EP91 Birds and Oracles with Enrique Enriquez

December 7, 2018
00:0000:00

 

Enrique and Andrew catch up on what the birds are saying. They talk about the effect of living with an oracle versus reading and oracle. The conversation winds through ideas of how being in tune wit the oracles impact their relationship with the rest of life. Finally they end by answering listeners questions. 

Episode 13, Poetry, Magic, and Ice Cream, and episode 63 [00:00:30], Definitions and Silence.

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Andrew

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Transcription

ANDREW: [00:00:00] Hello, my friends, welcome to The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I wanted to let you know that the new intro music here was composed by my daughter, Claire. I hope you dig it. I certainly am loving on her creativity. Also, this is episode 91 with Enrique Enriquez. And if you have not caught our past conversations, you should go check them out: Episode 13, Poetry, Magic, and Ice Cream, and episode 63 [00:00:30], Definitions and Silence. Both available in the archives, either on the website or in your podcast catcher. 

[new music!]

Speaker 2: [00:01:00] Let me start by saying thank you to all the Patreons who support this podcast in general, and specifically help the process of providing transcripts of every episode to the public so that anybody for any reason can access all this wonderful information. Those fine people are getting access to great bonus material and they make this happen. If you are listening to this podcast, think about how many episodes you've listened to, how much you've appreciated it [00:01:30], and please consider heading on over to Patreon.com/TheHermitsLamp, and pitching something in to continue supporting this work. It is truly a situation where every dollar helps. 

Welcome back to The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm here today with Enrique Enriquez, who is a card reader, poet, and artist, and you know was featured in a wonderful movie called Tarology, which [00:02:00] you can find on many places online right now. [Here's the trailer on YouTube: https://youtu.be/A5UR3VesQGo] This is the third time that Enrique has been on the show, and if you haven't checked out the other episodes, check the show notes for them. I'll provide links, so people can go back and hear our previous conversations.

Enrique, for people who are meeting you for the first time, who are you? What are you about? What's going on? 

ENRIQUE: Well, you know, the other day I went to a bookstore that is across the street. And first of all, Andrew, it's always [00:02:30] so good to hear you and always so good to talk to you. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: But anyway, you know, I have this book store across the street and I went there. And there was this voice, they were doing something on the floor, I was talking to the guy. And then as I was about to leave, the woman on the floor stood up to say, "Wait!" and then I turn around and say, "What?" And say, "Are you the guy who talks like a bird?" And I say, "Yes, as a matter of fact [00:03:00], I am," and she say, "Yes, a friend told me about you," and I . . . That made me very happy, you know? 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: So, I guess, I am the man who speaks like a bird.

ANDREW: Excellent.

ENRIQUE: And at the moment, that seems to be plenty. 

ANDREW: I think that's wonderful. I mean, for me, listening to the birds and, and trying to speak with them is definitely one of my, one of my favorite things these days. You know, I've been spending, for [00:03:30] years now, really spending a lot of time trying to engage with them, and more and more over time I've found myself drawn deeper and deeper into . . . into the world of birds. So yeah, it's wonderful. 

ENRIQUE: Yes. Yeah, if you know, I suspect that birds are some sort of [Amic? Homic?] knowledge religion that is universal. I only know one person, a friend of mine, who says that birds are jerks and he hates birds. And [00:04:00] he say, "I know you like birds, but I hate birds," and but also always ...

ANDREW: (laughing) That's a lot of strong feeling for birds! 

ENRIQUE: Yes, exactly.

ANDREW: Why does he hate birds? 

ENRIQUE: Yes, but usually, I don't know, I mean, I guess, we said, you know, a bird is somehow that the embodiment of a long [garbled at 4:28] We [00:04:30] look at a bird, we think of birds, we listen to birds. You know, it's just about survival. They go around trying to find something to eat. There is no, no Romanticism in this view of birds, which is fine. I mean, I think it's a great exception, because usually as soon as you . . . You know, the other day, I was talking to . . . having a beer with these poets, a poet from Turkey and a poet from New Zealand and [00:05:00] they asked me, "What do you think about Trump?" And I told him what I believe, which is that Trump has no place in my reality. I don't care. And then, as soon as I mentioned birds, they told me all kinds of fantastic stories about their own relationship with birds. And about 45 minutes into the conversation, I say, "See, that's why I don't think about Trump."

ANDREW: Right.

ENRIQUE: I mean, there are better things to talk about, your, your mind. [00:05:30] Yes, so I think that that that's how, birds account for that common longing we have, for some sort of transcendence that I don't want to, I don't want to put a name to it. But then when you actually make a bird sound, you realize that you are, you are enacting this form that is at once transparent and opaque, you know, because you're not really saying anything, and even so, everybody understands you.

ANDREW: Mmm. 

ENRIQUE: So I end up realizing [00:06:00] that I like to speak like a bird, and that basically means that since the beginning of this summer I started actually recording myself using all these bird calls, like these wooden artifacts or metal artifacts that imitate the sound of birds, and then sending my friends bird messages instead of text or voice messages, right? And by speaking like a bird, what I actually accomplish is, I avoid misunderstandings.

ANDREW: Mmm.

ENRIQUE: Everybody [00:06:31] seems to understand the form of a bird sound.

ANDREW: I like it. I feel like we must have talked about this on the podcast previously. You know, in the Orisha tradition, Osain, who is . . . He's responsible for all the knowledge of all the plants and all the magic that comes from that. He's sort of the wizard who lives in the forest, who's been . . .

ENRIQUE: Beautiful.

ANDREW: Broken down and, you know, scarred [00:07:01] by various conflicts and battles he's had over the years, and Osain speaks like a bird. And you know, when we . . . when we do certain ceremonies and we sing, there are . . . There are these parts where we sing, where we're singing not any words, but just to imitate the sound of the birds and to acknowledge the way in which Osain speaks to us, right? 

ENRIQUE: Ah, that's fantastic. 

ANDREW: Yeah, so, you know ... You're in [00:07:31] good company. 

ENRIQUE: Yes, of course, and, no, it's amazing when you start looking into it, that the amount of effort and time that people have put into trying to imitate birds or talk like birds or understand birds, through history. And there is a, just as you say, there was a sort of pre-Koranic poetry that was all based on imitating the cooing of a mourning dove. And then you have the same in New Guinea. There is a tribe there that all their poetry is [00:08:01] based on the idea of imitating the cooing of a mourning dove, that wailing sound. 

But, I mean, there are countless examples and, of course, thousands of poems about birds, but I guess I . . . Something clicked or shifted this summer. So, I started working with that because I understood that the moment I started sending these bird sounds to people, I went from somebody who could interpret signs [00:08:31] to somebody who was just delivering signs, so they became the interpreters, they were the ones telling me: "Yes. Thank you. I really needed this today." Or, like happened the other day with this, this man. He sent me a recording of a bird that he hears out of the window and then I just mimicked it. I just imitated the same . . . I sent him back the same thing, but I made it and then he say, "Oh, I love yours because I can hear my own name in it." 

ANDREW: (chuckling)

ENRIQUE: And [00:09:01] you know. And that, like a friend from Finland who say, you know, "Birds are only quiet when there are earthquakes or tsunamis or something horrible is about to happen."

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: "So whenever I hear your bird voice, I just feel that everything is okay." And to me that's . . . I mean in a sense, yeah, something shifted, because I think that, in a sense, turning the other person into the auger, into the interpreter, it [00:09:31] has something to do with the idea of an oracle as something that should poetize life instead of giving answers. 

ANDREW: Well, and I think that, you know, let's be honest about, you know . . . I mean, I won't even bring my clients into this, about myself. There are times where I go to the oracle, hoping that the oracle will tell me that everything's going to be okay. And, you know, the prospect of thinking that well, as long as . . . as long as I can hear the birdsong, [00:10:01] or as long as I can go into my, my messenger and find a note of you playing, and play that song, the answer is the birds are singing, there's no tsunami. There's no earthquake. 

ENRIQUE: Exactly. 

ANDREW: There's no predator here, right? You're good. Take it easy. (laughs)

ENRIQUE: Exactly. That's exactly one of the ways of seeing it, yes.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And, so, yeah, it has been a really, you know, at some point I started to suspect or to . . . Or maybe I decided [00:10:31] to start acting as if all these enterprises of divination, as if we already got it backwards. . .

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: You know, and usually we have this idea of this image of the person, the reader, the diviner, who's sitting waiting for the client or the, you know, consultant to come. And then I decided, no, it should be the other way around, right? Because in . . . I was reading The Iliad, you know, and there is this moment, which is a rather irrelevant moment, [00:11:01] when it is said that when a person arrives to the city, he fills everybody with excitement because of course, there is still the potential of what this person may be bringing, you know, news, things, a weird fruit, something, right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then I thought about that in relationship with angels, and the idea of the angel. And of course, angel is a word that comes from a Greek word for messenger, [00:11:31] right? So, the idea of the messenger. The messenger brings news, like the birds that come and, as you say, everything is okay. The birds are singing.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Or look over there, because the bird, you know, flew that way.  So, I decided, I think it's better to become the angel, or to imitate, you know, dreams and angels, which are the only oracles that actually visit people.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And obliterate the reading on the table and just be . . . appear on people's lives and [00:12:01] then disappear, which is something you can now do, thanks to all these little gadgets we have, and social media, and all that, so you can really become, or have, a virtual presence. So that's where I am at now. 

ANDREW: You've become the psychopomp, right? 

ENRIQUE: Yeah, somehow, yeah in a sense. It's this idea of . . . I mean, I . . . You know, I am a witness, and I look at things, you [00:12:31] know, and, at some point, I guess I . . . what I understand is that I, in terms of giving answers to people, solving people's problems, giving them solutions, healing, all that stuff. I don't do that. I don't know how to do that.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: But I know how to pay attention. I know how to be a witness. So, at some point it may be that I find a place and form. Right? I look at something that is worth [garbled] or worth sharing and then [00:13:01] maybe that sound, that word, that form could be the answer to somebody's question or the solution to somebody's problem. It could even bring some sort of healing to them, but it's not me. It's not me doing it.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: It's . . . They are the ones interpreting the sign.

ANDREW: Well, and I think that . . . You know, I think that one of the things that's really interesting and that, you know, I certainly appreciate about you and about all of our dialogues because, [00:13:31] you know, I think that the delivering of more concrete messages is also great and it's a thing that I certainly enjoy. 

But I'm also really interested in this space where, where we, revoke the expectation of meaning in a concrete way. You know? And like, I made this deck earlier in the year, which I shared with you when I was in New York, you know, the Land of the Sacred Self Oracle. 

ENRIQUE: Yes. 

ANDREW: And you know, I created . . . [00:14:02] I initially wanted to say nothing about it. And like, I was like, I just want to make it and put it out there. But everybody, almost everybody that I talked to was like, "I don't know what I'm . . . I don't know what to do with this. So, I need you to tell me stuff." And I was like, "All right." So, I created this course for it and . . . which is, which is now, it's just basically a PDF. And the first lesson is, these images are nothing but ink on paper, [00:14:32] they don't mean anything. They have no concrete meaning in and of themselves. What do you actually see? You know? Because I think that leading people back to themselves is so profound and so powerful. 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: And so, against the nature of our culture, right? The nature of . . . 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: . . . the Modern Age, right? 

ENRIQUE: Well, but that . . . What is interesting about that is that, that is exactly what contemporary art brought about.

ANDREW: Right. [00:15:02] 

ENRIQUE: You know? All . . . today, beginning of the 20th century, art basically showcased a common narrative and that could be . . . You know, you go to Italy to see all these paintings of the Virgin Mary or Christ, or the, the, you know, the Book of Genesis or whatever. You have this idea of okay, we all understand what we are seeing because we share these references.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then came, you know, Malevich or Kandinsky [00:15:32] or even Donald Judd or all these people and say, "No, now you have the possibility to understand that thing before you on your own terms."

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And that's exactly what you're saying. Forget about what that is for the other person standing next to you. What is that to you? And of course, we still abhor that, I mean, most people put a lot of resistance to that, because they want to be told what it is. One is . . . like the other day, I had this, you know, I had [00:16:02] been reading the cards this woman finds out on the sidewalk. I have talked to you about this. For more than 10 years. And I stopped the other day because she, she sent me a card, and I told her about Nikolai Gogol, the Russian writer, and I . . . There is this wonderful little book a friend gave me about the dreams of Joseph Cornell.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: So, this woman pulled out all the dreams of Joseph Cornell [00:16:32] from his diary. And the amazing thing is that when you read his dreams you realize that they are not extraordinary in any way, right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Which is beautiful, because you realize the dreams are these material things available to all of us and a plumber can have dreams that are as extraordinary as the dreams of a fantastic artist as Joseph Cornell. But what was really interesting is at the end . . . She also wrote about all these people that Cornell was influenced by. [00:17:02] Not in terms of his work, but in terms of his relationship to dreams. And that I found fascinating. He had like the lineage of others like Blaise Pascal or you know, Freud. And then he spoke, or he took notice of Nikolai Gogol, and there was this rich lady who wrote to Gogol, saying, "Can you please interpret this dream for me?" Right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And Gogol wrote back and say, "Only your soul can tell you what the dream means."

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: "Don't [00:17:32] ask any wise man, because they won't tell you. They are not able to. They won't be able to say what it means. You have to find a quiet space. You have to. Within yourself you will find the meaning of the dream." So, I said that to this woman, right, who had sent me a little card she found somewhere. And she got enraged. She told me, "No, you have the obligation of telling me what it means." Because of course, we don't want to be within ourself. That's a . . . [00:18:02] It's a . . . it's a very tall order.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And, in theory, we don't have time, right? We are always under this imaginary constraint of time. And she said that "You have the obligation of telling me." Of course, I dropped communication immediately because I feel I have no obligation. I have two kids, that's obligations enough. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: Other than that, you know. But in a sense, I understand, there is a . . . what you're saying, in terms [00:18:32] of your own deck. I mean, people have an extraordinary resistance of coming to terms with their own experience, because actually, most people are looking for mythology, not for experience.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: You know. They want a little story. They don't want an experience. 

ANDREW: Well, and exactly. You know, and I . . . a friend of mine who I was sharing the art with as I was making it, you know, they would have this reaction where they would be obviously fascinated by it, and then . . . But they'd be like, [00:19:02] "But I don't know what it means." And I'm like, "Well, just look at it. Do you have a feeling?" And they're like, "Yeah. I really have a feeling when I look at this." I'm like, "Great, then it's perfect. Go with that feeling!" You know? And even if their reactions were not, not articulatable, right? They would . . . I might have, you know, had I known then, I might have been like, "Just sing me a bird song about it. And we'll see what it says," you know? 

ENRIQUE: Yeah. Well because if something [00:19:32] is really hitting home, the only possible responses are either laughter or silence. 

ANDREW: Yes. 

ENRIQUE: You know, that's the moment when we are completely impacted by something. We laugh, which is almost like a defense mechanism or we are quiet, because of this, we are taking it deep, you know.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: So, and of course, we still think that we have to feel special and important when we are having an experience. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah. Because people aren't comfortable sitting in [00:20:02] that. So, I was at this conference and, as the culmination of the workshop that we were doing, we were to sit and gaze into the other person's eyes, and sort of allow all that had been exchanged between us to sort of settle in. And the person that I was sitting with was uncomfortable with this and started to laugh every time we looked and tried to look away a bit or whatever. And so, I just sort of sat there and said to myself, "Well, I [00:20:32] can laugh with them, we can laugh together." 

And so, so I started to laugh and as soon as I started to laugh, they continued, but were able to sort of sit with me with it. And so, we sat there, you know, in the midst of several hundred people. Everyone else dead silent and gazing solemnly into everybody else's eyes and having their own experience. And the two of us laughing so hard the tears were rolling down our face, because it just kept escalating, the longer we did it, the funnier [00:21:02] it got, right? And you know, I mean . . .

ENRIQUE: That's brilliant.

ANDREW: One of the . .  . one of the more magical experiences of it, you know, and I don't remember what the rest of the reading was. I have no idea what we said to each other. I mean, I might . . . I think I made some notes, I could go and look, but for me, the real significance was that we both changed something in that moment through our engagement and our laughter, right? 

ENRIQUE: Yes, and that's actually . . . That was an actual communication, you know, where you had your communication, [00:21:32] communicating through laughter, which is in a way communicating through form.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And not through words. I mean words are wonderful. And I love words, but words are also overrated. You know, there is a whole field of experience that exists outside of words. 

ANDREW: Sure. Yeah.

ENRIQUE: And, and when you really have a profound experience, you are usually in the space outside of language, then comes the problem of sharing it, right? And then you have to find the right words, which is a whole other thing. But with the actual experience is not in the space mediated by language. [00:22:03] 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: No matter what the French say. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I completely agree with you. I think that that that sort of moment where you're just engaged with something beyond words is . . . is really where, where things are wonderful. Right?

ENRIQUE: Yes. Absolutely.

ANDREW: I mean, it's, it's an experience that I'm always seeking out, you know, in one way or another right? In my relationships. In my relationship with nature, through the art that I make, even, even through my hobbies, like going rock climbing. One of the things I like about rock climbing is [00:22:33] that, you know, when you're 25 feet off the ground, and you know, working on a climbing problem, there's no . . . There's nothing but the sort of sense of trying to figure out how to move in space in relationship with the wall and it's not . . . it's not words.

ENRIQUE: Exactly.

ANDREW: It's not anything. It's just . . . it's just a feeling and it's the feeling of being in that relationship with the wall itself and the puzzle, you know?

ENRIQUE: Yeah, I mean that's, that's actually a beautiful example because the wall is there, [00:23:03] speaking in stone.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: And then . . . and your body has to reply in your negative space for the stone. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: Otherwise, you basically fall and die. 

ANDREW: Right.

ENRIQUE: So, you have to become endowed with that form and that's a . . . yeah, that's an excellent example. 

ANDREW: Yeah, and it's definitely one of those things where you know, you can make your mind up. You know, I mean, especially, you know, like I'm not the world's best climber by any means, but you know, I climb [00:23:33] sort of relatively challenging, for most people, kind of things. You can decide all sorts of things before you start the climb, but once you put your hand or your foot or you know, whatever on the, on the hold then it tells you, if you're listening, what it wants you to do or needs you to do. 

ENRIQUE: Yes. 

ANDREW: And everything that you thought ahead of time kind of can go completely out the window where you're like, "Oh. I thought I'd be able to hold it from that angle. But in fact, I have to hold it from the other side now," or "I have to do this [00:24:03] or that," or "Oh, wow. That space is so much broader than I thought it was. I don't know how to, how to cross that gap now." And then you . . . then you have to sort of feel it and feel the motion and it really becomes a process of .  . . Most of the problem-solving comes not so much from even thinking about it, but from being there and saying, "Okay, where do I feel the most settled in this position? And where do I feel like I can move from?" 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: And then you're like, "Okay, now, now, now I [00:24:33] can see my way forward." 

ENRIQUE: Yeah, any embodied knowledge that you have, that we all have, and of course you acquire with experience the more you speak or you are in dialogue with the rock and the mountain, but at the same time, somehow, that's also dream. That's some sort of thing which, just letting the symbolic world, meaning the world of forms, guide you upwards.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure. Well, [00:25:03] I mean, I feel like this this brings us into something that you and I have been, you know, discussing, you know, kind of . . . I mean over the last, last year or so, over the last six months, you know, this question of what does it mean to live with the oracle versus to sort of learn and work the oracle. I'm not sure if I'm articulating it quite right in those words, but it's a good starting point, right? 

ENRIQUE: Yes, and I think [00:25:33--a little garbled here] that that's extraordinary. It's really an important question, I think. Then . . . I mean, for example, there are ways to tackle it, but this year, I finally managed to stop doing tarot readings for . . . which means that I finally managed to say no, which is really hard because usually what you want to say, "Yes," but I decided that it had no, I mean, I decided that there is a . . . You [00:26:04] know, honesty is prophecy. And then, when you actually give an honest look at anything, you know the future. And it's only when we fool ourselves, you know, we say, "Yeah, let me invite my alcoholic friend to the party. I'm sure this time he's going to be okay."

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: That's when we, you know, get derailed and then we get surprised by something that in theory, we say [00:26:34] is unexpected, but it isn't, you know, we are just fooling ourselves. But so, I decided okay, if you really remove things from the table, the only thing you can do is be present, you know, and pay attention. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: But of course, I can only accept that because whatever effect extended exposure to the tarot had on me, [00:27:04] allows me now to see that way, you know, and for . . . I see it. 

At some point you realize that the reason why we place two cards and put a space in between them, right, and at some point, then, we realize that we think of that in terms of space only because we are very slow, but it's not really space, it's time. And then we [00:27:34] realize, oh, that time is equivalent to the time that exceeds between the two, [garbled, some words may be lost] somehow you realize, you discover, and you inhabit the space in between. You live, we live in the world all the time, cards or no cards, right? And I think that the, the, I mean the ultimate effect, I guess, is to be able to have a beautiful life and I think [00:28:04] that has to do a lot with being able to be present and to contemplate what is around and then you let . . . 

I find myself in a very strange position, because I now work with all these people who are interested in language of the birds. So, we work with, you know, words, fundamentally, we break words apart and we turn them into little clouds, and we are actually looking for the void [00:28:34] within the words, right? And the letters become pegs that are holding the void in place. So, we go beyond meaning into form and then I will feel that it's almost like, sometimes, it's almost like seeing an angel. Like seeing a, you know, you see this beautiful thing that you know you found it when you see it, but you can't even define it, right? 

And it has been one thing to do that for years and years on my own and another very [00:29:04] different one to . . . to share that work with other people and then to see the effect that work has on them. Right? And one of the beautiful things, of course, is that people feel very grounded, very centered, when they do this work, but then you have it. So, these are the people that . . .

(ringing phone)

ANDREW: I'm sorry.  Let's pause for a second, Enrique, until my phone stops ringing.

ENRIQUE: And we can see that could be . . . Absolutely. 

ANDREW: All right. [00:29:34] Apparently, I can't make the phone stop either. (laughing) Oh, boy. 

ENRIQUE: Yes. You don't have superpowers. 

ANDREW: I don't have superpowers. Yeah, okay. 

ENRIQUE: So yeah, so, in any case, when you start sharing the work with other people, and they start doing that work, and you realize, oh, now people are talking about how their dreams change, right? And they have all these different beautiful [00:30:04] dreams that somehow follow the forms they are putting on the paper, right? Or, or people who feel grounded. And then you realize well, this is what living with the oracle is. It finds expression in anything you arrange . . .

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Around you. And, you know, Gaston Bachelard, the French writer, talks about poetic [00:30:34] reverie, right? And he says, literally that, he says, we can't actually . . . We have to discount dreams because we don't have control over them. But then, if you submerge yourself in a constant state of poetic reverie, you change your own dreams.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Because you are learning to be beautifully in the world, to think beautifully, right? And in a form . . . in a way form begets form. So, if you learn to move in a certain way, then that can [00:31:04] raise an echo, right? And all that . . . I know that all this may sound very abstract and probably useless, but it all accounts for basically being in the world in a beautiful way and living a beautiful life. Eventually, you can share those things with other people. And . . . 

For example, the other day I was talking to this very young woman. Her name was Natasha. And I showed her how her name . . . You know that if you separate the variables, which are the soul of a word [00:31:34] from the body, which is the consonants. She basically . . . the three As on Natasha form a triangle, right? With them . . . like an inverted triangle. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then the consonants form a square. So, when I show her that as forms, we saw how her soul, the triangle, was a little bit off-center to the square, the body, and she was really concerned about appearing or being too [00:32:04] predictable. So that gave her great comfort. Because of course, having an off-center soul is not being predictable. And, in a sense, I had to explain that. I just saw something. I say, "Oh, well, this makes me feel better." And I don't know what that is. And again, I never know what that can do for anybody. But I also think that there is some comfort for me [00:32:34] in thinking that something so abstract cannot be named, right? Because if you cannot really name it, then you probably cannot trivialize it. 

ANDREW: Hmm. I think it's . . . I think it's . . . You know, my . . . So many things. All my thoughts are colliding now! (laughing) And it's like, how do I put all this into words that make any sense to anybody else? Right? It's just . . .

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: So, [00:33:04] we talked about how . . . you know, being . . . we need to, we need to sort of see things as they are, right? And that when we're surprised by circumstance in readings, possibly, probably, we've been fooling ourselves on some level, you know? Because I think that, I think that that's certainly my experience, right? There are . .  . there are surprises, life is surprising at times, but most of the things that people ask [00:33:34] questions about aren't really surprising and people generally have a notion about what's going on. They just don't like it, don't want to say it, don't want to face it, or whatever. 

You know, and for me, you know this sort of Stoic idea of it's always better to know what's real then to sort of live in any other kind of version of reality, you know, or to cover it up. I think that that's something that I sort [00:34:04] of really have valued over a long time. And I think that the kind of Stoic notions, if you can kind of work with them outside of the macho bullshit, that's so much stuff that gets layered on them today, I think that they really can be helpful. And then I think that once we know what's real or what's, you know, closest to what's real, for whatever we want to say about that. That's a whole other episode, but . . . 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: Then we can start to understand [00:34:34] and engage with this other world that doesn't need to have concreteness attached to it per se, right? And I think about my walk in the woods talking to the birds. I think about . . . 

People always ask me, you know, like, "Well, do you do daily readings? What do you . . . How do you read the cards for yourself?" And you know, these days, a lot of what I do is, I just sit with the cards. And I put out some Marseilles cards and then I put out my, you [00:35:04] know, my Sacred Self Oracle, and I look for, look for the patterns that emerge between those. And especially because I'm often taking notes on my iPad, I'll take a picture of that card, and then I'll draw on top of it. And I've moved outside of the notion of reading in any sense that anybody means by that. And . . . 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: And it is so grounding, and so centering, and sometimes there's a message that emerges, [00:35:34] sometimes it filters back down into language or words or whatever. And often the words that come out don't even really matter. They don't even necessarily make sense in any sort of overt way, but the flow of them, the practice of making them or arranging them, the practice of thinking them, is the message and is the oracle.

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: And the consequence of that oracle is not tangible and direct in an overt way, but [00:36:04] it somehow modifies myself and my relationship to the world, my day, whatever it is that's going on, in ways that allow me to move forward in a different manner.

ENRIQUE: Yes. That's the dialogue in the day. The hand and the wall rock, you know, when your hand gets caught, to match the rock wall, your climb, it's the same thing. It's form speaking to form. And that in itself is [00:36:34] the message. And of course, that doesn't have an intellectual effect, because you can't just even talk about it. It has an emotional effect . . .

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Which is something that a lot of people miss. When you are in contact with an oracle, you're basically exposing yourself to, to have, to that, for that thing to have an emotional impact on you. And, and maybe, there is something also, that may be very silly, you know, but oracle is a word that basically accounts [00:37:05] originally, at least, for an opaque or oblique utterance, right? A phrase, a bunch of words that don't have a clearer meaning. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: So, it requires thought and, and in the way I see it, there is an experience that let's say, is a little common still. A person, any person, opens a poetry book, finds a line in the poem, and thinks, "Ah, this [00:37:35] speaks to my condition right now." Right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And we know that that poet didn't write that for her, or not even about, it's not even about that, that the person is experiencing. But the person can see how that speaks to her. You know, "Yes, this accounts for this experience I'm having."

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: And that's an experience that most people feel or know, understand, and even our culture at large values [00:38:05] it, that. We respond to it, we pride ourselves on being a culture that generates that kind of experience. So, we can take that one step further, and say, well this is a . . . Fal'e Hafiz, you know, the divination with a poet by Hafiz, the Iranian poet, which is basically the same thing, only that it's not any book of poetry, but only a book of poetry by Hafiz. You think about a problem you have, you open it up, the [00:38:35] first line you read, that's the answer . . .

ANDREW: Mm.

ENRIQUE: To your problem. And the thing is, that Hafiz was a very very obscure poet. So, it's never like, "come back on Tuesday," or, you know, play the 36." 

ANDREW: Right! 

ENRIQUE: So, it's a really really contrived sentence. So, you have to meditate upon it. It is the same as meditating upon form. And then eventually say "Yes, I understand how this is speaking to my condition." [00:39:06] 

And we can take that one step further and say the I Ching, right? Which is still a book and still full of lines, literally and metaphorically. But then, now, we don't say, "Okay, open it in any page and the first thing you see, that will be it." We say, "No, we're actually engaging with chance." So, we take all these sticks or the coins and we start going through a process that renders this idea of the odd and the even. [00:39:36] So we, you know, we get to the hexagrams. And then from the hexagrams to some sort of commentary on the hexagrams. So, we are again left with some sort of obscure phrase that in theory is responding to our situation, right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then the next step, of course, is get rid of the book. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: And keep the sticks. And right there, we have all the divination [00:40:06] systems we know, right? We have the shells with the bones, throw the cards, or the coffee stains or grinds or the clouds. And the funny thing is in our culture, the moment we get rid of the book, we step into what people define as superstition, right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

ENRIQUE: It's no longer this poetica pursuit, basically, because we have this very old-fashioned idea of poetry as something that is anchored on the word, words, and [00:40:36] not on form. But of course, every time you look at an oracle you're reading, and that reading is a poetic reading. It's as opaque and obscure as the poetry by Hafiz or the I Ching commentary or the poem that you read and . . . 

ANDREW: Well in the . . .

ENRIQUE: You know, I was talking about this with . . . yeah, yes, go ahead. 

ANDREW: In a sense, you know, when we . . . You know, not in a literal sense, because from within the tradition, we have a different dialogue [00:41:06] about it, but from the point of view of our conversation, when we are divining with the cowrie shells and we say that the, the Odu has arrived, right? Like the living energy of the Orisha that is the sign that came out in this divination. And the belief is that the arrival of that Odu changes the person's life. It is . . . it is just that process of invoking that energy through [00:41:36] the shells, and looking at it and seeing it and it being there, and then afterwards the diviner's job is more so to manage that dialogue and make sure that the person understands enough of what has been said so they can go away and think about it, right? I mean and there are other sort of literal pieces too but, but that idea of the energy of the oracle arriving, and us receiving it, and that being the thing that changes our life . . . You know, it comes with the notion that we don't understand [00:42:06] what that is, exactly. We can't articulate it clearly. 

And even, even when we're interpreting the Odu in a traditional way, we can't necessarily, on any level, understand all of the implications and so on of that. We are merely just making sure that we've, you know, read the appropriate lines that are relevant to it and marked the right things. And after that, it's up to the person to sit with it and allow that to unfold with them and through them and so on, in a way that [00:42:36] is certainly energetic and otherwise, but also definitely poetic, and goes back to that sort of obtuseness of Hafiz, or other things, the I Ching, where it's like, "Huh? What does this really mean? How does this apply? How does this apply today? How does this apply while I'm at the butcher's? How does this apply when I pick my kids up from school? You know? It's that living with it that is the . . . that is where we get the most out of it and where it is the most transformational. You know?

ENRIQUE: Yes. Yeah, and [00:43:06] I mean, I was talking about this with my wife the other day, and she say that the problem, really, the moment you get rid of the book or the moment that you step into the oracle is the other person, the interpreter, you know? There is this, the moment you need the other person to tell you how to relate to the oracle. And I thought that was really interesting because again, it's brought me back to the woman who say, "You are in the obligation of telling me because I'm not going to do any thinking." 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And [00:43:36] of course, I mean, again, it is really interesting to, for me at the moment to think again that by delivering an open object, turn the other person into the interpreter. They have to come to terms with forms and understand what those forms are saying to them.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Because at least I don't know. I don't know what, who they are. I don't know what they are, you know, feeling, and I must certainly have no, [00:44:06] nothing to say about anybody's life, but they know. I think they always know. And you say, also a few minutes ago, they have an idea of what's going on. And basically, they may not like it. So, they're trying to find almost like a second opinion. That's why . . . I mean the other day, somebody was asking me about the ethics of readings and divination and I told her, well, there is an ethical problem, because in my experience [00:44:36] most clients are dishonest. They want to hear what they want to hear. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And they will twist your words. They will, you know, re-ask the question again and again until they get what they want, and even if you don't give it to them, they will hear every word you say as if you say what they want to hear. So, of course, there is a lot of dishonesty in the profession, but it mostly come from the clients. Of course, [00:45:06] there are dishonest readers. But even the honest reader has to put up with that person who has decided beforehand what they want to hear.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And I see that as way more . . . I mean, and again, it's really . . . Do you know, I think that there is a love for the majority for example of the cards or any oracle, at some point you want to really share that beauty with other people. And that takes you so far. It [00:45:37] comes to a point at which you understand: "Yes, but I'm speaking of a beauty and this woman's still speaking about this [garbled] on Thanksgiving. You know?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: I really don't care. It's not really my problem. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think, yeah. I think too, like, somebody . . . Somebody was asking me if . . . Somebody was . . . I was posting about my . . . So, my journey for, with [00:46:07] rock climbing. You know, I was, I set myself a goal for the year. This is the only resolution I made for 2018. And my resolution for 2018 was to still be climbing at the end of the year. That was my, my entire goal. No achievement attached to it. No, you know, anything else, just still be going and doing it. Just keep returning if you go away, and be, and still be there at the end of the year. Because [00:46:37] I think that, you know, like the oracle, you know, if we, if we promise to keep showing up, you know, the oracle reveals things to us over time.

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: We don't know when or how that comes, and so if we endeavor to be with it, then, then we will hear what we need to hear as we go, to a large extent. And somebody, somebody was posting . . . somebody posted in response to that, that if they, they wondered if the universe challenged us whenever we set an intention, you [00:47:07] know, if it deliberately brought stuff up, you know. And I think that for me, and I'll let you answer for yourself. But for me, living with the oracle in this open-ended way and living, in a, for lack of a better term, kind of more Stoic way with a real sort of working to, to see things as clearly as possible all the time and face the things that I might rather put in the closet or leave [00:47:37] for another day. 

I don't . . . I don't feel like the universe has a lot of agency in the way that that question implies, you know? There are surprises that are . . . that happen, you know? You know, in relationship to me climbing this year, there were two surprises: One, I dislocated my collarbone in the winter, tobogganing with my daughter. And that took like [00:48:07] four months to really fix. It's horrible. I don't recommend it to anybody. And two, you know, I'm getting divorced this year and, you know, although that is amicable and, and going well, relatively speaking, it takes a lot of time and attention and doesn't always leave energy for other things. But I don't think that any of those have any relationship to . . . to my intention or my desire to climb or do other things. I think that those are, those [00:48:37] are just the inevitable stories of being alive, right? We are alive, and things happen and we get sick and . . .

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: Life comes up and things change and so on and we don't need to, or I never need to, arrange a narrative around that in a bigger way. So, I'm curious. I'm curious for you. Do you . . . What agency do you feel comes back from the universe? Do you think that there is something organizing it or testing us or . . . 

ENRIQUE: No, I actually, no, I always say the same thing. I think that [00:49:07] the universe doesn't care about us. Or maybe I will say it doesn't care about me. And I know that people want to be, to feel otherwise, you know, but you know when I was a kid . . . and this image has been coming back a lot recently. I watched this documentary about Africa, right? And there was this method of catching monkeys, which consisted of filling up a hollow tree with grain.

ANDREW: Uh huh.

ENRIQUE: And then, you know, the monkey will stick his hand into the hollow [00:49:37] tree, grab the grain, but then couldn't take the handful, the fistful out. The hole was only big enough for the empty hand to come in. But if he had grain in his hand, in his hand, he couldn't take it out.

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: And basically, these guys just will walk up to the monkey and grab it because the monkey will never let go of the grain. 

ANDREW: Yes. 

ENRIQUE: And I mean, it's insane, right? But I think that in terms of daily life, we are all monkeys with our hand [00:50:07] stuck in a hollow tree. 

ANDREW: Yes.

ENRIQUE: And most of the time, you realize, yeah, but can you just open the hand and let go?

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: Life works the way it works. And in that sense, there is no mystery, even if it takes you by surprise all the time, basically because we think that there is a mystery there. And yes, sometimes we catch a cold and sometimes we get divorced and sometimes we, you know, we're surprised by somebody giving us a loaf of bread.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: I . . . I [00:50:38] don't think that actually, at least I understand that that's not the way people think, but I never thought of any kind of oracular work where oracles had any dealings with daily life in that sense, of letting me know if I should change the oil of my car today or next week, you know?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: I think it's more about transcending daily life and finding some sort of center, true beauty [00:51:08] through some sort of . . . 

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: Through some sort of sublime condition in life.

ANDREW: For sure. 

ENRIQUE: Yeah, but all day, even the other day I was talking about, you know, people, people talk about sigils, and then I realized, first, the first mistake you make when you make a sigil is wanting something?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then you realize when you make a sigil to, I don't know, lose weight. Let's [00:51:38] say. And another sigil to get a red car. You're basically making the same operation, right? You make, you take the words, you eliminate certain letters, and you consolidate everything into one small or smaller emblem.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And then you realize, oh, but what you're doing there, it doesn't matter what you want. What you're doing again and again and again is a reduction. That's what then . . . In the world of forms, [00:52:08] what you are actually spelling is a reduction. Which means that in time, it doesn't matter how many things you wanted, you end up with your mind drinking. 

ANDREW: Hmm.

ENRIQUE: And of course, people don't like that, because, besides you can't sell a book saying this stuff, right? You can't sell any books and don't want stuff. They only want books that say, I'm sorry, I want to say you're entitled [00:52:38] to want everything, and I can tell you how to get it. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: But you realize there is something really silly about trying to control daily life, especially because daily life is not even that interesting, you know, and it takes care of itself. 

ANDREW: Mm. Yeah. I think that . . . I mean it's kind of why, over the years, I've sort of moved to . . . My [00:53:08] magic that I do tends to tends to be most often orientated towards what I, what I kind of now often call as identity magic, which is how do I, how do I change myself so that I can be more like more like what seems fruitful, more like what, you know, remove those obstacles in myself to doing the things that I need, you know, it's not so much about changing the world as it is about [00:53:38] shifting myself in relationship to it so that . . . If there's desire attached to it, so that what I desire is more accessible, or so that I'm more, more at ease and more in the flow around whatever it is that I need to work on and change, you know?

ENRIQUE: Yes. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

ENRIQUE: Yeah, I don't know. I think it's a song. At some point, I understood or I [00:54:08] have been made to understand that presence is meaning . . .

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And presence is also performance. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Whatever you are, you're performing, you're enacting, you are projecting something, and causing an effect. And I'm at the moment more interested in just being, you know, and be present and play along with the fact that causes.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: It's like when this woman started laughing, looking at [00:54:38] your eyes, and you laughed with her, you know, you said that's a reaction in the moment and that's what there, you know?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And trying to make her chop or, I don't know, levitate, will be useless. So, yeah, it's . . . I'm finding a lot of pleasure in walking around by with my pockets empty. And of course, I don't know what magic is. I think that, in other words, I think that magic or [00:55:08] some experience of mystery that I actually pursue or often feel works best when you don't want anything, when you don't want it, and it appears and surprises you, gives you something. It's like a gift, you know, but it's not something you pursue in terms of how can I command for this to happen at will.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And again, I understand that when you say that magic . . . When . . . the moment I speak [00:55:38] of magic without will, I'm almost like undefining magic in terms of what people think magic is, right? They all seem to be convinced it's about will, exerting our will, and I think it's more about stepping aside, letting things happen. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Well, I think it's definitely about . . . for me, it's definitely about making space so that [00:56:08] I can be engaged and present with the subject of the magic in a way that it allows it to unfold, to some extent without control, to a large extent without control, because I think that the idea of, you know, "Oh, I really want this person to fall in love with me." I mean, I think the minute that you're fixated on, on one person is the minute that you've already kind of drifted into a problematic territory and should go back to . . .

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: Why that person? [00:56:38] Why do you want them when they are not reciprocating? What is it you're looking for? What is it you could do without magic to make this . . . ? You know, I mean, many questions, right? But, but rather, what could I . . . What could I do to have more, more romance in my life? What could I do to have better connections? And is there a magical act that, that feeds and supports that in an open-ended and sort of allowing the universe to show us, allowing ourselves to witness and notice it in an open, open [00:57:08] and present way as the opportunities float around us, rather than sort of exerting a massive amount of control, which I think is, which is very rarely fruitful, you know. 

ENRIQUE: Yes. Well, you know, my . . . This year, one of my favorite moments is . . . I have this friend, who about 12 years ago, he was named the godfather of a child, right? And he decided beautifully that his gift to this kid will be the gift of language.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: So, he set up an account, a bank account and he has [00:57:38] been putting money there for years, assuming that at some point, maybe this kid will want to learn, you know, Italian so he can go to Rome and live there and learn the language. But then this summer, he spent a morning with me by the river and we were playing with all these bird voices, you know, and talking like birds and the birds will come and all this and that. So, and he went, he bought a box full of birdcallers and sent it to this kid. 

Yeah, so there is something extraordinarily beautiful in [00:58:08] inspiring a person to complete this crazy act of gifting a kid a set of birdcallers, and then he wrote this note, saying, "I believe this is a good first language for you to learn. And, and then for that gesture not to fall flat, you know, and for the kid to actually embrace this, and then this is a kid I don't know, I probably will never see in my life, but somehow, it's beautiful to think that there [00:58:38] is some residual effect of what I do that is part of that kid's life, and I don't know. I'm . . . 

The other day, for example, this woman wrote to me and she said that she wanted to speak like a hawk. And it's beautiful. We saw this at [Brawn's?] we saw that actually allows her to do so. And she say, "Well, I have a problem, and the problem I have is that I'm surrounded by [00:59:08] sparrows." So, I told her, "Well, you know, the problem is that the only way you have for you to know if you are actually doing it right is that all those sparrows are going to fly away, because you've become a predator, right?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And she say, "Oh, but, I mean, I love the sparrows. Do you think they were going to trust me?" I said, "Yes. I mean, they are going to trust you as much as a sparrow trusts a hawk." Okay. So yeah, it's fantastic to think you can . . . A, this faith [00:59:38] when a person can ask you that question, can talk about this [garbled] bird's nest to still be close to the birds. And at the same time, like a little bit . . . We are really not just talking about talking like a hawk, or talking about voice, we are talking about the consequences of having a certain voice and being responsible for what we say, what we put out in the world. And I . . . being full of all of the [garbled] but I can [01:00:08] see the poetry or of living a poetic life through embracing the form of a bird voice and the bird language. So yeah.

ANDREW: That's wonderful. Well, maybe we should wrap up the us talking part of the conversation here, and there were definitely some questions that came through, through Facebook. And I think at this point, I'd love to, I'd love to hear you give like a one word [01:00:38] or a one phrase answer to them, rather than us sort of go into a big long conversation or . . . kind of like we did in one of them where . . . 

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: I did the rapid-fire questions at you. Let's look at these rapid fire . . .

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: And see what comes, okay? So, one person asks . . . 

ENRIQUE: Okay. 

ANDREW: So, with your children, are they interested, would you teach them these things about card reading? What are your thoughts on children and cards? [01:01:08] 

ENRIQUE: Well, I have three kids. The middle kid already asked me to teach him and I did so. And then yesterday, my daughter told me that, and she's 10. One of his friends, his classmates, actually asked: Did your father ever taught you, told you how to read tarot and [garbled] in the French way, in such a beautiful way, that I think she already knows everything she needs to know. 

ANDREW: Yeah, my [01:01:38] youngest got a Sibilla deck and reads that for me sometimes . . .

ENRIQUE: I have Sibilla, yes.

ANDREW: And it's just, you know, she's so great at it. It's just, she's like, "Oh, look at this. Somebody's going to do something you don't like, but this is going to happen. But there you go. It's so wonderful," right? They have a sense of it, I think, which is great and . . .

ENRIQUE: Yes.

ANDREW: It's less about teaching and more about just . . .

ENRIQUE: Yeah. I mean my son, when I explained . . . Yeah, when I explained [01:02:08] it to my son in after 15 minutes, he told me, "Oh, I understand. This is all about transformations." And I realized, "Oh, it took you 15 minutes, it took me 15 years." 

ANDREW: Right? 

ENRIQUE: Okay. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

ENRIQUE: You know, that's that. Yeah. 

ANDREW: All right. Next question. What is the poem that the world needs in these times? 

ENRIQUE: I don't know. I mean, I guess my [01:02:38] issue is that I don't have any faith in the poem.

ANDREW: Mm.

ENRIQUE: As you know, in the actual poem. I guess there's poetry, and poetry's everywhere in a sense. But I will say in terms of poetry, yes, yes, you just need to listen to the sparrows. You know, the sparrows have this beautiful thing, that is, they are like Zen monks. A sparrow only makes a, like a little sound, you know, over and over and over, so it says everything it needs to say in one syllable. It's [01:03:08] almost like tasting water, you know. So . . .

ANDREW: Yeah, yeah.

ENRIQUE: Yeah, the voice of the sparrow.

ANDREW: What has surprised you regarding tarot in the last couple of years?

ENRIQUE: You know, the tarot world is like that movie, Groundhog Day.

ANDREW: (bursts out laughing)

ENRIQUE: It's the same day again, over and over. 

ANDREW: (still laughing) Yes, Bill Murray.

ENRIQUE: So, we're all Bill [01:03:38] Murray. 

ANDREW: Perfect. Yeah.

ENRIQUE: And that's . . . Every day the same deck is being published, the same book is being published, the same conversation about the origin of tarot is being published, the same theory about the secret behind it is being discussed. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And that's how we go, you know, it never ends. 

ANDREW: Perfect. Do you consider tarot magic? And do you practice any forms of magic? 

ENRIQUE: Oh, every morning, [01:04:08] I sit at a café, in the same place next to a window. I look at words in my notebook. And if something appears [garbled--black?], in terms of form, I share it with some people and then that snowballs into something.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: And that's the magic I do. And, yeah, I mean, everything can be, I guess, magic, but I do feel that for something to be magical, there has to be an otherness. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ENRIQUE: Meaning it has to take you to another [01:04:38] place. It's, I don't know. It's hard to imagine doing magic with something that is completely like a daily thing, you know, but it could be. I mean, I think that, yeah. In any case, I don't know if magic. I think that the world has a poetic influence, meaning that forms speak to each other through analogy. Maybe that's magic. I don't know if magic is an intelligence. I don't [01:05:08] know again, if there's an agency, like a big finger that is invisible and it's swirling things behind. I don't know.

ANDREW: Yeah. Fair. And last question: What would, what would it take for you to put your tarot deck again right now? Given that you're not really doing readings and such any more.

ENRIQUE: Every time I make an exception. 

ANDREW: Yes. Yeah.

ENRIQUE: Every time I make an exception, [01:05:38] I end up confirming that it's pointless. 

ANDREW: Hmm. 

ENRIQUE: So, no, I don't think so. I'm not, you know, I have nothing to sell, and I'm not in a crusade for people, not to do readings or to any kind of ideas I may have, I'm just trying to get by finding my own language. I will do all these things, which is a way of saying to find my own. You know, I think that that's what the philosopher's stone is. To find your own language.

ANDREW: Right.

ENRIQUE: And your own language is not English or Spanish or Italian. It's how [01:06:08] you organize forms around you. And that's why they . . . you know, the, the alchemists say, that's a great work, you know, and they say the philosopher's stone cannot be handed down, you know, passed to another person. You have to find it yourself. It's because of that. You have to find your own language.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

ENRIQUE: Otherwise you're just living in the shadow of another person's language. 

ANDREW: Right. Perfect. 

ENRIQUE: And yeah, so, so and well. Yeah. Okay. 

ANDREW: I think that's a great place [01:06:38] to leave it. Go find your language, everybody! 

ENRIQUE: Perfect. 

ANDREW: Perfect. And if it sounds like birds, let us know. (laughs) 

ENRIQUE: Exactly.

ANDREW: Perfect. Well, thank you so much for hanging out with me this morning and especially for fighting through all the Skype up and downs. It's what I get for recording during Mercury retrograde. 

ENRIQUE: Oh, it's okay. It's always great. 

ANDREW: Perfect. 

ENRIQUE: Thank you. It's always great to talk to you.

ANDREW: Thank you, you too. 

ENRIQUE: I hope to soon. 

[music]

ANDREW: [01:07:09] I hope you love this conversation, as always, I hope that. Enrique did all the Patreons the pleasure of recording a bird song just for them. So if you are a supporter of the Patreon in the $5 and up category, you can go find that recording now at Patreon.com/TheHermitsLamp, and if you're not a supporter: Well, what are you waiting for? The birds are waiting to speak to you. Talk to you next time.

EP90 Death and Being Real with Barbara Moore

November 23, 2018
00:0000:00

Barbara and Andrew catch up on their 4th annual check in to discuss the state of the world. They talk about the way death has been a force in Barbara's life. How maybe being real is more important that being upbeat. The role of social media in both their lives. And Andrew's claiming of the term Magnificent Weirdo. 

If you missed the previous interviews go check out episodes 44, 58, and 72 first. 

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.

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

Barbara can be found at her website here

Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

You can book a reading or private lesson with Andrew through his site here

Transcript

ANDREW: [00:00:02] Welcome to The Hermit's Lamp podcast, everybody. I am here today with Barbara Moore, and this is essentially our fourth annual check in and hang out. We started these conversations a number of years back, and just sort of fell into the habit of kind of following up and seeing where life has gotten to and what's going on. And you know, I think it's going to be an interesting episode because we're … For both of us, it's been a year of a lot of change, and, you know, a lot of transformation and [00:00:32] you know, so yeah, let's get to it. 

Hey Barbara, what's going on? What's new? 

BARBARA: (laughing) What's new … We have just celebrated our one-year anniversary in our new home. It's, like you said, been a year of a lot of change, you said transformation. I don't think that my stuff is actually in the transforming (laughs) [00:01:02] stage yet. It's still in the … Feels like it's still in the breaking down phase.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And I really think it would be more the end of the transformation, like the butterfly stage by now, but that has not happened. 

ANDREW: Uh-huh. 

BARBARA: But I suppose, what's new? The biggest newest thing that's been kind of a theme this year for me has been death. Death has been new to me. I have not had a lot of death in my life. [00:01:34] And so, I've had a lot of it pretty close and intimate, really intimate, this year. In fact, the most intimate … wow, we're going to start right off with the big stuff … the most intimate connection with death on one level, I had just one week ago today.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And that was when …? Okay. So, the … how ... the place we live in is attached to a house on [00:02:04] property owned by a couple named Carol and Noel. I did mention them last year. And, and Noel died on Friday. And this is not unexpected. He was quite old, and was in hospice and dying for quite some time. And Carol knows that I have done a little bit of priestess work, little bit of ritual stuff. And so, the hospice caregiver was preparing Noel’s [00:02:34] body. Oh, because they didn't take the body away to a mortuary or anything like that. They kept him at home, and—for a week—and he just went away on Thursday, and so he wasn't going to be embalmed or anything. 

And so, the hospice caregiver asked, and Carol asked, if I would help prepare his body, which (laughs) was really freaky for me because I've never done anything [00:03:04] like that. I've never been a good, you know … Some people are good caregivers, you know, like if someone's sick, they're good at taking care of them and comforting and cleaning.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: I've never been that. It's just not something that has been a strength for me. And, you know, but part of this whole year is doing things that scare me. And so, yeah, so I helped wash [00:03:34] him, and then we crumbled up lavender into some oil and anointed his whole body, and dressed him, and I … It's been a week and I still, I've told people I can't really talk about it yet, because I haven't fully processed what I think or feel about that situation, and even just talking about it, I can feel the fluttering in my chest, you know, like a sign of anxiety that [00:04:04] I haven't really finished processing that experience.

ANDREW: Mmm.

BARBARA: But I guess we could say that that's really metaphoric for what this past year has been. I've been getting up close and personal with death in many forms and still sorting out my relationship with it.

ANDREW: Death is one of those things that we don't … I mean, I consider [00:04:34] myself a person who’s comparatively really comfortable with death. I'm very, you know, close and aware of death. You know, I mean, I've been through a lot of very close loss in my life, you know, my … Two of my brothers passing away, and, you know, the people that I've known passing away, and I think that … Death is always an uncomfortable companion. Even if you are, [00:05:04] relatively speaking, comfortable with it being around, you know, it's always … It's never, it's never entirely settled, and I think that, you know … Like grief, grief is never entirely settled, you know, it might be 20 years and some conjunction of things will kick some little pocket of it back up into the foreground again, you know. So.

BARBARA: Yeah, yeah. I think what [00:05:35] has driven me for most of my life is making things, producing things, working, and I think whenever any kind of loss comes to me, into my life, I would just kind of pat it down and run over it and just keep going.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: You know, like it's not affecting me. It happened. It's done, move on, move on, and this [00:06:05] year, the kinds of death have been really much larger, and I've been not working much. I mean, I've been doing my regular work like I explained in the last podcast. I did kind of have the year off, except for, you know, just the basic work, just keep feeding myself, but I've had a lot more downtime and quiet time, and it's almost like I needed training wheels to feel, [00:06:35] cause I'm not, I wasn't used to, what am I feeling? Even just even letting the feeling come to the surface, and then the next step, identifying it, and what you do with it, and how does it fit in with where you want to go with your life, or whatever, and cause I don't even know what order I should tell all the stories. But just this example of feeling the feelings associated with death, just met ... [00:07:05] my father also died. He died in September, and I just started … just like last night, actually. I started feeling the feelings of grief, you know, like, oh my God, I miss him so much, and you know, so it's been almost two months, and I … And it's just happening now, you know. 

And my beloved [00:07:35] companion Whiskey, my golden retriever, died in June and I wasn't home to say goodbye to her. I was in Minnesota at the time. And you know, it took like a couple months for those feelings to come up. So, you know, I feel like even though I'm into my 50s, I have had little practice with this compared to most people my age. So, it has been real interesting. 

Oh, and that [00:08:05] reminds me too, right before I moved, my friend Nancy and I were messing around with our cards and stuff, and she's like, “Well, let's pull a card and see, you know, what big theme you can expect from this move.” And she pulled the Death card, of course, and was like, “Oh, wow, this is going to change your life in more ways than you think!” And she pulled another card. And it was the Emperor. And she's like, you know, because I'm a very structured person, a very organized person. She's like, “It's going to really blow that part of you [00:08:35] to bits.” But what she couldn't have known, and of course hindsight is, you know … The Emperor, for a lot of people, is associated with a father figure, you know, so it's like “your father will die.” Okay, but again, it's all metaphor, and it's all tied together, and bigger themes, and then I was writing to one of my pen friends and I was giving her my new P.O. box number and she's like, “Oh, your P.O. box numbers add up to 13. It's a Death year for you.” I went, “Oh, wow. Okay.” So, [00:09:05] yeah. 

ANDREW: Do you, do you follow the year card system? Are you ... For, you know, birth cards and year cards? Is that a thing for you? 

BARBARA: I do ... My birth cards and the year cards, I don't, I do some years, and some years I don’t. And I don't even know if I know what mine was. I didn't think I needed another one. Okay, I think I'll just ... The Death card wants to be my card this year. I think we'll just go with it. Of course, knowing ... You know, when you don't have a real [00:09:35] experience with it, it can feel like, “Ooh, it's exciting, things are going to change,” because in the past, in my life, when things have changed, it's always been like, good, and pretty easy, and exciting, and not involving all of this that we’re having here. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Well, you know, I think that death, death, death on all those levels is always such a complicated [00:10:07] companion, right? You know? I mean, coming to the endings of things is, you know, in some ways, a relief, especially for Noel. Right? I mean that's a, that's a relief, right? of that sort of, you know, slow movement across that line, you know? But the kind of change that it tends to bring isn't really, you know, it … Even if it's sudden, even if the change is sudden, [00:10:37] the energy of it sort of lingers, right? You know, like Crowley talks about the Death card as sort of … Sometimes it's the fall of the scythe and sometimes it's this, like, putrefaction, this slow breaking down and rotting of things, right?

BARBARA: Yeah.

ANDREW: And hang out and sort of watch elements of yourself or your life kind of decompose, right? Like we were talking about before we got on the line today, you know? It's like that black [00:11:07] phase, that nigredo phase, in alchemy, right? Where, you know, everything just starts to like, break down, and it's, you know, that's the long dark night of the soul time, right? Where all of a sudden, you're like, “I don't know where anything was going. I don't know what any of this means anymore. Does any of this matter?” Right? 

BARBARA: Yeah. Yeah. The “does any of this matter?” has been a really strong push, or no, it's been a strong question in me this [00:11:37] year. You know, whenever I think of doing something or ... maybe I should take up a project, maybe I should get back to work, maybe I should do something, and like what, what's worth … What does it matter?

ANDREW: Mmm.

BARBARA: And I really truly hope I don't stay in this space for much longer because it is not comfortable.

ANDREW: Yeah. I remember when … In the months after my brothers died. And for those who don't know, two of my brothers passed [00:12:07] within six weeks of each other, it's about nine years ago now, and so it was … It was really intense the first time, and then it was just, double down, you know, sort of six weeks later. And you know, like, I spent a lot of time thinking about it and trying to make sense of it. Trying to, you know, like underst-, what does any of it even mean any more after this kind of situation? And all those kinds of questions. [00:12:37] And the thing I kind of kept coming back to was, Well, I've got to do something with my time regardless. So, what is it I want to do? (laughing) What is it ... Like, is it just eat a bucket of ice cream? That's fine too. Right? Is it, you know, something else? What is it? Cause I've got to do something with my time other than just sit and wonder if any of it means anything, you know? You know? You know? And so, that kind of ultimately, you [00:13:08] know, led me, led me out of most of it, you know, and back into sort of being in the world and being engaged in things, you know, so. 

BARBARA: Yeah, yeah, hopefully that will start happening with me. I have spent my fair share of time just laying on the bed, you know, being all angsty and eating ice cream and whatnot. [00:13:38] But I've also done, you know, I've been reading more fiction, nothing that's, you know, enlightening my mind or anything, and painting nothing worth showing anybody. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of stuff that is completely pointless, and I'm like, why am I doing this? It's the only thing I feel like doing so I'm doing it.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

BARBARA: It feels really [00:14:08] indulgent in a weird way. 

ANDREW: But isn't that part of what life is about? Like, I think that life as opposed to death is about indulgence, right?

BARBARA: (laughing)

ANDREW: No, maybe I'm too Sagittarian and too Jupitarian in that regard. But, you know, I think that life really is about indulging those things and you know, somewhat like the Fool, right? If we indulge those things, whatever meaning [00:14:38] there is will emerge over time.

BARBARA: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, as opposed to this idea that I think that we often have that we can determine what the meaning is and then, you know, set on a course of embodying that. You know, I mean, it's like a thing that I think I said to you a long time ago, right? Like, you know, the road knows what star is yours, but you can't figure it out before you leave the house, right? You know?

BARBARA: Right.

ANDREW: Yeah.  

BARBARA: Yeah. That's so contrary to the way I've lived [00:15:08] my life, and, as you're speaking those words again, I can feel the truth and beauty in them; at the same time, I feel part of myself resisting.

ANDREW: Sure. 

BARBARA: So.

ANDREW: Yeah.

BARBARA: Yeah, it is definitely the black phase of alchemy, man. This breaking down, this breaking down, like when I left social media, a lot of it was fueled by, I was shaping my self-image based [00:15:38] on how people on social media saw me or responded to me. And so, I wanted to not let that be driving how I was shaping myself. But, and so, taking that away, what's left? What's take what shaping myself is my work? It's always been my work. What am I doing? What am I putting out there? How much am I teaching, how many books am I publishing, how many decks am I creating, what am I doing? And [00:16:08] like you said, we can't always set the outcome and move toward it and embody it and manifest it. Sometimes it's just all something my friend Ricardo says, similar to what you said, is, you can't see the path in the woods until you're in the woods, you know? It's dark and you can't see it until you’re there. And yeah, so, you know, what are all the [00:16:38] paintings? They're mostly portraits of strangers, people I don't know ...

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: You know, just like stock images or, you know there are these sites that, where people post pictures for artists to use as reference ...

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And it's all I'm doing is painting these strangers. It's just very weird.

ANDREW: Well, I think that's really interesting, cause you never really know what's gonna come back around. I have this painting on the wall in the shop that I did. [00:17:09] I don't even know how long ago. It has no date on it. Seven or eight years ago maybe? And it's of a ... it's of a red-wing blackbird. And you know, I I've been thinking about making art again and showing art. I was in a show recently and sort of thinking about sort of the idea of not just making sort of decks and stuff like that. I mean still making those things as well, but also making [00:17:39] art for the sake of making art to show and share, you know, and ... And I was looking at this painting which has been, you know, in my reading room the whole time since I made it, so for a long time now. And I was like ... And I was talking to an artist and talking about how inspired I was by Basquiat and their really large works that they painted. You know, [00:18:09] they had a showing here in Toronto awhile back and some of the paintings are like six-foot square and stuff like that. And I'm feeling this urge to work big, I'm like, but I don't really have space to work big, you know, all the excuses come in, and then like I was looking at this painting of a bird and I was thinking, and then immediately I was like, you know what I'm going to do, I'm going to photograph that, I'm going to blow it up, and then I'm going to paint on top of it and make it into a new painting through that process. And so, I [00:18:39] just got the prints, so they're two by two by three feet big, as opposed to like, five by eight or something like that, which the small thing is originally, and I'm going to mount it to some kind of board and then I'm going to start reworking on top of it, stuff like that. So, you just never know what comes back around, you know, like those strangers may emerge in some really new way or lead to something else, you know? 

BARBARA: Are you going to use acrylics on top of that, or ... ?

ANDREW: [00:19:10] I'm going to ... I'm going to use ... I have these acrylic markers. So, I'm going to use those. And I'm going to use ink, so I'm going to like go in and I want to do a mix of big scale stuff on it and really really super intimate things, like, you know, like the branch at the bird is sitting on because [00:19:40] it was painted small is essentially just a few very simple strokes of simple colors, right? But I'm going to go in embellish that, and then I'm going to go in and work with some varnish and stuff. So, some stuff will be really varnished and shiny from certain angles, and like I have a bunch of ideas about it. And then I feel like I can also feel there's some other birds like, “Hey, do me next. Do me next!”

BARBARA: (laughing)

ANDREW: So, you know, I feel like it's going to become a body of something, right? [00:20:10] But what that is, I don't really know, but you know, they've always been my companions, right? You know, I mean, I have this habit of I just go and follow the birds through the woods until they stop and then I realize where I need to be and stop and hang out with the Earth and that place and things like that, right? So, I have a very like strong connection to them. So, yeah.

BARBARA: God, I can't wait to see. It sounds like it's going to be really really cool. I'm feeling excited for the process for you just hearing about it.

ANDREW: Yeah. It's been [00:20:45] a long time since I ... since I had a sir purely process-driven thing and it's been a long time since I made ... Like I'm not even sure the last time I made a piece of art that wasn't for a deck, you know girls. It's been quite some time since I've since I did that. So. Yeah. Yeah. 

BARBARA: I was just thinking, you know, we kind of led with the heavy stuff, which seems natural, it's been on my mind, [00:21:15] but I wonder maybe it wouldn't be nice to have a little interlude of a few happy or positive things that have already been kind of coming out of the ashes. 

ANDREW: Yeah!

BARBARA: Just so people don't get too depressed and quit listening. (laughs) But, you know, one of the things is ... I have two examples I'd love to share. The first is regarding my father's death.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: So, my father. He had [00:21:45] five kids: me and two sisters from my mom, and then my sister and brother from my stepmother. So there's five of us. And out of the five of us, three of us are really close, me and two of my sisters, and then the other two live in Michigan still and not quite as close. And one of the things my dad always said was he wished that we were all closer.

ANDREW: Right.

BARBARA: That was super important to him and [00:22:15] he ... When things started getting bad for him in July, my siblings and I started a sibling text chain just so we could ... and just so we could keep up on stuff ....

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And all be fully informed. And throughout the process between July and October, that ... the time when he was like actively dying and in hospice and then planning the funeral and whatnot, my siblings and I worked [00:22:46] together, not like a well-oiled machine cause that sounds so cold, but like a bunch of dancers who know their steps and that complement each other. And so that was just really super amazing. And then when the funeral, which was in Michigan, all my siblings were already there and I was flying in, like the day before, and so I get to the Detroit airport and my [00:23:16] siblings text me and they're like, we're all here. Like, so it was just us five siblings, without spouses, without kids, without anything, just the five of us and I don't remember the last time the five of us were alone together and all in one place. So we stopped for a drink on the way home, and just you know, toasting dad and sharing stories, sharing intimate moments that we had with our dad that we'd never told anyone before ....

ANDREW: Right.

BARBARA:  You know and just got really really [00:23:46] close. And in that weekend of the funeral, it was like my dad's last gift to us.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: He made a situation where we all fell in love with each other.

ANDREW: That's wonderful.

BARBARA: It really, it really is wonderful. And you know, so I'm so grateful for that because we still have that text chain going and you know, at least once a week we're, you know, sharing things about our lives and you know, encouraging each other, so that was super awesome.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And [00:24:18] a real blessing. Then the other was, it's a little bit still close, but it was still like such a remarkable experience, was you know, like I said, Noel died. And so we kept him at home and people would come, you know, to just sit with him and be with people, you know, kind of like a wake kind of thing. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

BARBARA: Oh, oh, but I do need to tell you this little local flavor thing, you know cause I do live here in this little tiny valley [00:24:48] and the technology is pretty sketchy. And you know, there's no like Potter Valley Facebook group or anything where people share what's going on. They do it the old-fashioned way. Like when the fires were happening this summer, there's this one kind of a park area where everyone who comes in and out of the valley drives past, and they had a big like a sandwich board sign where they had updates on the fire and a map of the evacuation areas and [00:25:18] stuff. You know, and that's how people found out stuff. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And so, for Noel's funeral, we wanted--or whatever. It wasn't really a funeral, we'll call it a funeral. We wanted to let people know, and so, Dylan and I made, you know, two really big cardboard signs saying, just saying, that Noel passed away. Community visiting at his home and the hours and hung one up at the corner store [00:25:48] and one on the corner of the street where we live. And that's how we communicated the information.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And one time, you know, we were walking, Dylan and I were out walking out to visit the Pigs who live on the corner where the sign was, and you know a man was driving up the mountain. He stops and he's like, “Oh so, you know, Noel died.” Yeah, yeah, you know, just people talk more, it's more face-to-face or, very old school. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: Well anyways, back [00:26:18] to the cool part was: when you're getting cremated, apparently, they give you this cardboard box that's, you know, you put the body in and so we left it out in a large area of the house with a bunch of art supplies and people decorated it. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

BARBARA: You know, so he ... By the time it was done, it was just like covered in pictures and symbols and Sufi prayers and all kinds of other prayers and blessings [00:26:48] and gratitude and things for him. So, you know, he was sent off to his, you know, final physical whatever before he got cremated in this, not a beautiful wooden brass box, but this cardboard, little, holy, humble, cardboard box decorated with all this love and amazement. It was just really different than anything I'd ever experienced before and just how loved he was by the community and it [00:27:19] was just a really really awesome experience. It's amazing. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

BARBARA: Okay, happy interlude's done. 

ANDREW: Happy interlude's done!

(laughing)

ANDREW: You know, I mean I guess, I think that there's something that I'm curious about. Now you're talking about social media again, right? You know? And like, are you going to go back? Do you ... is there anything [00:27:49] that you need from it? If you go back, how does it ... how does it impact your way of formulating your identity, you know and like those kinds of things? And I'm really, I'm really interested in this right now because .... Because in some ways, I feel like, you know, not, not recently but sort of historically, I've been somewhat absent from my social [00:28:19] media. You know, my social media has always been about the work or the things versus about me as a person. You know? And, not entirely but I mean, the podcast is definitely the place where, you know, I'm more visible, you know, or I'm more audible, I guess, as the case may be. And, you know, and I've been consciously changing that over the last while. You know? And changed [00:28:50] in part because of some conversations I had with, you know, Carrie and a few other people about stuff. 

But mostly they're changing because I had this dream ... I often have dreams with Andy Warhol in them. And you know, he often comes to give me advice and tell me about stuff, and in some ways, my return to making art is also at his prompting. And the first dream that I [00:29:20] had, I was hanging out with Andy at his famous warehouse, you know, and we were there talking about making art and being seen and all of this kind of stuff. And he kind of like, we were talking, like, and he just stopped the conversation at one point in the middle of like something else, and he goes, “Andrew, you don't understand, you're a magnificent weirdo, and the world needs that right now. The world needs you to show everybody [00:29:50] your magnificent weirdness because that's what they're, what's important, and that's what's going to, you know, be significant about your work and your art and all of these things.” And I was like, in the dream I was like, “All right, Andy, I can do that. No problem,” right? And then we went on to talk about making art and other things and so on, right? And before we went on, though, he also turned around and sort of announced loudly to everyone's faces, you know, “Andrew's a magnificent weirdo, and you all should be paying attention to what he's doing,” right? [00:30:20] Something like that. And so, I've been thinking about Andy Warhol, and thinking about social media, and thinking about all of these kinds of things, and really endeavoring to sort of engage it on my own terms, you know, and really sort of share what I think is important or helpful. Helpful—helpful's the wrong word for it. Cause I'm not so interested in what's helpful. But share what [00:30:50] feels really real and what feels really particular to me, you know? And you know, I made this shirt up, that I started wearing around, that says “magnificent weirdo” on it. 

BARBARA: Aw!

ANDREW: Which I find particularly amusing. You know, it's kind of my talismanic t-shirt, so. 

BARBARA: Oh! I love that! You ARE a magnificent weirdo. That's ... How wonderful to have Andy Warhol as your advisor and, well, maybe not muse, but your advisor ... (laughs)

ANDREW: For sure. Yeah. For sure, right? 

BARBARA: Mm-hmm. [00:31:21] Does that mean you're starting to engage your social media more as ... more personally, then? 

ANDREW: Yeah, definitely more personally. Definitely, I'm showing up there more. I'm sharing more of my life, you know, definitely, it's definitely a thing that's sort of continuing to emerge, you know, and especially as I'm getting into making art, like I don't know what these bird things are going to be, but I'm going [00:31:51] to share that process and journey along the way, you know. And, yeah, sharing more of my personal story and that kind of stuff. So, whereas in the past, I would sort of have tended to just leave stuff alone until it felt resolved and then share the resolved story of it, you know, so. 

BARBARA: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That's something that I've always ... I haven't always successfully done but I've always tried. Like, I knew [00:32:21] this one teacher who was talking about, you know, public speaking, and writing, and you know, you and your audience and he said, “Don't work your shit out in front of your audience.”

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And you know, so I've always tried to not do that. You know, like these people aren't here to be my therapy session. They're here to learn what I learned, you know to get something helpful but--to use your word--but maybe [00:32:51] that's not the only way to think about sharing. Maybe the only purpose of sharing isn't only what you may deem as helpful or a nice clean process or technique that you can also use to change your life or fix your life or improve your life. Just sharing your unique and awesome weirdness might have value. I don't ... How would you say that? Because you said not [00:33:21] necessarily be helpful, cause you're not interested in that. So, what is the effect, then? 

ANDREW: So, I mean, for me the effect is ... and you know, I think it'll be interesting what comes back for people who listen to this episode, right? You know, I think that what happens is there's this notion that people who are in positions like we're in, right? You know, like working as a [00:33:51] card reader, having a degree of success, having published and done other things, right? That somehow, we've all got our shit together and we don't struggle and nothing's difficult, you know, and I think that you know, sort of, “Wow, you know, I mean, Barbara Moore didn't just bounce right back after the death of her dad, I guess I can cut myself some slack.” Or, you know, look at that, we're all human, or you know, like these kinds of things, I think that that's [00:34:21] that that's part of it.

And I also think that, particularly in the magnificent weirdo case, you know, I mean I was ... I hadn't realized that I used this phrase until someone started mirroring it back to me every time I used it, which is, you know, I would say, “Well, it's funny being me sometimes,” and then I would like say something [00:34:51] that was like, really really different about my life compared to many people's lives, right? And you know, and they were .... this person was always amused by it. But I started to realize that like, my, I don't see my life as a role model at all, but my life is super radically different than so many people's. You know? I mean, you know, we talked a little bit about but, before about this, I've mentioned before in the podcast, [00:35:21] I'm getting divorced right now, right? You know. Myself and Hanlon sort of both realized that you know, after quite a stretch of time, we've come to this place where what we want and who we've become is just different, you know? We really, you know, have a very different ... We have different goals and they don't really line up in ways that don't start to kind of curtail each other's possibilities, [00:35:51] right? Which is something that neither of us is really wanting to happen, right? You know. So, you know, so this year has been, has been, really, like the last six months has been working through that process and so on, right? 

But, you know, I mean, I'm ... I've been in a non-monogamous relationship for, you know, the last three and a half, four years or something. And, you know, [00:36:21] before we had kids, almost the whole time of our relationship before that. So, I'm not ending this relationship and then figuring out who am I and how do I start dating again and you know, all of these kinds of things. You know, I mean, I have a relationship with, you know, this person, Sarah, who I've been seeing for two-and-a-half years, and there are other dates that I've gone on and other connections and so on. So, even just that: it's such a [00:36:51] different perspective than almost anybody that I know in that regard. Right? And doing what I do for a living, and you know, my religious practices, and like so many of the things that I do are just so radically different and, not that that is either a role model or the way in which people should see things or whatever, but I find that as I share those things, it's ... It [00:37:21] opens up people's ideas and sort of gives them permission to be like, huh? Well, what would I like to do that's maybe not the thing that's done. Or what would, you know, am I interested in these sort of ideas that I've been living? Do they serve me anymore? You know? Or maybe I've always wanted to be more this way or that way or whatever and so sort of seeing those things happen in other people's lives, you [00:37:51] know, to get ... It's a, it's a chance to inspire people not to be like me, but to be like themselves, right? So, yeah and again, not in a like, “I've got it figured out in this and that whatever way, cause it's not like that at all, right? But in a like, huh, you know, hang out with me as an invitation to be fully yourself, right? You know. [00:38:21] And for a lot of people, you know, that's not necessarily something that they get a lot of invitation to, right? So. 

BARBARA: Yeah! Right. Probably not nearly enough people get that invitation. There's so many other forces helping tell us who we should be and how to live.

ANDREW: Right? Yeah. And internalized forces too, right? Like even if, even if they're not around us now, you know, those older voices, they can still kick around, right? 

BARBARA: Oh, [00:38:51] and maybe even like instinctual survival impulses, you know, like to survive in the world you have to be successful and you have to be this ....

ANDREW: Yeah.

BARBARA: You know, and so, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, there's a lot trying to box us in and very little inviting us out.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

BARBARA: But then we have an awesome weirdo to help us!

ANDREW: (laughing) Yeah.

BARBARA: (laughing) Yeah, I definitely get and [00:39:21] appreciate the value of that approach, and its budding up against one of my older, and perhaps, just society's older idea. You know, if someone's going to write a book or teach, you expect them, or this used to be true, or maybe it was just true for me and people like me, you expect them to be masters of what they're teaching. And therefore, we get all worked out and you [00:39:52] know, when a book comes out or a kit or a deck comes out, it's usually a really happy excited moment, like, “Oh, my thing has hit the world and it's out there.” And I didn't really have that same experience with one of my recent books, The Modern Guide to Energy Clearing?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: Because, you know, I wrote the book based on my experiences. And now I'm, [00:40:22] this past year, I've been in a place where, I feel like, if I would have practiced everything I preached in that book, I'd be way further along than I am now, in terms of adjusting, and I don't know, not being in this black alchemical place. But it made me shy, maybe a little embarrassed, to go .... because there were a lot of publicity opportunities, unlike all my tarot stuff, [00:40:52] which there's hardly any, with this book there were invitations to radio shows and bookstores and all kinds of things, and I didn't do all of them. I did some of them because I felt like I owed it to the book and to my publisher. And you know, you have a responsibility when you're partnering with a publisher. It's not just your thing. It's their investment as well. And I think part of what made me really shy about it is cause I was in the midst of [00:41:23] “You guys, I have these tools, these techniques, these skills, this knowledge and I am too--I am too raw to do 'em. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And, it just felt almost hypocritical, and perhaps there needs to be another book, or maybe just an article that explains when you're doing energy work, sometimes you have to just let things sit and decompose and [00:41:53] you don't always get to control how fast that happens. So, yeah.

ANDREW: I think that this idea of the ... like the wise teacher who's got their, all their stuff together. I think it's really a problem. I think it's really dishonest and [00:42:23] I think that it's why .... I think that it's one of the forces that allows so many problematic things to exist in a variety of communities, right? I think that it's one of the things that you know, at it ... at one of its worsts, right? encourages, you know, stuff that we could, you know, that the me too movement seeks to address, right? Because the perception is that these teachers [00:42:53] or leaders or community people or whatever, you know, in the spiritual communities have their stuff so together, right? And how could they not? And therefore this other person must be the problem? You know. I think it's one of the mechanisms which that happens under. And I think that ... I think that it sort of comes out of the sort of ... Well, I mean, I don't know where it originates from, but like in the ceremonial stuff in the more hierarchical [00:43:23] and initiatory things that I used to be involved in, in those ways. There was this notion that somehow, we would become perfect. Right? We would become enlightened. We would achieve these things. You know, but like, you know, my elders in, you know, in the Lukumí tradition, they're always like, “I'm just a person doing things. I'm doing my best, but like, I'm not perfect.” And there's no expectation to be perfect. [00:43:53] There's an expectation to cultivate character, to work on yourself, to you know, to grow, to be honest, and you know, and ideally to sort of continually seek out those things in yourself that you might need to work on in one way or another. But there's no expectation to sort of necessarily be perfect or, you know, be free of humanness, because it's not about transcendence, it's about living in this world, right? [00:44:23] 

And I think that a lot of the, you know, especially the stuff that people might refer to as sort of the love and light movement, you know? It's so ... there's so much emphasis on sort of transcendence and so on that, you know, that we continually hear about these people whose humanness re-emerges or finally is seen in a certain way. And then ... and then what does that mean for those people, you know? From my point of view, It doesn't mean anything. Just like you being raw, of [00:44:53] course you're raw after all of these losses, right? Of course you are. Because you know, we shouldn't deny the reality or the shadow or you know, our suffering, because life is hard, but we can work at handling it easier, better, more consciously. You know? Maybe more consciously is the best way to frame it, but that doesn't mean that we're suddenly able to do everything, you know? I mean, I keep joking--and maybe it's not even a joke anymore, [00:45:23] maybe it's just a statement of what's going to happen. You know when the separation happens and we both have our own places and whatever. I'm like, I'm just gonna sleep for a week. It's going to  be like, the first week I'm just gonna be like, okay, shut everything off and just stay in bed and order pizzas and, you know, nap a lot and watch Netflix, cause, you know, I need some like nothing time. I need some recharging after all this work, you know? And I think that, you know, that's valid. [00:45:53] You know? That's not anti-spiritual. You know? Oh well. I feel like I'm ranting now so I'll stop.

BARBARA: Yeah, no, you're preaching, preach it, brother! (laughing) I'm ... Congregation of one, right here! 

ANDREW: Yeah.

BARBARA: Yeah, no, it reminds me of a funny thing my ... one of my sisters would always say to me. Well, not always, it's happened a couple of times when I have like very obviously and [00:46:23] clearly fallen short of my own ideals and I'm all upset about it. And she's like, “I love it when this happens to you.” “What do you mean?” “Because you seem more human to me in these moments.” And this is my sister, you know, and I don't want any walls between her and I and I don't want to be on a higher place or on some transcendent plane or whatever. I [00:46:53] want to be with her. And so, when I screw up, that's when I'm with her more, at least on some level. 

ANDREW: Yeah for sure. Well, it's, you know ... I've been doing ... For the last few years, I've been doing a lot of rock climbing. And you know, I've been sort of ramping back into it after being injured doing something else earlier in the year and climbing with some old friends, but some new climbing partners. And [00:47:23] the one, the guy was like, “It makes me so happy when I see you struggle on the wall. I'm sorry, but like usually you're just so graceful about it that I feel like it just looks so easy to you, and even though you come down and I can see that you're like panting cause it was so hard, you made it look so easy that it just makes me feel bad about myself. So, when you struggle it makes me feel better about myself!” And I'm like, that's fine. That's fair too. Right? Like, you know. I think that that's, that's part of it, right? [00:47:53] You know, when we get to see other people's humanity, then we get to see and make space for our own, in one way or another, right? So.

BARBARA: Yeah. Yeah. Well, you said the idea of the wise old teacher has some inherent problem. And maybe people in general, or maybe a new idea of the archetypal teacher is starting to emerge, or maybe a new facet of it, as we're starting [00:48:23] to explore, you know, or maybe things will change, maybe we'll expect different things from our teachers. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and I think that what I expect of my teachers are really kind of two things. You know, you used the word mastery earlier, right? And I think that certainly knowledge, right? You know, I mean, I expect them to really deeply know what they're, like, I'm there to learn knowledge from [00:48:53] them. And, so that's one part of it. And then the other part is, you know, is like honest relationships, you know? And having honest relationships debate what's going on and what's going on with them and space for me to be honest about what's going on for me and so on. You know, I think that those things together are what I really expect, you know, and like, you know, it's I've had the chance to meet a lot [00:49:23] of people who, you know, in one way or other, people would see as sort of wise masters or whatever, you know? And they're lovely human beings, and they're still human beings. You know? And I think that that's never not going to be the case, right? You know? Yeah.

BARBARA: Well, I told you earlier one of the things that I ... the only thing I did really to prepare for today's conversation was to [00:49:53] relisten to last year's podcast. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

BARBARA: And, you were just ... sounded like you were just starting to explore something kind of new and interesting that I was excited to hear more about and now I'd love to hear more about the work with meteorites and moldavite. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think that ... I think in some ways that [00:50:23] work was precipitation of the separation and divorce stuff, right? You know? I mean, I think that the idea of ... I mean, you know, it certainly wasn't consciously formulated, but, you know, the sort of idea of possibly, you know, I mean, the metaphor that I was working with of was like the idea of moving to [00:50:53] a bigger space, right? Leaving the planet and being an interstellar traveler and sort of engaging a bigger world, a variety of planets, you know, like this kind of idea, right? And I think that one of the things that that energy supported me through was and is through the idea of separating from my partner of 21 years, so that's definitely been a part of it. 

I [00:51:23] also feel like this one's harder to talk about it because I feel like it's still underway, but I feel like the shop that I have, my work as a deck creator and author, and my work magically have all been sort of escalating into new places. And I feel like, [00:51:53] especially sort of going into next year, I'm going to be really living a completely different reality. And I imagine there's going to be a lot more space for my spiritual stuff in that newer reality. So, I think that that's a part of what's come of that transition. 

And also, I think the other thing that I've sort of ... I'm [00:52:23] still working on sorting it out on a practical level, but there's this ... There's this software company, or company that makes a software called Basecamp, and they structure their company work around these eight-week cycles. So basically, they, one of the things that I heard about what they do is that they have a six-week [00:52:53] work cycle, one week of cleanup and planning the next work cycle, and then they take a week off. And I've been really sort of starting to think about how do I, in order to make the arts and the magic and the other things that I would want to be doing and feel called to be doing, I need more space, right? I need more time. And you know, so I've been, I also [00:53:23] feel like that changing notion of what my space and time is going to look like is also kind of come out of that work, right? This idea that I can be somehow in between things. You know? Now's the time where I'm on Mars doing Mars things, and now I'm back floating in the space of my in-between time, doing whatever that is, and then go back to the next place, and you know, and the metaphor doesn't entirely hold but I think the idea, you know, makes [00:53:53] sense, right? That, so it's really ... It's about allowing. Allowing for the space and letting go of all those sort of structures and ideas that sort of hinder that possibility and making space for that to happen, you know? And I mean, I'm not sure how long it's going to take for me to completely reorganize my life and work and other things into that, into that direction. You know, it might take another year or whatever. But it doesn't really matter. But I feel [00:54:23] like all of those pieces kind of come out of, come out of that work that started with the meteorites, you know, a year or so ago.

BARBARA: Cool, thanks. Thanks for sharing that.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: Yeah, it's a work of shedding and becoming, right? You know, and I don't think that I was aware of the shedding of house. I was aware of the shedding at a sort of big picture level, but I wasn't aware of it as a sort of more personal [00:54:53] level when I started that. So, yeah.

BARBARA: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, are you ... Do you think you're gonna find your way back to the to the wider world or do you think that you're ... I feel like you've been on a hermitage in the valley in the mountains.

BARBARA: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, do you feel like that's something that's just going to continue? Or do you feel like it's time to shift that?

BARBARA: That is a really good question, [00:55:23] really pertinent question at this point. I have just been starting to have, like, actual feelings about wanting to come out of my hermitage. It's super hard to do that cause it's my natural inclination. It's where I would be, always, if people who loved me weren't concerned about my mental and emotional health (laughs), but [00:55:55] living here, but like I said, it's so old school that it really feeds that. Like when I was in the cities and when I was involved in the wider world, it ... sometimes it felt like if it isn't seen by people on the Internet, it isn't real?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: And I'm sure that's just a me thing. I don't think it's like everybody has that feeling, but it was definitely affecting me like that. But there are, like there's [00:56:25] a women's circle here that meets every couple of weeks. It's, you know, not set, exactly, it's probably two or three weeks. And it's just some women who get together and just talk. And sometimes it's just casual talk, like book club level talk. And sometimes it's super deep. Then sometimes it's spiritual, sometimes it's scientific, and it's really great, but it's very small and it's just the valley, and it's not posted anywhere, and no one knows about it. It's not like [00:56:55] putting transcripts out for ... You know, it's not out there, it's just in, and like I said, just the cardboard signs, it's just all small and hidden away, kind of, and I really, it feels really safe, it feels really nice, it feels really authentic. It feels good to me. But, just over the past week or so, I have been like, I want to get out. I want to take a class. I want to [00:57:25] do something. But then I second-guess myself cause one of the things when I was in the midst of stuff this year, I kept wanting to sign up for a class or do this or do that and Dylan's like, “You know, you do have this tendency that whenever you're avoiding dealing with something, you want to take a class.” (laughs) You know, and ...

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: Oh, okay, that makes sense. So now I'm in this space where I'm feeling this urge. Like I don't really know exactly what I want to do, but I want to get out of here. I want to have some [00:57:55] some regular contact with the outside world in some way. And I'm like, oh, does this mean I'm, you know, coming up against my emotions about my dad and haven't dealt with them yet and I'm trying to avoid that? So, yeah, I am feeling it. Yes. I think it's going to happen. I'm not exactly sure when or how it's going to happen. Earlier you had mentioned when you said you were gonna interview me and some people said to say hi and whatnot. It [00:58:25] make my heart really happy and also a little sad and very emotional. Many feelings were happening and it was like well, maybe I could be back on Facebook, and maybe I could just post about my life like I used to, and maybe that's okay. And I hadn't really been this close to thinking that in a couple of years. So. 

And as far as like work, I mean I have still worked. Even though I said I [00:58:55] had the year off, I have written two books and designed a deck. So, it's not like I haven't been doing stuff to put out there, but I haven't been super publicity-oriented. I haven't been teaching. I've had invitations to workshops and to teach classes, which is more public, more connected with the world, and I keep turning them down. I still think I'm not interested in that. I think I did that a lot because it was expected. It was a natural part of this [00:59:25] work that you and I do, and I think I can be good at it. But I'm not sure if I love it. Yeah, so I'm still struggling about, you know, do I want to keep doing that or speaking at conferences or whatever. You know, especially these ones where it's like you have 50 minutes. Because I feel like a lot of the things I'm thinking about now .... They're not like, here's a simple technique that you can use. It's more like, here's a book [00:59:55] on what I thought about this one thing. You know, I just ... 

So, yeah, but I would love to take an art class. I think that's what I would like. I think that's one thing my art is missing, is because I do love the process of it and that's more important than the outcome, but there's still something fulfilling about increasing your skill and being able to skillfully make what you're envisioning, you [01:00:25] know, so I would like that, and I think with that if I had some, you know, peers who are struggling as well as a teacher who's helping guide, that would probably be really good. So ...

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

BARBARA: Of course, the nearest place to take art classes around here is an hour and a half away, but that's what happens when you live here in the mountains. 

ANDREW: Right. 

BARBARA: So. 

ANDREW: I wonder if there are ... I wonder, are there are other artists in the community that you could hang out and have conversations with and so on, [01:00:55] you know? As somebody who went to art school, I'm always ... I'm cynical about art and art lessons and art school and formal training and all of those things because it basically, you know, in my experience, and my experience is very particular, but it basically just ruined all of that for me for a very long time, you know? So, but it depends on who you're working with and why, right? So. 

BARBARA: Yeah. [01:01:31] Well, and this wouldn't be like an art school or even a college art course, it's just workshops held at the local art store. You know. I don't know how that is, cause I've never taken, you know, an art school class. So I don't know. Yeah. That or, or, the other thing I'd been excited about when we moved here was the idea of pursuing interfaith ministry. I haven't ... I thought I'd be a year into those studies already, back in the days when I thought everything was going to be fine. And I haven't done anything [01:02:01] with it and I'm still thinking about that. I haven't really ... The only work ritual designing I've done this year was had to do with Carol and Noel, because they ... when Noel's end was getting really close, they were like, well, you know, most marriage ceremonies say, have the words “until death do us part,” and the marriage ceremony itself is a ritual. And yet when one of the partners dies, there's [01:02:31] no ritual, you know, to wrap it up because if it's till death do you part, then what then? What, you know? And how do we untie this bond that we've made or do we, and to what extent or whatever? So, you know, we talked about that for a while and you know, kind of came to grips with what they wanted to do with each other. And then, of course, the challenge, because Noel by this time was not always with us mentally, you know, so keeping it [01:03:01] short and simple, you know, just a little ceremony for them to both release each other and to reaffirm their eternal love, in whatever way is appropriate, in the next life, perhaps, because they believe in reincarnation, you know, so you tie up all their beliefs into this ritual and knowing that was really satisfying and fulfilling, you know, just like other ceremonies I have done, so that's still there too.  

ANDREW: [01:03:31] Yeah. At some point in the next little bit, Hanlon and I are going to go back to the place where we, where we performed our marriage ceremony, because we basically married ourselves, right? And we're going to ... and we're going to release the relationship, right? You know, and we're going to ... You know, we have these relatively simple silver rings. We're going to break them and then we're going to take this over and we'll have them melted down into stuff for the kids. So we'll [01:04:01] make a pendant for each of the kids, and then they can have that, but it won't be the ring anymore, you know. And you know, we have some other things that are sort of remnants of the original ceremony and stuff like that, which we're going to, you know, release in one way or another at the place where we did the ceremony as a way of just basically being like, you know, all right, you know, we signed the papers, we've done whatever, but also, I release everything, like this is just gone now, you know? And I think that that [01:04:31] kind of stuff is really important, you know? And I think that around death, around this, around all of it. It's really important, right? That's why these rituals matter, so. 

BARBARA: Yeah. Well, that's beautiful. Good for you guys. 

ANDREW: But first, it's also going to be winter, so it's out on the island in Toronto. It's gonna be very cold and it's not going to be inviting like when, you know, we got married in the summer and we went for a swim afterwards in the lake and stuff. I don't think any of that's going to be happening, but, yeah not really into hypothermia anyway. [01:05:01]  

BARBARA: But, also, it's kind of symbolically significant. 

ANDREW: For sure. Yeah. For sure. Well, maybe that's a good place to wrap this up for today.

BARBARA: Yeah.

ANDREW: Pursue things that are symbolically significant, people, be human.

BARBARA: (laughing) That's right!

ANDREW: Be weirdos! Hang out! Have fun! Thanks. Thanks so much for following up. I know, I know that this is a challenging time and I think that, I think [01:05:31] that what I've come to think about social media and about these kinds of things like the podcast and so on is, there's so much cynicism about it all, you know, people are so cynical and hear so many things about how meaningless it is and so on, and yet, personally I have some tremendously deep connections with people that are fostered, born, supported, or whatever out of, you [01:06:01] know, out of these things, and I think that if we're able to show up there consciously, then it can become something quite different. If we, if we do that. Otherwise, yeah, sure, we can share cat memes till the cows come home and they're funny, but you know, I'm not sure how many of them I remember down the road, right?

BARBARA: Exactly, exactly!

ANDREW: For sure. So, in case you decide to start blogging again, or whatever, where should people come and follow you, Barbara? 

BARBARA: Yeah. Okay. My website is still the same, tarotshaman.com. My email is on there, BarbaraMoore07@comcast.net. [01:06:37] Please feel free to write, reach out. I may not be on social media, but I still do like hearing people and connecting, and even, keep your eyes open, you never know. I might come back and join the land of the living, join the the Magnificent weirdness that ...

ANDREW: Come down off the mountain, Barbara! Come back to the city. (laughing)

BARBARA: Yes. Yes. Yes. Come hang out! We can have market days or something.

ANDREW: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Awesome.

BARBARA: [01:07:10] Well, thank you so much for having me. I am already looking forward to next year.

ANDREW: Perfect! 

EP 89 Thai Occultism with Peter Jenx

November 9, 2018
00:0000:00

Andrew and Peter explore the world of Thai magic and occultism. Talking about the importance of meta, self cultivation, personal growth and how they all relate to the intense practices of Thailands indigenous magic.

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Andrew

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Transcript 

ANDREW: [00:00:00] Welcome, everybody, to another installment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Peter Jenx. And for those who don't know Peter Jenx, he is the author of a massive and intriguing tome, called Thai Occult. And it's really interesting to meet with somebody and talk with people who are involved in non-western [00:00:30] cultures and other ways of practicing magic that don't kind of come out of, you know, say, the Golden Dawn, or Wicca, or these other things, which are all lovely, but I think it's really interesting to get a dive into, you know, other kinds of worldviews and magic and all of those things. So really, that's why, you know, when Peter and I connected, I thought he'd be a great fit for being on the show. But for those who don't know you, Peter, who are you?

PETER: And ... [00:01:00] Well, I'm an aging Englishman stuck in Chiang Mai at the moment. I've been here, been living in Thailand, since 2002, but first visited here in 1991. Which is kind of before its main economic explosion and everything else. And then, come from a musical background, working in music in Manchester, worked a lot with gigs, run rather interesting [00:01:30] night clubs in Manchester, and also been a practitioner of Tai Chi for like 20 years. So, I think everything's always pulled me East, which is why I really ... the first … on the first visit, I kind of knew I'd end up living here. It fits.

ANDREW: Yeah, it's interesting how that works, right? You know, I was talking with somebody yesterday about, you know, I come from a Scottish background, [00:02:00] even though I was born and raised in Toronto, and they're like, “Oh, well, have you've been to Scotland?” And I'm like, “No, I haven't.” I mean, I'm curious, but I find I'm much more drawn to the East, you know? And I spent a bit of time in Thailand and a chunk of time in India, and you know, I was in China last year, and every time I return to the East, I always have this sense of ease that emerges that's quite different than what I experience, you know, living in Toronto. It's like, [00:02:30] that there are these places and cultures that are suited to our nature in ways that we might not even be able to explain or understand, you know?

PETER: Well, I think it's working. I think at first when we come here, we are given space. And it's a space that we're not necessarily given in the West. Also, what I experienced when I first came here was a realization that what I'd always felt, regarding nature and regarding what [00:03:00] I perceive as magic in the West, was correct. It … Because here it is expressed in a much deeper way than it is in England, in particular. I don't know … And also, I think, you know, we need the strangeness to grow. Yeah, and sometimes part of any growth, as far as I'm concerned, is the process of change and [00:03:30] if you go to an alien culture, you are constantly challenged to change, and that can be astonishingly refreshing for us. And ....

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I can see that, for sure, and also that that idea that, you know, I mean, there are other ways of looking at the world and nature, you know, I mean this … the word animism has been, you know, being kicked around a lot and sort of gained a lot of ground as sort of a word [00:04:00] for some of the kind of world view that we might be talking about. And you know, I think that that's, that's both part of it. You know, for me, going … they're going to other places, and you and my involvement in and initiation in Afro-Cuban Lukumí, there is this sort of world view at play where plants are alive and have energies and consciousness, and you know, there's this interconnectedness between everything that [00:04:30] isn't really common, even amongst magical practitioners, at least in my experience, kind of growing up.

PETER: Yeah. Yeah. It's one of those … [sigh] You know, the funny thing is … Okay. I had to act like myself to do this book. I have not been able to read other but … other magical books at all. Otherwise, it would have kind of diluted or influenced what I was going to do. The whole time I've spent here has been really a time to learn how not to [00:05:00] think and influence what is around you, and if you do that, you gain the natural focus that comes with the occult practices of this land, and that allows the nature to come through. But I always perceived this as just the Thai occult. Everybody else calls it Thai animism. [laughing] So I'm just getting used to the fact that it is probably animism, but everybody … all the people I deal with [00:05:30] all refer to it as an occult practice, but as an animist practice, it dates back thousands of years and it is uninterrupted now, that's quite rare in the world, as far as I know. I haven't studied anything else in depth, deliberately. And because of that, the depth of what I've been able to write about and the depth of understanding that is available is really off the planet as far as I'm concerned, you know.

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah, [00:06:00] I mean, there's such a difference between, you know, living practices that date way back, you know, you know with the Buddha, Afro-Cuban Lukumí stuff in Orisha tradition, it's one of those things where … When we start talking about divination in those systems, often people are quite astounded, and I know I was really astounded at the kinds of things that are included in the wisdom and specificity and all of these kinds of things. And, [00:06:30] you know, it's … In the end, the explanation is simple. You've had a lot of very deep, intelligent, mystical people pondering the human condition and connecting to the spirit world for thousands of years and passing on that information and allowing it to accumulate. And it provides such a deep insight into human, you know, human nature and human problems because you [00:07:00] know, although the nature of the problems changes with modernity and, and so on, the nature of being human really doesn't, I don't think.

PETER: Well, that actually depends on the culture, though, because if you look at the Thai system, the things that it offers are the things that people, because of this region require, right? So, you know, this has been a very dangerous region over the thousands of years, and [00:07:30] they've been lucky enough to have the influence of Buddhism, which always overrides ancient animist practices, so, things can … They can remain who they are, while attaining higher spirituality, if that makes sense. 

And really because of, you know, the rough nature of the living in the wild, and the constant wars in the region, most of the things that they have worked out to offer, and create, for their devotees are [00:08:00] related to protection in many forms, impenetrable skin, invincibility, ways to bounce back black magic, ways to change your fate, ways to attract people, ways to become popular, ways to gain good fortune, and it's all about, at the core of it all, it's actually all about the person as well, because they're being given an advantage that [00:08:30] they've got to work with. So, it's not just abracadabra, like wham! Okay. Now you're popular. Yeah, they might give you the attribute of being popular. But if you're a bit of a twat it's not going to work. Right. 

So everything that they create is all about the development of the person themselves, being given an advantage that they have to grow into, which is typical of what we were talking about earlier, whereby the constant process [00:09:00] of change is also, can be -- we go backwards sometimes, can be the process towards either becoming a better person or more magical or however you want to see it. Yeah? And throughout the thousands of years that they developed it here, they've discovered what is actually supernatural in nature, and they have their own versions of it. Which, how the hell did they discover that? I don't know, but you know, special people discover [00:09:30] special things. They discover what human products they can use for rather powerful spells, they discover all the plants independently, often, of other approaches. So, the odd time, I've shared a picture of a tree ....

[ringing phone]

ANDREW: Oh! Now the phone's going to ring, just let it finish. It's not gonna … [00:10:11] I think I can make it stop. All right. You know what I'm going to do? I'm just going to unplug the phone. How about that? Problem solved.

PETER: [laughing] Yeah, that's easy. So, you need, you need, you need that stick I showed you earlier.

ANDREW: I know right? You know, I do. Yeah, before we started, let's just continue.

PETER: So I'll go back in … I'll let you edit that out later. I'll just go back into where it was.

ANDREW: Yeah, perfect. 

PETER: So like one time, I posted a picture of a particular tree that has, that produces a particular wood [00:10:41] that the Thais use in many magical amulets, called amudam. I mean there are legends, it's the tree that you'd climb to get out of hell, because it's impossible to climb, because of huge spikes on the trunk. And it was possibly … There was a fantastic discussion ensued, because it was also a magical wood in pretty much every other system that I was in contact with at that time through the Facebook page. And the incredulity [00:11:11] of that between everybody was really rather wonderful. You know, it kind of just pulled everybody together. And …

ANDREW: That's animism, right? That's the tree telling you what it wants to do, right? You know, and  telling everybody like the same thing. It's like, hey, I can help you with this thing. You know, if you work with me, you know, and that's what's really profound about these things, I think.

PETER: Yes, very much so. It's … And [00:11:41] the more kind of I've learned about things, you know, I just, we were discussing about a person earlier, about lightning, and how lightning can make things magical. And, you know, I was chatting with a particularly learned ajahm from a very old lineage called Ajahm [?], Ajahm Tiger. With the help of my partner, of course, and he was telling me, really, if a lightning strikes [00:12:11] a tree, its use depends on the effect of the lightning on the tree. Like, if it blows off the bark in the middle, that area is used for the handles of magical knives; if it strikes another area of the tree, it's used for something else. So, depending even on how a supernatural occurrence like a lightning strike hits something, it can produce all [00:12:41] sorts of different results. And they … At the time we were having this chat, it was really rather mind-blowing that people have spent generations upon generations studying the effects of these supernatural occurrences. 

ANDREW: Well, and I think that … It's so foreign to people living in cities, you know, but I mean, when you start spending time in nature and start consistently spending time in nature, [00:13:11] you know, it really, it really can start to speak to you after a while, right? You know, I spent … There's a site where we used to go and do ceremonies, every month, for almost two years, and kind of towards the end of that time, I did a 10-day retreat by myself where I just hung out in the woods and fasted and did my own rituals and stuff like that. And the amount of things [00:13:41] that I learned from that land and from the plants and the kinds of things that got revealed to me ... and even just like sort of unexpected beautiful things, you know. 

There was this cherry tree and you know, I knew it was a cherry tree, we'd seen the flowers, it was beautiful, and so on, but the thing that was amazing, because I was there all day, every day, for that period of time, when I [00:14:11] was there, the sap was coming out and so there were these little reddish golden amber blobs on the tree from the sap emerging, and the tree was in the west from where we ... where I usually was, and when I looked up, toward sunset, all of those were glowing like a stained glass window, right? And so there are these moments of profound beauty and profound transference of information, [00:14:41] and where those plants can speak to you, and if you're around them all the time, then … and you're paying attention, then you get to notice them, right? But ...

PETER: Well, it's the attention. That's the thing. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PETER: And this is why, I think, in the modern world, governments are terrified of nature, because it calls people away from what they want to do, the people to do, you know, and to be a good little drone and all the other sayings that we [00:15:11] can come out with rather pithily. But, you know, it's ... and even the medical community is now turning around and saying look, you know, to fight depression, just go and walk in the hills, go and sit in the forest. You know, but this kind of … You know, I'm lucky enough to be of an age where it was more of an actual world at the time, and this is, you know, it makes me kind [00:15:41] of put my head in my hands that people are having to be reminded to do that. You know, and the beauty that is available, the wealth that is available is astonishing. Since we moved to Chiang Mai, me and my partner have been round looking at various, some of the interesting spiritual caves in this region. And you know how, if we have time when people visit, I might take them to one or two, but there's one that I've already decided, I [00:16:11] think there's only one or two people I'll take to that particular one. It's too wild. And if … You know, if we spend the time like you have, to be able to still the mind, and treat ourselves to a little bit of solitude, we start to see these things, you know. And maybe they become more special.

ANDREW: Yeah. Mm-hmm. Well, and I also think that we really need to understand and [00:16:41] respect, you know, like if we're really going to going to go into the real wilderness, you know, or real spots in nature, you know, it's something quite different, right? You know, in … Again, in my tradition, the real woods, you know, like not just like a couple plants around your yard or the park but the actual forest is a place that's somewhat feared by practitioners, not in a ... that sounds wrong. It's a place [00:17:11] that's deeply respected because it's known to be a place of power, and because it's a place of power, it's also a place of danger. You know, and so you make offerings to make sure that you're protected while you're there. You make offerings, maybe when you leave, to make sure that nothing you didn't want comes with you, you know, you make … If you're going to take anything, then you make offerings to the plants that you're going to take from, you know, and you know, it's so rare for a lot of us to have contact [00:17:41] with that deep wilderness, you know, it's something completely foreign and it's astounding, right?

PETER: Well, it's … Usually at least once or twice a month, I end up going off with an ajarn, often to graveyards for graveyard ceremonies. And … Which I'm starting to document more fully. And, you know, watching, the ajarn go into, I always [00:18:11] call it ajarn world.

ANDREW: Yeah, and by … What's a good translation for ajarn? Is … practitioner? teacher? Yeah.

PETER: Teacher … The ajarn is a higher teacher. Yeah, but it's more than that. Yeah. It's an occultist, really. And, and watching them deal with what is there, and become open to what is there ... And, you know, I asked Ajarn Su and I've also asked Ajarn Apichai. You know, [00:18:42] often they go there to choose a ghost to do a particular task, and, to which Ajarn Apichai would, you know, often say, “Well, we've come to this graveyard, because it's a graveyard where there are many soldiers and police.” So, I normally … He said he normally tries to choose a good-natured ghost, so they don't come home with you, even though he has strong protection. And the deal is made, you know, to [00:19:12] reward the spirit when the job is done. And he knows, he can tell, within five percent, really, how effective that particular spirit’s going to be. And sometimes he will go back and repeat, or just say “No, it's worked.” You know?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

PETER: And then you go with Ajarn Su, and the same questions will be, you know, Ajarn likes to choose what are called Phi Thai Hong ghosts. And, which [00:19:42] are the ghosts of people who've died violently, before their time. And again, he said--some of them are really quite lovely--and you know, we were standing just in the graveyard, doing a love ritual, pulling a separated couple back together. And he's called, and he slaps on the side of the cremation pit. It's just two walls that focus the heat in to be [00:20:12] able to burn the body fully, in the open, in a thin, a bit of a wood, and he's calling ghosts. And you know, it was the time of year when leaves are on the floor--the leaves shed up here, some trees--and you could hear the ... something walking towards us, you know, from a particular direction. 

So, he called that ghost over and came to a deal, and he said, “Oh, it's been successful and I'll come back in a [00:20:42] few days and bring the offering that I promised, and I will donate merit.” And merit is something we gain. It's a Buddhist, Thai Buddhist principle where we gain merit through good deeds, helping people. A basic form of it would be giving to charity, and, you know, these Phi Thai Hong ghosts need to collect merit to get out of hell. Eventually try and rise towards rebirth. [00:21:12] And Ajarn Su is very careful about the ghosts he chooses, only, he never forces them, he requests, he is very gentle. Otherwise, they can hurt you. Yeah. And then when we get back, both of the ajarns will always bless water, splash on feet, hands, top of head, back of neck, just to make sure nothing has been clingy, you know. So, I mean they all follow similar [00:21:42] patterns, where, you know, and if anything's taken, you request it to be taken and if you're going to work with anything, you're asking permission, and it's extremely similar all around the world except for the cultural differences. And the influences, like in this region, with Buddhism has been a particular influence.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. So, I have so many questions, so many questions! [laughs] I guess one of my, one of  [00:22:12] my questions, though, coming out of what you just talked about … We talked about … You mentioned somewhere along the way, changing your fate, right? And I'm really curious about the idea of fate as it as it exists in this practice, you know, can you ... Can you just answer that small question for us? Tell us what that's like. [chuckles]

PETER: Okay. Well, the idea of fate is … Without, I don't study horusat, which is Thai astrology. [00:22:42] Okay, but what I would say is, that I think the Thai occult corresponds to people’s state of mind. Yeah? And help to get people out of the state of mind to improve themselves again, as well as realigning their faith, there's a dual motion going on here. We are given a Qatar. We have to make offerings. We [00:23:12] have to take care of something. We have to structure our lives around it. We have to take the five precepts, which are the basic things. Don't kill anybody. Stop shagging around. Don't lie, you know, etcetera etcetera. And often, besides the help of something like Rahu, which, the Thai Rahu is not the same as the Indian one, but, we praise it in a different way, which really annoys the Indians. And we [00:23:42] gain his help now, if … to do that we have to order our lives around it. So, I think it’s a dual road of choosing a better path, choosing the help of somebody who is smart enough and spiritual enough to help you, and then structuring your life in a different way, and the Rahu is considered to raise your general level of good fortune.

ANDREW: And Rahu is [00:24:12] what exactly?

PETER: Rahu is the god that eats the sun or the moon from Indian mythology. Yeah? He's the god of eclipses. In India, they do not praise him, they’re trying to get rid of him. Hmm. Yeah. They think it's horrific that the Thai people praise Rahu but usually they often consider that a period of very bad fortune is sometimes, Rahu coming into somebody's lives and influencing it without being [00:24:42] asked to come in. So, by praising him, you're going to offer your foods, the correct foods, which always have to be black. They need the numbers of seven, nine, or 15, depending on the ajahm. Different black foods, usually on the four quarters of the moon, with the full moon being the most important. Normally, it's advised to wear the Rahu on the full moon when in which [00:25:12] case it kind of feels like he's bouncing around on your chest like going to a disco. He can't … he's extremely rewarding; many ajarns swear by Rahu, but he takes a lot of work. So, I think it's a dual, being very honest about this, I think it's a dual combination, whereby we get our shit together, and then the help offered by the Rahu offered by the ajarn, will start to improve the life.

ANDREW: And when we're [00:25:42] talking about fate here, are we talking about … We can be a little simplistic too, maybe for the conversation. Are we talking about it as a sense of karma, like consequences for our actions, this life, other lives, or whatever? Are we talking about like a destiny or a thing that we're ... sort of came intact from somewhere or that we need to try and achieve maybe in our life.

PETER: Well, we always [00:26:12] have influence. Actually, there's three forms of influence on the brain. Okay, there's three forms of influence we consider to be three forms of influence from life. One is an astrological influence. Astrology influences the person without any doubt at all. Yeah? The second one in Thai is the influence of ghosts. Yeah? And spirits directing your life without you knowing about it. And the third one is the influence of the mind and all the silly things that the mind does can [00:26:42] be destructive. Yeah? If you … Everybody goes through periods of bad fortune, but they can have very very different reasons. Sometimes even in the Thai practices, you know, we can have a real crash of fortunes, but I was just seeing it as, it's just a part of life, man. It can't be good all the time. Yeah? It's a readjustment of yourself and of your … the way you deal with yourself. I don't like to involve things [00:27:12] like karma. I'm very practical in that respect. It's about living an open and happy life and sometimes shit goes wrong. Yeah? Through bereavement and through everything else ...

ANDREW: So, go ahead.

PETER: And through bereavement and through everything else, but that period then we have to kind of realign ourselves. I think focusing in on what has actually caused the problem is one of the things that we need to get away from [00:27:42] and just deal with the fact that we’re in the shit. Yeah? Yeah, so that also immediately stops all the stuff that goes around in the brain or at least helps with it. Yeah? So.

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah, in Lukumí divination we have kind of negativity, which we call Otonawa, which means … roughly means, that which you brought with you from heaven, and it's like, it's like, yeah, this is a thing that's, [00:28:12], you can't do anything about, maybe it's part of your destiny, maybe it's just come from, come to a place where the various forces in your life make this inevitable. But now you need to just, you know, appease it, ease it, support yourself, and get through it, and then, you know, but there's no making it go away, right? You know, like there's no perfect road, right? Where we never see these things. 

PETER: Well there can't be, otherwise we get so spoiled that the smallest pebble on the road would become an absolute nightmare [00:28:42] if it got into our shoes. Right? You know, we need it. We need these things to happen in life, in my opinion. Otherwise, we don't have any understanding of what life is or can be about.

ANDREW: And I also … I also think it's really interesting that ... the idea of easing the mind by stopping, asking why, and looking to explain it. You know, I think that that's a place where a lot of people ... you [00:29:12] know, I mean, I read cards for people, and you know, there are certainly folks who come in for card readings who are just like: “but why, why did this happen, why did this happen?” It's like, at a certain point, why does it matter? How about you do this to make it better, you know, and yeah, it's that practicality that I think is sometimes very unsatisfying to people in certain situations, you know?

PETER: Well, it's a Western thing, you know? Our minds are way too busy. You know? I live, you know, one of the core elements of [00:29:42] Thai culture is samadhi, which is [? 29:45]  that is gained through Buddhism. It is an open and clear focus whereby we’re trying to separate ourselves from the mind, so you end up in a position where you can watch your mind being a bastard. Yeah? Or being a bit barmy one day. Yeah? So, eventually when you actually … You know, but I always ask people what is watching the mind? Yeah? [00:30:13] 

So in my opinion, what you are doing and what you are going to learn to do, is to find out who you are, which is not often what your mind is? You know, even in our … Even in our culture, we have sayings like, what does your stomach tell you? It's not the same as what does your mind tell you? They will say, what do you think? Yeah. So, one of the aims is to eventually secure yourselves and then when you get to that point, you can start to [00:30:43] see or feel astrological influences. You can have an idea about whether you're being influenced by something else. And you can watch your mind and attempt to behave and try and calm it down, so, it doesn't cause which as much trouble. Yeah? And all these are core practices within Buddhism and Eastern philosophies.

ANDREW: Yeah. For sure. Yeah, that ability to step back [00:31:13] from what's going on in your head and basically be like, oh, take a look at that. My brain is … my brain is doing this thing in the same way that my stomach might be doing another thing in my … You know, my knee might be acting up or whatever. It's like, I'm not even those things, right, but sort of tuning down the emotions and the mind to kind of a place of somewhat lesser value or more specific value than the sort of overriding quality that we often associate with them. You [00:31:43] know, that's not easy, right? That's ... for a lot of people, especially Western people.

PETER: You know, if you ever visit, an example of one of the wonderful things to do is to go and see someone like Ajarn Su, who was a monk for 18 years. So, this guy's got focus. Yeah? And recently, we went along with somebody who wanted a head tattoo. A head young [not sure if this is right? at 32:08] for metta. Yeah, for loving-kindness. Higher, the highest of the high Buddhist-style tattoos. You know, head tattoos [00:32:13] hurt.

ANDREW: Yeah, I can imagine.

PETER: This is done with a gun. Ajarn Su can only use a gun because he's got an arm that won't do as it’s told, and, you know, the lad doing it had great difficulty controlling the screaming. And I was … I was helping out, being a bit of an assistant. And I was watching Ajarn, and he just went into his quiet place and not thought, but [00:32:43] no thinking, he was just chanting Qatar while he was doing the inside, while doing, while performing this tattoo, which took way longer than the recipient really wanted it to, and he pretty much screamed all the way through, so when we let … And then the worst thing was that if you have a tattoo with Ajarn Su, he will then give you his Yant Kru, which is, it gives … Everybody he gives tattoos to and it's a line [00:33:13] of script going along the front line at the bottom of the palm, and man, it's painful. Yeah? And as soon as, as soon as he said to me in Thai, “Oh, just hold his hand,” I thought, “Oh my God, he’s really going to scream now.” And, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He did. He really let go. Yeah, and then when, and then when we left Ajarn, after about 10 minutes, the guy just lit up, and he got the sun inside his face. And [00:33:43] he actually said, “Wow, now I know why I've had it done. I wasn't so sure for the last half an hour,” and it looked amazing, and we were actually leaving. But then once we left, Ajarn's neighbors from across the road came over to see him to make sure everything was okay. [laughing]

ANDREW: Right?

PETER: And Ajarn is such a sweet man. He kept stopping and going, “so [00:34:13] soo,” which means, you know, “you have to fight a little bit,” but doing it in such a cute way, it was like an anime, you know. And watching him not be drawn into somebody else's pain, not be influenced by somebody who is having difficulty, and retaining his own presence was a lesson in itself. It was quite astonishing, it was an amazing 30 minutes. 

ANDREW: It's [00:34:44] such a … I mean, I hear in that story what I would call a profound sense of compassion that doesn't match what we normally, you know, people might go to as a sense of compassion, which is, a sense of that deeper purpose of what's at hand, a loving acknowledgment of the struggle, and a commitment to the outcome that was what was meant to ... like what was agreed to, as opposed to an avoidance of a kind [00:35:14] of suffering for that person, right?

PETER: Yep, that's exactly right. And also, when he finished the tattoo, Ajarn told him, instead of keeping the five precepts, he only has to keep one. He said, “But you keep this precept,” and when he told him the one, I'm not going to say which one it is, I'm not going to divulge anything about what he said, but he said, “How does he choose the most difficult [00:35:44] one he could possibly choose for me?” I said, “Oh, he always does that!” 

ANDREW: Of course. 

PETER: I said, “Otherwise what's the point?” And the guy just fell around laughing? You know, he said, “How does he know?” I said, “He's an ajarn, my friend.”

ANDREW: Yeah.

PETER: “He probably knew as soon as you walked in.” And it was again one of those comical moments when we realize how much we have to grow in the situation we are in. But the [00:36:14] levels of metta, loving-kindness and the beauty of what they are trying to do is, it's just breathtaking.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. So, I mean I guess, let me ask this question, and I imagine there might be a few different answers to it. But, how does, how does a person become an ajarn?

PETER: In the usual route. 

ANDREW: [chuckling]

PETER: Okay, those … From what I can see at the moment, and this is going to change over time, as [00:36:44] the more time I spend with them, but basically everybody starts off as being some sort of devotee, using their amulets, learning the Qatar, becoming kind of known as somebody who makes an effort towards those spiritual practices. They might go off and do a few weeks, or a month, or even three months as a monk. Yeah? Which is all [00:37:14] set up within the community, and most times men will be a monk at some point in their life, for a short period of time, and then they may start helping the ahjan with rituals and helping the people who visit the samyat, which is the place of work. It's like his spiritual shop, his temple, yeah? And then, the [00:37:44] studying begins.

Now the studying, we discovered, has actually got levels. And each level, it's a bit like going and getting different degrees. Each level has got what is called the khan kru associated with it and the khan kru is a construction of various objects. Like sometimes swords, sometimes flags, and [00:38:14] they're always quite different, a lot of betel nut, flowers. It depends on the lineage of the ajarn that's giving it and there are various levels of the khan kru, depending on what you study. So, the earlier levels tend to be directed towards satyam, the Thai traditional tattooing, after which you tend to learn about sunay sunay magic, which is the magic for attraction. [00:38:44]

Eventually … I'm trying to remember the levels. It's something like the 8, 12, 27 but it ends up at 108. There's men. There's about eight different levels of the khan kru, and at each level you attain a certain understanding, but the khan kru is actually considered to be alive. It's considered to have life, and it helps you teach [00:39:14] you, and it can also knock you back if you're not studying enough, or being erudite enough, or not trying enough or you're just getting it wrong. Yeah? So, I … it's weighed like everything in this system. The book kind of introduces the subject of the khan kru, but the khan kru in itself could probably be a book on its own. 

Ajarn Su holdes the khan kru 108, which [00:39:44] is the full witcha, which comes from a similar root word as Wiccan, by the way, the witcha is the knowledge, and a very famous monk called Kru Badung Dev, still alive, but he's bedridden and 105 and his witcha collection, his book collection is really quite something, it's off the planet and his knowledge to go along with it. When he was a monk, he had the khan kru 227, [00:40:15] which only monks can have, and then you go back to the 108, when you stop being a monk. So, often you're going to see … In Ajarn Su's samyat, there's one khan kru and it's a 108, everything, and there are a certain color to show that his teacher is still alive and they change the color when he dies. 

In other samyat, you go and they'll have like five or six khan kru [00:40:45] for different subjects from different ajarns. Yeah, so you have some that stick to a certain lineage and some that go around collecting different witchas, almost like create their own lineage to start their own path, which then they can help other people along as well. It involves learning at least three scripts. It involves learning an enormous amount of Qatar, understanding the Qatar, [00:41:15] and it involves practices such as various meditational practices, like the 32 parts of the body practice for which you need a teacher but there's a brief outline in the book of it. We're about … we get to know our physical body by traveling around it. And it's split into 32 parts. There is also various meditational practices [00:41:45] towards cutting four elements within the body, but all these kind of roll along through the different levels of study.

ANDREW: And so, is the title conferred by the teacher then at some point? Is that the …?

PETER: The teacher decides when you move to the next level. To become an ajahm, you know, you can say, I could now turn around and say, “I'm ajarn, I'm [00:42:15] an ajarn,” but I'd be a bit of an idiot to do so, because it's really obvious that I'm not, right? Yeah. Yeah, in the same way as mastership in martial arts. You know, you always get … there's always a number of [pillocks? 42:26] who call themselves a master and they have to go through the very painful process of being beaten up by an eight-year-old at some point. You know what I mean? Yeah. Similar, you prove yourself by being good at your ajarn.

ANDREW: That's interesting. I also … I'm also really fascinated by … I mean, we were talking about nature [00:42:45] earlier. Do the ajarns, like, are there any living, like do they practice in Bangkok in the center of town? Do they out in the woods?

PETER: Yes, woods. Yeah. Yes. They did. There is … There are some remarkable magicians in Bangkok. Normally, they will deal with the things that people who live in the metropolis need, will help them with the promotion at work, will help them find a lover. Yeah, and [00:43:15] be more attractive, and there is those … One ajarn called Ajarn Weaver Ted [? at 21:32] who's now very famous. He's the first photograph in the book. And he's got very rich clientele, that he does spiritual work for, whatever that may entail. Yeah, some of it will be aggressive. Some of it will be protective. Some of it, you know … because in Thailand basically, [00:43:45] it's really the rich and the poor that use magic, not necessarily the middle classes. Yeah. And there's also people like Ajarn Samat, [43:57] who is one of the most remarkable satyan ajahms I've ever met. Man, he has it. He has it. Yeah? And for me, he's the best satyan ajarn in Bangkok, but he's difficult to see, he has a mostly retired clientele. His work is not beautiful. It's very old [00:44:15] style. It's very ancient witcha, but man, he has it, whoo! You know, so all these things are available for people who need it, finding the very traditional Thai ones will only be done by the Thai people, but then there are other ones who become famous outside the country as well.

ANDREW: So, let me ask you this question then. So, where does where does morality fit in these kinds of practices, you know?

PETER: [00:44:45] In what respect? 

ANDREW: So, if someone's coming to have work done to bring a relationship back together, is that … is that seen as both people should be there and consent? Is it seen as one person who wants this to happen can do the work and that could work? You know we talked about defense and aggression and these other kinds of things. Is there a morality in [00:45:15] there? Or is that sort of purely a Western question and not even relevant?

PETER: Well, it's, well, there's a morality in everything in life. It just depends on your personal standpoint. And, many ajarns nowadays, a lot of the really heavy stuff has gone back in the cupboard, because it's not needed anymore, yeah? So, but I'd say Ajarn Cau, who's a particularly lovely ajarn who I got along very well with in towards [00:45:46] Doi Saket, the mountains to the east. He only pulls lovers back together who were already married, and they have to prove it to him. Yeah, he will ask them for impossible things to get. You know, if they can, the skin off the bottom of his foot or her foot, depending on which partner wants the other partner to come back, and, and he will help them get back together, because that is an act of metta, he [00:46:16] is helping keep the couple together. 

At the same time, he will basically attempt to get the person who is bringing the ... paying for the ritual to understand that all the ritual does is bring them back. It's not going to fix your relationship problems. So, if you turn around and be angry, it’s not going to keep them there. This is not making a slave out of somebody, [00:46:46] yeah? So there isn't really anything aggressive within that. I mean, really, you know, people often ask the question: What is black magic in Thailand? You know, yes, then you get a different answer from everybody, but when they ask the same ajarn, the ajarn always said, well, you know attraction. He said, I might use part of somebody's skull for attraction. Esanay, [47:12] we call it, and he said, but it's just an air magic. It's not … it's [00:47:16] not black magic. He said, you're just attracting somebody, where's the harm in that? You're not kind of turning them into a slave. You’re just attracting them.

ANDREW: Right? If the work isn't … The work isn't geared towards removing people's free will. The work is geared towards providing opportunity, and that opportunity, especially sort of based on what you said in the earlier part of the conversation too, that opportunity is both access [00:47:46] to the opportunity of that thing and also the opportunity to grow as a person to embody that thing.

PETER: Exactly. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PETER: Yeah. So, you know other people think the use of any human materials is black magic in itself, which I don't, I don't consider it to be. There's all sorts of … We’ll not get into the Thai thoughts about death, because you know, everybody does … they're not … well, you know, it's just part of life. And generally, most … some ajarns [00:48:16] think that anything with human materials is black magic. Some ajarns only think that anything that is forceful is black magic, anything that is cursing is black magic, and they really try not to do it nowadays.

ANDREW: Hmm.

PETER: Yeah, they will do something called a kong ritual, which is a ritual. It's like a controlling ritual you do in the graveyard and it's to rebalance [00:48:46] some sort of relationship. A work relationship, your boss is being a bit of a bastard to you, etc. You'll bring a kong ritual just to slap him down a little bit, slap him down for a few months, let the relationship become better between you, and then it wears off. And they are extremely effective, these. But then, you know, you get people coming forward wanting people hurt or dead or [00:49:16] forced into bankruptcy or something serious and to be honest nowadays, yes, it can be done, but most ajarns will say no. And the only … And there's some very knowledgeable people about cursing in this city. Terrifyingly knowledgeable, but they just choose not to do it unless it's for the right reason. Yeah, because you know, they're bringing … They’re forcing something, they're bringing something [00:49:46] difficult to themselves. Everybody nowadays is now trying to strike the correct balance.

ANDREW: Hmm. And do you see that shift as coming out of a shift in cultural values, or is it a shift in the difference in the quality of life now versus in the past?

PETER: It's both, you know, the government's also … 10 to 15 years ago, they started clamping [00:50:16] down, they started stopping people who had died violently being buried. Yeah? Originally …. Only anybody who died a difficult death, which basically reflects like a really bad karma was buried, everybody else was burnt, right? So, these ground … And they're exactly the people that the ajarns want to use the [00:50:47] products from, yeah? And they basically stopped doing that 10 to 15 years ago. So, slowly but surely, that source is being exhausted. You know, Thailand is becoming a very developed country, access to the human materials is becoming extremely difficult, and, you know, it's not as wild here as it used to be, people need more, less protection in many ways, more metta, [00:51:17] more senay, … Because now you know the times have changed. Gone are the days where they could just chop a corpse's head off and leave a watermelon. You know, now they believe that a better protection is to have so much metta that somebody doesn't want to hurt you anyway, is to be such a lovely person that attracts other people, it makes you difficult to attack, you know, so as cultures develop the way they use [00:51:47] their magical knowledge develops, which is actually the sign of any living form of magic, isn't it?

ANDREW: Well, it reminds me of martial arts practice, right? You know, I mean, a lot of people start off in you know, something a little harder like karate or whatever, and you know, they want to fight and use their muscles and whatever, and as you, you know, hopefully as you age and get a little wiser, you know, you move to something more circular and more soft and you know, like, you know, nothing … Not that you can't, you know, throw [00:52:17] that punch if you need to but it's often more like, oh, I can just redirect this and just flow with things in a completely different manner and therefore I won't have that problem any more.

PETER: Oh, I always recommend running away. It's fucking great for avoiding problems.

ANDREW: Yeah, exactly, right? Exactly. [laughing] 

ANDREW: Just don't be there in the first place, right?

PETER: And also … Exactly, the greatest defense! I mean, this is not counting somebody who comes up being an absolute idiot. In which case, finish it and then run away. Yeah? I mean, [00:52:47] I've [? 52:49] done martial arts for about 20 years. But really, it should just be about happiness, physical comfort, you know, nothing more difficult to attack than somebody who's happy, you know, and that relates to what we were just saying about the magic as well. You know, it's … As soon as you’re aggressive, it gives people something to hang onto.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Well, and possibly puts you off balance, then, right?

PETER: Well, [00:53:17] everything goes to your head. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

PETER: And if what you're trying to do is not to let it go, though, because that raises your center of balance as well, and you become slow and you tense.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yep. 

PETER: So, it's all … they're very interrelated in many respects, actually, you know, and just retaining that open clear mind rather than being pulled by your emotions all the time, you know. It's … and in many ways, to get the martial arts, is one of them. Meditation [00:53:47] works. You know, what have you found works, Andrew, for you?

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean meditation. I did martial arts for a long time. Martial arts was a good road for getting over being angry, to me. You know, I sort of worked through my anger there in an environment where I could sort of explore power dynamics very openly. And yeah, just, you know, returning, you know, returning my attention back always to like, I [00:54:17] don't know how to put it. So, there's you know, there's that transcendent sort of samadhi kind of loss of attachment to yourself and your daily life. You know, so that piece of it combined with just very practical cultivation of self and a sustainable life, right? Like just, what do I need? What do I need to do? Where am I showing up? Where do I feel I'm lacking? Why do I feel I'm lacking there? Is [00:54:47] there something I actually need and just, you know, kind of cycling through those different patterns of, I guess, growth-orientated questions. And, you know, it's … It does wonders for removing unhelpful hungers and, you know, and sort of recognizing the own … my own internal bullshit for what it is, which, then, allows me to show up more, right? 

PETER: Well, there's nothing like … Yeah, there's nothing like a good bit of bullshit within ourselves as well, you know? There's [00:55:17] many things that we can pull on. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

PETER: You know, there's many, many, there’s many advantages to these things, but it's just knowing what they are …

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yep.

PETER: … Is the difficult thing and not being led by them, you know, and I'm sure you'd agree that when we get, you know, when you get past the monkey mind, as they call it here. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PETER: You know the relation … Your relationship with time changes, your relationship with people changes. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

PETER: You know, the way you can [00:55:47] sit with people changes …

ANDREW: Yeah. 

PETER: The way, you know, the joy of life changes.

ANDREW: And the way in which people receive you changes. 

PETER: Completely. 

ANDREW: Right? Because when you … When you show up and you're genuinely present with other people, they feel that, you know, and if you have, you know, if you want to call it metta, it's not really a word I would use, but you know, but you know, compassion or you know, those … That sort of openness to other people and seeing them for who they are without judgments or overt attachments. That's a [00:56:17] completely different dynamic, right? That goes to a completely different place than, you know, when you show up and you're just like, oh my God, I so need this or that or whatever from you. Right?

PETER: Well, it's also, I mean, I'm very lucky to be able to go anywhere in Thailand, literally, anywhere. You know? My partner's family, we were there a few months ago, and I said, “oh, I’m gonna go to Surat Veree [? 56:43] because I want to photograph this particular shrine for the book.” And I said, “Where is the bus [00:56:47] go from, the minibus? She said, “Oh, from there.” And so, I've got up at like 4:00 o'clock, I got the 5 o'clock bus, I was there by 6, and the driver dropped me off as close as he could to the temple. Ten seconds later, a motorbike boy came up, took me to visit the temple. We had a quick bit of breakfast together, which I paid for, of course, it was very nice. Then I did the photographs, he waited for me, he drove me back. I jumped on the next mini bus which arrived seconds later, and I rode back up to Bangkok and back to [00:57:17] family home in about four hours, three and a half hours. And the response was, “How have you done that? How?” Yeah, I said, well, it just kind of happens. If you just connect to people, you know, he's not the driver of a minibus. He's a man who's having to get through a day and hopefully support his family, you know? He is not just a motorbike guy, he might be an older [00:57:47] man who's had a very interesting life, and you treat him with some respect. You know, if you look, you look people in the eye, you make those connections, you open your heart.

ANDREW: Yeah. Well when I was in India, I wanted to go to Bodghaya, where the Buddha was enlightened? Or, I'm sorry, where the Buddha first preached the dharma, right? And, you know, and I went … So I wanted to go to these places, but there's [00:58:17] nothing there, right, there's just temples. It's just a city of temples and a few restaurants, things to support people, but nobody … I don't think people really live there or whatever and there's definitely no trains or whatever. So I arrived in the nearest city and--which wasn't that far away--but there was this huge strike there that day, and I was trying to find somebody who'd be willing to take me, 'cause I was only there for a day because I left it to sort of towards the end of my trip, [00:58:47] because I was trying to kind of hit a couple of important places, and two things happened, which remind me exactly of this conversation. 

So, one was, I was walking down the street, and it was a long street with a big park and government building, I think, on the other side, and it was just this huge fence that ran along this massive park all the way along. There's no easy way there, no gates, you would have to climb it and it was all houses on the other side and all the houses were basically [00:59:17] attached and there's no roads or alleys or whatever. 

And I'm like mid-block, and then I hear this huge ruckus and the people who are protesting are coming down the street, and there's this mob of people, with sticks and signs, and they're yelling and screaming and whatever, and I look at the crowd and I turn around and I look and there's this gentleman standing in his door, and I just look at him and I point at myself and I point inside his house and he's just like, yes, [00:59:47] like just, waved with his hands, like yes, come in my house [laughing], and so we go in his house. He closes the door. We wait for everybody to pass. And he had no English, you know, my Hindi is not particularly, you know, I knew a few things like hello, and thank you, and whatever, and we just waited in his house and stood there and looked at each other very pleasantly and peacefully and whatever. And then you know, when it was obvious that this, the sound had passed and the people were gone. He opened the door, and looked out, and then he gave me a pat on the back [01:00:17] and you know, sent me on my way. 

And then a few minutes later, I ran into this guy who was driving a, like one of those cycle rickshaws, this really older gentleman, and I got … I just like looked at him and I'm like, “I want to go here,” and he's like, “sure!” And so, he took me and we rode this bicycle through the countryside and stopped at a couple farms and all these amazing things. And then, when we got there, on top of paying him for his time, I also bought him lunch. And we just [01:00:47] sat there. He also had, you know, basically no English and we just sat there eating together and looking at each other and smiling. And you know, there's such a connection that can happen when you're open to those things, and like I say, when you're going for a purpose and when you go in with a certain way, that road can just open for you, right? You know?

PETER: It just happens … and it really happens because you're not thinking … 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

PETER: And by not thinking, you're taking away the barriers that people can come, [01:01:17] that generally stop people relating to you…

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. 

PETER: You know, it's a remarkable period of time here, you know, but, especially this last few years, going through the process of doing all this work, because it just, it just happened. Just, it was just, doors kept opening and things kept telling me what to do next, and you [01:01:47] know, and then we got to the point where this, you know, we managed to finish this work.

ANDREW: Yeah.

PETER: And yeah, there were bits where it wasn't easy, but it's still found a way to be done. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure. 

PETER: And you know, it's … Even my partner sometimes says, “How have you done this?” [laughing]

ANDREW: Mm-hmmm. 

PETER: You know. “How have you done it?” Well it kind of just gave me the opportunity to do it and then it kind of did itself. 

ANDREW: Yeah. They meet you [01:02:17] halfway. You know? Or more than halfway sometimes, right? Yeah. 

PETER: Yeah, they do. And also, I've really been wanting, you know, I've kind of resisted it for the first, God, 20 years of coming here …

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

PETER: Because that was apparent when I first came over. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

PETER: And kind of waited until I was ready to kind of do it.

ANDREW: Yeah.

PETER: You know, it's been quite old and extremely rewarding and rather wonderful.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. It's [01:02:47] fantastic. Well, I mean, maybe, we've been on the phone for a long time here. Maybe we should wrap this up, because I could talk to you all day. This is a wonderful conversation. So, first of all ...

PETER: It'd be nice with a cup of tea and a biscuit, wouldn't it? [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Well, you know, I'll let you know when I'm going to be in Bangkok or Thailand, some time. And we'll make that happen. For people who want to check out this book, and you know, if this stuff really interests you, and you’re, you know, you really should [01:03:17] check out the book. It's quite a, it's quite an amazing work. Where do people find you, and where do people find your book?

PETER: I'm easy found in two places. One is on Facebook through the Thai Occult book page, and the easiest place to click on the book to get the Timeless editions would be through the Thai Occult.com, all one word. 

ANDREW: Perfect. 

PETER: I can't … And there's [01:03:47] two book pictures on the front cover, one from the Sak Yant book and then the new one on the Thai occult. Of the … to be honest, I'm very very very proud of the new one, the Sak Yant book and yes, we have some superb interviews with the guys, some of the makers in there, but having just produced something really good, I'd love to go back and rewrite it.

ANDREW: Isn't [01:04:17] that always the way, right? Isn't that always the way?

PETER: Though to be honest with you, I don't think I'm going to do … I don't think I’ll be in that position, with the new one. I don't think I could have made a much better job, to be honest. There's always more, it's going to come up, but as a broad taste as a buffet of the Thai occult, I don't think … It'd be difficult to do a better job than this, in my opinion.

ANDREW: Perfect. Well, go and check it out, and support [01:04:47] Peter’s work and you know, thanks for being on, Peter and thanks to everybody, as always, for listening.

PETER: It's been lovely. Thank you. 

EP88 Stacking Skulls with Briana Saussy - Magic and Gender

October 26, 2018
00:0000:00

Aidan Wachter, Fabeku Fatunmise, and Andrew McGregor are joined by Braina Saussy for another instalment with Stacking Skulls. This epic 100 minute long episode talks about what is new in each of their lives and what they are up to magically before switching into answering a questions about the role gender plays in magic. 

Links for things talked about in the show. 

Sarah Anne Lawless - So long and thanks for all the abuse. A History of Sexual Trauma in the Pagan Community

Jason Miller - Whole Magic Part 2: Research vs Revelation

Amber Karnes Body Positive Yoga 

Want to listen to Stacking Skulls Feminist playlist go support the Patreon at the $5 level.  You can do so here.

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

Find us all online in our respective homes. 

Aidan is here.

Fabeku is here

Andrew is here

Briana is here

Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

 

The transcription exceeds the amount of text allowed by Patreon. You can go read it here on my main webpage. Sorry for the inconvenience. 

EP87 The Orisha Tarot with Andrew McGregor

September 21, 2018
00:0000:00

In this episode T. Susan Chang plays host to interview me about my new deck from Llewellyn – The Orisha Tarot. We talk about my 18 year journey with the Lukumi tradition that brought me to this point. This episode is a deep dive into the how and why of this deck an dthe role the spirits have played in its creation too. 

You can see the deck and get it from my website here, Amazon, or at your local bookshop. 

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.

And you should go see all the good stuff Susan is up to here

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

Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

You can book time with me through my site here

Transcription

SUSIE: Hello, everybody! You're hearing a different voice as the host of this week's Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm Susie Chang, friend of Andrew, and Andrew has kindly invited me to come on the show in order to interview him about his new deck, the Orisha Tarot, since he obviously could not interview himself! [laughs] Normally, at the beginning of an interview, what I would do is introduce the guest, but since the guest is the host, I guess I'll just do a very cursory introduction of what I know about my friend, Andrew. As you know, he is the proprietor of The Hermit's Lamp, the store, which is a touchstone for all of us in the tarot community, and he is the voice behind The Hermit's Lamp podcast. He is an artist in his own right and a creator of beautiful works, decks, and he is also a priest in the Lucumí tradition, and we'll be talking about that some more. But the reason that we're here today is to talk about the Orisha Tarot, which is coming out from Llewellyn in September … What day is it? 

ANDREW: Basically, today, according to Amazon. 

SUSIE: For real! Fantastic! Yeah, this is very exciting. So, I understand decks are already shipping out, and I was also particularly interesting -- interested -- in doing this podcast because we're both Llewellyn authors. I've got a book coming out from Llewellyn on tarot correspondences just next month. So, shout out to Llewellyn for supporting the work of tarot lovers everywhere. 

ANDREW: Absolutely.

SUSIE: Yeah! So the Orisha Tarot is officially out. Congratulations!

ANDREW: Thank you!

SUSIE: It's been many years in the making, hasn't it? 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean it's … It's always one of those things. Where do you count that from? You know? 

SUSIE: [laughs]

ANDREW: I signed my contract for it about two years ago, maybe a little bit less than that. So that's probably as good a time as any. But even at that point I had already made a dozen cards and had spent five or six years prior to that thinking about it and trying to figure out what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it. So. You know? 

SUSIE: Right. And actually, I'd like to back up even further, to the beginning of your story in this tradition. And to find out a little bit. Because it's been about ten years, I think you said? Something like that? 

ANDREW: Ten years as a priest. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: As of August. It was 2000 when I started getting involved in this tradition. So it's been about 18 years that I've been involved. 

SUSIE: Wow. So that's … Really, it's been a long journey for you. And I was listening to your wonderful interview with our friends at the Tarot Visions podcast, and I think you mentioned that you came into it through kind of a circle of friends who were exploring different esoteric traditions, and I kind of wanted to know a little bit more about what drew you. You mentioned that you were, you know, a friend had brought in his own explorations of Lucumí, and I wanted to, first of all, sort of talk a tiny bit about the context of Lucumí, since not everyone will be familiar with it, and also, a little bit more about your attraction to it. Now, as I understand it, Lucumí is a Cuban offshoot of the greater Yoruba African traditional religion, yeah? 

ANDREW: So, the story you get will depend a lot on who you talk to. Like many things. Right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, so, at the time of the Atlantic slave trade, Yoruban wasn't really cohesive at all. That whole area was a bunch of city states and so on, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So, this idea that there was sort of one cohesive African traditional religion, or ATR, which these things spread from, isn't really historically accurate. You know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: If you came from, you know, the city of Ife, then, you know, your tradition slants in one direction, certain deities are, you know, held above others; if you come from Oyo, then, you know, that's going to have a different set of traditions and sort of a different kind of more primary veneration and tilting towards certain deities over others. If you're down sort of in the coastal parts of kind of western Africa, towards the south end of that sort of prominence, the way in which some of the Orisha are going to manifest, especially the water Orisha, are different than if you're sort of further north, or inland, or in other places. You know, and so …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: It's important to understand that these sort of … All of these Orisha traditions and their diasporic manifestations, you know, as they found themselves in different countries, throughout the Caribbean and North and South America, they all varied depending on which groups of people were enslaved and brought over, which traditions survived, what happened in relationship to the indigenous culture that was present, you know, in Cuba indigenous culture was sort of pretty much wiped out, so there wasn't much inclusion of that into the traditions, whereas in other parts, you know, especially in South America, you know, some of those cultures continue to sort of live alongside and there's sort of more sharing of ideas.

SUSIE: Yeah, it seems like in many of the diasporic manifestations, you see fates that have been heavily syncretized with whatever was going on locally. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and I think that, you know, the question of syncretization is always an interesting one, you know? 

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: The story that some people like to say is that they were syncretized in order to conceal them and to prevent …

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: And to protect them and to allow them to practice covertly, you know …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And I'm sure that that's true in some ways. But also, you know, there's a lot of … In nonwestern approaches to magic and to spirituality, there's often a real sense of "hey, what's that guy good for? What's that spirit …?"

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: "What's that one going to do for me?" Whereas this sort of very practical notion of, you know, you come across somebody and you're like, "well, I read about this guy, what's that saint good for?"

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And there's the syncretization that happens, for sure, but there's also the notion of like, having more spiritual people in your corner is not a bad idea at all. Right? 

SUSIE: Exactly, exactly.

ANDREW: And so, so I think the history is interesting to try and unravel, but I think that we'll never really fully understand exactly what was going on with everybody involved. 

SUSIE: Exactly. And I think that, you know, people of faith kind of make faith work however they can, right? You know, it's sort of like you'll always have schools of thoughts that try to keep, you know, try to distinguish and separate and go towards a purist mentality in terms of practicing faith, and then there are others who'll say, well, we work with what we've got, you know? 

ANDREW: Exactly.

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, and so, to kind of answer your kind of like, about my lineage … My lineage, as far back as we know it, originates with this woman Monserrate, you know, she's the farthest back that we can trace that, and my lineage originates in Cuba and through those sort of Cuban traditions. So. Variations of the diasporic traditions, for sure. 

SUSIE: Right, right. So we're talking about … We're specifically talking about a tradition that came to Cuba through the slave trade. 

ANDREW: Exactly, yeah.

SUSIE: And do … You actually have some reference to that in, I think, your Ten of Swords card. 

ANDREW: Absolutely.

SUSIE: Which seems really appropriate, yeah. So, I wanted to know a little bit more about your personal journey, in terms of whether you yourself grew up in any kind of faith community, or whether you were … you know, did you have to rebel against one? did you long to belong to a faith community? What was that like for you and what was discovering this community like for you? 

ANDREW: So, I think that one of the best things that my parents did was not raise me with any traditions at all. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: My parents weren't particularly religious, you know ...

SUSIE: So what did you rebel against? [laughs]

ANDREW: I didn't rebel against any- I mean I rebelled against everything. But we'll get to that. But what that meant was, you know, when I said to my mom, I want to go to the psychic fair and find some books on magic, when I was 12, my mom was like, okay. You know, when I like, picked out Alistair Crowley, she was like, sure, go ahead. 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, that meant that I like had a lot of space to really get involved and think about other things, you know? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: You know, other than sort of when my parents split up and we started going to Anglican church, mostly I think because my mom wanted some community …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: I didn't really have a lot of connection or experience with any kind of organized religion. But what happened was, when I was 14, I almost died in a car accident. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And after that I wanted to understand everything. And so, I didn't rebel against anything as such, but what I really wanted to know was, like, what does this all mean? Right? Like all of it. You know. At that point I'd already been reading tarot for a year …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: I'd already been studying Crowley for a couple of years. It was already really invested in sort of a magical world view. And at that point then I just started reading everything I could get my hands on, right? So I'm like in grade 9 and 10, and reading Nietzsche and …

SUSIE: Sure.

ANDREW: Picking out, you know, people who can talk about these things. The youth group at the church was run by an ex-Jesuit, and so I would like corner him and be like "hey, tell me about this, tell me about that, tell me about this," and for the most part, people would indulge me and have conversations with me about it, you know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. Was there another organized religion that you were drawn to? Before Lucumí? 

ANDREW: No. I mean, Crowley's work. You know? 

SUSIE: Yes. 

ANDREW: For me it was basically all about Crowley's work. 

SUSIE: And you were in the OTO?

ANDREW: Yeah. When I was in my ... It wasn't until much later though. It wasn't until I was, you know, well into my 20s that I actually even considered … I was like, oh, maybe the OTO exists here in Toronto. Maybe I could find people. Mostly I just practiced independently and pursued and tried to talk to people.

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And then basically I left the OTO and the Armed Solace, which was another initiatory group, and moved into practicing Lucumí, you know? That was my journey. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. And it's been, as you said, like an 18-year journey at this point. And, so that's something I wanted to sort of ask you about, in terms of doing the artwork, telling the stories, introducing the wider world to this tradition. You know, often when we are talking about faiths we didn't grow up in, you know, there's this question of whether it's your story to tell, or whether, you know, at what point do you become a representative? And so that's a question I have for you, at what point did you feel that you were invested enough or, you know, that you had a strong enough sense of belonging to be able to bring this to other people? 

ANDREW: Sure. So, there's a whole bunch of pieces to that answer.

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. It's a complex one. [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah! We'll start with this. When you … When you become a priest, right? You become initiated into a lineage, right? So, you know, and when we talk about ancestors, the word we use most of the time is Egun. Right? We mean Egun to mean, ancestors by blood, and ancestors by initiation, right? 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: And so, you know, my Egun are those priests of the Orishas, going back to Montserrate and beyond, you know, and they're lost to history beyond that. And so, part of the conversation for me is, this is my lineage, this is my, these are my ancestors at this point, right? And this is something that we take pretty seriously within the tradition, right? Initiation and lineage are really significant.

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And so that's part of the thing. Part of it is, although my parents did not practice this tradition, I am initiated into this lineage in a traditional way. 

SUSIE: So, so there's a difference here between blood lineage and spiritual lineage. 

ANDREW: But the word does not differentiate. We don't differentiate, right? So, if you … We could … You could get a reading, and, your traditional reading, and your reading could come in a good way or a bad way, depending on what's going on with you, from the Egun, right? 

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: And when we're divining, if it's possible, we want to mark who that is, and we would ask, ancestors from the lineage, and ancestors from the blood line, and depending on what the reading came out as, it would guide us. And we could narrow it down, and be like, "Oh, yeah, the ancestors are upset with you, and in this case it's someone from your blood family, or in some other case it's somebody from your initiatory lineage," but we don't differentiate, the word means the same, right? 

SUSIE: Yes, I seem to remember reading something this past week about the idea that your, your, they're sort of one set, one bloodline sort of over one shoulder and spiritual guidance over the other, but they sort of combine and you need both. And I guess, you know, speaking about the outlook and cosmology of the faith, would it fair to say that, you come into this religion, but the religion itself proceeds from the assumption that everybody, no matter where you come from, no matter who your parents, or grandparents etc. were, has a relationship, or a potential relationship they haven't yet realized, with the Orisha? 

ANDREW: I don't think that that's actually true. 

SUSIE: Okay. So that's what I'm trying to get to the bottom of here. 

ANDREW: Okay. Before we come to Earth, we choose our destiny. We choose our Ori, right? Ori is sort of, not easily translated into one thing, but if you think of it as sort of your guardian angel, your destiny, and your higher self, all as one entity, that's probably a reasonable set of points to make sense of it, for people who have those ideas already. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And when you choose your destiny, before you come to Earth, it's sealed, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And so, we don't know what all it entails before we come, but if it's part of your destiny to get initiated into the Orisha tradition then opportunities will present themselves for that. It's not to say that you couldn't force them otherwise, but those wouldn't be in alignment with your destiny. And really, when we're talking about sort of initiation, and sort of connection, and those kinds of things, they really all ought to be dictated by either divination, or dictated by Orisha in possession of people, right? 

SUSIE: Yes. 

ANDREW: It's not really, you know. There are many people who will come, people will come and Orishas are like, "yeah, okay, we'll help you," right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Or the people will come, and they'll be like, "no, you should go do something else," right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Either direction, go over that way, go look at these people, you know, like go look at these other traditions. It's definitely not for … It's not meant for everybody, per se, and it's not closed in any, you know, in any particular way, although certain houses and certain, you know, lineages, might be more closed to outsiders than others, based on a whole bunch of different factors, but …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: It's much more so that, you know, if it's part of your destiny the opportunity will arise, if it's not, then, you know, you might run into it, but they might say, no, you're good, go to the other side. 

SUSIE: Right. Well, this is interesting to me because I've noticed that there seem to be a lot of people who are clearly didn't grow up within the culture who have become drawn to this religion or some form of it, some form of the faith, and, you know, taken it on. And, it seems as though there is, you know, a certain openness to those who commit themselves, whether or not they grew up or had family or, you know, understood the culture. Right? 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean I think that, I think that there are opportunities definitely for people to engage and connect with these traditions. And there are definitely practitioners around who are, you know, open to people who didn't grow up in these traditions and so on, for sure, right. 

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: That's definitely a thing, and you know, I mean that, I think one of the things I see that's going on is that, certain people seem like they're looking for tradition, right? They're looking for … They're kind of doing something that doesn't have a long living history, and they're kind of looking backwards for, or looking around for those things that do, you know? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: I think that's part of why the Tarot de Marseilles is sort of resurfacing.

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: You know, it's, I think that it's why the Orisha traditions are shifting and coming forward more. You know? 

SUSIE: Right. That's one of the things that … I guess that's why I was asking you so much about your own background in terms of, you know, working independently versus belonging, right? Because I think that that's something that a lot of us struggle with, especially those of us who grew up, you know, in an era where religious community isn't something that one takes for granted. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: Yeah. So anyway, I think that we should probably turn a little bit to the work itself. 

ANDREW: Well, let me finish answering … Cause we started with this question of me and sort of, you know, doing this deck, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: You know, sort of … And we kind of started talking about the ancestral piece and drifted away, and there are a couple of other things that I want to sort of …

SUSIE: Okay, good. 

ANDREW: So I mean, one of the things, like I did a bunch of things around creating and starting this process, and getting permission before I started this process, and certainly one of them was sitting with my elders and talking about what I wanted to do, and, you know, getting advice from them. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And certainly part of it was asking the Orishas themselves, asking Elegua for, you know, his blessing to proceed with this project. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And also, you know, sort of sitting down with people and sort of showing my art with, you know, with different people and people of color and so on to kind of consult with my choices around representations and so on, so. 

SUSIE: Absolutely, absolutely.

ANDREW: I really wanted to, you know, you can never please anybody, and I'm sure there'll be some people who'll be upset by the deck, and well, you know, that's life. Right? But …

SUSIE: Right. But it sounds as though you have a lot of support. At least within the community you have access to for the work that you undertook.

ANDREW: Exactly.

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Cool. So I wanted to talk a little bit about making a tarot deck, approaching a tarot deck, coming out of the various traditions you come out of. So I know that you started out with Crowley and the Thoth deck -- or, I know you pronounce it "Toth," [laughing] and also that your primary commitment as a reader for quite a while has been the Marseilles deck.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: So, how … Why did it seem like a natural choice to you to translate or to represent what you know from Orisha as a tarot deck? You know, I think a lot of people would say, well, you know, since there isn't an obvious 78 card structure, you know, number of deities, all the sort of correspondences that tend to underlie at least the Golden Dawn-derived decks, or the general tradition of tarot reaching back to the 15th century, you know, why, why do a tarot deck and not something more free form like an oracle deck? 

ANDREW: Well, because, one of the reasons why I made this deck was because I wanted to create a bridge between the people who have traditional experience with the Orishas, and people who have experience with the traditional tarot structure. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And I wanted to use that … those two pieces as a way of creating a bridge so that people could sort of have more understanding of each other. And of what's going on, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. 

ANDREW: And so, I really, you know, I mean, I've got nothing against oracle decks, I mean I released one earlier in the year. But, in trying to think about something as large and expansive as the Orisha traditions, it really … Having a clear structure, like the tarot structure, allowed me to frame and set the conversation in a way that allowed me to finish it [laughing] cause otherwise …

SUSIE: [laughing] Right, it's ... otherwise, how do you know when it's done? [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah, right? I mean, we divine with, you know, upwards of 256 different signs. 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: Each of those signs is as complicated or as a trump card, or as sophisticated as a trump card …

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: and then there's, you know, depending on who you ask, you know, a bunch of primary Orishas and maybe, you know, like even hundreds if you start getting into different paths and roads, it can expand infinitely in every direction, right? So. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. I'm curious in whether there's much crossover between the two communities, that you've noticed. I mean tarot, and Orisha. 

ANDREW: Sure, lots of people. I know lots of people who are initiated. You know, I mean, that sort of … syncretic piece, kind of "what can I do with this?", you know, that continues to be a problem with a lot of Orisha practitioners' lives, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: It's more purely, just the Lucumí Orisha stuff. Many people practice some combination of, you know, Paulo Moyumbe, and espiritismo, and card reading, and, you know, other things, depending on who they are and what they feel is important and what they have access to. So there's not like … There's not a lot of hard rules …

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: About the Orisha tradition. Certainly not the tradition I practice. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: I mean, definitely don't mix them in one ceremony.

SUSIE: But it's okay if you practice them separately. 

ANDREW: If you go to church on Sunday, and then you tend your ancestral Boveda, and then you have some Orisha, and you go between them, depending on what you feel and need, it depends on where you go, it's a really common experience for a lot of people. So. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah, I'm glad you addressed that, cause that's something I was really curious about. You know, you don't dilute your practice by sort of mixing a bit of everything. On the other hand, you're one person, and, you know, if you're drawn to different practices, then perhaps you're drawn to different practices for different needs. 

ANDREW: Sure. And if the Orisha don't want you doing that, they'll tell you! For sure.

SUSIE: [laughing] Right. 

ANDREW: They'll be like, "stop it!" 

SUSIE: That's not cool. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

SUSIE: So, a little bit about what people can expect when they're approaching the cards. Now, it's not like there's a particular Orisha per card. There's Orisha in some representations of some cards, some cards have concepts from Lucumí, some cards have one of the Odu on them, so, sort of like, how did you approach how you wanted to impart all of this information structurally into the deck? 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. So, I really, I wanted to try and avoid what I had seen done in other decks in the past. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: Not because it's wrong per se, but because it doesn't give the conversation enough meat. Right? You know a lot of decks would say, well, Shango is the king, and therefore, he's the emperor, and so when I draw the Emperor I'm going to draw Shango. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And that's fair, you know, I mean Shango is the emperor, he's the king of the Orishas. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: But, but there's a lot more to it than that. What does that mean? In what way does kingship or power in that way show up in a variety of different contexts, and what are the different conversations that we could have, right? 

SUSIE: Exactly.

ANDREW: And so, when I was sort of working with the trump cards, I wanted to embody the ideas that I see being behind, you know, behind the cards themselves: spiritual authority, earthly authority, fortune and chance, you know, like different things. I wanted to sort of embody those bigger ideas and kind of avoid kind of just a straight, this symbol = this symbol here …

SUSIE: Yeah, I call that the matchy match. [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? Exactly.

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

ANDREW: When I was looking at the number cards, which for me often represent sort of more the what and the how of life, right? I wanted to kind of focus more on stories, and those things that tend to be more about particular patakis, or stories or ideas from the lives of the Orishas and the lives of their practitioners and where that kind of overlaps and integrates with those numbered cards. And then when I got to the court cards, I wanted to, I wanted to really kind of explore the way the court cards can be sort of seen to line up with roles people might play in the community. Right? 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: So, when we're looking at those, we see … One of them, the Aleyo, the new person who's just coming to this tradition, who's ready to learn, and they're making an offering to, you know, the butcher, who is a very skilled and important part of the ceremonies in the community, to the elders who run the ceremonies, and the singers and the drummers and the artists and all of those things, so I kind of went through and sifted those ideas into where I felt they aligned with the court cards best.

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So, the court cards then become really positions or roles one might find oneselves in, in religion, and over time, with the traditional idea of the court cards, over time we might [00:29:27]. Over time we might be, you know, we might play this role in this community and that role in another community. And so on. So.

SUSIE: Right, right. And I think hat underscores what I think sometimes we forget about court cards, which is that we can be any of them, and we are any and all of them at different times. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: So, about that … A word you brought up just before, which I think is pretty important for us to discuss, the word Pataki, the story. So can you tell us a little bit about how that is contextualized within the faith and also, we should mention, that that is the name of the book that goes with the deck, Patakis of the Orisha Tarot. Yeah.

ANDREW: So, patakis are the stories of the Orishas and their practitioners that are meant to be instructive, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: The word parable, you know, is a way to maybe give a different word for it in English. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And, you know, especially when we're divining, right, we'll often give a proverb, and we'll often, you know, tell a story about the Orishas. And, this is part of this oral tradition of it, that we are expressing these ideas in ways that allow us to tell the person things, in ways that are easier to hold onto, easier to integrate, that give us some meat, rather than just saying, "hey, don't do this thing," which we might also say …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: We might also tell the story of when one of the Orishas did that thing and what happened to them. 

SUSIE: Yes. 

ANDREW: "Oh yeah yeah, okay I see that. I shouldn't do that thing, cause this is gonna happen," right? There'll be a problem. 

SUSIE: There's something about these stories that's so human and relatable, right? You know? I mean is it not the case that the Orisha themselves were at one time human or before they became more than human? 

ANDREW: Well, that's a … That's a contested … Somewhat contested point of view. Many Orisha are what's known as urumole. They came from heaven. Right? They originated purely from spirit. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: There are Orishas who are considered deified ancestors, Shango being one of them, you know, Oduduwa being another one. You know, there are these spirits, these people who led great lives and led their communities and so on, and became, you know, deified after their death. The question that comes up in those conversations, then, also is were those lives that Orisha descending and living on Earth for a period of time? 

SUSIE: Yes, right. Yeah.

ANDREW: So, I mean, I think that it … I think that there's no clear answers to that. But in general, the majority of the Orishas did not start as human, but originated as part of the unfolding of creation, and then came to sort of live these lives and, you know, have these stories and experiences that we now understand. And also, when we're talking about some of these stories, I think that we also need to understand that some of them, and there's no easy historical way to say which ones are not, but a good chunk of them were probably stories about priests of those spirits. 

SUSIE: I see. 

ANDREW: Made these mistakes in their lives. It's like, "Oh yeah, you're Bill, the priest of Obatala who lived down the road …"

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: "Remember when you did this?" "Yeah, I remember," right? 

SUSIE: [laughing] Right, right. 

ANDREW: And those stories become, you know, part of the myth, right? Part of the lexicon of these traditions. 

SUSIE: Yes. I guess what makes me wonder, you know, what their relationship with mortality and humanity is, is because these stories, the emotions and the sort of currents that they represent are things that anyone can relate to. You know, there's jealousy, there's anger, there's, you know, there's infidelity, there's theft, there are things that you don't sort of in the same way that in the Greek mythology you see people, you see deities acting badly, right? Or in ways that show that they can make mistakes too. 

ANDREW: Definitely. One of my elders likes to say, you know, "They made those mistakes, you don't need to, okay?" 

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? But, you know. We're all human. We're gonna learn or we're not gonna learn. But we'll learn one way or another. Right? 

SUSIE: Right, right. So, a little bit more about deck structure. So, first of all, I noticed immediately that there were some sorts of ways in which your experience with tarot informed the deck. First of all, there's a little bit of a thought sensibility, in that your Strength and Justice are ordered in the way that the Thoth deck and the Marseilles deck do, rather than the Rider-Waite-Smith. I noticed that you have ordered it wands, cups, swords, disks, fire, water, air earth, which is a very hermetic thing. And the very fact that you call them disks also comes out of the Thoth tradition. But, I also wanted to know a little bit, for example, of ... I can sort of understand where the structure for the majors comes from, but what I wanted to know a little bit more is about the pips. Because your primary reading background comes from, as far as assigning meaning to the pips, I guess would be based in Thoth originally? I wondered if there was sort of more relationship …. Would someone who comes from a Rider-Waite-Smith tradition instantly recognize, or from a Golden Dawn tradition, instantly recognize the concepts in each of these minor cards? 

ANDREW: Well, I mean I think so. [laughing]

SUSIE: [laughing] I can tell you that I certainly did.

ANDREW: I mean, here's my hope about this deck. You know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: I mean, so, obviously, I started with the Thoth deck, and I read with that deck for many years, exclusively. But I also read a ton of books on tarot, right, during that time. And had a lot of conversations, especially once I started branching out in the communities more, and you know, I mean, I've read lots of books on the Waite-Smith tradition, and, you know, all of that sort of and a bunch of that older stuff, you know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Hermetic or otherwise. So when I was, when I was creating this deck, there are … People who are reading the book, you'll come to some spots, you'll hit a few cards where it's like, you know, in the Marseilles tradition, people often think of this card this way, and I'll give a little bit of context, and then when you go and read it, it'll make a ton of sense. 

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And, that's really mostly because I could have, you know, I could have written ten times as much about these cards as I did. But Llewellyn said, you can only make the book [cross-laughter [00:37:02] 

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: And, and I really endeavored to sort of kind of hold what I see as kind of the middle of the road on these meanings, right? I mean I didn't … the numbering is the numbering, and to me ultimately the numbering … I mean, this might be blasphemy from a hermetic point of view, but to me the numbering of the trump cards is really largely irrelevant. 

SUSIE: I think it's arbitrary, yeah. 

ANDREW: It's a historical precedent that's [inaudible at [00:37:30].

SUSIE: Although, although, Andrew, I think it's important that you made Elegua the Fool. I think, you know.

ANDREW: For sure! 

SUSIE: Yeah. As the Orisha who comes first. 

ANDREW: For sure, yeah, yeah. But, but, you know, choosing Justice to be this number or that number, I'm like, eh. I almost never read the numbers when I read cards, because I just see the cards, right? 

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: So, you know, this deck is really meant to be, you know, a kind of relatively even representation of tarot as it exists today, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. 

ANDREW: And so, there's not … none of it's slanted too much one way or the another. There's no like "Well, you need to know that Crowley called this card the Aeon means, you know the goddess Nuit means this...

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: It's just not like that at all, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah, I mean, my sensation as I was getting to know the deck was really that it was about the stories, and which story fit which card best. 

ANDREW: Yeah. It's one of the things that I actually really … I wouldn't have guessed that I would have felt this was so important, but the feedback that I've gotten from the people who've gotten their books already, or gotten their copies already, who I shared advance copies with and stuff, is … including some non-tarot people who just are reading it because they really like me. 

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: The feedback I keep getting is that the material is really accessible. And to me, that's like a really important thing. You know? I didn't want to make this difficult, I avoided using as much jargon, or like, you know, Lucumí words, as much as possible. I really, you know, I didn't get into hermetic philosophy particularly anywhere. You know there are all these branches and wings of my own personal experiences and practice, that I just brought them all down to the dining hall, I was like, "All right! Let's all have lunch to talk about stuff in a general way."

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: You know, it's hard to make that happen, so. 

SUSIE: Right. Well I think that, you know, I think it's really important for anyone coming to this deck to get to know the book, to read the book, really read the book, because it's, you know, it's 350 pages, it's real, it's got every single page not only has a story that's associated with the card, but also sort of breaks down the symbols that you included in the card, what its divinatory meaning might be, and sort of what the advice might be that goes with it. And I found that incredibly helpful in terms of, like, you know, if I came across a card where my own sort of tarot background wasn't making it immediately obvious to me what you were trying to do, I could just go to the book and it was really clear, you know, like within a minute. So, I think that it's … This is one of those things where … And I generally am not a person who believes that readers always have to go to the book, but I think it is really enriching and helpful to contextualize using what you wrote for this deck. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think unless somebody has a strong living practice with like, you know, with a traditional Orisha practice, yeah, it might be hard to start just by looking at it …

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. 

ANDREW: Most people who come from those traditions and read cards, as well, then maybe they don't need the book as much, you know. It's always interesting as I share the images on the, you know, on social media and stuff, I get, you know, priests jumping on the thing, and like, "how you choose to represent this here! it's perfect!" you know?

SUSIE: [laughing] right.

ANDREW: They just get it, right? Because they have both of those pieces. But it's so nice to see people be moved to see themselves and to see the tradition in this way, which is really gratifying. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm, Mm-hmm. Before we move off structure and start talking a little bit more about the art and the specific cards, is there a sort of through line in each suit that we should be looking for? Something that's going on in wands only, something that's going on in cups or swords or disks? 

ANDREW: That was … That was a notion that I abandoned along the way. You know, in making a deck there always comes this point where the reality check steps in, and you're like, this is the limit of what I can do, you know. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. 

ANDREW: And the sort of the idea that there was sort of one through line for each set of suits, I didn't really, I couldn't really find it, and you know there are a couple other ideas about levels of detail and symbolic representations that I just realized I'd be spending another five years like hand-drawing beaded things all day…

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: I'm like, that can't happen. 

SUSIE: Right, and if … I mean there are certainly color and number correspondences you could have worked with but, by forcing it into you know, existing tarot structure or hermetic structure I think you would have been doing something that was not necessarily conducive to the most rich environment of reading these cards.

ANDREW: Exactly.

SUSIE: You know what I mean? Yeah, although, I'm looking at … I've sorted it out, separated my deck out, Ace, Cups Swords, sorry, Wands, Cups, Swords, I'm looking at the Aces, and there's definitely, I get at least just from my background, I get an elemental feeling off of those cards, you know, a fire, water, air, earth feeling, and even if that's not something that you intended to do or carried throughout the deck, there's still something there, I think.

ANDREW: For sure. I mean, in making this deck it's definitely … A lot of stuff just emerged in the creative process. And although I spent a lot of time thinking and writing and making notes about what went where and why and so on, when I sat down to make the cards, a lot of stuff just emerged as part of that process, you know, from the news, from the creativity, by chance or whatever, my own conscious formulated it, so there's a lot of stuff in there that happened as I was making the cards, it wasn't necessarily fully thought out …

SUSIE: But which is just part of you, as a reader and a practitioner.

ANDREW: Yeah. I mean, you spend 32 years working with the tarot, right? 

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: It's a lot of ideas in the back of the brain there that are trying to come out in one way or another. 

SUSIE: Right. So, let's talk a little bit about the way the cards look for those people who haven't been lucky enough to pick up their decks yet. It's a gorgeous production, first of all, I think you, you know … the artwork's just stunning, and Llewellyn did a great job, I think, as well. First of all it's a borderless deck, which, thank you! [laughing]

That's … 

ANDREW: Llewellyn let me do something that they had never done before, which was: all of the titles are handwritten. 

SUSIE: Yeah! Yeah!

ANDREW: [crosstalking [00:44:55] to the cards. They're not obscured, they're easy enough to see when you're looking …

SUSIE: You can find them. 

ANDREW: [crosstalking] Off of the bottom. They fit in more with the artwork, so it's easier to kind of just look at the artwork, or just look for the title when you need to. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: That was something that we had a bunch of conversations with … 

SUSIE: I think it was a brilliant choice. Because, you know, it really foregrounds the story of the art. The art fills the frame, you know, everything about it allows you to immerse yourself in what's going on in that picture, and then secondarily you, you know, check out whatever title it was so you can sort of match it up with your own tarot knowledge. But I really appreciated that and I'm really glad that they made that decision and you, you know, suggested it. And also, the colors are so saturated and so bold. So the texture and look that you were going for was based on Gwash, right? 

ANDREW: Well, so, actually, what I was … So, I used to paint in Gwash a lot, before I had kids. But, you know, having kids, and having a space to set up art, you know, a small, urban space, isn't really that easy, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: So certainly, that's a piece of my sensibility and my aesthetic, but part of what I was really looking for was, you know, starting, it's hard to date now, but starting quite a while ago, I went from being super structured and really trying to sort of make everything perfect, to really kind of moving to a more gestural and looser way of working. And so, you know, this kind of comes out of that, you know, sort of move away from you know, sort of pursuing absolute realism to pursuing something else. And then, the other piece of the aesthetic is, you know, I wanted to include different pieces of symbolism, but I didn't want to make it look like the Thoth deck where there are so many symbols that you don't really know what to look at sometimes. 

SUSIE: Yes, yes. 

ANDREW: And so, one of the things that I decided along the way was, you know, there's a lot of use of textiles, especially in Africa and west Africa, and the Orisha traditions, there's a lot of use of textiles in making thrones, in making ceremonial outfits, you know, in making panuelos, which are these elaborate cloths that we put on top of the Orisha sometimes. And so I wanted to kind of have a reference to that without trying to like emulate it or create like, recreate specific patterns, but use that visual idea to create a space for that symbolic language to hold, right? 

SUSIE: Yes. 

ANDREW: For the use of number, and through whatever other symbols got added to those designs and so on. So. 

SUSIE: Yeah, I really picked up on the fact that the design sensibility behind this had that sort of sense of, you know, scope and flow and bold lines that you get in textile. And, you know, that's not something you always see in tarot, and so it was really kind of a relief to the eye to sort of not get too, I don't know, bound up in the busy? 

ANDREW: mm-hmm.

SUSIE: Yeah. I think what we see is sort of a looseness of the line, and … But at the same time a real exactness in terms of what symbols you wanted to portray and the way that you foregrounded them in each card. So, so, you did this actually on an iPad, right? 

ANDREW: I did, yeah. I did all of this digitally. I've been working pretty much exclusively digitally for the last five or six years now, I guess, ever since … 

SUSIE: Yeah. And does that have to do with being busy, being a parent, you know, just trying to live life in addition to being an artist? 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I mean I don't have a studio space, you know, I don't have … Toronto is apparently one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, thanks for that, whoever's responsible for that …

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: But space is certainly at a premium. And, you know, the only space where I maybe could do more studio type work is at the shop, and I already spend lots of time at the shop seeing clients and doing other stuff. I don't really want to be at work even if it's sort of as a creative outlet. And the iPad, you know, it's always with me, and when I was making this deck , I would just be like, oh, I've got an hour, time to work on one of the cards a bit. You know? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: Here's some writing. Or whatever. It's just, it's always at hand, it's super portable, and especially, I got an iPad Pro, like one of the big ones, and an Apple pencil, which finally I was able to make happen through the process and you know, it's the best thing ever, it's just …

SUSIE: Yeah, and if you get interrupted, you can just save it, and pick it up later. 

ANDREW: And I'm sure, like from a production point of view too, you can work in layers, like in Photoshop …

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: It's a real treat. So all the backgrounds are their own layers and all the symbols

SUSIE: That's great, yeah. 

ANDREW: The line work symbols and stuff. So if I make a mistake, if I change my mind later …

SUSIE: Right, right. Plus it gives you more freedom. I mean if you're doing a background you don't want to just stop to make room for the foreground, right? 

ANDREW: Right? Yeah. All also, I just sent all the Photoshops to Llewellyn, and they asked me if they could take some of them apart and use pieces for making the box and other stuff, which they did, which is fantastic. I'm so delighted with it. It just, it allows for a variety of options in a way that traditional mediums just don't, you know? 

SUSIE: Yeah, I was really excited to realize that you did this in a digital format like that just because I didn't know that you could create art like this in that way and have it come out looking so good. You know?

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: And the other thing is that I just, I thought it was really funny, that just practically speaking, that it made so much sense for you. This is one of my hobby horses, the idea of just how difficult it is to be both a parent and a practitioner, you know, just to live your life and try to do this work is a constant struggle. Like, you know, you're in the middle of a banishing ritual and some kid is like, coming through saying, Mom, I missed the bus!

ANDREW: Yeah!

SUSIE: I mean, it's like it's every day, you know, trying to make that work is tricky for a lot of us. So I'm glad you found a way to make this happen. 

ANDREW: Me too. 

SUSIE: Okay, so I'd love to, if you feel like it, I'd love to talk a little bit about specific cards. If you could just give me a second, I have to plug … My laptop's going to run out of charge. I just have to plug it in real quick.

ANDREW: Yeah.

SUSIE: Just, be right there. [pause] Okay, we're good. And I can strip that out of the tape, later on, if you want. Okay. So, let's talk about a couple majors. I wanted to return to the Fool card, cause I think that's super important, where you have Elegua, who is, I guess, you know I don't want to make the mistake of trying to do too much equivalency here, but he is the one who makes communication possible as I understand it. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Elegua is the Orisha we speak to first in every ceremony, because he opens and closes the ways, and Elegua is all of the communication everywhere, on every single level, right. If we think about the communication between every cell in your body is that communication between the parts of the universe, you know, nothing exists or could happen without Elegua being there to facilitate that transfer of information from one place to another. 

SUSIE: Right. Right. And so, I think, you know, that's what makes it so important and so appropriate that he's the first card in the deck. You have to, even to open your mouth, to gather the air to speak, you have to be there, right, although he also has a presence in a number of other cards as well. And what people will see, when they look at it, is, I guess the, a common representation of Elegua is the kind of stone or concrete head with the cowrie shells embedded in it, right? 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah, when people … A common solution, a relatively common solution to troubles in people's lives is to receive what's referred to as the Warriors …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Which is Elegua, Ogun and Ochossi. It's an initiation that you don't have to be a priest to have. Anybody can receive this if it's marked or required. And they come into your life to help you fight your problems and overcome your obstacles and so on. And what there's actually, people are really accustomed to seeing these cement heads with the cowrie shells, but traditionally depending on your lineage, Elegua is … they have marked the path of Elegua, and there are many ways in which Elegua might be made. But I chose to make the one that people understand the most because I wanted it to be somewhat familiar to people, for sure. 

SUSIE: Right, and this is actually a symbol that ordinary people might have in their homes, right? 

ANDREW: Maybe. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. Well, just real quick, after I got your deck, I had the craziest dream, where I dreamed that I got up and I went outside. And this was around midnight. And the UPS truck comes, [laughing] and gives me a package with my name on it, and I open it and I suddenly start to feel really strange like I'm high or I've taken something or ingested some kind of substance, like, just through opening the package. And then I was instantly transported into some kind of rite that was going on in my dining room. And Elegua was there. [laughing] And I thought this was, obviously this is not, I knew almost nothing before this week about this tradition, but, and I certainly have no way of knowing what significance that had or what, you know I certainly can't speak for the tradition in any way, but I thought it was, so interesting that, you know, my dream maker chose to take the delivery of your deck to me as this kind of mind-altering frame-shifting event. and then introduce, you know, this personification of communication, the opener of the ways, into the dream. 

ANDREW: Yup. Indeed.

SUSIE: So I was very grateful for that experience. Okay. The only other major I really wanted to make sure we talked about was the Priestess card. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: Because it's not what people would ordinarily expect to see in a Priestess card, and I thought you could talk a little bit about what we're looking at and how it relates to the High Priestess we know and love. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. So, this is actually one of the cards that gave me the biggest trouble. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: I spent a lot of time working on this card, they're a bunch of drawings that got scrapped along the way, because I was just like, no, nope, no, no, no, that's not gonna cut it, that's too simple, that's too this, that's too whatever, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: You know, so what we see in the Priestess card, is we see a bunch of cowrie shells, right? 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: And the dillogun, or the cowrie shells, are you know one of the traditional tools of divination. For olocha, for priests in the way that I'm a priest, it's the way in which we speak with the Orishas. And, when we divine with the shells, we pray, and we invoke an opening with Elegua or whoever, for an Odu, for a sign, like a, the idea almost like a card to sort of … But those energies, those Odu, are the living unfolding of the universe, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So, they represent all of the knowledge that was and is and all of the possible knowledge of the future, or the possible unfoldings of the future. And so, those energies that arrive when we do a reading, and come to play in the life of the person who gets the reading done … It's actually a serious ceremony to get a reading. 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: It alters the course of your life, right? And, you know when we think of the Priestess or the Papess, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: One of the things that we can talk about is knowledge, right? And it's deep metaphysical knowledge, right? 

SUSIE: Right. Which isn't readily accessible to you at a surface level. 

ANDREW: And, when we think about the Hierophant or the Pope as sort of the outer face of spirituality, the High Priestess is the inner face. She's the inner mystery of that, right? 

SUSIE: Right .

ANDREW: And she is that knowledge which is hard to get to, that knowledge which is hard won, and that knowledge which is tied to a deep respect and a deep cosmic awareness of the nature of the universe, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And so this Odu and the method of divination and the process of divination, to me mirrors that, right? 

SUSIE: Correct. 

ANDREW: And so the shells become the mouth of the Priestess, right? And if we look at it in a sort of Rider Waite symbol, right? Cascarilla and the Ota, the black stone? 

SUSIE: Yes!

ANDREW: They mirror, we use those in the divination process, but they mirror those two columns …

SUSIE: The boas and jacim, yeah. 

ANDREW: The positive and negative vibrations that are in that sort of duality. 

SUSIE: And those are a kind of … Are they a yes/no kind of stand-in? 

ANDREW: Yeah, we use them and other things to ask specific questions within a reading. We each have … There's about a half dozen Ibo that all have ritual significance, and we use them in different ways depending on the nature of the question we're asking. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And then the other thing that's going on in this card is, usually people divine on a straw mat or a tray …

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: With cowrie shells. And some people use a wooden tray, maybe, but more often than not a straw mat. So, I wanted to create this idea of the straw mat, but then this idea that below it is this sort of cosmic opening, right? This connection to everything. 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, this is actually probably one of the most abstracted cards in the whole deck …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: In that it doesn't really show an Orisha or a thing that is sort of easily connectable, but I think that it really represents a sort of, that depth of knowledge and connection, direct connection to the voice of creation, that I associate with the High Priestess and that you know I associate with this divination process. 

SUSIE: Yes. Now the Odu themselves, they're transmitted orally, right? It's not something that you just pick up a book, and not anyone can do it. 

ANDREW: Yes. If you're not a priest, you cannot do cowrie shells, right? 

SUSIE: Got you. 

ANDREW: There's no … The best thing we could say is that you don't have the spiritual license, and my elders would be quite clear, you know, you can do anything you want with these shells, but they don't speak for the Orishas, therefore whatever you get is irrelevant. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: You know …

SUSIE: So it's not like what we think of … As tarot readers, we just pick up a deck and anyone can give it a go, this is something that you really need to go through initiation and be crowned as a priest to do. 

ANDREW: And spend a long time studying, right? You know you need to understand that there are 256, technically 257 signs. Each of those signs has a specific hierarchical order of Orishas that speak in them. Each of them has proverbs, songs, ceremonies, offerings, taboos, patakis, and then each of those signs can come in ire, like the sign of blessing, or asobo, the negative sign, and then there are many kinds of ire and osogbo, and if you start to multiply those out, you start to realize how many different permutations are possible in this system .

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: It takes a very long time and a lot of study to really come to understand what all those things mean. 

SUSIE: Yeah, and is that something that … So, this is something that you might do as a priest, correct? 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

SUSIE: And did you internalize all of those 256, 257 signs or was it, is it an ongoing study? How does that work for you? 

ANDREW: There's no end to the study. [laughing]

SUSIE: Right. [laughing]

ANDREW: Like hermeticism. When do you know enough? 

SUSIE: Oh, you never know enough. No no no … [laughing] Right. Okay. Well that's really helpful in terms of getting into the card. Are there any other majors that you'd kind of like to draw attention to before we look at minors? 

ANDREW: No, I'm happy to take your lead.

SUSIE: Great. And honestly I would like to go through every single card in the deck, and I was having a lot of trouble sort of singling out a few that might be interesting to talk about, but given our time constraints, we'll just focus on some. I was looking at … the Nine of Wands, we're kind of going in order here, Nine of Wands [static at [01:04:39] see in this card, it's so interesting, because as I understand it, from your story, this is a representation of Yamaya, or one of her avatars I guess …

ANDREW: Yeah.

SUSIE: And there's a shipwreck, or an underwater ship, and [static] got a knife, and the knife has clearly just been used. So, maybe you can tell us a little bit about that. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, one of the things that people … In making the deck, I wanted to disrupt people's preconceived notions, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Of certain things. You know, like people, it's common for people to say, yeah yeah yeah, if you want love, go and talk to Ochún. Right? And Ochún will help you find love. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: He might, it's possible, but sometimes [inaudible] Ochún in what context and so on and so on, right? But you know, Ochún also doesn't really dig people complaining very much, it's not a thing that she's really that into …

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So, depending on the attitude that you're feeling about this, Ochún might also be irritated by you approaching her about it, it's very hard to say. 

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: Which is why, you know, traditional practitioners divine, right? 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: Because the good answer is, in traditional divination, any Orisha that offers to help you with a problem can help you with that problem. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: Whether we sort of generally associate that with being their purview or not, doesn't really matter, because if they say they're gonna help, they're gonna help, and you just say thank you, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And, so when we think about Yamaya, people think about Yamaya as a sort of loving mother energy, as a sort of always supportive energy, right? You know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: We really sometimes people are sent to work with her when they need sort of grounding and stabilizing of emotions …

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: But, you know, Yamaya also has many roads and many avatars, right? So we're talking about, you know, Obu Okotu, it's not gentle, she's really a lot more like a shark, right? 

SUSIE: mm-hmm.

And so, you know, the idea, the thing that people often say, is that when the ship wrecks, she grabs the sailors and takes them down to their fate, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And so there's this real sort of show of strength and power with her that isn't what we would normally associate with it, but which is 100 percent a part of her personality, or at least her personality on that path, right? 

SUSIE: Right. And I actually thought that this was … You know, the more I thought about it, the more it tied to my own understanding of this card. I mean when I think of the Nine of Wands, I think of someone who has been derived their strength from the vicissitudes of life, from the experiences of having suffered and having learned. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SUSIE: And I think that … I also think of it as a very lunar card, so that made it kind of feel familiar to me as well. But also, the fact that power has a personality and ruthlessness to it, as well. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I mean the Nine of Wands often turns up to speak of people who are strong clear incredibly competent, and sometimes hard for other people to relate to because of those things, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah. They've been through a lot. 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. 

SUSIE: Yeah. Okay. Fascinating. And plus, it's just beautiful. You see the body of Yamaya, but at first you may not even recognize that it's a human form because of the blue on blue, it's a very underwater card. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Looking at -- Oh, you know, one of my favorite cards of all is your Ten of Cups. And, which I did receive this week, once, and what I love about it is the story that goes along with it. So maybe you could talk about that a little bit. 

Sure. So when we were talking earlier in the podcast about picking your Ore or picking your destiny, right? This card represents that process, right? 

SUSIE: mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, when everybody's hanging out in Orun, up on the other side, you know where we're all spirits, eventually, people for whatever reasons decide it's time to come back to earth. You know, decide it's time to come back down here, you know, to the marketplace, to hang out and party, to fulfill something they haven't fulfilled, whatever it may be. And when they make that decision, they go, as my elders described it, you go down the hall to this room where Adela, who is the Orisha who crafts these destinies, as a series of sealed gourds …

SUSIE: And that's the picture that we see on the card, we see Ajala with the gourds. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean I think of it more as a person choosing their destiny.

SUSIE: Oh, I see!

ANDREW: But maybe. 

SUSIE: Could be. 

ANDREW: Adula, as far as I know, I've never come across any personifications of them …

SUSIE: So this, so in your mind, this was the soul choosing which one.

ANDREW: But, and we don't have a sort of super clear sense of karma or carry over from one life to another. It's not really … it's a mystery that we acknowledge that we don't fully understand, right? So you go into a room full of sealed gourds, and you pick something, and you really don't know, it could be horrible, right? It could be great, whatever. But if you've been good friends with Elegua, you know, and you've kind of kept good faith with him, maybe you reach out for something and he gives a little cough and says hey, not that one.

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: Don't take that one. Right? 

SUSIE: And I love this that you have this little sketch of Elegua under the table, you know, very quiet. Very subtle. Yeah. [laughing] Just giving you a hint. 

ANDREW: Yeah. So once you pick your destiny, you go back and see your creator, and then your soul goes into a body. 

SUSIE: And you can see in the background of the card, you can see the outline of the Earth, so this idea that you're outside the material realm at that moment, choosing your fate, yeah, mm-hmm. I think that's just really beautiful. And I think it's quite relatable to, you know, in a traditional sense to the Ten of Cups, which I at least think of as the end of a cycle, you know, I often think of it as the end of the complete sequence of minors in some ways, because if you go through correspondences it immediately precedes the Two of Wands. But there's also this feeling, you know when you see the family on the Rider-Waite-Smith Ten of Cups, of this sort of being, they're taking a bow. This destiny is finished! And we're looking towards the next. 

ANDREW: People … the belief is that people tend to reincarnate along family lines, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: So you're returning to that family.

SUSIE: Right. So there's definitely a feeling of kindred. There. Speaking of which--

ANDREW: Go ahead.

SUSIE: Yeah, I was just going to look at the Eight of Cups as well, because I think that that one is a little … It may not be as obvious to people when they look at it, what the relationship is to the Eight of Cups we know and love.

ANDREW: mm-hmm. Yeah, so, in the Eight of Cups I chose to represent sort of all of the ancestral traditions, or pieces that get practiced. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, in the background there's this sort of, you know, boveda practice, or spiritism practice, represented by cups or the cup with the cross in it. In the front, the practice of feeding the ancestors, and sharing with them as part of the Egun practice and the stick that we use when we're praying to the Egun, and then there's this other sort of abstract shape which is Inifa. There's this tile that's made, that goes where people worship their ancestors to help balanced that energy. The Eight of Cups is, you know, it's a card where … It can deal with loss, it can deal with lack of direction, with being stuck, and one of the places that we point people often, and especially for people who are beginning to find their way in these traditions, is to go and sort out their stuff with their Egun, right? And sort out their stuff with their ancestors, to take care of those spirits and start building a relationship with that. Because one of the things is, if we don't have a good foundation with those ancestors, they can block everything else that we're doing, even the Orishas. You know, there can be times when the Egun won't allow anything to happen because they need something, or they want something. 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: So this is a card where we sort of run into that energy that can sort of, that can lead to open the roads, but often isn't where people want to start because, you know, lots of people, well, lots of people have issues with their ancestors, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: [crosstalking [01:14:15] Yeah, and I thought it was interesting -- So, the sort of central element in the card is a tree, and it made me sort of think of the family tree, the connections with those who came before and those who will come after you. Before the tree is the offering. And, so, you know, to me, now that you explain it, I can see the relationship with what I know as the Eight of Cups, the idea that in your darkest moments, where do you turn? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. Absolutely, right? 

ANDREW: Yeah. And what drives you from that moment? What brought you to that moment and what brings you out of it? 

SUSIE: Uh huh.

ANDREW: And, you know, I think that that card, even though we normally see it as a person turning away, and walking away from something, or walking toward something, it's ambiguous, I think that there's a real sense of passing between realms. 

SUSIE: Absolutely, yeah. 

ANDREW: And I think that that makes a lot of sense as far as this … the symbolic representations that you have on the card go. Yeah. Okay, so, swords -- Oh, you know, I think that, I was talking with a friend about your Three of Swords because I thought that it was such a powerful story, and the Three of Swords is a card that, I think it's really important for people to get to know and face better, because, in, you know, for example in Rider-Waite-Smith you have those three swords piercing a heart, and it's such a, you know, viscerally striking image that sometimes, people almost don't want to engage with it, in any kind of detail …

SUSIE: For sure. 

ANDREW: So I think it's really helpful that there's not just a sorrowful story attached to it in your deck, but one that has complexity, that has nuance, that has human psychology that you can dig into. So, the card itself is, rather than showing three swords, we have instead the figure in the front, who is Ochosi, and then Ochosi the Hunter, and then you see the figure in the background, and would you tell a little bit of that story? 

SUSIE: Sure. So, Ochosi is a hunter, and Ochosi is known for being just. And Ochosi is like the letter of the law, no exceptions, no mercy kind of justice. So, if people, you know, need justice, and they go to Ochosi, you 100 percent better be in the right, because Ochosi will, you know, let the blame fall where it needs to fall, and if that's partly on you, be aware of that before you approach it. Right? 

Right. And there are several concepts of justice within the tradition as well, which I think you mention on your Justice card. 

SUSIE: For sure, right? 

ANDREW: So one day Ofun, one of the aspects of the Creator, asked Ochosi to go and catch this bird. And being a masterful hunter, Ochosi went and did that. And brought it home and left it in a little cage before he was going to take it down. And his mother, Yamaya, came out and seeing the bird, assumed it was for dinner, and you know, killed it, plucked it, and started cooking it. And then when Ochosi came home, he saw that the bird was gone, and he was angry because it had been so hard to get his hands on, right? It was a rare and hard to find bird. And so he obviously wanted to please the Creator, so he went out and pursued another one and caught it and brought it, and Olofin was so pleased that he said that he would grant him whatever wish he had. And Ochosi said that he wanted to have his arrow be cursed such that whoever had stolen this bird would be struck down by it wherever they were. Olofin agreed, and Ochosi fired his arrow over the forest, and of course it struck down and killed his mother. And the Orishas, the Orishas are not people, and she later gets brought back to life and so on, but you know it's that lesson on our nature, and the way in which our nature and our insistence on certain things can cause us tremendous unseen suffering, you know, and I think that that Three of Swords is a card where, not that inflexibility is the only cause of suffering, but it's certainly a common cause of suffering, because the actual point that, the issue that caused the suffering, is usually over at the point where I see the Three of Swords, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: Usually done. And it's how we feel about it and what do we do about it? Do we double down on it? Do we commit to it, do we wallow in it? Do we live afraid forever? You know it's all those kinds of questions and energies. 

SUSIE: Yeah. I think -- I absolutely agree. I think that with the Three of Swords, there's this feeling that it's the thing that you realize that you now cannot unrealize. It's the thing you see and can't unsee. And how you deal with that is really important. Because you try to deny it. You're in for a world of consequences, right? 

Yeah, yeah. It's occurred, we're being somewhat Buddhist about it, you know? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: Well, attachment isn't helping me here. How do I become unattached to this outcome? 

SUSIE: Right. And I think it's really important too that the moment in the story that you chose to represent. Because we're looking at Ochosi with his back to us, it's not before he's done it, it's not the moment when he's possessed by wrath and deciding that his arrow must be cursed, it's the moment where he realizes what he's done.

ANDREW: Exactly, exactly. 

SUSIE: And he sees the figure of his mother through the trees there. Yeah. It's incredibly powerful and, I think, really really resonant. You don't need to see three arrows to understand the pain of this story. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: Yeah. Okay, and I guess one other minor I'd like to talk about is the Two of Disks. It's interesting, I actually went to the Two of Disks as one of the first cards, because I wondered if you'd sign it, because I know that that's a Marseilles tradition, but your signature is in fact on the Ace of Wands. 

ANDREW: yeah.

SUSIE: Yeah. Which, I guess has to do with your connection with Shango. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. But the Two of Disks is interesting to me, because, you know, in the Rider Waite Smith, you see the person juggling the two pentacles, which has always struck me as a fairly static representation of the idea of change that goes with this card, so what was the nature of the change that you were representing in your Two of Disks? 

ANDREW: So, in the story of the Two of Disks, there was this person named Mewa, who was responsible for this town. And Mewa was a powerful magician, and they kept all the negative things in the world locked away through the power of their magic. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Death, sickness, all of these things. They kept them locked in boxes and cauldrons and things in the back of their house, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: And because they spent so much time around these energies, and because they were kind of mysterious, people didn't really like Mewa that much. And they kind of feared him and were suspicious of him. And one day, this new person came to town named Ejiogbe. And Neogbe was young and vibrant and full of life and fun and the life of the party and all of these kinds of things, and, so, over time, the people decided that they wanted Neogbe as their leader instead of Mewa. And instead of dealing with it in a direct manner, they decided to cheat Mewa out of their rulership. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So they got Neogbe to challenge Mewa to cut down these trees with machetes, and when they gave the machetes out they had blunted the one for Mewa. So of course Neogbe wins in no time, and Mewa immediately realizes what has been done. 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: As soon as he puts down his machete he's like, Oh, you people have done this, now I see what's going on. And, so Mewa says, okay, if you really want Neogbe to be your leader, okay, here you are. And I'm also going to release everything that I've been holding for all of these years. You can have them. And so Death and sickness and loss and gossip and all of the negativities were released that day. And then as their final curse on the world, Mewa said, and on top of all these things, I'm also going to curse you with money, so you can fight about what everything is worth. And so he unleashed that as well and then left. And so the card shows the trees with the machetes, and then the sort of smoke as the unleashing of all of these energies into the world, into people's lives. 

SUSIE: Yeah. Yeah, I think that's a wild story. And I think, often when we see the Two of Disks, we receive it as a pretty -- it's often visually represented as a pretty positive card -- but I think as people, we often are very fearful of change. You know, change itself is not something that most of us advocate for, really. You know, we don't want to live in interesting times. And I also think that the idea to … that this story contains about the invention of money seems so appropriate for the Two of Disks. 

ANDREW: Well, I think of the Two of Disks as being, you know, I often associate it with being like a ship riding the waves on the sea, right? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: It's dynamic and there's movement and there might be calm one day and wavy another, and the question is not only how do we deal with what's immediately in front of us, but how do we continue to navigate the ups and downs of life as we move forward? 

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, the juggler is perhaps static, the juggling is incredibly dynamic, being tossed up and down in the air, how do we roll with that and manage our capacity to roll with that, so that we can get ahead in life and weather those storms, and overcome those things? 

SUSIE: Right, and from a kind of hermetic point of view, you know, the Two of Disks is associated with Jupiter ruling the first decat of Capricorn, Jupiter of course being represented in Golden Dawn-related decks as the Wheel of Fortune, and this is about riding Fortune up, down, wherever it takes you. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SUSIE: Yeah yeah yeah.

ANDREW: If you're lucky, or if you're wise, you get some of that potential Capricorn consistent solid work in there. 

SUSIE: Well, exactly, it's you know Saturn versus Jupiter! Right, you know? [laughing] It's the engines that, the compression and expansion that drive the engines of change. Yeah.

ANDREW: [crosstalking 01:26:11] 

SUSIE: Yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. So, so I guess, one, before we go on to talking about the spread you included, which I'm really interested in, I wanted to know how your relationship with Shango may or may not have influenced his representation in your deck. Did you communicate? Did you ask, did you? In what way did your own personal relationship with the Orisha make, guide, your artistic decisions? 

ANDREW: Well … [laughing] if you ask any child of Shango, they'll tell you it's great to be a child of Shango. 

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: Let's put it at that. I like being a child of Shango, Shango is great. But Shango is also generally pretty easy going. Shango as an Orisha is like the life of the party and really, if you give him some food and maybe a glass of wine he's probably pretty happy. The Orisha who was the most challenging, and that I felt the most interaction with when making this deck was Ochún. 

SUSIE: Mmm!

ANDREW: I drew, I must have drawn a dozen different cards with Ochún in it, and: "No, that's not what I look like."

SUSIE: Wow. 

ANDREW: That’s like, I mean it wasn't that verbal, but I could just feel this sense of like, No. All right, delete, try again. So, just to sort of go over this for people who aren’t' familiar with the Orishas. So is it correct that Ochún is an Orisha of love, that she's one of the primary Orisha, that she's associated with I think the color yellow, that she, that people go to her for as something of a Venus figure, I guess. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I guess that is definitely sort of popular culture true. I mean, Ochún is ultimately kind of a mystery. And nobody knows Ochún but Ochún. They say that she cries when she's happy, she laughs when she's angry, and that we can never really know or understand what is going on with Ochún because she is fundamentally a mystery. 

SUSIE: And she is associated with rivers, is that right? 

ANDREW: Yeah, she's often associated with the river. 

SUSIE: Sweet waters? Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: Yeah, it depends on who she is in this path. My path of Ochún, Ibokolay, is associated with the vulture.

SUSIE: Right. 

ANDREW: And other things. They're many different permutations. My elder Willie Ramos has a great book on the path of Ochún which you can get online and places like that.

SUSIE: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And it talks all about the different paths of Ochún’s and what they're like and so on, and it's tremendously eye-opening, because love is one piece of it, but it's definitely not her primary attribute. You know? 

SUSIE: Got you. Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: Between her and Shango they both represent different aspects of the joy of being alive. 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: But Ochún can also be that bitterness of life as well. 

SUSIE: Yeah, I think, I was fascinated by your choice to show her, I think in the Judgement card, where you see the peacock transforming into the vulture as it's burnt by the rays of the sun. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

SUSIE: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So you were saying she's the one that you struggled with the most to depict? 

ANDREW: Yeah. She was going to be in a number of other places, and I felt like she didn't want to, or she didn't like the art that I made, or whatever. And so, so she was there, she's where she is, but she's not in nearly as many cards as I thought she might originally be, wasn't happy with some of the stories I was telling. And there are a couple of the stories that are maybe not as favorable to Ochún, and the feeling that I had was just don't tell those stories. 

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: And I was like, okay, people get involved in the tradition and they'll find out a thing or two. 

SUSIE: Yeah. Yes. Mm-hmm. Fantastic. So, you include a spread at the back, a four-card spread. Can you tell us about the creation of that spread? 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, I love making up spreads. I do a lot of creative spreads. And you know, I really wanted to sort of try and create a spread that gave people an understanding of some of the, I don't know almost like the philosophical ramifications of living a life with advice from the Orishas. Right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, or living a life based on some of these philosophies and so on. Right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: So the four cards are, you know, there's Iray, right, there's the blessings, right? 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: Good is going to come from going down this road, whatever question you're asking. Osobo, negativity, what are the obstacles that are going on here? Ashay, which is the energy of the universe and it really kind of talks about, in this context, what are the things that you've got going for you? What's on your side? What's going to really show up and help you here? And then the fourth one is free will, right? Because we can get all the good advice and have all the spirits behind us we want and still not do anything, right? 

SUSIE: Exactly, exactly.

ANDREW: And then the idea is once you've … Once you've put all these down, if you know, total them up and do a little math and reduce it down to a trump card and put that in the middle, as sort of the outcome of what …

SUSIE: Ohhh, okay. So you did some numerology you're including in there. Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: [crosstalking] Right? You know, and so you just add those up, and then that gives you an idea of what the outcome is, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: The idea is that, you know, all of these cards have a story with each other. Because what does the middle card look like with the negativity? What does it look like with the positivity? What does it add to the conversation about free will, right? 

SUSIE: Exactly. So in first and second positions you have the blessings and the difficulties, and third and fourth you essentially have something representing fate and something representing free will. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SUSIE: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: [static] here a bit that it'll be interesting to see how people deal with it, is, if in the blessings card you get something that has nothing to do with what you actually want from the situation …

SUSIE: [laughing]

ANDREW: Stop, right, don't continue.

SUSIE: Right, right. 

ANDREW: There's this notion --

SUSIE: Or you get Rubeus in geomancy as your first thing you get … [laughing]

ANDREW: Forget it, you're done. Not today, don't bother. Right? That's the point, to have these clear markers that just say to you, hey, this is not going where you want to go, right? 

SUSIE: yeah. Yeah. 

ANDREW: It's hard, right? Because it's hard to feel like we're giving up free will and all that kind of stuff. 

SUSIE: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. Okay. And have you been reading with the deck since you got your copy? Have you been doing your own sort of drawings for yourself with it? 

ANDREW: I have been doing that, yep. It's been interesting. It's really interesting to … It's a completely different experience to read with a deck that you know completely, right? 

SUSIE: yes! I should think so! yeah, yeah. So what surprised you about that? 

ANDREW: I mean, it really … I fancy myself a little bit of a storyteller. And this really facilitates that process, for me. There's a lot of storytelling that I can easily slide into with this. And a lot of storying that isn't just sort of abstracted stories from other people or stories from my personal life, but that there's a body of material that I have to speak from. That I don't necessarily bring into my other reading practices, but shows up, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah. But what I'm really interested is how, you know when you bring it to the context of the reading, whatever it is, the day ahead, or the question you're reading for, what happens? Do you find yourself kind of instantly going to the body of knowledge that you brought to the card, or is it easy to apply in a more practical way? 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, I'm with, one of the reasons why I read with Marseilles decks a lot is I'm with that whole sort of --

SUSIE: Open reading.

ANDREW: Body of people like you all have, Bendove, and Enrique, and you know, Emilia and others, where it's like I read what I see, right? 

SUSIE: Yeah.

ANDREW: So when I look at the cards, I mean I don't get out my book and read it. 

SUSIE: Right.

ANDREW: I just look at what I see, and I read those things. And then I allow that to trigger whatever needs to emerge from that process. I mean, generally speaking, I don't know that we have time to get into it today, but I'll make a separate thing about it sometime for the podcast, but my personal reading process is usually a really elaborate multideck process these days. 

SUSIE: Oh wow. [laughing]

ANDREW: I do it three times a week and I sit down and spend about an hour going through and looking at the cards and journaling and making art and it takes a long time for me. Because I'm allowing the cards to really just dictate that and show me where it's going. I'll share that somewhere else. 

SUSIE: Yeah. I mean, I was going to say, since you mentioned this elaborate reading and we're actually almost out of time, I was wondering if you'd like to do either I do or you do a one card reading to kind of finish things off. 

ANDREW: Sure. Do you want to do a reading? 

SUSIE: Do you want me to read or do you want to read yourself? 

ANDREW: No, I want you to read it. 

SUSIE: You want me to read? Okay. All right. Do you have something that you would like to ask? 

ANDREW: I mean I guess … let's ask about the deck, how the launch of the deck is going to go. 

SUSIE: Okay! All right. Okay, so I'm shuffling now, because I had to … I had things really sorted out so it was all ordered in sequence. So I know I have to really shuffle a bunch of times to get that sorted out. Okay. And by the way, I really love, I love the backs too. They're really striking red, black and white backs. The only problem is that I now know from the red, from the where patterns, whether it's going to come out reversed or upright. 

ANDREW: There you go. That's what you get for paying too much attention!

SUSIE: [laughing]Curse of the Virgo, I'm telling you. Okay. All right. So I'm just laying them out now and then … So the question was, how is the launch of the deck going to go, or maybe we should say, what you need to know about it. 

ANDREW: Sure. 

SUSIE: Okay. All right. Okay. This is the card that wants to come out. [laughing] So Andrew, I got the Five of Cups. 

ANDREW: Five of Cups? 

SUSIE: [laughing] So this is the story I think that you mentioned about … This is a story of a love triangle, as I understand it, and the idea that the Orisha you depicted in this card, whose name I can't recall off the top of my head …

ANDREW: [crosstalking/static at 01:38:20]

SUSIE: Was trying to look for ways to make her lover more attracted to her, and was given some poor advice. So, I guess, you know, when we look at Five of Cups, it's tempting to get pretty negative about it, and I think that's not necessarily something that we have to do. But I think that perhaps, in terms of something like the launching of your deck, that, you know, a couple of things. Number one, you're going to have to let go, in some sense, the reception of the deck, because it's no longer yours in some sense once it's out there. 

ANDREW: Also known as, don't read the comments. 

SUSIE: Exactly! [laughing] Right. And that can be, you know, cause for mourning in its own way, because you no longer control the reception or the interpretation, and it may, in some ways, feel like a loss. 

ANDREW: For sure.

SUSIE: You know but, I think the truth of any Five of Cups is that loss is, you know, although it may cause pain to you, it's also a gift to someone else. You know? it transforms. The sacrifice you make transforms into something else. And it's important to let that do its work in the world 

ANDREW: For sure. 

SUSIE: Yeah, yeah. You're like, Susie, why didn't you pick the Star? [laughing]

ANDREW: We release it into the world and see what happens, release it into the world and recognize the limits, you know, I think that the Five of Cups that one of the downfalls is you know what Crowley would have called the lust of results, right? 

SUSIE: Exactly, exactly. 

ANDREW: Overreaching and grabbing after things. 

SUSIE: That's right. Does not matter, need not be. Yeah. [crosstalking -1:40:40] You know, I've published a bunch of times myself, and it never turns out exactly the way you anticipate or hope.

ANDREW: For sure. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I'll be looking forward to seeing where it all ends up, so. 

SUSIE: Well, I think -- I have to say this has been a really fantastic deck to work with in the week that I've been working with it. Getting to know a little bit about the tradition has been an honor and a delight. And I really thank you for putting this out there in the world 

ANDREW: Well, and thank you for making time to spend time with the deck in advance of doing this interview, and for doing the interview today, and you know, people should definitely check out Susie and Mel's podcast, Fortune's Wheelhouse, and also Susie's new book, coming out this fall. 

SUSIE: Yep, you can find it, you can find anything to do with what I do at my brand new, spanking new fresh, freshly painted website, www.tsusanchang.com. Yeah. And the book, Tarot Correspondences is coming out in October, just around the corner. 

ANDREW: Perfect. And the Orisha deck is through … for sale through Llewellyn, probably through your local store, definitely through Amazon, and I've got them currently presale but they're arriving this week so they should start shipping this week. 

SUSIE: Yeah, preorders are going out aren't they? 

ANDREW: I'm -- Yeah, I'm just waiting for the final shipment to arrive next week, so. 

SUSIE: Fantastic! 

ANDREW: All right. Thanks, Susie!

SUSIE: Thanks, Andrew! Appreciate it!

EP86 Ancestral Healing and Medicine with Daniel Foor

August 18, 2018
00:0000:00

Daniel and Andrew talk about different ways of relating to the ancestors. Especially getting into how to help the ancestors evolve and make our lives better in the process. They also get into their relatinoships to the orisha and ways of thinking about practicing a tradition that you were not born into. 

Daniel can be found through his site here. His events are there too. 
Daniel's talk on practicing other peopels traditions is here

Andrew's upcoming Ancestral Magick Course can be found here

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the 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 joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

Transcription

ANDREW: Welcome to the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm hanging out today with Daniel Foor, and Daniel is a Ifá priest and has done all sorts of wonderful work along the lines of ancestral healing. And Ancestral Medicine is the name of the book that he has out. And he and I have a lot of similarities in practices and the kinds of things we're interested in, so, you know, lots of people have been suggesting I have him on for a while, and, and well, today's the day! So, welcome, Daniel! Thanks for being here! 

DANIEL: Thanks so much. It's good to be here. 

ANDREW: There are people who might not know who you are. Who are you? What are you about? 

DANIEL: Yeah, well, I ... to locate myself a bit, I'm a 40-year-old, white, cis-gendered American living in western North Carolina. From Ohio, originally, but traveled a good amount, but live in the States, and have a PhD in psychology. I'm a licensed therapist, so I have a background in mental health. 

But mostly I'm a ritualist, and I've been training with different kinds of teachers and traditions for over 20 years now, and started out with more shamanic pagan background with magical things, and migrated into involvement with Islam, and Sufism, Buddhist practice, and then circled back to involvement with indigenous systems and earth-honoring traditions. And in the last decade have been immersed in west African Ifá practice, lineages in the Americas and also in west Africa, and so I'm an initiate of Ifa, Obatala, and Oshun, and Egungun priesthood, [inaudible], and in the lineage of Oluwo Falolu Adesanya Awoyade, Ode Remo, in Ogun State. So I've been four times to Nigeria, and that's one influence on my practice. 

But mostly I teach and guide non-dogmatic, inclusive, animist ancestor-focused ritual practice. The last two years or so I have shifted to training others, which has been really satisfying after years of doing more public-facing ritual, I'm now ... I do some of that but mostly I'm training other people in how to guide the work. And I have developed a specialization in repair work with blood lineage ancestors. But I also operate from a broader animist or earth-honoring framework that isn't limited to just that. So. And I'm a dad, I'm a, you know, married, and love the earth here, and live in the American South, which is kind of strange, but also okay. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. That's awesome. 

DANIEL: Yeah.

ANDREW: So, I mean, I guess, my first question for you is, when did you start feeling the ancestral stuff calling you? 

DANIEL: Well, my own lineages are German, English, Irish, early settler colonialist to North America, and so I didn't inherit any religious or spiritual framework or culture that was of value to me in any conscious way as a young person. And so, my first teachers in shamanic practice, Bekki and Crow with the Church of Earth Healing, in the late 90s, nudged me to get to know my ancestors ritually. And it was really impactful, actually. I was surprised by it. I'd never thought about them really before that. And I ended up assisting with an older ancestral guide or teacher, my father's father who had taken his own life, and just showing up for that work, which was powerful. 

And it was a catalyst for me to research, do a lot of depth genealogy research about my own family history, and that dovetailed in with my training as a therapist, so I was in a period of connecting a lot of dots and valuing my own heritage, and, in a grounding way ... Not in like some awkward, go white people way, but in a way that helped me to reclaim what is beautiful about European, you know, northern western European cultures, and ... including earlier pre-Roman, pre-Christian magics and lineages. And so, I ran with that ritually. And have guided 120 maybe, multi-day, ancestor healing intensives since 2005 in that work, so I spent about six or seven years getting grounded with all of it myself. Then started to help other people with it. And it just organically developed as a specialization. And I tend to be a little obsessive about a thing, when I'm into it. I'll do that like crazy, until it's ... yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I think ... I mean, I think it's interesting how ... Cause I do a lot of ancestral work as well, you know ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: I do ancestral divination work and, you know, ancestral sort of healing and lineage healing and so on. 

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, I've been teaching it with my friend Carrie, we have this, we developed this system of people working with charm casting as a tool ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: To get into that work. And, you know, we've been traveling around and teaching it everywhere. We were in China last year teaching it, and stuff like that, with people ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: You know, I think that the thing that sort of stands out in your story, that I think stands out everywhere, is so often, like the last little bit, you know, the last few generations, it's kind of wonky, or like there's not a lot, there's not a lot of connection or living connection. Even, you know, it wasn't until last year that I found out that my grandmother read tea leaves when she was alive ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And she's been gone for like 12 years, and it just never came up before. She never talked about it, and my mom just never brought it up. Not for any particular reason but it just, it just was never a thing. Even though that's the same grandmother who bought me a tarot deck when I was like 13, long ago. 

DANIEL: Right. Of course she did. 

ANDREW: But I would have talked about it, right? But how ... Often when you kind of go back, you know, a few generations or somewhere a bit deeper, you know, there are these sort of more ... evolved isn't the word that I super like, but you know, like, more grounded, more helpful, you know, ancestors with a, with a sort of more capacity to be really guides and assist you in this process, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah, often. It ... Where those cut-offs happen varies so widely from one demographic or even one individual to another, and I know in a lot of my own lineages, it's been over 1,000 years since anyone during life had a culturally reinforced and supported framework for honoring the ancestors. And so the older ones, the ones even before that, are quite available. So it's not ... I mean I could ... reinforce some kind of orphan victim culturally-damaged white person narrative, but it's not that sexy or useful, and so at a certain point, you're just like, well, you pick up the pieces where they're at, and get the fire going again. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: And the older ancestors are happy to do that. And so even if someone comes from a really recently and before that culturally fragmented set of lineages, the ancestors are still available, the older ones, and the main repair orientation or practice that I encourage people to try on at first is to partner with those older ancestors and with them, assist any of the dead who are not yet well, any of the ones between those older ones and the present, who are not yet really well-seated, really vibrant. Help them to become well-seated ancestors. So the dead change. It's very important for us living folks to not fix them in some static condition. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: Just cause people were a pain in the ass or really, you know, culturally in the weeds during life doesn't mean they're doomed to that condition forever. They can really change and become, not only, like, not ghosty, but they can become dynamic, engaged, useful allies for cultural healing work in the present. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: So.

ANDREW: Yeah, I think it's, you know, it's a misconception that a lot of people have that they automatically change on crossing over.

DANIEL: Oh, sure, yeah, that's different. (laughing)

ANDREW: And then the other side of that is, you know, they can change, but it might take a bunch of work, even if they did change, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah, totally. Yeah, both, both are true. Yeah. The idea that just dying makes you wise and loving and kind is really hazardous actually, as a world view. So.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: Cause it'll lead to a view of ... I've seen it at times in pagan circles as well, where it's “Oh, the ancestors, ancestors are good, let's invoke them all. Okay, here are all the names of my ancestors, and the pictures, and let me light a candle and strongly invoke all of them.”

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: Well, I hope your invocation doesn't work.

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: Because if it does, you're going to get a mixed bag! Cause your people are, you know, if they're well, awesome, but if they're not yet well, and your invocation works, then what you have is some not yet well ghosty energy in your space. 

ANDREW: For sure, right? And some of those spirits can be pretty tumultuous, you know, if they're ...

DANIEL: Oh, no doubt. Yeah.

ANDREW: [crosstalking 09:53] here. I have one grandfather that I continue to work with who, sort of, work on, let's put it [laughing]. 

DANIEL: Right. 

ANDREW: It's been a long time and they're still not ready to be, you know, front and center in anything, cause they just, so caught up in so much deep, deep trauma in their own life and in their generations before them, and, you know.

DANIEL: One of, one of the things that I don't, I won't say it's unique to how I approach it, but it's emphasized in how I approach ancestor work, which isn't across the board, is I take a very lineage-based approach. Like I don't even really encourage, necessarily, relating with individual ancestors that much.

ANDREW: Hmm.

DANIEL: So in the case of someone, not to speak to your specific case necessarily, but let's say someone's grandmother is really quite entrenched in the unwell ghosty range of wellness. My strategy is to make sure that her mother and her mother and her mother and her mother and the lineage of women before them on back through time to the ancient weird witchy deity-like grandmothers, that that whole lineage is deeply well, and the repair happens from the older ones toward the present. And so, once you have the parent of the one who is quite troubled in a deeply well condition, and the whole lineage before them deeply well, as a group energy, asking them to intervene to address the rowdy ghosty grandparent tends to be ... It can ... Well, it can be more effective, simply because there's a re-anchoring of the rogue individuality in a bigger system, in a collective energy. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: And there's a respect for seniority or hierarchy, by having that person's elders be the ones to round them up.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: So, so that's. I shared that because in the West, generally, I find that people tend to conceive of ancestor reverence primarily as a relating of one individual to another individual, and, and some of the lineage or group level aspects of it can get lost, or they're not as emphasized. And so I find that's an important nuance to include, and then another is, and we've spoken to it, is just the way in which one's ancestors are not at all just the remembered dead, the ones, the recent ones, but they include ... The vast majority of them are living before remembered names. And that's helpful for people who are like, my family are abusive trolls. I'm like, okay, I believe you, but I think what you mean to say is all the generations you know about, which is probably not more than two or three.

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: And so, it's like, you're at the ocean, at a windy, cloudy day, and you're saying, “Oh, the ocean is tumultuous,” well, I believe it is, right there at the beach. But the ocean's a big place, yeah. So expanding our frame for who we mean when we say ancestor is gonna be helpful too.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. For sure. Yeah, and there's lots of times when, you know, we'll make offerings or do work with all of those ancestors, right? With the Egun, right, with everybody? Right?

DANIEL: Yeah. 

ANDREW: You know? And in those ways and so on, right? Yeah, yeah, I mean it's interesting how ... It'd really be interesting to make sure that you're looking at those things. And some of my, some of my best ancestral allies have been gone, you know, three, four hundred years, right? 

DANIEL: For sure.

ANDREW: Or longer. 

DANIEL: Yeah, totally, yeah.

ANDREW: They arrive, and they're just like, “Yes! You're the beacon of light amongst all of these things, and let's radiate that out to everybody afterwards and anchor further and deeper,” right? 

DANIEL: Yeah. For sure.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. So, when you're doing work with people, are you mostly focused on ... you know, because a lot of people come to ancestor work because they want to get messages and receive stuff and do ...

DANIEL: Right.

ANDREW: ...[inaudible at 13:59] kind of stuff, right? I mean, I think that that can be fruitful, too, I enjoy that kind of work as well, but that's not really what we're talking about here either, right? I mean not explicitly, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah. If we say like, what's the point? It can ... There are a lot of different motivations that can drive someone to want to engage their ancestors. The most common one is, “I'm suffering, will this help?” 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: That's legit. Sometimes it will help indirectly. Sometimes it will help directly because the source of the suffering is unmetabolized intergenerational trouble that's directly connected to ancestral interference, and so sometimes it, you know, it can help in different ways. 

Another motivator for the work is seeking life guidance, cause the ancestors have insight into our unique destiny, and can help us to move into closer alignment with that, you know, our unique instructions or soul level work in the world. 

As you know, in Yoruba culture, we sometimes talk about the world as the marketplace and Orun or the spirit world as home, and, and so if you forget your shopping list, working with the ancestors can be like, “Let us show you, you said this, this, this, and this,” and be like, “Oh, yeah, okay, thanks,” and so that's helpful to not waste our lives. 

And ancestors can be great for being a resource to parents or supporters in family, like they're especially good with all the family sphere, the domestic sphere, like being a responsible family human. And they're also good allies for cultural healing. A lot of the racism and colonialism and sexism and other kinds of cultural toxicity and garbage and bad capitalism that we're stewed in and trying to get out from underneath and help transform ... Those are ancestor, those are troubles created by the ancestors. Like, they're implicated in the trouble. And so they have, appropriately, a hand in resolving the trouble as well. 

And so they're great allies, by whatever form, activism, cultural change, all that. And so I really think that working closely with one's ancestors helps cultural change-makers to up their game, so to speak. So that's another motivation. 

And this is, I guess it's related to the one about destiny, but, inspired a bit from the Yoruba frameworks. The collective energy or wisdom of the ancestors is associated strongly with the Earth. Like the onile, the earth is like the calabash that holds the souls of the dead. And because the Earth is associated with accountability and, you know, moral authority, and is the witness through of all interactions, in that way also the ancestors carry that same quality of accountability.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: And I think whether or not people can consciously own it, some part of us craves accountability. Like we want to be seen and checked when needed.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: There's something really like ... our daughter almost made it to the top of the steps. Like, the door was open the other day. She's nine months old. But we caught her. It was good. It was way better than had we not held her in that moment. 

ANDREW: Right.

DANIEL: And there's a way in which that kind of love and connectivity is like, “Oh, I'm not alone in the universe.” 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: If I crawl to the top of the steps, someone will pick me up. So we want that, and the ancestors bring that, as well, when we live with them. 

ANDREW: I think it's a, I think it's a thing that, especially, you know, in my experience, people, in Western culture, struggle with too, right? This sort of willingness to acknowledge an authority or an awareness or a position that's sort of above them in a way that they can allow in to say, “You know what, actually, we do know what's better for you in this moment.” 

DANIEL: [laughing] Oh, yeah, it's-

ANDREW: You what, my friends, you know, going down that road has nothing to do with your destiny, or what have you, right? 

DANIEL: Oh, yeah! [laughing]

ANDREW: Here's your fault in this mess that you're trying to put on this other person, right? 

DANIEL: Oh, yeah, no, people, look, I'm a teacher, also, and so often it's great and fine, and sometimes people are idealizing in awkward ways, and like, oh, don't do that, don't do that. But, but just whatever, fine, it's fine, it tends to burn out and even out. And also sometimes people are really just not okay with anything resembling a power differential or a student teacher relationship. 

ANDREW: Right.

DANIEL: And it's ... It's tiring a little, as a teacher. Because there is a difference between telling someone just what to do in an authoritative way, and also saying, like, “Well, do you want to learn a thing? Because I know this skill. Like, what do you ... do you want to tell me how it goes, cause ... ?” So, so yeah, it is ... I think it's a function of power so often being abused, that people understandably have mistrust. 

ANDREW: Yup! 

DANIEL: Yeah. So I have compassion for it, and also the piece around hierarchy and authority is really, is challenging. In the coming months, some dear friends are going to Nigeria to do initiations and I was talking to them last night, and I was like, in the nicest possible way, “Really, your main job as the initiate is to obey.”

ANDREW: Yes.

DANIEL: Just to, like, the ritual is done to you, nobody really cares what you think about it. And it's totally fine. 

ANDREW: Stand here, stand there, [crosstalking 19:59].

DANIEL: Right! Yeah, totally, sit down, drink it, sit, eat it, say thank you. Like ...

ANDREW: Yeah. 

DANIEL: Yeah. Like you're the thing being consecrated. Your input is not needed. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: Nothing personal. Next time you go back, then you can have an opinion. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And even then--

DANIEL: And even then, so you get one small vote. [laughing] Yeah. 

ANDREW: No, for sure. Yeah, let's see what people who ... I mean come for readings of all kinds, but you know, people who approach, you know, getting dillogun readings and stuff like that, and you know, the Orishas come through, and they're like, “Oh, you know what? Don't drink this year, don't, you know, whatever. Don't get tattooed. Don't, you know, no, no red beans for you.” They're like, “Well, what do you mean? I don't understand.” It's like, “Well...” [crosstalking 20:52]

DANIEL: Obey! [laughing]

ANDREW: What is the understanding? I mean, in a lot of that situation ... in some of those situations, the understanding is more obvious, right? 

DANIEL: Right.

ANDREW: I had a conversation with a person who'd say, “Well, it seems like you kind of have this kind of challenge, and this is kind of the thing that might counter that,” and they're like, “Okay, yeah, maybe.” But other times it's just energetic or on other levels that it's just like, you know, it's kind of the ... It's an equivalent of saying “Hey, carry this citrine with you for the next year, it's going to help your energy,” but it's in a different structure that people don't relate to in the same way, right? 

DANIEL: For sure, yeah. 

ANDREW: And then they're like, “But, but, I don't want to be told what to do!” I'm like, “What else are you gonna do?”

DANIEL: You just paid me to do that. 

ANDREW: Yeah, you asked, right? 

DANIEL: [laughing]

ANDREW: You didn't have to, I wouldn't worry about it ...

DANIEL: But some part of us does, some part of us really, I think wants to be told what to do. And that could go awry, and I'm not saying it's an entirely healthy impulse, but there's something about accountability and structure and community and limits, that's actually really intimate.

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: And if you can't hear and accept “no,” your “yes” is meaningless. 

ANDREW: Mm.

DANIEL: And so there's something that's precious and sweet about protocol and tradition and about structure. 

ANDREW: I also think that a lot of people don't really ... Faith is a really complicated and difficult thing for a lot of people too, you know? 

DANIEL: Mm. 

ANDREW: And especially when entering a new tradition, you know? And, and I think that part of what we're talking about here is also a matter of faith, right? What is your faith in the ancestors or the Orisha or whatever, and how, how do you sustain that faith through being deeply challenged by all that stuff? 

DANIEL: Yeah, and for me, look, I was involved with different Orisha teachers in the States, American, for the most part, and ... it didn't work out that well, for the most part. I mean, complicated. But I ... I felt like there was a lot of restrictive and unhealthy and kind of confused energy around it. And I had an opportunity to go to Nigeria to reset some of the initiation-like things that had happened here, so I took a risk on it, and I'm like, “Well, this is either gonna be like the final straw, or some breakthrough,” like, “let's pray for the latter.” And I saw kind of a non-dogmatic group community like, in my Ifá initiation, there were men aged like 80 to five, holding space. Like, and 20, 30 people there. And people were teasing each other, playing, and having a good time. Like the people were well human beings, they seemed happy. And so that relaxed, teasing heart aware energy. I'm like, “Oh, good, this is what I was looking for.” And it helped ... For me, it helped me to trust, and just not fight the system. I'm like, “Just tell me what to do.” Just okay, “eat the pig dung,” okay, “Leave me a bite,” or whatever. Whatever it is. Just tell me what to do. So. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

DANIEL: Yeah, it's great. 

ANDREW: I used to, you know, get some people who would bring their, you know, like, elderly, Cuban elders to the store. You know? And pick up stuff.

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: You know, they're here in Toronto to do a thing, and they'd bring this person to the store, right? And you know my Spanish is not great [laughing] and their English was not great, and we'd like, know some like, Yoruban words in common or whatever. And you would see how sweet and genuine and nice they were. And then they'd notice that like, you know, I've got plants growing at the front of the store for working with religion, and they'd be like, “oh, alamo,” I'd be like, “yeah, yeah,” and we'd have this like sort of pidgin conversation and a bunch of other things, and mostly what it would be is our hearts being opened, all this sharing of our love of this religion and these spirits ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And the continuity of that. And it was such a beautiful and uplifting experience, even though there wasn't a lot of words that were associated with it. There was just so much communication happening at other levels, and you could, you know, I could feel my Shango just being happy about it, you know, be like whoever there, too, just being happy about it, and so on. You know? It's so uplifting in that way, right? But ...

DANIEL: That's good. It's one of the things in, you know, we had mentioned in our previous chat about my talk on practicing the traditions of other people's ancestors. And--

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: I respect it a lot about the necessary and important dialogues around cultural appropriation, and especially, not only, but especially around respecting different Native North American or First Nations, as you say, traditions, and being mindful of what the conditions of involvement, if that's open, to non-Native people are, etc., and what's important to understand is those same parameters are not universal, and how cultures are shared and understood from one part of the world to another really vary. 

And Yoruba culture, for example, is generally an open system. Yoruba people in my experience, in Yorubaland, have never had anyone feel off about me being there and training in Orisha, except for the Christians, who were like, “Why don't you want Jesu?” I'm like, “We have Jesu where I'm at,” it's like, “It's fine, like, go Jesu!” but it's not why I'm here. And one of the things that is important though, is, it's family, like you're stepping into a family, a spiritual family. It's not like a “Hey bro, thanks for the culture, now I'm gonna go back and set up shop, I got what I need.” There's a ... And so when your teachers hit you up for money, it's family. That's what like, you can't be part of a family and have a bunch of stuff, and then other people don't have something, and you don't share it. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: And so it's ... It's not like you're getting exploited. I mean, that also happens. But just the ethic of sharing and supporting one another. If people don't want that, then they might not want to get involved. because most indigenous systems that I know of that are open to people not of that blood ancestry hold things in a family-oriented way. There's intimacy with that, but there's also connectivity, reciprocity, accountability. Yeah. 

ANDREW: And, you know, so, you know, my immediate family where I was initiated lives in the Detroit area, and my, you know, my elders are in Miami, you know, and like, but like, especially when the Detroit folks are doing work, you know, especially bigger things like making priests, you know, I always show up, like, you know, it's like you, when they're doing the work, and you're like, “Oh, it's so inconvenient for me to take four or five days off and go down there and help out, right?” And it's like, yeah, it's inconvenient, and you know, it's time off work, and it's whatever, but it's what those people did for me, right? And it's what allows all of that to continue, and it's a chance to, you know, to also sustain those connections, and you know, sing together, and sit and joke together, and, you know, complain about handling the ... cleaning up after the animals together, and whatever, it's just part of it, right? Like ...

DANIEL: Right.

ANDREW: And in the absence of being willing to engage that community element of it, right? It's pretty ... If you don't have the community element in one way or another, especially in the Orisha tradition, you don't really have much of anything, you know? 

DANIEL: It's true, with the tradition, it in my experience is very communal, and there are a lot of ritual domains of activity you just can't pull off solo. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

DANIEL: And it's just that, you know, it's a lot of hard work, it's heavy lifting. And for people who have worked with psychoactives, there's a certain kind of feeling among the group after a long, successful, like all night acid trip, when the sun's coming up, you're sort of like, “Oh, we've just gone through something together.” 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: And, and, minus the LSD, there can be a sense after a multi-day ritual of a strong sense of magic and beauty and intimacy that's shared through all the effort and all the devotion ... 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: That it takes to keep old lineages of practice alive. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: Yeah. 

ANDREW: For sure. And I think it's, I mean, one of the other points that I think was super important ... It's been a while since I listened to that talk and we'll link to it in the show notes, cause it was a good talk. Folks should go back and listen to it. You know, is also the fact that these are living traditions, right? They have continuity.

DANIEL: Yeah.

ANDREW: And, you know, but there's a big difference between, hey, we're gonna call up some Greek deities and see what happens, you know, and, like, or you know, see what happens sounds dismissive, I don't mean it in that way. And you know, there's nobody, there's no continuity to ancient Greece, in that particular way, versus there are people who've been practicing these traditions from person to person to person, all the way through until now, and you can actually go and ask those people and they can answer you as to what's done and how it's done and why it's done.

DANIEL: Yeah. No, it's true. People don't ... If they don't know something, would be in the habit of divining on it, but I wouldn't want someone to, like, not go to flight school and then divine on how to fly the plane. [crosstalking] Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah. There's that great proverb, which I'm sure you know, which is “Don't ask what you already know,” right? 

DANIEL: Right.

ANDREW: And I think that there's a sort of choleric glory to that which is, you know, there are things you just shouldn't ask, cause you should already know them, right? 

DANIEL: Right.

ANDREW: You don't need to ask if we do this thing because we know we don't. You know?

DANIEL: Yeah. 

ANDREW: We know that Oshun won't take this as an offering. We know that we don't do this kind of thing. We know that, like, you know, you don't ask if you could rob a bank cause the answer's already no. You know?

DANIEL: Right. And there's a beautiful essay [inaudible 31:07] by Ologo Magiev [31:09], a child being asked to divine, and their parents died young and so they didn't get the information. And so they invoke their ancestors, and bring a lot of humility, and wing it, and it turns out fine. And, and I think there's also this kind of an implicit message, “And don't do that again. Don't pull that card too many times.” 

ANDREW: Right? 

DANIEL: [laughing] Then go train!

ANDREW: For sure, right? 

DANIEL: So, it's both. The deities have kindness, and benevolence, and also, careful!

ANDREW: Yeah. And, you know, I was traveling, and I got a call that a friend of mine was like at death's door in the hospital, basically, right? And, you know, and I was just literally at a rest stop getting, gassing up the car when I checked my phone in the middle of New York State, right? 

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: And I was just like, all right. And so I went and, you know, kind of looked around for some stuff, and it's like, there's nothing, like I can't, there's nothing I could really sort of put together here, so I just collected a bunch of white flowers and, you know, it's really hilly, right, so I just took them to a spot that I thought was appropriate for Obatala ...

DANIEL: Mm-hmm. 

ANDREW: And I was like, Obatala, this is all I have today. I'm here, it's this situation, and I need you to accept these and intercede in the situation. And you can get away with that. But that's not practicing the tradition. And that's not gonna, as you say, it's not gonna fly all the time, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah.

ANDREW: When you're at home, you can do all sorts of other things, you have your shrines or your ancestors or wherever you're working with, right? They will accept these things, cause they do understand circumstance and they're not tyrannical about it, right? They just say, you don't want that to be your way of practicing forever. 

DANIEL: I spent years like, I don't know, not quite 20 years, not involved in a really dedicated way in one set tradition. I was training with different traditions for a period of time, and would definitely learn stuff, and would develop my own ashe [33:20] or whatever, but I wasn't like embracing one fully, as an operating system.

ANDREW: Yeah.

DANIEL: But I learned that it's possible to do it that way. That was actually really helpful to me. That it's possible to go deep with one's own ancestors, to go deep with the spirits of the land, where you're at.

ANDREW: Sure.

DANIEL: And to get to know them, and to get clarity about your own destiny and to just constellate in the different powers and forces and spirits that are gonna help you to do that. And I also ... that there's loneliness in going it solo, as well. There's like a freedom and a loneliness, both. And it drove me eventually to ... You know, I spent almost ten years involved in Orisha practice and Yoruba ways before I decided to initiate. And it's like a long slow dating process. It wasn't a lot of charisma. It was like, oh, you're the last one left standing, and ...

ANDREW: [laughing]

DANIEL: We have a ton of compatibility, why are we not doing this? And I go, okay, I guess we're gonna do this. So we just had the high match on the dating, you know, religious dating profile website. So I'm like, oh, maybe we should try this. And, and I haven't regretted it at all. It's very ... It's been a relief. The sense for me is of being held in a bigger frame. And it's not really ... It's not what I teach publicly, I'm not publicly offering services in that way, even though there are certain ones I could, in integrity. 

I'm still in training, I'm still trying to learn Yoruba language, and especially with a west African orientation of practice it's such an aural language-based tradition, especially Ifá practice in particular, so I'm trying to hold a ... I think if you're not ancestrally of a tradition, the standards are even a bit higher for you to get it right, which I think is fair and understandable. Especially with the cultural climate of racism in the west and all that, for European ancestor people to be doing west African Ifa, you need to not look like a fool doing it, and so part of that looks like studying the language and really, you know, taking to heart the training. 

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

DANIEL: But, it's possible to go really deep without stepping into a tradition. And there are a lot of ritual advantages to having a system to work from, as well. So I appreciate both sides of that. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. I think you can get there ... I think you can accomplish the same ends either way, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah, yeah.

ANDREW: I think that where it gets, where it gets touchy is where you're solely working independently, but within the set of spirits that has a living tradition. If you're only working independently and devoid of traditional teaching, you know, that's where it starts to become a question for me of what ...

DANIEL: Well, yeah, no, if the main powers you're working with are the Orisha, it's like, well, you've got to, here's the front door. You can try crawling in the window, but it's going to go badly, so. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

DANIEL: Yeah. But if you're just working with the weird old land gods and your own ancestors, you can get away with it. yeah. 

ANDREW: For sure. 

DANIEL: Yeah, for sure. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I also like the weird old land gods. You know? There's this beautiful ravine, you know, about a two-minute walk from the shop, [crosstalking 36:45] in Toronto. It runs through and you know, under there, there's sort of part of a buried river, that was once upon a time up on the surface, and all sorts of stuff, and there's wonderful and magical energies that are there, and really fascinating things have happened in that space over time. You know? Like I was ... I was there making a ... dealing with something and helping somebody, and making an offering essentially to the spirit of that place in the snow, right? And then when I came out of sort of the wood part back onto the path, all of these moths emerged, these white moths. And I'm like, there's snow on the ground, and it's snowing right now, what is going on with these things? And I'm like, all right, I'll take it. Big old yes from the spirits of this place on that thing, you know? 

DANIEL: Mm-hmm.

ANDREW: So I mean yeah, there's some amazing stuff that can happen in those ways, for sure. 

DANIEL: Nice. Yeah. 

ANDREW: So, I mean, first thing is, I'm going to ask you now if people should, if they're listening to this, and they want to think about starting a, you know, where they should start? And I know that one of the answers is definitely, they should go read your book, cause your book is great.

DANIEL: Sure.

ANDREW: But like, for the context of our conversation today, where would you kind of point people? Where, where do you point people [inaudible 38:02]?

DANIEL: I'm not a very trusting person, really. So, if I were to listen to this conversation, and I didn't know that I'm a good person, I would go to my website, which is ancestralmedicine.org. Root around there, see what the vibe is, and there are other talks, or whatever, and see if you, you know, get an instinctual, this guy's not crazy vibe from where I'm coming from, and if you're drawn to the ancestral work, there are three main ways to engage. 

One is to connect with one of the practitioners in the directory there. And there are 30 some people at this point who are trained in the work. Men, women, all different genders of people [38:43--not sure I've got his exact words here], ancestrally diverse people, lots of different opportunities for low income sessions, sessions in seven languages, so, opportunities to connect with people directly for session work. That's the most efficient way. Another is that I offer an online course that starts in December, that's thorough, and it maps along the heart of the book, chapters 5 through 9, which is lineage repair work, and there's a lot of support throughout that course, so that's an option, and I'll also be offering a course through the Shift network in the fall. 

And then, a third way is the in-person trainings. And the last one I'm going to guide probably in North America will be in just over a week in Ottawa, the 24th to the 26th, and there's a talk on August 22, next Wednesday, in Ottawa as well, and all the info on that is on my site, and additionally, to that, there are trainings in maybe ten cities and also coming up in Australia and Mexico and maybe Russia and Canada and Victoria, so. And those are done by students who I trust to guide the work. So in person work, online course, or sessions, are, in addition to the book, the three main ways to plug in. Yeah. 

ANDREW: Perfect. 

DANIEL: And, and, you know, like just to say it, if you're wary of people, which is warranted, this approach to the work doesn't involve the practitioners or me or anybody saying, “Hey, this is what your grandmother says to you.” It's about stepping the individual through a process of reclaiming and re-energizing their ability to connect directly with their own people. So, it's an empowering approach in that way. It's not somebody getting all up in the mix and channeling messages to your people. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just not this approach, so. And especially if your family's a mess, it's useful to do ancestor work. Cause you get some space from all that, and connect with what's beautiful and trustworthy in your own blood and bone lineages. So that's grounding, it's helpful, also for the cultural healing that's needed. 

ANDREW: Yes. Well and I think it can be quite liberating, you know, because we're carrying those patterns, right? 

DANIEL: Oh, yeah. So you can relate consciously or unconsciously with your people, but you don't get to opt out of relatedness. Yeah.

ANDREW: Exactly, right? And if we can tidy those up and take some of that burden off of us or free ourselves from that, right? Then we get to show up much differently in that way, right? 

DANIEL: Yeah. I think the masquerades in Yoruba culture, Egungun, and it's a blessing when they come around, but it's also a lot of people try not to be touched by them. And so there's ... It conveys something about the ancestors, like, they're dangerous to avoid and they're dangerous to have around.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

DANIEL: But, whatever, it's just like living humans. [laughing]

ANDREW: For sure. People are challenged on both sides of the veil, right? 

DANIEL: [laughing] Yeah, exactly. 

ANDREW: For sure. 

DANIEL: So, good. 

ANDREW: Well, thank you so much for making time today, Daniel. It's been great to hang out and chat with you. 

DANIEL: For sure, thanks, Andrew, thanks for your service, here. Blessings on everything you're up to.

ANDREW: Thank you.

DANIEL: Yeah. Good. 

 

EP85 Stacking Skulls with Jason Miller

July 20, 2018
00:0000:00

In this episode the band, Andrew McGregor, Aidan wachter, and Fabeku Fatunmise, bring is guest musician and occultist Jason Miller. The converstaion covers magick, ego, meditation, and much humour. 

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.

Jason can be found here
Aidan can be found here
Fabeku can be found here
Andrew can be found here

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Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

Transcript

ANDREW: Hey there, folks. We're back this week with another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast, and today is recording Stacking Skulls. As you may recall, this is our fictional occult rock band, which started last year or so, and, you know, continues to be a regular segment on the podcast, so we have back Aidan Wachter, and Fabeku, and joining us in the guest spot this week is Jason Miller. So, for folks who are just starting this fine journey with us, who are you, Aidan? What are you -- Who are you? 

AIDAN: I don't know. I can't tell. Today. I'm a talismanic jeweler. I've been doing the magic thing for 30-something years now. And technically now I can say I'm a bestselling author, which is ridiculous, but awesome. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And that's it! I make jewelry, I write some, I live on a micro ranch with a bunch of birds and some dogs and some goats. 

ANDREW: And rabbits.

AIDAN: And a lot of rabbits. [sigh] They're our doom plan. If doom happens, we know what we're eating for the first few months till they're gone. [laughing]

ANDREW: How about you, Fabeku? 

FABEKU: Yeah. I do business stuff. I've done magic for 30 years. Artist, writer, shoe aficionado, live with a terribly spoiled Internet famous cat who will probably make some kind of an appearance at some point in our conversation. Yeah. That's about it. I don't live on a micro ranch. So. 

AIDAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: How about you, Jason? 

JASON: Oh, author, teacher, sorcerer, been doing this since I was 15 and I'm 45 now, so, you know, a long time. 

ANDREW: Yeah. So you know, listening to this, it makes me realize, we're all getting old!

[laughter]

ANDREW: I remember a time when I used to be like super inspired by like "Oh my god, they've been doing this for like this many years..." and now I'm sort of getting on the other end of that spectrum, you know, I mean I've been reading cards for 35 years now, something like that. And doing magic for about the same. And you know, now I’m on that end of the thing, I'm like man, I'm starting to sound old, I'm starting to talk about, you know, stuff that doesn't exist anymore. I'm like, man... 

[laughter]

AIDAN: We were talking about this, Fabeku and I. [static 00:02:59] 

ANDREW: Yep. Well, it happens, right? Hopefully, if you keep working at it, it gets better and better. Which has definitely been my experience. Right? 

FABEKU: Yeah, yeah, for sure. 

ANDREW: So, I mean, we recorded three months-ish ago, last time. What's new? What's going on? In your lives? What's changed since we talked before? If anything stands out? 

AIDAN: For me, the main thing is I spent, just spent a week with my grandkids and their mom, and that was awesome. That was something I have been looking forward to since they were born. They just turned five months old. And they're awesome.

ANDREW: Nice. 

AIDAN: Mama's killer. And it was a super good time. So.

ANDREW: That's awesome. Mmmhmm. And your book came out and is doing super well. 

AIDAN: It has. I forgot that that actually is within that same window. Yeah, the book's doing great, and really pleased with that. And by the first of August I'll actually be set to start sending those out to shops wholesale. I've got enough space and figuring out how we're doing that. We kind of wanted to see how the ... how that played out overall. But that'll be again going starting in August, so. 

ANDREW: Amazing. I can't wait. People keep coming and asking for them and I keep having to tell them to go to Amazon, so. I'll be happy to ... to service that need, so. Yeah. 

AIDAN: Yeah. So, I'll have the specs up on that on the website shortly, but anybody that's interested that has a shop can just drop me a line as well and I'll add them to the list. 

ANDREW: Nice. So I guess I'm curious. How has this publishing this book changed your sense of self? Or your identity? Or has it? 

AIDAN: It's been really good, because I think, due to spending a lot of time early on in kind of magical circles that I didn't really grok ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: I ... In the last few years of kind of being public again, I've kind of realized that yeah, some of what I do does make sense to people, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: It is useful to people. But the general responses that I've got from the book have been so killer that I'm like, "Oh, excellent.” So there ARE a lot of people who are doing or at least open to the type of work that I do, which to me is really good, cause you just don't know, in general, if you're kind of as reclusive as I tend to be. And so that's been really good. I mean it hasn't changed what I do or anything, but I'm feeling more kind of excited about what that I choose to think is going on in the magical world [chuckling] whether I'm right or not. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: There's at least a reasonable sized number of people who are at least kind of on the same page or interested in that. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AIDAN: It's cool. 

FAB: Nice. 

ANDREW: How bout, how are ...

FABEKU: I think you came out at just the right time, man. 

AIDAN: Yeah, for sure. 

FABEKU: Absolutely.

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean and if you're listening and you haven't read Aidan's book, you know, I've read a ton of books over the years and everybody who's on here has, and it's a book that I wish I had read first. 

FABEKU: Absolutely.

ANDREW: It's definitely, you know, I started with Magic in Theory and Practice, that was my introduction to magic, and the only book that I owned on it for a number of years, and I think about how obtuse and unapproachable that book is from a practical point of view and from a like, you know, what do you actually do in the room when you're standing there with all these things? It's just not set up for that very well, and yeah, the amount of time I wasted sorting through and figuring out stuff and being like, "Ohh, I get it, you have to do this with your arm, okay, now I understand," you know, or whatever ... Yeah. 

AIDAN: [laughing] 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: Thank you.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

FABEKU: I think for the longest time there was this divide of [clears throat] a free approach represented by chaos magic but that rejected sort of spirit and offerings and such, and then traditionalists who were working with spirits and ... but rejected sort of a freer more streamlined approach and in recent years those things have come together and Aidan is sort of right, Six Ways is like a perfect manual, for, look, you don't have to reject spirits to have this freedom and streamlining of chaos. It's ...

ANDREW: Mmm.

FABEKU: You know, they can work, meld together perfectly.

Absolutely.

ANDREW: Yeah. Well, I think that, I think it's something that we all share to a large degree, this sort of connection to spirit and sort of working with spirits, and I think that, at least in my experience, if you're listening to the spirits that you're working with, you're going to end up in some more free-flowing kind of space in some way or other, right? You know that communication that can come back from them, you know, is super, can be super open-ended, you know? And even in, you know, like in my Orisha tradition and stuff which is sort of theoretically super structured, I mean it is very structured, but it's still the Orishas dictating that structure, dictating what comes through, right? You're like, what offering will you accept to help me with this thing? What offering do I need to make to make this connection stronger? You know, and then you just proceed to, you know, in that case, in a formalized process, but in other ways, you just proceed down a list of, would you like something like this, would you like that, you know? And I think that that's so contrary to sort of my notions from the ceremonial stuff that I started in, which were, I better do all this calculus ahead of time and be sure that, you know, all the names add up to the right numbers, and all the colors are there, and all the ... you know, angles are right and all these sort of things, otherwise I'm going to open a vortex into the abyss, and the universe is going to collapse, or you know, whatever, right? 

AIDAN: Totally.

FABEKU: Been there, yeah. 

AIDAN: And I think too, I mean, I think one of the cool things with working with spirits is, that I don't hear a lot about is, it gives you an option to kind of go, is ... Am I even looking at this in any way in the right way? 

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: And have some feedback from that, right? We can do that just through divination if we believe that the divination doesn't involve spirits, I guess, but [laughing] kind of more specifically doing it with the people that you're working with, whether that's divination or trance and going, okay, what am I just wasting my time on here? What's not going to happen this year? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: Or where should I focus this year? Or where did I kind of fall off the track, where did I fall off the rails, and that's a huge benefit to me. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

FABEKU: Well, you know, I think the other piece, kind of following this thread, is, you know, to me, it's interesting when you're able to get the spirit's perspective on something. You know, how does this spirit see the thing that I'm looking at? How does this plant spirit see it? How does this animal spirit? How does this stone spirit see it, right? It's like, for me, that's one of the, like you said, the valuable things, right? Because you know I think that we get so fixed into this human vantage point, which, you know, is necessary and fine, but, you know, there's times when all kinds of amazing shit happens, when we can step out of that and swing around and look at it through a different set of eyes, whether that's through the spirits or through trance work, or, you know, whatever it is, I think it ... That for me is one of the most valuable things, it's like ... And specifically for me, it's been a helpful question to go to the spirits and ask, all right, what's my blind spot, like what am I completely not seeing, what am I fucking up, what am I mistranslating, you know, how am I failing to see this in a way that would be more helpful or more coherent or, you know, whatever it is? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. Never underestimate the human capacity to rationalize stuff and avoid looking at the things, right? for sure. 

JASON: Mmmhmm. 

FABEKU: Yeah. 

ANDREW: So, how often are people checking in? In this way? How often, how often do you check in on this kind of thing, like ask for that kind of feedback? 

FABEKU: For me, it's an almost daily thing, in smaller ways, you know, it's ... whether that's through divination or through, you know, starting the day with sitting with the spirits and listening and asking, you know, and then probably, you know, sort of larger more structured-ish ways, but you know, I think for me, the more I've plugged into this idea of different vantage points, the more I've realized the value of it and the necessity of it, so it feels ... It feels off to me not to check in frequently at this point. you know, it's ... and not in a weird tell me what to do way, it's not that thing at all ... It feels like, sometimes it feels like driving with my eyes closed, and it's like, yeah, I don't need to do that, let me just check in with ... 

[laughing] 

FABEKU: The spirits or whatever it is, to make sure I'm not headed toward the fucking ditch, or over a cliff or you know whatever ... So for me it's a pretty constant thing. 

JASON: Yeah, it, for me, it's, you know, it's similar to how we check in with other people. I mean, if I have something short that I need to hear from one of you guys, I might text you, and you'll text me back, and it takes just a minute, and there are experiences like that, with the spirits through dreams, through signals, through a brief appearance or a divination throughout the week, and then there's formal like, you know, let's set some time aside to chat by Zoom or have coffee or something, and those are sort of akin to the "It's Saturday, I'm going to sit down and do my thing for Cyprian and see what he has to say." So you know? It's that mix of formal and informal two-way communication, because sometimes it's them being like, hey, dumbass! [laughing] 

ANDREW: Right. Definitely. Sometimes it's like that tap on the shoulder. Sometimes it's a smack on the back of the head, right. 

AIDAN: [laughing] Totally.

ANDREW: You know. Yeah. And I feel like it would be . ... It would make me feel cool to say that I, you know, never got to the smack in the head level, but, you know, it totally happens, right? Like it ... It's one of those things that I think that there's this notion that we'll go down these kinds of roads and we'll get clear and focused and you know we'll discover our true will or whatever, and we'll just be like, now I'm a laser and I'm on focus and on target and everything just continues, but it's not really like that, it's such a wandering meandery thing and life keeps sort of pulling at it, for me anyway, for me all the time, whether it's like, stuff with my kids, stuff with the house, stuff with the business, stuff with this, and it's like, oh yeah, wait wait, I'm getting unfocused again, thanks for the tap on the head, now I have to go back to it, you know. 

FABEKU: you know it reminds me, there's a proverb that ... from Ifa, that says we lose the way to find the way, and that to me has been one of the most useful things that I've learned, because, for me anyway, there never has been that point of okay, I've anchored into the thing, and I'm set, and I'm good, and everything just flows fine from here. It's just, I don't, I don't have that experience of things. So, you know, I look at this kind of losing of the way, whether it's a little mini thing or a great big detour in the middle of who knows where, is, just, to me that's the process, as annoying as it is, and I find it super fucking annoying, I have no enlightened perspective on that at all, I find it incredibly annoying. 

AIDAN: [laughs]

FABEKU: But annoying and common, so ...

AIDAN: Well, I think too, it's like Dan John, who's a strength coach, he says, "Everything works, until it doesn't." [laughing] Right? If we would like to have this sense where we could kind of find that track that is perfect all the time, but in reality, whether, no matter what it is, you get your three weeks, month, three months, year, and then you come off the rails, cause things just need to change, you're totally different, the situation is totally different. And you have to adapt to that. 

JASON: Honestly, it's a good measure for people, especially at the beginning, where they're still sort of differentiating, am I projecting, or am I perceiving something? If the spirit you're talking to is always agreeing with you and always affirming you, and ... that's you in your fantasy. [laughing] 

FABEKU: Yes, yes, yes. 

AIDAN: Absolutely. 

FABEKU: yeah.

AIDAN: Yeah. That's something we've talked about a lot here, is that's the main sign, right, if they don't periodically go, dude, do this instead ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: And you're like, "what, I don't want to do ... " And it's like, "yeah, do it instead," [laughing] then I think we're probably doing pretty well here ... [laughing] 

ANDREW: Exactly. They come through like, go ahead, knock yourself out, I'll be waiting here when you're tired and you want to like [cross-laughing 00:17:17] 

AIDAN: [laughing] 

ANDREW: Yeah. Well, this kind of leads into a question that somebody asked, you know, what do people think about destiny in relationship to this, right? Like We're talking about our attempt to stay focused or stay online and the values and trials of meandering off track a bit. Where's destiny in this mix? What do people think here? 

Mmm.

[laughter]

That's what we think! 

FABEKU: Well, here's [inaudible/static 00:17:55] just making it up. [static 00:17:56 through 00:18:03] is I think there's this fixed elements, and then there's elements that are in flux, right? you know I don't have a sense that everything is somehow laid out, and again, who the fuck knows? And I think that there are probably some elements that are set. What those are, no idea, I'm sure they're probably different for everybody, I think most of the other pieces are kind of in play, and there's some flux to those. you know how do we figure those out, I don't know, the way I figure it out is kind of a mix of divination, but probably even more than that, it's, you know pushing against it magically: does this budge? What does it do? How does it respond when ...? When I point magic at it? Does it flex, does it push back, does it change, does it, you know, tell me to go fuck myself? What does it do when magic gets pointed in that direction? but yeah, so for me, it feels like a mix, so I think, at least in my experience, it feels like there's more that's in flux than not in flux. you know I kind of struggle with the idea that it's all kind of mapped and laid out and we just all kind of somehow run our way through it, that doesn't seem consistent with my experience at all. 

ANDREW: Mmm. Yeah. I tend to think of it like traveling through outer space, right? So there's tons of space, right? There's tons of free will. There's tons of like, we can move in many directions. But I also think that when we're plotting our course and stuff, we encounter gravity, right? from stars, from planets, from whatever, some of those we might want to go directly to for some reason, some of those we might just find ourselves near as we're going by. And you know as we proceed through our lives, the choices we've made, the history of ourselves, you know, they kind of lock us into these different kind of patterns, right, and, but, you know, I think that where this metaphor falls down is some of those things are destined, right? We're inevitably gonna get close to something, and maybe that's put there in our orbit for whatever reasons, right? And, you know, it's kind of that situation that you push, you pull, you're caught in, it's like an episode of Star Trek, right? You're caught in the gravity well, what do you do, right? how do you get out of it? Or do you get out of it? Can you get out of it? you know, and I think that different people's lives have different quantities of these kinds of things, you know, and I also think that the more one pursues magic and spiritual stuff, the more ... If you're doing it well, the freer one becomes and the more ... you know, thrust you have to sort of move in different directions until you don't, right? And I think that that's always the thing, right? It's ... I don't think that we ever become truly free of it entirely. But it definitely doesn't run the show either all the time. 

FABEKU: Yeah. Absolutely. 

JASON: I rarely think in terms of destiny. And I think I probably divine less than a lot of people too. I'm [clears throat] I was watching an old episode of House recently, and if you've ever seen it, he never tests for anything, he's just like you know we think it might be this, let's give the treatment, and if they get better, we'll know that's what they have, and if not, we still have to keep going. And I remember sitting there and thinking like, you know, that's a little bit like how I deal with magic ... [laughing] 

ANDREW: mmm. 

JASON: you know, well, let's throw this at it and see if that works, and you know, I guess it's not that I don't ever feel destiny or sense destiny, I try to ignore it. And I just feel like if I ... The best decisions are made without that in mind. For me. 

AIDAN: Yeah. I'm kind of with Jason on that. I think that there's something, whether you want to call it destiny or fate or whatever that's present, but it's kind of like, you know I take everything back to the physical just on a constant, it's kind of like our genetics, and not in some kind of, you know, racialist kind of way, but like, I'm 5'10" and I'm not gonna be a great NBA player no matter what. [laughing] And so there's things that are like that. I think that go on in magical practice, and that's one of the kind of processes that I think we all go through is that we figure out what works for us and what doesn't. And you kind of have to learn to not bang your head too much against the things that just consistently don't work. And so on that level, I think that's real, I think that there's some stuff each of us are better at. But as far as like ... And I also get your kind of gravity concept, cause there's definitely things that I get pulled to really hard. But I think that that's like my allies assisting, like, you should totally go check this out ...

ANDREW: mmm.

AIDAN: More than I think it's anything like fate or destiny. 

ANDREW: All right. Wizards 4, destiny zero. 

[laughing] 

ANDREW: So, another question that we got asked here was, you know, as often comes up, you know, especially when Aidan's gonna be on the show, about trance work and meditation and stuff, right? But I know that Jason's also a master meditator, you know?

[laughing] 

ANDREW: I hear wonderful things about his course and so on, so. But, you know, I guess, you know, the question's sort of like, someone was asking to share what really sort of comes from that, like what's an example of how that really changed something for you or for all of us, you know, so but let's frame it more generally. What do you get from that practice? How does it serve you? And why might people want to ... want to dig into that more, you know? Let's start with the master meditator. 

[laughing] 

JASON: well, so, you know, are we talking meditation or trance? Cause they're .... 

ANDREW: Well, they put them together, so. 

JASON: So for me they're really radically different things. 

AIDAN: I ...

FABEKU: Yeah, for sure. 

JASON: In trancework, if, you know, if what I see is important, I'll follow it, and, you know, take it on that journey. In meditation I'm learning to rest in the natural state of my awareness. So, if, you know, the virgin Mary walks up to me, picks up her skirt, and says, "follow me," I'm supposed to go, "sorry, I'm meditating, you know, I'll save five minutes after the meditation [laughs] but you know I'm focused on this thing right now." And so that's the ... if a Buddha appears on the road, kill it. And what I get out of it is a grip on what my own mind feels like. It's first of all, it ... when things arise, that are momentary wants, you know, I really want a burger with a lobster on top, but what I should have is a salad [laughing], meditation helps say, okay, you know, release that thought, focus on, you know, what the will is all about. But it's also when I sense things from spirits and they're not audible, like I can hear them with my physical ear, I can ... you get an idea of what your own mind feels like, and what input is, as opposed to fantasy. So, you know, there's just tons of benefits for meditation. All of which can sort of be reached through other things. But then it's a matter of, do you want 100 different things to get these 100 benefits, or do you want to do just the one thing? That is unfortunately antimagical for a lot of people. It's the hardest thing to get students to do. They, you know, they really don't like it. [laughing] 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: Yeah, that's ... I ... for me, yeah, they're totally different things, and kind of similarly, meditation for me is kind of just how I get to ground zero. Like, what's going on with me? Where is the continuous chatter going right now? And can I kind of back away from that and turn the volume down on that so that I can ... yeah, kind of have my own mind for a while, and decide what I really need to do, rather than ... especially now with the Internet [laughs] and 8 million terrible movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime and whatever we all have. We're like in the eon of distraction and so meditation is like a beautiful way of just going, okay, I'm going to take 20 minutes or 10 minutes or an hour or whatever, and I'm going to sit down and not be distracted to the best of my ability which is totally variable depending on the day. And I think it's just ... It's like immeasurably helpful for me is what I would say. But yeah, it's difficult for magicians because we want to do stuff, we want to make change, and so the benefit I would say is that meditation for the magician will help you see what is really, what you really want to change, rather than being kind of caught in distraction, and delusion not in the massive way but in the ... not in the kind of universal way, but just in the small deletions. I really like the ... burger with the lobster sounds great! [laughing] 

ANDREW: I'm just wondering if that's a path to one of the things I could get from meditation, that's really what ... 

[laughter]

AIDAN: I think it's a brilliant idea, personally [laughter] [crosstalking/laughter 00:29:28] ... I'm kind of with the concept!

JASON: It's literally on the menu at a place around the corner from here, hamburger topped with lobster meat, at a nice remoulade, it's wonderful ...

AIDAN: Oh, man!

JASON: Casey's Caboose. But, you know, and you get to this realization that there's nothing that we know that's not coming through our own minds. So I remember sitting there with somebody, some guy, I don't know who he was, he was wearing this weird robe in Bodanat, and he was sitting out, just on the walkway around the great stupa, and he was making a big show of being like really important with his robes and this mala that was like 108 baseball like sized things, and he's sitting there, and all of a sudden he started to get angry at everybody walking by, but, you know, this is also the center of town, people walk by. And at one point he just -- like I'm sitting like 100 feet away from him eating lunch at an outdoor cafe and he like gets up and he's like "People can't see that I'm meditating!" And I'm like, well, I don't know what your robes are for, but you suck at this! Because ... [laughing] You know, ultimately, if we realize how distracted we are with our own just push and pull of every little thing that we ... that's been laid on our minds our whole lives, and if you believe in past lives, then all of that too, like the momentary distraction is just another one of those things. Like the external like the guy walking by is so much less insidious then what do I want for dinner? Or I'm so good at this meditation thing! I'm the best. I'm so clear! [laughter]

ANDREW: For sure.

FABEKU: You know, for me I think that ... I agree, that meditation and trance are really different things. For me, meditation has been the thing that I go to to reduce the noise that amps the signal. Right? And I think that, you know, whether that's before magical work, facing the day, dealing with hardship, having a difficult conversation, whatever it is, it's the place that I can go that I can turn the volume down on the noise so that the signal is clearer and more easily accessible. And then trance for me is a thing that I would say changes the types of signals that I can access. Right? So it's like it expands the frequency band that I have access to. 

And, you know, I think the other useful thing for me with trance, and I think maybe some people do this with meditation but that's not my relationship to it ... There's this transcendent quality to it, and I don't ... what I mean by that is ... again, this kind of goes back to when we get sort of too boxed into our own shit, whether that's a struggle we're facing or our own perspective or whatever it is, when we move into a trance It's like we have the ability to kind of stretch out and shake all that shit off, and in that there's this, there's this sort of expanded capacity, expanded coherence, expanded velocity, all of these things happen. So for me sometimes there's a focus trance work of going to a particular place, working with a particular spirit, or doing a particular type of working, and sometimes there's just this accessing a trance state for that transcendent ability of being able to kind of stretch out and shake all the bullshit out so I can get back to doing whatever it is that I need to do in a way that is clearer and more coherent and more effective. 

AIDAN: Totally. Yeah, and for me, the trance thing is like my main kind of spirit contact space. I'm not ... I've never been one that gets super clear messaging when I'm awake. I get enough to work with. But if I actually kind of want in depth communication, that all happens to me ... that all happens for me in trance, and I do a lot of what I kind of think of as body work, though it's not necessarily physical body work there. That's kind of where I do most of my healing work for myself. And yeah, for me it's just the most open space that I can go into in terms of like experiential contact with the spirits. Where I can kind of go into the zone or where I know that I meet those things. And the communication is much clearer and much more two way and it allows them to show me things that I normally, I'm just not that visual when I'm awake. And clear -- you know, eyes open, daytime shit. And then, that's where now I get most of my ritual instruction. That’s where that stuff comes from, is the allies that I have, they're so few of them that are kind of continuously ... Not like every day, but you know every once in a while, and that might be every year or two, somebody will go, "You should try this, for a while," and those have all been really huge, huge things for me. They're much more useful than the ones that I come up with when I'm sitting there with a pen and paper going "I want this, I'm gonna do it this way." So.

ANDREW: Hmm.

FABEKU: Well, and in that way, I think that the trance space, for me, is one of the most effective working spaces. Right? So going back to one of the ideas in chaos magic that, you know, trance or gnosis is required for magic. I don't know that that's entirely true, but for me it's largely true. In terms of the way that I function and the way that I work, and it's not that I can't do magic outside of that space, I do, but there is a difference in the experience, and oftentimes a difference in the results that I have when I do magic in that trance space as opposed to when I don't. So you know I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a required component for everybody, but for me, it's a really profoundly necessary ingredient. 

ANDREW: yeah, I think I might be a bit ... Huh. Either my conception of it or my language around it makes it seem like I'm an odd person out in this conversation, or I just have kind of a different approach, you know. I don't really meditate any more. I always feel like I should, like I get this like, you know, right up there with I should eat salad, and I should do whatever, but I find that I spend so much time floating and connected to spirit side, I mean I spend 15 hours a week doing readings and stuff for people, plus whatever other time I'm doing with that, so I'm so continuously connected to that space, and continuously flexing that muscle of, is this me, is this my thought, is this the divination, is this the spirit message, you know so like I'm kind of always working that stuff, in a way that ... I feel like, maybe this is a bad metaphor, but I feel like a personal trainer in that regard, you know? I spend so much time at the gym moving stuff around that I'm not so sure what is left that I need just for myself in that regard? 

And then most of what I need for myself in that regard comes through making art and sort of being connected, which is probably where my trancelike stuff happens, you know sitting down with whatever I'm working on, and just sort of channeling stuff through and working in that capacity or going to the places in nature where you know the spirits that I work with more so like to be present and sort of paying attention for signs and omens and communications there? But I feel like that trance space where spirit's accessible to me or messages are accessible to me, sort of almost always continuously just at the edge of my awareness? And so I feel like I can fall into it so easily now that setting aside big chunks of time or sort of regular pieces of practice for it, just haven't seemed super necessary. And when I've sort of buckled down with that should, like I should do this, I'm gonna do this, and you know I do it for a period of time and I don't really notice a particularly big difference, and to some extent I feel like I spend a lot of time showing up and nothing happens, cause they'll be like, "dude, I already talked to you earlier today. I don't know why you're here?"

[laughter]

ANDREW: you know? I don't have that hamburger you want now, that's not gonna happen, right? So. 

[laughter]

FABEKU: Well, but to me, I think that's one of ... To me, [static 00:38:54] trance stuff, is that like you said, it becomes accessible, it's right at the edge. So, you know, 20 years ago, it felt like kind of the production to get into that space. Now we ... I close my eyes and take a couple of breaths, and you're there. And so in that way, I think that's another really concrete benefit that's come from doing that work for so long, it doesn't feel like a different state to me, it feels a little like leaning to the left, as opposed to, you know, however it is I'm normally sitting. It's a slight but significant shift at this point. 

JASON: Doing inner heat practice, the Timo practice, has really helped [clears throat] move my ... make that trance state much closer and deeper so that I can do what Aidan is talking about, like you know receive those messages down to the details of this is the practice, this is how it should go, and then you know you take it for a spin and then the next time it's like "no, you didn't do that quite right," and then, what's amazing is some of the stuff that I teach professionally is rooted in those kinds of messages, and then when I go to teach it, the spirits are like, well, it was fine for you to be this loose about it, but if you're gonna, you know, we should firm this up, so I'll be like [heavy sigh], there's more I have to add here that I didn't expect [laughing]. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. 

AIDAN: Totally. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And I think that, you know, as you say Fabeku, right, you get to this place where it is so close all the time, right? If you're doing that practice, right? you know I mean, I spent a year doing pranayama every day for like an hour, and then doing just sitting meditation for a chunk of time as well, like, you know, all those things, right? But they, this is the downside to being old, they're so far back that I don't entirely remember them as a lived practice as such, you know? 

[laughter]

ANDREW: That's just like, 20 odd years ago. I don't remember exactly what that's like. I have some documentation and some memories, but it's not ... I know, it's like learning to swim, right? Once you know how to swim, you no longer really think about it anymore, so. 

FABEKU: Yeah.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: And I think that ties into the stuff that Jason teaches in Strategic Sorcery and Sorcerer's Secret, I think? And that I have my versions of in Six Ways, on the kind of energy work, the orbital work and stuff like that, is that yeah, there's a period when you kind of really have to focus on that stuff, until you've kind of got a solid sense of it, and then it's available, unless you kind of just get too distant from it, and then you've got to drop back in, and then you know kind of do the refresher. It's a little bit like, my take on running now that I'm not a runner, it's like, I don't have to run every day, I have to run a little bit to kind of keep all that metabolism still working properly, and if I take too much time out, like I did from being injured, then I actually have to take, you know, maybe eight or 12 weeks to kind of work back up to where I can actually run a couple of miles once a week without it being a big thing, but then I don't have to focus on it as much. And I think that that's just kind of the process of everything, that you've got to kind of put in the ground work, and then once that foundation is built, it allows you some flexibility. It's not like you have to sit and meditate for the same amount of time forever every day or you're fucked. But you start to notice like, oh, my brain is kind of churning nonsense, I probably need to sit a little more. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

FABEKU: Well, you know, the way I look at it is, is like a chef, right? In the beginning when they're in training, they have to practice their knife skills, and that means cutting up fuck loads of carrots, day after day after day after day, to get them just right. And then after a period of time when they have that skill, they don't have to think about it, right? you know they just, They have access to the expertise that's come from that and, of course, you don't have to sit and chop piles of carrots forever and ever and ever, but there is that muscle building period, I think, until you get that skill, that muscle memory of it, where you can clear the static, you can move into trance, you can enliven the sigil, whatever it is, you can do the thing, because you've built up the practice, and that, you know, that takes time. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. 

AIDAN: Yeah, and for me, that works for everything, so like, now I'm sure that there are people, just cause I'm talking to people about it, some folks that aren't public practitioners, so I'm willing to talk to them a little bit in the background about some of the Six Ways practices. Like yeah, that, whether it's the reclaiming rite, or the Stars of the Sixth Way, or the scraping, this is like a long process for them, cause it's super new to them, cause they're having to think through all of it, and sit with it, and that whole thing is like, maybe five minutes a day for me. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AIDAN: It's totally effective within that. But it is, it's like I've practiced that thing so much or those things, that I can kind of wander in and go, okay, what needs to happen today, do it, and be back with what else is going on really quickly. 

JASON: You get that body memory, and it, you know, it just comes naturally. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. So, another question we got asked, was what do you see as sort of magicians' roles in the world, you know? Is this a thing that's changing, do you think of yourselves, you know ... we're all public figures to one extent or another, right? Do you see an ... do you see the way in which being a magician and being out in the world is changing? Is it the same as it's always been? Is it even a relevant question for you? What do you think? 

JASON: It's starting to get more ... more acceptance. I think. [laughing] It's certainly, you know, it's ... Well, yeah. It's starting to get more acceptance. As for what the role is, in the world, you know, I don't expect, you know, a government funded department to open up any time soon, but you know, there are people at higher levels than I think some people would think that seek intercession of magicians and wizards and such and you guys all know this. But you know the amazing thing is, there is some ad that came across my Facebook this morning that's like, this psychic who works for Courtney Cox and this person and that person, and I was kind of like, you know, every person that's even, you know, nowhere near that level of notoriety, but even just like slightly, it's kind of like, keep this under your hat, like this is not something that should or can get out. But like so, it's more acceptable and, but, and everybody does magic, whether they call it that or not. 

ANDREW: Mm.

AIDAN: Yeah, I totally think it's just kind of a normal human function. That got lost. As far as like it being clear, cause like I think that it's hard for me to imagine that ... In the time of zero distraction, cause if you were distracted you died, which is like most of our history, that people weren't just massively tuned in to all this shit. And from everything that we can know, from what we tend to think of as primitive cultures or aboriginal cultures, that's true. And so yeah, it's a weird thing in the kind of materialist West, but, it's totally normal to me. So I'm not sure that there's any function that's really different than what there always has been, which is yeah, just kind of attempting to make the changes that you need or people need, and kind of keeping spirit channels open so that we can have something that's a little bit more, to me, more real, than the incredibly synthetic world we've generated. 

FABEKU: Yeah, I agree, I don't know that the role is any different at all at this point. I think that One of the things that, and I think this might be why, one of the reasons why, there's been kind of an upswing in the interest in magic is, I think magic gives people a sense of hope, you know, and not in some, you know, kind of fake bullshit rah rah kind of sense, but when you understand that magic gives you the ability to kind of interface directly with sort of the wiring under the board, sort of the things behind the curtain, in work with things that are in flux, and work with things that look and are chaotic and difficult, and you know, somehow kind of slide things in the direction that you'd like them to go, I think it gives people a sense of hope. It gives people a sense of, there are other options than what I had considered. And I think that that's important on an individual level, on a communal level, on a global level, you know, and I think that that matters, and I don't think that's anything new, I think magic has always done that, I think that's probably one of the things that has drawn people to magic forever. But I know in my own conversations with people about it, that's one of the things that people are consistently talking about, is I have a renewed sense of hope that I didn't have before because I get that there are things I can do that make things different than they are now. 

ANDREW: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean I think that, as life continues to become more complicated, you know, more challenging in some ways, right? you know I mean it's been a distressing, you know, year or two for a lot of people. I mean it's been a distressing, like, whole lifetime for other people, for sure too, right? But I think that as we run into more challenge, you know, I think that accessing spiritual tools and magic and divination fill that function really well, right? And it’s a thing that some people would have turned to family practice, some people would have turned to somebody in their community, some people would have gone to the church for, you know, to kind of make those sort of different kinds of connections and to help make sense of stuff, and I think that certainly, as a diviner, I often feel that I'm in the role of priest, right? They wouldn't necessarily choose it that way. But, you know, if you think about it, you know people come for divination and they come for hope, they come to confess, they come to make sense of things, they come to reorient themselves once they're you know turned around, and you know magic is just really an extension of that or some of those things directly depending on what we're talking about, so, yeah, I think it's really necessary. And I think that it's really, you know, as Jason says, it's, you know, not like some bs tagline on someone's promo, but like, you know lots of people are doing it, and lots of people that you would never imagine are doing this stuff, and I think that, you know, it being a personal and direct practice, or direct engagement, versus sort of like a public show of things is important, you know, as part of that, because I think that we don't want to be the monk with the baseball mala, you know? 

[laughing] 

ANDREW: Sitting in our robes going, why aren't you giving me more money? Why aren't more famous people coming to me? you know? 

AIDAN: Get off the lawn! [laughing] 

ANDREW: Get off the lawn! [laughing]

JASON: And you know, there's a certain extent to which I think, the, I don’t know, the growing multiculturalism, the awareness of sort of non-Protestant culture in North America is acknowledging aspects of magic that are already present in the living traditions of so many other people, from Catholic countries and folk traditions around it, to magic within Buddhism, which is just right out there for you to see, in Tibet and Thailand and India and everywhere, and you know, Afro-Caribbean traditions and so on, and so as people get, for lack of a better word, less white about it, magic gets to be seen as to how it integrates into people's everyday lives without it having to be this very very special thing that I put the robes on and I'm doing in secret and you know, that may make it less special for some people who kind of live and breathe on that, but I think it's a good thing overall. 

ANDREW: Well, I also think that the, I mean, maybe not if you're posting on Instagram ...

JASON: No, no. 

ANDREW: But, magic will ... keep itself secret if it needs to be, right? 

JASON: Oh, absolutely.

ANDREW: you know I mean I, as a, you know, as an Olocha I have quite a lot of stuff in my house that is the Orishas, you know, either their consecrated vessels, with the mysteries inside, and all the accoutrements that have come from them and so on ... There's a lot of stuff that's around my house, and you know, I've had people who've come and watched the kids for like years, and then one day, they're just like, "Wha - wait, what is THAT?" you know? "What do you mean, it's been there the whole time, you don't know who Elegua is?" They're like, "I know who he is, I just, why is he in your house?" I'm like, "How have you not seen it for like two years?" Right? You know. I mean these things will conceal themselves if they need to as well, so like, that fine balance, I think. 

Yep.

ANDREW: So, I've got this question, that I think is a really great question. What do you wish people would stop asking? 

[laughter]

ANDREW: What's the question that you're just like, aw, really? Come on. Jason --

AIDAN: I don't think I have one. The only thing that I do ... crazy [static 00:55:12] We'll wait till the static ends. I do get crazy talisman requests that are like, I want a talisman to make me bulletproof, and it's shit like that that you're just like, yeah, you know, there's a lot of people who have tried that, but I've never heard of it working! [laughing] But, so, other than outright absurdity, I don't really have any. 

JASON: Yeah, I get the absurdity sometimes, and they don't really bother me, because I just open them, and I look at it and I go, okay, close. The regular, you know, even though I don't do this work, I've never done this work, but the sort of regular reconciliation at any price ...

[chickens in background]

ANDREW: Mm. 

JASON: Kind of request. That's something that, you know, I just, I wish that would go away. [laughing] 

[chickens in background]

ANDREW: Right? I think that's a question where "He's now living with my sister, and has 16 kids with him, and I've been separated from this person for 20 years, but I will give you all this money if you can make this person come back and be with me"? That question? 

JASON: Yeah! you know? It's just sort of like, I don't want that! No, absolutely not. you know, in some of my courses, that go on for months, I'd have to say the question, it's not even a question, it's a ... the people that are ...

[chickens in the background]

JASON: The people that are geared to sort of ...

[chickens in the background]

JASON: Hypervisualization. They can ... They close their eyes and they can see all kinds of stuff. And I'm like this to an extent myself. But it's a matter of like, let's take that and go deeper. Like, let's put that aside for a little while. So, you know, I'll spend the first couple months kind of telling people, ignore these kinds of visions. Or evaluate them, like is this important? Did it tell you something you didn't already know? Or is it just a thumb's up? If it's a thumb's up, take the thumb's up and keep doing what you're doing. If it's something actionable, evaluate it like you would advice from a person. But in general, don't chase after it, like, use the practice ...

[chickens in the background]

JASON: To get deeper informa -- and then you can start getting stuff that's like, wow this matters. And, because that also, people that aren't like that, who maybe when they get a vision, a message, it will be like really important because they're not prone to that kind of thing, they sort of feel like, well I must be doing something wrong, because so and so has, you know, phantasmagoric trips every time they utter a prayer and I'm not. Whereas I'm kind of like well actually, no, there's nothing wrong with you. And you know maybe that person who gets phantasmagoric trips when they put something out in terms of spell work are not going to get the results you have, because they're great at receiving and not so great at sending or, or when you really receive something, it's going to be like, huh, yeah, that's got meaning and teeth and is something I can dig into. 

ANDREW: Yeah. I hit this point in my own practice, especially like working with clients and doing readings and stuff, where, I realized that I had a choice where I could just know what the answer was, or I could have like a big visual thing about it, and I was like

[rooster crowing in background]

ANDREW: It's so much easier just to know what it is than to like, proceed down into this like vision of it all and stuff like that, and so I sort of started prioritizing a different way and you know submitting my requests like to the other side like so, if you need to show me, please do, but if you can just tell me, that'd be awesome. And then we can go to the next thing, you know? 

JASON: [bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: It worked pretty well, you know? So. 

JASON: But isn't that ... [static] I'm going to wait till the static clears. I think that's one of the great gifts ... [static] Nope. One of the great gifts of that kind of trance work that you guys were talking about before, it's like, you know, I don't need to break reality every time. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

JASON: I don't need to sit there and like, no, get in the crystal. No, not in my head, in the crystal. No, not over there, in the crystal. No ... [laughing] you know I don't want to hear about it in a dream, in the crystal. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: So, it's, it's, if you can build a relationship, if you can, you know, develop the capacity to kind of meet the spirit halfway, rather than, I got made fun of once on social magic reactions for calling it fracking, you're basically spiritually fracking reality, like I'm gonna pull the top off this [laughing] just to get to what I want. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

JASON: But you know. I stand by it. [laughing] 

AIDAN: Yeah. I think that there's a lot to, as you said, just kind of accepting the easy way in, and realizing that a lot of the flash is not necessarily actually helpful, like it can be cool, but it doesn't necessarily actually do what you want, and so in relationship to the stuff that you, whether it's ... I'm not sick of it, but I never have anything to say, because I've got enough people that are aware of what I do. I get kind of the occasional email that's like, "This happened on Thursday," and you get some incredibly abstract Book of the Law kind of thing. What do you think? It's like, [laughing] I have no idea. I don't think anything! I have no concept of your experience, your context, anything else, and it's not my transmission, they're talking to you for some reason, and perhaps that makes sense to you, but it's ... I can try and explain the shit that happens to me, and it's ... in most cases, I don't think it would make sense to other people, frequently. But again, if you can kind of go, can we be pretty straight about it, I don't need it to be fancy looking, I don't need it to be ... Can you show me, you know, I do a lot of things with some of my main kind of allies, it's like [sigh] kind of the inner dialogue is like, put this in my body, let me feel what you want me to feel, don't tell me about it, cause I'm pretty stupid, but if you can kind of cause me to have that sensation then I can use that, and so that's more what goes on for me now. 

FABEKU: I think for me in terms of questions, there's two types really, the first is, you know, do I have to believe in magic for it to work? And I understand why people ask that question, but for me, I'm not an evangelist. I don't really give a fuck WHAT you believe. I don't give a fuck IF you believe, and I'm not, I don't think, my approach to this is, you believe it when you believe it, and the only way you believe it is by doing it, so to me the question is, I think the better question is, how do I get started, how do I do this, and not, does it require belief, because I think you can kind of just fuck yourself in a circle going around with that kind of nonsense. My thing is, I don't know, try it and see. you know? There are a million ways to get started that are not terribly complicated, and see what happens? And, you know, if you believe it as you go, great, and if not, fine, but I think that ... I find the question problematic because I think that it creates, it just creates this weird circular motion for people. you know? 

And I think the other problematic questions are any question that gives up someone's own sense of sovereignty, right? Whether it's asking me, should I do this? Or kind of deferring that sovereignty to the spirits or the allies or whatever. Those questions are always problematic to me. It's like, I think the same kind of common sense rules should apply to magic as they apply to, you know, any other facet of life and any other interaction you have, and I don't think that we should somehow give up our sense of sovereignty and our sense of agency, by asking what we should do, I think that, that to me feels like a sideways kind of a thing, so those are always questions that I don't like to answer and I really strongly discourage people from asking, because, I think, again, it's just rooted in a perspective that for me feels really problematic. 

ANDREW: Yeah, don't ask the spirits for permission for something you want to do. 

FABEKU: yeah. 

ANDREW: Right? you know? I mean ask them for advice in general, but like, yeah ...

FABEKU: Yeah. And I think even asking, you know, should I do this working, I don't know, I can't answer that, you know, you know what you need, you know what you want, you know what's important for you, you know what you're willing to sacrifice in the process, I have no way of answering that question for you, and I shouldn't be the one answering it in the first place. 

ANDREW: Hmm. yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I think that's an interesting question, you know, I think that there are, there are definitely times when I ask spirits, especially the Orishas, should I do this, should I do that, but it's more along the lines of like should I, when I moved from the old shop to the new shop, I'm like, should I sign the lease on this place? Should I do this thing? Like, they're more like, and they're not guarantees, but they're like, is there good possibilities here, or is there like, is there a pitfall, you know, that's really what I mean by these shoulds, right? Is this is a space where something can happen, or is there something that you see that I don't see that's gonna make a big hot mess of it, right? But yeah, I think that that quickly and usually turns into something much more problematic, right? 

FABEKU: Yeah. 

ANDREW: And I find that I, I definitely, I get my share of the bulletproof questions, or the reconciliation stuff, that I'm like, that I'm often like, I'm not that interested in it, and, you know, it doesn't bother me, per se, I'm just like, no thank you, it's not what I do, I guess that the question that I've been getting lately, and I think that I need to set some time to put something out there to sort of counter this, is, you know, since the announcement of the Orisha tarot has happened, I've been getting more emails from people, basically asking me if I will initiate them and make them a priest, and I'm just like, it doesn't even begin to work that way, and you know there's sort of a presumption of, it depends on where they're coming from, but there's often a sort of presumption of entitlement or desire that they're gonna start a road that will take them there, and I'm like, I don't even know you, like number one, it's a permanent lifelong commitment you're asking of me, and number two, you don't even know if this is your path, you feel drawn to it, but that doesn't mean that that's true or helpful or real or valid at this time or ever, maybe, you know, so I think that I need to ... talking about this conversation tells me that I need to put something together and put it out there so I can just sort of point people to things and say, go read this, this will give you a better idea of how this works. 

JASON: But Andrew, I read a book about it last week and I'm really really into it! 

ANDREW: Yeah? Only one book, not all the books? 

[laughter]

ANDREW: I'm so disappointed in you, come on, and all the websites, right? 

AIDAN: especially the websites, they're, you know, they're the critical source. 

ANDREW: The critical source at every juncture, right? 

AIDAN: That's it! 

ANDREW: [laughing] All right, well, we have been on this call for a long time. I want to thank you all. you know Let's do a quick round of just sort of say where the best place for people to come and find out about you and what you're up to is, and then we'll wrap it up for the day. Aidan? Where should people come connect with you? 

AIDAN: AidanWachter.com, AidanWachter on Instagram, Aidan Wachter on Facebook [laughing] All of that. And then Six Ways currently is available strictly through online bookstores, but pretty much all of the big ones. And as I said earlier, we'll try it. We'll be getting those out to stores that are interested in probably the next five weeks. 

ANDREW: Jason? 

JASON: StrategicSorcery.net. And from there you can find Facebook and all the other places that I might be hanging out. 

ANDREW: Definitely. And if you're looking to learn from a meditation master, you should go check that out, because they do fantastic things; you too could get a fancy robe! 

[laughter]

FABEKU: If you enroll now, get a free baseball mala included with the price. 

JASON: yeah, I don't know who that guy's tailor was, but it was awesome. [laughing] 

ANDREW: Very nice. Fabeku? 

FABEKU: Fabeku.com.

ANDREW: And I am either Andrew MacGregor or the Hermit's Lamp, basically everywhere. So. Thanks, gents! Thanks for jumping in and being our fourth today, Jason. It's been a pleasure.

JASON: Thank you for having me. 

AIDAN: Yeah, super great to have you here. 

JASON: I feel honored to be able to play the imaginary instrument in the imaginary band.

[laughter]

ANDREW: [laughing] May it always be thus. 

JASON: [laughing] 

 

 

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

EP84 Curiosity, Call Ins, and Politics with Siobhan

July 6, 2018
00:0000:00

Given the state of the world we need to find better ways to relate to each other and grow. This is exactly what Andrew and Siobhan talk abot in this episode. How to find our way towards grpowing and undoing the conditinoing of history. This converstaion is about finding posibilities, opening to others and working to change the world for the better. 

The link Siobhan mentioned, an inquiry practice for allies:
 
A link they wish they'd mentioned, where I'm talking about oppression and sliding scales in spiritual business: 
 
Their newsletter (best way to keep in touch):
 

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the 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 joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 

Andrew

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

 

Transcript 

ANDREW: Welcome to the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am hanging out today with Siobhan, who is a card reader who I know through the tarot community, but who I really wanted to sort of have on the podcast and sort of talk about politics and identity, and how we interact with each other, and how we can try and have better, more humane, more open conversations about what's going on with each other and in the world right now. 

Because I feel like in a lot of the spiritual communities, there are, you know, some awareness of these things, and then there are places where there's just no awareness, and so I thought that Siobhan would be a great person to have on and talk about some of this stuff and see what comes of it. But for people who don't know who you are, who are you? What are you up to? 

SIOBHAN: [laughing] Well. I am, primarily, a tarot reader and writer. I write most often at LittleRedTarot.com, which is an intersectional alternative space, and I also write at my website at RadicalTarot.com. I spend a lot of time writing about the intersections that I live on. And so, that might look like writing about race, writing about other marginalized groups, writing about chronic illness, or mental health issues. And so, I spend a lot of time writing about political topics, although, you would never believe it, I'm not really as political of a person [laughing], not usually, but my writing does tend to be pretty authentic and pretty raw in talking about my experience in marginalized communities. So, that's a lot of what I end up doing.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. And -- so -- Siobhan and I have been talking for a while about being on the podcast, and for a variety of reasons it keeps getting nudged into the future, until today. But one of the things that sort of surfaced recently was sort of a conversation which we were both a part of, around ... Not to give away sort of personal information but, somebody was called out for a behavior, and, you know ... And, and, you know, sort of Siobhan and I were sort of both the voices in that conversation that kind of migrated towards, “Well, there is something to what they're saying, there's something that we could consider, right?” 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm. Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, and so, it kind of reminded me that this was the conversation I wanted to have ...

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, you know, I think that there's ... You know, we live in interesting times, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right! [laughs]

ANDREW: Where, the ways in which people have access to each other, the ways in which people treat each other, especially online but also in lots of other places, you know, it's often really unclear to me whether ... What's helpful and what's not, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, and so ... Yeah, I'm just wondering ... Because your response was so wonderful, I'm wondering, you know ...

SIOBHAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: If you could sort of share a little bit of what that idea was, you know? 

SIOBHAN: It's so funny. Yeah, you know, the first thing that pops up when you talked about that, was a post I wrote, actually, a very similar time of year, maybe two years ago, and it was in response to Kelly-Ann Maddox's #TarotSoWhite discussion. I don't know if you saw any of that. But the dialogue came up around how many decks there are that have representation, how many diverse decks that there are, and so, it was an interesting time, because it was the first time I had ever heard anyone sort of call out this notion of the tarot space being predominantly white, predominantly occupied by a certain demographic. And I want to say, I had mentioned it briefly in a tarot chat, and then it came up later again and again, but the dialogue was pretty interesting and fruitful at the time. And it was funny, because the piece that I wrote in response, actually was contrary to the original callout. [laughing] 

So, whereas the original assertion was, there aren't very many decks with people of color, I wrote, “Well, actually, there could be more, way more ...” At the time, it was two years ago. “But they do exist, and to reference them as if they don't is erasure.” And I remember at the time having a really sweet conversation with Kelly-Ann, where she realized how many different options were available that actually she hadn't seen yet, and it was really amazing to get closer to her and to dialogue in that way, and it went really well. 

And so, at the time, I didn't have the concept of a call-in, versus a call-out, and you'll hear those terms more commonly in feminist spaces, people talking about drawing attention to a behavior or activity that they saw that could be problematic, in a way that may be perceived as shameful versus as an invitation to dialogue, to go deeper and to learn something. And so, I didn't even have a concept of that, at the time, I just responded with pure emotion. It was a very emotional summer, I want to say, there were a lot of acts of violence that had just happened, in the news. Perhaps the first of the series that kicked off all the -- I know it's hard to remember a time when it wasn't [laughing] -- all the time.

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: It was less visible then, so it was the first instance. And so, yeah, this conversation has just gotten bigger and deeper in the spiritual community and also in other communities, and now, people who have never encountered any sort of idea about their own privilege, or about the experiences of marginalized groups, are now encountering these experiences, and not everybody who calls people out necessarily has the space to do so in a way that is kind or compassionate, and not everybody who is called out or in necessarily knows that there is any information to glean from it. 

And so, it's so interesting to watch these conversations happen. [laughing] It's a very primordial time for these discussions. It's very new to many people. And it's worth it and it's exciting, but there's also issues when it can be tender. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Times when it can be tender. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, I think it's ... I mean, it's challenging on many levels, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I think that for people in all of the positions to have openness to where other people are coming from ...

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And openness to being present and sort of curious about the process.

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know? I mean, it's really tough, and certainly, at times, not possible or not even appropriate. 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: But, it's one of the things that I dug about your, you know, your response in that conversation was, you really were like, “Huh. Well, that's really interesting. Okay, where are you coming from? What is that about? What does that mean?” 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know, there was a curiosity to it, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And I think that it's such a powerful place to be, right? Like, curiosity and openness are so profound when we can find our way to those positions ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: But, you know, it's certainly not easy, right? Or, and you know ... and definitely not always possible or appropriate.

SIOBHAN: Right. It's the edge of the cliff.

ANDREW: Right? 

SIOBHAN: It's that full space. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: And to even just -- I remember in that conversation, the topic we were talking about was so unfamiliar to me, in a way, I said to myself, it had never occurred to me to be mindful of this thing that even you're bringing up, now I can know, moving forward, to think about this marginalized group which I had not considered, when I create and when I collaborate and when I support. And to really be humble in that moment, and to notice my own privilege, having not had to think about it ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And owning that to. A lot of ... There's a lot of assumptions made about who has privilege to check, and it's so many more people than you would imagine, so many more kinds ... I've been really exploring the privilege of someone who -- if you're a person who, if you're photogenic, if you're pretty, if you're thin, if you have money, there's so many different ways to look at it. It's so much deeper than just well, there's a binary and everyone on this end is victimized and everyone on this other end is victimized and not everybody on both sides of it have that awareness. And so, once you realize [laughing] that fact, it behooves you to be curious, because there's so much to learn. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: There's so many different angles to really realize where you have been blessed and where you continue to not be blessed based on things that are circumstances, perhaps. And it's very hard at times, but it can also be interesting, if a person has the space, you know. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, I remember, a couple of years ago now, I did this really long, like 100 or 150 question survey that sort of evaluated your privilege, right?

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, you know, it wasn't like ... I've seen some shorter ones since then and I'm always kind of like, I look at them, and ah, it's like, it makes some sense, but this one was so in depth, and I remember, like, going through and sort of like answering the questions and seeing ... Seeing things that, you know, clearly highlighted my privileges, you know, for me. Like, oh yeah, that's totally me, I totally have, I have access to that, you know. 

SIOBHAN: Right, right. 

ANDREW: I went to university, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: I did this, I did other things. And then all these other things that I never even -- I mean, many of which I was totally aware of but some of which I didn't even really consider part of the conversation, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, and things that I didn't have, that I was like, hmm, interesting. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then I started to think about the ways in which, you know, certain kinds of situations around family structures and other things, you know, and the historical family structures ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know, whether your families stay together or don't stay together ...

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: How those ... like, so many layers of conversation ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Can impact these experiences, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Yeah. And to me, that's where that curiosity comes in, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: How did this shape me or shape somebody else? How do these forces exist in our culture? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Why is one structure prioritized over another? 

SIOBHAN: Right. Right. And then as consciousness deepens, and as awareness deepens, how do I transform or transmute all of the pain that I'm now aware of? [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? Yeah.

SIOBHAN: My own, and also society, because it's a lot. And it seems overwhelming at times when you really open up to that awareness, and which is why some people will choose, unconsciously or consciously, not to be aware of it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, and that brings us to a topic we were chatting a little bit about before the call, which is this spiritual bypassing piece, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmm.

ANDREW: You know. When do we suddenly try and use, you know, a spiritual tool to skip our pain or skip our privilege or skip something else? You know? Instead of, instead of actually digging into it, you know? When do we avoid that shadow work? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Instead of like, honoring the wholeness of our experience and dealing with it all ...

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And then what kind of things come from that, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. Is it at that moment of realization when you open to ...? How much is really happening, how many different layers ... First of all, if you're still in it, there's that space of, oh gosh, how do I hold this for myself, and if you aren't in it, if you have traversed and if you have some kind of mobility, and this is more common as we interact across the streams of privilege, you know. I have access to all kinds of things through people who have access even though I don't have the access, and now there's this opportunity for guilt, this sense of unworthiness, or even thinking about, oh my gosh, my ancestors, they had this thing, they did this thing, and now I feel this sense of guilt over that. 

And so, there's an opportunity, or a ... More accurate to say, a tendency to say, with spiritual practice, to say, okay, being spiritual, having arrived, being enlightened, that means I don't get to feel those things any more. [laughing] I get to be somewhere other than those things, because it's not holy to feel guilty, unworthy, you know, anger, hostility, it's not holy to feel afraid of things that are different, they mean, these things are not spiritual things, and so ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: We hear a lot of talk about quote, letting it go.

ANDREW: Right. 

SIOBHAN: I mean, it's so popular to talk about letting it go. This is a pet peeve of mine. [laughing]

ANDREW: Uh huh. Tell me all about it! 

SIOBHAN: [laughing] If you read my stuff, you'll hear me going on about it all the time cause it's like, we want to let the things go that are the darkest things, that are, they keep returning because they're very deeply embedded in our ancestral story or our own story or maybe just because it's a part of us, or we haven't integrated it, we reject it, and so there it is again. 

And so, the notion that we can continuously keep trying to let something go, rather than just sit with it, you know, which is awful, and terrible, and we often don't want to do it, but, sometimes when we are able to just sit with it, without the judgement call, what this means, what this means about who I am, then, it has less of a pull, you know, even when it shows up. But it's counterintuitive, so instead of doing that, everybody ... You know, it's very popular in the spiritual community to want to let go, we're gonna let go, every full moon we're gonna let go! [laughing] And it's like all right, that's ... We can keep it up, I guess. [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah, I mean, I think that there comes a point, you know ... I have this body of work that I created called the Letting Go Work, right? 

SIOBHAN: [laughing] I'm sorry. 

ANDREW: And so, but the focus of the work is ... is actually to go and sit down with your shadow, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: It's not ... It's not this process of like, you know, and then I'm gonna go into the spiritual bath and shower all this stuff off me, it'll go down the drain, it's gone forever. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: It's the process of building conscious communication with the shadow stuff ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then sustaining it on the regular ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: So that, you know, you're checking in with that, and so your shadow has a chance to say, hey, you're ignoring this crap over here. 

SIOBHAN: Right!

ANDREW: Hey, what about this? Hey, this is ... You know, you're being inauthentic or you're denying something, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Or you're really mad, you've got to let it out, dude. Because if we can talk to that stuff, and sit with it and be present with it and engage with it, then we have a whole different relationship to it. Right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: But like, Carl Jung did not say when we get through the process of individuation that our shadow is gone. 

SIOBHAN: Right. Poof! 

ANDREW: We're living in relationship with it then, right? 

SIOBHAN: Poof! 

ANDREW: It matters.

SIOBHAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: Exactly.

SIOBHAN: Yeah! And it's like, if a person comes from a place where they're not wanting to do that work, that very needed work of upholding space for this thing, then there's no way they would be able to, when they actually encounter that shadow out in the world. So this person who is marginalized in ways they can't understand, the person who doesn't have the privilege they have, if that person calls out to them, in the same way their shadow calls out to them, why would they have a different reaction? They would do the same thing. It would encourage that person to let it go. It would encourage that person to speak in terms of love and light and always gravitate toward and pay attention to love and light and they would say, ignore the things that don't meet or match that paradigm, the same way they say to themselves, and so ... 

I always, there's a little part of me that kind of dies, when I hear someone say, “Turn, you know, turn your attention entirely away from this thing that is so much a part of you and so much your struggle and that you're feeling.” Cause it's like, people need that space for themselves, before they can have and hold space for other people, they're very much linked, and the notion that we can get away is somewhat contrary to the notion that we're all part of one great big thing, which is underneath a lot of spiritual practices anyway.

ANDREW: Right. Well, there's definitely that. Yeah. It's one of the best pieces of advice I got when I first started working as a reader, was a good friend of mine basically was like, “So dude, make sure you deal with all your crap.” 

SIOBHAN: [bursts out laughing]

ANDREW: Deal with it, deal with it all, stay clean, you know, stay clear about it, work to stay free of it, because otherwise you're going to sit down with somebody and try and work and their pain is going to trigger your pain ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then it's going to go all sorts of sideways, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Right. A business is amazing for really shining the light on every crevice that you thought ... [laughing] that you were done with!

ANDREW: Right? 

SIOBHAN: Oh, what about this? What about this here? [laughing] What about this thing that isn't finished? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Yeah. There's a ... a lot more compassion that could stand to be doled out in all directions. [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? Inwardly as well, you know? All of it. Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: In all the directions.

ANDREW: Yeah. So. What, what ... I'm going to put you on the spot here, okay, so forgive me.

SIOBHAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: You can opt out if you need to.

SIOBHAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: But like, what would you hope somebody would do if they were ... If they run into something new that they weren't aware of ... Would be kind of a problematic thing? You know, whether it's ... whatever its focus is, gender, race, or any number of sort of different things, but like ... What would you hope that people, how would they react? 

SIOBHAN: Oh, man! It's tricky. And I say that because the answer would depend in a large part on who that person was. And here's what I mean. There's a spectrum. If a person had an abundance of energy and awareness and privilege and time, it would be really nice if we could have that curiosity response like, Oh! Why is this coming up? you know? Is there something to learn here? Is there something I don't know? Is there ... You know. I acknowledge that this has nothing to do with me because anything anyone ever says generally has nothing to do with anyone, because they're all dealing with their projections, but at the same time, is there something I could learn, if they had that space, but the honest to god truth is that some people, whatever their sense of abundance or privilege or access or whatever they have, they may not have the space. 

And a second-best thing, in that scenario, would be if they could actually see that they don't have the space. So that looks like, Wow, I don't know what to do with this, but I know at least that I'm feeling a defensive response that I want to prove something and so maybe I'll just pause, and that's it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Just a pause where they can see and be with the fact that that's what they have the space for, they have the space for maybe, a pause, and even getting to the point of pause is HUGE. You know, cause the natural thing to do is just react ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Savor, be right or reassure, whatever the deal is, and it would be amazing to even have the choice in a moment, and so, having the choices coming from working on things before you were even in the situation [laughing]. So, it's really hard to say, oh man, curiosity, willing to be open to possibly having missed something, possibly not knowing something, possibly being wrong. And, it depends on the person and if they have space. I actually wrote an entire blog post about that very thing you just asked. [laughing]

ANDREW: Well, perfect! We'll put a link in the show notes.

SIOBHAN: It was the most viewed blog post I ever wrote, and I wrote it that summer that we were just talking about ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Right before that whole discussion cause, it was just so painful to see so much death and to be reminded that no matter how much you progress, or at least in my instance, how much I had progressed and how much better I felt. Yet within, that there were still those dark things that were my reality, that may be my reality, without, and so in there it really encourages people to have a dialogue with what they need, really, first, because if they don't know, they can't, they can't offer anything. They have to come first, and they have to also acknowledge a reality in which they may be coming first many places without any effort on their part.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: They may be central, they may be primary, they may be the first thought for entire nations. [laughs] And so, there's the thought for: Do I have the space for the person who unlike me, doesn't come first, in my nation, in my society? And being honest about that. Because some people have a culture that is ingrained and it's very fragile, and they actually may not know all that they may be capable of, they may not have been invited to step into their fullness just yet. And so the kneejerk reaction, which is natural and human ... It might be much smaller than they're capable of being. And so it can be exciting to think about interaction with a person where they actually realize more their resilience.

ANDREW: Hmm.

SIOBHAN: And they say, Oh, I've felt defensive and offended every time this has ever happened in my whole life, and maybe I have room for more reactions. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: You know? 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: Maybe I have room for more than just my central and my primaryness. Maybe based on that solid self-care, you know, first step, I have more resilience than I thought. More capacity to notice when I'm expecting someone else to be resilient in my stead. And maybe perhaps a habit I have of doing that all the time. [laughs]

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: You know?

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, and I also think that pause is such a great notion. Because I think that ... I think that we don't always even understand what we might do, or how we might do it, or what could be possible? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm. 

ANDREW: Or what might shift to make things possible over time.

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Like one of the things for me is, you know, I was aware for a while that this podcast was inaccessible to a bunch of people, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, because they are unable to listen, you know? And, you know, and it took me awhile, like maybe six months of pondering that and then looking at what it would cost me to provide transcriptions. And then looking at my wallet and being like, “I can't do that.” 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then thinking about it and looking at options, and then, you know, it wasn't until one day ... And I was aware of Patreon the whole time, you know, which is like this sort of people pay per episode to support stuff. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: I was aware of it the whole time, but I don't even remember what happened, but somebody talked about it in a certain way. And I was like, “I could use Patreon to make that happen,” you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then that took a little bit of time, you know? And then now, every episode comes out with transcriptions.

SIOBHAN: That's cool!

ANDREW: You know, which is, which is, exciting, right? But like, but, if I had gotten stuck at I can't do this -- I was stuck at I can't do anything about this today. And left it at that, then it wouldn't be where it is now. You know? And that's one of the things that can come from the pause, right?

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: It can come from, you know, it's just like, putting a little sign up on the wall that says this is a thing I'd like to do at some point, somehow.

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: I'd like to change this issue, and then, and then, hopefully, time and circumstance shift in a way that allows it to be resolved ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know? You get an idea to do something different. And maybe it doesn't, you know, I mean, because there are still times when offering stuff like that is beyond the means of whatever it is that I'm doing, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Some of the classes that I run are fairly small, and so it's not super possible, but, you know, we can set our intentions and we can ponder these things, and they can sort of open us up to other possibilities, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right, right. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

SIOBHAN: That's a powerful example.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: That's a really powerful example. Especially the notion of, even if I can't do this thing right this second, I have space to think about it.

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: You know, because some people, they file it away under, “I can't do that. The end.” And then they never have to think about it again. Like they're absolved. This is that bypassing coming up. It's like, “I couldn't in this one instance implement it, so I won't worry about it.” 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: But when there's a willingness to stay with it, to stay with this other reality that isn't yours, in that perfect example that you just gave, more is possible, eventually. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And also, you know I think that it's also important to understand that perfect isn't the goal. Right?

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I mean, perfect would be lovely if it existed anywhere. Right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. [laughing]

ANDREW: But when we're working on these things, perfect can't be the goal. You know, because I think, at least for me, perfect equals immobilization. Right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Perfect equals this space where I just can't continue because, you know, because I can't get there. Right? You know? I mean, there's nothing about my life that allows me enough time and space to make anything perfectly ...

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So I pursue just sort of working on stuff, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And I think that that's part of the ongoing sort of dialogue between curiosity and openness too, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Recognizing I will do my best, or what I perceive to be my best now ...

SIOBHAN: Mmm.

ANDREW: And then we'll see what happens, and then I will engage with what happens afterwards, and then I will adjust, and improve, or change or whatever if I have space for that. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Continue that process, right? Like it's not this sort of unfolding of this awareness of privilege in North America.

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I mean, I've been watching it flow for a while now, and it's not done, it's going to be done soon, it's going to continue, right? 

SIOBHAN: [laughing] Right. 

ANDREW: And that's, that's not even because ... Like, it would be tempting to be like, well, if everybody just accepted it, or was on board, or whatever, but I'm like, well no, because it's also a process of undoing, right?

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And when you start moving stuff, you start having space to see other things.

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And that doesn't mean that we shouldn't move anything because, you know, cause we'll find the dust bunnies under the couch, or, you know, whatever ...

SIOBHAN: Right! [laughing]

ANDREW: It's like, we should move those things and then we should move other things, and then we should see what's beyond that, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Exactly. Yeah. And the notion ... The notion of doing our best is interesting also when we consider that nothing ... there may not be an occurrence in our lives that actually calls on us to consider perspectives outside of our own.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And that's where the notion of resilience can come in. For the person who is used to staying in their own perspective, they are only so large. There is only so much that is possible. Which is why tarot can be useful. When you come together with people over tarot, there's another perspective that's introduced. We do this in interpersonal relationships of all kinds, sure. And the person who doesn't have that playback, or the person who is isolated from cultures that they've never met, they're never going to come across a person with this worldview, their concept of their best might be limited. It may not even reflect the reality for them. And so it's exciting to think about people being expanded, and their notion of what's possible being expanded as a result of all these dust bunnies that we keep finding. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. Yeah, and when I grew up, I grew up in a suburb of Toronto. And, you know, when I went to high school, I think that, you know, in a school that probably had like 1000 students, there might have been a handful of people of color, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Like, one table at the lunchroom was like, people of color, and that was it, you know? And that was indicative of the whole town, right? And, you know? And now as we open to that stuff, you know, and as we open to other cultures, we can, you know, expand more and figure things out differently, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And I think that it's easy to sort of look around, in, you know, and I always say, cause I live right in downtown Toronto now, right? Like one block from the gay village, and, you know, and in one of the most sort of diverse neighborhoods around, kind of thing. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And, you know, it's easy to sort of think that this is also it, right? You know? And when I travel to other places, I'm like, oh no. I live in a little pocket that is SO different than everywhere else, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And I mean not everywhere else, but like many other places, in a kind of a counterforce to that sort of living in the suburbs experience, you know, I now live the opposite, but both of them create their own limiting tunnels, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, I think it's ... I think it's really interesting to sort of try and understand what we're not living, wherever we're living, right? However we're living that, and sort of see what other people are actually up to. 

SIOBHAN: Right. Right. And really honor our blinders. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

SIOBHAN: I ... Only in the last ten years, have I really appreciated the fact that I belong to the global majority. [laughs] 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm!

SIOBHAN: It's like, it's been the case for longer than that, but only in the last five to seven years, really, has that sat with me, and I had to go and seek out communities where they would discuss those things, for it to really become a part of my awareness. 

ANDREW: Right.

SIOBHAN: So, it's not even necessarily an appearance grants you access into different perspectives, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: It's a dialogue that you keep having, and keep needing to be willing to have in order to keep learning. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well, and I think that willingness to have it is such an important thing, right? And from my perspective, for me personally, willingness to get out, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: To look for it, and look for people who have the space to have that dialogue with me, right?

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Because you want to be mindful that you're not sort of expecting ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Somebody else to educate you, or whatever. Right? It's a thing that you should ask permission about, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And, you know? Because otherwise we don't want to expect that I'm gonna run to this person and be like, so tell me all about this disability that you've got ...

SIOBHAN: Right! [laughs]

ANDREW: How does that happen, right? Tell me all about, your like, the color of your skin and how that impacts your life and your culture or whatever. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know, cause those things are ... That's problematic too, right? But like, looking for those permissions. And then being really really super willing to sort of, you know, if you're gonna ask, then listen.

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Like really listen, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: As we're recording this, in September I have a tarot deck coming out through Llewellyn, which is the Orisha tarot deck, right? Which is a deck that sort of explores the overlap of my involvement with traditional Afro-Cuban Orisha practices ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And my initiation into them, and my experiences for all these years playing with tarot and working with tarot. And one of the things that I did when I started, was I sat down with a friend of mine who is an activist and a person of color. And I showed them a bunch of the drawings that I was working on, and I was like, “What do you think? What do you feel? How does this hit you?” Right? 

And not because I feel that they can speak for everybody, but because I felt like I needed somebody to talk to, and they were a person who was, you know, an artist as well as, you know, a spiritual person and so on. And we talked about it a bunch, and they liked what I was up to. 

And then when I got to the end of the deck, I was like, you know, I'd made some artistic choices, I'd depicted a lot of people of color in the deck, and people with different bodies, and all these kinds of things, and I wanted to sit down and like, just sort of say, like, “Do you have thoughts and feelings about what was going on?” You know? 

And so, I sat down with the same person and with somebody else, and I showed them the art work, again, and there were specifically a couple of choices that I made that affected about a dozen of the cards, right? And, and so, and I didn't bring up anything, I just sat down and showed them or whatever, and both people thought it was great. They really liked what I had been doing, they felt like ... They felt like it was good representation. You know, like one of them said, “I feel like I see my uncle in this card, and I feel like I see this person in this card, I really like it.” And I was like, “That's great.” Cause I was totally willing to redo a bunch of these cards. You know? And, and I think that we need to be, if we're going to enter into this, we need to consider that we might need to redo stuff. And it might be inconvenient. Or it might be a burden, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, and also, in terms of perfect, this is two people's opinion? Right? Like this is not everybody, and I am sure inevitably, you know, because that's the way the world is, people will have issues, some people will have an issue, or maybe not, but like, but I don't expect that it's perfect, you know? But I also couldn't poll the world, you know? And, and, so, we need to find our way to engage this stuff. And find our way to keeping moving forward and making things happen, you know? So.

SIOBHAN: That's interesting. That's interesting, and it's interesting because it's a very popular notion in the public eye now. The African tradition is very very in the center of everybody's eye, and many people are new to it, and so, there are people that will see it, they won't know anything about you and then they'll say, “[sigh], It's that, it's that, how popular it is,” and then they'll jump to that conclusion, and then there are some that are traditionalists and they'll have their own reasons why, and it's interesting because the diaspora is so huge ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And people will have all different perspectives. And it's ... really hard to even try and get one consensus about what is right, what feels good, and I recently had an incident where I was taking a course and I asked about using some kind of Buddhist symbolism. I've been cultivating a practice of my own. And I said, “You know, I don't know how I feel about this, using this symbol. Does anyone practice, does anyone belong, does anyone come from this culture, how do you all feel?” 

And I want to say, there were many people who said “Oh, it's probably fine,” or some that said ... I also thought it was really funny, they'd say, “Well, it's not the same when people of color do this thing.” And I thought, Oh! And that's interesting too, as if ... it's almost like a free pass moment? And I was like, that doesn't really resonate with me. Especially when you think about ... if you think about the question, you know, do I belong to a culture who has benefited from the oppression of this other culture whose symbolism that I'm engaging? If I were to say that as an American, and I were to think about Buddhist cultures that have been affected by American policy, the answer to that would be yes, regardless of my skin color, because I'm here. And I had to really decide for myself what felt appropriate to me ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: Even with the endorsement of people in the culture, because there was this moment of what is the history? How have I benefited? You know. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And there's an opportunity ... I said to myself when I wanted to use the symbol: It's okay because I supported ... I supported Buddhists when I bought this. And I support them when I do this other thing. And I uplift this people in this way and that and then, there's a capitalist notion that I now own this symbol ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And I can do what I want with it. Because I engage it ... And in my case, because I engage it personally, because I have a practice and I've been cultivating. It's like, this is my culture!

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: You know, I do it too! And it was tricky for me to sit with. The concept of even owning a symbol ...

ANDREW: Mmm.

SIOBHAN: Is somewhat capitalist and colonialist in nature. To have the rights to use it. And this is new for me to think about this, honestly. While I've thought about cultural appropriation before, I engaged it in depth this summer through that course that I was taking. And that was interesting to have that moment, because I had always thought, as long as I am engaging this culture, supporting this culture, and uplifting this culture, then it's fair game, the symbols are fair game. But I no longer necessarily believe that. It's totally case by case. 

ANDREW: Do you use the symbol? 

SIOBHAN: Did I use it? No.

ANDREW: No? 

SIOBHAN: I didn't. And I said to the people I was asking, I said, If I ever use images of my practice or Buddhist symbols that I engage, it will have the level of awareness in it that I've now garnered. It won't be an afterthought. It won't be like, Oh, I just used this symbol and then afterwards I think about it. It will be like, this is what I intend, I stand confident in this. And it will involve the foresight needed, just like you were talking about, sitting down with people and saying, “How do you feel about this? How do you feel about this? And ...”

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: And asking myself questions like, “What about this project, this representation, or this use of this symbol, amplifies further the voice of the people who have been disadvantaged ...” 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: In accordance to or in relationship to members' cultures that I belong to, and things like that, it won't be separate from that ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: I will be having that awareness. If I do use the symbol, ever.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, you know, and making this deck, I certainly talked to my elders. You know, I sat down and showed my elder all the work, you know, to make sure that they were happy with it and comfortable with it, you know, and again recognizing that they don't speak for everybody, you know, like it's...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know? I mean, and ultimately, from my point of view, when it comes to this particular project, you know, it's a ... I would have used the word Lucumí as the title of the tarot, but it's already taken by another deck, but like it represents a very specific set of experiences which are mine and my story and my journey and my ...

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Understandings and my lineage, you know? And it doesn't represent, and certainly it doesn't pretend to represent, all of these diasporic traditions or any of those things, because that's impossible. Because they are related but they are not the same. 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And, you know, and I'm also, I am not a Cuban, and I’m not a, you know, Yoruban or, you know, Brazilian or other things, you know? I'm not a person of color. I'm not any of those things. 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And those people and the way in which those traditions are practiced in different communities are always going to be different. 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And, you know, that's the end of the conversation, right, you know?

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And for me, the problem arises when people don't understand those implications, right? You know, like you're talking about, you know? Well, I can just -- I'm a Buddhist -- Look at me, I've got a brass Buddha statue, I'm good, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right! [laughing] Right. Right, there's a lot of ... harm can be done in the assumption that because a thing was purchased, you own the rights to the culture ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And you own the right to use that symbol, however you want, just cause you own it. And that's the capitalist way.

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: I bought that, it's mine, I can do whatever I want with it, and there's not a thought process about where did this fabric come from? What traditional weave is this? What are the conditions in the nation where they do this weave? And, are they in a situation where their culture is being eradicated? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: I just heard about that recently. I can't remember the major design company that stole this technique from a region. And then another company came, went to that nation, and amplified the voices there, and created a school so they could continue teaching their cultural work. And there is an opportunity for more things like that to happen, the uplifting of voices that are fading away because of systemic oppression, but only if people get beyond their feeling of ownership of something ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: And their feeling of glory about something. And ... And it's really easy to lose track of that. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. For sure. And I think it's a thing, you know, we live in ... Capitalism is such a thing, right? Says the person who runs a store, right? 

SIOBHAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: You know, but, I think that ... I was having this conversation with somebody recently about being anti-capitalist, right? 

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And they were talking about somebody else who was running a business who was anti-capitalist and was running into all these challenges and problems for the people that they had, that they would struggle and stuff. And, I'm like, I don't think I'm anti-capitalist per se, I mean, I think that there are better ideas, for sure, but I'm definitely anti-exploitation. You know? And for me, like, capitalism, when we talk about capitalism, I feel lost and daunted by the immensity of it. You know? I mean, like, what am I going to do about this? You know? I ... It just hits a thing where I sort of get stuck. But I definitely work to, in my interactions, be anti-exploitive. You know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And seeking to, you know, build and prioritize the independent people, independent deck makers that we're supporting, you know? Seeking to ask the questions about ... So I'm buying this thing, where did it come from? How is it made? You know? Is this palo santo sustainably harvested? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Or is this like you're in there with a chain saw cutting them down? You know?

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And seeking that ... it adds a layer of work, but I think it also ... Beyond just being like, good practice, I think it also adds a layer of power to stuff as well, you know, when we're talking about spiritual things, you know? When we know that there's a chain of connection that has consideration for the earth and people and spirit and so on, I feel like there's a flow through there that makes things better, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: If the opportunity is taken. And I believe that chain is there even if we don't take the opportunity. And then what are we connecting ourselves to, is the question. 

ANDREW: Well, for sure, right? 

SIOBHAN: You know, when we don't investigate it, what are the conditions where they mine this? What does the earth look like as a result of this mining? What happens ... You know? When this degrades, this thing I use, this single use thing, and, one of the things that really flabbergasted me [laughing], when I became more active online, in the online spiritual community, was the notion that spiritual practices are concerned with nature, and concerned with the preservation of nature, and I'm still feeling like, if I were to divulge the level at which I'm thinking about things when it comes to sustainability, I mean, I would be that crazy person. Like -- And I mean that like in the sense that I would be the outlier in the way that I often am. 

Not to mean, not to say that, not to put a judgement call on the person who thinks differently or the person who is othered because of their mental health status, because again, I'm coming from that place too, but the person who is othered because [sigh], this is just too weird, this is just too hard, this is just ... but at the same time, we're in a time where it's so important that really everybody kind of gets on the same page about that, or else. 

ANDREW: I just don't get those people, though, right? I'm like, this is a person who is way more passionate about this than I have capacity to do. 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So I'm gonna like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna pay them for their passion, for their intensity, for being out there, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Cause there are these people out there, you know? I have the good fortune to meet them and I'm just like, Yes! You're the good chain. I want to support this. 

SIOBHAN: [laughing] Right. 

ANDREW: And other people, I'm just like, “Hmm, I'm not sure, we'll see,” you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, like, cause lots of people, I run into lots of people doing business, and lots of people importing stuff from wherever, and I'm always like, hmm, you know.

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then there's people who are doing great stuff, you know? Like some of my suppliers, they know exactly where their crystals are coming from cause they're paying the people directly to mine them. You know?

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And they go down and, you know, give those people money and support their families and connect with them and connect with sustainability of these things, cause they want them to keep coming, right? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know, and they want these people who have these abilities to keep doing it and to be supported, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: And I think that that's amazing when that, when I see that, you know? 

SIOBHAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So. Yeah. 

SIOBHAN: I continue to be surprised how many people own shops, metaphysical shops, that look at me sideways when I say “Do you support ethical mining? Are these ethically mined?” And I just get blank faces. [laughing] You know, like, “What does that even mean? What are you even talking about? Oh, well probably, you know,” and it's like, this isn't an insane notion, in the spiritual community, it's not this bizarre notion, but it is, it is a lot of places.

ANDREW: Yeah, and it's tough because there's so many, you know, there's stuff, certainly, 100 percent of our stuff is not, it's not clear where a bunch of it comes from.

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Because there's so many disruptions in the points of connection, you know?

SIOBHAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, but I think it's important to be mindful of it and to try and work on that, right? Cause otherwise we'll never move further in that direction, you know? So.

SIOBHAN: Right.

ANDREW: Yeah.

SIOBHAN: Right. I look at my collection [laughing] ... My collection I've amassed at this point of gems and minerals, and my awareness of even the concept of ethical mining started, really, when I got more active in the Little Red Tarot community. She's been very vocal -- Beth, the owner -- about ethical mining and through her I learned, Oh, I really have to look out for this. Cause you learn in little pieces. The gems. It's the food, where's the food coming from? This plastic, what's going to happen to it when I'm done with it? You, obviously, you don't become aware of it all at once, or at least hopefully not, you work piece by piece, and then to really think about, what am I going to do with this stuff now that I already have it? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

SIOBHAN: What is the most powerful purpose that I could put this to, now that I do already own it and really, staying curious about that, rather than shutting down, and rather than going into a guilt that doesn't serve. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. Well, I think that's a good spot to stop it and say, if you're curious about Siobhan, where do they come and find you? [laughing]

SIOBHAN: [laughing] I'm at RadicalTarot.com

ANDREW: Nice. 

SIOBHAN: And, everything is there. I'm also everywhere else and they can find my Instagram. My Twitter is actually the most political place I am, ironically, that's the place I'm most vocal when it comes to how I feel. I am on Facebook, but it's only a matter of time, before, I think, I part ways with them. And my newsletter is definitely the safest way to make sure that you hear about anything that I'm putting forth, because I announce everything there. 

ANDREW: Nice. Well, thank you so much for making some time and coming on the podcast today. It's been great. 

SIOBHAN: Awesome! Thank you for having me!

EP83 Hand Crafting, Initiation, and Oshun with TeeDee Gonzalez

June 22, 2018
00:0000:00

TeeDee and Andrew talk about the values of initiation. How it changes a person and how that enhances ones talents. They also talk about Oshun and how Teedee understands her after 20 years of initiation. 

Connect with TeeDee on her website.

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Andrew
 

ANDREW: Welcome to another installment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm here today with T-D González, who I know from the Orisha community, and who has been making some wonderful product and really representing some of the things that I think are significant and important about both tradition and initiation. So, for folks who don't know you, T-D, who are you? What are you about?

T-D: [laughing] So, I am an Olorisha of the Afro-Cuban Lucumí tradition, initiated to the Orisha Ochún. I was ordained in Cuba in 1999. I live in Los Angeles, California. I'm a mother of two little boys. I'm a widow. I have a lot going on. And I've enjoyed making spiritual baths, which was one of the first things that I learned, one of the first things that many of us learn in the religion. And I've been doing that for about 20 years now, and I just recently began to sell a dried spiritual bath utilizing the herbs that we use in Orisha worship, in Lucumí Afro-Cuban Orisha worship that pertain to Ochún, so it's an Ochún bath. And I'm really excited about it, I love making it, I love working with the herbs, and it's a lifelong learning process for me. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm, yeah, it's awesome. I think we need to definitely talk about the herbs but the first question that I want to kind of start with us talking about is, who is Ochún? 

T-D: [laughing]

ANDREW: Right? And I ask this because, you know, I had David Sosa on a while back, and we talked --

T-D: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm, my dear friend. 

ANDREW: Local human. And, I think it's really important because I think Ochún is, possibly from what I see, one of the most popular of the Orishas, and yet so much of what I see, in general conversation from, you know, people outside of the tradition doesn't often jive very well with my understanding of her from a traditional context at all.

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And even in the traditional context, you know, I mean, some of my elders basically say, well she's kind of unknowable. 

T-D: Right. And she's a deeply misunderstood Orisha. 

ANDREW: Right!

T-D: She's very popular and well loved, probably because of her beauty and because of her dominion over some of the aspects of life that obviously all of us are striving to attain or to enjoy. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: But she is deeply misunderstood. So -- And she means different things, probably, to different people, even among initiates.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: I see Ochún as elegance and beauty, but maybe not necessarily in the most apparent ways or in the most superficial ways. And I definitely see Orisha as working through other people. So Ochún for me is a motherly figure --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And she's forgiving and she's understanding and she's compassion, but she also can be stern, and she also can teach us very difficult lessons. And she also demands respect. And she demands regard for the counsel that she gives us, you know. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: So, in some ways I always say, you know, I'm a little bit afraid of Ochún. I'm dedicated to her, I'm crowned to her, I love her, obviously, I've dedicated my life to Ochún, and she's blessed my life in many many ways. But Ochún is not an easy crown to wear. People make lots of assumptions about her children and things of that nature. Ochún is a very complex Orisha. On, you know, in the most basic terms, you know, we can say Ochún is a healer, Ochún heals with fresh water, Ochún also makes herbal decoctions, Ochún is a diplomat, Ochún is an astute businesswoman, Ochún is multifaceted, she's an incredible cook, she's a wonderful and caring mother, she's a wonderful mate, there are many aspects of Ochún. And obviously, then there is the connective part of Ochún in terms of sparking human connection between one another. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: One of the praise, Oríkìs or praise names for my aspect of Ochún, is Oneabede. A bede is that long brass needle that's used to sew nets. So we can say she knits together the fabric of families ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Or the web of societies. We could just go on and on. 

ANDREW: For sure, yeah. And I think about Ochún in my life, who's been, ever since I, ever since I sort of entered the religion in about 2000, she's been a constant. Right? She's always standing up for me, always there to help me, you know, always showing up when I need something ...

T-D: And she's a fighter! [laughing]

ANDREW: She is a fighter, right? And like you said, she demands her respect in a way that is unquestionable, you know? So before we do a ... what's called a reading of entry ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Which is before you get crowned, there's a reading that gets done to make sure that everything's good for the ceremony space, right? 

T-D: Right. Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Has everything been covered, do we have all the right things, is there some unexpected problem? 

T-D: Right. Some call it the vista or the obo de entrada, or, you know. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And Ochún, in my reading of entry, showed up and says, "So no matter who's marked as your mother this weekend, I'm always your mother." 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And I was like, "That's right, Mom, you are!" You know? And that continues. And it's definitely that respect piece, but, it's also ... There's a profound intelligence? 

T-D: Absolutely.

ANDREW: That I think that gets overlooked ...

T-D: Absolutely.

ANDREW: And that diplomat, that business piece, that ...

T-D: That social intelligence, that's really really important. You know? 

ANDREW: Yeah. Mmmhmm.

T-D: It's really important. And the whole piece of love, love goddess, and that whole thing, procreation, productivity, which she kind of dovetails, obviously, with our supreme, you know, Obatala, is, I think that the element that has to do with love speaks to self-love. And self-acceptance. And self-forgiveness. As much as anything else. It's not always a sexual kind of thing, you know, and attracting the things that we want to -- Ochún has a lot to do with attraction, Ochún has a lot to do with transformation, but it's not always in a sexual way. It can sometimes be and obviously it is, but those aren't the only, you know, avenues for that element in our lives.

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure. So, I think I'm just going to have to collect a bunch of children of Ochún speaking about her nature over time on this podcast. 

T-D: And I'm sure you'll get 50 different answers --

ANDREW: Yeah!

T-D: From 50 different children of Ochún, but --

ANDREW: It will be beautiful.

T-D: I want to speak to this thing that you talked about, this whole thing of aché, that we know that we're born with aché, right, and so this aché is this divine, if you want to call it grace, if you want to call it energy, you know, different people call it different things, we're all born with this, right, and we're all made up of this. And some of Vershare's writings even allude to the idea that Oldumare is aché, that God Almighty is aché. We're born with it. And we have our gifts and our grace and our energy, but then to actually be ordained as a priest is to receive the specific aché that we require in order for us to ethically fulfill our destinies, right? That's this idea that we chose a path, that we chose a destiny before we were born. And that we require this aché of these Orishas that we receive aché of, in order to be whole, in a sense, right? Or to be fully aligned with our higher selves.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And so when we receive this aché, this aché that we receive is not the same aché that we're born with. It's really an amplification, an augmentation of what we have. And then it's almost like, you know Willy talks about this in some of his classes, the oreate ritual specialist Miguel Ramos, talks about this idea that it's almost like you have a bank account deposited of aché.

ANDREW: Mmm.

T-D: And then you receive, you know, augmentations to that from ceremonies or initiations or additional rites that you undergo. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And then your behavior and your character help to augment that or to multiply that or deplete it depending on how we conduct ourselves. So those are kind of some avenues or some conversations about aché, and then obviously we have the aché of our, of the Orisha to whom we're primarily dedicated as priests. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And I think we work for the rest of our lives to kind of develop that and grow that thing, and --

ANDREW: Yeah. And I think there's one other piece that sort of falls into that as well, right? Is that we are initiated, and we receive the energy, the aché --

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: The grace, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: The connection to the spirit and so on, right? 

T-D: Yes. 

ANDREW: But we also are initiated into a lineage.

T-D: Absolutely! 

ANDREW: And we are connected to this line of people and Orishas and aché that go back --

T-D: Absolutely.

ANDREW: As far as we can remember.

T-D: Absolutely. Absolutely. That's essential.

ANDREW: And I think that this notion of, or this practice of, being initiated into a lineage also adds to it, because ...

T-D: Absolutely.

ANDREW: It gives us permission, or some people might use the word license --

T-D: Right, licencia. Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: To work with these spirits, and it forms a contract or a ... you know, most often talked about, like a family bond, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: Because we use the word egun, which means ancestors ...

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And when we use the word egun, we mean our ancestors by blood, our family ...

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: And our ancestors by initiations --

T-D: Or by lineage, right. 

ANDREW: And I think that this conjunction of the two forces, right? The energy that we receive directly from people, from our ceremonies, and from the spirits themselves, and that energy that we can access and that we can work with through working with these ancestors, I think that that combination really is where the magic happens?

T-D: Absolutely. I agree with you wholeheartedly, cause you're calling on that energy. 

ANDREW: Yeah!

T-D: You're calling on that energy before we do anything, right? 

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: When we recite our mouba, we're literally praising God and the deities and the elements and we're literally calling the names ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Of those who came before us, of our lineage, and we're calling the names of those exalted priests who existed before us even from outside of our lineage ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: I think that's essential. And yeah, that absolutely speaks to that concept of ritual license. That aché that you receive as an initiate endows you with something that will develop in time with training into ritual license and the ability to perform and to function as a priest on behalf of yourself, on behalf of others, to benefit the community, absolutely. And that is an essential piece, and it speaks to what the Cubans call fundamento, because if you don't have that you're just kind of floundering, fooling around, and this is not that type of thing. And there are absolutely different spiritual traditions and there are people who are born with deep gifts ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: With deep connections to their own ancestors, to their own spirit guides. There are people who have to do little to no work to have the things that they do flourish, but Orisha worship is different from those types of systems and traditions.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: This is absolutely a communal system that requires ordination, initiation, training at the foot of elders, recognition by one's elders. As I said, this is definitely a learning path ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: That one sets their foot upon and they will continue to learn for the rest of their lives. 

ANDREW: True.

T-D: My mother in law lives with me. She's 85, she just celebrated her 60th year as an Olorisha of Ochún, she has crowned many godchildren, she's a wonderful Diloggún diviner, she is an incredibly knowledgeable herbalist, she's just an all-around Olocha of the type that was fairly common 60 years ago when people were kind of all living on that island in that environment and didn't have, didn't function or have to deal with some of the stresses of a modern life in a large place, you know? And she still reads, and she still studies, and she still learns, and she still asks questions in rituals. And she may be one of the -- she's definitely one of the most knowledgeable people, you know, functionally, in terms of ritual competence, that I know. And so it just tells me, this is a learning path, we're on this path for life. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I think it's, I think that it's really a significant point, right? I think that a lot of people have a notion about spirituality, whether it's this path or another path, and I know when I was younger I had this notion, that we will at some point arrive.

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: At some point we will get there, and we will be, we will know the things, we'll stop having questions ...

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: We'll stop whatever, right? And, you know, I mean, I look at the elders that I know, and they're always still asking questions, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: And it's one of those things that the more I learn about these traditions, and even in my Western mystery stuff, even though I decided to walk away from that path ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I could see how much more there was to learn, and that it was infinite, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: And I think that it's really important to cultivate that sort of curiosity and engagement, right?

T-D: Absolutely.

ANDREW: I also think it's interesting, cause you brought up, and I want to kind of talk about this for a bit, before we lose it in the flow of the conversation --

T-D: Okay.

ANDREW: That distinction between like Espiritismo, and muertos, like spirits of the dead, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, you know, what we would call, what more people might call spirit guides ...

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, guardian angels? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, in the sense of like, some spirit that looks over us, and, what do you see as the role of those spirits in your life or in people's lives in general? Because I often see people conflate them with Orisha or with other things, and I'm curious.

T-D: Right. And it's -- it's easy to do, especially when we are in a tradition where many of us, and most of our elders even, will use the word egun for everything, right? Anything that's dead is egun.

ANDREW: Right. 

T-D: So, even if they're talking about spirit guides, which we would say muertos, or guías, or protectores, or even ...

ANDREW: Ada Orun.

T-D: Right, Ada Orun, or even Ada Orun, it's easy to flip that tongue.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: But yeah. Or even where they, some people talk about -- sorry -- even they use the word egun, people who are practitioners of Palo. So it just kind of gets thrown across the board. So it's -- I think it's important for us to be able to kind of designate or understand the differences, so we don't have this kind of totally crucado kind of crossed up situation, but I think that they are important. I think that a lot of that kind of -- I don't want to call it confusion, but kind of mixed up language, comes from the fact that we are ... Our religious practices and our spiritual practices descend from multiple ethnic groups of people that intermixed together in one geographic location, and so we have people practicing multiple spiritual traditions, you know, again, there's a creolization, it's not just strictly this Yoruba thing, because this is not just a Yoruba religion any more, in terms of the ethnic group. And it hasn't -- it hadn't been that way in a long time in Cuba or Brazil either. And now even more so, it is not, because we've got this kind of universal religion now, where people of different races and ethnic groups and backgrounds are practicing these religions, so. Excuse me. But back to your actual question was, I think that spirit guides have a very important place, I think Espiritismo has an important place in the overall practice of Afro-Cuban religion, because I believe that it fills in some gaps that were missing, and this is one school of thought. There are many schools of thought; there are others who will disagree. And I don't necessarily think -- I don't think it's filling in gaps that have to do with egun or ancestral practices, the more I learn about traditional Yoruba religion and the more that I study and read about that, it seems almost like Espiritismo tape kind of fills in some gaps that are missing with Egbe worship, that did not transfer to the New World.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And so, oftentimes you'll hear Yoruba scholars describe Egbe as Yoruba Spiritism. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: Because Egbe is not an Orisha, and it's not one entity, it's like a group of entities that exist in the spiritual realm, and so the more I read of that and learn of that, I see, or I believe, I'm led to believe, that perhaps this filled in a bit of a gap where that was concerned. But I think for all of us, I mean, I come from a house where a lot of Espiritismo is practiced. My elders are espiritistas. I was married to a Palero and espiritista, and I just see how it functions in the life. Once people become developed, it can just help you in so many ways, just in so many little practical ways. But it is a separate practice from Orisha. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And so I think what often happens is, people who are outside of the religion, who do not have elders, are being led by spirit guides to do things, and they believe that they are interacting with Orisha. And, I just don't think that's the case. So all these girls that you see on Instagram and other forms of social media building these empty altars, altar tables, or they're calling them shrines, that don't have any Orisha in them with all kinds of pretty little knick-knacks and afefedes and mirrors and compacts and things -- those are likely -- I believe the impetus for that is a spirit guide that's pushing them to do that. But they just think it's Ochún. Or they think it's Yamaya. And so they've set up their altar, you know. That's what they really believe, and I think that push is so strong coming from those guides that it's pushing them to do something and they are doing something. And these dreams that they have that they're ...

ANDREW: Mmm.

T-D: You know, that they may be misinterpreting cause they don't have elders to guide them. 

ANDREW: Well, and I think that there's an important sort of magical concept at play that people lose track of, or they don't like it. 

T-D: Okay. Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Which is, when spirit speaks to us, right? They can only speak to us through our conscious and our unconscious, right? And so that communication is very easily flavored. Right? 

T-D: Okay. [nodding]

ANDREW: By our ideas, by our hopes, by our aesthetics ...

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: By our concepts. And this ... The capacity to differentiate between different kinds of spirits or, you know, whatever, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I think is very difficult. And if a spirit shows up and wants to help you, and you're like, "Please be Ochún, please be Ochún, please be Ochún," and it's ... It's kind of in that neighborhood, you know? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Like, overlaps with that energy, of course that communication is going to get covered with that, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: You know, it's gonna, it's gonna get clothed in those symbols and ideas, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know? And I think that it's really interesting to sort of try and understand how those communications and how those things happen, right? 

T-D: It does.

ANDREW: And I think sometimes it's an ego piece. Sometimes it's an unconscious piece. Sometimes it's ... You know, sometimes it comes from the spirit too, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know? But I think that it's really important for people who are exploring in directions like this to, you know, to try and be clear about it and to, you know, if you're looking to go in those directions, you know, considering looking for more traditional verification, you know? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Because that's gonna be way more fruitful over time.

T-D: Yeah.

ANDREW: You know? Because the challenge that I've noticed with a lot of people is, they get pulled into something and into working in a direction, and then they don't know where to go, and the spirit can't guide them further, and so then they get stuck and their life becomes, you know, not what they hoped it would be. 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: Or they have problems, and not because the spirit's necessarily making them, but because it can't take them anywhere else ...

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: And then, and then they become disenfranchised, or bitter, or they get deeper issues kind of emerging from that, right? 

T-D: Yeah. An important factor, I think, is [sigh]. I don't want to throw this all on millennials this or millennials that. 

ANDREW: Uh huh.

T-D: But, you know, different age cohorts do have some tendencies and so we may see a lot of this with millennials not wanting to, you know, follow the rules, or have guides, or submit themselves to elders, or this kind of thing, but I think it's important to just kind of lay it out on the line, that, number one, one factor that isn't necessarily specific to millennials, is that you have people who are kind of -- they may be rejecting, or seeking something outside of the Abrahamic traditions, and so when they find other religions or Afro-Caribbean spirituality, they may be operating under the misconception that because there's not a church per se, that these are not structured religions that have orthodoxy.

ANDREW: Right. 

T-D: And so that can create conflict and a lot of problems. Because these are very structured religions. There is orthodoxy. They are hierarchical religions. They are oral traditions, largely, even though now we have more learning resources that are not ...

ANDREW: I think that that is actually, you know, I mean, I'm, I don't know about the millennialness of it ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I mean, you know, I think that the issues ... Every generation has their own ideas, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: But I certainly think that being ... Everybody in this day and age who has access to the Internet, right? has ideas. 

T-D: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And the amount of people who show up in my orbit who have sort of notions that they've picked up from somewhere that are really quite not traditional, you know? I think it's because of this flood of information ...

T-D: There is.

ANDREW: And people want it, and so much of it is ... It's kind of half-baked, you know? 

T-D: It is. There's a lot of incorrect. I mean there are people ... You can go on YouTube and there are people who have tens of thousands of followers who are not giving accurate information. Or who are giving information or who have a perception or what they're voicing is really not orthodox or traditional at all. And so then when someone comes in contact with people who are part of the community and they encounter that orthodoxy, it might throw them off. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Or even put them off. You know? 

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: Which I think is unfortunate. But I think, you know, there are some aspects of the religion that you can access, just in terms of historical facts, you know? This started out, you know, as an imperial religion that was a part of a culture that believed in the divine right of kings and that the kings are direct descendants of Orisha ...

ANDREW: Sure. 

T-D: And, you know, us, we’re, our practice comes largely from the Oyo empire, and so there's lots of structure and strictures and all that kind of thing that exists. It's not just this free-flowing kind of whatever you feel type of thing. And so, I think it's important for people to kind of at least try to learn a little bit about the historical stuff. Just take bites of it, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Cause that will kind of put you in a better place, really, than just watching lots of YouTube videos ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And things like that. 

ANDREW: I also think it's interesting because I think that a lot of people who I run into who come into the tradition or are considering coming into the tradition, right, or are coming for a reading or something ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I feel like a lot of them don't know what to do with the reading that they get, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm, got it.

ANDREW: Someone shows up and they get a reading, and they come in a sign, and it comes out that everything's firm and solid and good, you know? 

T-D: [laughs] Mmm.

ANDREW: And then the reader's like, "Well, the Orishas love you, hugs and kisses, see you later," and they're like, "What do you mean?"

T-D: Wow.

ANDREW: "What do you mean?" Right? "What do you mean?" 

T-D: Right. That's problematic too, obviously. 

ANDREW: Right? 

T-D: Because those Odos, those divination pattern, which we call Odu, have inherent messages in them.

ANDREW: Sure.

T-D: And some of them admonish the diviner to speak the more -- I don't want to say negative, but negative side of the pattern, and to give warnings, and --it's a message --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: That they're kind of -- As a priest, you know, we have Ita, which are a number of life divinations, but it's the same concept as a road map. One may be temporary while the other may be permanent ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: But it's still a road map for you to follow for your life, and so even if it's just dealing with a specific point in time and a specific situation, I think, you know, obviously, a lot of people are performing readings [sigh] who just are not conscientious ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: About the work that they're doing. 

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: It's not just about marking an ebbó or an offering or a sacrifice that you can then charge the person for you to perform. You're really -- It's a connection, right? Between the Ori of the person who's come to receive the reading and the diviner connecting with Elegua, and giving them this message that they require, and so I think that is really important in terms of fully exploring and investigating the message of the Odu that's fallen, and taking the time with someone who is not in the religion. You know? When someone comes for a first reading, it's really important to explain to them what that's going to involve, and what it means, and what to expect, on top of what the actual message is going to be. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Because as we know, it's easier to lose the blessings that are being foretold than it is to convert negativity that's being expected into blessings.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: You know, so, it's a highly responsible task to perform a reading for someone, whether it's a Diloggún reading or a spiritual reading. It's a highly responsible task and the person who's performing that reading needs to take it seriously and they need to convey that level of seriousness and sacredness to the person who's coming to receive the reading. It's not a game or a parlor trick. It's a connection with ... to the divine.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. And it's also not ... although it has the appearance of fortunetelling sometimes ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Like, "hey, watch for this thing ..."

T-D: Right. [nodding]

ANDREW: It's also not fortunetelling, right? 

T-D: And the diviner needs to make that clear, also. You know, that this is not fortunetelling. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. And it's also ... The advice about what you don't do is SO important and ...

T-D: It really is.

ANDREW: Or maybe more important than what you do ... I mean … They're both important, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And this notion of the way in which taboos are handed out, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: "Don't do this thing, don't do that thing." I think is something that is also very complicated for people sometimes. 

T-D: It is. 

ANDREW: Especially because sometimes those connections are super obvious, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: Like, you came in a sign that says your head's not very clear, don't drink. Right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: Eh, it's easy to understand, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: But some of the other connections are less clear, right? 

T-D: Right. 

ANDREW: And ... and yet ... they still need to be abided with, and that's sort of ...

T-D: Right. And so maybe the diviner could help that person ... you know, kind of give them some insights into it. You may not hit on the exact thing, that that taboo or prohibition pertains to for that person, but it gets them thinking along those lines.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: You know. Don't eat this thing. You know, maybe that thing would make you sick, or maybe when you go to have it, you're going to be at someone's house and it's not going to be well-prepared ...

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: Or maybe you'll need to make that as an offering one day and it'll save you so it's more of a medicine. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: You've got to kind of open the way that person perceives that prohibition. So that they can think about it differently than just, "I can't have that thing." 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: You know.

ANDREW: People don't like to be told they can't have things. 

T-D: Right. None of us like that, you know? [laughs]

ANDREW: So, every time you sit on the mat, be like, "Please don't take away something I like." 

T-D: Don't take away. Any time you receive another Orisha with any ties, like "oh, don't tell me I can't have this thing."

ANDREW: Exactly. 

T-D: But you know that it's important to observe those taboos because you've chosen this path as your life path ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: But someone who's just going to receive a reading may not understand that, you know, for the next 30 days, or depending on, you know, how you were taught, the next however long amount of time, while this Odu, while the energy of this divination pattern is around you, you need to, you know, refrain from doing this thing or that thing or engaging in this or that or eating this or that. 

ANDREW: Yeah. For sure. So, I'm going to switch topics a little bit here ...

T-D: Okay.

ANDREW: Kind of, kind of but not ...

T-D: Uh oh! [laughs]

ANDREW: So, we've been talking about aché, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, one of the things that I've found fascinating was watching the way in which you described your process around making these new baths that you're offering. Right? 

T-D: Okay. Yes. 

ANDREW: You know? And, I mean, can you talk about it, because I think that the commitments to putting your energy into it, and the hands-on-ness of it, I think is fascinating to me, and so I'd love you to share some of that for people to understand. 

T-D: Oh my goodness. So, I think it's -- There's obviously a little -- This is an unorthodox type of bath, the first bath that I'm offering as an Ochún bath. It's unorthodox in the sense that most people here in the States who practice the religion perceive Orisha herbs as just the herbs we use to consecrate heads and consecrate Orisha. And they're always fresh herbs that we work with. And the herbs that we use for spiritual baths -- Obviously people in Florida and other places, they may use fresh herbs. But in the Afro-Cuban practice, there are some herbs that get boiled. Plenty of herbs are dried, it's fairly common. It's very common for Paleros to work with dry herbs. And so, I'm using -- I'm making a dried herbal product. I'm growing most of the herbs myself. I'm washing them and drying them and confecting the baths with them. And because I'm a one woman show and I'm just starting to do this, I'm labeling all of my tea tins myself by hand, and some of the labels I kind of make, they're not really labels, I wanted it to look a certain way, and I wanted it to have kind of a vintage apothecary look, and I wanted there to be some texture. So I ended up doing a lot more kind of physical hands on --

ANDREW: Cause--

T-D: Crafting, then I had originally thought.

ANDREW: You've skipped over a little bit, though, right? 

T-D: I skipped over a lot!

ANDREW: You're growing the herbs --

T-D: [laughing] Yes.

ANDREW: And then you're picking them --

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And then you're hand washing them all, right? 

T-D: Yes, and I'm drying them.

ANDREW: And then you're hand drying them --

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: So that they can them be properly dried --

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And cured.

T-D: Right. Cause I want them to be properly dried and cured. 

ANDREW: And not like moldy and disgusting, right? 

T-D: Right. I didn't want them to be moldy or disgusting, and yes, I live in southern California where it's pretty dry, so it's not like I have a big issue with anything getting moldy or disgusting.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: And I have some nice drying racks that I hang that are like the ones that people might use for tea or other herbs. And in terms of the confection of the baths, it's kind of an unorthodox thing cause there's a lot of praying and singing and not the same exact kind of ora that would go on to make omearo, but some of that, you know, a good little bit of that. There's not divining going on but there was some divining going on in terms of what my ingredients would be for the bath --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And there was consulting with my own elders about that. So -- And I do have some really good teachers. As I've mentioned, my mother in law, my madrina, I also work with my Olua here in Los Angeles who is actually a sustainable gardening specialist, and my other Olua teacher, Luis Marín who lives in Maryland who is an expert herbalist, and he practices achéche, traditional Yoruba Ifa but he's initiated to Elegua in the Lucumí system. So I do have some really knowledgeable teachers to confer with. But in terms of the actual process of it, yes, I'm [laughing] -- you know, I'm making it the way that I would make a bath for someone who came to me to make a bath for them. So, and I sing when I work. I sing when I do a limpieza or, you know, spiritually clean the house. And this is an Ochún bath, so I sing Ochún songs and I sing Osayin songs. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. And --

T-D: And I open my work, I actually stand in front of my shrine and I ring my Ochún bell and I recite oríkì and I pray to her before I start my work, and then when I'm finished making the batch of the bath, and I do small batches, when I'm finished I go back and I pray to her and I sing, and I recite oríkì and prayer and once it's done I light a candle and I sing some more --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And I leave it there at the foot of my Ochún.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: And sometimes I put my Ochún sopera on top of it! [laughs]

ANDREW: [laughs] Just put a little extra of that energy in there!

T-D: Yes! 

ANDREW: Fire it up a little further? 

T-D: I do.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: I do, and so, and I want to say, you know, this concept of kind of making magical things, you know, I feel, obviously that the power is inherent in the herbs that I'm working with and inherent in the Orishas and I just have an unwavering faith in that. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

T-D: So, and I have an unwavering faith in my elders and in my lineage and that they put Ochún in my head and they did it properly and they’ve taught me, and I've conferred with them and that I'm doing this properly, and I do it with a lot of love, honestly.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: A lot of love, and heart, and I say a lot of prayers for -- I'm so emotional, you have to forgive me -- for the people who would use this bath, you know, I pray for them, that they should have good health and that they should have happiness and love in their lives and that they should love themselves and accept themselves, and that they should have prosperity and that goodness should flow to them and to their lives. And so I do a lot of that because that's what I know and that's what I've seen when rituals are performed for me, people pray for me, people pray for my children, and so I pray for the benefit of anyone who would touch anything that I put my hands on, you know. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah. And I think that, to me, there's that, what I hear and see and what you're talking about is this sort of both the depth of experience, the history of the tradition, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And that sort of connection to aché and to lineage, right? And I think that, you know, it's -- it goes even beyond just some of those things, right, because it's also your aché, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: Like you can accomplish these things partly because it's in you from your destiny to do so as well, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: Like not everybody is meant to be an Ochunista or, you know, an herbalist, or whatever, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: We all have different graces and strengths, and I think that that capacity and attention is so wonderful, right? And, you know, how many, if you count the growing of the plants, how long is it from start to finish before one of these comes out in a tin, right? It's a long time.

T-D: It's a long time, it is. And I think that from the beginning, my godmother did always kind of try to motivate me to learn about the plants --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And I said, "oh, it's just too much, it's overwhelming, ah," you know, I like to make the baths, I'll use this, what I know, I'll use that ... But as, over time, you know, little by little, you look, and you have more and more plants, and then I married a guy who was a Palero, so there were more and more plants. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: So you just learn, you don't take it all in one big bite, or one big gulp.

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: There's no way you can do it! And I don't know the Oju this is associated with, it's “bit by bit we eat the head of the rat,” you know ...

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: It's this idea, the head of the rat has very little sharp bones in it. And so if you're gonna eat that meat, which is a delicacy, right, for our ancestors, our spiritual ancestors, you have to eat it very very carefully. And so, it's a very slow and kind of careful process. And I don't perceive myself as being particularly knowledgeable. I perceive myself honestly as a rank and file Olorisha and I've been very fortunate and blessed to have some really knowledgeable elders who have shared with me and I will spend the rest of my life learning more about herbs and growing herbs and continuing to take classes, continuing to ask questions of other people older than me and younger than me. And maybe one day, you know, 30 years from now, I'll be an Oceanista ...

ANDREW: Uh huh.

T-D: But, you know, this project, if you will, is just an incredible, an extraordinary opportunity for me, and I love it, and [shrugs], that's all I can say, I love it, and I wish I had begun with more gusto 20 years ago and not felt ... not allowed it to make me feel so overwhelmed. And I also find it interesting that I've received lots of comments and feedback, you know, from elders who are espiritistas, who say "Oh, al fin tu estás haciendo trabajo de tu muerta principal," like, you know, "finally you're doing this work that, you know, that your primary muerta's been trying to get you to do for years and years." And, you know, I have been told of her, and I knew of her, but I didn't really understand that she was an herbalist. I saw her working over a pot, you know, a caldero, kind of bent over, sitting down, and her hands are moving. You know? And I would say that. And my madrino was like, "What did you think she was doing?" [laughs] "What did you think she was working on over that pot?" 

ANDREW: [laughing] Yeah.

T-D: You know, she was working with barks, and bottles, and ojas, and herbs, and leaves, and stuff, you know.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: But it's a process and I think it comes to us when we're ready. When we're ready for it and open to it. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: And sometimes it has come to us little by little over time and we didn't even realize it and then we looked up and said, "Wow! Where did all these doggone plants come from?"

ANDREW: Exactly, right? Yeah. Yeah. I think that -- I think that that idea of -- Back to this question about guides and spirits that walk with us, you know? 

T-D: Yes! 

ANDREW: I mean, I think that figuring out how to live with that, and work with them, I think is so important, you know? 

T-D: It's essential but it is so hard for some of us.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: And I'm gonna tell you this, my background, I'm an African American, my family is from New Orleans, so saints and Catholicism and all that was not foreign to me, but many African American people or others who have or Anglo Americans or others who come from a Protestant background, it seems very Catholic to them, and not only that, but it seems very Christian to those who may be looking for something outside of Christianity. And so, until people dig a little bit deeper and really understand about Espiritismo and that they're different and also different ways of working with these spirits, that's when you kind of get that depth or get that connection that, you know, this is something that's really important to me, and when you are surrounded by, or find yourself in the company of people who are really developed spiritually, and how it helps their lives and how it can help your life ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: That's when you start to see the importance of that. And when you -- or the importance just of being able to distinguish between your own fears, or your own ego, and messages that are being sent to you from your guides, you know --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Is hard. And I can say, I lost my husband almost six years ago to cancer. I have struggled financially with two young children, living in a city where the schools were great when I was a child but aren't so great now and have to pay tuition for my kids and stuff like that, and make choices that I didn't think I'd have to make because I didn't think I'd be alone. You know, there's a big difference between two incomes and one income. 

ANDREW: Yes.

T-D: And I will give the credit 100 percent to my muertos, my spirit guides, my protectors, and my ancestors that even gave me the idea to sell these baths or make them available to the public, something that I love to do --

ANDREW: Sure. 

T-D: And that I have been doing for years, and it never occurred to me, and I have been told, Andrew, so many times, you know, "You're going to have a business, you're going to do well at a business one day." Well, I'm not there doing well yet, you know, I'm just starting, but my parents were small business owners --

ANDREW: Yeah. 

T-D: And I just never -- and we had a very comfortable life, but I just -- the only thing I was really good at was food things, and food businesses are very expensive and rigorous and require a tremendous amount of capital --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And I just couldn't see that. And so when this idea came to me -- This idea didn't come to me! The idea was given to me. It was a blessing that was given to me. And that just blows me away. 

ANDREW: Well, you know, from a certain perspective, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So, I started working as a card reader, 15, almost 16 years ago. 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: You know, I quit my job in advertising and started ...

T-D: Wow!

ANDREW: Reading cards for a living, right? 

T-D: Okay.

ANDREW: And I decided that I wanted to make a product. 

T-D: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And so I started making herbal baths. And this line of baths that I make now. 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, you know, I got them in some stores around town, and I did some things with it, and in some ways, that starting point is the starting point of the whole store I have now, where I have a full store now, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So, you know, and it comes from that listening in, and leaning in, and being like, "All right, spirits, I can do these things. Oh yeah, I can work on that," and, you know...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: What comes from that listening, in my experience, especially if we're faithful to it, right? Over time--

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Is everything, everything comes from there, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I think about, when I show up at the shop, or tonight's Saturday and we're recording and I'm gonna lock up later and go home --

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: I always lock up everything and sit here and check in with all my guides and my spirits and I thank them for this, and I thank the Orishas when I pray to them every day, because all of this comes from their guidance and their influence, and my work, but --

T-D: And it's a blessing. It's a degree of freedom for your family. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And when I was a young person, a teenager, I just saw the work, you know, my parents did. And they had multiple small business endeavors, and they were successful, but there was a lot of work. 

ANDREW: Sure.

T-D: But working for yourself, there's just a degree of freedom, a space for personal expression and creativity, independence --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: That you'll never find in corporate America or corporate Canada or in the West, you know ...

ANDREW: Corporate anything, right? 

T-D: Anywhere, you're just not gonna find that. 

ANDREW: It's just corporate Earth now. Isn't that the deal? 

T-D: Right. That's what it is, right, globalization. But I just, if I could develop this in time, you know, in a few years or whatever, into something that I could do full time and have a small shop and grow some herbs on the roof, or in the back, or whatever, that is my ultimate goal, and to be able to kind of be there for my kids, and they can come into the shop and go in the back and do their homework and help me carry stuff or whatever ...

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: That's a beautiful way of life, because it allows you to engage in something that you value and something that you can share with the community, that you can share with others, and it allows you to continue to grow --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: As a priest, and to grow in your spiritual practice and your knowledge and ultimately, you'll be able to pass that on to other people as well. So yes, definitely, you know, you're someone who I see as a shining example, you know, honestly.

ANDREW: Well. Thank you. Well. So, let's see if people want to go and check out your stuff, they should know where to find you. 

T-D: Oh, yes! 

ANDREW: Where are you hiding out on the web there, T-D? 

T-D: So, I have a website, it's https://www.spiritualbathtea.com, and you can order the bath there. It's an Ochún bath for love and prosperity. It has a lot of beautiful things in it. And Andrew, I'll send you one, I know that you're a master bath maker but I'm gonna send you my bath, because it's just like wine, maybe you have your vineyard and I have my vineyard ...

ANDREW: Oh yeah, for sure. 

T-D: You know, but we can enjoy each other's products of one another's labors ...

ANDREW: Absolutely.

T-D: And I'll definitely be sending you a bath. 

ANDREW: Super. I can't wait! 

T-D: But yes, it's got at least five of Ochún's herbs in it, it has more, and it's got some other really nice elements in it that ... it's got three different types of sandalwood in it, it smells really lovely, and it's a really beautiful bath and I've received a lot of really positive feedback about the bath from users, and I love making it and I put a lot of love and care into it. And it definitely gives a new meaning, and you know, the word art, or the word crafts, these have many different meanings, and what were the meanings, the original meanings, of, you know, these things. 

ANDREW: Well, you know what, the really funny thing is, you're kind of actually doing what the millennials are doing.

T-D: I am? 

ANDREW: You are, cause I mean, what I see a lot in sort of the millennial culture, things that people see about that, is this return to hand crafted, to small batch, to stuff made with love, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So you see these sort of various things, food wise, and you know, clothing wise and otherwise ...

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: That, they're not corporate, they're not mass-produced. 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: They come from people who have learned how to, you know, hand do things --

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: In traditional ways or new ways.

T-D: And this will never be mass-produced, ever.

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: It's just not that -- that's not my concept, it's not that kind of thing. So if I wake up tomorrow and you know, Amara la Negra or Beyoncé put me on their, you know, social media, there'll just be a back log, but the order will get filled, but you know, I might buy a couple of those labeling machines, to label my tins, [laughing] or you know, like I said, my dream is to be able to afford to buy 10,000 from China of those fancy tea tins that are already embossed and printed, but the bath is, it's always going to be something that is beautiful, that I'm going to put as much beauty and love and care into as I possibly can, and that my own hands have touched, because that's it, you know, that's where the magic is --

ANDREW: Yeah.

T-D: It's multi-- it's multifaceted, right? It's got these different components.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And so, you've got your spiritual license, your ritual license, your learning competencies, but it's also what you put into that thing, you know? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: There are lots of people who are well-trained, who are very knowledgeable, and who are duly ordained, who just throw some shit together. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: All day long. And I will never ever do that. Cause that's got a lot to do with personal integrity and accountability to Orisha, too! Why -- I mean, I'm going to try to make the most beautiful thing that I can if it has Ochún's name on it. And when I do my Obatala bath, it's gonna be the most incredible excellent thing that I could ever imagine.

ANDREW: Yeah.

Because I love Obatala, and he loves me, because he gave me a wonderful husband. You know, I just am always going to do the very best that I can. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And to try to make something, and plus we want to please people, right? We want people to feel that their money is well spent and that their effort in acquiring the thing is well spent. 

ANDREW: Right.

T-D: And is special to them. 

ANDREW: Yeah. And I know for myself, whenever I'm in a position to represent the religion in one way or another, I feel a lot of pressure. 

T-D: Absolutely! 

ANDREW: Right? To get it right.

T-D: Absolutely!

ANDREW: I made an Orisha tarot deck, which is coming out in the fall through a major publisher, right? 

T-D: Oh, wow! Okay.

ANDREW: And-- through Llewellyn, it'll be out in September.

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, it took me a long time to make it because I constantly felt this pressure, from me, right? 

T-D: Yeah, it's from you, it's just like any overachiever ...

ANDREW: Right? 

T-D: You're not competing with other kids, you're competing with yourself. [laughing]

ANDREW: There's nobody else, it's just me and the art, or you and the bath, or whatever.

T-D: Right! 

ANDREW: Yeah, no, it's fantastic.

T-D: That's definitely what it is. I definitely put my best into it. And I hope that that shines through and that people will see that and just to add one more thing, you know, it's really important, this idea that we have, of that license [sighs]. I just can't really say enough about that, I kind of get emotional about it. You can't create an Orisha bath if you don't have Orishas.

ANDREW: Mmm.

T-D: You know? And they're certain herbs that belong to Orishas, and all the herbs belong to Osane, but if you don't have the ritual license to work with those entities, how are you creating a bath? How are you creating a ritual? You can certainly do a spiritual bath, you know, working with your spirit guides, and working with your muertos, your protectors and guides, but working with Orisha requires Orisha. Requires consecrated Orisha. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

T-D: So. 

ANDREW: For sure.

T-D: Don't just throw some oranges and some --

ANDREW: [laughing] Cinnamon --

T-D: Yellow flowers and some honey and cinnamon in the bathtub and say that you're doing a bath with Ochún cause Ochún is not there in that bath with you.

ANDREW: Yeah. 

T-D: [laughing] Not to be snarky!

ANDREW: No, I think, I think it's important conversations, right? And I think that one of the reasons why it's my intention to have you and David Sosa and, you know, other traditional practitioners on, is I think that it's really important to have a dialogue about what tradition actually has to offer, right? And I think that it's a thing that's hard to understand, it's a thing that is not obvious in sort of the more modern world ...

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: And it's not obvious if you didn't grow up in a magical tradition or in a magical, you know, I mean, I had the great fortune to not be raised with any religion ...

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I discovered Western mystery tradition stuff, and Western esotericism when I was like, 11 and 12, right. 

T-D: Mmmhmm, Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So I grew up self-educating myself in a magical approach to the world.

T-D: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I think that's what has allowed me to step into it and into the Orisha tradition so well, is that the only traditions I've ever known have been magical. And spiritual in this way. And --

T-D: Yeah.

ANDREW: And were also initiatory, right? 

T-D: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Right? You know? They're all pieces that I understood from the beginning, kind of coming into this, right? 

T-D: Right.

ANDREW: I think it's important.

T-D: And, it's very important. It's foreign to a lot of people, and, you know, it's important to say, you know, Orisha worship is not a self-initiatory system, it's a communal system, that has an intact priesthood, it has existed for many generations, for thousands of years if you go all the way back --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: And it's an ancient religious system that has an orthodoxy and a priesthood and a specific path that one follows and that's very important. And that you cannot, even though the world changes, things change, things evolve, you can't fit Orisha into your own mold or --

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

T-D: Or mold Orisha to fit your lifestyle, in that type of way. It's not that type -- it's a religion, it's a structured religious system.

ANDREW: For sure. All right. Well now we've given everybody something to think about! 

T-D: Yes.

ANDREW: Thank you for making time --

T-D: Thank you! Thank you so much for having me, I really appreciate it, it was very kind of you and I appreciate your time. 

ANDREW: Oh, it's my pleasure, thanks. 

T-D: Thanks. 

EP82 Openness to Spirit and “Six Ways” with Aidan Wachter

June 8, 2018
00:0000:00

This week Andrew is joined by the one and only Aidan Wachter. We catch up a bit since our last Stacking Skulls Episode and the converstation flows from there. We discuss Aidan's book "Six Ways: Approaches & Entries for Practical Magic" (which has been very popular at the shop" and Aidan's Talisman work. We also dive into what it means to be open to spirit and the connections that can be made from there. 

Connect with Aidan on his website, and look for "Aidan Wachter" on the social media outlet of your choosing!

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to and think consider if it is time tosupport the  Patreon You can do so here.

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

 
Andrew
 
 
 

ANDREW: Welcome to another instalment of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I'm here today with Aidan Wachter, and, you know, I feel like Aidan's a person who needs no introduction, but in case this is the first time you've run across him, let me say: Aidan's been on before by himself, Aidan is part of the Stacking Skulls, which is the mythological magical band made up of a few of the people who come on here on the regular, and we get together and talk about magic, and Aidan is a talismanic wizard and genius who produces amazing jewelry, and Aidan just has a new book out, called Six Ways, which is, as I'm sure we'll talk about in the episode, the book that I wish that I had received when I was starting, and the book that I wish I had written if I was going to write a book on magic. So, it's all of those good things. You know, I gave you a bit of an intro, but for folks who don't know you, Aidan, who are you? What are you about? 

AIDAN: [laughing] What am I about? I've just been at the magic thing for a long time, and in a kind of weird pattern that I can see from now, I can kind of, and I'd imagine this is true of a lot of people, I can see at this point kind of the whole chain that got me here [laughs], and on top of the jewelry work, the kind of intention that I have is to kind of transmit as much of that as is useful to people. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Without all the detours that really were just mostly time wasters. And, yeah, I live on a little micro-ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, where most of the time it's really windy, but not today, it actually rained for the first time in, like, months! 

ANDREW: Uh huh.

AIDAN: With a bunch of chickens and a duck who's about to hatch a pile of ducks if that works out. I think today or tomorrow. And some goats and some dogs and my wife. And I play music, I write some, and I make a lot of silverwork. So. 

ANDREW: Nice. So, I mean, somebody was asking, before this episode was recorded, you know, what's the move like? Because, you know, you've been there for a while, but has it been a year yet? 

AIDAN: We've been in this house for just a little bit over a year now. About a year and a third. Yeah, the last place was a kind of weird one, cause it was kind of in a high-end homeowner association zone, of kind of Santa Fe suburbs? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Which is really not our scene! [laughs] We laughed that that house was the house that all of our parents would have been really proud if we had actually acquired intentionally, cause it was huge, and ...

ANDREW: Sure.

AIDAN: Fancy. And was totally not us. So, we're in this tiny little 700 square foot casita here. I was thinking about that question, and it's a little strange because, due to just setting up the ranchita here, and getting everything set up, and then my surgery and all that, we haven't really been out a lot in this area. So, to answer kind of what New Mexico has done, is really, like, what has this two and a half acres done? And so, it's not super New Mexico-like ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Perhaps in a general thing. But it's been really good. It's really quiet and it's really full of animals, in a way that we didn't expect. There is more kind of songbird activity than I've ever seen anywhere that I've lived. We've got a huge raptor population, we're in like the essentially what is like ... appears to be the raven preserve part of New Mexico. There is probably 150 ravens that clearly live within, you know, 1/4 mile of us, so there's always ravens in the yard and they come and mess with our dogs. Yeah. 

ANDREW: How did you find ... So, like, I think about where I live. Right? You know? I mean, where I live and where the shop is, you know? And the shop's been where it is ... I mean, I was across the street before this, so if we include that, I've been in the same ... in both places, about six or seven years, right? And, you know, for me, so many of my spiritual practices kind of end up being kind of connected to spirits of place and in places where the spirits that I work with like to show up. You know, so has there been a change in your spiritual practice with this move? You know, before you moved this way? 

AIDAN: You know, that's a somewhat strange question. I was thinking about this a lot in relationship to the book, cause there's kind of a really big move toward kind of spirits of place and kind of the bioregional animism that Marcus McCoy's coined that term and brought up. And I have some sense of that. But having moved as much as I have, which I figured out a couple months ago, I've moved 37 times, and I'm 51, so [laughs]. And so, a lot of those I was all in the same place, so. It definitely changes my sense of things, like my overall perceptions change a lot when I move, but the spirits I work with are pretty consistent. And that's mainly, I think, because I do most of my work in trance. 

ANDREW: Hmm.

AIDAN: And so, things change over there, but that's not really related to place. The places that I go are fairly consistent, and the shifts that happen there, happen over really long periods of time. 

ANDREW: Right. 

AIDAN: And those things come with me, and that stuff doesn't change based on where I live so far that I've seen. 

ANDREW: I can see that. I mean, for me, so much of my work, my work sort of out in the woods and whatever, is connected to the spirits of those places, for sure, but it's also as often as not connected to like, you know, I can go find a willow tree anywhere, I mean, you know, in the greater sense of Toronto and the surrounding areas and many other places, and once I'm hanging out with the willow tree I can do willow tree stuff, you know? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So, like it tends to be more tied to feature, and tied to species of plants or things like that than it tends to be, you know, like I want to go find somewhere really swampy, I want to go, you know like I really love the ... me and the redwing blackbirds have a thing, you know, so I need somewhere that's marshy and they're gonna be there then. But you know, the places that I tend to go tend to be predominantly because they are the most convenient to where I'm living or working ...

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: Versus explicitly tied to the land.

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So. 

AIDAN: And then the ... yeah, and I kind of get that with the animals. So, for me, like, the ravens have always been a big deal for me anyway ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so that's a presence here. And we are ... we have lured in an insane rabbit population that is basically merging with our chicken flock now. And you'll look out and they're all hanging out at the feeders, or they'll be sharing the waters, and ... I have a thing with the rabbits too, so ... they're kind of my underworld creature.

ANDREW: Nice.

AIDAN: And then the other thing that did happen here, is, and I have to go back, I haven't spent enough time there, you know is there's this really ancient Guadalupe shrine here. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: That's, I don't know when that ... I mean, it's old. I want to say it's more than 300 years old, I think. And like that place is one of the most intense power spots I've ever been in. Like that's been continuous use for hundreds of years. And that's ... Yeah, that's an amazing place. That was ... I mean I know that that changed some of ... That certainly affected me, was spending a few hours in there. There's another church that's dedicated to St. Michael, but I haven't been up there yet, those are both in Santa Fe. And, yeah, I mean, New Mexico is really interesting cause it's such a different place than anywhere I've ever lived. And especially kind of down where we are, which is really rural. We're not in ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: You know, we're not in anything like hoity toity ... We have a Walmart, a gas station, and three or four feed stores. [laughs]

ANDREW: Right. 

AIDAN: You know, we live in the neighbourhood where you see, you know, somebody's escaped horse running down the road. 

ANDREW: Right. 

AIDAN: With people chasing it. [laughs] So it's ... I love the spaciousness and the open ... It does remind me a lot of trying to see where we were except that I'm not as wrecked by allergies as I was in Tennessee. 

ANDREW: [10:04 crosstalk] 

AIDAN: That openness definitely is really helpful. The clear skies, basically all the time, is really helpful for me. 

ANDREW: Hmm. So, since you were last on the podcast ...

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So, you know, the Stacking Skulls crew was on, end of January, early February, you have this book that came out, and I don't usually do book episodes cause I think that they're not that exciting.

AIDAN: Totally.

ANDREW: But your book has been super fascinating to me. Because I think that it represents such a grounded introduction ...

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: To magic, and such a grounded introduction that is not ... Not invested in making you believe something. 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: So many books are ... you know, they're like, "Sign up for the Golden Dawn, we'll give you the special apron, and you'll be a believer. Sign up for this, or sign up for that," you know, like, and not that there's anything wrong with having a belief system or expressing that belief system, but, I feel like your work is sort of devoid of that in an overt way that I think is very fascinating. 

AIDAN: Yeah. I think that ... It was really interesting to me, and I'm glad that that comes through, cause that was certainly the intent, that when the book started, when the book kicked up, and it kicked up really fast -- the framework took about two weeks to write, and then it just took me another two years to finish, basically. Any time I would try and go even vaguely into "let's talk about how you should do something," [laughs] like I would just get kicked by the allies, like, "that is not why we want you to do this," like, "do what you would do." 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And there wasn't a lot of that to begin with, but it really did get weeded out pretty aggressively, cause I don't think it's generally relevant to the practice of magic. I talk about the general and the specific in the book, in a few places, and I don't go incredibly deep into it, but that's kind of my take, is we tend to get lost in the specific in a lot of our conversations or books or whatever about magic. Which is great for the people that are doing the exact same kind of work. But it makes it kind of difficult for somebody that's not, that they don't really fit that mold, to figure out what parts you can use and what parts are really important. If it's really important that I know all these names or all these correspondences or all of these ... or that I work with these specific gods, does that mean that I can't do this work? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And I was definitely looking to counter that. 

ANDREW: Yeah, I think it's great because ... You know, we have a lot of conversations going on around sort of appropriation, and, you know, what do we do with, you know, other people's histories, and other people's spirits, and other traditions, and stuff like that. And I think that it's really sticky to sort of go through and read a bunch of books and cherry pick all the pieces that you want, you know? 

AIDAN: Yeah.

ANDREW: And kind of put them together. Cause it might work, and you might unlock something, or you might end up with a lot of trouble, or you might be fooling yourself, or you might just rub all those spirits the wrong way, and it's really kind of arrogant of us as humans to sort of think that we can understand all of that in a way that kind of goes beyond that, you know? 

AIDAN: Totally.

ANDREW: And I say that as a person who at points in my past has been arrogant in those ways, you know? 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm. Me too! 

ANDREW: And I've discovered things and been like, "Huh. That would have been way better had I not done that thing..." 

AIDAN: [laughs]

ANDREW: Or whatever, right, you know? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AIDAN: Well and I think too, I think that there's a big part in there which is, you know, kind of, I keep blasting out this thing from Ido Portal, who's kind of a crazy movement guy with a capoeira background, but he's gone all over the place. Where he talks about that there's a point where information becomes too much, and it's no longer helpful. And he means that in a developmental sense, like learning more data, more or less, more systems, more theories, at some point actually stops helping you, and it kind of turns on you, and so, I think that that was a present thought in the book too, was like, what's ... how much can I give you, it's kind of why the title of approaches and entries is, how many different doors to interesting spaces that are helpful in my experience can I get you through? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And then, I don't want to give you much more information than that ...

ANDREW: Right.

AIDAN: Because if I do, that's going to color what happens when you walk through them. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so, instead, I'd rather have you walk into that space, and go "Okay, what goes on in here?" And see. Cause what goes on in there for you is likely to be really different than what goes on in there for me or for Andrew or anybody else. 

ANDREW: Sure.

AIDAN: Unless we come in with such a clear picture of what is supposed to happen in there that that just shades everything. And we kind of get what we expect. Versus what might be way better for us to get in there. 

ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah, it's amazing the shaping influence that our consciousness plays on things, right? and our preconceptions and so on, you know? 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And I think that this sort of notion, you know, I shared a video the other day, I'm working on a new tarot deck, and it doesn't have a title, but, like, so I finished my Orisha tarot deck and handed it in to Llewellyn in April, and as I was doing the final steps of that, I created a ... and that, the Orisha deck was very very structured and very very thought out, you know, and inspired when I was actually doing the art, but like the, but so much of it ... Sorry for that brief interruption! And then I created this sort of surrealist, very dream-inspired black and white deck, and then I realized what I wanted to do was just like basically slop paint around and make something really bright and colorful, so I've been making this deck and I was working on the Judgement card, which is what I shared recently ...

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And, as I was sort of like working on it, and sort of allowing something to emerge, I was like, "Why do we have to see the angel? Why do we even think the angel looks like us?"

AIDAN: [laughs]

ANDREW: "Why is the angel anything other than, like, light and motion?" You know? 

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: It's sound, right? You know, and I think we have so many notions about, they look this way, they look that way, they, you know, have this shape or that shape, yet, in my experience it's not true. My experience is that they are so utterly other that we create that layer on top of them so that we can interface with it, but even that's not required. You know? 

AIDAN: Right. Well, it's funny, I have this very, if we were to talk image, there's an entity that I visit in a southern place that's this fire spirit, and it's kind of like a traditional, I would think, positive view of Lucifer, as like look, this very fiery ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Bright, intense being. Very masculine. And for the last, I don't know, five months, half the time if I go into that space, he looks like that, and half the time he looks like Gary Numan's daughter, Persia. There's like this 12-year-old blonde girl, that's in his, if you go and watch the "My Name is Ruin" video by Gary Numan, she's the girl in there. So obviously this came from me. There's no reason that this thing has watched this video. [laughs] And it clearly just kind of grabbed that image as something that it liked, to present as. Or, I just overlaid that image, that somehow there's energy there. It doesn't really matter ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: But it was really helpful in some ways, I think, to just realize, yeah, this is my avatar, in the old RPGs or whatever ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Right, I've got like my little image, and that's what we're generally interacting with. I deal with a number of spirits that change all the time, and like, there's just, it's either like, there's something in the eyes, or if they speak I know, or sometimes there's just a vibe that they give off, but that they've never been the same thing twice. And if I come in thinking "oh, this is an angel that has wings" or whatever, I may not have been able to see all of these different aspects. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And I'm not sure whether those aspects are more important just as to my own self or to them or whatever, but it does leave it really ... It leaves it ... It kind of keeps you from instilling ... At least it keeps me from instilling dogma about it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Whereas if I said you're going to walk into this space, and you're going to meet this, you know, fiery being, who's a slender man, six feet tall, well-muscled, right? the kind of standard shit you see in the old stuff ... 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And you walk in and like, no, you see this 12-year-old girl in a kind of ratty shift, with, you know, white painted cross on her forehead, do you not realize that that's the thing that you're supposed to be? Probably, right? Cause that's not what it looks like. 

ANDREW: So, how do you ... How do you verify, or do you verify, who you're talking to, then? 

AIDAN: [laughs] Well, I'm a little weird on that sense from what I understand, talking to people. Almost nothing that I work with has a name. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And the few times that I've tried to get names out of most of them, they don't give them to me. They'll either give me a title ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Which they're really clear is a title. Or they'll just like make something up. [laughs]

ANDREW: Call me Steve!

AIDAN: Yeah, call me Steve! [laughs] Totally. I just look for how useful what I'm getting from them is, and then over time is it consistent with them?

ANDREW: Right. 

AIDAN: So, there's a being that I think I've mentioned before when we were talking that I work with called, that I call the Night Mother. And she's always functioning the same with me. 

ANDREW: Hmm.

AIDAN: But again, some of the kind of allies that I've met through her are also what I kind of refer to as collective or hive beings, we've talked about that before. So, I'm not certain that she's not, you know, kind of again an avatar to a collective.

ANDREW: Right. 

AIDAN: She doesn't feel that way. She feels very solid and there's links to a lot of different deities that I could say ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: This is on the continuum with these other kind of particular goddess figures. 

ANDREW: I think that's actually a really interesting point if you don't mind me segueing here for a second. 

AIDAN: Yeah, go ahead. 

ANDREW: You know, there's always this question that I run into, right? Because ... and let me start by saying, hey, whatever people do is whatever people do. Like, you know. Neither -- I don't think either of us are here to neither judge nor claim to know the ultimate truth, right? 

AIDAN: Oh, hell no! [laughs]

ANDREW: But like there's this ... But there's this sort of point of tension that happens, because I practice a traditional religious practice, and because I have such a background in magic and chaos magic and other traditions like that, and because I still practice spirit-based magic and stuff, mostly around my business and my clients, for my clients. But, you know, like, people have these experiences where they say, "this Orisha spoke to me," or "I saw this spirit," or whatever, right? And I think that there's this openness in your approach, which I really think is super smart, which is to sort of say, "Yeah, it's a spirit from like, that collection, or from that like, direction, or from those kinds of things," right? 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: As opposed to sort of leaping to this sort of assumption that, you know, Zeus himself strode out from Olympus, wherever that might be, and came to see you. Yeah, maybe it was Zeus. Maybe it was a Zeus-like thing. Maybe it was a spirit related energetically to that, you know? You know and because, so many people have interactions with these different spirits, and yet, and yet, you know, certainly from a traditional point of view, the belief is that they are not those spirits themselves. That the Orishas themselves only generally speak through their priest craft. 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: So, then what's going on with all these other people who are having some kinds of experiences? Especially where those experiences carry truth or carry through in some way, right? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And I think that this idea that there are, you know, there are certain spirits or deities or whatever you want to call them, and then there are, kind of like when we go read the Goetia and stuff, you know? 

AIDAN: [laughs]

ANDREW: There's this person, and then they've got 300 governors, and they've got 26 servants, and they've got, you know, this, that, and whatever, right? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And to think that we've gotten so cleanly and clearly to the top of that order, you know, is somewhat presumptuous, especially in the absence of clearly definable magical process to get there. You know? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Like, if you're going to call Balail, well, there are documents and there are ways to go about it, and there, you know, and then that seems way more likely. But to think that Balail's out just strolling around, and bumps into you on the street and wants to have a conversation with you, maybe not so much, but maybe a spirit from that crew, you know? Or do you disagree with me? What do you think? 

AIDAN: No, I actually do, and I mean, that's where I kind of, that whole think is what led me into kind of what I refer to in the book as biological animism at one point ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so, I go, "No!" Like, I've got, you know I'm made of these ungodly number of different types of cells and different structures ...

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: And a lot of them do basically the same thing, right? So, all my motor neurons are doing the same thing. They're doing it in different parts of my body and they're connected to different structures, so when they do that same thing, different things happen, right? But so, I began thinking about the entities that I was kind of interacting with in that sense, you know, again, this will probably not be comfortable for some folks, but, if we kind of view that the crossroads is this, extensively spread thing, whether we ... especially if we add in all the structures that are like it, so if we look at the tree, if we look at the center posts in some religions, and some forms of shamanism, and if we say, all these things are crossroads-like, they're kind of cognates of that ...

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AIDAN: They serve a similar function, right? And so, it makes sense to me that all of those beings that we find wed to that idea in all of these different cultures are probably of a type, to some degree. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And this isn't to say that you don't find individual things, I don't know enough to say that that's not the case, and I think it probably is. I'm not saying they're all the same, which is one of the things that you get in some arguments, which is not the one that I make at all. But ... Like, I know that my work is highly connected to that space. 

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: And, if I look at the kind of spirits that I operate with, a lot of them operate within that function. And they do show as very different, but yeah, it's like, there's a thing that I interact with that is very Woden-like, but I don't know that that's Woden. And you know, I had a really interesting experience in trance a couple years ago, in relationship to that specific thing, and the ... Another being that I dealt with told me to go find a Woden and ask my question to the Woden that I found. [laughs] And I kind of asked for clarity on that, and they were just like, really clear about it, like ...

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AIDAN: You just, you don't worry about it ... 

ANDREW: You just, you go find one! 

AIDAN: If you go find one, they all do the same thing, more or less, was the idea. Any of them will be able to help you out. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: And again, it depends on what you come with. I didn't come with something that said this is one deity is ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: 100 percent discrete from all other beings. And therefore, you know, there is a lot of silversmiths. There is a lot of magicians.

ANDREW: Sure.

AIDAN: There is a lot of ... And it's not necessarily that you're always going to need that one in specific to help you. 

ANDREW: And it's not like all magicians are of the same category either, right? 

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: You know? Yeah.

AIDAN: Yeah. You know. But yeah, there's a certain point where someone's going to say "yeah, you should go talk to a goetic magician," or "you should go talk to someone that works with the Orishas." Cause they'll be able to help you the best in this particular situation ...

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: You know. To me that just seems pragmatic and in my experience, it’s been consistent. I don't know that it's the truth or anything like that, but it's been consistent. 

ANDREW: Who knows what that is, right? [laughs] I'm gonna leave that for another time!

AIDAN: Yep, absolutely. 

ANDREW: So, one of the questions though, since we're talking about going and visiting the spirits, right? Someone commented on one of the Facebook posts about this podcast that they were curious about how they could deepen their trance. You know? 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: How do you get deeper, you know, and I think that really, that's part of the whole spectrum of how do you get there faster, how do you get there easier, how do you go further, how do you stay there longer ...

AIDAN: [laughs] Right. 

ANDREW: What kind of advice do you have for people trying this out? 

AIDAN: So, I only really can speak to my own experience and that I've helped a few people with this thing, I'm not ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: I've done a little bit of teaching but not a lot. So I don't have a vast body of students where I could say, "This always works!" So, I have no idea if this always works. It might! The two things that ... The first thing I would say has to do with the speed issue, and that is to slow down. And that doesn't mean not to try and get deeper now, but as you go in, slow the whole process down, so like at the point that you get relaxed enough to go in, through whatever kind of induction you use, do that for a longer period of time and see if that will settle you further out. 

So, for me I do almost all of my trance work flat on my back, and I mention it in the book, but one of the things that I find really helps is I lay pillows over my body, and that that weight kind of holding me down seems to do something to help me separate more from my body sensations. I don't have, it keeps me from wanting to kind of wiggle my toes and do stuff like that. It's not like I'm always buried or anything, but that definitely has helped. And so slowing that process of getting in, to me is always a good thing, and then once you get in, to really do what you can to kind of intensify the sensoria of whatever it is you're getting. And this may be visual, it may not be visual. I have both visual and nonvisual stuff that goes on this way. 

And so, we'll just assume that this is a visual thing, that you've got it to the place where you actually can get a sense of things. And for me, this is not ... I always, I never know how to describe it, but it's "like" vision. I don't have the internal space that I'm always seeing everything, like I'm seeing you on the screen ...

ANDREW: Sure.

AIDAN: But, I have a clear sense of what things look like, and I don't know if that makes sense to anybody that's not been there, but ...

ANDREW: Well, I find for me personally, I find that I was pursuing that sight piece a lot ...

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: A long time ago, and got quite far with it, and to be honest now I've largely abandoned it. 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: I'm like, man, it's so much work to get to that place. I could actually ... I realized at some point that I could just kind of know, instead ...

AIDAN: Yeah! 

ANDREW: And I like that a lot better, because I'm like, I just kind of know, and if I need visual information, I can receive it as sort of a blending of sight and knowing, but it means, especially because I can do a lot of this work sort of sitting with clients and doing readings, and sliding in and out of these spaces, it's so much more convenient to just like know things and just be able to articulate them ...

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And I don't have to get to that place where I'm sitting looking at the thing and so on. And not that that's not interesting, but ... Yeah, it just seems less helpful to me over time. 

AIDAN: It's ... The thing that I've found, which is, and I totally agree with that, and the thing that I've found that is helpful, and it's totally okay, this is one of the places where the kind of "fake it till you make it" actually works in magic ...

ANDREW: Yeah. 

AIDAN: Which is, what I talk about in the book, is kind of talk to yourself about what you would see.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And part of what happens, I think, when we do this for people that aren't kind of super visual in that space, and I am not super visual in that space, and what it did for me was it began to kind of break that need to see everything. 

ANDREW: Right.

AIDAN: In technicolor.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Cause it's like, I was proceeding anyway, so whatever part of me was resisting getting what visual information I do get kind of gave up. And so, to me once I get, if you get into a space, play with what's in that space rather than necessarily going "I want contact." 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: So for me, the majority of my work I do in the West, in the West where I go is very moist.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: A little bit of fog, but it's not foggy, but it's more like you see the wisps of fog through the trees and the forest sometimes kind of thing, and I try to, if I'm not kind of getting the feeling that I'm in super well, I'll start trying to get a little more about whatever, so if I notice that there's water running, what does that feel like? What does that ... What is my sensation on my skin feel like? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Do I want, am I cold? Am I ...?

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: Am I warm? Can I hear the water? Is the water like, drippy? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Can I find water that I could drink? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Which is, you know, if you're talking to the fairies, this is not recommended, but I'm always all for drinking the water when I can in the other world. But, and that type of process is the thing that's really worked well for me. And it kind of syncs up to kind of the main theme in the book I think which is kind of go as deep as you can with wherever you are ...

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: Rather than trying to add more to it. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And see what happens. 

ANDREW: Yeah. For me I did ... I used to do this process a lot, which I still sometimes do. Which is, I would sort of as I start sliding into trance I would start picturing myself on this path into the woods, right? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And, as I was walking, I would sort of focus on the idea of walking the path in the woods until I could hear crunching of the gravel on the path under my feet.

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: And then I would pick up a set number of stones and drop them back and hear them dropping back. And then after I'd accomplished that, then I would put my hand on the tree and feel the bark and what that felt like. And then, at that point, I would turn and see that I was at the end of the path, and it was opening up to wherever I was going, which was usually the same place.

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: Like very structured pieces. It sort of emerged though, not from the notion that like, you know, I'm going to go, like, if you're going to visit somewhere very structured, there are structured ways to get there, right? Like ...

AIDAN: Right.

ANDREW: Like maybe path workings on the tree of life, like there's tons of great stuff on that, you can take a look at that, but for me it was like, there's this thing where I started to notice this stuff, and there was this dance back and forth between noticing what I was experiencing and then engaging back with it, back and forth ...

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: And then that kind of solidified over a few months into that process.

AIDAN: Right. And that's ... I would say that, yeah, very similar things, again like, if I go to the West and I'm not feeling like I'm at a place where I can connect with the things that I deal with yet, then I'll find a spring, that's kind of one of my things, it's like I want water running off of a rock. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And then that's a place where I can kind of wash my hands and bless myself with that water or drink some of that water, and then continue from there. And it kind of is this process of deepening that. You know, when the allies show up, not necessarily, I don't tend to go very hard with them if they do show up, it's just kind of like, what goes on here? [laughs]

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: You know, what ... is there anything you want to show me? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Is there ... cause usually I find that trance is not the place that I initially go for answers to questions unless I already have somebody that I know I can go visit to do that with, so it's really just about making those connections and like, what shows up for me in here? 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Is there something going on for me in this space? And a lot of times it takes a long time. There's places that I go back to repeatedly, dozens of times, before anything really happens, that's of any, yeah, describable import.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so I think it's just time and yeah, seeing what happens, like it was really interesting, like, when I started traveling to the West, I would go to the ocean a lot.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And for the last five years, there has been nothing for me to do at the ocean. [laughs] So I kind of don't go there! If I get called there, which happens, that's happened a couple times, but in general, like, this is kind of boring ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: This is not my place, where there's other spaces that are far more interesting and where I actually have work to do and that's where the allies are generally waiting for me.

ANDREW: Hmm.

AIDAN: And again, I think it's probably different for everybody. I go to very few places. But I go to those places very frequently. And kind of the same thing on the entity front or deity front, I work with very few, but I tend to work with them as much as I can, to do the work that I want, like the idea of having 72 spirits or something to work with is like, WHY? 

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: What's the ... [laughs] what would I do with that? That's more friends than I have. [laughing] By a long shot! I don't know what to do with all of them! [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah. I think that's, I think that ... You know, people ask me, like, you know, what deck is the best, or whatever, like, and, I mean, I have one deck. I read with it. I have three unopened copies in a drawer because it's out of print, and if it doesn't come back in print I don't want to be sad down the road that I can't replace it. You know? 

AIDAN: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And like -- and before I worked with this deck, which has been the last number of years. You know, at some point I worked with another deck for like the better part of ... I don't know, somewhere between 15 and 20 years exclusively, and I think that there's something that ... there are different things that come, right? There's something that comes out of ... we talk about devotion, right? You know and sort of being devoted to a deck or to something particular, I think it brings about a different quality of change, than, you know, than having 72 friends or 72 decks or whatever, and I don't know that either is bad, but sometimes I don't understand what's on the other side of that equation, because it's so far from my journey with things ...

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: That I don't know what to do with it. You know? 

AIDAN: No, and I totally think that there is ... I don't ... I know folks that work extensively with, you know, whether it's Goetia or Enochian or all sorts of different systems that are incredibly involved, and it appears to work well for them, so it's not, I have no issue with it, but for me, that's definitely not my approach. You know. It's like I kind of covet another guitar, but I've got two acoustics and one electric, and I don't really need one to do what I do and so it's kind of like that just hangs out on the back burner, and I like to shop for them, but I don't like actually to pull the trigger for them.

ANDREW: Right.

AIDAN: And the same as you, even though I read with cards, very limited, you know, I recently found one deck that reads really beautifully for me and I have four copies of it, because it was going out of print. 

ANDREW: Which one? 

AIDAN: I use the, what is this guy? It's this guy, it's the Arcana deck from Dead on Paper.

ANDREW: Okay.

AIDAN: It's a playing card tarot deck. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: So it's, you know, it's poker sized, but it has the full trumps. And court cards are all fully arted up, but all of the suit cards are playing cards. 

ANDREW: Nice.

AIDAN: And it reads really well for me. Yeah. I bought it, I got two of them and started reading with it, and was like "oh, hell, these are about to go out of print," and had to track down two more just in case. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: So. 

ANDREW: That's awesome. So, when you ... one of the other things we were talking about, we've been talking a lot about trance stuff, right? But I mean, one of the other things that we ... certainly is in your book, right? and I know is part of your practice, is also this process of like, doing work, right? 

AIDAN: Right. 

ANDREW: Do you do your work when you're in trance? Do you do your work elsewhere?

AIDAN: [laughs] The answer is yes to all of those. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And this is the other thing I was thinking about this in response to the deepening trance work and so this is one of the methods that I do really like for that, and I forgot about it earlier, so thank you for the question, too. Most of what I do on the surface is offerings ...

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And then asking the people that I have a regular offering practice with for help. Which is just talking. And then I do a lot of kind of simple candle magic as I talk about in the book. And I do a lot of sigil magic. 

I also do, that's almost the wrong approach, related to that, is that there's an aspect of all that work that I do in trance. There's very little that I do that I could define as being discrete work. Some of the sigils are, and some of the candle magic is, where this is the only thing I'm doing, is I'm going to ask this once for this one thing. Almost everything is done as an overview. 

ANDREW: Hmmm.

AIDAN: Or as a piece of a bigger whole.

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: Which is kind of the ship that I talk about in the book, is this whole magic thing in my life and all of its aspects are in general focused in one kind of coherent direction.

ANDREW: Mmm.

AIDAN: And I'll use different tools to sort out pieces that need to change, or to steer that, kind of the whole thing, but I'm rarely doing anything super specific that is separate from that. If we were just looking at kind of percentage wise, you know, maybe five percent of stuff is going, "hey, I want this," or "I need a little more oomph over here" or "can we make this stop?"

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so, that tends to be that I'm getting information on the trance side, I'm getting what I kind of, what I refer to as body work over there, I get a lot of experiences with the things that I deal with in trance kind of putting themselves into my body and it's ... it feels kind of like physical body work.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: Too, and my experience of it is, is that they're kind of adjusting psychic structures, or clearing blocks, or removing kind of bad attachments. And so that's often one of the places where if I'm doing a lot of work for something, one of the allies will offer some assistance. Either in thinking about it or in this kind of body work approach. And that totally, so they're all, they're all very integrated. 

And then the other piece, which is the one that I mentioned, is helpful for getting into trance that I do, is ... And I don't do this all the time, but it's a really useful technique that can be worked with if you've got a pretty solid trance space and ... If you're using the book, I would do this in the upper work space in the tower that I talk about, which is kind of just a mostly empty working room that has a table in it, and so that's the first place I would try this. And what you do is, in the waking world, get a box, get a wooden box, and clean it up, and then paint it in some way that's really clear, so, you know, mine is like blue or black and has big dark blue circles on all the sides and on the top, so it's really clearly this box. And I think it's important to make it -- there'll be no questions there. And it's really ... Mine is really simple cause again my visualization skills aren't that great. [laughs] And what I will do sometimes is if I know I need a little different angle of work, is I'll put the components for that work, I'll do whatever kind of ritual or spell work I'm going to do, and then all those pieces go into the box. So, if I'm going to do candle magic, I might, you know, inscribe two candles and prep one of them and burn one of them and the other goes into the box. And if there's a sigil that goes with it, that goes into the box. Or if there's a talisman that goes with it, that goes into the box. Or a crystal or something like that. And then put that box together, in whatever your working space is, closed up, and go on about your day or whatever, and then when you go into trance, go into, in this case, that tower space, and go in knowing that that box is going to be available to you.

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

AIDAN: And so I'll walk into that space, if it's not already on the table, I kind of imagine that I'm going to reach into the box is usually in the shop here, into the shop from the tower, and bring that box in with me. And then I'll do that spell work from that space in trance. And that's one of the most useful things that I have found for really -- it doesn't necessarily improve your visualization or anything in trance, but as far as, it concretizes what's going on.

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: It builds a really solid link between your kind of more normal consciousness and that space that you get into in trance work. 

ANDREW: That's awesome. Yeah, I think figuring out how to like, connect here to there in as many ways as possible is definitely the way to go.

AIDAN: Yeah. [laughs] Definitely makes everything work better ...

ANDREW: Yeah.

AIDAN: In my experience, for sure. 

ANDREW: Cool. So, we've been talking for a while here, so maybe we're at that point where we should say "Hey, go buy Aidan's book, it's fantastic. If you're not already following Aidan, go follow Aidan." You know?

AIDAN: [laughing]

ANDREW: Yeah. Where should people come find you? 

AIDAN: I'm at aidanwachter.com. I'm Aidan Wachter on everything. Except you can probably find me as Aidan Wachter on Twitter too, but it's silfrsmith [rooster crowing in background] in the old Norse spelling on Twitter, but Aidan Wachter on Facebook, I've got a page, Aidan Wachter Talismanic Jewelry. The book is available generally all the online sources. I'm too busy with jewelry to try and deal with distribution, so, there's really no ... no stores have it as far as I know. And yeah, I'm just generally around, if you do a search for Aidan Wachter Talismanic Jewelry you will find something that will lead you to all the rest of it. [rooster crowing in background]

ANDREW: That's awesome. Well, thank you for making the time to chat today.

AIDAN: Absolutely.