get in touch. And for me, it's like, because my primary work is Orisha work, right? So, it's ceremonies and stuff like that that happens, so, you know.  

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: Early in the year I was down in the States helping at a birth of a priest, and, those are great, you know. But they're not so much local and they're not really ongoing, they're more periodic when they're required, so. 

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: Right. You know, the shops are wonderful, and the community that ... I mean ... Back when I was starting out, the shop was your only link to the community, really,


JASON: If you didn't know it already, if you were just interested in magic, it was like putting in time at the shop. You would just like hang out, talk with the shop owner, and …


JASON: They, you guys facilitated all the introductions, so ...


JASON: It was really just through getting friendly with shop owners in the area that I got to know who was doing what where. 

ANDREW: And for me it was because I lived in sort of small town Ontario growing up, it was, twice a year there was a psychic fair, and I would go and find stuff there, which is where I bought like, Magic in Theory and Practice when I was 12, and stuff like that.


ANDREW: And then there'd be like six months of like, trying to understand what the hell is being said in those books ... 

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: What do I do with my hands? What am I supposed to say? What's going on? You know? But, that was it, because, you know, I was too young to drive, too young to get anywhere, there were no buses to the city, you know, back in the 80s and stuff like that, it was just like, that was it. You take your books, you go home, you read em a bunch, try and figure it out, realize you don't know what you're doing, and then try again, you know? So. 

JASON: No YouTube videos, to ...

ANDREW: No YouTube videos.

JASON: To set you right.

ANDREW: Yeah. For sure. 

So, one of the other questions people ... somebody posted ... was, and I feel like I already know the answer to this, but I'm going to ask you anyway, so: Do you ever run into people who are disapproving of your practices? I mean we were talking about people who didn't like your books and stuff like that before we got on the call, but like, you ever just like face to face in your community, or you know that kind of stuff, run into anything, or ... ? Is that ... ?

JASON: Rarely.


JASON: Rarely. I benefit from having not only a common name but several other famous Jason Millers.

ANDREW: Uh huh.

JASON: So when I have a day job, it was, it would be an odd thing for them to find out about me, even after I started publishing books, because you've got Jason Miller the playwright, Jason Miller the MMA fighter, and now you've got Jason Miller the, you know, Trump campaign dude, who I was ... Someone wrote, like, bitching about Trump to me, and it was clear they thought that I worked for his campaign. Like, “How can you, an occultist, work for Donald Trump?” I was like, “Two different people!” [laughing]


JASON: Like, I don't know, I don't even look like that guy. But, you know, so, it didn't happen too often, that people would find out. When they did, I have a way of explaining it or presenting it, so … It's amazing if you just drop certain words out of your vocabulary.

ANDREW: Like demon?

JASON: Like demon, sure!

You know ... So, for instance. All right. I can go to a Buddhist ceremony and we can take a phurba and make a ritual doll, essentially a voodoo doll, a linga, and stab the shit out of it and release, liberate it, quote, and you know, essentially, hard core black magic, but if you tell somebody you're going to a Buddhist event, “Oh, the Dalai Lama is so holy, oh, that's wonderful that you're interested in Buddhism and meditation and ...” You can say, when I introduce myself to other parents at the playground, and they ask what I do, I say, "I'm a writer, so I work from home, and that's why we spend summers elsewhere,” and things like that. I can say, “Well, you know, I write on mysticism or, and meditation,” that's easy for most people. Like, they don't think too much about it. You can … If they press you can say, “Well, you know, I write about shamanism or fringe religion,” right? The moment you say magic, then it's sort of like, “Ohhhhh, I don't know,” and then if you say witchcraft, now you're introducing the language of the diabolical, of what society has called, you know, it relates, you know, I mean, and modern witchcraft willfully and knowingly took on the constellation of terms around the witch hunts, and coopted those and used those terms, and to good effect, I think. But that's why witches get hassled by Christians and Druids tend not to. 


JASON: Because people don't know what a Druid is. So, you're just some crunchy hippie dude. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: Or, you know, witches, pagans, have trouble, but somebody who is Asatru, describes themselves that way, might not. Somebody might think they're a racist, but [laughs].

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: You know. They're not going to get that "Do you worship Satan?" kind of thing. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 


ANDREW: I think that, it really is very much about ... For me, it's very much about how you frame it, and for me, it's such a clear given about my life and I can explain it in simple terms, you know, I explain it to my kids as they were growing up in simple terms, they get to know more and more as time goes on about my religious Orisha practices, you know, and there's so many ways in which you can sort of just frame it, and I find that for me almost without exception, when I approach the conversation where people are like, “Wait, wait, you kill chickens.” I'm like, “Yeah dude. Do you eat chicken? I see you're wearing leather shoes.” 

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: Right, like? Or whatever. And if you're grounded in it, I find that it is rarely an issue.

JASON: Yeah.

ANDREW: I mean, it's always possible to be an issue, but almost never, you know? I've had one person give me a hard time at the shop since I opened the store five, almost six years ago. And he's some older local dude who stood in front of my door one day blocking it, and I went to talk to him, and he was waiting for the bus, and he basically just got really mad and started swearing at me and telling me I was going to hell and whatever, and, you know, and then some woman who was waiting with her kids at the bus stop started yelling at him to stop swearing …

JASON: Yeah.

ANDREW:  Very quickly became the end of the conversation, and then, I see him walk past now, cause I'm still in the neighborhood, but he's just, eyes forward and ignores me completely now, you know? And one other person who no longer does this but for a long time used to leave little inspirational God pamphlets in my mailbox all the time. But that was it. Like, easily if I saw him, he'd be like "How are you today, you know, I'm going to work, here have this, here, take one of these." I'm always like, "Sure man, whatever," but never, nothing ever escalated, cause I never escalated it. You know?

JASON: Yeah. I mean, I love the little pamphlets. I mean, I always thank people for them, and I just hold in my head that obviously I don't agree with them, but this person feels like they have the spiritual equivalent of the cure for cancer. So, if they think that that's true, then the moral thing to do is to spread that far and wide, right? Like, not to be like, “Shh, don't tell anyone, we have the secret keys to enlightenment and heaven.” So, I always look at, like if somebody's just sharing or they knock on the door or something like that, I always kind of assume the best ...


JASON: Because it's done, even though I think they're deluded in what they believe, I think their moral intention to share it is good most of the time. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's just masking their desire to persecute others. And that becomes apparent pretty quick. And, you know, thankfully, you live in Canada, and I live in the relatively for America more enlightened northeastern United States.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: There are some areas of my country where I gotta believe I'd probably get a lot more hassle than I do here. One of the reasons I don't live in some areas of the country.

ANDREW: For sure, yeah.

JASON: You know, in that my kids would be going to school, some parent would Google me, and now my kids would be having a hard time, and ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, you would just go to your Buddhist meditation and solve it, right? [laughing]

JASON: Yes, yeah. I can just, "It's just Buddhism," "Noooo, I saw the books, it's not just Buddhism!" 

ANDREW: It's so many things. That's funny. Yeah, it's funny, you know, I think, probably because I spent so long in a Mohawk, and being all punked out and stuff, I just, people don't tend to argue with me too much about stuff, and I don't really tend to engage people. The minute stuff comes up I'm always like, “You know what, I think I'm gonna go now, see you later ...” 

JASON: Yeah!

ANDREW: You know and just opt out of those conversations too, right? So. 

JASON: Yeah, you know, the times that it comes up are ... they're just few and far between, because ultimately, people aren't all that interested. If they're not interested, then they're not particularly interested, you know? It's a weird thing, but if you are able to talk about other things and hold a real conversation with people about something other than that ...


JASON: Which is a talent that sadly not everyone in our community has, but …

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: It goes a long way. It's like, look, you know, if you invite me over for dinner, no, I'm not going to start prattling on about religion and weirdness unless you ask. 

ANDREW: Yeah. No, for sure. Yeah, back when I used to work in advertising, I discovered that there were certain places that I would end up, and there were certain kinds of conversations that went better, so like when I was going down to the print shop to talk to the guy who's running the big printing presses and do color proofs, you know,  a lot of those guys really dug sports, and so I would check the paper, see what was going on, and just prep myself to have a good conversation with them, and it didn't hurt me at all, they loved it, you know, and it made for a better relationship, you know? Showing an interest in what people are interested in gets us a long way a lot of the time, right? 

JASON: Oh yeah. 

ANDREW: And avoids a lot of problems, right? Because then you have that personal connection where they're like, “Well, Jason's not really that bad, I mean he takes his kids to the park all the time, how can you, he can't be evil, he's gotta be good, so whatever, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.” Right? 

JASON: That's it!

ANDREW: Yup. So, first of all, thank you for making time today. 

JASON: Thank you for having me, man!

ANDREW: Yeah. 

What have you got going on? I know that you've got this book that just came out this year, The Elements of Spellcrafting, which is great, and people should definitely check that out. What else is going on? Where should people find you? What have you got coming down the line? 

JASON: Well, people can find me at StrategicSorcery.net. And the big thing coming down the line is, the next cycle of Sorcery of Hecate opens up in May for a June start. This is a class that -- it got so much bigger than I ever expected it to, because it, you know, it's a hard … it’s the hardest class that I do, like as far as like, people want, you want something to do that, you know, requires a commitment and will get you results but is going to ask something more from you.

ANDREW:  Yeah.

JASON: And is going to challenge you, like the first month or two, you're going to come to me and say, "Oh, I had this vision ..."  and I'm going to be like, "That's great, keep doing the ritual, please." You know? Like, the vision is great, but just, it doesn't mean anything. Let's get deeper. Let's go deep. Let's not settle for "I did a ritual, I had a vision," like, is it important? Is it telling you something you didn't know? If not, make a note, celebrate, have a cupcake, then get back to work. 


JASON: So, I never expected a program that required like that amount of effort and work and, you know, I can be challenging, and just tell people, like, "That's not important right now," [laughs] 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: I never expected it to take off, but my god, it has.

ANDREW: Well, she's a real powerhouse, right? I mean, she's another one of those ones whose presence in the world is on the rise. So, I'm going to share my vision; you can tell me it's not important afterwards. 

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: So, I haven't done your course, but years ago, when I first started reading at somebody else's store in Toronto, the person who owned the store, Hecate was their thing, they were all about that, and most of the people who worked there were about her, and sort of like, it was the anchor of that store, right? And I'd been working there for a little bit, and they were doing a big ceremony for her. And I didn't go, cause I was like, “nah, it's not my thing,” right? So, I had this dream, where she showed up, you know, infinitely dark and infinitely expansive at the same time, and she just looked at me, up and down, said, "You're not one of mine, but you're all right, you can keep working here." And that was the whole dream, and I was just like, "Perfect!" It's done!

JASON: And that's, you know, that is an example of, it's got meaning, you know, it's a seal of approval, it's got an essential message ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: But it's not something you want to sit and like, fuss over.

ANDREW: No, exactly.

JASON: You can keep working there. Which is ...

ANDREW: I got my approval to continue to be employed there, and that's great, cause I'm sure that if she didn't like me I would have been gone ...

JASON: [laughing]

ANDREW: And then that's it, and I'm like, all right! And then, the other piece which was, you don't need to get more involved in this stuff, cause it's not yours, I'm not for you. 

JASON: And I've had that happen as well. Before I became involved in Buddhism, I was getting very interested in Haitian voodoo, I was trading correspondence with Max Beauvoir, I was studying anything I could get my hands on and putting together completely half-assed ceremonies of my own.


JASON: To connect with the Orishas, as everyone did in the 90s, and I would read anything, god, I lived practically on the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, from Louis Martinié.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And I ... there was this point where I was getting ready to go to Haiti, and Legba was kind of like, "Maybe not."


JASON: Maybe, like, "You and I are cool, but maybe you don't want to get involved in all this stuff."

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And I …You know, looking back later there are ... I really don't react well with tobacco, for instance. 


JASON: And I just both with my lungs, my senses, I get ... I don't know, maybe something happened when I was a child with cigarettes or something, you know, it just sets me off, and that would have been a big stumbling block for me, a few other commitments and taboos probably would have been a big stumbling block for me in the long run, and so it was really solid advice, and I was like, well where should I go? And it was right after I asked that, I was in upstate New York and I was talk ... did a lave tet with Louis Martinié that day, and then that evening Michelin Linden, his wife, was like, let me tell you about my experience with the Kalachakra.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: And it was really--it hit me hard. Partly because I was on three different psychedelics at the time, but it hit me hard anyway. [laughs] And, you know, I went back, and I called John Reynolds, who I had known for years already, and he was the first Westerner to be ordained as a Ngakpa, Tibetan sorcerer. I was like, “I'm in! What do I do?” 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: You know. Legba sent me to you! [laughing]

ANDREW: Well, I mean that is a tremendous piece of wisdom, right? 

JASON: Yeah.

ANDREW: You know and like, in reading the shells for people, it's something that people don't expect at all, and it's like, look, you know who's got the answer? Those people. This group. Your psychiatrist has the answer. But we don't have the answer for you. You know? And that -- listening to that voice, and going and like giving up the sense of definition that we start to formulate around these things, in light of a bigger deeper truth or a more complete truth, I think is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself, to really honor that when it emerges, you know? 

JASON: Amen to that.


JASON: Amen to that. 

ANDREW: Cool. Well, so people should check out your Hecate course. It's going to be deep and challenging. And people should head over to your website.

JASON: Good!

ANDREW: Awesome. Perfect. Well, thanks again for making time, Jason. Lovely to chat with you as always. 

JASON: Thank you for having me!

EP77 Pop Culture with Melissa Cynova and Rosered Robinson

March 30, 2018

In this episode Rosered and Melissa join Andrew to talk about the roel pop culture has played in shaping and nurturing their spritual practices. They talk about Pop figures as altar items, movies and characters that shaped them, and explore what something being sacred to them might mean. 

If you are interested in supporting this podcast though our Patreon you can do so here.

If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.

You can find Rosered on Twitter here and Instagram here. Tarot Visions Podcast is everywhere but you can start here

You can find Melissa on her website here

Planet of the Ape and other cool buddha hybrids are here

 Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.



ANDREW: Welcome to another instalment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. Today, I have got on the line with me, Rose Red Robinson and Melissa Ceynowa, and we're here to talk about pop culture, and the ways in which pop culture and movies and stories and all these wonderful things can influence us and be a part of our understanding of who we are and our journey. That's the official reason. 

The unofficial reason is, I really wanted to hang out and talk about Big Trouble in Little China a lot …


ANDREW: And I'm not saying if you haven't seen that movie yet, that you should stop listening right now and go and do so, but I'm not saying you shouldn't, you know, cause really, if you haven't seen it yet, I don't understand. You should go see it. You should go check it out. It's on Netflix. 

So, but, for, you know, people who don't know who you are—let's start with you, Rose. Give us a quick introduction. 

ROSE: Okay, I've been doing tarot off and on for 20 plus years. I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful podcast of my own that I do with Jaymi Elford, called Tarot Visions, that was started back in 2013, with the lovely Charlie Harrington, and he decided to pass me off to Jaymi. I've worked in … with Tarot Media Company for many years, back in the day, studied tarot for off and on forever, and am now kind of exploring Celtic Hanlon at the moment, and, am just a general happy reader. 

And I've been lucky enough to present at various conventions on the west coast, PantheaCon and Northwest Tarot Symposium, being the two, as well as running some successful meet-ups in my local area that I have also passed on to other people, because I'm not the only one who knows everything. So, it's awesome to be able to share, and engage other people to be teachers as well, cause then I can be a student, so that's fun. So that's me!

ANDREW: Cool. Awesome. And Melissa? 

MELISSA: I can't really follow that. No ...


ANDREW: Pretty impressive, right? 

MELISSA: No, I've been—next year, I figured out, I've been reading for 30 years, and it occurred to me that I might be able to teach people, like only five years ago. So, I wrote a book. It came out last year; it's Kitchen Table Tarot, and my way of teaching the cards is really similar to Rose's, cause we both grab onto what's around us.

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: As kind of a pathway to what the card means, and... I don't know, I'm a mom, and trying to figure out how to have, you know, three jobs at a time and still pursue tarot, which is my favorite sweetheart in the whole world, is challenging but worth it, so. Yeah. 

ROSE: [whispering] Her book is awesome! 

MELISSA: Thank you!

ANDREW: Sure. It’s a good book.

MELISSA: Thank you. I like it. 

ANDREW: We have it in the shop; you can get it on ... everywhere. So, check it out. 

MELISSA: Thank you!

ANDREW: So, tell me about pop culture. You know? What is it about pop culture that intrigues you or interests you? You know? Cause I mean, like, growing up, I always heard, “TV's going to rot your brain, blah blah blah, it's all a waste of time,” right? 

ROSE: Right.

ANDREW: You know? But for me, it's certainly ... I guess I'll leave it up to the dear listeners to see if my brain is rotted or not, but, you know, to me it always seemed like a way of understanding, a way of connecting, a way of making sense of things, you know? At its best, I mean, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But like, what is it about pop culture stuff that's interesting to you two? 

ROSE: Okay, well, it was kind of one of my first experiences of finding spirituality, ironically enough, cause I grew up when we could watch, you know, Bewitched, and you could talk about the Greek gods on the different Hercules shows and all of those things, back with Harryhausen, and all of that. And it was just like “Oh! Wait! These aren't just crazy movies and TV shows, there's, like, stuff that they're based on?” 

And then going and finding out that, you know, there’s Greek mythology, and going and studying that … And then, of course, when you're in school, they’re like, “Oh, you're interested in that, here, let me give you more stuff!”, cause teachers want you to learn … And so, that was really how I incorporated the two, and I'm like, well, “Isis is amazing! I love that TV show!” And then, “Oh! It's a real thing!” And then learning more about that as a child, I mean, with the wonder that we have as children, and then, you know, Wonder Woman being, you know, the princess of now, Themyscira, but then, Paradise Island, and incorporating that with the Greek mythology, and going, “Oh, wow, this makes sense!” You know. So, that's kind of where it came from for me. I don't know, your mileage may vary. But that’s … I didn't see it as pop culture at the time, I just saw it as “Oh, cool TV show, talking about something real,” air quotes on the real, cause again, TV is not the real part, and just blending, and that's how I built it up, cause okay, now I've got this connection, and yeah, it made sense. 

MELISSA: For me it was kind of finding connection, cause I was a lonely nerdy little child, and I would watch Wonder Woman and I would watch, even Mother Goose, you know, with her pointy hat riding a broomstick with her familiar, you know? Like, I was always drawn to the witchy kind of stuff, but I didn't know what to call it, and I loved Uncle Arthur, and, you know, all of the things that had pieces of them that also fit pieces of me, and so I've always been really drawn to pop culture because it kind of helped me identify who I am. 

And, like I just saw A Wrinkle in Time, and I sobbed through the whole thing, because Meg was the only person I'd ever met who was like me, when I read those books …

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And finding somebody that could like, reach through pages, and say, “Honey, you're normal, you're just like me,” was just amazing. And that was very spiritual for me, to find somebody who said, “You're not aberrant, and you're not a mistake,” you know? So pop culture's been really important to me because I was lonely. And the weird kids all over, The Girl with the Silver Eyes, or the X-Men, or all of these outside kids, they were me. And finding somebody that showed my face back to me was really important. So. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah.

ROSE: What about you, Andrew?

ANDREW: When I was growing up in the 80s, all those bad ninja movies were coming out? I was so fascinated with them, you know? And what ended up happening was, me and my friends started trying to learn how to meditate because of it, right? Because we'd see, you know, these things that were really cool and exciting, but then they’d be like sitting there and meditating. And we were like, “Oh, we should meditate. What do we do? How do we do it?” You know? 

And that led to me getting involved in martial arts and learning how to really meditate, you know, when I was like 10 and 11 and stuff like that, and, you know, it's one of the things that really became a through line for me. You know? And, it's funny, when I met my partner Hanlon, they hadn't seen Big Trouble in Little China, or they certainly didn't remember seeing it, you know? And, I'm like, “You haven't seen this? We need to fix this right now!” Right? Cause this is like one of the best movies of all time. 

And after watching it, he was like, “Wow! You're like all three of the main characters in one person. You're like…?” You know? Jack Burton, the dorky, kind of adventurous, like outgoing kind of person … You know, I was doing a lot of martial arts at the time we met, so, you know, Wang and sort of all of this Kung Fu stylings and stuff, right? And then I was into all these magical things, like Egg Chen, you know? And it was like this very funny thing, to have this reflected back to me, you know? Like you were saying, Melissa, it's like there were elements in this character or in the story that fit my sense of who I was, you know? And it wasn't quite as clean cut as like, “I feel like just this one or that one,” but the story and interactions between all three of those sort of fit that sense of who I was and how I wanted to be in the world, you know? As well as my struggles and other things, you know? So. 

MELISSA: Yeah. And I think, going into adulthood, because I've always been, like, completely into any kind of pop culture, fairy tales, fantasy fiction, like whatever. But I could put myself in different characters. So, I'd read Madeleine L'Engle and I would be Daniel, because I loved Daniel. And I would read Charles de Lint, and Julie Coppercorn and I are right here, and it kept ... Seeing the depth in the character taught me to see the depth in myself. Almost. Or that there were other options than being depressed, being quiet, being small. And, since I didn't have really an example around me of an adult who was like me, I would base my behavior on the characters that I read who did things that were honorable and kind and ... They kind of were examples to me. You know, I grew up without a mom so seeing Wonder Woman was huge for me. That was like communion. I would watch her every week, and I identified with her and Princess Leia. That was like my mom character, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And it filled a void. And it was ... And, the beautiful thing about it is, Rose and I are both Wonder Woman crazy, and we have a connection, and we'll always have that connection.

ROSE: Yeah.

MELISSA: And it's so great to meet somebody and go, “You dig that thing? I dig that thing too!” 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: So, there's a whole other world where you reach outside of yourself and say, “Oh my god, I went to, you know, Comic Con, and met three women dressed like Wonder Woman and it was the best day of my life,” you know?

ROSE: Oh, yeah.

MELISSA: So, that level of outside connection is super important too.

ROSE: Well, and, as you just mentioned, it's meeting other people. I think the rise of the Internet has really helped all of us with that because of the “I thought I was the only one who loved this thing,” and in a group where you might have been at school the only one who loved this thing, so you didn't know how to share it with your friends, and now, as you've gotten older, and the Internet exists, you're just like, “Oh my god! I can find people who love my thing!” And I get to talk to people about it. 

I mean, one of the things that connected myself with tarot, and gaming, cause that's where my tarot also blends, is the fact that one of the games out there had a tarot deck made for the game, and I'm like, “Oh my god! There's a game! And a tarot! And I can play both!” And I was always the one that wanted to play the tarot character, cause that's who I was. And so, I was always playing the Fate Witch in the Seven Seas game. And then they came out with spreads to do with it, and it just, that built that spiritual connection for me, but it also was, like, reminding me that I'm not the only one who sees that or feels that or connects to that thing that I love. 

And then, you know, meeting all of you guys at different events has been awesome, because it’s like now I can talk to somebody else who also loves Wonder Woman, tarot, and five billion other things that are like, “Oh my god, I never knew that people like all those things that I liked,” and I think that's kind of the thing for me, is watching how that has happened over the years, and how pop culture has become stronger for other people as well, because they, who are younger than us, had, have always had Internet, have always had pop culture as a thing, and we watched it grow. And I think that was kind of what made me feel like more and more connected to the magic of it, not just the beauty of connection with people. I'm babbling. 

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: But it's true. It's how we can turn something we love into a connection with our world, if that makes sense, and the spirits around us. Okay. I'm going to stop. I don't know, I just—

ANDREW: I think that's really interesting, you know? And for me, I think partly because I almost died when I was 14—


ANDREW: I really didn't carry that stuff through in a lot of ways, you know? So, like, I was 14 and after that, like after being in a serious accident, I was like, “All right, I need to understand everything,” and so although I still read, you know, like Shannara books …

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And like some of that stuff, and I was definitely reading and consuming pop culture things and so on, I was also reading Nietzsche and … 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Like, I was just, like, “All right, what is this all about?” Right? And so, for me, I enjoyed those things as a sort of through line of entertainment, but I felt like the answers were elsewhere. And then sort of later on, and you know, certainly sort of more in recent times, I've sort of seen how much is, how much, you know, answers and sort of sense of meaning can come from these other places, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: To my sort of teenage self, they just weren't serious enough, you know?

ROSE: Mmmhmm.


ANDREW: Like I wanted to know the answers, and therefore, if a book wasn't hard to read, then it probably wasn't really helpful, was kind of a thought that I had at one point, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm. And yet—I'm going to interrupt and say, but see …


ROSE: One of the things that I always come back to mind … We, specifically in pop culture items, there are levels, so there's the level for the kid who's reading it, and then if the parent is reading it, there's more in there that we as adults could see, but when we're that young age we might miss something. It’s … What comes to mind right now is the Harry Potter books. You know? They were written, and as they progressed, the child/reader gets older, but so does the characters, but that very first book—it looks like a kid's book, but it's really not, and I think that that's the kind of thing that people miss sometimes, is that there's underlying elements for the adults as well, and so there's something that is being put into motion at first.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE:  The next thing that just came to mind while you were talking about this is Steven Universe. It's a kids’ show, but it's not.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: And that's the beauty of bringing in the myths and legends around, you know, people and connection. But parents are like, you know, “Oh, my kid can watch that, it's a cartoon!” 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: And yet, there's more there. 

ANDREW: And I definitely don't think now that those things are missing, right? 

ROSE: No. Oh, no, no. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I've read all the Harry Potter books, I don't even know now, cause my kids keep rereading them and we keep rereading them to them, right?

ROSE: Right.

ANDREW: So, you know, you keep going through that stuff, and there's all sorts of wonderful things in there, you know, for sure, right? But yeah, definitely, it was a concept that I had when I was younger about that stuff for sure, right? Yeah.

MELISSA: I always found them too as kind of a gateway. So, like the Madeleine L'Engle books, one of them uses Patrick's Rune, which is a Celtic prayer, and I went to the library and asked the librarian, “Where did this come from?” And she handed me five books on Celtic mythology. And then I wandered out of there and read everything I could about Celtic mythology. And I went back and she gave me Egyptology. And then I went back the next week and I had Chinese divination books. And so, it all kind of fed from each other, and it made me curious about everything, about all of it. And so, I love that within the story is another gateway to another story. I think that's why I'm a big gigantic nerd, if I'm honest, so. 


ROSE: You've surrounded yourself by nerds, Andrew. Just so you know. 

ANDREW: I know! It's great. I love it. It's perfect. I was looking at my collection of pop figures this morning before leaving, and thinking about recording today …

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Because I have ... Pop figures, if anyone doesn't know them, are these little large-headed representations of, you know, most of the cartoon and movie and TV show and pop culture stuff. And you know, I was looking at my pop Jack Burton, I've got Gracie Law, and I've got the glow in the dark Lo Pan …


ANDREW: And then I've also got General Voltan from Flash Gordon ... 


ANDREW: Which is another of my sort of favorite childhood movies. 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But, it, unlike Big Trouble in Little China, doesn't stand the test of time as well. [laughs] It’s a pretty horrendous movie when I look back. 

MELISSA: But the music does.

ROSE: The music's amazing. 

ANDREW: The music does, and Ming the Merciless is a tremendous bad guy and a wonderful look, you know? 

ROSE: Oh yeah. 

ANDREW: But yeah, lots of that movie is definitely really pretty horrendous, though, the last time I looked at it, yeah.


ANDREW: There's nothing wrong with being surrounded with nerds.

ROSE: Something that ... So, I took a class at PantheaCon last year on pop culture and magic, cause that's what you do, and Emily Carlin was talking about how you can, because of the connections with the pop culture and magic, you can use some of those Funko pop characters in your practice, if you don't, you know ... 

So, you don't want your friends to know what you're doing, but you want to honor your gods. There's a lot of ‘em out there that exist, and you just mentioned Lo Pan, and I'm wondering, you know, would you consider using that as part of your practice, if that were something you were trying to ...? Or that energy. Or even the energy of Jack Burton, I mean, because I mean, the man's the adventurer kingdom, you know, he's before we even get Indiana Jones!

MELISSA: He never drives faster than he can see. 

ROSE: Yeah.

MELISSA: I mean, the man's got skills. 

ANDREW: [laughing]

ROSE: And he knows what he wants out of life. He wants to drive, he wants to adventure, you know, and that's, you know, so what do you think about that? 

ANDREW: I think that that's entirely possible, you know ... I mean, I ... So I'm sitting here recording, and I'm looking at my shelf of things, and, you know, there's a picture of Aleister Crowley, there's a painting I did of St. Expedite, you know, there's like some self-portraits that I've done for magical reasons, and in the middle is my Dr. Zaius Buddha. So, Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: The science person who believed that sort of religion and science ought to be the same and not at odds with each other, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And somewhere on Etsy, I found this person who was making Buddhas with different heads on them, like Star Wars ones and Yoda ones and whatever, and I reached out because I was looking for something to kind of use as a magical anchor for my sort of joyous relationship to my work life …

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW:  And sort of do some prosperity work with. And so, I reached out to the person, and I said, “Your stuff is amazing; what I really would like is a Dr. Zaius from the Planet of the Apes.” And his response was, “Dude, I'm working on them right now, I will email you as soon as they are done,” right? 

ROSE: That's brilliant. 

ANDREW: And so, I got one, you know? (photo in show notes) In gold, and ...

ROSE: Oh my gosh! That's amazing!

ANDREW: It sits up here with some other stuff, and it's definitely ... It was, for a while, the focal point of a bunch of work that I was doing. Now less so, you know? But ...

ROSE: Different work now. 

ANDREW: Yeah, but, you know, but for me, I feel like I use the pop stuff as tools for psychological sort of inner self explorations ... 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I'm, I mean, because I practice a traditional religion, I don't really feel drawn to use them in sort of my more religious or devotional kind of stuff, because those things already have their own avenues? 

ROSE: Right. 

ANDREW: But I could see how ... And also, when I was younger, if people didn't like what I was up to, I would be like, “Well, screw you, you're dead to me.”  

ROSE: Okay.

ANDREW: So. Whoever that was. You know? So, the idea of obscuring things has never been a part of my process. You know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But I can see how that makes a lot of sense, though, if it is? Right? And I understand that for a lot of people the sort of notion of flying under the radar, right, is important. 

MELISSA: We have ... Sorry. We have a family altar in the middle of our living room, and the kids help me. We clean it off at the end of the month, and the kids help me kind of build it over the month, and it gets covered with incense dust and whatever rocks we like, and then we start at the beginning of the month again. And any given month, there is a statue of Mary, some fox fetishes from a Zuni tribe, and a couple Wonder Woman Funko pops, and whatever the kids want to throw on. And it's, you know, if my son is feeling particularly, you know, sad or feeling small, than he'll put his Thor Funko Pop on the altar, and that's his way of kind of reaching out and connecting.

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And I've never made anything ... I've never disallowed them from putting anything, whether plastic or, you know, any kind of rocks or whatever, on the altar, because it's not really the antiquity or the ceremony around the object, it's what it means to you. 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And if Thor needs to be on the altar this month, cool, let's do it. You know? 

ROSE: Well, and one of the things that I have in plenty is, I'm a Lego nerd. So, I have this, which is, I'm showing to you, Andrew and Melissa, it's a Lego minifig of the Tarot Reader, who is holding a Sun card and a Tower card. And when I first got one of these ... and I've got like three of them now ... I carry ‘em with me in my tarots, when I do readings out, and people kind of go, “What is that?” “It's a tarot minifig! See? This is not scary!” And ... but it's also, you know, a representation of me sometimes, when I need to focus, and so it's again how pop culture and how pop stuff crosses over with my spirituality.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: So, it's just a thing, I think that we all need to just grasp what works for us and build our practice around that part of it, and honor the traditional, because that's important. It's finding out what the traditions really are. But then, when it makes it work for you, if connecting that with Wonder Woman for example, or getting the Funko Pop of Hercules, cause, you know, that was kind of cool, works for you, to represent that, you know, or the Athena one, do it, I think that's great. But I also, you know—be aware of what you're connecting with, too, because you’re not, it's not just surface stuff. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. I also think that it's certainly possible with a lot of these things to start opening up in directions, and making connections with things, and then, you know, and then you can kind of go off and explore the spirituality and come back around and sort of revisit the pop culture layer with new eyes as well, right? It's a way in which we can, you know, continue to see deeper layers and maybe even sort of write extra layers on top of it, even if they're not there, right? 

ROSE: Mm. Yeah, I could see that. 

MELISSA: During my classes, I think Rose does this too, we both teach tarot classes, and we both use pop culture in them ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And so, I have this feature that, the name of which I accidentally stole from Jaymi Elford—sorry, Jaymers!—called Pop Goes the Tarot, and I take a fandom like Firefly, and I match it with a tarot card ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And, I've found the response to those has been really huge. Because if you're having a problem figuring out what the Hermit card is, or what the Emperor is, and if I say the Emperor is Erich Hartmann dressed up as a police officer saying, “Respect my authority!” I mean, that is a pretty strong connection to the archetype of the Emperor ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And if they start there, and then move on to like, Benebell's gigantic book, or, like, another book that has like spiritual historical symbolic meanings of the cards, then they'll already have that first step into it and what it means—what it could mean for them. You know? And I think that if people do that with their own particular fandoms, they'll have an intimate connection with what that card is. 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: So, it's been really fun, and I keep getting emails about ideas of fandoms to explore, but if they're not mine, I don't have the confidence to assign the cards to them, so ...

ROSE: I'm still waiting for your Brady Bunch tarot. 

MELISSA: Oh, that would be a good one! Okay. I know that fan, I got that.

ROSE: [laughing] And I think that's the beauty of pop culture and connection with spirituality is that you are making it a little bit more understandable for yourself. And as you said, yeah, taking the cards, “Okay, this is the Emperor,” well, what’s the Emperor do? You know? Is it Emperor Palpatine? Or is it, you know, the … I can’t even think right now, Dumbledore, let’s just put it that way, that’s not even right, though. But the point is, you’re figuring out which one matches up better for you. You know, I mean, the Devil might be Voldemort, he might be, you know, Darth Vader, but he also might be, you know, the little girl from The Bad Seed, which is a 1930, 45, something, I don’t know, 50s movie about a bad kid who personifies as beautiful and happy and lovely and she does really horrible things for a pair of shoes in one point. But anyway. The point is that you just connect these things. And then you can figure out what your personal connection is to either cards or to spiritual path. And also, the fact that that’s part of the collective unconscious as well, because all of these people … also … the moment you say, Lord Palpatine, to a group of people, most of them, I’m not going to say all, but most of them know what you’re talking about. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: So, you know, you’re doing something with a group, and you want to go okay, pull a card, “Oh, and this reminds me of Lord Palpatine,” and the rest of the audience knows what you’re talking about. And that’s the beauty of the pop culture. Of course, it is also needing to be aware that it is country-sometimes-specific or fandom-specific, because there are people that haven’t seen Star Wars. 

ANDREW: Well, and also, I think that each of these worlds has varying stories and ideas around power and around, you know, who’s the Emperor or the Devil, right? You know? 

ROSE: Right.

ANDREW: You know, is the Emperor positive, you know? Is it really like great and endearing and lovable figure? Could be, you know? 

ROSE: Could be.

ANDREW: Right? Is it somebody nefarious and controlling, you know? As I was organizing this, Aidan Wachter resurfaced something he had done previously where he had put Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon as the Emperor card. Right? 

ROSE: Ooh.

ANDREW: The guy’s an Emperor, a horrible Emperor, but, you know? And I think that there’s this level at which, you know, we can start to understand the ways in which we or people view lots of different ideas.

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: As we look at those, you know, what is the notion of justice in Firefly or in, you know, this, that, or whatever, right?

ROSE: The Justice League. 

ANDREW: Justice League, yeah. How good are the Greek gods, right? You know? If we’re looking at Watchmen … 

ROSE: Oh, yeah.

ANDREW: It’s a whole different matter, right? You know? 

MELISSA: Batman has been a total a-hole lately, so?

ROSE: Yeah.

ANDREW: He always was! That’s why I liked Batman! You know? I mean when I got into Batman Comics, I was reading them when like the Dark Knight starts, like the comic books start coming out, and Arkham Asylum and the Joker and the Killing Joke and all that kind of stuff, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Batman was this pretty sort of amoral, you know, fairly dark character, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And it was interesting, right? 

ROSE: You needed a counterpoint, though, to Superman, so yeah.

ANDREW: Right? You know? So, I think that yeah, again, it’s always, it depends on what we’re looking at, right? Are we talking about Adam West as Batman, that’s one thing, right? Are we talking about, you know, Christian Bale or, you know, these other comics and stuff, I think that that also becomes quite interesting, and then how do we reconcile sort of what’s behind all of those things, you know? What is that? Right?

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: That carries through all those through lines, you know? Yeah.

ROSE: Well, and being able to reconcile which versions you’re using, as you’re pointing out. Cause they all have different flavors. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: But that doesn’t mean they’re different characters, cause they’re all parts of Batman, they’re just highlighting different facets. I mean, everybody, what, freaked out when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman, and my first thought was, well, he’d make a great Bruce Wayne.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE:  Not—And I didn’t even think of him as Batman, I just thought of him as the Bruce Wayne part of the character, because I think that he has the gravitas for that part. I don’t know about his Batman. I’m not going to talk about that. But the point is that I didn’t lose my cool over it, let’s put it that way, as other people did, because they felt that Batman needed to be darker. Da. And—


ROSE: Christian Bale really pulled off a very strong Batman, I think. But it depends on who’s writing it. Go ahead. 

MELISSA: I think that’s an important part too, is that people take these very personally. I always think that people, you know how you’re not supposed to talk about religion and politics and stuff. I think that’s because people hold their beliefs so close to them, they become integrated with who they are, so if you question the belief, you’re questioning the person. So that’s my base belief. 

And I think that people take fandoms to that level too. Like I was in an elevator one time with my Wonder Woman lunchbox, and somebody was like, is that your kid’s? And this was a stranger and I said no. And she goes, aren't you a little old for that? And I, you know, wanted to say, shouldn't you go, whatever ...

ROSE: Yeah.

MELISSA: But I almost started crying. Because it was so personal.

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And such an intimate thing for me, and I was like, I can't fix what she picked on. I can't make that different. It is part of who I am. So, it isn't something that I can like hide it behind my back and pretend that it never happened. She picked on something that was really intimate with me. And I think that that's why, like people get really upset if their identity of who Batman is, is picked on or it's shifted from who they say it is. It's very personal. 

ROSE: Yeah. By the way, the response to that should have been “Um, no,” and “Where's your sense of imagination?” But anyway.

ANDREW: Well, and so, one of the other fandoms that I quite enjoy is Doctor Who, right? 

ROSE: Yes! 

ANDREW: And Doctor Who is an interesting one in that regard, because Doctor Who is always changing, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, you know, I think that it's kind of, it's one of the things that makes it fascinating for me, right? You know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I certainly have my favorite and less favorite iterations, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But yeah, I think it's really interesting, you know? And I think that this notion that we end up at, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I think that it's one of the reasons that we like fiction so much, right? In its various forms. Is fictional characters or stories or whatever: they're allowed to change, right? But if we walk through the world, it's easy to end up in places and around people where it's much harder or maybe sort of unofficially not permitted to change, right? 


ANDREW: All of those social constructs of our job and our relationships and our friends and stuff can sort of exert this force that seeks to keep us in a constant relationship, right? We always have to be Ben Affleck, or we never can be Ben Affleck, or whatever it is about that Batman, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And yet these stories and the way in which both are reinvented as the worlds get rewritten, but also as they go through their journeys, they get to become different people, which I also think is very fascinating, you know? Yeah. I think the ... I think that, you know, bonking someone in the head with your Wonder Woman lunch bag is probably a good time. 


ANDREW: I endorse that. The Jack Burton in me said “Do it.” 



MELISSA: It's all in the reflexes. 

ROSE: Well, and I ... it sounds like you were surprised by the commentary too. 

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: Cause that is kind of surprising, it's like, why would you say that to someone that you don't even know? 

ANDREW: Yeah. Well, it's ... Yeah. And I know lots of people who complain or make comment about people doing cosplay or people doing ... I'm like, “Why on earth are you peeing in someone else's Cheerios?” 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Just let them have their fun and do whatever they're doing, like, what does it matter to you? Why do you care, right? 

MELISSA: That is such a visual, thanks!

ANDREW: You're welcome. But why on earth would anyone care what you watch or don't watch or carry or all these things, right? Like just, you know. 

MELISSA: And I've gotten emails from people who said that, like I've had four or five, actually, in the past couple years that said I'm making light of a sacred tradition, and I'm like, if you don't like my book, cause my book is pretty light, I connect things to the publisher, I connect them to stories in my life, I connect the cards to pretty much anything that I find relatable, as a form of teaching. If you don't like it, don't fucking read my book. That's fine. Don't read my stuff about pop culture. Don't. Go find something else that you relate to. If you find yourself wanting to send that email, also don't do that, because, you know, blocked and deleted, as my kid says. It's just, why would you do that? Why would you take the time to try to impress yourself on another adult who already has their ideas? And it just seems so futile. And self-promoting and crappy.

ANDREW: Well, why do people do these things? What do you think? 

MELISSA: I think they feel small. and they want to feel big. That’s … I think it's sad. Well, I mean, it pisses me off. But I also think it's sad. And, you know, it's a way for them to feel big. It's a shitty way to do it, but it's a way, you know?

ROSE: Yeah. And also, it's a way to say, “Hey, see, I'm smart, I know this thing, and maybe you don't, and here, let me explain it to you so that you see the error of your ways.” 

MELISSA: Well, actually ... 

ROSE: And that's, I think, a big thing that's going on is, you know, as the older guard, if you will, starts passing on, unfortunately, the younger guard is going to take what they've learned and they're not going to ignore the sources, but they're also going to make it their own. And I think that's what you do, is that you remind people, yes, there are these big things and sacredness to everything and please honor that, but while you're learning that stuff, to be able to use your tools now, here's a way to connect it to what you're going through with your everyday life. 

I mean, part of, okay, James Wanless, cause I talk about him a lot, in general, is him, he created the Voyager Tarot. If you look at his courts, they're not knight/queen/king/page, they're child/woman/man/sage, because it was like, okay, in the 80s, we don't know, anybody, really, not in America, who are knights, queens, kings, and pages, really. Yeah, if you go to England, you can find them, I know, but I know a child, I know a woman, I know a man, and I might even know a sage, who is someone who knows a lot of stuff, so [sigh]. That's like … And it's modernizing something. That didn't mean he threw out the past. He just brought some stuff up to the future.

And I think that's what you, Melissa, are doing with your work, is that you are taking this sacred knowledge that you learned, and then applying the stuff that you love and connecting them and making them more palpable for a modern view. Again, not ignoring where it came from, but not saying, okay, we can ONLY talk about it in that fashion. Because you need to have something that you can connect to, or it's not going to stick. At least that's been my experience. 

MELISSA: My biggest hope about this book is that it is completely irrelevant in 30 years. I would love that. Because I want everybody to just kind of get involved, and I want ideas to change, and they're already a couple of things that I put in it that I'm like, damn it, I kind of want to fix that, but it's too late. And, because I think that, you know, my kids think different things than I do, and they're 12 and 14, and their kids are going to have a whole different perspective. And I think that tarot lends itself to being whatever you need it to be, and so I think that what people will need it to be in 30 years is going to be something entirely different. I think that's beautiful. You know? 

ANDREW: So, I kind of, I agree, and I disagree with you.

ROSE: Okay.

ANDREW: I want to, I'm going to throw out some other options here. And I'm going to start by framing it in a different context and then come back to tarot. Right?

ROSE: Okay!

ANDREW: So, as you both know, and as people who listen probably know, right? I practice the Orisha tradition in a very traditional way. Right? And, so, for me, this is a very sacred thing, you know? And certainly in my practice, I endeavor to follow the traditional ways of doing things and work with my elders and all of that kind of stuff. 

And, so here's this thing that I identify and hold very sacred and not immutable, and not that I think there aren't a few things that might benefit from changing, but in general, I'm very like, this is it, these are the things, this is how it's done, and these are the beliefs within that structure about how these spirits work with people, and so many things, right? And then, I run a store, and I go out in the world, and I do things, and people do all sorts of other stuff, right? And that stuff ranges from interesting and sort of regional difference, to like horrendous, in my opinion, misunderstandings and appropriation, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, so, for me, there's this practice where I have my own structures, and beliefs, and structures in which I work, and I look out from that place into other things that people are doing, and all, so much of it I don't understand what's going on at all ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Or, from a traditional point of view it's problematic or inappropriate. But I recognize that everybody's free to do whatever they like, and so I just largely ignore, or just don't engage people when they're doing other things, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: When it comes to tarot, I think that it's very challenging, you know, and Mary Greer just had a big post on this on her Facebook. If you're a follower of hers, you could probably scroll down a bit and find it. About this sort of, can we just do anything with tarot, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And I think that to me, while it's not as clearly defined as my religious practice, which is a very clear and sort of longstanding traditional structure, I think that with tarot, there's this sort of central core of things, which to me encompasses what tarot is, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And as you migrate out from those sort of pieces, and depending on which sort of pockets you choose to work with, right? Are you a Rider-Waite person and falling kind of in that line? Are you a more esoteric person and fall in that line? Are you reading in a more sort of European style with, like, Marseilles cards and so on ...?

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: But to me, there's a place at which it loses its cohesion as we start doing anything with it, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: There's a place at which the absence of what I sort of perceive as coherence starts ... I again … I have a similar feeling, although it's in a different way, where I just stop understanding what's going on. You know? I just don't understand, what is this? What's happening here? How does this work? So. Anyways. That's my response to what you said, Melissa. 

MELISSA: That was a lot. And I do agree with you, but I think what I was trying to say, and maybe didn't do a good job, is that my opinion is not the only opinion. And that there is going to be a core. It can't be tarot and be 10,000 different things at the core, but it has to be basically the same thing for everybody. 

But I'm not teaching the core of anything, I'm teaching what I think, and I'm teaching what's relatable to me, and, like, I learned to read on this Eden Gray book, and I read it so much that it's held together by duct tape and prayers, I mean, it’s just, it's really beat up. But she didn't speak my language. And it took me a long, long time to figure out what the hell a Hierophant was, how to say it, I'm still not sure if I'm right, I couldn't relate to it at all. 

It wasn't until I found Rachel Pollack and Mary Greer, that I went, “Oh! They're speaking my language!” And Barbara Moore spoke my language, you know? And those three women taught me tarot. And Eden Gray tried to for like 15 years, but I ... It was so far removed from who I was and my understanding, that I had to read it with a dictionary in one hand, you know, to try to figure out what the hell she was talking about. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: So, when I say that I hope that my stuff becomes irrelevant, it's going to, I'm not going to be relatable to a 14-year-old in 30 or 40 years. It's just not going to happen. And I think that's great. You know? 

ANDREW: You never know, you'll have a syndicated tv show at that point, and ...

MELISSA: Yeah...

ROSE: A couple of books, and movies, and people will be following you on the Internets, and ...

ANDREW: Manga and reinterpretations of your books, and reinventions, and ...


ROSE: You will be then flown to China, many times! And! But no, seriously. And I think I agree with Melissa on this, but I also see what your point is, Andrew, and I think what I ... I'm not saying throw the baby out with the bathwater if you will. Because again, if you're following a tradition, that's very different. In my opinion. Because, again, like you said, your Orisha has a structure.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: And tarot has a structure, true. And adding pop culture won't—shouldn't, let me be more specific—shouldn't take away from the underlying structure. But as—

ANDREW: And I don't think that pop culture is at all an issue in relation to tarot—

ROSE: No, no, no, no—

ANDREW: I wouldn't be having this conversation if I did, right? 

ROSE: No, no, no, no—no, no. No, what I'm saying is I think that the way that I may have phrased it is like, it does not apply to everything. You cannot apply ... You can't take the Orisha tradition and then apply pop culture to it ... They're two very different things. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: And there is a foundation in tarot that is being something you can move and mesh with. But it doesn't, the foundation doesn't go away, even when you apply the pop culture. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And I wonder if—oh, I'm sorry.

ROSE: No, go ahead. 

MELISSA: If the difference between the two is that Orisha is sacred and when tarot is sacred to someone, they don't really want pop figures in their tarot. 

ROSE: Right. 

MELISSA: So, it's how close you hold it to who you are and your faith. And tarot to me is a tool, it's a stack of pretty cards that help me do my thing, that's fantastic, and I'll be really pissed if ...

ANDREW: Pop culture is sacred to you, right? 

MELISSA: It's a tool, it's a tool that I love, but I ... you know, I don't have it on my altar, I don't worship it. I don't think that. ... They're a tool that I can use really well, but that doesn't mean that they're sacred to me. You know? That might be the difference, you know? 

ANDREW: For me, with my tarot cards, right, I'm a huge fan of the Joseph Peterson reproduction of the Jean Noblet Tarot de Marseilles. That is basically the only one that I read with right now. And so like, when I realized that they were going to go out of print, I just took three and put them in a drawer, cellophane-wrapped, so that when the one that I'm using now wears out, which it is starting to kind of get a bit worn, I can just be like, yeah, I don't need to be sad about this, they're just ink on paper, I'll go get another one from the drawer, you know? 

MELISSA: Yeah. I did the same thing with the Uusi Pagan Otherworlds Tarot. I saw one picture—Ryan Edwards posted a picture of it, and I bought two. And I was like, this is for me, and this one is for future me. And future me is going to thank me, because I'm going to read with this about ten times a week forever, and then I'll need a new one, because they speak to me so much. But it's just like a really good chef's knife. You know? If you find the knife that fits your hand, that's the one that you're going to want to have around. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: Not that I can cook. I really can't! But I know that knives are expensive. 

ROSE: Knives are important, knives are important, good to know, I agree. But again, it's kind of like, you're honoring the basis, you're not changing it. And you're adding a layer to understanding, I don't ... [sigh] It's just, oh gosh, that's just two very separate things for me. 

Cause again, I do put tarot cards on my altar, and I generally use the Rider Waite Smith just because it's simple for that. I don't read with one of those very often, unless I'm at an event where I don't know if people are going to know it. I bring in one with me, but my cards always vary, I'm either carrying around the Everyday Witch Tarot, which just recently came out in the last two years, or the Druidcraft, which I've cut the borders off of, which was a thing you didn't do back in the day and now you do if you want to, and I've got like three copies of that particular deck cause it spoke to me. 

I've got my Robin Wood because again, my mood changes, I mean I've got three different copies of the Voyager, and I have one that I've cut in fours so that I can like, have a focus, I need to have something focused, pull that corner of that card and go, okay that's the thing I need to look at, then go get the bigger image and figure out what that was, and … But again, I don't think I'm getting rid of the sacredness that the tarot, air quotes, is founded on, cause again we're still, there are still arguments about how that's been founded, but anyway. 

But I wouldn't necessarily take pop culture and put my religious aspects on it, cause like I said I'm trying to study Celtic recre- recreation- bleh. Ah, talking! Celtic reconstructionism, that's the word, and I'm trying to find out that by reading their actual text. And that’s not … But again, now how do you talk to people who are studying Norse mythology right now? And, you know, all the love of all of the Thor movies, and all of that, you know, and what about Loki and those movies, cause people are now making their version of Loki look like Tom Hiddleston. Lovely as he is, that's not the Norse mythology Loki.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: So, but they're blending that a little bit. And is that going against the sacred text, because that's their image of it, even though they may be reading the actual text, they're still visualizing Tom Hiddleston? I don't know. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: I'm always a fan of visualizing Tom Hiddleston, just to be on record, I have no problems with that. 

ROSE: [laughing]

ANDREW: I think few people have a problem with that, very very few people. Yeah.

ROSE: He's lovely, but, do you know what I'm saying? 

ANDREW: Yeah, absolutely. 

MELISSA: Yeah, absolutely. 

MELISSA: But I think it again goes to, how close do you hold it to you? If that's something that you hold very close to you, then that's not okay, and I think that we have to be really mindful of that, with other people, of how close they hold something, before we go goofing around with it, you know? For sure. 

ROSE: Did that answer your question, Andrew? 

ANDREW: Did I have a question? 

ROSE: Well, I want to make sure we spoke to the ... cause again, you said you agreed and disagreed with our statement, and I’m thinking, well, yeah, I get both of what you're talking about, and I want to make sure that we responded. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I think that there's a couple things, right? One is, people get really upset about the tradition of tarot. Right? And what they mean by the tradition of tarot depends on who that person is, right? 

ROSE: Yeah.

ANDREW: Do they mean, you know, Arthur Waite, and Rider-Waite-Smith, and sort of the various things that come from that?

ROSE: [whispering] The Golden Dawn!

ANDREW: Do they mean, you know, something different, like ...? And to some extent, I think that there's this sort of ... It's a ... It's a fake argument, right? Because ultimately there are at least a handful of branches of tarot from a big perspective, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, but you can go down and then there's all those sort of branches that come from these things, and if you're in one and looking at the other, they're always kind of challenging, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: I mean I started reading tarot initially with the Mythic Tarot but really focused on Crowley's work, right, and so I basically just read The Book of Thoth, right, over and over and over again ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And people would say to me, like, well how do I learn Crowley's Thoth deck, and I'm like, “He wrote a book, you read it, like, I don't understand the question,” right? 

ROSE: Right. 

ANDREW: And, it's kind of unfair, cause the book is complicated and obtuse and difficult to read and you know, all of those things, right? But again, it was the only thing I could get my hands on and, back in the 80s and 90s, as far as I knew, it was the only thing in print. There was nothing else to get. So, I was like, I'm just going to keep reading this thing until it makes more sense.

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So, there's that, right? But I also think that … I think there is the challenge where people layer other things like well, maybe like pop culture, certainly like their own intuitive or self-derived meanings, and then assert those as like, you know, universal or inherently true or all those kinds of things, right? Because there ... I think that one can do anything you like with tarot, and I think that you should do everything that you like and feel like you want to do with tarot. And associate those meanings and all of that kind of stuff ...

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: The challenge is where people sort of erase the rest of the branches of the trees, right? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, I've met a bunch of people who were very good psychics who used cards, but I would never really consider them card readers because what they do has no bearing on anything that I've ever understood to be reading the cards.

ROSE: Hmm.

ANDREW: They lay them out and they start talking, and they’re like, “Oh yeah, this one, and blah blah blah blah blah,” and I'm like, “Why is the Ten of Swords getting a new job?” and they're like, “I don't know, that's the message I get,” and I'm like, “Okay.” And their readings are true ... 

ROSE: Right.

ANDREW: But they literally have no bearing whatsoever on anything that anybody would agree upon who has studied cards at all. Right? So, I ...

ROSE: Huh.

ANDREW: But those people—the couple of people that I've met that way—asserted what they were doing was traditional, was reading the cards, and I'm like, “It's not, it's something else, you know?” And not that it's invalid, but it's where things get confusing, right? 

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So. Yeah. So that's my mix of things. 

ROSE: Now I want to meet some of those people and see how they read. Cause that'd be interesting, cause the Ten of Swords as a job ... Huh. Interesting. 


ROSE: Interesting. 

ANDREW: It's easy. You just like, deal out like 20 cards on the table in some random ever-changing pattern every time you do it, and then you just look at them and say things, and that's it. That's what it looks like, so.

ROSE: Okay. All right. I will have to find somebody who does it that way, then. That's interesting. Yeah. Hmm. I don't know. 

ANDREW: Uh-huh. Were you going to say something, Melissa? I saw you like, lean in there. 

MELISSA: Yeah, I, you know, I think that I've read like that before, when I've just done the readings intuitively and the cards don't matter. I don't … I hardly look at them, and if I need them to make a point, I'll find the card that makes that point with what I'm saying, but it becomes like a connection psychic reading or whatever, and I'll glance at the cards and just do the reading, and I'll pull stuff out of wherever it comes from, and the cards … Basically shuffling them helps the person relax, you know? Handling them helps me get in the place that I need to be, and then the reading just happens. 

And, should I see something in the cards that pushes forth what I'm getting, then I'll be like, “Oh, yeah, this thing here, right, yeah, this is what the sword is doing,” and it kind of ... I did it more when I was first starting out, because I didn't know what the hell I was doing. And I was like, “Oh, well, I'm thinking about your mother, and here's a lady sitting in a chair, so clearly those two things are related.” But now, if I'm not paying attention to the way that I'm doing readings, I'll just start reading for somebody while they're shuffling, before they've even put the cards, like, down, and I'll start the reading, and then I'll be like “Oh, crap! I was supposed to wait. Sorry, my bad!” And that's just how my readings have evolved. So, it's strange, but, you know, it is what it is. I'm not everybody's cup of tea. 

ROSE: But you are someone's shot of whiskey. It's fine. 

MELISSA: I'm a bit weird in that way, but I think that it's just kind of merging two different styles of reading, because I can read just the cards, and I can read without them, and when I merge the two, sometimes one way is stronger, and sometimes the other one is. So. 

ANDREW: Yeah. But you're not ... it doesn't sound like you're confusing the two. 

MELISSA: No. They're definitely different. 


MELISSA: And. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. 

ANDREW: So. For people who want to play with pop culture, what should they do? 

ROSE: What do you mean? 

ANDREW: Well, people listening to this and maybe this is a newer idea, or they've been thinking about it, but don't know where to start? If you're, like, going to start, like, incorporating or thinking about pop culture as a thing that could overlap and intersect with spiritual practice, like reading the cards or something else, where do people start? 

MELISSA: I always like, when I have students, I ask them to start a tarot journal, and I ... One of the first things I ask them to do is to find their favorite fandom and match the major arcana to as many characters as they can, and then we talk about why they came up with those answers.


MELISSA: The other thing I do is ask them to find a song for each card. And a song that kind of speaks to the meaning of, like there's a song called “Pendulum Swinger,” and I'm like, this to me, by the Indigo Girls, is the High Priestess. And, so, they listen to the song that I pick, and I say, “Why do you think that I picked that?” And it just gives us like, an hour's worth of conversation based on a song in Firefly about cards, that it helps them connect to them in a way that they didn't know that they could, and it's fun. It's really fun. So, that's what I do.

ROSE: I generally try and have people just look at the cards and see what they see. If they're new, and they're like, “I'm not ... This makes no sense!” The first thing I tell them and, sorry people who write the Little White Books, or the LWBs, I tell them to put that away. And to just take time with, you know, tarot journal, every day, pick a card, write what you see, tell me what it feels like to you, find a word, just one word, to describe that card. And go through all the cards. 

And then, is there something in your community, your stuff you love, the interests that you have, that comes up for you when you see that card? Write that down. And then, when we meet, we talk about what it is you saw, why did you see it, and how does it connect? And sometimes it's pop culture, sometimes it's just, you know, something they read, but, and that's still something that's going on around them, and then we talk about it. And then, you know, it might be—cause most of my friends are Star Wars fans—we talk about Star Wars connected to the tarot. Or we'll talk about Star Trek cause that's the other fandom, cause we're old school like that. 

ANDREW: Well, when I ...

ROSE: In that way. 

ANDREW: Was studying Kabbalah the first time, Star Trek Next Generation was on the air, right? So, the conversation was, all right, Tree of Life, which one's the Captain? Which one's Worf? Which one's, you know, whoever, right? 

ROSE: Yeah.

ANDREW: Kind of running through that. And making those parallels and sitting in a room of people and discussing that. 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: That's such a wonderful, like, I think that one of the great things about these kinds of ideas is the dialogue about where they can get ascribed to is tremendously educating, you know? 

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: There's no right or wrong answers, you know, depending on the angle or the lens we use, they could be a variety of things, right? You know? I mean, Jack Burton can be the Fool, right? But they can also be a variety of other things depending on where they are in that journey. Right? 

ROSE: Right. 

ANDREW: But, yeah.

ROSE: Well, and who would you make—I would say Wang might be more the Fool, and Jack is the Magician. 

MELISSA: I don't know. I put Wang as Temperance, and Burton as the Fool, cause Wang balances mind, body, and spirit a lot better than anyone else. 


ANDREW: Yeah. I think, I mean. You think about Jack Burton, you know? Especially that scene where like, all of the scenes with him that machine gun, right? Like he's there and he's got this machine pistol thing, right? 

ROSE: Yeah.

ANDREW: He jumps out and he tries to shoot it and he's like, “Oh, it doesn't work.” And then he goes back and tries to fix it, he comes back, and all of a sudden everything's whatever, he drops it, or he shoots the bricks over his head, they hit him in the head and he falls down, you know like, there's this constant set of things. To me, Egg Chen would be the Magician. Right? You know? He's got his potion, right? 

ROSE: Yeah....

ANDREW: That helps him see things nobody can see and do things nobody can do? 

ROSE: Yeah...

ANDREW: And he's got his bag and ...

ROSE: But I would make him the Hierophant. 


ROSE: I'd make him the Hierophant because he's the teacher, even though you might not want to learn the lesson, or you're not ready to see it, he's got the answers. But that's me. 

MELISSA: Yeah, I think that Gracie would be that, because Gracie has all the back story and the information that they're missing to go on their adventure, so Gracie Law basically jumps in to say, “Oh, by the way, you need to go to this place, this is who that guy is, here's what he's up to, here's who these guys are, and in that way he hands them the keys to their adventure, right?”

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: And the cool thing about this conversation is, all of us disagree, and nobody's being an asshole about it. 


MELISSA: Which I think is really cool, and that more people should probably do when they're talking about tarot.

ANDREW: Perfect.

ROSE: Yes! No matter what the lens that you're talking about it with, I would agree. 

ANDREW: Absolutely, absolutely. All right, well thank you all for hanging out and indulging my ridiculousness around this conversation. I deeply appreciate it. Rose, where should people come find you online? 

ROSE: You can find me on Twitter @RoseRedTarot, and also on Instagram @RoseRedTarot, or you can find me at Tarot Visions podcast, on iTunes and Pod Bean.

ANDREW: Nice! And links in the show notes. And, Melissa? 

MELISSA: If you Google Little Fox Tarot, you'll find me. I'm out there!

ANDREW: Perfect. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, and yeah, it's been really fun and ridiculous, and thanks for agreeing and disagreeing but certainly for showing up, so, awesome! 


EP76 Saints, Spirits, and Geomancy with Dr. Al Cummins

March 16, 2018

This week I'm joined by the wonderful Dr. Al Cummins. We chat about his beginnings in spirit work, what led him to the saints, and we also get into his Geomancy work. 

Connect with Al through his website and be sure to check out his awesome tumblr as well.

We are also proud to carry his new book A Book of The Magi and Cypriana: Old World which he is featured in. 

If you are interested in supporting this podcast though our Patreon you can do so here.

If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.

Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.
ANDREW: So, welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. Today, I am on the line with Al Cummins, and I've been following Al's work for some while now. I've been looking at his look at geomancy, and I've been following some of his work on saints and other things, as well as a bunch of collaborative projects that he's done with people who I hope will certainly be future guests of the show as well. So, but, in case people are just coming to this discussion and don't know who you are, Al, why don't you give us a quick introduction?
AL: Sure, sure. Hello! Well, firstly, thank you for having me on; it's great to get to finally chat to you.
ANDREW: Yeah, my pleasure!
AL: My background is kind of one of those dual forking pincer movement things of academic training in the history of magic, which I did through the University of Leeds, and then did my doctorate at the University of Bristol and Professor Ronald Hutton about early modern British magic primarily, but some wider European influences as well. It's inevitable when you're talking about Renaissance magic that you're going to bring in, you know, the big guns of Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and things like that, so obviously there's a Continental influence going on there.
And my other, you know, the other prong of that two-forked pincer movement, is I've been a practitioner and a diviner and a consultant sorcerer for a number of years and I love the interplay of the two, as I'm sure many of your listeners do as well. That false dichotomy that is often set up between those that just study and those that just do, and I've never met a serious magician who wasn't also someone who had made a real effort to learn about his or her field and be up on the current academic research. Likewise, in academic conferences, it's often, after a couple drinks, you know, people are a lot more … looser and willing to talk about what they've actually tried and things like that. And so, I like existing in that kind of gray place between being both a practitioner and a scholar of this stuff.
ANDREW: I think that that … I mean, it's kind of one of the … I mean, maybe it's been a plague of every era, but I feel like it's especially a plague of the modern era, or the time in which we find ourselves.
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: This sort of duality or multiplicity between things, you know?
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: I remember trying, I periodically go through these sort of journeys [static 00:02:36 through [00:02:44] when I talk about how I talk about that. A sort of bridge of divination, philosophy, psychology, you know, and magic, you know?
AL: Right!
ANDREW: To me, they're indistinguishable from each other when we look at them as a whole. And we can draw lines in different places, and that can be functional, but to me, there's no division between doing a piece of magic and talking about somebody's psychology or thinking about somebody's psychology as it's involved. You know?
AL: They certainly don't have to be mutually exclusive. And one of the things I like to riff on when we're talking about … I was asked recently to talk … whether I subscribed more to a spirit model or a psychological model, and I kind of did that classic attack the question thing of refusing to ally with one or the other, based off the fact that, you know, psychology, psychiatry, these are both, as far as I'm aware, 15th century French terms. It is not anachronistic for us to look at the magic of the 16th and 17th centuries as being something that combined an understanding that there were spirits and there was also pyschology, and that someone who was mentally unwell in some way, or had an impairment of mental or cognitive or emotional faculties, might also attract spirits who might haunt them. Likewise, the Devil could work through, if you read these heresyographies, could work through the agency of madness, and induce it.
And so, rather than producing this very simple set of straw men of either at all in your head, or at all the actions of spirits, or energy, or however you want to frame your model of quote unquote objective magic. Big heavy scare quote fingers there! [laughs] You are inevitably bringing in an aspect of both, so one of the most famous spiritual physicians, kind of a cunning man, certainly an astrologer physician, an angel summoner, and magician, Dr. Richard Napier of the mid-17th century, who was regarded as an expert in the impairments of mental faculties, people came from a long way away to work out whether ... you know … would ask him to work out whether or not the patient was possessed, haunted, under the influence of witchcraft, or the ministrations of the Devil himself, or was physically unwell, producing brain disease symptoms, or was mentally unwell after dealing with a trauma of some kind, or any combination of those factors, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: These were not mutually exclusive things. And in fact, you know, often if you were suffering from one, you would probably start to develop the symptoms, at least, if not the underlying pathologies of the others as well. And so, one of the ways Richard Napier worked around this was divination through both astrology and geomancy, and also through summoning the Archangel Raphael, who he seems to have had a very very close relationship with, and ... [laughs] Such a close relationship! On the one hand, people like William Lily, one of the most famous astrologers of the 17th century and John Aubrey, who was a sort of Fortean of his time, helped repopularize Stonehenge and things like that—both of them visited Napier relatively frequently, apparently, or at least several times, and remarked that he would go and had an angel closet of some kind, which was not an uncommon way of these practitioners to do their thing, apparently, and would, you know, stand there and invoke angels for an hour or two, and then go and do his consultations.
But the thing I like pointing out about Napier is that such was his close relationship with the Archangel Raphael that he would call up the medicine of God to do these kind of consults for him or these referrals, and frequently disagree with the angel's diagnosis! [laughing] Which I love! This is not someone who is an iconoclast, he's not doing this to like, you know, raise a middle finger to God or anything. He was regarded as an incredibly pious practitioner, but I think that's an interesting set of relationships in terms of how to navigate a spirit and psychological model and also use spirits to investigate that and to not necessarily believe everything of the signal that you are given, right? Or everything of the noise that you are given? To be able to discern which parts of that seem more sensible than others.
ANDREW: Well, I think that, I mean there are a couple ... There's a bunch of things now that you say that are really interesting. But let's talk about the first one first, which is, I think that it's something that is unfortunate, and it doesn't seem very common these days, is this sort of capacity to differentiate or understand the distinction between what might be spirit … purely spirit ... I mean, as you say, it's a muddle, right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: But what parts of it, or in what ways might we be able to discern, is this a spirit-caused situation? Is this a psychiatric-caused, you know ... or all these other models that you talked about? You know? And it's one of those things where, I remember working with clients and sort of receiving instructions from the spirits that I work with about how to interpret what I see as their energy ...
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: ... in ways that point between these different pieces, right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: ... who have this certain kind of energy pattern ... You know, they would more often than not have these more psychiatric issues or so on ...
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: ... unless [laughs], unless, they were like super hard core meditators and really really evolved ...
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: ... at which point those patterns would kind of merge, you know, which was always very interesting to me, you know?
AL: That's fascinating.
ANDREW: There might be ways in which people had, you know, like, people talk about premature kundalini awakenings or, you know, other kinds of things, that there are these states that might be helpful later on ...
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: But which, when they emerge unbidden or they emerge alongside other kind of things just cause tremendous problems, you know?
AL: Right. And that's interesting from a perspective of a consultant and a diviner for someone, and for clients, especially, where, you know, you have identified the pattern of energies at work, it's now, often, I find, your job to find a way that that's useful, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: Which I think is ... you know … sometimes, the useful thing is to say, that would be a decision that would end in rack and ruin, it doesn't look like it's going to help you, right? Or, it's ... I mean, I read with geomancy very often for clients, so—I primarily read playing cards and geomancy these days, and there are figures that can fall that portray danger, deceit, the potential for addictive behaviors, and a variety of other overly impassioned vice kind of like problems. And it's … the figure is Rubeus, and refers to the spilling of blood. It's considered bad for all things except that which requires bloodshed. Now, that means from a medieval/early modern perspective, it was good for phlebotomy, and it could occasionally be useful for voiding ill humors through that bloodletting stuff, and there are kind of some equivalencies that you can find, like nowadays, other kinds of … it can recommend going to see your doctor, that kind of thing.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: But finding a way for Rubeus to do something useful in a chart ... if it's spilling something, you know, I have before now found myself having to take a bottle of red wine to a crossroads and upend that, as a means of, like, placating a spirit or working through a set of very martial energies and workings, for that to be useful. That set of virtues, that pattern was present once the divination confirmed it, and especially with the attendant spirit contact around it, it was also bringing that thing in, right? And so, finding a way that that's useful in some way, to be either the thing that is subject to it or the thing that is enacting it in the world, finding a way for that violence, in this case, to be useful in some way, to break an old pattern or to stand up to someone or any number of those other things.
ANDREW: So, when people come to you for a geomancy reading, are they people who are going about their lives and are just inclined towards divination? Or do you find that it's people who are sort of inclined towards more, I don’t know, for lack of a better word, sort of esoteric or kind of occult and philosophical kind of approaches to life already?
AL: Yeah, I wonder that myself sometimes. I think a materialist overculture, if I can, you know, briefly jump on a soapbox, produces a statistical slide towards people who are already aware of magic and, you know, think it's worth paying a professional to divine for them. So, often there's someone with some kind of practice or some kind of set of beliefs, or even just, you know, have witnessed things happened or have had experiences that lead them to suggest that there's something valid for them in this.
I get a range of people. I get some people who are, you know, some of my clients are, you know, classic people seeking divination, at a crossroads in their life. You know, recently divorced, or wanting to change career, or wanting to do something different at that crossroads? I also work with a lot of artists and event coordinators and things like that to plan events and ritual and ceremony and works of art, as well, and it's something that I like to point out to people who are, use the idea of a professional diviner or consultant being someone that would be useful to have on board a project, which is that this doesn't have to be, in much the same way that other magicians talk about magical work, doesn't have to be triage, doesn't have to be "oh god oh god oh god, emergency emergency, I need to, you know, pay my rent," or something. Those are valid things …
AL: … to get help about and to need to deal with, but so much better is prevention than cure, right?
ANDREW: Well, I, you know, not to say that we might not find ourselves in a martial sign that requires some kind of bloodletting or other kind of, you know, easing but, yeah, but if we're on top of it, on the regular ...
AL: Right.
ANDREW: You know when the thermometer starts to rise, we can deal with it then, before it kind of gets too high, right?
AL: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so, you know, I find divination and consultation something that I end up doing for people who are not necessarily looking to massively change their lives as much as enrich them, right? It's not just people who are unhappy and it's certainly not just people who are desperate, which I think is also a little kind of … It's a bugbear of mine that, the idea that you would only ever consult, you know, a card reader or a professional astrologer if you were, like, desperate in some way, and I think that's a very unfair characterization of ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: ... people. Most, you know, the vast majority of my clients are people who take their divination very seriously, who employ it in a very mature and responsible manner in order to have better … to … rather than abnegate responsibility, to take that responsibility on more, and that's, you know, the role of a diviner, right? Is someone that can help someone chart the hauling coherence of influences around them, and empower them further, to be able to make better decisions and live their better life, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. And especially, I mean, to kind of come full circle here, if the people are dealing with a muddle of unknown problems and consequences, you know ...
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: ... from spirits to mental health to physical health to whatever ...
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: ... being able to sort that out, if the person is willing to take ownership of that and work with it, and go from there. I mean, that can be one of the most profound things ever, right? You know?
AL: Absolutely.
ANDREW: You actually can remove this spiritual influence, and then what you're left with, you know, while still no small thing, is then adjustable by other realms, you know, or other practices.
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: You know? It's really, it's quite wonderful, you know, and .... And sometimes even knowing just, you know, knowing that it's in fact none of those, it's like, "Hey, you know what? This is not a spiritual thing."
AL: Right.
ANDREW: "Let's go back for this, you're good," you know? And that in itself is quite a liberation, because it gives an answer, even if it's, you know, even if then it leaves other questions, right?
AL: Yeah, exactly, yeah! And it's also, you know, one of the things about divination as diagnostic technique is that it's bespoke, right? It's for that individual, at that particular time in their lives, with these particular choices and influences and patterns of virtue around them, right? So, it's by necessity a site-specific, time-specific, person-specific thing. It deals with … there is a ritual that is going on between diviner and client there. You are locating the client as a locus about which these forces are present, right? And in naming them, we are also kind of bringing them to light in some way and apprehending them in some way ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: ... and that hopefully becomes useful as well. And this is especially useful when diagnosis becomes not just prognosis but also an attempt at treatment and remediation, magically speaking, which is something that I think is very important, is not just telling someone, "this is the nature of your circumstances and conditions, good luck with that" [laughs], and signing out, so much as saying, "okay, well, you know, this is the difficulty in your career path at the moment. Let's see whether we can boost the positive influences that say that yes, there is a path for you in this career," for instance, for that kind of question, and also, "let us try and address this issue here in the tenth house with your current boss, who is clearly attempting to undermine you in some way," right? So, you can look at both the negative factors and attempt to rebalance them or address them, or secure the positive factors of the reading as well. And I think it's very easy for us to jump immediately on our, you know, cleansing baths and things like that when a reading comes up negatively, and, as well we should, but to kind of not think we need to do anything if a reading suggests that there is a good path ahead, and something I, you know, I sometimes recommend is, you know, if you get a really great reading, you should secure that in some way. Right? You should nail that thing down, and, like ...
AL: Keep that good luck in your pocket, in some way.
ANDREW: Well, it's like in cowry shell divination, and divinations within the Orisha traditions, right? They say that the Iré, the form of blessing that can arise ...
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: That it is, that it can be tremendously fleeting, right?
AL: Right.
ANDREW: And that in fact, you know, when we see that come, when we see that there are blessings, and especially if they're sort of predicted firmly and there's nothing else to do about it … Well, the thing to do about it is still to be, like, diligent and tend it and pay attention to it …
AL: Yes.
ANDREW: … and, you know, and maybe make offerings even though they weren't specifically asked for ...
AL: Yes.
ANDREW: ... you know, to do things, to really hold that and sustain that, because, you know, it can turn to negativity so simply and so easily, and then it's very hard to get it back where it was before.
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: You know, so, this notion that success is permanent or solid is, you know, seems really kind of dubious to me at best, you know?
AL: Right. It's not this carrot that gets dangled in front of you that says if, you know, you just put in another five years at something you don't like, then eventually you will have made it and that will be the solid state, unending success of a predeath bliss, right? It's a nonsense. Yeah, we constantly have to fight for our blessings, and to secure them. And, you know, what was that beautiful ... Obviously, it was terribly sad that Ursula Le Guin passed recently, but it did mean that people were sharing a lot of her work, and her quotes, and that one about love seems particularly relevant here: "Love does not sit there like a stone; it must be remade constantly like bread." Right? The idea of constantly having to keep up the good things, the effort to enjoy the things in life and to enjoy each other.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. It never ends, right?
AL: [laughs] Hmm! Right, right.
ANDREW: Well, actually it ends. But then it really ends.
AL: [laughs]
ANDREW: So, the other thing that you mentioned earlier when we were talking was this idea of arguing with spirits, you know ...
AL: [laughs] Right!
ANDREW: ... You know, a person who would argue with the, you know, with the angels, and so on, right? And I think that it's such an important thing for people to consider, right? You know? Like, especially, you know, I mean, whether we're talking about ancestors, or whether we're talking about angels, or you know anything else or in between or wherever other ways, you know. It’s … I think that, sort of, being open to wrestling with them about things, and you know, tussling out what is true or what's the real deal, you know ... And I don't mean, like, in the goetic way, like, "No, I'm not going to give you that, I'm only going to give you this."
AL: Mmmhmm. [laughs]
ANDREW: ... "Don't take advantage of me." ...
AL: [laughs]
ANDREW: But just, you know. I know that there are times, you know, in, like, spiritual masses, or with one of my guides in particular ... Well, she'll come down with a message and I'm like, "Dude, I'm not saying that!"
AL: [laughs]
ANDREW: "There's no way I'm saying it that way!" You know?
AL: Right, right.
ANDREW: And yet, people, you know, I think that, you know, there's lots of ways in which people believe that they should, you know, pass this along as like a pure testament of truth …
AL: Right.
ANDREW: … or the unequivocal goal of the situation, right?
AL: Yeah, being, the idea that being a channel for spirit means that you don't have to worry about tact, or bedside manner, or, you know, offending people, that you are speaking a profound and unquestionable universal truth, yeah. I … I’m obviously a bit tedious at that, especially in divination. Certainly, I can share the experience of having a familiar spirit that helps me divine that says things in my ear in ways that I definitely wouldn't say to a client! Very blunt, shall we say …
AL: … if not mean, occasionally!
AL: You know, also savagely accurate, to her credit. But yes. So, that again is a job of a diviner, right? To demonstrate that tact and that clarity that allows the best way for the medicine to be administered, right? The medicine of the consultation, the medicine of the regimen that might emerge from that, the story medicine, of, like, "this is how your current situation looks, the potential medicines, so this is what you could do about it," and, again, to evangelize about geomancy, for instance, one of the things that we can do is not just look at the clients or the person asking the question, the querent in the first house, we can also look to a couple of different houses depending on the exact nature of the context of the consultation, for how the diviner, how you, are being perceived, and crucially through those two things, you can then work out one of the best ways ... You can look at how the client will take your advice. You can look at how you can phrase it, you know? And so, you can read a chart and have attendant spirit guides saying, "You're going to need to phrase this very gently, this client is not going to be able to take you, you know, speaking plainly about this thing." Likewise, sometimes it's clear that you have to be incredibly blunt, and that that's what will be most useful, and if you aren't, then the client will jump on the one detail that they wanted to hear and ignore the other ones. And that's, that is in part, it's very easy to complain about quote unquote bad clients, but that's also something that I think diviners need to take a little bit of responsibility for. It's not just your job to plunk a message down in front of someone. It's also your job to, I think, help them unpack it and make it available and useful, and something that they can actually apprehend and engage with.
ANDREW: Yeah. I also think that it's ... It can be part of the job of being a professional diviner to sort out and be clear with yourself, who do you not work well with, right?
AL: Right.
ANDREW: You know, who do you just not, who do you not like? What situations do you not want to, you know, deal with? Right? Like, you know, where are your strengths and weaknesses, you know?
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: And not in a like, you know, a mean-spirited or even judgemental way, but like, well, are there certain kinds of situations where, for whatever reasons, I have no slack for that.
AL: Right.
ANDREW: And if the person comes up with that, I'm, you know, I might read for them, but I'm definitely not going to get magically involved in it, because my attention and my energy doesn't flow well, in those, because of that, you know?
AL: Yeah, yeah.
ANDREW: And I think that we as diviners can take way more agency in the process than I sometimes see people taking, you know?
AL: Hmm. Yeah. I think so. Hmm.
ANDREW: So, the other thing that I wanted to ask you about, though, the thing that I was curious about that's been sort of on my mind of what we would get to when we were on the show, was, so there's this great big revival, in my, from what I see, of working with saints these days.
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: You know, and I see like lots of people, in the various spiritual and occult communities, kind of going back to working with saints and sort of having a magical relationship with them and those kinds of things. And, you know, you're definitely one of the people out there doing that work. Right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: Were the saints always your companions? Or some saints? Was it a thing that you rediscovered? How did that happen for you?
AL: Mmmm. Hmmm. Well. That's the great question. I did not grow up practicing Catholic. My family are Irish Catholic by birth lottery, as they would put it, and certainly in my house, my folks, these days, kind of agnostic, but certainly when I was growing up, fiercely, devoutly, socialists, atheists. But, as a result of the kind of family that I grew up in, we would be taken round an awful lot of churches and historical houses and manna houses and national trust properties and that kind of thing, partly so that my father could sit there and, or stand there and ask, you know, how many workers do you think died to build this structure? So , my early engagement with high churches and that kind of stuff was very much of a sense of like, there are a lot of dead people underlying this thing that still exists ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: And that certainly still informed how I approach saint work, in terms of, or saint devotion, I should say, really, in terms of how long it's been an active part of my practice. Certainly, learning from my great grandmother, before she passed, that there was a set of Irish naming traditions in the family, that there was a particular reason why ... [laughs] "Your middle name is Joseph, Al! Because you're named after your uncle Harry, whose middle name was also Joseph," as an example of this kind of thing that was done. It's like the whole idea of first born will be called this, second born will be this, third will be this, but then we also include what happens when they aren't all male and a variety of other circumstances.
So, there were naming traditions I discovered, and, in attempting to understand my great grandmother, who was a remarkable woman, in terms of being a tiny little Irish Catholic lady. We'd no idea exactly how old she was. She ... Her father bribed the village clark to lie about her age so that she could come over to England and train as a nurse earlier. So, we're not entirely sure how old she was. But she was a devout Irish Catholic, set the table for dead relatives occasionally, certainly spoke about them like they were there, and also taught pranayama yoga for about 45, 50 years, and was a very early adopter of that in Woolhampton, in the U.K. So, she was an interesting and odd lady, and so, certainly trying to understand her through these two practices of, like, you know, rich dense energy kind of work and breathwork stuff and all the things that pranayama is, and this intense devotion. You know, she would talk about, you know, I would ask her, “how do you square these things?” And she'd say, "Well, I just don't tell the priest." [laughs] "It's not his business. I make sure I'm doing my breathing next to a pillar, so if I do pass out, then, you know, I won't cause a fuss..."
ANDREW: Uh huh. You'll wake up eventually, so it'll be all right.
AL: Yeah. Exactly. And, you know, "I see a sanctifying mass, and this opening effect of that, and I want to be as receptive as I can to that, so I open myself up as much as I can, and then I zip myself back up, and I go about my day." And so, that was very inspiring to me, and my earliest set of actually practicing things, rather than just reading Crowley or whatever else, was chaos magic. The idea of it not all having to fit into one cosmology, that you could do several things, and that that, you know, there wasn't even a negative capability of that, that you could have … you could be a Catholic who did pranayama. Obviously, you could do those things, but the idea of mixing spiritual traditions, or at least parallel practice of them, was an influence. I think the first set of things that I ended up doing more formally, in terms of what felt like magic, rather than what just felt like, you know, going to a Saint Stevens church and, you know, enjoying the peace and quiet, and taking on the aspect of seeking calm, and that kind of thing … The first sort of work that was like, all right, I have this saint in front of me, and all sorts of incenses, and I'm trying to work a spell with him, was Cyprian.
AL: Oh, right. So, the first spellwork, shall we say, I did with a saint was after I was recommended to work with Saint Cyprian of Antioch. I made a sort of pilgrimage for a birthday to California to a particularly famous hoodoo candle store and came in and was just beginning my doctorate and so asked, you know, "What would you advise?" of the owner, "What would you advise that I take on in terms of a candle or a spell?" You know, I wasn't looking for, I wasn’t shopping around for a patron. I was just wanting to work a particular thing, an academic success kind of ongoing working. And, you know, she asked, "Well, what is it that you're doing? What’s the nature of this research?" And after I'm telling her, it's about the history of magic, she says, you know, "Well, obviously you should be buying this Cyprian candle, and this is how you can work it," and fixed it front of me and showed me some of the bits and pieces and showed me a couple of other things as well. But that was the start of, yeah, a relationship that's only deepened, where, yeah, my ... And a variety of things occurred after that. Again, saint work is very tied to ancestor work for me, and certainly the dreams I had after I started working with Cyprian, of ancestors coming to me, you know, proud that I was finally working with a nice Catholic saint ...
ANDREW: [laughs]
AL: ...Despite his hideous reputation, and rightly, you know, and justifiably so, he's not necessarily someone whose earlier history or career is particularly admirable or something that you would want to repeat in terms of selling the equivalent of roofies. But, nevertheless, they were delighted that I was even engaging with this stuff at all, on a more formal level, and that for me was one of the big ... Along with the fact that, you know, when I took things to him, they worked out the way I wanted them to, or they worked out for my benefit. Along with offering me a set of challenges of things to work on, of things to work through, was how it bolstered my connection to my ancestors. And ...
ANDREW: And I find it's quite interesting how ... I mean, so there's the baseline layer of, like, "Hey, I need more money," or "Hey, I want success in my academic career," or, you know ...
AL: Uh huh!
ANDREW:... "...cause I'm hoping to have a baby..." or whatever the things are that people, you know, want and need that they go to saints for. But at the same time, I feel like you really kind of hit on something there, which is sort of the unexpected second level of that process, which is, you know, you go to them, and they're like, "Yeah, sure, give me a candle, and I'll do this thing for you, no problem," right? But if you stick around with them for a while, then they start, like, working on you, right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: They start tinkering with you in a way to bring out some kind of evolution or change or growth or ... you know?
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: That's certainly been my experience, right?
AL: Yeah, and I think this is especially the case when you start taking on a saint, not just as someone that helps you in a particular aspect of your life, but as a patron of your ... Either your main career, or even of all of your magic, and that's certainly ... Cyprian is one of those, for me, is someone I go to for any work I do for a client or for myself and when you allow a patron to ... When you allow yourself space in the container to allow a patron to hold space for helping you make decisions about things that aren't just, you know, "Oh, this is the saint I go to for money work," right? If you have a relationship with that saint in other aspects of your life, if you're going to them about, like, you know, asking for the clarity to be able to make a useful decision about, you know, a new relationship that's just started or something like that, you're giving them more space to be able to help you. Right? You're opening up more roads, if you want to phrase it like that, for them to, like you say, start working on you in ways.
ANDREW: Yeah, and it's ... I think it's a very ... I think it's fascinating and a powerful way to go. And I think it's really helpful. And I also notice that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with being that open with spirits.
AL: Hmm! [laughs]
ANDREW: And with having that level of dialogue about everything that's going on in their life with spirits, right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: You know, there's, you know, I mean, there can be, a) a very sort of transactional relationship that people have, like, "I'll give you this, you give me that."
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: But even if it's relational, there's this sort of, I don't know if it's a legacy of parenting issues in the West or whatever, but ...
AL: [laughs]
ANDREW: You know, there's this sort of, "Well, you know what, but they don't get to tell me how to live my life," right?
AL: [laughs] Yeah.
ANDREW: Do they not? Is that what's going on? Like I think about that with the Orishas. Do they tell me how to live my life? Not in the way people mean it, right?
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: But certainly, in a way that most people would be relatively uncomfortable with. I'm going to hear their advice and do my best to live it all the time, because the space in the container that I have with them allows for that and allows, and makes things happen that otherwise would never happen separately, you know? If I was stuck in my head or in my sense of self too strongly.
AL: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, for sure. And being able to discern what your head is wanting and what is useful for your life path is some deep stuff, right? And is going to require a different engagement than, you know, "How do I solve this current immediate problem," right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: "How do I live my best life?" is a different question, and requires a ... Yeah, my experience of being involved for a couple years in Lukumí Orisha worship is that, yeah, it's a very different ball game in terms of, you know, it's an established tradition with an actual priestcraft of actual work and learning. And that's not to say that other traditions don't also have those things, but the level of commitment, and of taking on good advice and attempting to live it every day, right? Is a really important thing, and something that other traditions when they do well, do very well as well. But that, if we're talking Orisha, that's been certainly my experience, is that that closeness is also, you know, rewarded with the calm and the coolness and the development of good character that we're attempting to achieve, to leave the marketplace of the world in a better place than it was when we got here, before we go back home to heaven.
ANDREW: Yeah. And I also think that, like, it's also interesting that, you know, again, it's sort of part of the, you know, legacy of modern thinking in some ways, you know, this sort of idea that, you know, a saint or spirit might only kind of govern one limited aspect, and, while I think that that's certainly true of some classes of spirits, that their spectrum of influence or their … from a human point of view, is limited and you might want to keep it there ...
AL: Sure.
ANDREW: You know, these sort of relationships with saints and things like that, you know, this idea that you can be open to messages that are not necessarily within their, you know, official textbook definition wheelhouse ...
AL: Right.
ANDREW: ... is also very fascinating. You know, I started working with St. Expedite a long time ago. That's kind of part of my bridge from ceremonial stuff into African diasporic traditions, as a sort of, you know, a syncretism for other spirits. And then, when I finally sort of landed in my Orisha tradition and sort of removed all my stepping stones that had gotten me there, St. Expedite was the only one who stayed. You know?
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: And he was like, "No, no, dude, I'm not leaving, no, I'm with you now." And I was like, "Oh, okay!" I didn't quite catch that distinction as it was going on. And then … But, by way of sort of the differences, you know, he sort of, wasn't prominent, I wasn't really working with him for like 15 years, or something like that, just had my pieces tucked away amongst my relics of other times and things that I don't do much of any more. And then all of a sudden, I came across this painting I had done of him, and he was like, "Dude, I'm out, you've got to put me out now."
AL: [laughs] Hmm!
ANDREW: And when, and, the messages that I got from him were all about my art work, and not about, sort of ceremony, and spirits, or working with the dead or, you know, other things like that ...
AL: Huh.
ANDREW: And so, it was this very interesting thing where he came forward with this message, that is not entirely incongruous with his nature per se, but certainly not where I would think to start with, you know?
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: And, you know, I'm sitting here looking at him as we're talking...
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: And he's kind of like nodding his head, like "I was right, dude, that's it!"
AL: [laughs] I love that, that's beautiful, the idea of some particular aspect of your life that they would manifest their advice and their power in that isn't, that you're not going to read in some, you know, in some encyclopedia of saints or the Golden Legend or some botanic pamphlet, but that that's something that you've come to, yourself. It reminds me of the way that people sometimes talk about plant allies as well, and I think this is a wider aspect of what we mean by spirit patronage, right? That that spirit might be, you know, you might get on famously and become, you know, fast friends, and that that plant might then be willing to work in ways that, again, aren't in, you know, aren’t in the encyclopedias of herb magic or Cunningham or any of those other things ...
AL:... isn't keyworded that like, this plant that you work with every day and consider a patron of your greencraft and of your life in general, would do a thing that might be unusual, you know, might be added to a bath or a charm bag or something that wasn't typically included in that kind of thing. That's certainly a relationship I have with rosemary, where ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL:... beyond its noted capacity for memory, and, you know, its necromantic value and its purifying and asperging uses … I have in the past had definite spirit contact to say, "You should include me in this bath for something completely different, because I am one of your, you know, because I want to be involved in this and I can further empower it." And confirming that through divination as well, which I think is also something that gets underreported is that, again, spirit contact and nonrational ways of knowing and spirit communication can also be facilitated by computational divination, you know, you can still throw your, your sticks, your shells, your things to confirm that that is the spirit saying that thing and it's not either you or some other spirit or, you know, some other option of things. And so, in confirming that, yeah, I was putting rosemary in everything for a while. Because it was standing up and saying, like, "Yeah, I can do this too, I can do this too, I can do this too."
ANDREW: Yeah. I've had a similar experience with burdock.
AL: Hmm.
ANDREW: You know, where people … Especially with sending people to work with it?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: Because here in Toronto, it's prevalent everywhere at a certain point in the year, you know, it just takes over everything, you know, that energy will be like, "Yeah, tell them to come and collect some of this part of me, and do this thing with it and all..."
AL: Nice!
ANDREW: "Or help them in this way," or you know. I remember somebody was like, somebody had to like, somebody who was trying to let go of some childhood stuff and the plant basically came in and said, "Hey, tell them to come and find the biggest one around and dig up my whole root, and when they're done, they'll be healed." And it took them a long time! You know?
AL: Yeah, yeah yeah.
ANDREW: Because it was big and spreading. But it was profound, and it was transformative for that person by their report, so.
AL: Right.
ANDREW: There are many reasons that can happen. But also, as you say, that verifying it, you know, whatever your divination tools for verification, or checking with a spirit that you have more concrete mechanisms with or whatever, I think that that's so important, because, you know, this sort of, free will and idea that I can just sort of intuit anything and that could be the answer, it's like, well, eh, maybe, possibly...
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: ...but, I get very twitchy about that at times, because stuff starts to come out, where it's like, "Well, yeah, but you know what, that's actually not a good idea, and these other ways are,” or, “This is kind of toxic, or kind of … you know?"
AL: Yeah, and that's where ... Exactly, exactly. And that's where using a divination technique that is definite, that is computational, that is like, "No, that card says this thing," isn't like a, you know, a fudge, isn't like a coin on its side, computational, but also that provides qualified answers, so not just flipping a coin of like, yes or no, is this what the spirit said? But, you know, a three card throw, that allows for, you know, two reds and a black, meaning yes, but...? Right? Or two blacks and a red meaning no, but ... ? Right? Which allows, not just the confirmation of the thing that you think you're receiving, but also allows the spirit to give you extra information as well. To say, "Yes, you heard me right about that stuff, but you also need to check this other thing that you haven't checked," or "No, that's not what I said, but, you are on the right track in terms of this direction." Have I cut out again?
AL: [laughs] I think I may have cut out again, briefly, there. [laughs]
ANDREW: I heard your comment about two reds and a black, or two black and a red? And then you stopped. Want to start again?
AL: Yeah.
AL: All right. So, I think it's very important to have a divination system that can provide not just a yes or no response to what you think you've received from spirit contact but that you are also able to give a qualified answer of “yes, but,” or “no, but,” right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: That you have some form of throwing that doesn't just give you a thumb's up or a thumb's down, but that also offers the spirit a chance to say, “Yes, that's what I meant, in that case, but you've also forgotten that you need to deal with this thing as well.” Or, “No, that's not what I meant, but you're on the right track in terms of thinking in this way,” all right? So, it's not just about a gatekeeping of which images and which contact gets in and which doesn't, but also, you are continually negotiating and allowing yourself to have more space to hear a more nuanced transmission.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, and I think the idea of developing nuance is just so important, right?
AL: Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: I mean, whatever divination tool you're looking at, you know, I think this idea that we could sort of have a, you know, in the exact same way as we're talking about the saints, right? You have a real relationship with your divination system; it's conveying information that goes well beyond, you know, yes or no, or even like, yeah, it's pretty good, or not good. There are so many other pieces that start to emerge from the practice and then getting to know those things that then facilitate the shaping of it, right?
AL: Mmmhmm, yeah.
AL: Yeah, I think so. And, you know, that can be a sign that you're making deeper engagement with a saint, is when they start coming out with stuff that you haven't read somewhere, right? That you haven't ... and that's not license for everyone to be, you know, "Oh, well I dress Expedite in pink, and, you know, I never offer him pound cake," that's no excuse to throw away tradition. But that is a sign where, if you're working respectfully, most traditions have a notion that, like, there's going to be idiosyncracies. There's going to be particularities and personalizations both in terms of how the spirit works with you and how you work with the spirit.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah.
AL: Right?
ANDREW: And variations by geography and culture.
AL: Absolutely, absolutely! Yeah.
ANDREW: Cause I grew up with nothing religiously, you know? Like nobody considered it, nobody was for it, nobody was against it, you know, people were sort of like vaguely slightly a little bit mystic at times, but there was kind of nothing, you know? So like, the first time I remember going to church was when I was like 11 and my parents had gotten... had separated, and we lived in a small town and my mom was trying to find some community. So we went to the Anglican church, but, you know, I didn't have any connection to any of those things, so, you know, and never mind if I was from like a totally different culture than sort of the Western culture of something else engaging with this.
AL: Yeah.
ANDREW: It might just be like, "You know what? You don't have pound cake, but you got this other thing like cake, that looks good,” you know?
AL: Right, right. And this is especially the case when you're looking at quote unquote folk practices, you know, what people who weren't rich did, and continue to do in many parts of the world, that, you know, that San Rocco, that Saint Roch, doesn't behave like the one four villages down. You know, one of them is more about warding off plague, because he warded off a plague once, or several times, right? And the other might be more about bringing in the harvest, because that's, you know, that’s the famine that he avoided by being petitioned, right? And successfully performed a miracle.
And so, yeah, the terroir of spirit work, that sense that like, this particular place dealt with, you know, this aspect of that spirit that was called the same thing that they called it down the road, or a different spirit sharing that name, or however it ends up shaking out, you know, whatever your ontology of the situation seems to suggest. That's super important, yeah, that there isn't, you're not necessarily dealing with a wrong way of working with them, so much as a different way. But that again is not something that emerges from just wandering through, you know, reading 777 and deciding that you're going to cook up a bunch of stuff, right, over a nice cup of tea? That's the result of many hands working for a very long time, and requiring something done about an immediate danger, and certainly I'm thinking of San Rocco in southern Italy, you know.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: Cause if the saint don't work, it gets thrown in the sea! [laughs]
ANDREW: Yeah, sure, right?
AL: Or put in front of the volcano.
ANDREW: Yeah. yeah, and that's always an interesting thing to consider, right? We can make a, you know, a thought form, or whatever you want to call it. We can create spiritual energies to accomplish certain things, but the sort of depth and the history of energy, prayer, offering, and kind of the lineage of different places, you know, like the saint in that village versus the saint in this village.
AL: Right.
ANDREW: You know, I mean, I think that those create something very different over time, and whether that all comes from the same source or whatever we choose to believe that that is another matter ...
AL: Right, right, right.
ANDREW: But this sort of idea that if we're going to work with somebody in a certain way, like if we want San Rocco to do this thing versus that thing, then we might want to take a bit more of that other town's approach, or, you know, see what are the differences in practices that might help call that energy out in that way.
AL: For sure. For sure.
ANDREW: Not unlike singing certain songs in the Orisha tradition or, you know, playing certain beats or making certain offerings, bring out different faces of the spirits, right?
AL: Mmm.
ANDREW: You know? There are the ways in which ... the way in which we approach them, and what we give them, is also part of their process and channel of manifesting that opens up these different capacities in a different way, you know?
AL: Right, and crucially, you're dealing with diaspora as well, you're dealing with how does a tradition or a set of traditions try and remember not just its own thing, but remember the traditions of their brothers and sisters, right? Who were, you know, no longer, can sometimes no longer remember where it is they're from, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: And, and, and that's a really important thing. It isn't just, you know, oh well, you know, the ... [laughs] I don't know, fatuous example, oh the Elegua of Brooklyn doesn't receive toasted corn, he asks for like Pabst Blue Ribbon or whatever, right?
ANDREW: Uh huh.
AL: This isn't something that you can just like, decide, or, you know, think you've had an experience without confirming any of this with any of the initiated priests of that tradition, right? Likewise, the diaspora of, say, again to continue that example, cause it's one I'm more familiar with, through the work of my wife in Italian folk magic, of San Rocco in south Italy … There are different expressions of him in the New World, you know, there's a very long running procession through New York's Little Italy, that's one of the most celebratory saint festivals I've ever been to, over here. Sometimes, I'm sure, you know, you've had similar experiences that even a saint that is considered holy and happy has a kind of somberness, especially when we're celebrating their martyrdom, whereas ... Yeah, the San Rocco festival in New York is a joy. There are confetti cannons, it's delightful. And, but it's also very reverent. You know? The ... Certainly, the central confraternity do it barefoot and, you know, make a real effort that it's a community event and those kinds of things, and, that's where modifications come in as well. That's where traditions develop and grow and live and breathe and stretch, is in actually interacting with a new land, and with different communities, and kinds of people and those are where, like, "Oh, we couldn't get this kind of wine so we got this other kind of wine," those kinds of things, things like substitutions as I understand it start to come in. But it's something that occurs from within stretching out, it's not something that can be, you know, with that etic emic thing, it's not something that an outsider can then take something of, and claim anything like the same sort of lineage, and the same kind of oomph, the same kind of aché, the same kind of virtue or grace moving through that thing.
ANDREW: We can't claim substitutions because it's hard to get that thing, or whatever, right?
AL: Right.
ANDREW: You know, and they only really take off when, you know, when it's required. But I'm going to tell you right now, and everybody else listening, if there's ever a procession for me, I would like it to have confetti cannons.
AL: [laughing]
ANDREW: That definitely is a part of a cult that I would like to bounce, so, let's make that happen sometime.
AL: [laughter]
AL: For sure, good to stick around and be useful!
ANDREW: Yep. So, we're kind of reaching the end of our time here, but I also wanted to touch on your new book, which is out.
AL: Yes!
ANDREW: Yes. So, The Three Magi, right? Tell me, tell people, tell me, why, what is it about them that draws you? Why did you write this book? Where did it come from?
AL: It came from … That's an amazing question. There are a couple things. One is that I have a very central part of my practice that is about working with dead magicians, and working with the attendant spirits around them. And a kind of necromancy of necromancy, if you want to put it like that. From specific techniques to a kind of lineage ancestor sense, from the fact that my doctorate was handed to me by hand shake by someone who had hands laid on them, who had hands laid on them, back to the founding of the charter and having a sense of that. The spiritual lineage of academic doctors, and in studying the dead magicians of the 17th century, for instance, and how they were interested in, say, Elias Ashmole, interested in forming this kind of lineage of English magic. That feels a little bit Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell at times, to be honest.
AL: So, I've been interested in dead magicians for a while, and had found them kind of turning up in my practice and helping me do my history of them. You know, they were very invested in how they were being portrayed, funnily enough. And the magi became a locus, a way in which I, as someone that wasn't necessarily, certainly from the outside, looking like I was living a terribly good pious early modern Christian life, could be talking to these Christian magicians. It was a way of framing ... Well, we all appreciate the magi, right? Who are both ... and that's another fascinating point, like Cyprian, you know, arguably more so than Cyprian, they're both Christian and not. They are the first Gentiles to make this pilgrimage, they’re utterly essential to the nativity narrative, they're also, you know, categorically astrologers, and probably Babylonian, and drawing on a variety of older traditions, certainly around Alexander the Great, and his invasions into various different regions mirror some of the kinds of mythic beats of their story, of the magis' story ...
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: So there was this sense of, I was already working with dead magicians, I was interested in the role of magic in the traditions and saint devotion and things that I was already exploring, and I've always been attracted to liminal spirits and found working with them very helpful, the ones that exist on a threshold between things, the symmetry gates , the wall between two things, the border crosses, if you like. And, their unique status as a cult is also interesting as well in that, by the 14th century, certainly, they are considered saints, you know, Saint Gaspar, Saint Belchior, and Saint Balthazar. But they're also utterly important to that tradition but kind of outside of it, but also legitimizing it, and certainly this is how their cult played out from the vast popularity of their pilgrimage site in Cologne, which became one of the four major hubs of pilgrimage, which was a big deal, right, in the medieval period.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: Into the exploration into the so-called New World, where, again, the kings were employed by both colonizers, there was a concept of preconquest evangelization, the idea that the message, the good message of the Nazarene had extended to the quote unquote savages of the Americas, which is why the Mayans had crosses, supposedly. That they had civilization, so they must know about Christianity, because that's the only civilization that builds, you know, that's the only culture that could allow a civilization to occur. And so this frames the conquest of the New World, again the quote unquote New World, as a matter of reminding people that they were already Christian.
And one of the ways that this was done was to tell colonized people that one of the kings who came from afar was from them. And thus, their king had already acquiesced to the will of, you know, these white colonizers, or these, you know, these European colonizers. But, in doing that, they also allowed colonized and sometimes actually enslaved people a sense of, like, autonomy, that they had a magician king ancestor, that even though that was being annexed on the one hand, it was also, it also fomented political dissent. And so that notion of a powerful and politically ambiguous set of figures became really really interesting to me.
AL: It also, you know, in terms of personal anecdotes, they also became more significant when I moved to Bristol and I was touring as a performance poet and a consultant magician and diviner, and I was getting cheap transport a lot because I was also a student, and I was getting the megabus, if you're familiar with that, and it stopped just outside of one of the only chapels dedicated to the three kings in Europe, which happens to be in Bristol.
And so, I would see them every day as I was setting out on a journey, and so I started looking for them in grimoires, and finding that most of the spells that are considered under their aegis, or their patronage, are works of safe travel. Right? Are works of journeying, right? Of going, of adoring, and then returning via a different way, right?
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: And that model has greatly inspired me, I mean, directly, in terms of the work I was doing, working with the land I had and the places I had and the opportunities I had to make quick offerings when I needed to, you know, make sure I was nursing a nasty hangover on a five hour journey, you know, going to a gig somewhere. But also, you know, getting off the bus at the end of journeys and saying thank you and gathering dirts and using that in that way. And certainly, the idea of them being patrons, not just of where you pilgrimaged to, but the patrons of pilgrims themselves, feels very powerful to me.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm.
AL: And that sense of them, that we don't pray to them, that we pray like them, also feels to me very much like an important necromantic aspect of the ancestor cults around them, that we imitate them, that we too are on a journey, looking for the light that points to majesty, of some kind, whatever that is. That we too are on a journey in terms of passing from life to death, and maybe to return, right? To be a bit mystical. I find it very interesting that occasionally the magi, or lithographs of the magi and the star, find their ways into, or are venerated in, some houses of Haitian Vodou, right, where they refer to the Simbi, and that notion of spirits that have died and then died again and crossed over again to become spirits of some kind. And that mass of the idea of not simply working with a saint who is that thing, that you are working with the elevated soul of someone that used to wander round in a human body and is now, in theory, sat at the right hand of God, right? You're also working, or you can also work, with an attendant set of dead folk who cohere around that point of devotion, because they also worshipped like that. And that's again, that sense of like ancestral saint work for me is very important, not just who ... what icon am I staring at, but who, what spirits, what shades do I feel around me who are also facing that direction? Right? And who am I in communion with, and who am I sharing that communion with?
ANDREW: I love it. Yeah, I mean there's reason why people use the term, "spiritual court," right?
AL: Yeah, yeah.
ANDREW: Who are we all, whose court are we at and who are we all, you know, lining up with in that place and so on?
AL: Yeah!
ANDREW: I love it. Well, thank you so much for making the time today, Al.
AL: Oh sure, yeah! No, it's been great!
ANDREW: You should definitely check out Al's book. We have it at the shop. It's available in other places too. And if people want to come and hang out with you on the Internets, where should they go looking for you, Al?
AL: Oh, they can find me at my website, which is http://www.alexandercummins.com. There's my blogs there, there's a bunch of free lectures, you can book my consultation services through that, jump on the mailing lists to hear about gigs I'm doing, in wherever it is I am [laughs], touring around a bit more these days, which is lovely to be on the road. Just got back from New Orleans, which was great to see godfamily there and to do some great talks I really enjoyed. So yeah, my website …
ANDREW: I also have an archive of premodern texts, scans of texts, grimoiresontape.tumblr.com, if people want to check out, you know, any of these texts from 17th century magicians that I've been kind of digging up, that's certainly something I'm encouraging people to do, is do that. I teach courses through my good friends at Wolf and Goat, Jesse and Troy, just finished a second run of the Geomancy Foundation course that I run, and I'll be setting up to do a course introducing humeral theory and approaches to the elements and that kind of embodied medical and magical kind of practice stuff, which, hopefully, you know, diviners and people like that will be interested in. One of these underlying things for a lot of Western occult philosophy and magical practice that doesn't necessarily get looked at a lot.
ANDREW: Yeah. Well, we’ll have something for us to have a further conversation about at some point, then.
AL: Oh yeah, I'd love that! Yeah, for sure!
ANDREW: Well, thanks again Al, and, yeah, I really appreciate it.
AL: Oh, great! No, no, it's been a pleasure. Thank you, Andrew.

EP75 The Ask Andrew Episode

March 2, 2018

For the 75th episode of The Hermit's Lamp Podcast we decided to have a little fun. Get to know the guy who runs the show a little better with a fun Ask Andrew Episode led by the wonderful Fabeku Fatunmise! So join us for something a little different this week, see if your question get's answered and let us know what you think! Thanks to everyone who listens and here's to 75 more amazing, magick filled episodes, and guests.

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FABEKU: Hey everybody, welcome to the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am Fabeku, and I'm here today to interview Andrew MacGregor, episode 75! Hey man, how are you? 

ANDREW: I'm doing all right. How are you? 

FABEKU: I'm good, thanks for having me in this position. We get to kind of switch it up today. I get to ask you questions, which is kind of awesome. 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure.


ANDREW: Yeah. It's kind of a once a year thing where I sort of turn the tables and sit in this seat for a change and, you know, get to experience the nervousness and discomfort which is having to speak about myself for an extended period of time. 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: So, yeah. 

FABEKU: Perfect. So, let's dive into the uncomfortableness, right? 

ANDREW: Yeah, exactly. 

FABEKU: So, you know, I thought a good starting point might be ... So, in the last podcast we did together, we talked a lot about the dead, and the ancestors, and kind of that whole realm and relationships. I'm curious: tell me what ... I think, let's start with, what's the role that the relationship with the dead plays in your life? Like, tell me where is its place, and why is it such a big thing for you? 

ANDREW: Hmm. So, I mean there's a couple layers to that, right? I mean, one of the things for me that exists with the dead, which is I have very easy access to them, right? If people are dead, and they're around, or want to be around, I can just converse with them, right? And so, that really changes my relationship to death, right? You know? I remember, a while ago I had this dream where an old roommate of mine showed up in the dream. And you know, in the dream we were hanging out in the kitchen where we lived together, and they said to me, "Hey, I'm dead! I just wanted to come and see if this would work, and if you could actually hear this message from me and know that I was dead."


ANDREW: Cause we had talked about these things a lot, sort of when we were roommates and stuff, and they were interested but skeptical. And, sure enough, I woke up the next day, and I was like, "Oh man, they died," and so I went and did some searching and found an obituary listing for them, you know? 


ANDREW: And, you know, so stuff like that is very interesting, right? And that changes a lot, you know? When my godmother passed away, I knew she was gone before I got the phone call, because I could see her standing in my living room, right? And I'm just like, "All right! So, it happened, eh? Okay." You know? So that's kind of the first piece of it, right? And so, when people slide over to the other side, I don't lose connection with them in the same way that a lot of people do, you know? And, you know, I have a shrine in the middle of my house which is literally like in the center of our main floor, right? When you walk in the front door, if you turn left, you'd be in the living room, if you go straight you'll be in the sort of kitchen and dining area and stuff, and right in that space at the bottom of the stairs going up, you know we have a dresser and on top of that are all the ancestors, right? 


ANDREW: And so, they're always there, they're always included, and they're not all available, but many of them are always available to me. So that's one of the things that happens. I mean, the other thing that happens is that a lot of the spirits that I work with, you know when I'm working reading cards or doing magic for people, you know, those are also spirits of the dead, they are people that were alive at one point for the most part. And, you know, so I have these relationships with these spirits that are, you know, super clear and super helpful, and they provide me with guidance and they provide me with skills that I might not otherwise have. A number of them are happy to do work for me, when I need spirit work done, or for clients for that matter, and so there's this thing where, in that regard, I'm not the one always doing the work, when I sit down to read or when I sit down to, you know, do some spirit stuff for people. I'm actually part of a team of people ...

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: ... who show up for this work, and so, you know, that counsel that comes from my one guide who's been, you know, who was a card reader in their lifetime, and you know, she's been dead for over 300 years now, right? Kicking around, following her descendants, you know, down to me, and hanging out with the ones that are doing this kind of work, because it's the work she did when she was alive, right? That is a kind of access that doesn't really fit a lot of other experiences, you know? It's different than book learning, it's different than, you know, other kinds of things, right? So. I don't know, does that answer the question? 

FABEKU: It does, and so what I'm curious about ... So, when people start to work with the dead, the ancestors, spirits, it seems like one of the questions that comes up is, how do you know that they're around, right? So, you said if they want to be around, that you have easy access to them, and it seems like a lot of people struggle to figure out whether the spirits want to be around, or whether they're bothering the ancestors or not ... How does that come through for you? You know, outside of some obvious dream where a roommate shows up and then you realize they've passed? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

FABEKU: How ... What are the signs? What are the clues, for you? 

ANDREW: So, I mean, let's talk about how it started for me. Cause I think that what I do now, that I've been doing it for 20 years, isn't super helpful a lot of the time to people, right?

FABEKU: Right, yeah. 

ANDREW: Because what I do now is like, I see them there, and they talk to me, and we have a conversation, and it's not the same as you and I are having this conversation right now, but it's not that distant from that either. Right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But that's, you know, 20 years of doing explicit ancestor work and 30 years of magic and meditation and other things, right? But when I started doing this work, the thing that I started doing was, I started making space for them, and I started making time for them. And not in an everyday kind of way, but in a like once a week kind of way. And so, I set up a spot in my house, I had some pictures, I put a glass candle, and I would show up and I would say some prayers for them. And mostly I would say prayers that they would have appreciated, you know, I mean, my ancestors were Catholic and Anglican, for the most part, and so, you know. Our Father Who Art In Heaven and all that stuff. It's not my religion, it's not my belief, but I'm saying it for them, right?

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And so, I would show up and make time, and then I would have a feeling during that window of time. And those feelings, and those experiences I would really prioritize, right? Because at that point, I'm creating a clear space where I'm stepping into sacred time, I'm opening myself up to these spirits, I'm announcing to them, "Hey folks! Every Sunday, 10 a.m., you want to drop in for tea? I will be here."

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And then I kept that, right? And I kept that sort of practice for, you know, I kept that practice until that practice evolved to be every day, right? And I don't think that everybody needs to do that every day. I think that that is excessive for many people's lives, right? I mean, you know, I speak to them every day because, you know, five days a week, I'm working cards and spirit and I'm doing a lot of spirit work, right? 

But for most people's lives, once a week is great. Keep it up! Keep showing up! And realize that you're there to give them something, which is prayers, energy, some light, an offering, whatever. And just let it build, you know? Because a lot of people, you know, the spirits, you're not going to bother them, right? Unless you're like showing up every week and being like, "But, but, how come this? and how come that? and why can't you make this happen for me?" Or whatever, right? Like, it's the same thing as it is for living people, right? If you're a bother, it's cause you're showing up every day and asking 'em for something, instead of showing up and being like "Hey, how are you? What can I do for you? Do you need anything?" You know, and if you think of it as building a relationship, then you're going to find that connection flourishes, and you're going to find over time that you and these spirits find your manner of communication. 

FABEKU: I like that. And I like that idea of making like a regular space, establishing that rhythm, like "hey, I'll be here Sunday at 10," right? So, they know, you know, that space is there, the bridge is built, the connection is clear, I like that. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Well, cause the other thing that happens is a lot of people, I think, get into a lot of trouble, because they're curious, and they're open, so then something shows up at 3 a.m., something shows up Tuesday afternoon, something starts whispering to them while they're on the subway, you know? But like, what is that? Is that your ancestors? Why are they being a jerk and ringing your phone at 3 a.m., you know? Like, what's up with that, right? 

And so, you know, if you have this regular structure, then you can also have this regular expectation, which is, "Hey folks, unless, like, my house is on fire, don't bug me at other times, show up at that time, and let's have a really clean, respectful relationship." And because ... If you're sort of setting up this kind of practice, it will tend to insulate itself against other energies. And, you know, it's not a perfect guarantee but it'll be really helpful, and so you're not going to get random things cruising through your life and whatever, you're going to get your ancestors that are around. And then they're going to help hold that space and build it, right? 

FABEKU: And how important do you think that rhythm, that regularity is, to that? Because I think that insulation piece you spoke to is important. How much ... How big of a part do you think that regularity plays to building that kind of container or that insulation up as opposed to just kind of sitting down and doing it when you want to or when you think of it or whatever? 

ANDREW: Well. So. We've got to think about how do we reach these spirits, right? You know? And they're out there doing whatever they're doing. Right? Like, it's not like spirit is constantly sitting there, always, waiting for us, right? You know what I mean? They're not 24/7, you know, like Santa Claus watching us and seeing if we're good or bad, right? They're doing stuff. Right? And whether that's for other people, or for themselves, or things that we don't even really understand from this level, right? 

So, if we have a structure, then they know where to show up, right? We've got some coordinates where things are going to happen, right? And, depending on the spirit and its relationship with you, it might be available more often, right? You know, I mean my guides that I work with are sort of continuously available to me for the most part. But that's an agreement that we've made and built over time, and that's an agreement that they're actually in part here to support and help me do the work that I do, because the work that I'm doing is the work that is their, part of their destiny to make happen, right? 

But, you know, if we just show up randomly, it's not unlike strolling by somebody's house and knocking on the door. Are they home? Are they getting groceries? Are they sleeping? Who knows, right? But if we have this sort of regularity, then we can really sort of trust what's going on. And I also think that in time, it becomes possible to be more casual about connecting, once you really know the feel and the energy of the spirits, once you have ways to really trust who it is that's showing up. But in the beginning, if you're not sort of in the space that you've set aside to it and saying the prayers and going through that process that opens that door and closes that door, it's not as guaranteed what's showing up, right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And, I think that the timing of that is maybe less important than is the space for that, right? But even at that. Maybe also the timing? Especially if you feel like you walk by five days a week and you don't feel anything there, you know? Maybe they're really busy with other stuff, right? So. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. Yeah. I like that. I like the idea of having a ... the words you use, coordinate, I like that. Right? It's kind of like, they always know where you'll be, at a certain time, and then they get to show up, and then you get to continue to build that bridge, deepen that relationship, do the work, I like that. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. You know, and, I think that our job is to show up too, whether or not we feel them, right?

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I remember my ancestors wanted my partner and I to go to church before we got married, right? We weren't getting married in a church but a bunch of them were like, we want you to go to a mass. And we're all like, "ehhh, okay guys, if that's what you want," right? And so, we ended up at this Anglican church, which, had like a 5 p.m. on a Friday mass. Right? There was us and one other person in the space, right? 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: In this church that probably seats like three or four hundred people, right? And the priest came out and they did the mass, and ... And I remember sitting there watching them do the mass, and thinking, they would be doing this mass whether or not we were even here. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: That this is an agreement. I could tell that this was an agreement that they had made, in this case with God, what have you, but that they were going to hold this space no matter what, because that was their commitment and their practice. And I think that, you know, there's something deeply loving and relational about that, as opposed to kind of the more transactional spirit stuff that a lot of people, you know, myself included, started out with, right? Like "I really need a new job guys, you gotta help me out," 100 percent fair, but the more we find ourselves toward these deep lasting loving relationships with those energies, right? I mean, if they make sense for us to work with, the better, right? Because then, it's a completely different way of being. 

FABEKU: Yeah, I like the relational piece of it, right? Because I think it is easy, to, whether it's intentional or not, to approach it like a transaction, and, you know, when there's the desire to dig deeper into these relationships, but yet, we're not really showing up, we're not really doing our thing, then to me, that kind of weakens the overall structure. It weakens the access and the experience of it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. And it might be great, and they might not care, but they might really care, right? Or more still, they might really need something to help them, to help them help us, right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And if we're not feeding them in that other direction, then, you know, they may not even be able to help, even if they're willing. 

FABEKU: Right. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

FABEKU: So, you said that work with the ancestors, that it's changed your relationship to death. Say more about that. I'm curious. 

ANDREW: Well, I mean, I really feel this sort of continuum, right? Like, spirit people die and one hundred percent I miss them, right? One hundred percent I'm sad. But, at the same time, you know, so many of these spirits are just on the other side now, and I can talk to them whenever I want, you know? I got a phone call from the partner of a long, long-standing client, who had an ever-escalating series of really critical health problems, to say that this person had passed away, you know? And, you know, I knew it was coming, and this person knew it was coming, cause he used to come to me, and we used to sit and talk about it, cause most of the people in their lives were in denial about it, right? But they had, you know, they had open brain surgery, you know, to remove stuff. Like, big problems, right? And then, big fallout from that. 

And, so, when I heard the news, and when I had some time, I sat down and I'm like, "All right. What are they doing? How are they doing? What do they need?" Right? And, and I could find them, you know, and I could feel them, and really, for the most part, what was going on for them was, they were just laughing their ass off now. Cause they were like, "Aw man, what a crap show that was at the end," and even despite that, despite their hardships that they had in their life, one of the things that was really quite amazing about this person was, they had a life that few people would understand or believe, and yet they still laughed a lot, right? And when I kind of connected with them, and I felt that laugh from them, I'm like, "Oh yeah, you're all good now, right? You know you're done? You're ready to move on, you're going to do whatever." I'm like, "Cool. You don't need anything from me." Right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And so that ability to sort of check, it leads less room or almost no room where regret has to live or where uncertainty has to live. You know, I feel like when it comes to, you know, specific spirits and my relationships to them, that I can know what's going on with them now in a way that is tremendously healing and brings closure and all that kind of stuff. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

FABEKU: Yeah.  And how has work with the ancestors, how has it changed your approach to magic? I mean you mentioned the not just you doing it all, which I think is good and important. What else has changed for you in terms of the way you see magic, the way you do magic because of these relationships? 

ANDREW: So, I mean, when I started out in ceremonial magic, right? I would be like, okay, I'm going to contact this archangel or that goetic spirit or whatever, and I'm going to get them to do this work for me. Right? And that would involve sorting out a ceremony, figuring out what they need to call them, incense, and candles, and all sorts of patterns, and other things to kind of get to that space where I would go through these elaborate ceremonies to get something done. Right? And, you know, I would time it to the minute with the, you know, with the sun and the moon and the ... You know, sometimes I'd wait, I'd be like, "You know what, it's going to be really good next month when the sun's here and the moon's there, right?" And I would do all these things, right? And that stuff worked. You know, and that stuff does work, right? 

But, like, so, so I would go through this process and I would do this work and so on, right? And the ceremonies themselves would take a long time, usually. You know, cause you've got to, I would do banishings, and then other banishings, and then openings, and then callings, and, you know, and depending on the spirit would depend on how much I had to call to get it there, and you know and so on. So, it could take like an hour or longer to do these things. And, and then I would do what I wanted to do, or ask for what I want to ask, and most of the time it would work well. Occasionally a spirit would be like, "sorry, you called the wrong number, too bad on you." 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? And then you got to go back to the drawing board, you know like, okay, you know, I thought that was going to work, but what else can I do? And so, I would have these things where, I'd always be looking for the windows where I could work, and looking for the constructs, and how to refine and elaborate these constructs to get me where I wanted to go. 

So, now for the most part, I have a shrine for the spirits that I work with in this way, and generally speaking, a lot of it is very, like, straightforward by comparison. "Hey, is this," like, you know, I'll ask them, "Is this possible? Yes? Are you willing to do this work for me? Yes? What do you need?" And then I would get a list or an action or a thing or whatever. And then, and I'm like, "All right, is that it?" and they're like, "Yup," and then we're done, right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I will, you know, sometimes I will do more elaborate things, you know, if I'm making powders or like, doing stuff. Sometimes there's process involved, or if I'm cleaning somebody, sometimes there's process involved, you know, of doing the cleaning and using the items and so on. But, the kind of work, for like, just straight up to open doors for things, or to consecrate talismans ... Generally speaking, it's like, "Yeah, I'm good, give me these things, burn this incense, you know, leave it here for a day or a week, we'll be done." And that's it and I walk away. You know? And the thing about that that's different is, even when I was contacting spirits before for things, I was using so much of my energy to make that communication happen, right? But now, there's no distance between me and the spirit, and there's none of my energy required for the actual work. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: In terms of actually making the work itself happen, right? So, I'm basically just being like, you know, "Hey? will you do this thing? Yeah? Does this work for you? Yeah? Done." Give 'em the stuff, leave it, walk away, come back, "Is it ready? Did you cook it? All right, let's go, done." And that's it, you know. And that's such a different level of effort, right? 

And the other thing about it is, it also means because I'm relying on the spirit, versus you know sort of these other ways of working, I don't really care what the moon's doing, or the sun's doing, or Mercury's doing, or whatever, because I'm working specifically with one thing that's going to do the work. And either it will or it won't or it can or it can't, and that's the end of the conversation. And I'm not worrying about all these other aspects so much. So, I've kind of slid completely out of this sort of kind of contemporary Western magic witchcraft way of like, paying attention to all these different pieces, and into a very very direct way of working that is super fruitful and ultimately super easy. 

FABEKU: Yeah. I like that. And I think that that totally reflects my experience too, right? It's not that I don't acknowledge the importance of magical timing, but I think you're right. There's other ways to work where it's just not, you know, it's not the deciding factor at all. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. 

FABEKU: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And ultimately for me, it's more powerful because it's more convenient. Right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Because you know, I've always been aware that necessity trumps other considerations. Right? and having found my way to a way of working with spirits that I work with, where those other things that are required are no longer required, means that I don't have to like, you know, double my effort cause the moon's not full, right? Or, you know, double my effort because this thing's in that, or be extra careful cause Mercury's retrograde. I mean, you know, it's not to say that those energies don't influence my life in a more general way, but in terms of the actual pieces of work, they don't seem present at all, you know? It's like people ask me, you know, they're like, "Oh, there's a full moon, no, it was the eclipse," or "The eclipse is coming up," you know? "What does that mean in the Orisha tradition?" And I'm like, "Nothing. Doesn't mean anything." 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: I mean, it means that like, the Oshubwa's got a thing going on, you know? Maybe it might be kind of like this energy from this sign, like this is where we would find it, you know? Like, strange phenomenon in the sky? But it doesn't actually mean anything and it's not relevant. You know, it's not even a consideration, so. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

FABEKU: So, one of the other things that I wanted to talk about with the magic stuff. Both of us are artists, both of us are magicians, and we both work with art and magic in some kind of clearly interwoven ways. So, talk to me about the way "art as magic" works for you in your world and your practice. 

ANDREW: [laughing] That--what else is there to say?--art is magic! It's the thing! Right? 

[both laughing]

ANDREW: So, I've been working on this deck called the Land of the Sacred Self Oracle. And, I've posted bits and pieces of it here and there. It doesn't exist publicly anywhere that I can kind of point to yet, but, you know, it's on my Instagram and stuff like that. And, when I started making this deck ... So, I was, over the last year, I made an Orisha tarot deck, and that deck was thought out and philosophized about and analyzed and whatever. And, not that it's not magical, cause I think that it is, but it was very cognitively driven as well. So that's one way in which I make art. 

But when I started working on this Land of the Sacred Self Oracle, I took a more surrealist kind of open-ended dream-driven approach to it, right? And, what I want from this deck is, I want people to feel things, I want people to have experiences, I want them to be moved by it, and I'm not going to say anything about any of it, really. It's going to be a deck without a book for the most part. Because there's nothing to say about it. Right? 

But when I'm making that work, right? For me, each of these cards comes from a place where I've been, and I'm sort of falling through the art back towards the sacredness of myself, and back towards the wholeness of who I am. And so, the process of making each of these cards is a magical act, right? And the actual act of making them is a way of creating magic that returns me back to myself from some kind of distance from that, you know? And I--when I'm feeling super connected, I almost never make these cards, because for me, they're about finding my way into this land where I am complete and magical and plugged into everything, and where I'm not caught up in taxes, driving around the city, problems with my, you know my kids are having at school, you know, whatever, right? Like all the life stuff, right? That can take us away from that spirit. These cards are gateways back towards that. Both personally in making them, but also, hopefully, as an artifact afterwards then for other people. Right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So you know, that's one of the things that I do, and then I mean a lot of the other stuff I do is around self-identity through portraiture, and so I do a lot of portrait work, well for myself and other people, where I am, you know, trying to align myself to a place where I need to be, or trying to shift some part of my ego, or my own actually way of being into a different place. And then I set those up and I have one on the wall right now that I'm sort of looking at, where I look at them all the time until I feel like I occupy that space, you know? And it came out of a conversation that you and I had about something, where we were doing some work together, and there was, the image that you gave me was, "I feel like your future self is very close, but it's right beside you but covered in a sheet."


ANDREW: And I was like, all right. So, I'm going to like, imagine myself lifting that sheet and looking at my future self and listening to what it has to say, and then drawing pictures of that, as a way of getting there. You know, as a way of, both sort of subtly, symbolically, nonlinearly, making changes that otherwise might take a very long time if I try to take a sort of more brain-driven talky approach to it. So. 

FABEKU: And what is it about art? Why is art that bridge for you as opposed to writing about it, or meditation, or ... What is it specifically about art? 

ANDREW: Hmm. For me, the act of making art is ... My whole system gets into it, right? Like, I can meditate and stuff like that, and I can sort of do spirit journeying, and like, you know I mean like there's many things that I could do, right? And I do some of those things at other times. 

But the thing about making the art is that the process of it absorbs me, and the process of it reveals things to me through the process, right? So, like, I rarely, like when I'm doing these Land of the Sacred Self cards, for example, right? I'm like, what needs to be there? Oh. Giant egg? Okay, there's a giant egg, okay, it's floating in space, okay, and, it's actually hollow inside and there's a rabbit inside looking at a diamond, and there's a hole in the roof and there's a ladder that goes up to the sun, and the sun is throwing these things back down at the earth, and below the earth there's this cavern, and there's this journey that happens, right? Where it's created, and it reveals to me the things that need to be shown, right? The symbols, the patterns, and each step along the way is a process of making a change, you know? It's a ... it reminds me a lot of those sort of Tibetan Book of the Dead type things. It's like "Okay, so you're dying. Hey, you're dying, dude. Good luck. Go down the hall. There's a green door. Open the green door. Make a left turn. You're going to see a monkey. Keep walking." Like, I don't know. Whatever. 

There are these pathways that we can be led, and when I'm making the art itself, some part of that sort of deep eternal part of myself, or other things leans in, and collaboratively we [inaudible] make the stuff happen. 

FABEKU: And so, the revelatory piece ... tell me, how does that match up for you, being a diviner? Right? So how is that similar to and different from doing a spread of cards and looking at those set of symbols and how those things reveal pieces to us? How does the rabbit and the egg and the sun and the diamond ... How does that work? 

ANDREW: So, with how I read for people when they're coming in for readings, with practical questions, it doesn't line up that much at all. I mean, I'm reading the cards, I'm predicting the future, I'm doing things like that, right? And, you know, I mean, all of that symbol interpretation and exploration is a similar skill, but it's not really the same. But, you know, and I talked a little bit about this in a Stacking Skulls episode that we just did, right? When I sit down every day, every couple days, and I read cards for myself, I look at the cards, I'm interpreting them, their meaning, I'm making some notes, and then I'm sliding into the symbols of the cards, or the visuals of the cards, and I start to abandon the meaning. Start to abandon the notion that that figure is even a figure. What if they're just a pattern? Right? You know, I start to look at things like where are there obstacles? Where are there ways through? And I start to slide into a very deeply poetic way of interpreting the cards. 

And as I do that journey, it becomes very similar, it takes me into that space, right? And so, in that sense it's very similar to the process, and often coming out of that, I will end up with symbols or mantras or things that I'm working with, you know? And there's actually, there are actually sort of set symbols that recur to me when I work through the cards, and those mesh with what comes up in other places, but they're not the same, right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: You know, there's this sort of crank arm with a gear attached to it that I see often and I sort of come back to, as I'm looking at the cards, and I find it in all sorts of places where that's certainly not what the artist of the cards intended, right? And it reminds me of different aspects of the work that I'm doing. You know, that crank arm doesn't show up anywhere in any of my other work, right? It is a tarot interface symbol for me. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know? I don't see, like the rabbit as a recurrent theme in the Land of the Sacred Self cards, it's not a symbol that usually emerges in card reading for me. You know, I mean, like, number one, there's no rabbit in the Tarot de Marseilles, but beyond that, I don't even see them in there, even if I could, right? So. So they overlap in a similar way, and they take me to a similar place, but the art part is more about moving around the internal furniture and shifting ego pieces or rebuilding ego pieces, whereas the divination part is more about getting myself into the zone. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And keeping myself in the zone, you know? 


ANDREW: It's more of a day to day piece and the art is more of a weekly or monthly, depending on how much I'm doing, but like kind of big picture piece. 

FABEKU: And how does the art and magic piece come together in terms of the work that you do for other people, for client work and things? 

ANDREW: Well, I mean when I'm doing these portraits for people, I do these portraits where I start with a photograph, and I step into the spirit world and see them from that point of view, right? And, you know, so I mean, what happens during that is, people get seen, that bigger vision of themselves, right? It gets revealed to them in a concrete way that they can look at and work with. You know, and when I do these impossible readings, which are sort of art videos that are set to sound and stuff, that are sort of transformational experiences, those pieces translate into a similar sort of shifting of their ego or their sense of self or their way of being in the world, that opens them up to bigger possibilities, deeper connections, and, you know, deeper openings, right? And you know, and then, I mean, secondarily, I mean it's totally, it totally is art, although not in the same way, I mean, all that stuff translates into my sigil work as well, right? I mean, to me making sigils is art in its own way, so. 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

FABEKU: And what do you think it is about art and magic that those two things play so well together and have played so well together for so long? What's the ... Why is that for you? 

ANDREW: Well, I mean, where ... Where haven't they played well together, right? I mean, if you roll back through, I mean, obviously, maybe it's just the remembering mystics and magicians and so on, right, but like, you know, look at Crowley, right? He wrote a ton of poetry. You know? Look at Austin Spare, you know? He made so much art. And even the people who weren't artists, right? or weren't known for being artists? They, so many of them, made art even if it wasn't sort of shared or, you know, consumed on a bigger level, right? I mean I think that there is just sort of, there is a direct possibility of a connection that's there, where the art influences the magic, the magic influences the art, and both open us up to different ways of seeing the world, and it allows us to sort of, kind of like remember and live in dream space ...


ANDREW: ... while conscious and awake, right? You know, I mean like, look at Carl Jung's Red Book, right? You know I mean that sort of active imagination piece. It's there in so many different sources in one way or another, whether literary or, you know, or visual or whatever, and I think that having access to that is a tremendous tool that, you know, if we can get out of our way to allow it to happen is pretty tremendous, you know? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. Well, and I think there's something about both art and magic where you ... There's the whole working and thinking symbolically, you know, and to me that's really an equally important skill when it comes to the practice of magic and the creation of art or the experience of arts or, you know, whatever. It's this sigil, this candle, this plant, it's a symbolic proxy for whatever this piece is or there's the element of, you know, this, like you said, this rabbit, this sun, reveals a certain thing, that becomes a proxy for something. So, it seems that in some ways not only do they interface well but they're building similar muscles and using similar skills sets. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I mean, they build a language for us, right? And they build a way of understanding things, right? And, you know, I mean it's like, I used to spend a lot of time looking at my dreams and writing down my dreams and analyzing them. And you know, I spent some time doing that with a Jungian analyst, for a few years, and, you know, those symbols very quickly became regular, right? Before they seemed chaotic and random, and I think that they were, right? I think that my unconscious and my shadow was trying to get my attention. And it was like, "All right, let's try a giant alligator. Okay, let's try falling. Okay, let's try shark attack! Okay, let's try a car accident. Let's try ..." You know, like things, right? 

And, but when I started working on it, then the spaces that I was in became regular. You know, there was a smaller rotation of being in the same places, there was a smaller rotation of symbols that would emerge, and as I clarified what those things meant, then those symbols would not necessarily disappear, but they wouldn't occupy the dream in the same way, and then other symbols would emerge that would further clarify that. And I think that in the way that making art or building a sort of codex with spirits that you work with and stuff, you know, it becomes this thing, right? Where it's like okay, super super straightforward, and, you know, I mean, I do this and then that will help with this, or you know. This symbol is here, and oh wait, this symbol is emerging more strongly, and it's related to my anxiety, or my insecurity, or my fear, so I better check that, right? Or, you know, hey, this is warning me that this is a sign that shows up when I'm not paying attention to something that needs attention, maybe. You know, many things, right? But, yeah. 

FABEKU: Well, the two things I like about that ... in some ways it kind of circles back to the conversation that we started with about the dead. The idea of making space, right? The symbols are initially kind of incoherent and all over the place, but the more we dig in, the more we give them space, the more we work with them, they're contained and they become increasingly coherent, and, I also like what you said about the language piece, right, because I think that there is something to both art and magic, where it's this sort of communication, whether it's communication to the audience, communication with the others, the invisible, and I think the more we understand that, and the more intentionally we build up the language, obviously just like learning any other language, the more skilled and adept we become at it. 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. Right? I mean, so like, I talk to lots of people who are kind of starting out in magic, and they're like, "Do I need to learn kabbalah? Do I need to learn this? Do I need to learn anything? Why don't I just get it all from spirit?" And, if you can genuinely get it all from spirit, cool! Right? But that doesn't tend to happen very much. And it doesn't tend to happen in sort of one big revelation where they just download everything to you and now you're good to go. It takes time and there's a process, and, if you are working within a system, then it really behooves you to learn the symbols of that system, right? You know, I mean like, there's ... In the Orisha traditions, there's a proverb, which is, don't ask what you already know, right? And this proverb has SO many applications. But one of the applications that it has is, there are certain questions that you never ask cause you know that's just not how it's done, right? Like, you know what I mean, like if I'm going to give a pigeon to Elegguá, I wouldn't ask, I would never ask that question, cause it doesn't happen, right? It's not what's done, and so I never need to ask that question, right? But, and the more we know the questions that we can and should ask, or what symbols mean, or what the pattern of symbols are, the more we can remove all those sort of unnecessary questions, and therefore make space for deeper and more genuine connection. Which is kind of the opposite of what a lot of people, I see a lot of people sort of thinking, which is, I can just go to spirit and they can just tell me the things, and I'm like, that's cool, but that's a lot of work, right? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: It's a lot of work for spirit, and it's a lot of work for you, and if you don't already have a clearly codified relationship, you know ... And especially if you're working within a structure, then how do you know what's going on? And how do you know when you're asking a question that you shouldn't ask? And therefore, whatever answer you get is useless. Right? 

FABEKU: Well, and that's the thing. So, I think in that way it's almost exactly like learning a language, because, you know, somebody I know is teaching me Romanian right now, I know maybe 30 words, maybe at best. [laughs] And so I could just say, well, you know, why don't I just intuitively express ... I don't have the vocabulary for it! I don't know the words! And the amount of effort required to get that to happen, like you said, is enormous. If I have access to 300 words, then that gives me greater ability to transmit what I want. And I think it's exactly the same thing when it comes to magic. You know? If you have the vocabulary you can use it.

ANDREW: You know ... in my mind you're wearing like a ...

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: ... one of those like black artist turtlenecks, and you're doing interpretive dance! 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: ... to communicate in Romanian to somebody. Right? 

FABEKU: [laughing] Exactly! And I think there's a whole lot of magic that looks a lot like interpretive dance! [laughing]


FABEKU: So, one of the things I'm always curious about when I talk to magicians is, what's your magical origin story? How did you get into it? What was ... and whether it's the first ... they're the same thing or not, I'm curious, what's the first act of magic that you did, that really kind of solidified, "Holy shit, this is real," like "This is really a thing."

ANDREW: So, I was always into it. Right? Like there was never a time where I was not interested in magical stuff. Right? I mean, when I was a kid, it was colored by kid lenses, wizards and dragons and Dungeons and Dragons and, you know ... And, the inroad where I started to find things that were more real was actually through like, 80s ninja movies, right? So, me and my friends were watching these movies, and were like, "You know what'd be cool? We should start meditating like them. We should start learning." Right? And, so we set up this space in my friend's suburban basement crawl space, right? We got some paper that was, we thought was rice paper, but whatever it was ... 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: It made this little ninja room in the back, right? And we would crawl in there, and we would light up our incense, and we would sit and meditate. Right? And, then coming out of that, I started doing martial arts, and when I started doing martial arts, I started learning to meditate, right? And the person that I was studying from at the time, you know, he would sleep for four hours and then meditate for four hours every night. That was his deal. And he would do transcendental stuff, and he would do other things, and we did this meditation where, whatever we did to get there, we started to shrink. And he's like, "Just get smaller, get smaller, notice the mat you're on getting bigger," and in the meditation, he led us through to sort of dropping through the pores in the concrete on which we were laying. And looking at other things. And, some of that really started to open me up into other possibilities, you know? And, you know, around that time, I mean I'd already been excited and interested in magic, and I was reading a lot of like fantasy and stuff like that that tied into that, and you know, I found some books by Aleister Crowley, and you know, I found a bunch of other occulty-type books, which, you know, were 80s classics, like The Necromonicon, and ...

FABEKU: [chuckling]

ANDREW: ... the Satanic Bible

FABEKU: [chuckling]

ANDREW: But I started reading all this stuff, right? And, I started trying to think about it, trying to understand it. You know? And so, that was kind of the start of it for me. I don't really remember, like what the starting of doing magic was as such, you know? I mean, I remember trying to read, in Magic in Theory and Practice, Crowley's description of the banishing ritual and trying to do something with it, which is horrible. There are no actual instructions, right? 

FABEKU: [laughing]

ANDREW: In retrospect, actually knowing what is meant by it, I'm like, "Dude, you're a horrible technical writer!" 

FABEKU: [laughing] 

ANDREW: But you know, like, yeah, but like, at that time, I was very interested in a lot of stuff, and mostly, especially because when I was 14, I almost died in an accident, I really just wanted to understand things and know things, you know? And so, I just started reading everything, and talking to people, and, you know, kind of, you know, making art that was sort of heading in that direction. I was always making art, right? Ever since I was a kid, and I look at the art that I made leading into, you know, leading out of high school and into going to art school, and it was all psycho magical surrealist kind of things, right? You know? And, yeah, so. 

FABEKU: And what is it about magic that's kept you doing it for 30 years? What's the thing that keeps you moving in this direction for three decades? 

ANDREW: Cause life is fucking hard! 

FABEKU: [chuckles] Yeah.

ANDREW: If you, like, if you have some mechanism through which you can make life easier, and especially if you have some mechanisms where you can up your capacity to cope, or your resilience, then, then that's the things to keep doing, you know? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Cause, like, life is no joke, right? It is not easy, and even when things are going well, it's often difficult, you know? I mean, there's just a challenge to persisting, right? To fighting with entropy all the time. And, for me, magic is that thing that allows me to be resilient, to roll with stuff, to manage things, to keep showing up, right? And, AND, to keep being available to the things that I want, right? And where there's a distance between the thing that I want, and where I am, you know, it helps me bridge that distance, it helps me get there, so. 

FABEKU: I like that, a challenge to persisting. I think that's an incredibly accurate way of describing it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. yeah. 

FABEKU: So, one of the questions somebody asked, and this might be a good way to wrap. I'm curious. They asked, "What's the most challenging thing about being you?"

ANDREW: [chuckles] I mean, the most challenging thing about being me is being me. Right? It's also one of the great things about being me. I live in a way that other people don't really understand. Right? I mean, you know. 

And I don't mean, like, woe is me, nobody gets me, and I'm going to sit around and wear my black turtleneck and smoke clove cigarettes, right? and drink, you know, drink port all day, or something, right? Like, you know, it's not in that like gothy angsty teen way, but my reality is really really different from so many other people's, right? 

Practically speaking, I mean I run my own store; I make my living, you know, reading cards and doing spirit work for people; that in and of itself is different than, you know, 99.99 percent of the population, right? You know, I'm a priest in a Afro-Cuban religion, which is quite different from most of the other people. And even where there's the appearance of overlap, right? Like, many people are often like, well, like, you're just a pagan, right? Why don't you just hang out with pagans? I'm like, well, I mean technically you could see it as a pagan religion, but really it's a monotheistic religion, and, you know, and it's not that I have anything against pagans at all. But their relationship to spirit and especially their relationship to Orisha has no real resemblance to mine. And practically speaking doesn't have any real overlap. It's very different, right? It's so different in that regard, right? 

And so, in many ways, my challenge is to really be authentic and honor all the stuff that I'm doing, but then to also not let that separate me or isolate me from the world, right? To like continue to be engaged and continue to stay in the world and doing things in the world that keep me connected to people on a more sort of, on other levels, right? You know, and to sort of always be working and looking to understand commonality through, you know, through these things that are pretty radically different, you know? So. Yeah.

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Cause it's easy to start to feel like, oh, I'm the only person like this that I know, and that's not entirely true, but you know, it's not that far from being true, in many ways, right? And, you know? So. Yeah. 

FABEKU: And how does magic keep you engaged? Say more about that piece. 

ANDREW: I mean, so, like my practice of working with my ancestors, and working with, you know, spirits and the Orishas and stuff like that, you know, I mean, those things keep me engaged because the spirits keep being like, "Dude, don't herm it up! Don't go, you know, don't go live in the woods! Don't disappear!" Right? 

And, they also sort of help me keep a perspective on ... It's easy, and I see both myself and other people at different times doing this, right? See things that mark difference, and sort of use that as a way of creating distance. Right?

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Or justifying distance or allowing distance to be there, right? And, so, you know, I'm sort of, always sort of leaning on spirits and advice from spirit and guidance from divination and other things to keep myself from what might be a natural inclination to be more distant from the world, you know? And so, it keeps, they keep pushing me back, and then I use things like making art and sharing it and stuff like that as ways of creating connection. Right? 

You know, I mean, in some ways this podcast, right, is a way of me creating and sharing connection, because I value the dialogues that come from doing this work and the way in which that keeps me engaged and keeps me connected with people whom I might otherwise not necessarily have a connection with or see a connection with. I create that and even if there's different ideas or disagreements even, that doesn't really matter, cause we're still connecting. You know? 

FABEKU: Yeah. I like that. The whole connection piece, it's a big deal. Yeah. 

ANDREW: It is a big deal. You know? And I think that it's a thing that, you know certainly I saw it in the ceremonial community when I was in that community, right? Lots of people separate themselves from the world by virtue of what they're doing, but I always go back to, there's a line from Crowley's Gnostic Mass, which I used as a mantra for a long time. Which is, "I am just a man amongst men. How will I be worthy to administer the virtues to the brethren?" Right? And like, that sort of piece of making sure I'm keeping myself in check if any arrogance is emerging, making sure that I'm recognizing that I have to both serve people in spirit, you know, cause those things are both part of the equation. You know? And just sort of noticing that my role is to be here on this world and be a part of this world, not just to disappear into the spirit realm, and, you know, wear a fancy hat and fancy robes. As much as I love my fancy robes. 

FABEKU: [laughs] Well, you know what I love about that is I think that, to me, that's an important point that sort of stands out in a lot of conversations about magic. I think there's ... Often, and I've done the same thing, there's a conversation about kind of the outsiderness of magic and magicians, which I get, and I, you know, there's certainly kind of an Other component to it, but, I, what I like about the way you're talking about it is the way that the magic reengages you with life, so it decreases the distance instead of increasing it, which I think is ... Yeah, I think that's a different and really important point. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And you know, the more I am brave about that, the more I find that people really just engage with it, you know?

FABEKU: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And people are just open to it in a way that's just like, "Oh, okay, cool!" You know? And like ... And granted I live in a relatively progressive city, right? You know, I mean I don't live in a super conservative kind of, you know, negatively religiously judgemental space, right? So, I mean, obviously my circumstance is not everybody's circumstance. But like, you know, the, I get tremendous support for my business from the city and from the provincial people and you know, like, I'm, and I just, go and engage with those people and they just recognize it as legitimate right from the get go, and just work with us, you know, and, you know, I'm just really open about those things. I try to be really open about what I'm actually doing and so on, and, you know, so many people have all these worries and anxieties about that, right? And, you know, you might find that there are problems. I run into some really weird stuff, you know. I had a cute couple of people sort of yell at me outside the store at different points in time or whatever, but, that's almost never the outcome that I get, you know? 

FABEKU: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: And, so, I mean again, I live in a progressive city, so there are places where obviously that's more of a challenge. But you know, I think that, you know, that being open and being engaged and being just like, these are the things, this is what I'm doing. I think that that gets us further than sort of, you know, cloistering in our temple and, you know, reading a lot of books. 

FABEKU: Yeah. 

ANDREW: Not that there's anything wrong with books. 

FABEKU: [chuckles] Very well said. That seems like a good place to wrap our conversation, yeah? 

ANDREW: Yeah, absolutely! Thank you for being the host. 

FABEKU: No, thanks for having me. This has been fantastic. Congratulations on 75 episodes! I'm excited to see what's next for you! 

ANDREW: Thanks man. 

FABEKU: Absolutely. 


EP74 Stacking Skulls 3 - Life, Death, And the Practice

February 16, 2018

Andrew, Aiden, Fabeku, and Jonathan are back with a surprise or two coming your way this episode. We start by catching up, and discussing the events of the past couple of months and end with some amazing questions from our listeners! Check out our past 2 episodes if you haven't yet. Full episodes and ways to connect with the skulls can be found in the links below. *EXPLICIT EPISODE ALERT*

Click here to listen to the first chat by Stacking Skulls.

Click here to listen to our most recent one. 

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ANDREW: So, there are two quick things I want to share with everybody before this podcast gets going. The first being, Stacking Skulls now has shirts. That's right: they are on my website. If you go into the product section, you'll see a section for shirts. Or you can just search for Stacking Skulls and you will find them.

And secondly, we spent a lot of time talking about ancestors in this course, and coincidentally, or perhaps synchronously, I am running my ancestral magic course, which is an opportunity for everybody to learn some brand new divination tools that I have created so that they can build a tighter relationship with their ancestors, either known or unknown, and start to learn to work some magic with them. So, if you're interested about that, jump over to TheHermitsLamp.com and slide over to the events page, and you'll find it. Without further ado, Stacking Skulls, my friend.


Welcome to the podcast, folks. Just to give you a heads up before we start: there were some technical issues with Jonathan's microphone. We've trimmed them and cut it, so it flows, but if you run into anything strange, that would be what was happening.


Hey world! We're back: Stacking Skulls. This is the magnificent first show of 2018 with all four of us wonderful wizards in the same place. Thanks for tuning in again. And, if you have not listened to the previous rounds of shenanigans, you may want to go back and do so, or you may want to bypass that entirely. I'll leave that in your hands. You know? But there are two previous episodes or installments of myself, Aidan Wachter, Fabeku, and Jonathan Emmett, and you know, we've gotten together a few times and talked about some things, so I'm going to kind of lead us off, though, with our kind of starting point thing, which is, like, hey folks, what's new in the last three months since we last all hung out together?

JONATHAN: I had a microphone up my butt.


ANDREW: Excellent. Now, the explicit tag!

JONATHAN: Next, Aidan's turn. [laughter]

AIDAN: You know, this has been like the craziest three months ever. Right after we recorded the last time, my son died, and that was a really huge and transformative thing. And it's hard to describe it anyway, but...there is like a massive massive hole there and loss there, but it was also incredibly beautiful. We were able to get him home from the hospital, so that he died in his back yard, with a bunch of friends and family around. It was easily the most magical and beautiful thing that I've ever seen.

And then, I had surgery. And now I'm pretty much recovered from that. And playing catch-up in the shop after those two things, and as of last night I'm now a double grandfather, as Ash’s partner, Desi, just had twins last night. And they're beautiful, everybody's good!

ANDREW: That's amazing. Yeah. Whenever I've gone through big losses in my life, you know, like two of my brothers died within six weeks of each other...

AIDAN: Whoa.

ANDREW: And, I always find myself at those times, in, like this sort of liminal space, right? You know? Like where I just sort of end up where I'm like, I feel like I'm constantly in ceremony for some period of time afterwards. And surgery does that, and, you know, I mean, for me, having kids, I don't have any grandkids, but having kids did that. Do you feel like you're still kind of in that, that kind of space? Are you like, sort of living 24/7 in there, or...?

AIDAN: It's really wild, because, I think in the last episode, we talked about that I have these kind of death spirits that I've been hanging out with for a couple of years now. And in the week that I think I talked about, how they've gotten really busy, leading up into it. And so, that had become this, like, every night crazy kind of spirit initiations with these kind of hive beings that their thing is death, that I call the sisters.

And so, when he, when I found out that his heart had stopped, that they had him on life support, I went in and they were totally waiting for me, and so it was very odd, cause they'd clearly been setting me up for this thing, for a couple of weeks. And so, I went straight in to go find him, where he was, kind of stuck in between, and assist from there. And so, the combination of all of that and then actually flying out, I guess two days before he was, we actually removed him from life support, and going through that process there, it's the most complete thing that's kind of a major event that's happened to me, as far as kind of fully self-contained in a way, of anything that I've ever experienced.

So it's very odd, cause in many ways, I just feel really really good, you know, and I'll get hit at points, you know when I've been doing work for Desi and for his babies, there'll be these moments that are very very sad, but it's really just about, I know how much he would have liked to have watched the thing, and met them in the flesh and done that whole thing, that was really important to him, but what I feel like is this huge shift. You know, you have those moments in your life when you can feel like the cogs in the wheels of the machine are always turning, right? And to me, we're always trying to like, smooth that out and gauge where it's going and gauge what the next configuration is going to be. And this feels, in a really crazy way, like it's the smoothest kind of complete snap of things. So that's really what I have more than it being anything else. And like, just mass clarity. So there has been a huge amount of work going on, but it's really been, like there's a ton of stuff that, I don't need that anymore, I don't need to think about that any more, let's do the work to finish that piece off. About things from my childhood, and, you know, social dynamics, magical dynamics, all that stuff. There's been a lot going on, definitely. But so far, it's, you know, it’s weird to say, in that situation, that everything seems really good. But it does.


I mean, it's certainly my experience of... Well, it's one of the reasons for the practice, right? You know? Whether that's Fabeku's The Practice, trademarked, or whether it's just having a practice, right?

AIDAN: Yeah.

ANDREW: I mean, you know, I think that there are... Ideally we get to these places where there's grief, there's loss, there's whatever, right? And there's the hole, and there's the absence of that person from experiences, and the feelings that come from that, right? But then there's also this capacity to be like, I find myself at various points thinking, other people seem like they feel like I should be way more upset about this...

AIDAN: Yeah....

ANDREW: ...than I am, and I have this sort of very deep grounded position around it, where it's not avoidance or denial, cause it's actually almost like a hyper level of looking at it so squarely that it becomes easier to accept it, or to recognize it, and to see the ways in which that is, as you say, maybe that, the moving of the cogs, the machinery of the universe, the inevitability of some kind of fate force or, or just something that is just beyond our control at this point, either way, whether it was destiny or not, you know.

AIDAN: Yeah. And I think, yeah, that in spades, and it's really interesting, because it’s also, and I'm sure that all of you have had this experience, that we do all this work, kind of in these liminal states, or... ceremonial work or ritual work, not in a ceremonial magic sense necessarily, but just the work dealing with spirit, and dealing with the universe at large, what I call the field, and periodically, there are things that happen that really make you realize you haven't done your work in some places? [laughs]

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: That you're like, “Oh! That smashed me!” Right? And I've had a good number of those. This was the reverse of that. This was like, I got the news about him, I went in, the allies that I work with were like, really sweet, and like, okay, you now know what we've been up to with you, let's go do it, you know? He's here, he's stuck. Let's fade him. And that's the most beautiful thing that I've ever experienced. And to me, it is, it is the, yeah, you can do money magic, you can do attraction magic, you can do whatever, but to me it's that: How is the work assisting your reality in the actual reality that you're in?


AIDAN: And this was totally solid.


AIDAN: And it remains totally solid. And I feel like at least the people that I've dealt with closely that were close to him all get that, in a way that I've never seen around someone's death before. And I think it is people who were doing the work, and who are...

I have this knowledge that I've had since I was a kid, that I kind of realized what historical life expectancy of humans was, and the numbers that even got anywhere close to there, and what infant mortality rates and childhood mortality rates are, and so since I was a little kid, I've had that knowledge of that. Like, this is a totally iffy thing. You don't get to stay, and you don't get to pick when you leave, and far more leave sooner than later. You know?

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And, I've had that. I was in San Francisco, at the kind of height of the AIDS wipeout there, and so that's also, I think, you know, at an early age, I lost a lot of people. And so, it was really interesting seeing this, and going like, this is the most okay I've ever been about having somebody cross over. But I think that that's really tied into the work that I've been doing for the last five or ten years. That I could actually be there with it as it was, and go, okay! This is, me, it doesn't matter what I want here, I'm irrelevant in this situation, so...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: I would help the process that's actually happening, to happen in the way that it's supposed to, you know? But yeah. That's what I've been up to. [laughs]

ANDREW: Yeah. Well. It's affirming to hear you talk about it. Do you know what I mean?

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Because, because I think that there are lots of ways in which, especially certain kinds of conversations around magic can feel sort of superficial and transitory, whereas this sort of, the deep work of, I don't know what you would call it, elevating oneself, healing oneself, harmonizing with that universal, the cogs of the universe or whatever, you know, I mean, to me that work has always been the most important work, but it is, except, you know, except when you lose a wheel, you don't notice it, right? Like there's no way to really sort of see it in action, and then when you see it, you're like, “yeah, it's so good that I practiced all that driving with three wheels, cause, one just came off, and now I can stop safely and put something else on there and see what happens next, you know?” So.

AIDAN: Right. Well and I think it also syncs into that concept that kind of connects to a question that we had that, in passing, which is this kind of, there is this direct relationship in my mind from what we now are viewing, the pieces that we can see of it, anthropologically, as shamanism, right, which is this, to me, this epic chain, of shamanism and magic and sorcery and whatever you want to call it, spirit work, that goes back as far as we go back. And I think that this kind of thing is the root of it, you know, it's about... The reasons for all the kind of death mysteries are not because there's some way out of it! [laughs]

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: It's just, this is a reality that is the most prevalent reality other than the birth one, right? And that's that, the wild thing about this to me is that, you know, he's gone now three months almost exactly, and his children are now here as of yesterday. And I think they’re going to have a really... They have a fantastic mom, who has a fantastic network of people, and I think they're going to have really fantastic lives, and yeah, there'll be that piece that they didn't get, but he's like, he's an epic, mythic creature for anybody who kind of has watched this, it’s like, and I don't know that that's a benefit or a drawback, to grow up with that! [laughs] Without getting to see some of the grungier sides of it as a kid. Yeah. But, they're going to be special people. They've got special people all around them.


JONATHAN: You know, I was kind of thinking, while you were talking there, it kind of makes you wonder if he had to leave so that they could be born, in a way. I mean, just, the surrounding, everything surrounding the situation of how it just kind of happened, it really was no warning of any sort or anything, I mean it just kind of happened. It just, it makes you wonder, you know? I think about weird stuff like that. But it does kind of feel like he had to go so they could be here. You know, it's kind of a change of energy or exchange of... the...

AIDAN: Mmmhmm. No, I totally, you know, it's one of those things that again, we never get to have those answers in any…


AIDAN: …definable way, but the thing that I saw, through the time that I was out there when he was in the hospital and then when we brought him home, and had, I don't know, there must have been 20 or more of us in the back yard with him... …Was, you could see the transformation happening on all of those people. While it was happening, I was like, either you could see that there was a way in which this thing was a huge gift to all those people, to see someone's death happening and it being processed by the people close to them into my mind, the most beautiful way that you could hope for, you know?

JONATHAN: When I was 12, I think I was 12, I was pretty young, anyway, my grandfather, loved this man dearly, he was just one of the coolest guys in the world. He taught shop in east Wichita, in, you know, some of the toughest parts of town, and he was Native American to top it off, so you know he probably didn't get treated very well, but he was just such a good man, it was hard for me to let him go, but… I was 12, and he had a death rattle, and I don't know if people are familiar with... It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's not pretty to listen to... And I remember my parents left, and I was just there in the room with him by myself, and our preacher at the time, she wasn't really a preacher, more of a spiritual leader, came by and we were talking, and he started having the death rattle again, and she went to get a nurse and he died. And that was my first experience with death, at such a young age, and it was... It didn't devastate me, like, "oh, I saw somebody die, now my world's over," it was just, it was kind of fascinating, but you know, it broke my heart, because it was my grandfather. So, I kind of understand that, I mean, it's an interesting process to watch someone actually leave [static] you know and that was [static] on several...

AIDAN: You're breaking up...

ANDREW: Yeah, turn off, your microphone’s suffering from what you've done to it, it's going in and out, my friend.

JONATHAN: Is it? I broke it.

AIDAN: In and out! I see how it is.

JONATHAN: How's that? [laughs]

ANDREW: It's good.

JONATHAN: So, I should keep my microphone out of my butt. Anyway...

ANDREW: Let's [laughs], on the segue of Jonathan's problematic microphones, what's going on with you, Fabeku?

FABEKU: Yeah, it was... it's been kind of an interesting few months, you know, it was holiday stuff, and you know, weird, I'm not, I don't love holidays anyway, but this one was a little weird. You know, my mom's getting older, and has some health stuff going on and that's been...not so great, and with that, there's some weird cognitive stuff that's starting to happen, and I think it's interesting, cause I was relating in a different way to what Aidan was talking about with... You know, it's been interesting to kind of look at that cycle of her, she's in her eighties, and, you know, kind of getting to that phase where things are becoming kind of difficult and problematic, and it's interesting, kind of watching the other people around her, and kind of their stuff that's happening with that, and you know, the kind of the... the sadness, which I get, but kind of the panic and the fear and the weirdness and that kind of thing...

Had a chance to talk with her a little bit in the busyness of the holidays, just kind of where she's at, and it was interesting, like she, she mostly felt okay with things, until everybody started freaking out, and then she got kind of fucked up and worried about it, and you know, so we talked a little bit about that, kind of managing other people's shit, and you know, we talked about ancestor stuff, and it's interesting, cause she, I mean, her background couldn't be any more different than mine in some ways. She grew up in a super religious Pentecostal home and music was "of the devil" and, you know, all of that kind of stuff, so, we have pretty different philosophical takes on things, but, yeah. We, it was a good conversation, we got to talk about the ancestors and kind of crossing in a good way and being met by the ancestors and you know, I, we talked about kind of my practices with that a little bit, and I asked if she was all right with me kind of working with the ancestors to, you know, kind of do what they need to do so when it's her time, you know, it can be as smooth of a transition as possible and, you know, it’s again, like this is, it's a weird conversation to have with somebody.

But to me, like we've been talking about, this is why we do this work, you know, I'm all for money magic, I'm all for all of this other stuff, that's fantastic, and, you know, when there's giant life shit like this, yeah, these are the moments when I feel really super grateful that we do what we do, and we have this stuff available to us. You know for me, it, I was thinking about this a few days ago, how these practices become, at least for me, these shock absorbers. You know? It's not that it prevents shit from happening, but when it happens, it allows us to stay more oriented and more coherent than we would be otherwise, and, you know, then if that extends out to the people around us, then we can help them get or maintain a better sense of coherence and orientation, and that's a pretty remarkable thing, to me.

ANDREW: I think it's such a significant point of view, right? Because so many people lose faith because they do stuff, religiously or spiritually or magically or whatever, and then some life thing comes along and they're like, “why did this not get prevented?” Right? You know? And then they falter because of that, right? You know? Like I remember, a day and a half before my second brother passed away, I was divining with the Orishas, right? And I came on this really bad sign, right? Basically, a sign of unexpected things and tragedies that shake your whole world all the way down to your foundations, right?

And so, I did what I do when stuff like that shows up. I basically called all the people who are important, you know? And I knew that he was going through a hard time, and so I called him, and I was like, "dude, come to my house, come over here, you know, I know you're out doing whatever, but, like, come over here, you know, after work, come over here, I'll come pick you up, come over here," right? And he decided not to, you know? And then that, ultimately, that decision that he made led to his passing, you know? And you know, there are these flags that I think that are there that warned that something's coming, right? You know? Like, gird your loins, put on your armor, get ready, shit's going to get shaken up, but it's rarely ever as clear cut as anything else, and to me that doesn't diminish my faith in these processes, because the warnings and the advices of that reading carried me through that time in a way that I could have been, it could have been so much worse for me, without that, you know? So. Yeah.

AIDAN: Yeah. It was interesting, when I went out to Athens, I took out a deck of cards that I had just got and decided I was going to take that with me, to be my thing, and I'm not a big diviner, I don’t, if I do a reading a week, that's a lot for me. And, as I was moving through, whether this was on the plane, or off by myself getting dinner at some point, and there was a sum process coming up, I would ask the cards to show me what would help me.


AIDAN: It would give me these readings that I would interpret in some particular way, at that moment, and I would invariably be completely wrong, but having that information in my head, and expecting things to go a particular way, was like the most perfect "assistance" I could ever get, which was what I basically had asked for. I didn't say, "what's actually going on?", I said, you know, "what should I have in my head, or in my mind, going into this situation," and they would give me something, and that was an incredibly useful tool, it was very, it wasn't accurate to what events actually happened, but it was totally dead accurate to what attitude I should approach each of those situations with. And so, I do think it's very interesting, that, I talk a lot about the biggest issue with magic is our kind of limited perceptual abilities. It's like... And when we're first starting out, that can seem like we're totally disabled until you kind of figure out how it works for you, you know. But I totally see that side of it. It's becoming more able to communicate or understand communication, even if it's not perfect.

FABEKU: Yeah, I think that's an interesting point. I think that, you know, I, to me, that goes along with this thing that, cause I, I do divine a lot, like that's kind of one of my things, and I think since starting that, well, since starting it and fucking up a lot and misunderstanding and misapplying things, since then, my thing has been, how do I continue to expand my bandwidth for this connection and this communication, whatever it is, particularly around blind spots, things I don't want to see, difficult news, outcomes that aren't what I want, you know, times that I've misunderstood something and then shit goes totally sideways from that, you know, how do I expand my ability to stay connected and stay in communication when those things are happening? Because to me that's when it really matters, right? I think that…

AIDAN: Yeah, absolutely.

FABEKU: You know, if just suddenly, if we use that bandwidth and it goes dark, what then? So, for me, it's, you know, how do we, how do we keep that capacity as full and accessible as we can, when we really need it? You know. I think that's, it's not easy, but I think that's pretty critically important work.

AIDAN: Yeah.

ANDREW: Yeah, that's kind of, you know, I used to do a lot of readings about life and the future and whatever, and I still do when I'm planning and stuff like that, but, like, my regular readings, which are like, maybe two or three times a week these days, are: How do I keep myself in the zone? How do I get back to the zone? How do I move out of this sort of out of sorts-ness that I'm feeling back to being centered and grounded and aligned? You know?

AIDAN: Yeah!

ANDREW: And that's like, essentially the question, as much as there is a question, right? That's the question, and that's always the question. It's not really about anything else or anybody else or whatever, it's like, what do I do internally, to, you know, to be in, like, full on mode today, or as close to full on mode as possible, you know?

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

FABEKU: Yeah. I get that. I like that, that idea of, you know, what do I need to do to stay aligned? And I think that's the thing, I think a lot of times it does come down to asking better questions, right? Because I think probably the last significant experience I had with that, about a year and a half ago, I had surgery, and, it was supposed to be, kind of a not, I mean kind of a big deal but not a big deal, and, you know, before I did some divinations with it, a couple of people did some divinations for me, everything was fine, all good, in and out, easy peasy, don't sweat it— That's not at all how it went, right? Everything that could have gone wrong did, and then some, and it was crazy. It was, it went sideways in ways that really could have been incredibly catastrophic beyond what it was, and as I was in the hospital thinking about this, you know, I think it could have been easy to, like you said, Andrew, get pissed or kind of lose faith, that wait, I read this, and other people read this, and everything was supposed to be fine, and I almost fucking died, like what's the deal?


FABEKU: But instead where I landed with this is, what if I had asked different questions? What if I had asked better questions? Instead of, you know, "what's the outcome of the surgery?" but instead like you're saying, "how do I navigate this?” You know, “what do I need to do to move through this in an aligned way?" That would have been a different thing, and I think it would have been infinitely more useful to me, in that moment, than the questions that I had asked on the front end, because I was super anxious about it, and so I think that led me to asking questions that were, I think, reasonable, but probably not the smartest and most helpful questions that I could have asked.

ANDREW: The "tell me it's all going to be okay" reading…

FABEKU: For sure, absolutely.

ANDREW: ...Is 100 percent human and like we all do it, right? Like, but yeah, there's a lot more to kind of say, than that, maybe?

And, I also think though, like, you know, when you, one of the things that happens when you divine, with, like, the Orishas and stuff is, in many situations we ask if the reading is closed now, are we done, right? But we don't say, like, is this perfect? You know, we don't say whatever. We say a phrase that essentially translates to "has everything that needs to be said been said?" Right? Or "has everything that can be said been said?" Right? And it's like, that's it, right? Did we miss anything? No, we covered it all? Okay. And then beyond that, it's inherently not part of the conversation or it couldn't have been part of the conversation, you know, and that's an awkward thing to accept in the beginning for people, I think, right?

FABEKU: For sure.

ANDREW: They want perfection of their spirit.


AIDAN: I think it also sinks in, there's a, I think it's at the end of Njáls saga, there's this really incredibly graphic vision of the Valkyries as the weavers of fate, and they're weaving in bloody intestines, with like a head as the weight, and spears as the shuttle rods, and beating it with spears, and this is after this whole book of lots of really violent death. And one of the things that I got from that was that they're really saying like, you know, our obsession with fate as humans is always about the survival of the body. We try and, you know, unless we really move to somewhere else, and they were basically saying, this is all blood and guts, here in the body. This is where it goes for everybody, right?

And so, I do think that that approach that both would be given that you were talking about Andrew is, it's what I'm learning with divination, is, that's where I get good help, is: “Yeah, show me the face that I would put forward to walk through this next room?”


AIDAN: And I get really good information that's hard to describe, but, oh, yeah, I know that guy, right? You get used to your visitors in the cards, and you go, I know that guy, I know who I am when I'm that guy, and so I can try and approach this, like...that guy. Or I can look for that woman. Like who's fulfilling that role? And then I'll listen to them. You know, it’s usually, it's very frequently that the cards tell me that I should pay attention to the next thing that my wife says more than I might want to.


ANDREW: That's the challenge of living with an oracle, right?

AIDAN: [laughs] Absolutely!


FABEKU: Well, and I think what's interesting about the conversation is that when we move to the place where we're asking questions that are beyond our own sort of vantage point or unlimited concerns, and I think we open it up to get answers that not only come from that place but that can move us past those places, right? If my focus is only, “okay, tell me everything's going to be okay,” that's a very brief and kind of limited conversation. But, “how do I navigate this?” That moves me past that, and I think it makes us available to the inside perspective, ideas, whatever it is, that we're not going to get if we're asking those questions that are more limited and kind of in the box.

ANDREW: Yep. Well, and let's be honest, from the point of view of the universe, the sun going supernova is okay, right?

FABEKU: [laughing] Exactly!

ANDREW: It's all okay, there are other suns, there are other universes, there are other whatever...

FABEKU: Right. Yeah.

AIDAN: When I was going through a super rough spot, about ten years ago, my mom sent me a card that I always loved that said "everything will be okay in the end; if it's not okay, it's not the end!" [laughs]


AIDAN: I mean totally, like yeah, it’s okay, you knew you weren't going to stay here, so what's the issue?


AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Absolutely. Well, you know, it's interesting, I mean, so, in thinking about what I might want to share about kind of what's been going on for me in the last stretch of time, it's interesting how thematic it all is, right?

So, one of the big things of my last year, was my mom had surgery, she had her hip replaced back in August, and then she, three days later, fell and shattered her femur, right? And so, in December, she went home after spending four and a half or five months or whatever it was in various facilities kind of getting tuned up, you know? And, so it's been this journey of like watching her go through these things and, you know, watching her go through these things, where it's like, you know, she's no spring chicken, she's my mom, so she's got a few years on me, and it's like, this could be the end, this could be the moment, right, and kind of as we were talking about sitting with that squarely and trying to look at the real reality of these situations…

So, you know, that's been going on, and then the other thing that has been sort of flowing with me a lot, is you know, Saturn and its retrogrades, and its switching into Capricorn, and all of this astrological energy that's been going on has been something that I've been really feeling intensely. You know, I mean, over the last while, for sure, being a Sagittarius, and you know, it's now left my sign and so on, but also, this transition to Capricorn, whereas other times I've been like, “aaah, I don't like you Saturn, you've fucked me a lot,” this time I was like, you know what, I was listening to, I think it was Austin Coppock and Gordon White talk about it, and he was just like, throwing out lists of things that are positive in this kind of placement stuff. And he talked about, like, the dead, and stuff, and I was like, yeah, that's really where I need to kind of sit with my energy, you know, and step more into working with that and living with that and feeling that, you know?

And it's just very, it's a carry-over of all of these things we've been talking about, right? It’s kind of taking ownership of my relationship with the dead and with death itself, but with the dead more so, and how foreign that is to kind of almost anybody else that I know, you know what I mean, like, even people I know who are mediums, I feel like, I feel like often it's not quite the same. You know, I was writing about it one time, a while ago, and I was like, what is a good word for the magic that comes from a deep love and devotion to the dead, and from their reciprocal love that comes from there? You know, and I don't have a good word for that, but, you know, there's just something very particular about what's going on these days.

Later today, as part of kind of culminating a work that I started at that transition of Saturn into Capricorn, I'm going to sort of finish making the shrine pieces that I started consecrating then, so that I can continue to do this work and stuff, but it's very apropos of this conversation, right? This sort of life and real like life and death stuff, right? You know, and, kind of like our conversation, I might go to this work for prosperity and I might go to this work for other things, but it's really about living continuously in some form of connection and awareness of that mystery, and sort of constantly honoring that mystery, cause ultimately it's one we'll all be initiated into, but yet it can also be such a source of power and life while we're alive, too. So.

AIDAN: Yeah.


FABEKU: Yeah, you know, as you're talking about that, it reminds me, and I feel this a lot, and I don't think I had words for it until I just heard you talk about what you did, but when I'm doing magic, especially certain kinds, again, especially work with the ancestors, there's this intimacy to it, right? It's like it feels like there's this very direct, intimate, uniquely personal at the same time kind of big and cosmic intimacy that's happening through this interface, right? It's like this direct interaction with these things that are really at the core of being human. Again sure, you know, money, sex, relationships, attraction, all of that, human, right, but if you strip all of that away, the end of it, there's life and there's death and there's love. Right? That's what's there. And when we're engaged in these practices where we're working at that foundational level, there's this incredible profound intimacy to it that I think is pretty remarkable. Yeah, and I don't think I had the words for that until I just listened to you talk, Andrew.

AIDAN: That's one of those... And that's an interesting thing, I was doing work with Fabeku the last two years, where this thing, this kind of connection with the dead and communion with the dead and being a part of this structure of these, like the creatures that I, or the beings that I met, the allies, the sisters. Where the thing that happened right before Ash died was that they basically brought me into their thing, like they really are, I don't know if I have a better description, they’re a collective, but I think of them as like hive beings. And, when they brought me in, the thing that was so interesting was that from their perspective, how beautiful this stuff is, that they're like, “yeah, you guys do this other thing, in between when you're dead,” but it's this transition in and out of when you're dead that has got all of this potency and all of this beauty and where you don't have all of the, this kind of weight of inculturation on you…

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: ... was how I interpreted how they were kind of running through me. And I think that that has to have been a more normal perspective that somehow, we kind of, and maybe this is just as we kind of figured out how to not lose half of the children or something, you know, and we're raising an expectation that barring something weird, you make it to a reasonable age or something. My sense is that if you're in a whatever kind of hunter-gatherer tribal thing, that vision of death has to be so different than the one that we carry now in 2017 America, and that's a bit of what I've felt has been going on with me the last couple of years as well, has been this really strong connection to this, like this is the, it's a thing I don't think I could teach much about, you know, but...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: ...it's the most important aspect of what I do, I think, is like...


AIDAN: I go into and spend time in, and they show me all these things that I genuinely have no words for, but that are really natural normal things. Yeah, it's fascinating.

ANDREW: I had this dream, oh, maybe six months ago, where I was up on this high mountain range, like maybe in the Himalayas or somewhere, and I was in a graveyard, and there were these three eternal beings that were there. And I was there because, in the dream, because I wanted to be initiated into their mystery and under- and know what they know. And they basically said, “well, you've come all this way, all you have to do is give us the sacrifice, and we'll initiate you.” And then, what they asked me for was to surrender everything that I have ever known, or everything that I knew, and get rid of it. And then they would welcome me into their mysteries. And in the dream, I reached into my body and drew out this little blue box that was the sum total of all of my knowledge and knowing, and I gave it to them, or put it on the earth, and they accepted it and then proceeded into the dream further, so. I think that there are these really, places that inherently transcend our knowing, right? Or at least our knowing in a conventional sense, for sure.

Well, so, we did as we usually do--oh hey!

[musical entrance]

AIDAN: Streaker!

JEN: Hey!


JONATHAN: That felt dirty.

ANDREW: So, for those people listening--

JONATHAN: Put your clothes on, Jen!

ANDREW: We were chatting and joking around in the chat room about Jen streaking through our performance here, and I thought, how funny would it be, to have Jen just jump in for a minute. So, hey Jen, what's going on?

JEN: Hey!

FABEKU: Hey, Jen! Holy shit.

JEN: Yeah...

AIDAN: Awesome to see you.

JEN: Good to see you guys too.


So, we've just been talking about death and super heavy stuff for like a long time, so what's going on, what have you got, you were going to bring a question in.

JEN: Well, there was one question I had for Aidan. It started on his little request for questions, but it was about, like any advice or stories working with plant or animal allies. I see a lot of things sort of being appropriated of, you know, my spirit animal is this, my power animal is that, and it makes me wonder, like, you know, did you choose that because you happened to like that animal, or what? you know and so maybe just stories about your experiences with this way of working.

AIDAN: Mmmhmm. Well I have two that are kind of relevant, and the first one is from a long time ago. And my girlfriend and I were up at Mount Shasta where many weird things have happened for me, and this was early on in my meditation practice and I was probably, I think I was 20. And it was super beautiful, we were up in the meadow up on the mountain, and I just went and found a rock out in the sun and sat down. It was sitting kind of like, this was before I could sit full lotus, so somehow crosslegged with my hands on my knees, and I'm sitting there, and I space out, and I can feel like this pull, in like two totally different directions, I've got my eyes closed, and I couldn't kind of translate what was up about this pull in two different directions and what, when I opened my eyes, I looked down, and one of my hands, and I don't remember which one any more, has like five of these big blue butterflies on it, and the other one has maybe 25 flies on it. There's like no cross-mingling. They're not doing anything. They're just hanging out. And I must have spent a half hour with them and they never switched places and nobody ever left until I was gone. And they were, all of the other butterflies that you could see were collecting all the salt and sweat off my skin, I couldn't really tell what the flies were doing. And I've never known anything other than that, it was just, this was this thing that happened. And it was one of those events that changed things, as most of the Shasta events did for me. And then, I think, I don't know, I mean, I laugh at my spirit at the kind of idea of spirit animals because my deep ties into non-asatru kind of freaky shamanic Odin stuff have me always and always have had me working with wolves and ravens. Which are like, super cool, right? And so you go, that's just bullshit, if I was viewing them as power animals. But as you know, cause you've got the book, there are these forms that I've learned over time to shift into in the trance world, and they just allow me to have different perceptions of what's going on. And so, that's my main experience with it is that I have these shapes that I can shift into, that like if I'm getting freaked out by something, if I move into the kind of raven shape, its perspective of what's going on is utterly different than mine. It doesn't have this human view, it doesn't have human concerns, and the same thing with that kind of wolf form, and this has kind of been breeding a lot in the last year or so, where, I'm not necessarily anything like a human now when I'm in the other spaces. And it just allows a lot of freedom that is lacking other times. But I don't have, yeah, the whole idea of the spirit animal thing, I don't really get that, I don't know what that is. But I think you can work with those shapes or at least I can work with those shapes. In ways that are very beneficial.

ANDREW: I don't really, I mean I also don't really work with animals in that kind of way, or maybe I do and just my way of talking about it doesn't line up so that I recognize what other people are talking about as being the same but maybe it is the same. But you know for me there are these things that happen that are really significant, you know, and so I was out in the woods and this albino turkey came out of the woods. Completely white, right? And like it came out, it hung out, and we were like sort of five feet from each other and we sort of had this exchange where aside from where I was like, "holy shit, this is a really weird bird, what is going on here?", once I settled in and figured out what it was... 'Cause it was really big, right? Turkeys are not small animals, right? Especially later in the summer, right? And I was just like, oh, what's going on, and so I connected with that very intensely and then there was another time when I saw an albino porcupine and that was very intense, and then the only thing that ever sort of segues into me feeling sort of more a lasting connection with them versus sort of like a message connection is, I had this dream that everybody was freaking out because there were fishers in the woods, which are these sort of wild and ferocious animals, you know, they're known for like eating cats and other stuff and are considered fairly dangerous. They're sort of the honey badgers of our part of the world, right?

JEN: [laughs]

ANDREW: And in the dream, I was like, don't worry, they won't bother me, and I went out and I just sat down and this albino fisher came out of the woods and curled up in my lap and sat there and we just hung out. And then a few weeks later, somebody who knew nothing about the dream gave me a fisher skull, and so, it's one of the few skulls that I keep around to stack. But you know...

AIDAN: [laughs]

ANDREW: But even that became part of work that I do with another spirit, which is actually the spirit of a person who has passed on and it's sort of, there's a connection there, it's sort of an avatar of that person, as opposed to necessarily being the animal in and of itself, so.

JONATHAN: I actually got my spirit animal from a-- can you guys here me now?

ALL: Yeah.

JONATHAN: I actually got my-- I was named, and was told at the time what my spirit animal was, by a Lakota Sioux medicine woman. So that's my lineage on that, and I've had that verified by people that didn't know me, later in life, of the total number of people that I walk with, the spirit that I walk with, and the animals that are around, so I kind of believe what she says, you know. I work with him a lot, and not really, kind of like what Aidan was saying, really ask him to do things or handle things for me that I can't, or that I don't know how to handle. Or to work with me on shapeshifting and stuff like that; however, ironically, I laughed when Aidan said wolves and ravens, 'cause I do the same thing with both wolves and ravens, is I do a lot of shapeshifting with ravens because of their perspective is higher than mine, so I can see it from a different level. And it's just fucking fun, so, that's just kind of my, that's how I've always kind of worked with animals, it wasn't really so much as they guiding me but kind of just walking together, now, just kind of living life and learning from them, 'cause they have so much information, if people can actually just do it.


Did you know that wolves can talk?

[?] Oh yeah!

[?] Hey my door's knocking, hold on.

JEN: [laughing] Maybe it's a wolf!

ALL: [laughing]

JONATHAN: Probably should, tell me to get off the phone...

[?] Albino porcupine, you keep your distance!

JEN: Right?

FABEKU: So, you know, I guess what I would add to it, I think, I get what you mean, Jon, when you're saying things get a little appropriated at times. I think really what I would say, this to me goes to the necessity to do our work and to deal with our own shit, I think in any of these practices, 'cause, I think for me, some of the pieces that feel problematic around this, they're, when I hear people talk about it, it feels very utilitarian in a way that the element of relationship seems missing, right? It's kind of like the way people would talk about a tool. Like, you know, I'm gonna do this with a hammer and I'm gonna do this with my spirit animal, and I get that, and I mean listen, people start where they start and it's fine but I think that you know, for me, it becomes problematic when we look at these things as tools or objects, right? Like for me it really is like, where's the relationship? how do I more clearly relate to them? And I feel like if we relate to them as things or tools then I think at best it's a really limited thing and at worst it's probably I think it moves us into almost working with some kind of distortion or echo of the actual thing, right, because we're not really, there's not a clear and real relationship happening, so I think the utilitarian thing is weird and I think the other element of doing the work is, you know, I think that, I know a lot of people that have come to these practices as ways of filling holes in themselves, and maybe not so consciously, so the fact that everybody seems to have an eagle as a totem, and kind of the same way that like in a past life everybody was a king or a queen or whatever the fuck. It's like yeah, probably not...

JEN: Cleopatra, usually, always good!

FABEKU: So I think, it's like...

ANDREW: Jonathan Emmett was the one true Cleopatra, so we know that everyone else...

FABEKU: That's been covered, right? But I think the thing is that if we don't deal with those gaps and those holes and that shadow and that pain and we end up filling them with things that are probably not accurate or not really there, and then we start basing a whole lot of shit on top of it, and to me that stuff becomes really problematic. So, this, really I guess my contribution would be, you know I think we just have to be conscious of and then clean up our own shit before we drag it into the practice and then start mistaking that for some kind of spiritual or magical reality that it probably is not. So.

ANDREW: Yeah. And once we've built some structure up then it's really hard to knock that down.

FABEKU: For sure, yeah.

ANDREW: ...work at it, right? And so. But. Yeah.

AIDAN: Yeah, I think that, that's kind of, to me, if you're working with kind of a spirit view and a spirit world, for me the biggest thing was to just slow the fuck down and like go, okay, if I've got somebody that's talking to me, that's good, I don't need to go hunting for sombody else and I can see, will this person talk to me about other things, or will they introduce me to other things? So even like in the, in my, the main zone that I go to when I'm doing trance work, the allies are like, the first allies that I met are like intermediaries, and they're like, there's stuff that doesn't move around and so, if you don't go to where they are, it doesn't matter how much you call to them, and so if I roll in, and I get the ally that's not being particularly helpful but that's hanging out, it's like, okay, would you like to take me somewhere else? And they're like, finally, dumbass! And then I can follow them and they'll be like, "go into the scary fucking cave," or whatever it is that's going on. And that's the , but that's about time, and depth, but I do think that there's the, or even the idea that I'm going to travel through different space and ask to meet the allies there, that might take a long time. There's a space that I go into now, that's finally opening up, and it's like, this has an animal in it, I forgot about it, and there's this big-assed elk thing, that could give a fuck and a rat's ass about me, and I show up, and it just looks annoyed, like, oh, it's you again. It's like dude, whatever, if you want to open this up a little bit, that'd be cool, and it's like, not now, later.


AIDAN: And that to me is the stuff that I get, we've talked about this a little bit before on here, with the four of us, is, if it's all running super smooth and like clockwork, it's probably not super real, Or, there's [inaudible] that's creating myths, 'cause to me, it's like, it just doesn't go that way! And I could be fucked up, I could just be a mess, and...

JEN: Well something that motivated my question was in northern California around 2010 I went to a find your power animal workshop, which was a lot of drum trance journeys and when we went in, to find our power animals, I got buried in ivy for 15 minutes, there was nothing, and everybody was having these stories and they were like, yeah, and then this elephant took me to the bottom of the ocean, and a squirrel, and then landed on the back of a tiger, and then we had this unicorn that was in space, and it was like, uh, I was buried in an ivy, with nothing, and they're like you have a power plant! And I was like okay, power plants, and every other journey I was actually working with plant allies and not animals, and I was the only person there, and I was like, and lots of intense things were happening, but it wasn't an animal, it was like, and it surprised me, because everyone had these fantastic creatures, and it was like " I just got the plant kingdom," you know.


FABEKU: What I think's interseting about that, and this is when I talk about, and I talk about it more of like allies or the others, right, because I think that like, the languaging, and we were talking about this earlier in the conversation about the kind of the questions that we bring to divination, like, this is where language becomes problematic, right, because people usually talk about power animals or whatever it is, fine, but there's a million other options for allies, right? Plants, stones, weird alien creatures, that as far as I can tell aren't here, and but when I've had conversations like that with people, sometimes they act really surprised, like what do you mean, there's a plant person that you work with, or a stone person, there are animals! And it's like well, okay, AND...

ANDREW: Can't go wrong with a magic space pickle!

FABEKU: There we go! I claim that as my ally, the magic space pickle, right? But...


FABEKU: I get that, I think that sometimes we create these kind of needless and unhelpful limitations that really shape our experience because of what we bring to it that okay, I'm going to go meet an ally, and they said power animal so it has to be a power animal, I think that, I don't love that, I think that that stuff gets us super sideways, so when we end up with ivy, we think, what the fuck is happening, right? Like it's somehow a problem that it's really not, so.

ANDREW: Yeah. And really like, you know, what if it's burdock, or what if it's, you know, plantain, or what if it's like, some other sort of amazing magical plant that's in your neighborhood that's like the weeds that grow in the driveway in the lane weights, right? That doesn't mean that it's not profound and magical and powerful and a lot of the plants that I work with are, if they're not Afri-Cuban stuff that I'm working with for part of my religious practice, they're predominantly things that grow here or that I grow myself and you know, there's, to me there's some of the most wonderful magic is like being able to go out in my back yard here at the shop and be like, yup, a bit of this, a bit of that, pull this guy's roots, go down to the ravine, dig up a litle of this, grab this out of the swampy spot and next thing you know you've got something good, and I mean I think that there's such a, and not an origin, but there's such a cult around like, mandrake, and like all these sort of, the witch herbs, and I'm like, those don't grow here, those aren't my plants, those aren't part of my orbit, you know, and I remember not so much in recent times but like when I was getting going, kind of having some feels about some of these things that everybody else was doing and working with and I'm like, nah, I don't think so, I think I'm gonna work with the basil some more, I think that plant's really kicking it up for me, and it's like, you know, it doesn't have to be everything else either, right? And ivy's great, right? That stuff overcomes everything, right? That'll rip your bricks apart if you allow it to go too far, right? That's pretty strong.

FABEKU: One of my favorite magical plants is kudzu, love it. Never met it until I moved to North Carolina, it was all over the fucking place, and I was totally taken by it. We were driving down the road and I was like, what is that? and the person that we were with was like, "Oh, fuck, it's kudzu, it's terrible, it's this," and I'm like, no, there's something to that plant, and I literally wanted to stop on the side of the road and walk over and just touch the plant to figure out what the fuck was going on. I super dig kudzu for magic stuff. Super dig it. And, I think to get to that place that you're talking about, Andrew, I think that this goes back to we have to clean up our shit, irght? Like if we don't feel like enough and we feel like it has to be big and weird and exotic and flashy, we're not gonna say, I'm working with kudzu! It's gonna have to be mandrake or you know, whatever it is, and so again, like you said, not that those aren't powerful, but if we're led there because there's coherence, cool. If we're led there because we're trying to fill a hole, and mandrake feels like an easier plug for it than dandelion, not great. Right? And I can't believe we're conna end up kind of skewed and sideways as a result of it. and, not only that, but missing some really powerful that otherwise, we could build relationships with these allies and do some pretty amazing work with them, so.

AIDAN: I think that that sinks in really kind of beautifully to, yeah, it's like we're enculturated to all sorts of things, just as the nature of being social humans, and so, for some people that's, you know you know, I guess, you know that you are meant to be with the head cheerleader from the time you enter sixth grade, and you know that you are going to have this particular life, which shuts down all of these options, right? And this happens in spiritual practice all the time too. This is to me the kind of beauty of chaos magic and also where it goes horribly awry, is to me the idea of chaos magic is like, you don't have to know where this is going. You don't have to be looking at what happened in the 1800s or in the 1500s or in 900s or in the written record. If this is a natural practice, which is why I dislike the term occultism--occultism seems to me to always be kind of referencing things that are hidden, when I think most of it's like shit that we just forgot how to do. Nobody hid it. But yeah, and then there's just all of this possibility. The most powerful thing that I've been given is this weird little nine sentence charm that changes all the time, and it's peculiar, and it sounds really really witchy, but it's also so retardedly, "The Craft," or something.

JEN: Oh my gosh, I want you to say it...

AIDAN: I can't take it seriously, right?

JEN: [laughing]

AIDAN: But it does this beautiful thing, and it's like a joke, I think, from my allies, like they've given me this coded language, like this is how you get from here to here, and every time I go to do it, I'm like, this is so silly, it's like, and it's being open to this stuff, and realizing that these are language systems that we're overlaying upon experience that's not happening in the body in the normal sense, and so doesn't really exist. And so yeah, you go into the other world and you meet the space pickle, why not? Who... You don't think that that didn't happen to somebody before, just because it isn't written down? We've been here for a long fucking time, somebody has had serious relationships with the spirits before. There is no doubt.

ANDREW: Lucky, lucky somebodies!

JEN: Head cheerleaders!

AIDAN: And it's probably Jon...

ANDREW: Uh-huh.


FABEKU: When in doubt...

AIDAN: Nice! [laughs]


JEN: Well, thanks for letting me crash your party for a minute; I'll...

ANDREW: Thanks for jumping in, Jen!

AIDAN: That was awesome!

JEN: I'll end my streak now. And let you get back to it...

[?]: Whew....

JEN: See you guys later!

ANDREW: See ya!

AIDAN: See ya!

ANDREW: All right, so we have this list of questions here; I feel like some of them we've already kind of touched on. You know, I mean, yeah. So, I guess, KJ Sassypants wants to know, what's the weirdest or wackiest thing that's ever happened to you in a magical or shamanic context? I'm afraid to ask Jon...


ANDREW: Anyone got anything that you'd like to share? We can't hear you, Jon. Jon, I see you talking, but I don't hear you.


FABEKU: While he sorts that out, yes, weird, god, where do I start, shit! So, a couple of weeks ago, I did some like hunting tracking magic stuff, right? It was very specifically like had my eyes focused on a very specific target, and -- so for me, after I do work, I'm usually paying attention to , you know, just what's happening in th world, sort of looking for omens and signs and confirmations and things-- and I was sitting at the window, with the cat, looking out, and, all of a sudden... So there's this family of hawks that lives maybe 100 yards across the street-- This was just within a couple of days of doing the magic-- All of a sudden, out of the tree, like a fucking bullet, this hawk flies out and catches some small bird mid-flight and literally rams it into the window that I'm sitting in front of and then flies off back to the tree, right, and I'm like, well, you know, as far as omens for hunting magic go, that's sort of terrifying and pretty rad at the same time, so, um yeah, it's probably not the weirdest, but the most recent bit of weirdness, that's for sure, so.

ANDREW: I -- I can't hear you now.

AIDAN: Try, Jon. You got it!

You're good!

JON: That was it?

AIDAN: You're good! You got it!

JON: Can you hear me now?

ALL: Yeah.

JON: Okay, was that the question about the paranormal, when I said could I use the paranormal reference?

ANDREW: Sure! Use whatever you got!

JON: Okay. So the weirdest probably thing, I was doing a reading on a house in Carthage and we've had -- hi, kitty -- we've had some instance of a pretty dark entity -- I don't like to use demonic because I think that's a bad word, and I think it's wrong -- more of just probably not ever human, type entity, anyway. So, we're doing an investigation one night, and we had a group there doing a tour, and I spotted this entity, 'cause it likes to hang out on the stairwell, and, so I'm trying to coax it down and to come talk to me, like I wanted to get it to talk-- well, it did. And pretty much threw me for a loop for about, I don't know, six months. To where I was a little bit off my rocker for about six months. And honestly, the you know I, it engulfed the upper part of my body, to where a person two foot away from me couldn't see me from the waist up. And, I still couldn't tell you what it was. I can tell you that it never was alive, I know that for a fact, I know that it was never in corporeal form of any sort, but yeah, I walked out of the house, I had to get away for a little bit, when it lifted, and I was freed from it, for lack of a better word, I walked outside, and I sat down on the ground, and I tried to ground as best I could ground, but I was not entirely in my body for at least 30 minutes there, but mentally it was a trip for probably about six months. So, it was a little bit of an interesting deal, but what brought me back into my body was kind of a funny story was, there's these big, not cedar trees, juniper trees in the front yard, they're huge, and I put my hand up on the juniper tree and an ant bit me, and that popped me back into my cells, so it was kind of an interesting, interesting ordeal. But yeah, I still couldn't tell you what that thing was. But I'd like to go back and work with it, but the last couple times I've been there, he hasn't shown up. So.

ANDREW: Maybe it's following you around, Jon.

JON: Boring ass--

ANDREW: What's that behind you?


JON: No, that's a cat!



ANDREW: I mean, so many things, but like, one of the things that I often do is like, if I'm doing certain kinds of cleansings for people, I'll take the tools and pieces that I've used in the cleansing, and I'll take them into the ravine system here, you know, and there are spots where I dispose of that stuff so the spirits that are there, and the earth that's there can just take that back and it can go away, and not just pass on to anybody else, and so, it was frozen, like stuff was frozen when I was there, right? And it was sort of, freezing rain and snow was coming down, and so I went down into the ravine and you know it's like this, we live in a big city, right, so it's like this lit path, and I go off of that and off into the hills and the woods around there a bit, and to the spot where I go and get rid of stuff, or one of the places, and it's all fine, I do the work, it feels fine, and I turn around to leave, and as I'm walking out, this like two dozen white moths emerged from somewhere and followed me, like they were just around me and they just emerged even though it was freezing out, and they followed me as I walked out onto the path and stuff, and they followed me along the path for a ways, before they sort of drifted back off into the woods, and it was one of those things that when they were gone I was like, did I hallucinate that? What's going on? But yeah I took it as the success of the work and the spirit of the forest kind of clearing everything away for me as I was leaving, you know, but... What have you got for us, Aidan?

AIDAN: There's a few to pick from, and I'm sorting to see which one is the most acceptable. Um. Yeah, probably my third, I think it's the third kind of major initiation that I had was the summer that Ash was conceived, me and his mom stayed up at a relative of her's house on the lake. And there was a, we stayed in a bedroom that was like the guest bedroom, it was up this stairwell, and this was like a really beautifully made but kind of cabin built place on this lake in Washington State. And we were there for quite a while, but I was out paddling around in the canoe on this little lake and I don't know what i did, but I knew at the point that I did it that I had upset the lake, and this is really a little bit before I got enough into magic to be thinking this way. I had some practices I was doing, but I hadn't kind of developed any world view where this would make sense until after this event, but. In some way I knew that I had pissed off the lake and I had best get home. And this is a tiny little lake. And so I turn around and start paddling back, what should be just a few minutes, but, like the wind picks up and the current picks up, like where this current is going, in this lake, I have no fucking clue but, and it took me like a solid hour and a half to paddle back to this place which was really close. And when I got back, I went in, went upstairs to the bedroom and maybe changed my clothes and grabbed a sweater or something, and when I came to go around the stairs, I took the first step and was paralyzed. And I couldn't do anything. And so I just pitched down the stairs and manage to get control of my right arm and just shoved it out through the banisters, you know, and caught myself that way, so I didn't go all the way to the either slate or tile floor at the bottom. And when I came out of it, I had this raging fever, within, just, boom. And I ended up spending the next three days up in that bedroom that we were in at the top of the stairs with this crazy crazy super high fever in delirium and hallucinating and falling asleep and waking up. And I had this dream, this is maybe just an hour or so after the fall, so very early on in the thing. And in the dream, it's night time, and these, this crew of guys, of men in dark clothing, invade the house and kill my girlfriend and me. And I wake up after I've been killed. And I fall back asleep and it happens again. And, I keep getting killed, we keep getting killed, and then I wake up and it goes over and over and over again. And it does this for two or three days, while I'm running this fever in bed. Oh, and there's a power animal in here. In a couple days, maybe the second day, like I've probably been killed by this now like 15 times or 20 times, this huge spider moved into the rafters above the bed, and I kind of viewed it as an ally in some way that way. After it showed up, I began being able to change the dreams, and so the guys would like break into the house, and come in to kill us, and I would get my girlfriend out the window or something, and they would kill me. [laughs] And after this happened a couple of times, I'm like, oh, okay, I can only do a little tiny bit in each sequence here. And so, I have to figure out what needs to happen, if I'm going to stop just being sick in this room. By that time I'd made some connection that this was actually some kind of a spirit problem, though I didn't have words for it at that time. And so I got better and better, so I got her out, I got her clear and away, I got into actual fights with a couple of these guys when they weren't super expecting it, and then something snapped on the third day, and I had this dream, and I woke up before they had even got there. And so I got my girlfriend out , and I think I hid behind the woodpile or something, and they went into the house. And I went in after them instead of them coming in after me. And it took about another four or five times before I actually was able to get in behind them and kill them all before they killed me. And then as soon as that actually happened, I woke up, no fever, three days later, totally wrung out, and yeah, it again, kind of like the first initiation experience, totally totally different. Like it was a huge changer. But that's probably one of the weirder things.

ANDREW: That's very cool. Yeah, it's interesting how sickness can be a thing, right? Or, you know. I was down working on Orisha stuff over the weekend and I was noticing how always like a few days before I go and start the work, before I go in to do the work, I often feel like, oh, am I getting a cold? am I starting to get something? And, you know, yeah, and then I never actually do, right, it's just that energy moving in. So. Yeah. Well gents, it's time to wrap it up. We have one last question, which is a very brief question, which I'm just going to put out here, Theresa Reed wants to know, when are we going to release a calendar? The Stacking Skull Calendar. When is that coming?


FABEKU: Hopefully for everybody's sake, never!


FABEKU: But if we do it, January, I claim January. So clearly I'm open to the idea!

AIDAN: That would be four months, right, so?

ANDREW: Well, we each get to do three months, right? We still can't hear you, Jonathan!

AIDAN: Or we each get to pick our favorite month and that's all it covers!

ANDREW: Perfect, exactly, that's it! And in between, nothing, just blank pages.


ANDREW: Thank you, as always, for listening. I am super excited to say that for a couple of factors I am now in a position where the Patreon is supporting getting transcriptions done, which is really exciting, so we're still trying to catch up with the flow, hopefully the transcription for this one will be live at the same time, which means that if you jump on over and support the Patreon now, you're also going to be supporting, not only transcriptions for people who are deaf, but  also helping me up my tech game here, so that we can get a better quality of sound, clear messages, and so that I can continue to devote time and attention to getting exciting guests on the show. All right? Thank you to all the people supporting the Patreon, I sure hope you're enjoying all those awesome bonuses that are headed your way.

EP73b Magick, Curses, and Scams

February 10, 2018

Over the past while I have been hearing of people who are being scammed for what is sometimes a sizeable amount of money all for a magickal service. Most of the time to lift a certain curse or jinx that has been placed upon you. I want to clarify when to trust this work, when to be sceptical, and to give you the permission to ask questions and feel comfortable before someone begins doing any magickal work for you.

This is the Mary Greer article on cold reading I was discussing in this talk.

f you are interested in supporting this podcast though our Patreon you can do so here.

If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.

Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.

EP73 Art, Shamanism, and the Journey with Paige Zaferiou

February 2, 2018

Paige and Andrew talk about the magickal power of art in their lives. They also talk about spirits, shamanism, shaman sickness, magick, geography and the power of plants. 

You can find paige on her website here and on social media (Facebook INSTAGRAM).

If you are interested in supporting this podcast though our Patreon you can do so here.

If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.

Thanks for listening! If you dig this please subscribe and share with those who would like it.

ANDREW: I want to first start off by saying, big thank you to all the wonderful people who are supporting the Patreon for this podcast. They are getting some awesome bonus stuff, like special recordings, sneak peeks of art work and other projects that I’m working on, and they are helping grow this podcast. They are helping move towards the goal of providing transcriptions so that deaf people can take part in these conversations, and they are also helping support the work that I do, running down guests, getting people on the show, coordinating people in different time zones and on other sides of the planet, and, finally, they’re helping improve the production value of this podcast by allowing me to start considering acquiring better equipment and get away from some of the janky duct-taped together process I’ve been doing for a long time. If you dig the podcast, jump over to Patreon.com/thehermitslamp and pitch in. Every dollar helps. 

So, welcome to The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I am here today with Paige Zaferiou, and she is a tarot reader, and all around magical being, and I thought it was time for us to have some conversations so that people could get to know her and see what she’s about. So, for people who don’t know you, Paige, who are you? What are you up to? What’s going on over there? 

PAIGE: Hi, Andrew! Yeah, thank you so much for having me! First of all, it’s such a pleasure to be here on your esteemed podcast. My whole dealio, I guess, is I’m a so-called eclectic shamanic artist, which is a bunch of words that means I use a variety of different media, very eclectic media, to do a variety of things. I am a tarot reader, and an astrologer, and a ritualist, and spirit-initiated shaman, as well as a fine artist. I do watercolors, book binding artist books, tarot/oracle decks, and other visual media, and all of it really is united by my very Aries enthusiasm. That’s really my jam. I just love being here. I’m so happy to be an incarnated being right now. What a time to be alive! 

ANDREW: Definitely. What a time to be alive, huh? [laughs]

PAIGE: Mmmhmm, mmmhmmm. [laughs]

ANDREW: So, when I hear you talk about what all the things that you’re up to…

PAIGE: Mmmhmm…

ANDREW: I feel like hey, you and I have this in common, right, an artist and ritualist and many of those things, maybe not the astrologer part, I don’t feel—that’s more of an amateur thing for me than a more serious thing, but, how do you sort of hold that together, you know? 

PAIGE: Oh, that’s a good question! Well, I guess I’ll start by saying that, for the context in my life: I am someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD, from a very young age, maybe an unusually young age. When I was about seven years old, I was recruited for a medical study at Mass General Hospital on girls with ADHD, and I was part of that medical study for 13 years, and so the context for my life has always been, one who is able to hold many things in the sort of container of my mind, practice, and daily life with, if not ease, a sort of natural—

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: —just sort of that just is how it is. There’s always been a lot going on in my life, and the juggling act has been something that I guess you could apply the old saying of it’s about the journey, not the destination? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: There is a certain enjoyment I get from juggling all the things that I do and all the different pieces, and part of that joy is in pattern recognition, is in looking for the patterns between things that might seem to be very different, but they have a sort of underlying, unifying pattern of some kind, and finding out what that is has been part of the joy for me—even if it’s not readily apparent and even if I still don’t quite have all the answers for what that might be, it’s something I enjoy very much, that mystical constant searching, for WHY do I do the things I do, what is it about this that draws me, why am I called in this direction, and surrendering myself to the joy of the journey, and the joy of seeking those answers. Which is definitely a big part of being a shaman as well, and the shamanic technology is about the journey is the experience, the journey is the answer, the question is the answer, being able to hold all those things at one time. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I dig it. I feel like for me, the sort of diversity of what I do is more, I mean I think of it as, there are just times where applying myself in different ways makes more sense, you know? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: You know, it’s like, what does this person need? Well, they need some art made, and the art will help them get into that space, you know, and for me, it’s kind of this sort of constant search, not so much like in terms of a journey, although I mean it’s obviously a journey, but more so in the sense of a constant search for better ways to articulate and express myself. 

PAIGE: Mmmm. 

ANDREW: You know, and I feel like, it’s about finding those spaces where I’m present and able to be present and share from that place, whether that’s cards or art or, you know, any of the other kinds of things that I get into, so. 

PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely! 

ANDREW: So, how… you said “spirit-led shamanism.” How did that come about? Like, where was the start of that for you? 

PAIGE: Oh, my gosh! I would say the real start of that was when I was about 25, maybe, I was in my, you know, early, mid-twenties, I was really starting to deepen my relationship to the tarot, and it all started when I got this tarot deck, the Wildwood Tarot, that you are probably familiar with. And it’s very Druidic, a kind of shamanic deck, and it started drawing me in towards the path of shamanism, and I really felt called to explore that more, and begin to educate myself and basically called up my parents and said, you know, “Mom, Dad, I think I want to be a shaman,” and they said, “Oh, that’s really funny! You were baptized by a shaman woman when you were a baby!” 

ANDREW: Uh-huh.

PAIGE: And, oh!

ANDREW: Imagine that! 

PAIGE: So, I began to explore more deeply and then after a couple of years, in early 2015, I experienced shaman sickness, very suddenly, very frighteningly, the unexplained illness that mimics physical death…


PAIGE: …under the tutelage of an initiatory helping spirit who had been in my life for about a year, year and a half, really, really strongly, and it all suddenly came together, and the shaman sickness has been coming kind of in waves, deepening. Every year or so, I’ll have another bout. I just actually, very recently, experienced another level of shaman sickness, and so, when I say spirit-led initiation, that’s what I mean, I have helping spirits who are not physical, human people, but on the spiritual level who are guiding me through these initiatory experiences, teaching me some more shamanic technology, helping me encounter the different cases, the different problems that will come across my path for me to really engage with on the shamanic level, and… So there wasn’t, other than the woman who baptized me when I was a baby, there really wasn’t an incarnated human person guiding me on this path other than the teachers and authors who… Works that I’ve read, whose writings I’ve engaged with, whose teachings I’ve engaged with. It’s never been a one to one physical mentorship on this path so far, with the exception of the other shamans I’ve encountered, who are fairly few and far between, the shamans who’ve encountered shaman sickness thrust upon them unexpectedly… 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: …and gone through that journey as well. 

ANDREW: How did, how did you, how did you know that it was shaman sickness? Like what differentiated that? 

PAIGE: One of the, I don’t know if this is a copout answer, but I just sort of knew, on one level, but it was the first level, I just sort of knew, this is something not entirely physical, there’s something really deep happening here, and part of how I knew were, there were the clues that later, when I encountered other shamans who’d experienced the same thing, we were able to compare notes and say, “okay, okay, now I see what’s really happening here!” Some of those signs included increased encounters with spirits of the dead…

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: …very intense encounters with spirits of the dead, symptoms of spiritual attack, the presence of the initiatory helping spirit, and some of the plant helping spirits associated with that spirit. The complete unexplained nature of the illness, there was no—each time it’s happened there’s been really no traceable source, it just sort of happened. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: And then the, all the messages, signs, and omens that I was receiving during the periods around that time that made it clear, like, you’re going through an initiatory experience here, and it wasn’t all nicely neatly revealed at one time, like “Here’s what’s happening, here’s why, here’s who we are, it’s part of your team, like enjoy this nice, clarified experience!” [laughs]

ANDREW: [laughs] “Here’s your access card to the bat cave,” you know? 

PAIGE: [laughing] Right!

ANDREW: And “you’re now on the team,” right? 

PAIGE: “Here’s your welcome package! Read through your pamphlets!” Wouldn’t that be nice? But, yeah, so it kind of unfolded over the last couple of years, I really was able to retroactively contextualize it and affirm that which at the time I just sort of knew to be what was happening. 

ANDREW: I think it’s always interesting how different ways of knowing fit into these kinds of journeys, you know, there’s—

PAIGE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: —there’s the thing that we feel at the time, and then there’s the sort of deeper moments of clarity that come later—


ANDREW: —that, then as you say, sort of trickle backwards, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah.

ANDREW: And, you know, like when I got initiated in the Orisha tradition, one of the things that they talked about was the fact that these spirits had been with me since childhood, you know, guiding me and looking out for me, and, you know, it’s like, I mean I grew up in small town Ontario—

PAIGE: Mmmhmm!

ANDREW: It’s not something that I expected, you know? And yet I knew that the influence of spirit was there for a long time, so.

PAIGE: Yeah, exactly.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: [garbled]

ANDREW: Yeah, it’s always a challenge, you know, because I run a store, and because it’s open, you know, I deal with anybody off the street a lot, people often arrive with such, like, concrete ideas of what’s going on?

PAIGE: Mmm. 

ANDREW: And I’m almost like, whoa, slow down! Slow, let’s find out, let’s look, let’s see what it is now, maybe so, right? And then let’s explore and verify and deepen that understanding, and, you know, and then sort of, and then, and then we’ll get to that moment that you’re talking about where it starts to congeal until you can see what the actual story is. 

PAIGE: Yeah.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: Definitely, there’s almost like a detective kind of element to it where you, you’re gathering your evidence, you’re observing, but you’re trying not to judge and just be like, okay, I’m just going to be with what this is, what is this?

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: And what is my, what are my extra senses telling me about this that I might not be able to verify yet, with actual evidence, but I’m just going to be with that and see how it plays out over time. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, exactly. 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So, how does the art fit into it for you? 

PAIGE: Ohhhhh, the art. That’s something as well as the spirit that’s just always been there, but it’s been a little bit more clearly defined through the years, because it’s a little bit more—it’s easier to kind of contextualize art, and I come from a family of artists. I don’t necessarily come from a family of shamans, so I always had the artistic context for my life that enabled me to really dig into that and to have that as this support and this means of exploring my experience. Art was always something you could turn to, to dig into that, and it took me until college to find really my medium and my happy place. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: I was extremely fortunate. I studied at the University of Massachusetts, in my home state, and it just so happened that one of the professors there was a renowned watercolor artist named Richard Yarde, who has since passed, rest in peace. He was an absolute master of the craft, and really taught me a lot about the medium and created a space for me to really say wow, this is what this is for me, and it was just like that with the tarot. Tarot was not my first divination tool, the I Ching was my first divination tool.


PAIGE: My mother taught me to throw the I Ching as a teenager, but when I encountered the tarot, as a fine artist, I was like, oh, man, this is it! This is the stuff, right here! 

ANDREW: Yeah, yeah!

PAIGE: Words and pictures and symbols? Sign me up!

ANDREW: I’m down!

PAIGE: Mmm! So down!


PAIGE: [laughs] And then realizing that I’d been painting like a watercolorist all those years, but I didn’t have the skills with the medium, ‘cause it’s a very difficult medium.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: Notoriously so, but, with the confidence of a great master behind me, to explore that, get to know that, and then take it from there, kind of, so, watercolor has always been my primary medium, since then, and—when you were talking earlier about all the different things that you do, and the different ways we can kind of understand that for ourselves, the first thing I thought of was fine art, was how, even though you might have your medium that you work in, and your type of work you do, I tend to be a portrait artist, I tend to be a fairly figurative illustrative artist, but I get a lot of influence from other disparate art branches, I guess, and artists who’ve gone before, and engaging with other artists as ancestors of spirit has been one of the things that’s really bridged the gap for me between the visual arts and the spiritual arts, the sacred arts. Recently, here in Salem, there’s an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum on Georgia O’Keefe…

ANDREW: Uh-huh.

PAIGE: …for example, and it’s a very unique exhibit. It looks at her as a sort of icon of modern style, is the phrase they’re using, so it’s not just her art but also photographs of her, also her clothes that she made, her shoes that she wore, her jewelry that she wore, and piecing together this narrative of the unified, not only the art she was making but the way she lived her life all cohesing together in this— 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: —in this beautiful tapestry of existence that really spoke to me as both a visual artist and a spiritual artist, if that makes sense. 

ANDREW: It does! I mean, I think that, you know, this sort of notion of, I mean, my friend Fabeku would call it lineage, right? 

PAIGE: Yes, yes!

ANDREW: And like, I, I think of, I don’t think of a lot of artists as part of my lineage, but I like really strongly identify with both sort of Dali and Andy Warhol as sort of—

PAIGE: Oh, yeah…

ANDREW: —profound influences, you know, and I find that I turn to that at different times to sort of reconnect with what does it mean to be an artist? you know, and sometimes, in some cases, what does it mean to be sort of like a wild artist, or you know, this sort of out there on the edges of, like, where art and life and context and style and all of these things coalesce, right? 

PAIGE: Yeah!

ANDREW: And they all have symbolic power that could be accessed in one way or another, you know? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmmm.

ANDREW: You know, and I think that there are those artists that really bring that forward in a way, that makes a lot of sense for me, and it reminds me to sort of allow that to continue to unfold in my own life, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely! 

ANDREW: Yeah. I always find it interesting how art, and artists find their way, you know? I started out, I went to, I used to paint figuratively, and then I went to art school and did a lot of postmodern sculpture—

PAIGE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: —and then I was basically like, screw all that business, I HATE it.

PAIGE: [laughing]

ANDREW: And then I didn’t make art for a long time.

PAIGE: Mmmmmmm. 

ANDREW: And then I got back into painting, with like wash and stuff, and going back to, you know, very figurative stuff, and then, starting maybe about five years ago, I realized as I was like looking for like, less and less hairs on my brush so I could make finer and finer details, I was like, I want to change this direction up, I want to shake it up, and so I started moving into a much more open and exploratory kind of way, and you know, so, I made some art for a show that’s opening in Elora, in Ontario next week, on the tarot card The Lovers— 

PAIGE: Ohhh…

ANDREW: You know it’s by Shelley Carter, so, who did the Elora Tarot deck, and is a wonderful tarot person, and artist, and previous guest of the show, and when I showed the work to her and a few other people, they reminded them of like Basquiat matte, so, it’s just like a long journey from, you know, sort of figurativeness to this very sort of loose and colorful and intense and accidental work that you know is really fun. And I’ve gone, I’ve also gone digital…

PAIGE: Ohhh…

ANDREW: …so I make all my work on my iPad, because I found that having kids made this sort of convenient excuse, I can never get to making art, I’m like, I have an iPad, I can get a stylus, I can do something, you know? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmmm. 

ANDREW: So. But, yeah. So that’s definitely an area where the art is the journey for me in some ways. That’s where my journey happens, because it’s definitely, it’s rarely a thing that I sit down and think about what it’s gonna be, I just sit down and start working, and then I allow stuff to emerge, so. 

PAIGE: Oh, that’s lovely. Mmmhmm. I’m fascinated by the different ways that artists make art. 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure.

PAIGE: Endless permutations.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: Mmmhmm. I’ve recently, just very recently, relocated to Salem, and one of the first things I did upon moving in was to establish a weekly art night with some local friends, none of whom are very serious visual artists, but, so, therefore watching them work has really shaken things up for me…


PAIGE: …has been something wonderful and seeing how they go about their art-making with no formal training, with no expectations for themselves, with like a self-styled fine artist, they’re just having fun and making marks on paper and that’s been a nice shake-up for me. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s always, it’s really interesting to sort of have those opportunities to see different ways of working and different people’s approaches and stuff.

PAIGE: Yeah.

ANDREW: You know, I made a tarot deck last year, which is coming out later this year, so a lot of that in the end became very like, shut up, sit down, and make art. [laughs] To get ‘em done! Twenty-two cards to go, 18 cards to go, you don’t feel like it, too bad, make the art! You know?

PAIGE: [laughing] Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And it’s the thing that I used to think would really kind of quash my inspiration or creativity, but you know, for me, showing up means everything else that wants to come out will show up too, you know, and so…

PAIGE: Exactly!

ANDREW: …and I think that, that, that, it’s something that I didn’t really understand previously, you know? Just sort of pushed through that process really brought that out in a way that has permanently I think changed my relationship to making stuff, so. 

PAIGE: Mmm, that’s beautiful! Yeah…What I’ve been finding lately is in order to get myself pysched up for the big project I’m working on whenever I go to the studio, ‘cause this is a big year for me in working on my own tarot decks as well, to take that pressure off myself a little bit I’ll start the day by working on some kind of fun, quote unquote “throwaway” project.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: Some text art, or some pop culture-based art, or something just for me, or a gift for a friend, and just kind of like working those muscles out, you know.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: And it’s been wonderful fun and seeing the little things that came out as a result of my warm-up exercises, it’s some of my favorite stuff I’ve ever made! 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: Funny that happens, sometimes.

ANDREW: Exactly, exactly. I think that, you know, we need to take things seriously, but we need to like, not be serious about them while we’re taking them seriously! [laughs]

PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly!!!

ANDREW: For sure. So, where were you before you moved to Salem? 

PAIGE: Let’s see, I moved around a bit. Right before Salem, I was in Brooklyn…


PAIGE: …for a year, and before that I was out, I spent nine months as a hermit in the woods of far western Massachusetts, just hermiting, completely out, living all, completely alone, making art, figuring some stuff out, and before that I was in San Francisco for about five years, and had the most wonderful time. That’s where my first shaman sickness happened, that’s where I started my business, that’s where a lot of really important moving forward stuff happened for me, and as well, that’s where art started to happen for me again. I stopped making art for a little bit after I graduated from school, I was living in England, and having one of those periods… I’ve noticed in my life, my art will go through these phases where I’ll be just sort of absorbing, I’ll be in a place, like for me England was so full of experience, I didn’t have time to make art, I was too busy soaking it in, and then I left England, moved to California, and started making art about everything that I had just seen and done. 

ANDREW: Right. Yeah. 

PAIGE: And, it didn’t hurt that in the city I was living with my elderly artist aunt, who is one of the most prolific artists I’ve ever met, and she’s, you know, a full-time artist…


PAIGE: …the amount of work she made was just phenomenal, and the amount of exploration she was willing to do was phenomenal. So, getting in there with her and really cranking out work, and seeing what it looked like to really let yourself fail, at art, every day, was really inspirational, and really helped get my productivity levels up to the point where I was able to start my business and have things happening every day, and oh, it was such a journey, such a good time.

ANDREW: [laughing] Yeah, it can’t always be good, right, sometimes it’s just like, ah, that was horrible, you know?

PAIGE: [laughing] Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And sometimes, and sometimes like, I remember when I was creating my first deck, which was just a set of majors, and I was trying to do the High Priestess, and I was like… It was the one, like I think I did like 20 iterations of it before I finally realized what actually needed to go on, and I was like, oh, okay, that’s the answer, I’m gonna now, now I can do it. And then once I started, something emerged, and it really was like a letting go, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah.

ANDREW: For me, I was doing… The premise of my first deck is what happens just before what we’re accustomed to seeing, and how does that influence and help us understand the card, right? 

PAIGE: Oh, I love that.

ANDREW: Why did the Fool leave his house, right? Why did the Emperor, what did—what does the Emperor do before they get on the throne, right? And what was the High Priestess doing before, you know, she sat there, you know, in contemplation, right? And, and I was, I kept trying to draw her face, and in the end, what I realized was that the thing that the High Priestess does, even though it’s already such an inward card, that she’s even more inward before that, you know, and so I ended up drawing the back of her facing her altar, and praying, and sitting, and contemplating spirit directly, right? It was just like, it was one of those things, and I was like, what does her face look like, what’s her expression, why is she doing what she’s doing, right? And then in the end it was like, I don’t know, I have no idea what her face looks like.

PAIGE: [laughs]

ANDREW: You know? And it was that kind of giving that up that allowed it to unfold, to become what I thought was really great in the end, so. 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm. That right there, that’s it, that’s the, that’s one of, for me, the intersection between the fine art and the shamanism, really came to life, was, the shamanism allowed me to listen even more closely to the art that wanted to come out and not to impose my will as Creator, but to just let it come through me, and just to listen, and to treat it as a living spirit thing that wants to get physical form. It started to flow so much better, with my own tarot decks that I’m working on. Now it’s not me Trying To Come Up with the Best Idea, I’m just letting it tell me what it is. 

ANDREW: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Let me get my smarts on and I’ll make something really great, right? 

PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly!

ANDREW: I look back at, there’s an abandoned project that might get resurrected in a new form, but I started this sort of gnostic kabbalistic esoteric deck and it’s not bad, like there’s nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t entirely alive either…

PAIGE: Yeah….

ANDREW: Because it was very, very structured and intellectual, you know, and—

PAIGE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And there are other decks, I mean, I think the Toth deck, and like the Hermetic Tarot and stuff, they walk that line where they’re still alive, and they have those layers of symbolism, but when I was working on this deck it never got there, right? It was very mathematical, in its way, you know, and that kind of didn’t work out very well in the longer run of that arc, so, yeah, we’ll see. 

I’m curious how moving around has impacted your shamanic stuff, you know? Are you a shaman of place, or do the spirits just follow you wherever you go and adapt? 

PAIGE: I’d say a little bit of both. The spirits of the land are very much an important part of my practice and my experience, and it’s like… This is probably an imperfect metaphor, but it’s a little bit like being non-monogamous in romantic relationships, which is my natural bent anyway, and so I have these deep important relationships with very different spirits of land, with the U.K., with San Francisco, with New England where I’m from and I’m living again, and, to have come back to New England, after having been to all these other places and really developed this intense deep relationship with those spirits of land has been wonderful. 

The northern shore of Massachusetts is a very unusual place. I don’t know exactly why, but it is, and everyone seems to agree, everyone who’s been here, lived here, is like yup, this is weird, this place is weird, there’s a lot of weirdos here, we’re uniquely weird, but there’s something about having left and come back with more shamanic knowledge that is ELECTRIC, and I’m still figuring that out, but I love all the spirits of land, and I maintain my identity as a traveler very strongly, so that I’m keeping the dialogue open between myself and those lands, and a big part of my regular practice involves obviously grounding here in the land and grounding everything that I’m doing, all the offerings that I make, all the engagements I have, are tapped into the land here and anchored in the land here, or the land wherever I am, and that’s always the first thing I do, move to a new place, ground and anchor in that land, get to know what it feels like under the surface—

ANDREW: Yeah. 

 PAIGE: —and I carry them with me in this way that’s, I don’t want to quite compare it to the Borg from Star Trek, but it’s this sort of absorption— [laughing]

ANDREW: Uh-huh.

PAIGE: —into myself and into my practice that just feels right, and, it’s like having friends all over the world, you know, I maintain those relationships even though it’s long distance sometimes, I visit them when I can, I still communicate with them since I’m still here on Planet Earth and all those places are here on Planet Earth, I can still kind of long distance communicate, like “hey, what’s up, California? how you doing? I’m good. How are you? Fine!” [laughs]


PAIGE: And seeding those relationships by physically mailing things there sometimes, you know, things to my people who are there, and it feels in a weird way like being a kind of secret agent, or something. 


PAIGE: I’m not sure quite why, but I have that feeling of like, yeah, you know, I’ve got my, my agents in all the different places, and we’re checking in, like, “How’s the land doing? Oh, is it good? Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, I’ll do some work for you long d-, okay, cool, cool, cool, yeah, we’ll work on it, it’s all happening, it’s good, yeah!” and, I get a lot of loving flac from my mother about this.

ANDREW: [laughing] Okay! 

PAIGE: She likes to tease me about being what she calls a “serial obsessive.” You know, you get hyper-fixated on an interest and you just sort of absorb everything you can from it, you absorb it into your very being, and then you kind of like internalize the vitality of that place, that thing, whatever it is, and then you move on, you know like, all right, I absorbed San Francisco, next, next stop New York! What [garbled]…

ANDREW: Ba ba ba ba! All of Brooklyn! 

PAIGE: [laughing]

ANDREW: So that you’re like, it’s like a spiritual Godzilla, just show up, eat the area, be like, ah, I got it, I’m ready, next! [laughing]

PAIGE: [laughing] Yeah.

ANDREW: That’s fun. Yeah, I often, like, check in with the land, wherever I end up, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah. 

ANDREW:  I mean, not always, it depends on where I am and what I’m doing. Like I was away this last weekend, but we were just doing so much structured stuff that I was like, I don’t have the time to sleep enough, let alone like, connect to what’s going on, but when I’m in other places, you know, definitely, you know, and like, when I was in China last year, ‘cause one of the first things I did the first night I arrived was like, I’m like, I feel so disorientated, I just need to, like, spend some time connecting with the earth here so I can be here and then do what I need to do for the time that I’m around and working and stuff, so, you know, yeah. 

PAIGE: Oh yeah. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. I think it’s interesting how spirits can kind of come and go, you know? Or like step forward and step back, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely! And I’ve noticed the same thing happens with tarot decks. I work with a lot of different decks; I have a huge stack of them right over here on the floor and they will step forward or step back as needed. Sometimes Tarot of the Cat People just wants to be all up in my face, and that’s the only deck I’ll read with for weeks or months, and then they’ll be like, all right, I’ve said what I needed to say right now, move on, and it will step back and it will sort of stop, you know, working for me kind of, like, okay, all right, next, and another deck will step forward and be like, now I want to work with you right now. Or there’ll be two of them vying for attention at the same time. And it’s the same with the rest of my spirits. They’ll step forward, step back. 

ANDREW: Do you feel the spirits of the cards, have a spirit? 

PAIGE: Oh absolutely, yeah. I feel that each card has a spirit and that each deck has its own spirit, definitely, mmmhmm. And they’re like people, as well, you know, sometimes you meet people and you instantly click and it’s amazing, and sometimes you meet people and you’re like, I just do not get you. I can’t read you, I don’t know what you’re about, you are a mystery to me. And there are decks like that for me. I’ll look at them and be like, mmm, do not know what you’re sayin’. Can’t understand a word of what you’re trying to say.

ANDREW: Yeah, I feel, I run into people who have that way of, or that experience, and it’s never really been my experience, so I’m always very curious about it, because for me, I have one spirit that helps me with reading the cards…

PAIGE: Mmmhmmm.

ANDREW: And, they’ve been around for the whole time I’ve been working with cards, but over time they’ve basically been like, no no no, this kind of deck, no no no, that deck. You know? And, so there’s been this sort of, well, literally my guide came forward one time and said, “if you would like to give good readings, then read with the Tarot de Marseilles. If you don’t care, do whatever you like. But that’s where you’re going to be better.” 

PAIGE: [laughing]

ANDREW: And I was like, all right, and then it was this process of nailing down which deck was the most like the one that she read with when she was alive, and that was also a process of, okay, so it was the Marseilles, and then it was the Jean Noblet, and then it was this photo reproduction of the deck from the Bibliotechnique National in France that Joseph Peterson put out, and now she’s like, that’s, that is, it’s not THE deck she had, but it is the closest that she thinks is left that I’ll ever be able to get at. 

PAIGE: That is fascinating! 

ANDREW: And so, it’s funny for me because, I mean I run a store, and I, you know, I teach lots of things, I deal with lots of different decks, kind of for other people and on other people’s behalf, but for me, I’m kind of done. 

PAIGE: Yeah!

ANDREW: You know when Joseph’s deck came out, you know, I just took three of them and put them in the drawer, on top of the one that I was already reading with, because I was like, that’s it, I need to make sure I have enough forever, you know? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm, yeah! 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: Wow! 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

PAIGE: That’s so cool! 

ANDREW: So, with your approach though, do you feel like the decks themselves have an entity or a consciousness that you’re interacting with? Or are they like the Borg, they’re different units that are plugging into your central, you know, central shamanic hub as it were, and they’re just kind of variable extensions of parts of your consciousness? 

PAIGE: That’s a great question! I feel it may be a little bit of both. Ultimately my experience of the decks is as these sort of entities, these spirit entities, but those entities themselves feel like a bit of an amalgamation, you know, that are made up of the unique spirit of that deck, the sort of personality of the deck, which itself is made up of each of the cards, and each card has its own entity and own personality and its own spiritual, yeah, sense of beingness, which may be slightly different or very different depending on the different decks, but each card has its [inaudible]. I can compare it to astrology in a way, you know you’re looking at, everyone has the planet Mars in their chart, but each planet in a different sign has a different flavor, it feels different, it acts differently, it will come across a different way, it will interact with the rest of those planets and signs and houses in what ultimately equates to a unique personality, a unique expression of being. 

ANDREW: Sure. 

PAIGE: And, and yeah, that is very much how I encounter the decks, is like people, which is what we are, we’re amalgamations of our parents, our lineage, everything we’ve ever done and seen, as well as our own unique flair and flavor. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Neat. Yeah, I’m always curious because, for me and my practice, there’s a sort of distinction that I draw between what are sort of object concrete entities in their own right, and what are these sort of other things that are constructs, or topography, or convenient symbol and language that these entities or even parts of my consciousness or unconsciousness might sort of pop on to sort of deliver messages or frame the conversation, so I love sort of thinking about these things because I’m always very curious about what’s, what it is that’s going on when people are working in other styles or other approaches, you know? So. Yeah. 

PAIGE: I suppose my style is very animistic, which has always been my world view and always been my experience of the world, even as a child, things are alive, and they talk to me, and they engage with me, and as a child it upset me very much when people didn’t treat objects with the same respect that they treated people, certain objects, anyway. I don’t know if it was across the board, all objects, all the time, but for the most part, things that I could tell were, had a force of some kind attached to them. It would deeply upset me when people did not treat them that way, but of course, as a child I did not have the vocabulary to share that with other children, explain to them why it upset me that you disrespected me and this object by cavalierly tossing it about. “How dare you, child?” 

ANDREW: “How dare you, that rock, it had a lot of things to say!” 

PAIGE: [laughing] “No, I’ll give you another rock!” “Yeah, but that was my friend, that rock was my friend! You threw my friend away!” [outraged sound] I remember one time as a child, we were, our class was on a field trip to the high school.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: And it was shortly after the movie The Indian in the Cupboard had come out, and the VHS tapes came with a little plastic Indian from the movie, the replica, and I just was captivated. This little plastic man was like a friend to me, and I carried him in my pocket everywhere I went, and one of the bullies in my class, we were in the bathroom, all taking our bathroom break, and she grabbed it out of my hands and threw it in the air just as someone flushed a toilet and came out of the stall and down it went, and was flushed away. And all of us just stood there with our mouths open like, I can’t believe that just happened. What are the odds that that’s where it would land? And I had no, I was completely flabbergasted, I had no words to explain the depth of the hurt that had just been done to me. They were like, I’ll buy you a new one, whatever; I’m like, no, you don’t understand, that guy, that was my guy!

ANDREW: That was the one.

PAIGE: That was the one! I don’t care if it’s an identical plastic mold; it’s not the same. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And there are those things, right? 

PAIGE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: It’s funny, it’s interesting to me too, because there are those things that I work with and use spiritually, you know, like I often carry like a crystal or other things that I’m kind of working with at a given time, and those things definitely, some of them, they all have an aliveness to them that I work with for sure. Some of them I get so attached to, and some of them, when they end up going away, I’m just like, ah, whatever. Like, you know, eh, your time is done, you wanted to be elsewhere or what have you, right, and I’m like, ah, it’s fine. And then other things, like when they kind of, you know, get shuffled somewhere, or you know, like take them out and realize it’s time to have a break, and then they resurface, and it’s like, wow, how did I ever even stop working with this energy, you know? I used to work with St. Expedite a lot…

PAIGE: Oh, yeah! 

ANDREW: And I recently found, I mean I always kind of knew where it was, but, recently sort of came across a painting that I had done of him.

PAIGE: Cool.

ANDREW: And immediately it started talking to me. And I was like—and it wasn’t mad, it wasn’t like, dude, you’ve been hiding me away, it’s like all right, I’m ready, you’re ready, let’s go, let’s do some more stuff together. I’m like, all right, let’s do it. 

PAIGE: I love that. Mmmhmm! 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: That is a blessing of getting older, was learning like, okay, I might misplace this, but it will come back when the time is right. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: As a child, you know, not knowing that this sort of totemic energy attached to that toy, very, was, could possibly return to me in another form, that it was not intrinsically tied to this little plastic molded toy. As a child, you don’t have the context for that. But as an adult spiritual practitioner realizing okay, you know, que sera sera. 

ANDREW: Yeah, there’s not only one way in which that energy can come through to you, right? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm, exactly. 

ANDREW: There’s not only one place or one kind or one…yeah, for sure. 

PAIGE: And it might be in the best interest for it to step back for awhile, for both of you, you know, and then come back again and have you realize, oh wow! Yeah! Your value is so important to me—and having that time away really makes you feel that. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. Yeah. Do you do a lot of plant ally stuff too? Do you have plant allies that you’re working with? 

PAIGE: Oh, yes, oh yes. 

ANDREW: Uh-huh? 

PAIGE: I’ve always, it’s always been, it’s not my greatest strength, and it’s been a source of great frustration to me, my whole life, because my mother is a gardener and she has quite the green thumb. She can make anything grow. And I do not seem to have inherited that gift. So the living plants in my life that I work with tend to be wild. Wild plants are my main spirit allies. And as well, I work with tea. Tea is my guy. The plant, the [garbled] sense is plant as well as tea [garbled] and other herbs brewed as tea both with the tea plant and on their own and that’s been something that has always been tied to my magical and spiritual practice. The year that I really got involved in witchcraft, as a young person, was the same year that I got introduced to tea. 

ANDREW: Right. 

PAIGE: Almost within a few months of each other. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: And it’s, they were very present, as well, in my shaman sickness. I had ingested some spirit allies, some plant spirit allies that really were carrying the physical aspect of the illness for me, and shifting that perspective. And it’s something that I’ve been deepening in the past couple of years, but is endlessly fascinating to me, and part of what’s helped deepen that is creating friendships with some really talented plant shamans and plant workers. In unpacking, I just uncovered my flying ointments from Sarah Anne Lawless, which are some of my favorite tools to work with. It fascinates me the way that plants affect different people different ways, depending on your body chemistry. I know people who cannot drink tea after maybe 2 or 3 pm because the caffeine will keep them up. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PAIGE: I can drink a pot of black tea at midnight and be fine. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: No problem. 

ANDREW: And that’s also not uncommon among people who have that ADHD kind of thing, right? 

PAIGE: Yeah exactly, it almost works the opposite, sometimes, or it’s just like meh, no problem. 

ANDREW: Whatevs. 

PAIGE: Caffeine? Don’t know her. Never met her. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. [laughs]

PAIGE: [laughing]

ANDREW: That’s awesome. It’s really interesting how we all have places or kinds of things that open more easily to us, you know? 

PAIGE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: Like the, whether it’s a particular plant, or whether it’s, you know, plants versus minerals versus you know, in your case, pigments and water, versus you know, whatever, right? I think that we have these sort of natural inclinations, and, you know, I mean, just like in our astrology charts, sort of sorting them out and finding out where those fortes and good places to start and so on can be so helpful, you know? 

PAIGE: Oh yeah, absolutely, and one of the things I do often with clients when I’m working with clients who are seeking to understand their own spiritual gifts better, is looking at your childhood. What were you drawn to as a child? For me, it was animals. Animals was my jam. And so now, as an adult, I find not coincidentally that a lot of the shamanic work I do is animal spirit totems, helping spirits who are specifically animals. Do a lot of animal retrieval, and it’s one of the easiest things for me to do, it takes, it can take maybe 30 seconds, to go on a shamanic journey and retrieve an animal helping spirit. It is such an easy flow for me, whereas plants and the language of plants is something much more private and personal that I really have to consciously work on and deepen. Except for that small handful of plant allies that are just like, you, me, let’s do this.

ANDREW: Let’s go! Ride or die! 

PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly! 

ANDREW: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, I am one of those people, I have a very green thumb, so I can grow all sorts of stuff and you know. Actually, the pomegranate plant that we have at the store just grew its first pomegranate, which was super exciting, so you know, it’s, yeah. Definitely good, you know? And I love to, I spent a lot of time in my childhood, I lived sort of on the edge of town where it was sort of mostly forest between our place and the next place…

PAIGE: Lovely.

ANDREW: And so, I spent a lot of time in the woods, just kicking around, playing games with my friends, or just hanging out, you know? And it’s something I love to do now and near the store there’s nice ravines that run through Toronto…

PAIGE: Mmm. 

ANDREW: And I would just go in there, and hang out, and stuff happens, it’s wonderful, and they just start talking, and you know, yeah. 

PAIGE: Oh, yeah. The forest! Oh, what a magical place! That’s been one of my favorite things about coming back to New England, the woods of New England are really important for me. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: Really special. Today happens to be 19 years to the day since the first group ritual I ever did. 


PAIGE: Blue moon, January 1999, I invited a couple of girls from school over to my house, and one of them, her mother was, must have been Wiccan, or something, and she kind of taught us how to do your basic circle casting, calm the quarters, kind of thing. We had a little ritual. We went around the circle, went around the table, took turns saying nice things about each other and then after some round blue frosted scones, my mother drove us to the woods, and we climbed this abandoned stone tower that’s in the middle of the woods by the golf course in my home town. And I have some photographs, I’m so glad I have actual photographs of us on that tower, under the moon with the moon in the background, these little girls, having a great time, and those woods really held it and anchored it, for that to be the ending of our first ritual ever. And we loved it so much we were like, you know what, let’s just, let’s do this again next month? On the full moon? How about that? For a bunch of 11-year-olds, that was a pretty good commitment. We managed it for maybe six solid months, meeting every full moon and those woods really were the catalyst. They were the…

ANDREW: Amazing. 

PAIGE: …the container for that. It was so—mmm. There’s something about being here and then the trees of this land that’s just like yep. These are like my grandparents. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

PAIGE: They took care of me! Thanks, guys! 

ANDREW: [laughs] I love it. I definitely love it! So if you’re listening, go find your trees, go hang out with them!

[garbled, both talking at once]

Yeah, spend some time with it, right? 

PAIGE: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: Yeah. The last few years whenever I go to New York and go to Reader’s Studio, which is a conference there, at the place where they were having it, there were these cherry trees out front, and they’d usually be blossoming then, so that would be just like all the flowers on the ground…

PAIGE: Love it. 

ANDREW: And, you know. After, like a few days with like 200 other people doing readings around you and stuff, I’d just be like, overwhelmed! And I would just go out there and, you know, stand there and, last year, I was standing under the tree and the wind came and swirled around me and lifted all those petals up and…

PAIGE: Ohhhhh. 

ANDREW: There was like this sort of bath of those flowers and the tree and I had my hands on it just grounding myself and stuff. I’m like, I’m ready for more, let’s go! You know? It can be so wonderful. 

PAIGE: Oh! That’s beautiful. Oh yeah. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well. It has been delightful chatting with you. For people who want to follow your orbit and see your art and other wonderful things that you’re up to, where should they go? Where are you hanging out online? 

PAIGE: Well, you can find me on social media, @tarotandtea. You can also find me on Instagram @paigezaferiou, just my name, and at paigezaferiou.com. And that’s Paige with an I, and Zaferiou is Z A F E R I O U, and you can remember to spell that because it has all the vowels in alphabetical order, A E I O U. 

ANDREW: And we’ll put a link in the show notes in case “it spells just like it sounds” doesn’t quite work out. 

PAIGE: [laughing]

ANDREW: Awesome. Well thank you so much Paige, it’s been wonderful. 

PAIGE: Thank you so much for having me, Andrew, it’s been such a pleasure. 

ANDREW: Thank you, as always, for listening. I hope you’ve really enjoyed it. A big thanks to the lovely human beings who have put some wonderful reviews on Itunes for the podcast. Please do consider supporting the Patreon. You know I sound like a PBS ad, but seriously, even a dollar helps. It all adds up towards being able to make all sorts of exciting things happen, both for yourself and for others. So head on over to Patreon.com/thehermitslamp, or use the link in the show notes. Talk to you soon. Bye bye.