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. 

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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):
 

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Andrew

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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.

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.

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

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

Andrew
 

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!

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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.

EP81 Portraits, Graffiti, and Dada with Lucia

May 25, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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

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.

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

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

 
Andrew
 
 
 

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

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

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

LUCIA: Hi!

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

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

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

ANDREW: Uh huh. 

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

ANDREW: Uh huh.

LUCIA: Lucia came up.

ANDREW: Perfect.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

[bursts out laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Uh huh.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Nice.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Hmm.

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

ANDREW: Right. 

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

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Right.

ANDREW: So. Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Yeah! Yes.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Most likely.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Yeah!

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

LUCIA: Right!

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

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

ANDREW: Uh huh.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

LUCIA: Cause it floats through like the wind.

ANDREW: Sure.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Mmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

LUCIA: Yeah!

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

LUCIA: Yeah! 

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

LUCIA: It's so simple!

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

LUCIA: Right!

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

LUCIA: Yes.

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

LUCIA: Right! Well, that —

ANDREW: Pass on to some of my astrological friends. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Yes. Yes.

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

LUCIA: No!

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

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing] Good luck!

ANDREW: Be free of that business! Right?

LUCIA: [laughing] 

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

LUCIA: [laughing] Ohhhh....

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Nope.

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

LUCIA: Right.

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

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

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Yes. 

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

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

ANDREW: Uh huh! 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Yes.

ANDREW: Not for everybody. 

LUCIA: Sure.

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

LUCIA: Mmm.

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: [laughs]

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

LUCIA: Yeah.

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

LUCIA: Yes.

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

LUCIA: Mmm.

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And nobody really likes the answer.

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Mmmmmmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

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

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Go, dad, go!

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Right. 

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

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: [laughs]

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

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

LUCIA: Yeah? 

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

LUCIA: Yes! 

ANDREW: Nobody knew where we were!

LUCIA: No!

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

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

ANDREW: True fact! [laughs]

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. No, for sure!

LUCIA: Yeah that's —

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

LUCIA: Yeah. 

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Right. 

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

LUCIA: Yes! 

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

LUCIA: Oh! 

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

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

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

LUCIA: Right!

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

LUCIA: Yeah! 

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Right. 

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

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

ANDREW: Uh huh.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm. 

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

LUCIA: Yeah. 

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

LUCIA: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah!

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

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

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

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

ANDREW:  Yeah.

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

ANDREW: It's amazing.

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

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

LUCIA: Yeah. 

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: They would probably never start. Right? 

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

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

LUCIA: Yeah. 

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

LUCIA: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

LUCIA: Whoa....

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

LUCIA: It is not fucking easy! 

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

LUCIA: Yes!

ANDREW: Doing stuff ...

LUCIA: Yes!

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

LUCIA: Yep!

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

LUCIA: Yeah! No!

ANDREW: You do what you gotta do ...

LUCIA: Exactly.

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

LUCIA: Solely on that work. 

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

LUCIA: No. 

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

LUCIA: No. 

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: For sure. 

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

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

LUCIA: [bursts out laughing]

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

LUCIA: Me too!

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

LUCIA: Yes.

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

LUCIA: [laughing]

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

LUCIA: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

LUCIA: And Courtney blows me away.

ANDREW:  Yeah.

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

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

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

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

LUCIA: Yes.

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

LUCIA: I love those!!!!

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

LUCIA: [gasps]

ANDREW: You can see what... 

LUCIA: Ohhhhhh!!!!!

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: And take care of each other, right? 

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

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

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

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

LUCIA: I love, I love it. 

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

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

ANDREW: Love it. Thanks for being on.

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

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

EP80 Stars and Magic with Austin Coppock

May 11, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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.

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

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

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

 
Andrew
 
 
Transcription
 

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah! 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

AUSTIN: I --

ANDREW: Not to interrupt your whole line of thought. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Right.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

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

ANDREW: Right. 

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

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

AUSTIN: Mmm.

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

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm, mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Can you hear me? 

AUSTIN: It happens.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Well, we're stuck again. 

AUSTIN: Yeah. I found some ... 

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Right.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah! 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: [laughs]

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Sure.

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure.

AUSTIN: Okay.

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

AUSTIN: [laughs] Yeah. 

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

AUSTIN: Oh, okay!

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

AUSTIN: [laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah!

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

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

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

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

AUSTIN: Oh!

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah, for sure! Go ahead! 

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

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

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

ANDREW: I know!

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

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

AUSTIN: I think I can chunk it down. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Right. 

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

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

AUSTIN: Exactly. Exactly. 

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

AUSTIN: Ohhhh.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

AUSTIN: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

AUSTIN: And so--

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

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

ANDREW: Sure.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

AUSTIN: Yeah. 

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

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

AUSTIN: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

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

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

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

ANDREW: Okay. 

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

ANDREW: Right. 

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

ANDREW: You get the whole picture.

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

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

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

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

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

[cross talking 00:47:57] 

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

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

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

ANDREW: [laughing]

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: For sure. 

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

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

AUSTIN: Okay! [laughs]

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

EP79 Sex and Spirit with Ty Shaw

April 27, 2018
00:0000:00

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

Connect with Ty through her website

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

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

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

EP78 Practicing Magic for Real Life with Jason Miller

April 13, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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.

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

You can find Jason on his website here

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

 
Andrew
 
 
Transcript 
 

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: The man I am today ... 

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

JASON: Oh, yeah? 

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

JASON: [laughs]

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

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

ANDREW: So easy to lose ...

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah!

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

JASON: Duh!

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

JASON: Yes!

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

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

JASON: Right. 

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

JASON: [laughs]

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

JASON: Yeah!

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

JASON: Sorry about that!

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: “Hey…”

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

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

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

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

JASON: The demons erased it. 

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: They're not stalkers, right? 

JASON: Right. They're not stalkers.

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

JASON: Right.

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

JASON: Yeah. 

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

JASON: [laughs]

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

JASON: [laughs]

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

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

ANDREW: That's really true. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah.  

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Sure.

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

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

JASON: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. At least one. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

JASON: Right. 

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

JASON: No.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

JASON: Ogdoatic!

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

JASON: Right. 

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

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

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

JASON: Really!

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

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

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

JASON: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

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

ANDREW: Right. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

JASON: [laughs] Yeah. 

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

JASON: So.

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

JASON: Right. 

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

JASON: Right. 

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmhmm

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

JASON: Yes.

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

JASON: No YouTube videos, to ...

ANDREW: No YouTube videos.

JASON: To set you right.

ANDREW: Yeah. For sure. 

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

JASON: Rarely.

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Uh huh.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Like demon?

JASON: Like demon, sure!

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

ANDREW: Hmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. 

JASON: So.

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

JASON: Yeah.

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

JASON: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: For sure, yeah.

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

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

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

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

JASON: Yeah!

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

JASON: Oh yeah. 

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

JASON: That's it!

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

JASON: Thank you for having me, man!

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

ANDREW:  Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: No, exactly.

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

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

JASON: [laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: Sure.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah. 

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

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

JASON: Yeah.

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

JASON: Amen to that.

ANDREW: Yeah.

JASON: Amen to that. 

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

JASON: Good!

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

JASON: Thank you for having me!

EP77 Pop Culture with Melissa Cynova and Rosered Robinson

March 30, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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

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

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

You can find Melissa on her website here

Planet of the Ape and other cool buddha hybrids are here

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

 

 

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

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

[laughter]

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Cool. Awesome. And Melissa? 

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

[laughter]

ANDREW: Pretty impressive, right? 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: [whispering] Her book is awesome! 

MELISSA: Thank you!

ANDREW: Sure. It’s a good book.

MELISSA: Thank you. I like it. 

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

MELISSA: Thank you!

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

ROSE: Right.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah.

ROSE: What about you, Andrew?

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

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

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Oh, yeah.

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

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

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

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

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: Oh!

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

MELISSA: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah!

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

ROSE: And yet, there's more there. 

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

ROSE: No. Oh, no, no. 

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

ROSE: Right.

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

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

ANDREW: So.

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

[laughter]

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

ROSE: Ah!

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

MELISSA: But the music does.

ROSE: The music's amazing. 

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

ROSE: Oh yeah. 

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

ROSE: So.

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

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

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

MELISSA: He never drives faster than he can see. 

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: [laughing]

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: That's brilliant. 

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

ROSE: Oh my gosh! That's amazing!

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

ROSE: Different work now. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Right. 

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

ROSE: Okay.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: Mm. Yeah, I could see that. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: Right.

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

ROSE: Could be.

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

ROSE: Ooh.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: The Justice League. 

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

ROSE: Oh, yeah.

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

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

ANDREW: And it was interesting, right? 

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

MELISSA: Well.

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

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

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

ROSE: Yes! 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

[laughter]

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

[laughter]

ANDREW: Yeah.

MELISSA: It's all in the reflexes. 

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

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

MELISSA: That is such a visual, thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

MELISSA: Well, actually ... 

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

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

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

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

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

ROSE: Okay.

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

ROSE: Okay!

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

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

MELISSA: Yeah...

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

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

[laughter]

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ROSE: No, no, no, no—

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: No, go ahead. 

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

ROSE: Right. 

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

ANDREW: Pop culture is sacred to you, right? 

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: [laughing]

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah, absolutely. 

MELISSA: Yeah, absolutely. 

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

ROSE: Did that answer your question, Andrew? 

ANDREW: Did I have a question? 

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

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: [whispering] The Golden Dawn!

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Right. 

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Hmm.

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

ROSE: Right.

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

ROSE: Huh.

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

MELISSA: Mmmhmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

ROSE: Interesting. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MELISSA: No. They're definitely different. 

ANDREW: Yeah.

MELISSA: And. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. 

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

ROSE: What do you mean? 

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

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

ROSE: Mm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Well, when I ...

ROSE: In that way. 

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Mmmhmm.

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

ROSE: Right. 

ANDREW: But, yeah.

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

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

ROSE: Ah.

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

ROSE: Yeah.

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

ROSE: Yeah....

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

ROSE: Yeah...

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

ROSE: But I would make him the Hierophant. 

ANDREW: Hmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmmhmm.

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

[laughter]

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

ANDREW: Perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

March 16, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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

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

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

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

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