The Hermit’s Lamp Podcast - A place for witches, hermits, mystics, healers, and seekers
EP114 Shadow Work with Sasha Graham

EP114 Shadow Work with Sasha Graham

October 19, 2020
Sasha and Andrew talk about finding balance. How working on your shadow is just as important as working on the rest of yourself. They explore tarot and other tools along with personal stories of encounters wit the shadow. 
 
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Transcription. 
Andrew:
Welcome to another episode of The Hermits Lamp podcast. I am here today with Sasha Graham. I met Sasha at Readers Studio a number of years ago where they were talking about shadow work. And recently, this summer, they came out with a deck called the Dark Wood Tarot, which digs right into that shadow stuff. And for people who've spent time around me, really owning both sides of that stuff is important I think to every spiritual journey.
So I wanted to kind of have Sasha on here to talk shadow stuff and talk dealing with those things, especially at a time when COVID and racial issues and justice issues or the shadow issues of our cultures are really being brought to the foreground as well. It feels like an important conversation and an important thing to keep paying attention to. But maybe everybody doesn't know who you are, Sasha. So why don't you give us a quick introduction?
Sasha:
Yeah. Well, first off, thank you. Thank you so much for having me. So my name's Sasha Graham. I'm a tarot author and a deck creator and a teacher. I've written, I think, eight tarot books for Llewellyn and Lo Scarabeo. And I contribute to the Llewellyn's Magical Almanacs, which is Datebooks. And I've created two tarot decks, both of them kind of steeped in spooky darkness because I love that vibe: The Tarot of the Haunted House for Lo Scarabeo and The Dark Wood Tarot, which has just come out a couple months ago, with Llewellyn.
Andrew:
So tell me this, because you are a very positive-seeming, very upbeat, very energetic and outgoing kind of person. What's with all the darkness? What's with the appeal of that for you? What do you get from that?
Sasha:
I am a person who... The darkest parts of anything in my life that I've ever experienced, the most challenging things in my life that I've ever experienced has always paid itself back on the light side, if that makes sense. So I grew up in a very kind of... I think my childhood, to be honest with you, felt very terrifying. I lived in wild, rural places. I was on mountains and planes. We moved around.
The world always felt very supernatural and very scary. And it was always kind of going in and embracing the things and figuring out all of the dark stuff helped me find the light that much better, if that makes any sense. And especially I think as a teenager, when there were certain things that I couldn't process that were happening in my life, it was easier for me to go to horror and Stephen King. I happened to come of age when vampires and Anne Rice became a thing and the goth movement first came out.
So, to me, grinding yourself against the darkness, grinding yourself against the stuff that terrifies you makes you stronger and ultimately it makes you more whole. And then as I transitioned into my work as a taroist and as a writer and as like, I don't know, a spiritual creature or whatever you want to call it, I realized how profound and how the further you go into the...
We're all here to evolve, right? As a taroist, as an artist, as a writer, you're here to move forward and to see further than you've seen the day before. The only way you can bring the light of consciousness to whatever it is that you do is by exploring the things you don't understand or you don't know. Now, oftentimes those things are scary.
If you're doing between world work and you're encountering an energy that you're not familiar with, of course that's terrifying because you don't recognize it. But interestingly, that happening spiritually or in your imagination is the same thing that happens to us when we walk down the street and see something we don't recognize or a person that we don't recognize. Because something is not comfortable to us, we call that thing the other and we're afraid of it.
And that's why the shadow work that you perform for yourself is applicable on every single level of our lives. And so it's not just about how you're relating inside to yourself, but also how you're relating to the external world, and how what I call the trick of the material world, which in the tarot deck would be pentacles, how you really get fooled by the way that something looks rather than paying attention to the energy of what it actually is underneath.
And when you're looking at things energetically... Oh my God, I'm really running on here. But when you're looking at things energetically, it's a lot simpler, I think, than things look like on the surface. All right. I'm going to just stop talking now.
Andrew:
No. There are so many things to touch on in there. So the first one I want to ask you about though... I made a list here so we can make sure stuff doesn't get missed. The first thing that I want to say is... So I spent a lot of time in the wilderness. I grew up sort of North of Toronto in a town that I think it had about 8,000 people living there when I lived there.
But I lived on the edge of town and there was nothing but farms and forests between us and the next town, maybe a 15 minute drive over or a very long, long walk or bike ride. And so I spent a lot of time in the woods and pretty deep in the woods and getting lost in the woods with friends and stuff like that or by myself. And I spent a lot of time cycling the rural roads.
I would just hop on my bike and ride for hours and be like, huh? And again, pre GPS, pre whatever, like actually lost. Being like, huh, I think if I turn right here, I'm going to get back to my city, my town. But if not, then I'm going to hit this other town and then I'm going to have a really long bike ride home after that. I'm already really tired.
Because for me, as I continue to grow and continue to live my life spiritually, my connection to the land, to wilderness, to sort of spirits from places, to plants and animals and all of those kinds of things that has its root in that time continues to flourish. Because I think that in nature, there's no avoiding the shadow. Nature doesn't avoid it at all. It's all kind of unified.
Nature is what it is and that's it. And we sometimes try and glorify it and be like, "Oh, all these things are so perfect." And it's like, well, nature is astounding. Nature is magical and powerful. Nature is intense and scary. It's all there. So I'm curious what role some of your experiences of being in the wilderness or in nature and so on impacted on your journey in this. Was there a moment where you were out there and you were scared of stuff? Was there a moment where you had a spiritual encounter in the woods or wherever?
Sasha:
Yeah. And this is, again, one of those things where you asked me in the beginning, why do you love the darkness? One of the things that used to terrify me the most was I lived on the side of a mountain in Vermont. We had like a mile long driveway. I was in fourth grade. And I would have to walk from the school bus up the driveway and into the empty house and hang out for like two hours by myself before anyone got home.
And so it was like I would leave the den of the school bus. And the second I stepped off that school bus, man, it got quiet. And the gift of being a young child and of being scared, because there's a difference between playing... Well, whether you're playing or whether you're kind of nervous and therefore kind of on alert, the gift of being very young and being in those situations is that you're not always necessarily sure what you're looking at.
When you encounter things, I think that you encounter them maybe in their truer form than what people have. Because once you're told this is a doc, that is a red robin, you kind of place it in a box in a way. But when you're young and in nature... And I believe that being nervous and being scared, especially those walks up that driveway, because I was in kind of a heightened state of alert, I was certain I was going to get murdered or there was a troll under the bridge. He was going to devour me up.
I really paid attention, like super-uber attention. And with that, yeah, I saw things and I experienced things on a much more profound level probably than I could even... I probably couldn't even express it in words. But again, it's something that I'm so grateful for because as I've grown older and moved deeper into the work that I do, I understand that now and I'm able to see things in that way or I know when I'm encountering something and what I would call between mortals experience, where I'm almost in two places at the same time and looking through the veneer of the material world into the energy that's underneath.
So again, I think it's that full circle thing, when you have a childhood rooted in nature and go outside and play, you're immediately interfacing with all of this energy that in and of itself could be your teacher. You never have to pick up a tarot book or a witchcraft book or a Shelly book if you were just paying attention to and outside in the woods. So that's an example of why I'm grateful for something that was spooky that was my greatest teacher as well.
Andrew:
Yeah. I think there's something about fear that is really helpful sometimes, not always. You know what I mean?
Sasha:
Yeah.
Andrew:
I remember the first time I summoned Goetic demon to demand it to do something for me. It was one of the first evocations that I did. A friend of mine and I had spent a long time... We got this 10 by 10 foot canvas and painted our magic circle on it by hand. We did all sorts of stuff around setting that up. And I remember the feeling as I started that ceremony and the way in which it heightened all of my other senses and kind of opened me up.
It wasn't that I hadn't been meditating and scrying and reading cards. I had been doing a lot of stuff. But something about the tension around that and sort of that taking it really seriously. And I think that whether it's a deliberate experience or whether it's a sort of situational experience, right? I remember being... We were at a friend's wedding somewhere north of the city and we were walking back, me and my co-parent and the two kids, one of whom was like an infant at the time.
And we were walking back from where the post wedding dancing was happening around a fire with a bunch of drums and stuff like that, back to the cabin where we were sleeping. The road was pitch black and we didn't have a flashlight. And the only light that there was, was this little tiny gap above us where you could see a few stars through the trees. And I was just like, "Oh, this is fine. I know this." I mean, I don't know that place. But I know the forest. I know being here in the dark. I know whatever.
And I was just like, "It's fine. Just put your hand on me and I'll just walk us back." And I just walked us back, following that faintest of trails. I mean, the road itself was big enough to drive a car out. So it wasn't like I was walking through the woods on a tiny goat track on a mountain with the kids. But it was dark. And that sense, for me, in that moment, of connection to all of that stuff around me made it really easy to be there. But I think that in the absence of that, that is a terrifying experience, right?
Sasha:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And I think that, again, it's kind of the trick in the way that we address what's happening, like fear. So many of the same things that happen to us physically when we're freaked out and scared are also the same thing that happens to us when we're intensely sexually aroused. Your face flushes, you get goosebumps on your skin, you're really paying attention to everything that's going on.
Well, what happens in those moments when you're on such kind of high alert, you're broken open. In the sense of the erotic, you're opening yourself up to someone and if everything's in your favor, you're about to have an incredibly transcendent experience with someone. And I think the great thing about really good horror movies, for example, or a great horror novel is that also opens you up and shows you something new.
It shows you what's possible. And it doesn't necessarily always feel good, which I always talk about the three of swords being the heart opening card. To look at an incredible natural landscape can be kind of as painful. Beauty can be as painful as grief, and all of it is breaking you open. It's taking you out of where you were yesterday and it's moving you further into a deeper experience of being a human being and therefore understanding the world in a more profound way, which is why I think we're all here and why we do this work.
Andrew:
I love the notion of the sublime from like 19th century landscape and then kind of further into modernism and other things. This idea that we can have these experiences of something that is so vast and overwhelming that it allows us to understand our place in the universe and our relationship to source the creator or, as they would have said, to God.
Because it is that a complete existential understanding of our place in relationship to everything else. And that sense of both our smallness and our bigness in relationship to things. A friend of mine had this land that backed onto 50,000 hectares. I don't know what that is in America, but it's huge. It's unbelievably huge. And the land was logged like a hundred years ago and then has been untouched ever since. And other than a few hunter shacks and stuff, there's nothing there.
And I used to go pike in there and find a high spot, because there's just sort of like rolling Canadian shield, rocky surfaces that on the top of them there's just nothing there because they're just fair walk. And I would find a nice one and I would camp there for a couple days by myself. And at night I would do ceremonies to the sky goddess.
And you're there in this vast wilderness and I'm like three, four hours walk through the woods from anybody else probably. And you're on this high point and you're away from all the cities. So it's just this vast, expansive starriness. And that sense of being lost in relationship to it, being consumed by the bigness and then connected to it and then returned back to myself is such a profound and healing experience.
Sasha:
And also, when I'm out in the woods by myself, what is always surprising to me is the sense that I'm definitely not out there alone. And I'm not talking about like tree energy or field energy. I am talking about something much more beguiling. And I would not even dare to kind of try and even define it because again, I think it's something that...
What happens to you when you are truly alone without other people in the wild I guess is like the hermit and taro. You have to be out there to experience it yourself because I think it's one of the closest, comfortable ways that you can start to understand how you interface with the world around you. And I think it's an exquisite and always surprising and amazing. I just think it's amazing. Now I want to go hiking, or maybe it's the weekend that has caught up.
Andrew:
Yeah. I just got back from a week camping, not particularly remotely, but a week camping with my kids. And they were like, "Can we go again?" And I'm like, "Yeah, we'll go again. We can do on October." And maybe we'll go somewhere just slightly further that's maybe going to be a little Wilder, especially because October we're not going to be swimming or not likely to be swimming. It's going to be cold up here and stuff.
Sasha:
For sure.
Andrew:
One of the things I think is very interesting about you as well is that you have this background in acting. And you have this piece that's attached to what people talk about as sort of, in my mind, glamor magic, from like what you do and how you go about it, stuff like that. And so I'm curious for you, how do you think about it, or if you ever think about this sort of idea of how you are in the world as sort of a deliberate expression of yourself and us sort of being attached to that wholeness or that magic or those kinds of ideas?
Sasha:
I love that you just said glamour magic. That makes me so happy. So your question is, I'm sorry, how do I...
Andrew:
How do you think about this yourself in relationship to how you are in the world, like your shadow and all this stuff? You're out there as a teacher and a taroist and all these things. But how do you think about how you present yourself, about your persona, about your way of being in the world, especially maybe in relationship to your public self, or if you do at all? I don't know.
Sasha:
Look, from as far back as I can remember, I think there's two things that kind of occupied my mind and in terms of what drove me to do the things that I did, and that was, one, in a sense having some sort of agency or power. And two, with that, also being authentic to who I was or am. And that's something that I'm constantly trying to figure out.
And I think anybody who's extremely empathetic, I pick up a lot of whoever I'm around. So I'm constantly trying to navigate, okay, is that me or is that someone else? I try to be and I continue every day, I was just in bed this morning with my husband talking about this thing, being the most authentic version of who it is that you are with that whole idea of the things that are placed inside of you that you are drawn to.
So in terms of what I put out there, it's who I am. I love that you say glamour magic. I think supernatural stuff is sexy. I think witchcraft is so sexy. I think it's powerful. That's what I loved when I was an actor and I made like a million B movies. I'm looking at them right now. They're all right there. But when I look back at the roles that I did, I wasn't the girl being like slashed in a wet t-shirt. I was the vampire. I was the gargoyle.
I was the mafia hit woman. It was all about claiming my power because I think for so long I felt powerless. So what I do now, as a woman... It's funny. The teaching just kind of came along with writing books. I never set out to become a teacher at all. But then since I started publishing, people were like, "Oh, will you teach a class. Do you guys do that?" So I was like, okay, all right.
I mean, I'd rather be a student. Any day of the week I would rather be a student because I'm still figuring this stuff out and it's always felt odd to kind of be like, well, here I am the authority. Let me tell you what I know about the invisible world. How do I know that for someone else? I only know my experience of it. And even with my books, I'm always like you know more about yourself than I do.
Throw my book out the window and write down what the symbol of a crown or a rainbow means to you. So as far as what I put out there, I mean, I'm just trying to be me. I like glamour and pleasure and beauty and travel and excitement. And I always felt, since I was very young, that life was cinematic. And it's why I love living in New York city and I love being in the mountains because it's like being in a movie thing and I do love the movies. So I don't know. That's just me, I guess. I'm trying to be me.
Andrew:
Because it sounds like there was a time where you didn't feel empowered and now there's this time where you feel more empowered or you're sort of aware of it and making a lot of choices that bring you into that place. How did that shift happen?
Sasha:
Well, the second I moved to New York city, I got a great therapist. I found myself a good, good therapist. I always had the sense... How did that shift happen? Taro has always been my jam. First of all, when I first started as a reader, I was like, well, if I'm not following my own advice, then I'm kind of like a total fraud. So I always already felt like it was like, okay, it was going to keep me on point. And the shift into... I don't know when it happened. I mean, I think it's been a slow and steady ascension up the cliff into whoever is inside of me that's trying to come out or trying to show itself. I don't know.
Andrew:
Interesting. Yeah. It's funny how that stuff sort of sometimes is easier to see in retrospect, that the change is happening, than it is to sort of notice in the moment. And I think that... Maybe you see this with people, too. Sometimes come for readings and they want that change today. And I'm like, yeah, that would be so nice, wouldn't it? If I could just, and then you would feel empowered or this or that or whatever. But it's often those accumulation of little things, or not even little things, right? Like, well, I did therapy for a while. I did this. I did that. I read my cards every day. I kept asking questions. I kept writing.
Sasha:
And it's so true. And I'm so curious. When people have those big moments... My sister, for instance, she was a heroin addict. And I'm always like that day of clarity where you woke up and were like, "I'm done," how many tiny things had to... And if you look bad at any moment in your life when you make a big decision like, "Oh, I'm finally really done." And you might call that a major care moment.
I'm really finished with this. It's always the tiniest things that led to the biggest kind of I think outward, inward changes. And in a sense makes it so easy... I didn't know what I was going to do for a career. I was asking the tarot every day, what should I do? What should I do? If there's something you want in your life, ask what that is every day.
And I guarantee you within three to six months, probably sooner, you'll get the answer. But it's just about kind of focusing yourself and realizing it's something small. Just asking a question and opening yourself up to the wisdom. It will come. And funny enough, my answer was like, oh, you should be a tarot reader. And it was right. So yeah, it is so often something that would be seemingly insignificant or small that is so incredibly powerful.
Andrew:
Well, I think that reminds me of maybe three, four years ago I was feeling very log jammed by stuff. I was running the store. I was doing readings. It was all going well, but it was a lot to deal with. I had kids. I got a lot going on. And I was reading cards and trying to figure out essentially how to be happier because I was not super happy in that moment.
And I put out the cards and journaling again. And I wrote when I'm free, I want to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. All right? And then I kind of stopped myself. And I looked back over like my past series of readings and stuff and almost all of them had similar language. And I was like, wait a second, when I'm free? Okay. I have my own store. I am my own boss. I can do whatever, maybe not immediately, but over time I can do anything I want with any of these things.
I'm in a relationship, but it's an open relationship and I'm free to date other people and do whatever I want in that regards and so on and so on. And I'm like, when am I going to be more free than this? What would that even look like? It would look like, oh, I won the lottery and I've got $10 billion and I don't have to think about anything anymore. That would be more free.
But I was like, oh, I already have this thing, but I'm putting my unhappiness onto this idea of lack of freedom as opposed to looking at my happiness and say, okay, what can I do to change this? And obviously, there are lots of people who are in positions where they don't have those freedoms. I was in a very privileged position around this.
But I think that that idea of when we're reading or journaling or whatever, keep looking back and look for those patterns and look for those words that you're like, what's the central word there? What's the sexual thing there? And then try and unpack that and see what's there, because often there's something that could be done or there's a shift around our attention.
And once I started dropping that story, I was like, "Oh, well, look at this. Now I'm going to do this and now I want to do that." One of the things was I was like talking to people on the phone isn't making me happy. I'm going to put in a booking system. And that's it. I'm going to stop talking to people by bookings. And I was like, oh, that's easy. Done. And I changed a few little things and it created a lot of movement. And then I started moving from there further, further into it.
Sasha:
And that's the funny thing. We nuance the stuff that we want and it makes it seem like we're swimming in this ocean when it's really quite simple. When I wrote 365 Tarot Spreads, which is a tarot spread for every day of the year, before I began, I thought, oh, I wonder if there's a limit of how many questions a human being could ask. And so I sat down and I researched it and I thought up as many questions as I could.
And when you take out the personal nuances of your life, there's really under a hundred questions that a person could ask. And again, almost to the point of what we were talking about earlier, what's underneath is really quite simple. What we do is confuse it for all of this different stuff. I find that endlessly fascinating. And then you're like, "Oh my God, this is so much easier. I was making it all such a big deal."
What you just described, and then realizing that you already have what you want. I love what I said about the magician card. It makes me so happy and it just gives me so much joy. He's got the four suits of tarot typically on his magician table. And I always say that you already have everything you need. It's in front of you. And that's the funny and interesting thing about making magic and casting spells when.
Actually, I wrote an article, this technique called The Grief Eater Technique for one of the Llewellyn annuals. And it's about what happens when your witch's desires are not granted. You have to recognize that what you need is right there, perhaps you're not recognizing it or perhaps you don't see the gift or can't appreciate that what you are looking for us is staring at you in the face.
And then that leads to the next magical tenet, which is know that you already have it. I have to say, a couple of years ago, I was dying to travel, but we just didn't have the money and the budget. And I have a teenage daughter. So the idea that the three of us could pick up and go halfway around the world was very ridiculous. And I thought, okay, tarot teaches me that the world repeats. That underneath all of this stuff, everything is the same.
So I thought, okay, I can't go traveling the world right now. So I'm going to, every day, for five to 10 minutes, look for the entire world in my backyard. And whether that's on a city block in the city or that's in a puddle behind this house. And I started looking and traveling. And wouldn't you know it, Andrew, I swear to God, within a year for me doing that every day for 10 minutes, I was being literally invited to China, to the Middle East, all over the country. I started traveling like a fiend. And it was amazing, I think magic and tarot and figuring your stuff out can be so simple. We make it tough.
Andrew:
Yeah. I think it's interesting. Whenever people talk about magic, I'm always like, cool, what's the mechanism there? What accomplished that? And in the story you said, I'm kind of like, well, is that like doing devotion work to idea of travel for long enough that something, whatever it was, opened up and granted that to you? Is that aligning your attention to those things that started to make that more possible and sort of attaching yourself to those energies and actions and thoughts and stuff that make that happen?
It happens on so many different levels. And I think that that kind of idea of ongoing continual practice around stuff is really fascinating and actually fits with a lot of what I do. I do a lot of sort of sigil and art-based magic. And on the regular, I'm making art sigils, art gifts, art petitions and giving them to the ancestors or giving them to whatever. And I just make them and make them and make them. There's a whole pile of them.
I just sit there with them. And some of those are around bigger things or smaller things. A lot of them are just around like help me just understand what I really want and what I don't want. Help me to just be really clear about that. And that continuous, ongoing attention over years, it just turns into those moments where you're like, oh yeah, that's cool. Look, oh, I don't do that anymore. Oh, now I do know this. Oh, I have this clarity. Or also, hey, this thing opened up and this happened or that happened or, yeah, these opportunities, right?
Sasha:
And it's interesting. Because the impulse to seek that out or to create whatever it is that you're creating is already kind of implanted inside you, again, authentically. Talking about just being yourself, like a true, authentic version of expression of whatever is kind of embedded inside of you. When you either, A, I think recognize it in the material world or in nature, or when you write or paint, or also then create it, I do believe it's magnifying that energy which wanted to be seen.
I love this idea that everything on the other side, all of what's in the invisible world or not yet manifested, I love the idea that it wants you as much as you want it. And not only just the things that you want, but kind of like everything. When you're walking through your garden and you can smell a cucumber or rosemary, I feel like it's begging you like, "Pay attention to me," Just like clients want to be seen in a tarot reading and they want you to understand them.
I think everything in the invisible world wants to get your attention because it wants to be seen because it's exactly like us or that's us. It's all part and parcel. So the magical act is so inherently creative, there's just, I think, such power in the recognition and kind of the duality of creating it. And that's why it's so crazy and cool when you'll create a piece of art or write something and then like a year later you're standing inside of it. It's amazing. It's so cool.
Andrew:
So take away, magic school. Go through magic.
Sasha:
Practice magic every day. Do lots of magic. It's the perfect time of year anyway, if you're in the Northern hemisphere.
Andrew:
I think that's great. Well, maybe this is a good place to leave it with that and say, hey, go practice magic. Stay in it, stay curious, and look at that fear and work on it. Because I think that that stuff is gateways to all sorts of great possibilities. So for people who want to come and follow what you're up to, and of course people should do that, where are you hanging out online these days? What's your social stuff?
Sasha:
My social sitch. So I guess anybody who's interested in seeing what I'm up to can look on Instagram. I think I'm Sasha Taro Diva, Sasha Graham Taro Diva. Just Google Sasha Graham Taro and my stuff will come up. But I'm on sashagraham.com. I'm on Facebook and on Instagram primarily. Those are like my main social Hangouts. But more importantly, and probably something that would be even more interesting and helpful to you would be to like rather than looking for me online, look for my books and my tarot decks at independent bookstores. Support them. Get a tarot deck to play with. Grab one of my books. I promise you like 365 Spells or 365 Spreads is going to give you so much fun stuff that you can do and play with your cards and get into. Honestly, social is like a light version. Get one of my books, get one of my decks and play. I think that's the best way you can kind of get little piece of me.
Andrew:
I agree. I agree for sure. And speaking of that, we're going to wrap this up and we're going to go record a bonus episode for people who are supporters of the Patreon, where we're going to get into specifically how to play with regards to dig in and do a little shadow work. So if you're not already supporting the Patreon, go check it out and start. You're missing out on some fantastic stuff. All right. Thanks for being on today, Sasha.
Sasha:
Thanks so much.
EP113 Fake asteroids and real life with Jenn Zahrt

EP113 Fake asteroids and real life with Jenn Zahrt

September 27, 2020
Jenn and Andrew catch up about all the changes. Including the arrival of Jenn's kiddo, Andrew's reasons for walking away from astrology, and some great ideas about new ways to interact with the stars. Have you heard of the Adoptalganger Asteroid?
 
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Andrew
The Transcription is too long for here so you can find it on the post on my website here. 
 
EP112 WTF…still? With Stacking Skulls

EP112 WTF…still? With Stacking Skulls

September 12, 2020

Andrew, Fabeku, and Aidan (aka Stacking Skulls) get together to talk about living during this ongoing pandemic. They talk about astrology, racism, colonialism, magic, getting by, and so much more. 

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Transcript is below. 

Andrew: Hey, folks. Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp Podcast. At the time of this recording, it is, basically, the end of August, and been on a hiatus since the earth of spring from podcasting. Just too busy with dealing with all of the chaos of COVID and all of that chaos and everything else. But, I was thinking that the last episode that I did with Stacking Skulls was called WTF, and I think that the title for this one is probably WTF Still? Because, here we are so many months out from what's going on, and yet still life is chaotic and uncertain, and, really, especially for folks in America, way worse in some ways than it was back then. I don't think that we are still cruising around the idea that it might be, "Yeah, three weeks of lockdown, maybe a little bit longer," and now we're in the phase of, "Is there an end? When's the end? How does an end of this come together?" And, all that wear and tear that's kicked around.

So, anyways, if you don't know Stacking Skulls, well, number one, you're in for a treat. There's a whole bunch of episodes of us clowning around together. But, I'm here with Fabeku and Aidan, and we're just going to check in as my fall relaunch of the podcast happens. So, yeah, who wants to go first, what's going on? How's the last five months been? 

Aidan: The last five months have been ridiculous.

Andrew: Yeah. 

Aidan: It's been crazy busy, partially. We were pointed at doing... When I say we in this context, that's me and my wife... doing another class but with COVID and everybody being sent home, we realized that that didn't make any sense to try and put anything out that was a larger money thing. Because, it seemed like it was quite possible we weren't going to have much money and we didn't really feel great about trying to get 300 bucks or something out of people at that moment in time, because, really, we couldn't tell how things were going. So, we changed gears back to my second book, and so I've been rapidly finishing that and then learning InDesign to put it all together and get it printed. So, that's launched as an e-book now and in 10 days, 9 days, something like that, the print books start landing on people's doorsteps.

Andrew: Nice.

Aidan: It's overall just been weird. We're in one of the states that are... our governor has always taken this thing really seriously. So, we didn't get hit nearly as hard as most other places with the exception of some places on the reservation got hit really bad. So, we've been in lockdown way before a lot of places that didn't get hit as hard have been. We're now at the place that it's masks if you are outside of your home, period. So, I haven't really been on the bike for a while, because it is not fun to go riding around on that. We're super supportive of it. Because, it's just not being one of the people that is necessarily at as much risk as other people are, though... obviously, everybody can get it and can get messed up by it. You certainly don't want to be involved in spreading the shit. 

Andrew: For sure. 

Aidan: So, it's been crazy on that sense, but at the same time, we're homebodies anyway, and it's us at home with the animals. So, we've shifted a few things, but they've not been great. Not been huge for us. Then yeah, just doing book promo stuff and then launched the first episode of my podcast. But other than that, it's just been working on the book, working on getting the book out there, working on understanding InDesign.

Andrew: It's not at all a small task to do a thing like that, right?

Aidan: Yeah, it's interesting. I'm glad I know how to do it because it sets me up to do more. So, I'll be doing the e-book of Six Ways next and then I've already got part of the third book going. So, it's nice because it allows me to take the reins for that whole project now, but it is a lot of work. Keeping busy with that. Chickens, lots of chickens. 

Andrew: Yum, yum. I mean, wonderful.

Aidan: I don't eat them but I yum yum for their eggs.

Andrew: How about you Fabeku?

Fabeku: Yes, same. It's been crazy, like everybody. I think the last time I left the house was end of February, maybe first couple days of March. Have not been out of the house since then. Like Aidan, I don't go out of the house much anyway. But, this many months has been a strange thing. Yeah, I've been busy with a ton of stuff too. I just finished a book with some writing and art and some shit like that, that's going to be published by Revelore in October. [inaudible], so that's a cool thing. It was weird for a while. The first few months, I had a hell of a time doing art. I could do some stuff for clients or collectors or whatever but my own stuff is just, "What the fuck am I doing?" It was awhile that I didn't do any art which is weird for me.

So, finally, back at that which is good. I feel like that was sanity preserving kind of things. Yeah, excited about the book, excited about the couple of books after that, that I'm finally back in motion after stalling out for a while and just busy with a ton of people stuff and trying to help people manage this fuckery that is 2020 at this point. Yeah, it's been a pretty high bandwidth task moment. Yeah, I don't know. It's a strange time in so many ways. In so many ways.

Andrew: Yeah, I feel like this hit, probably around the time we were doing the last episode, things were slow-ish for me, and I was just trying to figure out what was going on and all that kind of stuff. Then, just things got super busy between the store and client work and suddenly having two kids that I'm solo parenting half the time. Not in school, all that kind of stuff. All of a sudden, it's just, wow, I'm just working as a parent or working as my regular job continuously and all the time. That was just an intense run all the way through until, really, maybe two weeks ago or three weeks ago, when I... here in Toronto, things went pretty good. We had a lot of stuff going on, but we're down to maybe 20 new cases a day, maybe less. We've had some single digits and restaurants are open and a lot of stuff. Gyms are open, with social distancing, of course, but it hasn't brought about a big spike in anything. 

So, cautiously optimistic about it. Have been, and then, of course, the next big question is, school starts next month, and it's, what's going to go on with that and so on. Right? So, it's just trying to have a wrangle all that stuff with COVID. Then, I think, the other big thing that... this happened in this time since we last talked, right, was George Floyd's death. Right? 

Aidan: Absolutely. 

Andrew: The resurgence of what, really, should be a continuous thing of, how do we fix these racial divides and inequities and all this stuff. It's definitely a thing that's taken up a chunk of my attention as well in terms of trying to stay attentive to it, right. To not just drift back into day-to-day life, and whatever. Because, that's been the history of it, right? It erupts into the media and into our consciousness because there's some horrible thing that happens. Then, from a broader perspective, it dissipates, right? It doesn't build momentum.

So, yeah, I would say I'm hopeful that it's going to change at this point. I have no idea, right. But, I think that there, definitely, felt like there's a different quality to what's been going on around that stuff, that I have some hope that it will make bigger changes. Yeah.

Aidan: Yeah, that's been a huge thing too, obviously. And, it's interesting because it's even where you get stuff that's... I have folks in my family that still don't perceive what the issue is, you know? Which is weird to me on a personal level because I have, in my immediate, immediate-immediate family, people of color. So, you don't even want to take their word for what they're experiencing, even though they are technically your family, right? You're so set in your belief structure here that you can't see that or can't see the difference or the shifts between it. There's folks in my family that, again, have children that are children of color, that still don't see it. It's, really? How are you that unaware? How do you maintain that? That's what, I guess, I don't understand. I've never been able to maintain that. I didn't start with it, I think, and that's why. But, it's been good to see the attention. So, the reasons behind why it needs to be there are horrible, but yeah, I don't know. 

Then, for us in the US, to me, there's like an almost psychotic nature to the United States right now. Where the whole discourse is so stratified and so divisive and so peculiar in where people can and will go. It's really, you don't see that in yourself or you don't see that in the people that you're supporting? How do you pull that off? I just don't get it.

Fabeku: Its been interesting for me, my mother is in her 80s and grew up in a little teeny tiny, literally, a shack in the hills of Kentucky. After George Floyd was killed, every single time I've talked to her, that's almost all she's talked about, and how she realizes, at this stage of the game, that she's spent 80 something years oblivious to this shit, and not paying attention and not listening to people, and having the privilege to not pay attention to it because it didn't affect her. And, she's trying to have conversations with her sisters and her brothers, almost all of whom are completely oblivious to it and entirely entrenched in, what's the big fucking deal, kind of thing. I

It's interesting to me, the way it's shaken things, loosened her in a way that I've never seen before, right? It's not that we didn't have conversations about it before but, I don't know, I don't think she got it. As opposed to her sisters and brothers, will actively push against it. It was never that so much, it was just, well, yeah, that's really bad.

But now, I mean, we have hours and hours of conversations of just, how the fuck have I not paid attention to this? How the fuck if I lived my entire life not understanding how, and completely, fucked things are for people that aren't white in this country? It's been an interesting thing to see. I think she's hopeful that her sisters and brothers will wake up and get it. I don't think they will. They're about as deeply entrenched in that kind of bullshit as it gets. But, yeah, it's been interesting to listen to my mother, of all people, have long conversations about this. When John Lewis passed, she was talking about, how did I never really pay attention to who this man was? How did I not know his life and his legacy and his history? Yeah, it's been an interesting come to Jesus moment, in some ways for her.

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's funny, when I started this podcast many years ago, the first thing I did was a series of interviews on why some people change and why some people don't, right. I talked to people [inaudible] they're right there, the early episodes still existent. Should be on iTunes, and whatever I talk to. That time I was mostly tarot focused so I've talked to a bunch of tarot readers about it. It's, nobody's got an answer for that, right. I think that it's such a significant question now, right. Can we understand how to make change in society? I think that we're seeing a lot of stuff around that, that the answer is, maybe it doesn't. Maybe it can't be polite, maybe it can't be quiet, maybe it can't be whatever, right? Because, I see the things that make change, and the quiet, polite route is predominantly a route of quiet and polite with money and power behind it, right? You know?

Aidan: Oh, yeah. You get to be very quiet and polite if you have lots of privilege.

Andrew: Right? But also, thinking about the people who follow Stalking Skulls. They're our groupies, right? They are those people who are part of our magical communities, right? I think that it's such a... number one, if we want to work magic, we have to try our best to see the world as it is, right? That means, from my point of view, seeing racism and sexism, and all the different things that are going on, right, and engaging with that, right. I think that it's not that you can't do magic without being aware of lots of things, but I think that the more aware we are, the more it gives us capacity to see and make change both in ourselves, and depending on what's going on in the world too, or see where change might be able to happen. 

Aidan: Yeah, I think that it's very interesting on the magic side, because I agree with you totally. The more aware you are of how things are unfolding or how things can unfold or how things... for me, my own tendencies to, where will I not consider change? Because, there are places that I really don't want to do that, like quitting coffee, which I did.

Andrew: What?

Aidan: Because, my wife finally said, I don't think this is working well for you, even though you've been doing it for 40-something years so you should drop all of the caffeine. I, totally, entrenched for several hours and then went, Okay, I know that this is not good. I said, I need some space to go and think about this, and went, okay, let's examine myself and go, oh, yeah, this is typical junkie behavior. It's the same as any other addiction I've dealt with, so I'm not really down with that. So, something's got to change. But, if I didn't have the ability to go, okay, I'm being given information of everyone outside of me that I don't like. I've been given a suggestion that I don't like. 

Yes, this is an entirely personal and minor one, but if I can't actually go, okay, this is also from somebody that I believe is serious and has intelligence. So maybe, I should take some time and figure out why I don't want to hear it, let alone consider it. It's an interesting thing. I think that's critical in magic. I think it's critical in life, but we can get away with it without doing it. It's just not necessarily the best way, I don't think.

Andrew: Yeah, I don't even know what else to say about this. I'm just, "Fuck!" I think that's part of what's tough about the racial issue. It's like, "Man." I think that there are plenty of places to go look up what you could do, right? You know I mean?

Fabeku: Absolutely. 

Andrew: It's not that I [crosstalk] specific things or I'm not taking actions around it, right. But, I think that this moment where the scope of COVID, the scope of these issues is so big, so daunting, right? Yeah, it's [inaudible] this space where it's [inaudible], so big so much. It's, yeah, staring at that abyss, right, and know that it's staring back at you and then start walking into it, right. But, nonetheless, it's interesting. It's interesting times, for sure. 

Fabeku: Yeah. I think, for me, a lot of the magic, personally, has been aimed at either expanding or maintaining that capacity, right? Because, I think that one of the things that's easy to do when we're looking at something daunting, whether it's the racial issues or the virus stuff or personal, whatever it is, you just shut down, numb out, turn off. Obviously, I think, for the people that have the privilege to be able to do that, that's the thing a lot of people do. The reality is, there's a ton of people that never have that option, right? Because, they're so fucked, they just can't say, "Well, this is too big. I'm going to watch Netflix for a few hours and not give a fuck." 

I think that I've really been looking at that capacity thing. How do you expand the capacity enough to keep your eye on the abyss? To keep walking forward, to not tune out. To not say, well, somebody else will handle it, because, listen, we've done that shift for too long, and, obviously, it's failed in every possible fucking way. Yeah. Yeah, capacity seems to be a big thing right now. 

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think it's huge, right. I think that it's a piece that I learned mostly from you, right, actually. I had some very clumsy ideas around it, and your work clarified it. It gave me a real focus. It's, yeah, that's what I've been trying to get at, but I couldn't quite see it, right? I think that working to increase capacity, in whatever way you want to work on it, magically and otherwise, I think is crucial, right? I mean, in my parenting, there are definitely times when it's, all right, somebody, somewhere give me some more capacity right now because I am overwhelmed by this business. I think that working to call that in and expand that and stretch that and so on is super, super important, right?

Aidan: It's interesting. I think, three days ago, we hit a place, my wife and I, where we went, Okay, we're not actually doing things the way that we know work well for us. So, how do we get that space back? Because, we lived in a cabin with no power or anything for a couple years, and we were really looking at that time, and going, there's a way that we were very well in that space. Anyway, as a result of this... this ties into your capacity thing for BQ, we decided that once we're both awake in the morning and ready to go, we turn on our cell phones, and we turn on the wifi, and we do, maybe, an hour of stuff that needs to happen through those tools. Then, we turn them all the way off, we turn off the wifi, we unplug the router, we turn off our cell phones all the way. We might have some stuff stored on our computer that we downloaded that we need to work on or whatever, but that's it for being connected. 

Then, usually, we'll do that again in the afternoon and try and be done with that by about six. This is sharing not... primarily, because it's been incredible for us for just these last few days. So, it's not as much as suggestion as something to think about if people are super overwhelmed, because the 24-hour cycle has become just crushing in a way right now. But, we had a weird day. The first day was really weird. Like, okay, well, what do you do if we're not streaming Netflix for the last three hours of the day? Well, then I'm playing guitar for the last three hours of the day. One of these things is good for me, one of these things is at best neutral, right. The same thing during the day, that the amount of time that we're actually spending talking and working on our plans and thinking about how we do stuff together, is huge. It's probably an 80% increase in the last few days. Instead of the magical overt side of building capacity, which, I'm with you, I learned from Fabeku. 

But, there's also the really base level of just going, can you step out of all of the noise and then check in to get what you need. It causes you to weed your sources out, figure out what do you need to see, what do you need to know, and if your time is limited to that and you're not going in and out of it all day, at least, for us, it's been an immense change that I don't see going back to that at all. It's, no, two hours of fucking net and cell phone access is more than planning for us. Everybody's going to be in a different situation.

Fabeku: Yeah, this summer, my partner and I have been doing more leisure, and more, just, super-leisure. I've been lucky to be able to take a bit of time off and so on. So, we went to this place and it's a spa place and spent the second day there, literally, just either in the pool, on a lounger beside the pool or eating, having lunch or whatever. Yeah, no phone, no mess, no whatever. I didn't look at my phone, I think I looked at once through the, almost, two days that I was away. What actually needed to be responded to during that time? Not very much, right? I've been working on trying to institute more of this space, right? And, noticing, I like my movies and my TV, but also, I've been reminding myself that if I'm looking at my phone while I'm watching TV, something is wrong, right, for me? 

People do whatever makes you happy, right? But its, either the show's not interesting enough, or I'm not looking at something that I need to address or, whatever, in order to be present with the thing that I'm doing. I think that if something's not engrossing me enough that it's holding my attention, well, then what's going on with that, right? I think about, I've been doing a lot of rock climbing again, and when I go by myself and do boulder, I will, sometimes, keep my phone around and read things on my phone while I'm resting in between climbs because I'm just sitting there by myself. But, last night, I went with my friend who I go with every week, and I left my phone in my locker, which is not a thing I would have done, at some point. I would have brought it with me, I would have checked in every now and then and whatever. But, it's, what am I doing, I've got a person to talk to, I've got an activity that I'm engrossed in. Yeah. 

Aidan: Yeah, it's an interesting thing. Yeah, I had a place, I guess, it was about a month and a half ago which is interesting because, again, my life isn't that different, pandemic-wise than it is usually. But, I hit a place where I really couldn't get into any of the movies, any of the TV shows, anything. Even stuff that I like, wasn't happening. That moved me in that direction, and I shifted back towards reading more. Then, one of the weirdest things that we've had and I'm sure that there's lots of people that have studied things like EMF and all of that is, we live in a really quiet house because we're on a couple acres in a really quiet town. But, at the point that the phones are actually turned off and the computers are off and the wifi is off, it feels so quiet. In a way that even if the router is still on, it doesn't. Which makes sense, we know that these things are radiating stuff. 

But yeah, it's a crazy difference to go, "That's noticeable. That is really different", and then balancing that out from, we're all old enough to have not had these things. So you go, "How interesting is that? This is really the first big chunk of my life, probably, felt like this, and what did I do? I played music, I read books, I talked to the people who around me, I engaged in a very different way." It's not to say I want to throw all that stuff away, but, definitely, it's opened my eyes to finding its place, rather than just letting it find its place in my life, I want to be the one that decides what its place is.

Andrew: Yeah, I think it's a really good way to put it, right?

Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Andrew: So, now we all need to do a group working to break the internet's hold on us. It's an exorcism of sorts.

Aidan: I don't if we're the ones who need it from what I see.

Andrew: Wow. Did you do any magic around quitting coffee or did you just stop? 

Aidan: No, my wife is our house apothecarist and herbalist so she treated it as a situation that could be dealt with herbs and using them in a homeopathic way. Not really using homeopathic medicines, but using some tinctures that she'd made. So, she's having me check-in with her every couple hours, "Tell me what's going on? How's your head? How's your... How's this, how's that?" Because, my tonsils were going off a little bit. I definitely detoxed like a crazy person for the first five days. That's always one of those signs. I had that same experience when we quit... when we went paleo, and we dropped all processed foods and all the grains and stuff. This is the total TMI, but you can absolutely tell how foul you are inside by how foul your poop is when you quit eating it. Your body goes, "Oh, you're not going to put more in, okay, well have this because we don't want it anymore." 

Andrew: Get rid of all of it. 

Aidan: Get rid of all of it, because oh, that's nasty. So, I think that now that my liver and all of that have had some time to back off away from the caffeine, things feel good, but I didn't have to do magic on this one. 

Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). [inaudible], Fabeku, is giving up coffee in your future?

Fabeku: You know, actually, yeah, I haven't had any caffeine since early May, I think? 

Andrew: Wow. 

Fabeku: Yeah, for me, I reached a point to, between some body stuff and just the chaos and the anxiety of the moment, I'm, "What fuck am I doing? What the fuck am I doing?" Because, I really think up until then, I was drinking either coffee or yerba mate, then I'd throw in some caffeine pills. I'm, "What the fuck am I doing? This makes no sense." 

Andrew: What are you, 16?

Fabeku: Exactly. Acting like [inaudible] 7-Eleven to get [manodos] or whatever the fuck those things were. It was absurd. I think, for me... and this is what Aidan was talking about, about not doing things in a way that works. It was like, listen, if I'm structuring my life in a way that this makes sense, then something's wrong because this doesn't make any sense at all. If you're recreationally enjoying coffee, one thing. Chugging caffeine all day and then throwing a fistful of caffeine pills on top of it, it's, listen, something is sideways. So, yeah, for me, it's been, yeah, late April, early March, or early May, since I've had any caffeine at all.

Aidan: Oh, very good. 

Fabeku: Yeah.

Aidan: So, I could blame you, it was you, reaching out through the ethers, right?

Fabeku: I want decaffeinated company. 

Andrew: Oh, boy. No, I feel so embarrassed about my coffee cup [inaudible].

Fabeku: [inaudible] on. 

Andrew: I actually know that it's not great for me. Well, it's part of a bad cycle for me, right? For me, coffee and being too busy, just go hand in hand, right? When I stop being too busy, then I stop hitting the coffee. It's just it rolls back. I remember when I moved into the last location where the fire was, I had quit coffee, I quit sugar, and I was just eating food, right? Making my own food most of the time, and I felt great. Then, I spent a month building a new shop. So, getting up as early as I could, doing construction, going to my old space, seeing clients, going to the new space, working until I felt like I might be a danger to myself, stopping, and I was just doing that. I did that every day for a month, right? 

Somewhere in there, one of the people who was helping was, "I've got to take a coffee break and go to Tim Hortons and get something." I was, "Yes, give me coffee." Right? Then, probably, a few days later it was, "Yeah, get me a donut, too." And, that it was that was it, right, because it was just an unreasonable time. Then, been sort of, on and off wrestling with it ever since, right? I think that this time actually... again, going into COVID, I was maybe drinking more coffee when I get up kind of thing, right? But now, I'm having three again and I'm, ah, it's not ideal, but also, this is hangover of the massive pace that I've been running on, and trying to... my life is slower, but I have that velocitization like I've been on the highway, right, where I feel like I've go faster than I do. So, I'm sure everybody's loving it right now, conversation about our caffeine habits. 

All right, it's official, Stacking Skills is anti-coffee. Stop it, it's bad for you. Just kidding, do what you want. There's a show called Beastmaster. You guys know that show? It's a super obstacle course kind of thing, right? If you like watching people with ridiculous physical capacities, to ridiculous challenges and climbing over things and swing from stuff, go check it. But, either way, it doesn't matter so much. But, I was noticing that all the people who were on it were working on themselves to get better, physically, and working on themselves as a person and working whatever. You see a lot of that in a lot of places, right. Certainly, if you're on the socials, you'll see that stuff a lot, right. I was, "Maybe, I'm done working to evolve. Maybe this idea of self-improvement is one that I should just jettison." What happens if I don't try and self-improve, but instead, just live and navigate? Right? 

Does that mean that I'm going to stop learning new things? Of course, it doesn't, right? Does it mean that I'm going to stop making changes in my life? No. But, if there's this narrative of improvement, or evolution or whatever around these kind of things, I feel like there's a real pitfall in that. I don't buy into too much, but a little every now and then I do. I'm, "It's okay to be done with that. Just be like, this is just my life. I'm just navigating my life now". Is it going to change? Yeah. Is it going to change radically over the next 10 years? Maybe. But, does it have to do with evolution or, that kind of stuff? The perpetual cycle of self-improvement and so on. I don't know that I want anything to do with that, in the way that I see it anyway.

Aidan: I go off about this somewhere, recently, I think. It's probably in Weaving Fate, I don't know. Which is about the whole thing about optimal now, right? I think this is totally tied in there. It's optimal nutrition, optimal training, optimal study habits, optimal work habits. I think it doesn't serve anything. It's, well, that's great if you're already... if you're already on Beastmaster and you're trying to win, then yes, you need to be worried about optimization. But, if you're climbing rocks or lifting weights, because you enjoy it, or you think it makes you healthier, then optimization is probably not actually all that relevant to you. It's another marketed obsession. 

Andrew: But I feel like I see it in magic, too, right?

Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Andrew: A little while back, I posted something being, "Hey, everybody, don't forget, astrology is completely optional, right? You actually don't need to do anything with astrology to do magic." This isn't a criticism of this direction, right. But, the swing into grimoire magic and the resurgence of astrology as a prominent influence in spiritual and occult communities over the last five years, or whatever it's been. It's always been there, but it's really been ramping up, right, to be a thing that you see on the internet all the time. I think that there's this notion towards optimal and less around magic too, right. Well, I better make sure that this is the most astrologically auspicious moment that I have summoned the angels and the four governors, and the four kings and the [inaudible], and on and on and on, towards stuff. 

I think that there's a direct or indirect pressure from things moving in that direction that I think doesn't need to be a part of any of it, right. It's all really deeply optional. Yet, isn't presented as optional, right. There's a drive behind it. Because, one of the things that was really interesting in the comments on that post, right, was people... it's the internet, people want to share their opinions and stuff, which is great, and people jumping in and being, "Well, you're being influenced whether you know it or not. Whether, you're whatever." I'm, "But, are we? Are we really?" I don't know about that. I'm not sure that I believe that big, grand narrative behind all these different things, is universal. You know what I mean? Yeah. I've talked-

Aidan: Yeah, I'm with you on that. It's an interesting one. Lonnie and I were talking about this a little bit. My take has been since I got what I thought was... I started getting respectable results from my magic, was to go really hard on those things. The things that are working, I want to get really good with. I think the term I used... it made Lonnie laugh because I said, "If sigils are your jam, be a savage sigil magician, right, and see if you need anything else. Because you may not." I think this is where I totally agree with that is, there's an amassing of classically, historically relevant information that is fabulous, if that's what you're into. But, there's some dude out in the bush somewhere in some country who is whatever, he's got the skull of some rodent, and a little fire made of twigs, and you don't want to fuck with that guy. He's never heard of any of this shit you're talking about? 

It is totally my take. I also think that if we look at it historically, that's the history of magic, except for the last equivalent of 10 minutes. So, people want to go, "Well, this is the thing." Yeah, for the last few hundred years, and that's a blip. That's, of course, my take. Take whatever you want. 

Fabeku: I was talking to somebody. I made some planetary magic talismans and turned out remarkably potent and effective. They were saying, "Oh, but, when you made them, this planet was doing this thing in the sky. So, the talismans should have been fucked. How did you make them and they worked?" I said, "Because, I don't give a fuck what the planets are doing in the sky. It doesn't matter." So, this idea that it's always an influence whether you know it or not, I'm with you, I don't know that that's true. At least, I don't know that it's a prominent enough influence to matter. 

I think a lot about currents, right? I think that for people immersed in a particular current, the effects or the shaping influence of that current is going to be stronger because you're immersed in it. I'm not saying there's no effect, but it seems to be less of a factor than somebody who is super centered in whatever current is, whether it's astrology or anything else, I think it's the same shit. I think there's this idea that you have to be immersed in a billion different currents and have your eye on them and line them all up in some kind of perfect Venn diagram of magic. That doesn't make any sense to me. One, I don't know if it's doable. Two, I don't know that it is actually necessary for most people. I think it's a weird thing. 

Going back to the self-improvement stuff, a conversation I had with a client last week, they showed up with all of the shit that they wanted to sort out this magical strategy for. As they were talking, my body started to tighten up. There was just this feeling of grinding and grinding and grinding and it was, "I don't know how to do this, and what to do about this." I said, "Listen, we can circle back to this in a second but"... It was all like, doing more. More money, more this, more that, which is, again, fine, there's nothing wrong with it. I've done a shitload of magic for more stuff, it's fine. But I said, "Have you considered doing magic for more joy, for more flow, for more peace, for more ease, for more creativity?" There was this long silence, and then they started to cry because they never considered that. They came with this To-Do List of, "Okay, help me figure out how to do these 10 things to do more, to optimize, to improve.? I said, "Cool, do that. But, what if you also had more joy in your life, and that was the focus? Especially now as fucked as everything is." 

I agree, I think that's this weird trap that we get into with the self-improvement stuff. It's just another version of grinding. It's just another version of never being enough. Never having enough, not pushing hard enough. Again, I think in this global moment of all moments, fuck. Let's look at some shit that's not that, let's look at some shit that is ease and peace and coherence and whatever the fuck it is. Because again, I'm going back to the capacity stuff, at some point, you can't expand capacity infinitely enough to just keep grinding on every possible fucking front. It's just not doable. Yeah, I think it's super easy to fall into that shit with magic and everything else. But yeah, it's a mess. 

Andrew: So I want to circle back to something you said, and then come back to this as well because I want to talk about both. But, I think that, I [inaudible] this way. There was this big push to go back to, is there a singular truth, right? We can't deny that influence of Greek thought and other thought on our culture, right? You know what I mean? If we can go back to those philosophers and see the origin of stuff and see the origin of Western magic, going back to some of that stuff, in certain ways, right? That's cool and dandy and all, right. I think that if we look at the astrologies or other systems, I think that they're holistic models of everything, right, which is amazing. I think that having, and participating in, a holistic model of the universe, magically speaking, is a powerful thing to be engaged with. I think that the thing is that in Kumi, right, Orisha tradition, it's a holistic model of the universe that has no relationship to planets at all. 

So, if both are describing something, and they're both describing it accurately within their holistic model, it doesn't mean that anything crosses over from those, and whatever that actual experience of the universe or... whatever's going on that we're engaging through one of these models, it's all accounted for in one way or another, right?

Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Andrew: And, it's not necessarily to say that we could equate, well, Egon said you were having this problem right now, ancestors say you're having this problem right now through divination, astrology says you're having this problem because of whatever, this hard planetary placement in your family situation or whatever, but those things aren't the same. Right? They don't have the same meaning. They don't have the same lived experience. They certainly have very different solutions and approaches, right. I think that this notion, which to some extent goes back to the Greeks and people who are smarter than me about philosophy might trace it further, that there's this true universal core that we can participate in through our intellectual perception. 

Then, you compound that with, basically, the Victorian era magicians, Golden Dawn, Crowley. All those people who are like, everything is interwoven. Right? Everything is the same and symbolically resonant with each other at some level. I think it's an extension of colonialism and of that Victorian worldview to continue that process. Somebody sent me a list of [inaudible] and how they line up on the tree of life and they're, "What do you think? I'm, "I think this is colonial crap. I think it's not helpful. I think it's completely meaningless and disrespectful to this other completely coherent and self-reliant worldview." 

It's not to say that there aren't philosophical things or similarities that we could talk about the crossover those things, but I think that the minute that we start to say that one is inherently true, or that those bridges are inherently true, I think that we start to get into very dicey waters, and probably we're wrong. Does that make sense? 

Aidan: Yeah, totally. This came up recently in the Six Ways group, that somebody was saying that their background is in Western magical Kabbalah. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Aidan: They were, "I'm having trouble mapping this kind of elements, middle world, world above, world below to that map." It's, because they're not talking about same thing. You can find somebody, I'm sure, who can give you something that says that this is, but if we look at it, the model that I'm using is rooted on, what would now be considered, very primitive people's viewpoints of the world. This was not folks who were trying to work out mathematics of language in the written word, this is a totally different thing. They were just looking at, what do we see and what do we interact with, and what is that thing? 

It's not a map of something that you fit everything into? It's not a tool to categorize. It's, these are places you can interact with, or beings you can interact with that dwell in those places. In that sense, it's, yes, it's a metaphorical model, but it's not trying to be a universal model. It's, if you want to know what the underworld is, go there and learn that thing. You're not going to be able to map enough information on top of that lack of experience to make up for that experience, right? 

It's, again, it's nothing against any of the systems, it's just realizing that they are not all the same. Like you said, with the Orisha tradition and the tree of life, they're not the same thing. They're not intended to do the same things. They're not experiential tellings of the same event, however you want to view it. I think it's a very interesting thing. I wanted to also tap into what Fabeku said because I'm also a total current guy. So, I'm going to do the work when I need to do the work, and when the allies are on board with it. That may be related to what's going on in the heavens, I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to start work based on what I think that is according to what somebody tells me is going on astrologically if the allies aren't going, "This is a good time to do that."

But, if they'll say, hey, it's a go, and everybody else is, it's total shit city, it's, I don't care what you're seeing because my people say, it's a go and maybe we need to do this thing in total shit city. Again, what does that have to do with optimal. Sometimes it's shit city and you've still got to work.

Fabeku: It's the title of your third book, Shit City. 

Aidan: Shit City. No, at least the subtitle. 

Fabeku: I totally get what you're talking about, Andrew, with the colonialism kind of thing, right? Because, I remember having a conversation with somebody, I was talking about was Oshun, the Orisha, and they were saying, "Oh, yeah, I totally get it because I've worked with Venus for however long. I'm, "What the fuck does that have to do with what I just said? I'm not talking about Venus, I'm talking about Oshun." They said, "It's the same thing." I said, "It's not the same fucking thing. It's not the same thing. They're entirely different." Are there places that, like you said, might crossover or ping a little bit? Sure, But, it's not the same thing. It's weird to me that we apply it with shit like this, but we don't say, well, this river is the same as that river or that ocean is the same as that creek, or a rose is the same as an orchid. It's not the fucking same. 

Sure, they both have roots, they grow in soil, they're flowers, so they're similar in that way. But beyond that, it's not the same shit, right. I think, at best, it's sloppy thinking, at worst, it's all sorts of other shit, when we start pretending that this is that, is that, is that, and it's all different names for the same shit. I don't think that's true. I think it's it's lazy thinking, right, because it's convenient to say, Oh, well, no, I know Oshun because I know Venus, so I know Aphrodite. So, but that's not real. I think then when we do that, we miss the nuance, we miss the capacity to build a relationship that's coherent with whatever we're building a relationship with. Because, that would be like me saying, well, Andrew and Aidan are the same. No, you're not. 

Andrew: [inaudible] start with A. [crosstalk]-

Fabeku: Exactly, right. 

Aidan: We wear glasses and we have tattoos. All the evidence is there.

Fabeku: For sure. We don't do that in this way, but we do it with magic. I think it's a total failure of perception, and logic and relationship and understanding and nuance, and I'm just unconvinced that it works. 

Andrew: Well, I think, as animism has resurfaced as a world model in certain pockets of the occult communities, I think that people are starting to understand that all of these plants are people, right. All of these stones and places, that they are their own things. I think that we haven't extended that to spirits, right? To say that, does Oshun have their own concrete specific existence, right? Sure. Beyond that, even, Fabeku's Oshun has its own concrete, specific, singular, individual manifestation that's different than my Oshun. Right? Not just because, maybe, our paths are different, or maybe this or that or who it came from, no, it's own distinct, separate living entity that is not the same as all the rest of them and there are relationships and, within religion, there are those, well, they're all Oshuns. But you know, Eleggua versus [inaudible] versus whatever, they're all different. The priests who have those Orisha's, each of those Oshuns has their own character, right, because they're their own people. Right. 

I think it's a place where the magical community... I'm going to be curious to see if there is a point at which people stop doing this and start really holding that devotion to Kali or to whoever without any sense of crossover, and, so on. I think it'll be very interesting to see what comes of it, if anything.

Fabeku: I think even beyond spirits... spirits in the usual sense, if we go to plants as people, you and I can talk about our experiences with rose or with sunflower or with gardenia or with mandrake. I'm willing to bet that your experience with rose is different than mine. Maybe they overlap in places, but there's nuances, there's differences, right? Just like two different people that know you are going to experience you in different ways. It's the same thing, which is where I think the common logic of, okay, well, what does rose do, what does rose quartz do, what is amethyst? I don't know, what the fuck does it do for you? I can talk about what it does for me and that might have nothing at all to do with your relationship with it. that might have nothing to do with whether that stone person or plant person will work magic with you, the type of magic that it works, how well you get on with that particular spirit. 

That's the thing. I was just talking about this yesterday when I was teaching, there's a worldview problem, right, because we think that what does rose do, is a real question. It's not really a real question. But, we keep answering it, and so we're perpetuating the idea that it's a real question, but I don't think in practice it is. 

Andrew: Yeah, I think it's true, plants, in the same way it's true of Orisha, within the traditional context, within traditional context of their religion, we don't say, "Oh, you've got a problem with work, who's the Orisha of work who's going to fix this thing for you, right?" We say, "You have a problem with work, will anybody come forward to fix this for you?" Maybe, it's an Orisha that we associate with work, like Ogun. Or maybe, Obatala is, "I've got you, brother, don't worry. You're covered. Give me this and we'll be good." The answer's to those are super nuanced by divination, by Odu, by story, by knowledge of Ebo, like, offerings, and so many things that are impossible from the outside. Those kinds of ways of working, only, can exist within the traditional context, I think. 

In the same way, burdock is a really close friend of mine. Me and burdock, we're tight. And, the things that burdock and I have had conversations and done, have nothing to do with traditional associations, but it is also a source of power that can be applied in many directions, if the spirit of the plant is amenable, right? It's, yeah, maybe spearmint would be better at getting you some luck right now. It's a more traditional association, right? "But, you know what, I'm going to work a little extra hard, because it's not my area of expertise, but I'm still going to make it happen for you." Problem solved, right. 

Fabeku: Well, I think the other super relevant point of what you said is that, not only is that the way to do it, but it's an individual thing. So, all three of us could have problems with work, all three of us could sit in Divine and get entirely different solutions to how to fix the work shit, even if the works shit looks the same. Right? So, one of the things that happens a lot when I'll do some divination in a private space of mine, when I post them, I get the question... It's not a criticism of anybody that asked the question, but I'll answer somebody's question... usually I'll include some magical stuff to do, and, inevitably, people will say, "Oh"... Well, let's say somebody's asking about a relationship thing and then we talk about whatever the solution is, inevitably, somebody will come along and say, "Oh, is this a thing that anybody can do for relationship stuff?" No, it's not. Listen, I don't know, maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. But, this was a specific solution given to a specific person with a specific problem based on these cards that were pulled. It's not, here's the cure-all for everybody with a relationship problem. It's one conversation, one relationship in this moment. 

Again, to me, that's the way that this shit really works. But, if we try to turn that into, oh, well, this thing will do the same shit for everybody having a relationship thing. I don't think that's real. I think if it does work, I think we've gotten lucky. But, I don't think that's an indicator that it's some universal solution. I get it-

Andrew: [crosstalk], you can be the same solution for the same person down the road-

Fabeku: Exactly-

Andrew: On the same spot, right?

Fabeku: Right. It is a very specific solution to that person, with this thing, with me, in this conversation, in this moment.

Aidan: Absolutely. Yeah. That's, I think, the thing that I hit on a lot with people, and even with people with Six Ways that have got that, we'll be trying to figure out, "I'm now working on this, but I haven't got here yet, and I feel bad that I haven't got here yet." I'm, "Don't do that. Just find a way in. That's the whole idea here, is find a way into anything that works for you, and see where you can go with it." Because, that's where you get that depth. Then, you go, "Oh, yeah." I've got people saying I need to talk to the goats or I need to talk to some deity and or I need to get right with... to do some stuff to remediate some astrological influences, but maybe you can do all of the things that you need to do with your allies that you don't even know their names, that you just make offerings to and that's your only relationship, and all that you might have to do, is to go in and go, "This is hard, I need help with this or I would like to more capacity for joy in this because I feel really just fucked up by what's going on", right. 

For everybody that I know that figures this piece out, they're really good magicians, with the work that they do works for them, and that doesn't have anything to do. Some of them know everything about everything, and some of them know nothing, essentially, from that other person's point of view. So, it is, it's about current, it's about relationship, it's about that reality of context. So, that, yeah, you and I could both be having trouble getting our point of view across to our partners, and it could have, on the surface, in the way we describe it, in the way we describe that it feels, it can all seem exactly the same, and it could be totally not the same. 

I think this is going on constantly. It has to, right? But, magic tends to go, here's the formula to fix this. I've not really ever seen that to be true. It was, realizing, oh, if I'm just playing within the structure of, what Jason called zone rights... So this was, for me, LBR star ruby-based stuff, just as the shape of the operation, not using those words forever, but I figured out I could do all of the various operations that I read about in the magical books using these, even without learning all the different pentagrams. I wasn't doing that, I was doing incredibly basic versions of it. It's, no, I can connect to the powers and the quarters and the above and below and then put forward that I want help healing this or help this person out in their relationship, right, because I was building relationship with my allies and with that current. 

So, yeah, great. So, Hermanubis is the one who does that. I don't know that guy, why would I go there? I've people saying, "Yeah, we got it." It's, I don't know if they are the ones who do that. They say they are and I have faith in them, so I'll go that route. 

Fabeku: Yeah, maybe it's time for faith to make a comeback. How about that? [crosstalk]. What would that look like in the magical world, right?

Aidan: Man. What is faith if you don't have religion? 

Fabeku: Good question.

Aidan: What is your faith in?

Fabeku: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Aidan: Or rather, what is your faith for, which might be the better question. 

Andrew: Really, the only answer to that should be, everybody's face should be in Stacking Skulls. In Stacking Skulls we trust. Stack them 23 high, and you're good. Everything [crosstalk]. The world will unlock, [crosstalk] will open. 

Aidan: Once the stack gets taller than you, while you're standing up, things get better. 

Andrew: Right. Back to my mind, we went on this lovely detour into things and I'm still, all right, but, what the hell? What the hell, universe? What the hell, 2020? What the hell is going to go on? Does anybody find feel like they're doing stuff or needing to do stuff? Maybe this is just a reiteration of the capacity conversation, but to just manage themselves through this time. You know? 

Aidan: I definitely have some of that. Again, we talked about that earlier for me, backing off of the internet and connectivity and just going, Oh, yeah, I really like fooling around on the guitar for hours. I like talking to my wife for hours. Then, being really aware. In our house, we have this saying that, that the end of the world is happening all the time. But, sometimes it's very obvious for the people that it's happening in because it's clearly catastrophic, right. But, it's happening. It's ending, it's reforming, it's changing. I think, right now, is a really interesting moment because it's so clear that it's changing in a really huge way for a lot of people. 

I don't think, we, in America... using the US term of America, which is totally wrong, but I'm going to do it here, because that's the language that's most appropriate here in America... I don't think all of this stuff has piled in on each other simultaneously in such an obvious and unrelenting way. So, it is. It seems clear to me that we're in a really major crisis point, at least in North America, which is what I can see in the United States primarily. It is an interesting thing, because if I look forward or in backwards, I can see the roots of the moment we're in, I can see logical outcomes, I can see outcomes that I would prefer, I can see the potential backlashes to the outcomes that I would prefer, right. 

That's, I think, what's really interesting to me, is, I see, because we're in this election cycle and because things have been so insane politically here... I hope that people aren't assuming that if we have a change in the presidency, that that will fix what's going on. Because, we've had a whole lot of changes in the presidencies and they have not fixed what's going on. 

Andrew: Yeah. 

Aidan: So, yes, I would think that that would be a step in the right direction, for sure, but then you got to step on the gas at that point, if you want to see a lasting and real change. That's step one.

Andrew: Yeah, for sure, right. Because, if there's a change in the presidency, that's great. But, that doesn't automatically change the system, and that systemic piece of stuff. The piece that is [inaudible]. Yeah. I've been going back to an old mantra of mine, which I've adapted slightly for this situation. It goes like this, other people's urgency doesn't need to be my urgency. I think that because there's so much going on right now, there are a lot of people who have a lot of urgency around stuff, right. 

I remember, when my first godfather always used to say... because he ran a store and was a really well-known psychic in the Detroit area, and he used to say, "Look, if it's an emergency, you call 911. Otherwise, you can make an appointment and come see me whenever you can come and see." I've been working to not act with urgency, because I think that when stuff is as wonky and strange as it is, consideration and pacing and time and respecting capacity, and all those kinds of things, is super helpful, super important, I think. So, it's really, well, that's cool and all, but I'm not going to run around for this, I'm not going to run around for whatever. With my kids too, it's, is there an actual emergency, or is there some discomfort that maybe I'ma let you sit with for a bit so you can learn how to sit with discomfort instead of jumping into things, right? 

It's an imperfect science, for sure. Right? It's just a general approach. But, I think that, yeah, that, I can't run around on this. I can't make myself do whatever. I can just do what I can do and I'm going to own my own directive around that, right. Sometimes I might be looking at something like, yeah, that is really urgent, I should jump on that. I should push myself to do that, even though I know there'll be a falling for it someway. But, yeah, that's been my thing. 

Fabeku: I think, for me, it's been, because the clients stuff has been super busy, I've had to figure out a way beyond what I did previous to this, too, to not absorb that high-level, constant anxiety, angst, panic, fear, whatever it is, because, after a few weeks of that shit when all this stuff really ramped up, I just felt like I'd been through the blender. It's, okay, well, this is not ending anytime soon, and I'm happy to support people, and this can't be the way it goes. This can't be the way it goes. I think that's probably been the biggest piece, for me, was figuring out how to keep how to keep that capacity, but also how to not end up, at the end of the day or the end of the week, feeling like I've just been taken apart with this stuff.

So, part of that has been magical practice, part of that has been mundane stuff, part of it has just been, okay, realistically, given this intensity, this is how many times a week I can have conversations with people that are really difficult and adjusting accordingly. Like you said, in some ways, not giving in to that, okay, but there's more people. There's 10 spots and 30 people, so let me figure out how to get 30 spots. That's not the answer, because then we end up back with coffee all day, caffeine pills, nonsense shit, right. 

So, it really is like, this is what I can do and do it well, do it effectively, and also not be dismantled at the end of this, and it is what it is. That's it. There's no more space, there's no more bandwidth. There's no more room to fuck around with a calendar.

Andrew: Hmm, yeah. 

Aidan: I think that that thing too, which is what you brought on, the realizing where you've got to back down, or ramp things down, is really important, because there is so much out there, just saying, no, just go harder. Grind. There's times for that, but all of them all of them are not that time.

Andrew: For sure. By where I go climbing... it's probably not surprising, it's an industrial building and there's some CrossFit type stuff in there, right? One of them has something painted on their garage door to their space. I think it says, "Somebody with less time than you is working out right now." I'm, that's cool. Good, for fuckin' [inaudible]. 

You know what I mean? A couple years ago, I shifted my climbing goals to be, still be climbing at the end of the year. That's my climbing goal, right. I have some very loose... I'd like to be able to consistently climb 5.8, 5.9. I'd like to be able to cycle 40 kilometers, 50 kilometers anytime. There's some very loose things that are indicators to me that I'm spending enough time being active to be able to continue being active, and that I believe that those things are good for me. Not in and of themselves, because they're indicators of a broader attention to my health, right. 

Am I ever going to climb super higher levels than I'm climbing right now, I have no idea. Maybe, probably not. Does it matter? It doesn't matter. Am I always going to be able to cycle as far as I can cycle today? I'm doing a lot of distance cycling. Nah, probably not. There'll be times where I'm, I can't cycle that far right now. It doesn't matter. You know? Just keep showing up. Keep showing up. Keep doing the stuff to rest and recharge to show up. 

Aidan: Yep, absolutely. I've definitely had to make adaptations on all of that stuff just because I'm getting smart enough to go, oh, this isn't really doing what I want it to do. So, instead of more, what does less do? I'm working out about half as much as I used to, and it's working better because my body can recover from that better. Interesting, okay. 

Andrew: It makes sense, right? It makes sense. Well, maybe, we'll wrap it up here. I assume everybody knows where everybody is, but just in case, Aidan, where do people find you? 

Aidan: You can find me at aidanwachter.com and as Aidan Wachter on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, whatever that other one is. 

Andrew: What's the name of your podcast, that people search?

Aidan: My podcast is called Aidan Wachter Six Ways. It's up on Google, Stitcher, Apple, and someone else... I can't think who the other one is right now, but it's generally out there in the main places. 

Andrew: I hear it gets heavy rotation in the underworld, so you can just go there and listen to it.

Aidan: Exactly, you can find it down there. Yeah, you can get my books at all the major retailers.

Andrew: Fabeku?

Fabeku: Fabeku.com, Facebook, and, yeah, the book will be out in October with Revelore.

Andrew: It's exciting. 

Aidan: I'm stoked about that. 

Fabeku: Hmm, me too. 

Andrew: Yeah, and, obviously, I'm the Hermit's Lamp everywhere. Podcast is the Hermit's Lamp Podcast everywhere. I didn't talk about it, really, in this, but I'll throw it out here at the end. I'm going to be launching a Kickstarter for my next Oracle deck, which has the title of the Bacon Wizard Breakfast Oracle. So, if you like food and you like divination, I can certainly... I was going to launch it, actually, back in March. My original timeline was end of March, Kickstarter, but obviously didn't do that. But, it's going to be end of September, early October, Kickstarter for that, and you can check it out on my website and other places as I'm building up to that. So, all right. Thanks, folks. Have a great rest of your day.

Aidan: Thanks for having us. 

Andrew: Oh, my pleasure. 

EP111 Divination and Connecting to Spirit with Nancy Antenucci

EP111 Divination and Connecting to Spirit with Nancy Antenucci

May 2, 2020
The podcasts first guest returns to talk all about connecting with spirit through movement and divination. We talk a lot about getting present, wrestling with tough stuff, magic, mediumship, getting messages and more . 
 
Be sure to check out the bonus episode for folks subscribed at the $5 level and above. Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.
You can find the 3 video pandemic series here
Nancy and James Wells have a new healing offering here And you can find nancy here on facebook. 
As always Andrew is here
 
If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.
 
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 
Andrew
 
Transcription is too long for Podbean so you can find it here on my website. 
 
 
EP110 Relationships with Ari of Saltwater and Stars

EP110 Relationships with Ari of Saltwater and Stars

April 21, 2020

Ari and Andrew talk about relationships, hierarchy, and understanding our own desire. 

Be sure to catch the Patreon bonus on how to be present. If you aren't already supporting the Patreon consider how much you have listened and learned and go sign up here.  

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

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

You can find Ari here.

Andrew is here

Thanks as always for supporting the podcast!  

Transcription. 

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Andrew McGregor
Everybody, welcome to another episode of the Hermit's lamp Podcast. I am here today with Ari from salt water and stars. You know, last year, just lift it up about a year ago almost to the day we recorded a podcast on you know, love spirit polyamory was titled for it. And we've been chatting some in between them. I kind of thought that during this quarantine time having an episode about relationships might be an interesting thing, you know, because there are a lot of people in a lot of situations that are suddenly different in one way or another. So, you know, as well as all the sort of other differences that are happening. But you know, I guess in case people don't know who you are, why don't you introduce yourself again?

Ari
Yes, introductions.

So I'm Ari, as he said, I'm an astrologer.

Oh boo Ha.

I live in central PA. My family's from Puerto Rico, and New York. Um, yeah, I'm a writer, a poet. pretty much sums it up. Cool.

So, I guess I guess one of the things that we could maybe start by talking about is

Andrew McGregor
what's, what's going on for you or What do you care to share around, like, your life and relationship? You know, we're all we're all in lockdown, you know, or we're all ideally, socially distancing or you know, as I hear, they want us to call out, physically distancing because they don't want to under us undermine social part.

Ari
You know, social spaciousness, social spaciousness,

Andrew McGregor
right?

You know, what's, what's going on for you with this?

Ari
Yeah, this is Actually, interestingly has me thinking so much more about relationship, or so much more clearly because I'm always thinking about relationship for me, so I practice relationship anarchy, and just really trying to consciously deconstruct hierarchy and capitalism in relationships. And I feel so grateful to be in that practice right now. Because it's allowing me to tap into support system and be available to support system in a way that might have been more challenging if I was trying to operate in hierarchies and kind of be under this premise. Like, okay, so I'm in lockdown with my partners. So like, I really only need to rely on my partner and

that's the beginning the end of it,

but being able to tap into broader network of care and mutual aid and solidarity because I have my understanding and my belief that every single relationship is a living entity and they're all equally important. And so the way that I've been investing into that practice over the last several years, I'm feeling really grateful for right now because I feel like I'm at a point where I can lean into that, like I can lean into friendship and romance and spiritual relationship like all these moving parts, without like, I don't feel like I've had to reorient much. So I know that a lot of people are reorienting towards relationship right now. Because they have the time or they have the awareness that it seems like it's more urgent than usual. But I think it's always urgent to be in right relationship and it's always urgent to be investigating

how we

how we understand and how How we perpetuate and create and collaborate with others.

Andrew McGregor
Mm hmm.

So, you know, I think that one of the things that's really always interesting about talking about Paulie is that you know, there are these ideas are these words to these labels, models and stuff that float around. And, you know, I think it's, I think it's always kind of helpful to try and talk as explicitly as possible what we mean by that because, you know, it's one of those things where one person's relationship anarchy might be another person's, you know, something else, right or, or the, the level of anarchy or the level of whatever in their, in their definition of it might not be the same, right. So can you can you try and like sum up what that approach means for you?

Ari
Yeah, it's funny that you Ask

me that because I'm currently trying to do that for something. And I'm writing now. So I have to do it for this community that want to be a part of.

And so I've been trying to

pinpoint what my definition is right now. And I think that that's like you're saying, like, that's one of the tricky and challenging things about it. But it's also the thing about it that I like is that the definition is always evolving. Which kind of brings us into the whole, like, reality, our relationship, the fact that it's always fluid, it's always changing. And when we're trying to pin it down when we're trying to contain it, or control it, that's when it becomes destructive, or it becomes a struggle rather than a challenge.

And so, for me, relationship energy, right now is

the phrase that I'm using to indicate Absolutely, the way that I'm committed to not.

Not looking at relationships as

places to extract are places to just get my needs met or to even just meet other people's needs. And

also detaching from outcomes. And so I think that's one of the ways that capitalist shows up in relationship. It's like, Okay, so what is this? And what are we getting out of it? And what's the future of it? And, you know, what are the rules? And what are the

expectations. And

I don't know how to put much more language to it, other than not doing that and just sinking into trust and moving at the speed of trust, as Adrian Marie Brown says, and allowing things to emerge and unfold are not things but allowing people and allowing myself and allowing relationships to become whatever, whatever they are, and so on.

I have like,

several relationships in my life that like, are so incredibly intimate, but in our current socio political constructs that would just be, it would be in the container of, of a friendship. You know, or be like, Oh, this this relationship seems like it's a partnership or seems like it's something serious. And like those things can also be true. But just avoiding the whole or invading the whole pressure to compartmentalize things and to

try to control the way that relationships are

is the word

try to control the way relationships are showing up.

And so I think No,

Andrew McGregor
no after you.

Ari
You go get I already forgot what I was gonna say. I find

Andrew McGregor
it interesting because so I've also been sort of trying to think through what's, you know, what does? What does my relationship model look like, you know, what is it that I'm what is it that I'm available for? What is it that I'm doing? You know, and and i think that you know, I like you I struggle with it right. Like it's, you know, there are people who like, I'm, uh, you know, and they say like five things. They're like they have this clear definition of it and it's, it's great. And I'm like, no, that's not me. You know, and I think that I think that the idea of sort of working to avoid a hierarchy Key is one that's definitely very important for me. You know, I'm really, I'm not interested in, in hierarchy over other people and you know, like, the only the only sort of prioritization that happens, or that can happen is, you know, it's like, well, we, we had the plant first therefore we have the plan doesn't matter what else. It's like, that's the that's the prioritization, right?

Ari
The prioritization becomes energetic like it, it becomes like having nothing to do with, okay, well, this is my partner, so I'm going to choose them over my friend or whatever. Like, I'm so far removed at this point from that way of thinking that I can't even really wrap my mind around anymore. But I know that most people are are in that. You know, and I bump up against it in a lot of ways. In my friendships, when I'm trying to cultivate intimacy that Forget people aren't actually used to cultivating in, quote unquote, friendship, you know, or when I'm, like, really fluid with where I'm investing my time, attention and energy. And I think like, that's actually part of what it means to not be operating in hierarchy and relationship is that what you're doing is energetic management and what you're doing is like, maintaining your priorities energetically like what are you like you said, What are you available for? And what can you show up to with integrity and that changes day to day?

Mm hmm.

Andrew McGregor
Well, I think that that

I think that maybe, either I have more work to do, regardless, I have more work to do on constructing the impact of, you know, capitalism and so on in my life and, and so on. But I actually would say that I am tremendously constant person. So, changes day to day. Yeah, not so much. You know, and this is where, where it's interesting for me because I've definitely thought a lot about this sort of relationship anarchy is, is that what I'm practicing? And I'm like, I don't know, maybe, right, like maybe it's a it's helpful language around it. But my life is also tremendously structured, you know, between being a halftime solo parent and running my store and and you know, all these things. My life has a really high level of structure. And so, so the sort of the fluidity with which you talk about things, is a thing that doesn't really exist so much in my world. And my my instinct would be to say that that is in large part because of who I am and how I am. But again, it's very, it's very hard to be certain about that in all of these with all of these constructs, right, so,

Ari
yeah, I think that

what may be happening here is we're talking about two different dimensions. So, my, like, I completely relate to that I'm a very consistent person as well. I take commitment very seriously, obviously, when I use that word I'm not talking about in conventional terms, but I believe in commitment as devotion, and that's really important to me. And I also have a very structured life, you know, ever in a business and like, I just I like structure, but I like structure in the understanding that it's what allows us to have freedom, you know, because like it eliminates unnecessary chaos, makes room for you to do what you really want to do. Are you to have the attention energy that you desire. So I actually completely relate to what you're saying. And I think when I'm talking about fluidity, and I'm talking about changes in capacity, it's much more

like emotional and spiritual, I guess.

You know, so like, for example, Monday, I had like 00 energy to talk to anyone and I had a prior a prior engagement to have a check in with a close friend. And so anything else that I was any other conversations or relationship chickens or whatever that wasn't invited into I had to decline because of my capacity that day. Whereas yesterday, I spent like, however many hours on the phone with two different people, you know, and so that's kind of what I mean. It's like

basically, the only way

for lack of a better phrase, relationship anarchy is working for me right now. It's understanding that it is, for me, it must be completely and fundamentally based in my relationship to myself. And my relationship to myself has very little actually to do with the external world or the material realm. Like that's just the actualization of whatever alignment and whatever

I'm creating in the other dimensions.

But I still might I still might be high from the bowl. I smoked last night, so, uh huh, disclaimer.

Andrew McGregor
I think I think you're I think you're making tons of sense. Yeah, I think I think perhaps we are talking about different levels right. You know, I mean, I think that

you know,

tending tending to oneself, and following one's capacity is is super important, right? You know, and I think during this, you know, social distancing time more than ever, right, like, you know, what's the what's the reality? Okay,

Ari
you this time more than ever? Right?

most popular phrase.

Andrew McGregor
So what can I say? They're cliches for a reason. Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know,

during any time of stress, right, you know, I think

Ari
there we go, that's a good one.

Andrew McGregor
It makes way more sense to deeply check in with yourself about where you're at what you're available for. And, and then share that share that information with the people who are important to you. And you know, and adjust the sharing of yourself accordingly, right. So.

Ari
Right, exactly, exactly. For sure.

And I think like when Capitalism is running our relationship. So we don't do that. We're just like, Okay, I have to show up 110 all the time. 24 seven. Yeah. You know, or conversely, like, people have to show it for me all the time. 24 seven.

And that's that's a capitalistic expectation.

That's an expectation of abstraction.

No, for sure. And so, for me, like the phrase relationship anarchy

is about flipping that on its head and being like,

you know, it's anarchy against capitalism, actually. And not actually not any, necessarily any anarchy against concepts of relationship itself, but against the constructs that are constricting our relationships.

Andrew McGregor
Yeah, no, I think so. Right. And I think that's also you know, I certainly really deeply identify with

you know, the

do not have any limits on friendship. And whatever, right, you know, like, the, some of the people that I've close with, I'm close at a level which would make, you know, maybe if people were jealous in relationships, they would be jealous of those relationships because, right, exactly, other than being platonic. They have all the rest of the markers of romantic relationship. Right, you know, Mm hmm. deep level of attention, you know, sort of,

Ari
and that's unusual,

Andrew McGregor
right? barrier barrier free level of sharing for the most part, you know, it's like, man talking about whatever's going on, you know, and so on. Right. So, yeah.

Ari
Yeah,

and I like I said, I feel so far removed from that which as I feel is such a great blessing to be able to say that I forget that that's the way people operate and so I bump up against it. And I think it's like, capitalism and whiteness. Go Write in hand. And I think that that's definitely those those barriers of intimacy. play a huge role in how whiteness survives and how whiteness perpetuates in our relationships because it's all this illusion of separation. You know, and it's like no friends over here in this box and you can't do XYZ you can't talk about XYZ you can't, you know, before yourself and then, like romantic relationships and sexual relationships in this box, and

I just like, and I'm extremely passionate about smashing all that fucking shit.

Andrew McGregor
No, for sure, you know,

Ari
and

like, culturally, that's not foreign to me.

Like culturally, so many of my my theories, like my ons, were my mom's best friends, but I didn't even know that for years, you know, but the friends were just family and that was just the way that was. And I know that a lot of us across cultures actually have that that shirtless, but we forget.

Andrew McGregor
know for sure.

Yeah, you know, I definitely had aunts and uncles who were, who are not that who were not actually related, right? Mm hmm. And my kids have those people who are, you know, they, you know, they refer to to one set of them, you know, a couple of my friends as their, their, their extra dads, you know? Right, you know, like, so they don't call them, they don't call them things in general in that way. But then when they when they talk with them, like, Well, you know, they're just, they're just like, my extra dads. That's who they're, you know, and so it's beautiful. And I think that, you know, for me, this this idea of like, parenting from a place where, you know, I want them to have those good, deep connections with people who are wonderful, you know, and whether those are People who are, you know, their friends, like their school friends, whoever they're their age, whether that's, you know, teachers and mentors, or whether these people who are, you know, friends of the family and so on, right like this prospect of them having sort of the opportunity to have deep, deep connections with people who are going to a nurture this, nurture them from a real place of love and caring, like, absolutely, please bring as much of that into their lives as possible. And also people who are, in their, in their own various ways doing this work of sort of deconstructing expectation and, you know, relationship hierarchy or escalators and other things and so on, right to like, really allow them to have the options to see the world in a different way and to be you know, more authentic right to be unfettered by a limited, limited palette of options when they're thinking about who they want to go their life with. And in what ways, right?

Ari
Yeah. Community. What a concept, right?

Andrew McGregor
Yeah, absolutely.

Ari
And I think that's a gift that I been trying to give myself in

my pursuit of relationship anarchy,

because I have so much

fracture in my family of origin and like, fracture between myself and the concept of community.

And that's

something that I've been thinking about a lot right now, when all this shit is going down and going up.

That

you know, it reminds me of the concept of chosen family, you know, and I think like, part of my

devotions are Relationship anarchy is about creating that chosen family for myself and creating community for myself and allowing myself to have those options and allowing myself to receive those gifts that I am estranged from.

You know, and so it's it's deeply, deeply

political and is deeply spiritual, and it's deeply therapeutic.

You know, and so

in a lot of ways, it definitely has been about having more sets and having more pleasure. You know, without just a symptom of that deeper reasons and the deeper purpose of why I've even been

reconsidering the entire way that I've

been conditioned to understand relationship and to understand community and to understand love and romance and

even pleasure itself. Like I, I think that I get the,

like such a deep pleasure from communing with my friends and like cultivating these intimacies that are like socio politically

unusual with them, you know, and so

that that gift that your children have is the gift that I'm trying to give myself and trying to give my inner child and then, you know,

simultaneously trying to give everyone I'm in relationship with you yeah,

no, like, I don't just have to be your friend. I can be your lover. I don't just have to be your lover. I can be your friend too. You know, or like, I don't have to just be your friend. I can be family and like, all the like you said all of these options that we can have. And also at the same time, I'm interrupting that escalator. Like, I like that you brought up escalation cuz I think That's another way. That's what I was trying to refer to earlier talking about how capitalism wants us to focus on outcomes and creating outcomes of our relationships, you know, so it's always like, what's next? Okay, what's next? Okay, what should this be because of like, this level of intimate intimacy has to be matched up with a certain level of expectation and an output or whatever. Mm hmm.

Andrew McGregor
Yeah. Well, I think it's, you know,

one of the things that I've been sort of looking at a lot over the last, while this is not dissimilar to what you're talking about, probably is very similar, just in my own language, right, is going back and reconnecting with, you know, myself at different ages, and sort of offering myself those things that I didn't get at the time, right. You know, and it's, you know, and it's very interesting, some of the stuff that returns from that, you know, and like, so like, one of the examples is like piano When I was teenager, I spent a lot of time by myself. I mean, I, you know, I spent time with people too, but like, in my house, where I lived, you know, there wasn't a lot of like, if I if I didn't want to watch the baseball, which I did not want to watch the sports stuff, then basically was just me in my room, listening to music and whatever, right. And same, and, you know, as I've been sort of connecting to that parts, you know, around some other stuff that brought it up, one of the things that I realized was, yeah, that part has some healing or something that I can offer it now to be different. But that part also knows a lot about dealing with isolation, you know, and like, through the through the, you know, social distancing stuff, I'm half time on with my kids and half time by myself, right, which is a which is a strange youyou have sort of everything and then nothing, right. And, and what I realized, you know, what, This older part of me or younger part of me, brought to the foreground was like, I know all about this kind of stuff. And here's what works for you. Right? And so like, and so I've been doing some things like, tracking down records that I used to listen to during that time as well. And so it's like, you know, my 16 year old self listened to Metallica or listened to rock or whatever, I've been like fighting very particular albums and like, playing them and stuff. It just, it's amazing the transformation, you know, I throw it on the turntable, and I play it and then I go, whatever, do the dishes or draw or do stuff. And there's such a colossal comfort that returns from those things, which is, which is very unexpected to me that, you know, sort of that that not only did those two, those pieces have a need for attention, but they also have a lot to offer, you know, and so it's been Absolute visiting of those pieces that sort of access it, which has been very, very interesting. So

Ari
yeah.

Yeah, I think it's so funny that you bring that up because I've been doing similar work with myself and it is in no way in any shape or form unrelated to relationship anarchy you know, and it's kind of like internal relationship anarchy and just like overthrowing the structure or overthrowing the hierarchy that my current my present self, my oldest self has the authority You know, when like, it would be straight up, like our, our little baby selves are running the show, like at least 50% of the time, you know, all the parts of us that never got our needs met or that like, weren't seen and all this shit like this is this is what we're talking about when we're talking about healing. I don't the work, you know. Doing a repair and being learning to be in supportive relationship with those parts.

Andrew McGregor
Yeah, you wanna, you want to access something interesting about relationships. Go back and look at what was going on for you when you hit puberty. Right? What were you involved in? Or not involved in? What was going on around you? It's like, man, there's a lot of stuff that even after many years of working on things, there's more that can be offered and learn from that stuff. Right? So.

Ari
Mm hmm. You know,

yeah. And so like disrupting, disrupting those internal hierarchies, is so central to disrupting the external hierarchies in the relationship between ourselves and other people. And like I was saying, like, looking at relationships as a places only where we get our needs met and meet the needs of others. doesn't allow the room for other parts of ourselves. To show up, you know, and just its sensors, those parts of us that have unmet needs, and like that's important, but it doesn't need to be the center. You know, but so often that happens because in relationship we're trying to do and we're trying to provide for ourselves but associate politically culturally is absent. So, relationships like these intimate one on one containers, get

flooded with

all the pain and all the grief in the absence of community. Mm hmm. You know, and so there is so much medicine to be had in once again, having your relationship to yourself be fundamental to your relationship with everyone else. So that more more can be possible than just the

the strain of trying to check off all the boxes with each other all the time.

Andrew McGregor
No, for sure. Well, and again, you know, as also in parenting, right for me, this, this prospect of, you know, those, those relationships have different dynamics, you know, because I am responsible for those people. But, but that process of taking care of myself deeply in my relationship to them, also creates a big difference, right, you know, so, like, this idea of like, being really, really clear about, you know, you know, what do I need from that? Well, you know, I think the better question is, well, what I like for them, please clean up your your plates, you know, please take us up to the kitchen, please, whatever. But there's a lot of ways in which in those relationships, when I see other people and I see people talk about things, younger people are denied the thing that older people would do, right? You know, it's like If people want to eat oats, you know, like, not everybody, but like, you know, if the kids what do you want to, you know, want to eat it while we're eating it or whatever, but if the adult wants to eat, you know, and like, so like just noticing those places where, you know, not not where not where the parenting needs to happen, right? But where the dynamics are actually, you know, ages dynamics, right dynamics around thinking, well, kids don't know what they want. And my experience is, kids actually really know what they want. I knew what I wanted. You know, when my kids know what the escape group that I helped run those kids know what they want, right? Is it always possible is that what Well, that's that's a whole other question. But the idea that, that they know at least as well, it may be better that we do what they want, right? And like, when I say we do, I mean, then like grownups are able to articulate what they want, right? You know, and I think that it's very, it's very interesting to sort of see those kinds of dynamics, and look at that stuff and bring it into parenting as well. And then also, as you were kind of saying that idea of like, how do I make sure that I am showing up in a really, with as much capacity as possible, and with as much clarity about my needs and my needs and working to get my needs met in other places, so that I'm not trying to get the met in ways that are unhealthy through the kids. You know, it's to me it's an exactly it's exactly the same idea that I had relationships, right. There are lots of lots of ways in which anybody, you know, myself included, might have an impulse to get something met in a relationship that maybe it doesn't really make sense, right. Maybe it's it's better off actually being counseled about or met elsewhere or whatever, as opposed to you Looking for that to be found another way? So if that makes sense, I feel Yeah. drifted a bit there.

Ari
No, no, not at all. I mean, if you did it with all the right places, I think that it's like alternative relationship models that allow those options even be possible of understanding like, Oh, I can get this me know, this need met over here

or you know, where is the appropriate place for this to take up space

and with the most consent, you know,

because I think often like what happens with hierarchy is that we're conditioned to think hierarchy is a synonym for substance or a synonym for meaning or a synonym for quality. But it's not you know, and I think, like you're touching on that when you're talking about parenting, it's just like, okay, here's the hierarchy. So Like I'm automatically, you know, in charge or automatically have the authority and automatically know everything you know and like, but that that actually removes us substance that removes opportunity for quality. And that removes opportunity for depth and meaning to actually take place in the relationship. And so that's true for every kind of relationship. And we're relying on hierarchy to give context and to give meaning and to give definition to relationships, then we're missing out on

the whole point of relationship,

which is that it's dynamic and it's alive and it helps us tap into that part of ourselves that inner child part that does know what we want but is clear on our desires.

And I think that I think people think

polyamory non monogamy relationship, anarchy, whatever it is, is about having more quantity. And like sure, that may or may not be true

It really fucking depends.

To me these these alternative relationship models are about quality over quantity. Mm hmm. You know, because even if you're let's say you're in conventional relationship models, and you're like, Okay, well I have, you know, my partner and I have my family and I have my friends, I have all this quantity. And so I should be good. I should feel like I've community, but you can be totally missing the depth and connection that you actually crave and actually desire.

Andrew McGregor
Yeah. Well, it's, you know, I think it's a one of the things I've been spending, you know, some brain cells on is what, what kind of attention do I want? What kind of connection do I do I want or need right now. You know, and, you know, and I think that it starts to it starts to you know, I mean, theoretically there are many people I could connect with, you know, I've been connecting with lots of people for sure. remotely and online and what have you. But it's so great to be clear about what kind of attention I want, what qualities do I need to have, you know, because, you know, talking to my family, or my mom are talking to whomever is very different than talking to other people, right, you know, is very different than, you know, or structured peer counseling session. It's very different than, you know, whatever else, right? So, yeah.

Ari
Mm hmm.

Yeah, it's, it

brings us back in a really powerful and terrifying way to our personal ability to respond to ourselves, and to adapt and adjust and like the amount of discernment required to navigate unconventional relationship models or alternative relationship models with the least Time, takes time takes time together that discernment, it takes experience. And, and even when you have acquired some

the fundamental truth remains that

it's always changing what you need and what you want will always be changing. And that doesn't mean like day to day like the example that I was using earlier, right the seasons the season and periods of period, like, because you're growing and you're changing, hopefully. And so, for me, I think what's cool about being in relationship with other people who are also devoted to relationship anarchy or anti capitalist relationship frameworks, is that we have the room for that understanding, have the room for that knowledge that we're going to change and when you are in relationship with someone else who also understands that God has changed and change is constant You can change together and there's a higher chance of longevity actually. Because you don't need it to stay looking a certain way or stay feeling or being a certain way, or showing up in a certain way, it can evolve and it can mature and it can deepen. Or it can spread out, you know, like, just like nature,

like the examples are endless,

of what can happen when something's allowed to develop organically. Mm hmm.

Andrew McGregor
Yeah, I think that's it. The

the freedom in a relationship anarchy model is that relationship can look like anything like you You collectively decided it looks like right, that you collectively decided it makes sense that it looks like for both of you. And you know, and I think that that is amazing and found and I think That it also, you know, you gotta know what you really want that right? Like, if you're not going to accept the defaults, you know,

Ari
yeah, if you thought the hierarchies out the responsibility increases because you have to, you have to shape it and you also have to be collaborative to

Andrew McGregor
know for sure. How do you how do you

how do you discover what you want?

Ari
I've been in the habit of discovering what I want by playing around with what I don't want.

Andrew McGregor
Further.

Ari
I think I'm

more consistently choosing a different route to clarity, which has so far involved, a lot of contemplation and a lot of that surrender that I was talking about. of allowing things to unfold. And as they unfold, like paying attention to my responses and pay attention to what feels good, and what feels supportive, and what feels true, and what doesn't. And so, allowing, like literally the process of being present and experiencing and experimenting to teach me what I want. So sometimes it is an excavation of an original desire that already resides within me and other times I learn it from things that are happening outside of me. So sometimes it's contemplation and, you know, journaling, like just asking myself right and being like, Oh shit, yeah, there it is. And other times it's like, oh, I don't I don't fucking know cuz I wasn't taught once even care what the fuck I wanted. You know, or I just don't know because this is all uncharted territory. And so I'm going to be open to not only allowing everything to unfolding emerge around me with this person or with these people or whatever, but to also look at the way that my desire is showing up in the process.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

EP109 WTF with Stacking Skulls

EP109 WTF with Stacking Skulls

March 26, 2020
The gang gets together to talk about what the heck do we do during this time. The conversation ranges from the practical to the magickal. Including how to breath, be a good listener, get good support, and what kinds of magic might be helpful.
 
Be sure to check out the bonus episode if you are a supporter at that level - we made a mixed tape of upbeat tunes to keep you going over the next while. Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon Supporters will also get access to a new Facebook group starting April 1st. 
 
If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunesStitcher, or email.
 
Find us online at the follow inter-dimensional coordinates. 
Aidan is here 
Fabeku is here
Andrew is here
 
The ancestral ceremonies can be found here
The free peer counseling course can be found here
Andrew's business course can be found here
 
Thanks as always for your support!
Andrew
 
The transcript is too long for this one on Podbean. You can read it on my page here
EP108 Approaching Traditional Orisha Religions with Eni Acho Iya

EP108 Approaching Traditional Orisha Religions with Eni Acho Iya

March 13, 2020

Eni and Andrew discuss how to approach traditional religions from a place of respect. They explore some misunderstandings and how to get around them. They also talk about the realities of practicing from a distance.  Both share from their journey in two different lineages in two countries. This conversation is important in the wider dialogue of appropriation going now around traditional knowledge. 

Be sure to check out the bonus episode on proverbs around this topic for Patreon supporters here.  

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

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

You can find Eni on her site here or Facebook here

Andrew is as always here

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

Transcript

 

Andrew:

Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Eni Acho, who is an Orisha practitioner and priestess. She runs a wonderful Facebook group, but also ... website's called About Santeria, where there are lots of great conversations about the traditional practices and approaching the traditional practices of Orisha traditions, especially centered in Cuba. I think that given what I've seen more and more online and other places in conversations with people, this conversation about how do we approach a traditional religion as outsiders, is one that I think is really important.

Andrew:

I think that there's a lot of misunderstandings, I know I had a lot of misunderstandings or misconceptions about what things might be like. I think that these dialogues are important and obviously for my own personal tradition, but I also think that some of these conversations apply to any other traditional religion that you might approach as well. Eni, for those who don't know you, give us the lowdown. Who are you? What are you up to?

Eni:

Hi. My full Ocho name is Eni Acho Iya, which means the yellow dress of my mother. That's because I'm crowned to Oshun. Oshun is always associated with the color yellow. I was crowned in Palmira, Cuba and my lineage is called Palmira lineage. It's called the countryside or [inaudible 00:01:47] in Cuba to distinguish it from maybe what you might find in Havana or Mantanzas. But Palmira is one of the traditional centers of the Lucumi religion in Cuba. It was founded by the descendants of slaves who were taken to that part of Cuba to work in the sugarcane fields. After they were emancipated, they founded their own town, Palmira.

Eni:

It has three of the most traditional and oldest Lucumi religious societies in Cuba. The Sociedad Santa Barbara, Sociedad San Roque, and mine, the Sociedad el Cristo which is associated with the Sevilla family. A lot of people who practice Ifa know the name of [inaudible 00:02:30] or [inaudible 00:02:32] famous Babalawo's from Palmira. And that's my religious family, the Sevilla family. So I guess that's probably who I am, religiously speaking. And I've been running this website "About Santeria" for around six years, I think. As an educational website that aleyo's, outsiders can go to, to get basic questions answered. And just recently I created this page you referred to on Facebook so people can discuss some of the ideas. I'd like to invite anyone who's interested to take a look at that and welcome to the community if you decide to join us. It's a good community. I think lots of very knowledgeable priests in there and good conversations are taking place, so I'm happy with that.

Andrew:

I think it's great. There's lots of really knowledgeable priests, which is a great part of the equation. They're all, at least all the ones that I know, personally or through online interactions, they're all really solid people as well. Which is a really important part of that conversation too, right? Just because people know something doesn't necessarily mean anything anymore. There's this distinction that can happen between those things. That's one of the things that I also dig about that space and why I'm actually hanging out there as opposed to other spaces, where maybe people know stuff, but their character isn't as inspiring to me.

Andrew:

One of the things that I find really interesting is this idea of the distinction between what's going on now in a general way, and how stuff was a little while ago, or how things still are in certain parts of the world. Right? So you're from ... your practice and your connection, your family is in Palmira. What's it like there to sort of be born there and live there and practice this religion from that place, from a sort of real traditional community structure?

Eni:

I feel really fortunate to have had glimpses into everyday life there. I've been going there for over 20 years. And because of my work, I've been able to go and spend considerable amounts of time, like three months at a time, six months at a time, because my university here in Washington state has an exchange program with the university of Cienfuegos. And as an academic, that gave me a license, as ... the United States, it's not always that easy to go to Cuba, but because of my academic license, I've been able to go to Cuba pretty often, spend a lot of time there and really get to know the people very well. I've literally seen a whole generation of people grow up and I know what it's like from their point of view to be born there and be surrounded by this community.

Eni:

And I think it's important for your listeners to understand that this need that we have as outsiders, as people living in a different culture, we're always thinking, "how can I get in to that community"? Or "how can I get into the religion How do I find my way there"? It's always this destination or goal that people are looking for. And the big difference to me is that for people in Palmira, you're already there. You don't have to look for anything. It's all around you. It's in the air you breathe. And that's not to say that every single person that lives in the town is initiated in a religion, they're not, but certainly their neighbors are, or their cousin or their aunt or their grandma, people down the street. It's everywhere around you. And so if you have a concern, if you want to go get a reading done, you don't have to wonder where can I find a Babalow, where can I find a Santero? They're right there. And everybody knows them.

Eni:

There's a lot of accountability because literally these same people have lived there and their ancestors have lived there for 150 years and everybody knows who everybody is. Small town in Cuba, you don't have secrets. And I think that that makes it a really different experience because I've seen babies in their mother's arms at drumming ceremonies, because our ceremonies, our drumming for example, tend to be open to the public, people who live in Palmira, everybody comes and the whole family comes. So you have babies that can't even walk yet in their mothers' arms who are keeping time to the rhythm of the drum. And they are totally comfortable in that environment and they grow up with that. I've seen four year olds playing with their little stuffed animals, their bunny rabbits and teddy bears, and they're acting out an ocha ceremony that they've seen their parents do. So when you grow up with it all around you, that takes away a lot of the mystery. So it's not secretive. It's not hard to find. It's there.

Eni:

Our tradition in Palmira tends to be, for the most part, that we don't initiate very young children. Most people, if their family is religious, everybody in their family tends to get initiated, but they always leave it up to the individual to decide once they reach a certain level of maturity. And so typically you'll find people not getting initiated until maybe they're in their early twenties. That's changing. People now are doing more younger children, but we believe that it's not everybody's destiny to be initiated. That has to be something that's determined on an individual basis. But there are lots and lots of families where half the brothers and sisters are initiated, half aren't, and the cousin show up and they help out with the cooking and the cleaning before and after the ceremony. So everybody is involved in it and everybody feels connected to it, whether they're initiated or not. It's very comfortable. It's very organic and natural to just have it there. And that's such a different experience from what most of us outside Cuba.

Andrew:

I was in Matanzas last year playing for egun, for my godmother, passed away. Some of the things that struck me were, first of all, everybody knows everybody as you say. Right? You know, we're driving around the city with my godfather and he's like, "Hey, pull over" he leans out the window and has conversation with somebody and they'd keep going. Secondly, I don't know about architecturally in Palmira, but in Matanzas there are no windows on the windows, the doors are open. It's hot and you want those breezes. And so we're there doing the formal meal that's part of the ceremony and neighborhood kids who people know, or maybe they're children of people who are there, drift in, say hi, act like kids and run at the back and go and get some sweets or some food-[crosstalk 00:10:08] and they leave.

Andrew:

We were doing the drum in the front room and there's no ... the window's open and people are just walking by looking. People are walking by and they'll just start having a conversation with somebody who's there that they know. And it's very different than my experience of other things which it's done in somebody's house probably in their basements where do you see it? You don't see it anywhere. Right? As opposed to there. And also, as you say, driving around, you drive around and Oh, is that another drum going on over there? Oh yeah, it is. We should go by, Oh, is that another drum going on over there? There you go. You know?

Eni:

It's exactly like that in Palmira and it's hard to hide a drumming ceremony when the houses are so close together and all the doors are wide open. And everybody kind of spills out into the street and that interaction you were describing what the kids coming and going and people coming in and out all day. That happens literally every single day. When I'm in Palmira, I feel like I'm sitting in my godmother's house but it's like a train station with people coming and going and just, "Hey, what's going on?" and "anything going on?" And they have, you maybe know this expression in Spanish, radeo bemba, which means word of mouth, how the word spreads really quickly from person to person. So if somebody is going to have a drumming or somebody who's got an ocha birthday party or whatever's going on, everybody in the town knows everybody and they're very likely to just go by and drop in And see what's going on.

Andrew:

I think that this sort of leads to this idea of what does it look like to, as I said, is what are we looking to arrive in? I mean, really one of the things that we're looking for, whether we understand it or not when we start out is, we're looking to be welcomed into somebody's family.

Eni:

Yes.

Andrew:

We are looking to build a relationship and a connection hopefully to the community, to those people. I was at an event, I'd been hanging out with the Orisha community in Michigan where I was initiated 19 years now, 20 years, a long time. And we were having a conversation and somebody mentioned something and I'm like, "I was there when ... I helped make that person, I helped make that person, I helped make this person. I was there when this person was made, but I wasn't made yet". And there's this like longevity of connection, right? Whereas a lot of people sometimes come to these things with this idea that you're going to just arrive and be welcomed in, just arrive and suddenly everything's great or just arrive and you suddenly can get access or get recognized or whatever. But it's not really that way. I mean ideally it's not that way, right?

Eni:

No, you're absolutely right. And I think that a lot of this has to do with our understanding and we use the words in our religion. We talk about aleyo's, outsiders, strangers literally. And people in our culture tend to find that a little bit offensive. They think that means that they're not welcome. But in Cuba, that's not what it means. We simply differentiate for ceremonial purposes the people who are initiated, the Oloricha's. They have a certain role, a certain function, they do certain things. And if you're not initiated, you do other things and the rules are not identical. There is a hierarchy there. Not based on your worth as an individual or how smart you are or anything else. It's just are you initiated or not initiated? If you are, go in that room, if you're not going the other room. Right?

Eni:

I think Americans and, I don't know, maybe Canadians as well, people from outside that culture had a really hard time with that because we here in the U.S. where I live, we have such a consumer mentality and we identify something that we want and then we think "I'm going to get it. It's my decision, it's my choice. I'm in control of the process, here's my money, how much does it cost? Here's the money, okay, now I have it and it's mine." And they expect some kind of immediate acceptance or, "now we're the same. Okay. Because I paid my money and I'm just like you." And that is not how it works.

Andrew:

No, exactly. And that sense of entitlements that can be there is definitely a problem. And I think in two ways. One, as I know you do too, I get contacted by people sometimes who are like, "I need you to crown me" and I'm like, "my friend, I am not ... I don't even know." Why would I choose to incur a lifelong and perhaps more than this lifelong connection with you as being responsible for your spiritual wellbeing and to some extent your practical wellbeing forever, when I've never even met you. You know? So that's the challenge. And then the other side of that, of course, in a world where we're approaching people that we don't know who are not aleyos, but complete strangers irregardless, there's not that community knowledge of you should go see ... whatever, right? It should be because "I think they could be a good person for you, I think they could guide you, this person's a renowned diviner you should go see them." You don't have that connection.

Andrew:

And so all of these people, no matter what we think we know about them from seeing them on social media, they're all strangers too. And that's where so much of those problematic situations where people will be like, "Sure, yeah, absolutely. You've got the money, just give it to me, we'll be good." And then it's not good because those people on the other side are just looking to take that money and take advantage as well. It's a big problem.

Eni:

It's a big problem. And I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that people just get too impatient and they want it now. And a lot of times they don't even know why they want it and they don't even actually know what it is. And so the process always, in my opinion, has to be organic. It has to happen in kind of a natural way, right time, right people, right place. And you can't force it. I think that that's the key thing. You're not in control really. It's going to happen when the Orishas and your egun want it to happen. And the more you push and resist and try to get it all to go your way, I think you're just creating a lot of trouble for yourself.

Andrew:

One of the expressions that ... I didn't have the pleasure to meet your magua but a very famous oricha who's connected to my godparents ... one of the expressions that I hear, they used to say a lot was, "no, no, what you need to understand is, orisha is the boss here". We as people, we have our say and we get to make our choice. And it doesn't mean we have to accept everything or ... it is a relationship. But at a certain points your orisha needs to be the ones that we trust to dictate and to find the right time and space and, and all of those things. It's like the proverb, "every head is looking for its home". Not every little person, not every house, not everybody's situation is in right alignment for anybody. Right? Maybe someone comes to Palmira and they're like, "Oh, this actually doesn't fit for me". And not pushing there, not trying to push ahead one way or another makes the most sense in that situation.

Eni:

My own experience I think is a good example of that because I went to Palmira for the first time just because I was invited to somebody's house for dinner and I had absolutely no intention of making ocha there. It wasn't even on the horizon for me. I knew about the religion, I liked it, I was interested in it, but kind of from an academic standpoint. And I went to dinner at a colleagues house, a professor from the university and she introduced me to another professor from the university, her neighbor who lived the next block over and he turned out to be the head of the Sevilla family, a familia who was running a casto at that time.

Eni:

And I just became friends with that family and visited them for years, just dropping in and having coffee and chatting with them. And I wasn't showing up on the doorstep all the time saying, "teach me about the religion I want in help me, you have to be my godfather. It happened in a very gradual way where I started getting readings. I think most of us began that way where we get readings that guide us.

Eni:

Then over a long period of time, year. Little by little it came out that I needed to get this or I needed to get that. I got my warriors, I got cofa de orula and then it wasn't until I got cofa de orula [inaudible 00:20:06] in eka, was that I eventually needed to make ocha, and that was really stressed. Eventually, one day before you die. And my godfather said, "Think about it. Don't do it now. You need to kind of wrap your head around this and think about what it means and take your time and do it when you're ready". And I don't know, about four, three or four years later, it just happened like serendipity. That's what we're talking about here. These things just kind of all come together magically almost. I got a sabbatical from my university, I got a scholarship, it was a grant, that paid me to go to Cuba to do this research project I was working on and that turned out to be the gear I was able to make ocha because I was able to be in Cuba.

Eni:

And that's the experience I wanted with those people that I have known for many, many years and it just happened in a very natural way. And if someone had said to me 15 years earlier, "Oh yes, you're going to go to Palmira and make ocha". I would have said, "what's Palmira I don't even know what you're talking about."

Andrew:

I think that it's, even for me, I went looking for the religion. I had been explore ... doing Western ceremonial traditions and initiatory groups for a long, long time. And I had sort of hit this place where I felt like I really needed to connect with something deep and traditional. I was trying to figure out what that was, where this was in a pre-internet era. It wasn't like you could just jump on Facebook and find a bunch of things. And eventually I found my way to the community in Michigan and even at that, although I received my elekes and my warriors, I still was involved in that community for eight, nine years before I was crowned. I was one of those things like, "yeah, someday you should do that".

Andrew:

You should start putting aside your money and when you have the money you should think about doing it. One of the things that I noticed with people I have conversations about it now sometimes is they get to the end of the reading and they're like, "okay, but what do I need to receive? When do I need to make ocha?" One of the questions that I often returned to them with is, "well, is your life horrible? Is your life a hot mess? Are you sick? Are you like having horrible problems? You're reading doesn't say you're magically afflicted? Is there something going on? Your life is a disaster and you need to be saved from it". They're like, "Nope". I'm like, "man just keep living your life and as you need things, stuff will surface if you need things".

Andrew:

And I think that's another thing that, we don't understand. I didn't understand fully myself, even though I was aware of it going into it, is this notion that within the tradition, these things are medicines of a sort. They're there to either provide very specific kinds of guidance or specific energies or to counter specific energies so that we can live our life to the fullness of our destiny. As opposed to being things that we can collect or accumulate or that give us status or those kinds of things. You know?

Eni:

That's exactly right. That's how I feel about it too. And, and I think it's hard for people to understand that maybe they don't want to hear it when they're so enthusiastic and so determined that this is going to be their path. That's what they want to do. And one of the things that I hear a lot, and I think you do too, is people get frustrated and say, "okay, you're telling me to be patient, but what am I supposed to do? Just sit here and wait?". They want tips, how can I do something to make me feel like I'm moving forward? And so I actually do have some suggestions if you're determined that you want to learn and do more with this religion, I have some kind of practical tips that might get you started.

Andrew:

I'd love to hear them.

Eni:

I break down things into little lists, but I think many people begin with kind of an academic approach to it. So they read books and you mentioned 20 years ago we didn't have as many resources as we have now. Now we have the internet, we have lots more books than we used to have. We have all these religious forums on Facebook and many people are offering online classes of this kind or that kind. And all of those approaches are limited. I think that's the first thing I want to stress is that there's nothing wrong with reading books. There's nothing wrong with reading stuff on the internet, but there are lots of buts attached to that, lots of limitations because yes, there are some good books out there. Fortunately, thank goodness people like Willie Ramos is writing really good books on David Brown and other people who have the credentials and the research methodology down. And what they present is accurate and very good and very helpful. And that's always great to read.

Eni:

But I remember when I first started looking for books on religion, there are some really wacko books out there because now anybody can publish a book. It's all self publishing. You might go on Amazon and look for books and you might find 20 different titles and you just don't know which ones are good and which ones are not good. You can read the reviews but those are always written by somebody's friend and they don't necessarily tell the truth. You have to be careful when you're reading books too. First of all, evaluate the source. Who is this person writing the book? And if they say magic moon goddess has been practicing 300 world religions for the past year and a half and she's the author of this book on Santeria, I would not necessarily consider her a reliable source because if she's not even initiated what does she know about the religion?

Eni:

But if it says, "Willie Ramos is a professor of history who wrote his thesis on Havana in the 19th century" and whatever, and he has written these books that are published by university presses and published in scholarly journals. For me, that's an indication that those are serious things that I can read. And even after I read them though, I remember when I first started reading some of those books like David Brown's "Santeria Enthroned". It's a great book.

Eni:

But I didn't understand it. I was reading it and half of what he was talking about I had no idea what any of that meant and it took me years to realize that I was going to have to piece together all of this information I was accumulating and put it into some meaningful pattern because to my knowledge, there's not one book, a Bible that you just go to and it tells you everything you need to know. Every book will tell you a little bit or something, but nobody's going to tell you the whole story and you have to decide how does this information fit in with other things. You have to analyze it. And the same is true, especially on the internet because there is some good stuff on the internet but there's also a lot of terrible misinformation and the religious forums are the same.

Andrew:

One of the things that's really important to understand is, not only is there not one book that can tell you everything, It wouldn't even be possible, Right? Like the scope of this tradition is so massive. And when you start talking with someone who's an elder [inaudible 00:28:41] they're a knowledgeable Babalawo, whatever right? Someone who has lived in the tradition for such a long time, the amount of things that come up that are just different situations. I was at a ceremony recently and the person running it was like, "Oh yeah, you know what, your name's Oba tilemi right? Because I know the sound for that one." And so they sang the song that relates to my ocha name, which maybe I had heard it before, nobody had highlighted it, but I never pick that up before because there are so many songs for Shango. There's so many songs for everybody. There's so many stories, there's so many pieces and ceremonies and ideas and advices that it just expands in an unbelievably sophisticated way.

Eni:

They say the more you know the more you realize you don't know. It truly is a lifelong, lifelong process. But reading books is not a bad place to start given all these limitations that I've talked about. Because I think the positive thing about it is that way at least people who are interested and burning and to know something, feel like they have a little bit of control. Like, Oh, I found a book, I'm so excited and that's great, but it's limited. And eventually, like you mentioned earlier, this is about belonging to a community. And so sooner or later you have to get out of the world of books and meet people in a religion. It must be a personal experience and you must become part of a community because you cannot do this on your own.

Eni:

And you know that's full of challenges as well because then you have to say, how do I meet these people and are they legitimate? Are they going to cheat me? Is this community a good fit for me? You have to consider things like your physical proximity, because if you're like my ocha community is in Cuba and when I made ocha there, I had to decide, am I going to be able to go back to Cuba on a regular basis? Do I have the money to be able to travel? Does my job allow me to go there whenever I want?

Eni:

You have to really think about these things because if you don't live near your ocha community, you've got to travel. You know that. You also have to think about the language and the culture, and this just completely confuses me. I hear about people who go to Cuba, they don't speak Spanish, they know nothing about Cuban culture. They make ocha, they're there for a week and they go home and then they say, "I don't have a good relationship with my godparent". I'm like,"well, who is your godparent"? "I don't know. Some guy that lives in Havana."

Eni:

If you don't speak the language, if you don't know the culture, how can you fit in that community? How can you learn anything? And like you mentioned, you also have to consider a character there of the people. Are they upright people? Are they honest people? Do they have good reputations in the community? I've been talking just about the Lukumi practice, which is my practice. But for a lot of people who are at the very early stages, they have to decide what branch of this religion do they want. A lot of people want traditional Yoruba and they want to know about those practices in Nigeria. I don't know about that. I can't teach you that. I'm Lukumi.

Andrew:

Well I think that's also a whole other branch, right? But the problem remains the same. You and I would likely have equal ... we'd be next to ground zero by just dropping into Nigeria or wherever. I'm just going to go hang out with some traditional people. It's a roll of the dice. Right. You just never, hopefully it's good, but you never know given that every other day I'm befriended on Instagram by a Nigerian Prince wants to help remove the curses on me if I'll just send them a bunch of money by wire transfer. That stuff is out there, it's everywhere.

Eni:

And not only that, but our actual ceremonies are different and we have the same basic route. But, I only know how to do ocha ceremonies in Cuba and if I went to Nigeria, I'm sure they do it differently. I can't just walk in there as a functioning priest and expect to be accepted in this community because I don't know anything about them and they don't know anything about me. Before you waste time reading a million books on Lucumi, and then you decide I don't really like Lucumi, I want to be a traditional Yoruba. Make that decision first I think. And focus on what resonates with you.

Andrew:

I think one of the other things that I would say if you're reading books and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well, is the more a book on Orisha tradition talks about what you could do or should do on your own, the more likely I am to think that it's not helpful at all. There are some folks that there where they're like, do this super power Orisha bath and it's like, well, probably not right? These things come from, ideally come from, divination or they come from the ashy of an elder who speaks of where they come from. You know, an Orisha possession.And they don't come from, "huh, I really wish that this was different, maybe I should do this thing", right?

Eni:

I honestly don't think a reputable priest would write a book like that. I'm sorry, that probably sounds really harsh. But the books that I value ...

Andrew:

Please, feel free to be harsh, that's fine.

Eni:

The books that I value are written either from a historical perspective, maybe I'm just a history buff. But that really, really helped me to understand how this religion came to Cuba and how it transformed and who are founding mothers and fathers were and how the religion spread. And having a historical foundation, to me, has just been so valuable. That really helped me.

Eni:

And I also like books, like the most recent series that Willie is doing where there's a whole book that's just about, Oshun and another book that's all about Obatala and he talks about, these are the songs and these are the prayers, and these are the herbs, and these are the characteristics of Oshun and these are the different roads. That's great. Because it gives you more profound insight into who that Orisha is. But it ... I never ever have found a book helpful that starts telling you, "okay, you're not initiated but you can still throw the shells and learn how to read them and do these spiritual baths and make up all this stuff. And you don't need a priest and you don't need to be initiated". If I see that, I throw that book in the garbage.

Andrew:

Yeah, that's totally fair. I think one of the things I think is also significant and understanding tradition is one of the things about understanding initiation, especially, well even becoming, just taking on somebody, becoming someone's godparents, you're becoming part of, in a way that lineage, right? That lineage is tied to those people and to those places. My lineage goes back to Mantanzas and when I was there with my godfather, he took me to meet certain people and certain Orishas who are close to the sort of origin of that. And there's this living legacy of those connections from me to my godparents, to their godparents and so on, all the way back to the beginning of this tradition as it stands now in Cuba and then beyond into sort of the, the reaches of history. And that's really significant. That's a really important part of this tradition because without that lineage, in some ways nothing happens, right? Like what happens without that.

Eni:

That's exactly how I feel. I feel so grateful to be able to go to a place like Palmira and [inaudible 00:37:22] when you go to Mantanzas, same thing, it's like you have a very clear sense of this is where it comes from. I'm connected to this and it gives you such a grounding that it ... I don't even know how to explain it, but it's just really powerful. And I want to connect to something that you said earlier because when you were talking about somebody just contacting you out of the blue and saying, I want you to be my godfather, or please initiate me immediately. Here's the money. I think it's important that people understand that priests have to be selective about who they choose to initiate because it's a big responsibility. Like you said, it's a lifelong commitment.

Eni:

And if I don't know you and you turn out to be a crazy person, I'm bringing you into my religious family. I'm bringing you into my house and you're going to disrupt everything and make everybody miserable and cause trouble. I don't want that. There really is this kind of trial period and a lot of people who want an immediate access are so put off by that. They'll say, "I went to somebody's house and I asked them to be my godfather and he said, no". Well that's because he doesn't know you and it's premature and it's like you said, why do you need to be talking about making ocha right now? There's nothing to indicate you need that. So this idea that priests should be available 24/7 and a lot of people think "Oh, our religious communities or our centers or wherever we do our ceremonies. They imagine it like some kind of community center or maybe a Christian Church where there's this physical building and there's a little office attached and the priest gets paid a salary and sits there 9:00 to 5:00 and receives people.

Eni:

And to my knowledge, I have never seen anything like that in our religion. We do our ceremonies in our homes most of the time. And I'm not going to invite a stranger into my home. It's my home. That can really be off putting to people who are new to the religion, but they need to understand that you have to gain someone's trust. They just think they're protecting themselves. Like, "how do I know my Godfather's not a crook and he's cheating me"? Well, that is a concern. You need to know that. But at the same time, the godparent is looking at the potential godchild saying, "is this person a good fit? Do I want to do something with this person"? And people don't like to be judged. They think, here's the money, take it, give it to me.

Andrew:

No, for sure. I think it's kind of like asking somebody to marry you on the first date. It doesn't make sense. And if the person agrees, well, 99% of the time you should be really suspect about that because that person's got some issues. Go deal with those issues, right?

Eni:

Exactly. Or it could be like "we have never met, we just know each other from Facebook. Do you want to get married"?

Andrew:

It's such an interesting modern phenomenon. Right?

Eni:

Yeah. And another thing that's connected to this that I think is really difficult for newcomers or people who are looking for the way in, is they don't understand that some knowledge in our religion is only meant for priests. It's not open library, here's all the information in the whole world that anyone can access. Traditionally it's been passed by oral communication from generation to generation. You learn it from your elders, you learn it from hands on experience, some information you simply cannot know before you've been through the ceremony yourself. So when somebody comes with a million questions and the potential godparent is saying, "I can't tell you about her. That's not for you to know", Or "that's something only priests do". People get offended by that and think, "Oh, it's secretive they won't share their knowledge".

Andrew:

I think it's one of those things, and also depending on what we're talking about, I think it's fair for people to ... for the keepers of the tradition to honor the tradition by managing where that information goes. And if they think you're going to be online telling all your friends about this and that and making orisha baths and selling them on the internet when you're not even initiated or whatever, then probably they're going to hold that back as well. There needs to be the evidence of respect over time.

Eni:

Yeah, for sure. Going back to my little tip sheet though, after the recommendation of get to know people in the religion, sometimes people don't even know how to do that because they say, "where I live there isn't anywhere, It's not visible or I can't find it". So sometimes you have to start with just a wild goose chase in a sense that you might look for some public events that are advertised maybe on Facebook or in your community. Somehow you might look for like a tribute to Oshun at the river that's going to happen on such and such a date and everybody's invited. You make a point to go to that and you can meet some people. Or maybe if you get invited by somebody you know to an ocho birthday party or a drumming, definitely take advantage of those kinds of invitations that come your way.

Eni:

If you don't know anybody in the religion who could invite you to something, you could even just start with universities in your city or cultural centers, because a lot of times they'll have performances of some kind that's related to Afro-Cuban culture and there might be dance ... Orisha dancing or there might be drumming as performance. There might be lectures, films, scholars who work on that topic. And that's a place that you can meet people. If you just go to the performance or the dance, you might meet somebody who would then invite you to something. So I think that's a pretty safe way to do it if you can find something like that to attend and just keep going. You're going to see the same people showing up and you'll start talking to them, they'll start talking to you. That's a good way to meet people.

Eni:

Botanicas, a lot of people will say, "Oh, I went to the botanica and I met somebody". I think that can be good. There are some good botanicals, but there are also some shady ones.

Andrew:

So many shady ones.

Eni:

Yeah, so many shady ones you have to be really, really careful. You can't just walk into a botanica and assume that the person behind cash register is an orisha, maybe they're not. You can't just go in there and buy a bunch of stuff and ... be very, very careful about the botanicas. It's possible you could meet somebody legitimate there, but it's very likely you're going to meet as a person who wants to scam you.

Andrew:

The thing is, because I run a store, right? It's not a botanica the sort of sense that it focuses on orisha stuff in that sense. But it's not that dissimilar either. I sell candles and herbs as well as a bunch of other stuff. But I think that that's where also ... do some reading and know what it's really about, and what things are and so on, that you can ask the person some questions and see what happens.

Andrew:

There was a time where I sold more orisha specific stuff and people would come in and they'd start asking me questions, who were initiates and then they quickly realize, "Oh yeah, okay, this guy's an initiate, he knows what's going on". You could have a certain conversation about stuff and that doesn't need to mean that you need to be an initiate to know about that. But you could be like, "Oh well, where were your initiatives? Who are you an initiatives? What's your lineage? What's your orisha?" or whatever things that can come up and you can gauge things from that person that way and sort of feel them out a little bit.

Eni:

Absolutely. And by all means, don't walk into a botanica with a wad of money in your hand and say, "I want to get initiated". That's not going to work out well. Or they'll say, "my uncle can initiate you, step in the back room". Go ahead. Sadly that has happened so you have to be careful.

Eni:

I think social media is similar in a sense that you can be on these religious forums and you can meet some great people on social media. I met you on social media. There are definitely some good connections to be made on social media, but you have to be so careful and don't just put out there, "Hey, I'm looking for a godparent who wants to initiate me". There are also charlatans on social media. You don't know who's who's going to grab you. So for me, the most reliable starting point, Sooner or later you've got to get to a point or you can go get a reading, a consulta. And by that I mean by an orisha or by a babalawo who will use the traditional divination tools of orisha to tell you what's going on with you. I have nothing against taro cards and psychic readings and all these other things. But that's not how you find out what's going on with oricha.

Andrew:

Exactly. I've created and made an orisha tarot deck that is not for marketing orisha things. It is for exploring and understanding the philosophies and the ideas. Exploring how some of these worldviews overlap in the worldviews of tarot. But if you go and somebody says, Oh yeah, "[inaudible 00:47:51], your Orisha with my taro deck". You should get up and leave maybe even ask for your money back, because it's not what it's for. It doesn't work that way.

Eni:

I think that finding a good diviner is so crucial. That's to me, a turning point because if you can find a good, reliable, honest diviner, that person is going to be able to guide you. Even if that person doesn't turn out to be your godparent, that person is going to be able to hook you up with the right people if they're a member in good standing and in their Orisha community. I think that having these kind of warning signs to look out for, that's very important. You need to go understanding that if you sit down with a diviner, you've never been there before, the first thing he says is, "Oh my God, something really horrible, your children are all going to die unless you make ocho right now". If somebody starts pressuring you like that and trying to manipulate you and make you be really afraid and you have to be initiated right now, that's a warning sign to me.

Andrew:

One of the things I think that people ... in life there's not always solutions. But one of the things that I understand now at this point in my journey is I've been through some very hard stuff. Last year my business burned to the ground. It's not easy, life isn't always easy. But when I got a reading about that with my elder, it was so comforting. Even though there's a ton of hard stuff still in front of me, and there are ways of which we can approach difficulties and there are ways in which we can make a bowl, do little ceremonies and offerings or whatever, to make our situation better for almost every situation. And it's one of the things that I think is fascinating and different is that there's not ... sometimes there's a miraculous transformation.

Andrew:

Sometimes there's something you do and it just turns everything around. But there's always something to do, even in difficult times. Approaching it with fear or putting fear into the other person's heart, it's one of the worst things that I think people could do. Divination should come with solutions as well. Advice to mitigate it. And even if it comes we have this sort of orientation where it comes Okinawa, where it comes ... what you brought from heaven. Meaning you can't change it. But we can use it. You can find ways to mitigate your suffering. You can find ways to fortify your strength. There are solutions. If people are working to make you afraid, it makes me so mad when that happens. So, don't fall for it.

Eni:

And the solution doesn't have to cost $2,000 all the time. There are lots of solutions that are much less expensive. We always just start out with fresh water, omi tutu and coconuts and fruit and things like that. And a lot of times a simple abo an [inaudible 00:51:13], prepare some rice pudding or [inaudible 00:51:15] or whatever it doesn't have to be $2,000.

Eni:

I think that if people get to the point where they can find a good divine and rely on that information and understand the process of divination and what it's for, that is definitely going to put them on the path they need to be on. Because as we said at the very beginning, not everybody needs to be initiated. If your life is fine and you don't need to get X, Y, or Z, you don't need it, you're fine the way you are. And you don't need to go into the religion thinking, "I'm going to acquire ... I want to have 30 ori shots and I want to have the fanciest soperas and beautiful decorations. That's great, but that doesn't make you a more devoted orisha worshiper than the poor, simple Cuban who's just got his Orishas in a little clay pot.

Andrew:

I remember talking to this person and they gave all their money to buying things for their Orishas. And they're like, "well, the orisha is going to give it back to me twice as much". But then they were always broke because they were always spending all the money they got on ... You know and at a certain point you have to be mindful of the realities of these dynamics and even if the Orishas did reciprocate one of their offerings with double the amount of investment or they were so happy they blessed them, that's great. But then when you take that blessing and you turn it ... and you don't put it to use in the way it's intended. That's not helpful either.

Eni:

It's not all about material wealth either, because we have to remember that this religion came from, for the most part, very poor people. People in Cuba, the old people, a lot of times they didn't have anything. If they could go out and buy one apple to give to Chango on their Orisha birthday, that represented a big sacrifice. That's all they could do. They weren't going to go get a loan to buy something better, but they spent their money buying that apple for Chango and they gave it with love and they spent the whole day sitting there with Chango and praying and singing and receiving friends and godchildren. Those people are incredibly blessed even though materially they're poor, they have a really rich spiritual life. And for the most part they have long life, good health and they would say that their life is going well. Even though from our perspective it's like, "Oh my gosh, you don't have anything, you're so poor". They have what they need.

Andrew:

I think that it's funny because people have often a very strong reaction to the financial part of the religion, that we have to pay money for these things to happen. And I get it, it's not always easy, it can be a lot of money, especially in North America. I mean really anywhere, any Cubans, a lot of money for people who are in Cuba. Also, it's not just people ... I almost want to say their, despite the way in which money plays such a significant role in the tradition, so many of them are less capitalists than a lot of people are They're less caught up in that consumerism. And so they are way more content with doing things and being a part of things and showing up.

Eni:

There are lots of different ways to make sacrifice. You can sacrifice your time, you can give your attention, your love. There are many, many ways to show devotion. It doesn't have to all be about money.

Andrew:

Exactly. Do you have anything else on your list there?

Eni:

I have a little summary.

Andrew:

Okay let's hear it.

Eni:

We've talked for a long time here, it's been really interesting. But first of all, I guess I want to stress that there's only so much that you can do alone. This is not a religion that you can practice all by yourself. There's no such thing, in my opinion, as self initiation. I really don't like it when people just appropriate and steal little parts of our religion and say, "well I don't like that other part. I'm not going to do that, but I like this little part, I'm going to do this". No, you're either in it or you're not in it. And if you're in it, it means you follow the tradition and the rules of your house. You have to show respect that way in my opinion.

Andrew:

I want to add to that point, I live in Toronto. There are a few other people in the area, but pretty much everybody here travels to do anything of any consequence. There are no Ochas happening in Toronto, there are no whatever. What it means to, even for me, who has dedicated a lot of time to study and to try to learn the tradition and so on. There's so much that you can only learn by watching somebody do it. And whether that's how you peel the stem out of a leaf or whether that's how you put things together in a certain way. There's all this knowledge that it's just deeply practical that nobody would ever even think to explain to you because you would just see it by being in the room. But when you're not in the room and you're reading about these things, you can learn a bunch of stuff, but still doesn't mean that you know how to do anything, which is a really, I think, important distinction to understand.

Eni:

Oh, absolutely. That was one of my points as well, that if you're geographically isolated from a large Orisha community, you are definitely going to have to either travel a lot or move. I feel so bad for people who say "I live somewhere in the middle of Nebraska and I want to be initiated". Well unless they moved, I don't think that's going to happen unless they can travel a lot. You have to be practical. Some people live in these isolated communities where there is no Orisha community and if they can't travel and can't go anywhere and can never participate in anything, there's definitely a limit to how far they can go or what they can do. Y

Eni:

You do have to be proactive like we talked about, you have to get out there and look for opportunities and connections, but at the same time you have to be really careful that you don't fall into the wrong hands and you have to be patient as things happen in their own way. Sooner or later at some point you're going to need a mentor. And usually that turns out to be a godparent who can lead you along. You can only go so far on your own.

Eni:

My final point, and the one that is the most important that I say over and over again, is you just have to have faith that if it's meant to happen, it will happen in the way it's meant to happen and you can't control the process.

Andrew:

Absolutely. I think that is a great summary and maybe that's a great place to wrap it up. For people who want to follow along more with what you're doing, how do they connect? Remind us of your websites and how do they connect with your new Facebook project as well?

Eni:

My website is www dot about Santeria, all one word and no capital letters aboutsanteria.com. www dot about Santeria dot com. If people go to that website, there's a little button, click here to contact me, and you can write to me and I'll write back. Or you can go on Facebook and we have the About Santeria page where people can find connections on Facebook to what's on a website. And there's also the About Santeria community forum and that's open to aleyos, non initiates as well as priests and the Lucumi. I'm keeping a focus on Lucumi because I'm not qualified to talk about traditional Yoruba and I want the focus to be on Lucumi.

Andrew:

Perfect. All right, well thank you so much, Eni for making time to be here. We've been talking about it for a while and I'm really glad that we finally got our time zones coordinated and made everything happen.

Eni:

Thank you for the invitation. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Andrew:

Oh, it's my pleasure.

EP107 A Hole Full of Birds with Enriques Enriquez

EP107 A Hole Full of Birds with Enriques Enriquez

February 28, 2020
 

This conversation is all about how to listen and live in a magical way to the world around you. Enrique and Andrew speak about birds and language. Enrique's ideal new idea about divination. A special message Andrew got from the birds recently and much more. 

Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here. then you can check out the bonus episode where Andrew and Enrique talk about how to listen to the birds. Including a recording on one of Enrique's bird songs. 

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

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

Follow Enrique on Facebook here

Andrew is @thehermitslamp everywhere.

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

Transcript

 

Enrique:

Okay.

Andrew:

Welcome to another episode of the Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Enrique Enriquez. How do you introduce Enrique? I think that we could say that they maybe are a poet, that they are maybe a magician. Perhaps it's easiest to say that they are an emissary for the nation of birds, but they're a person who does a lot of things. They've been on before a couple times, so if you enjoy this, definitely dig out the previous episodes, I think that they're well worth listening to. But how are you introducing yourself these days, Enrique?

Enrique:

I don't know, Andrew, it's very ... it's always very good to see you and I always find problematic to record these things with you because I am ... or I feel so at ease with you. But I always worry that nothing will come out of it. It's like just two friends hanging out.

Andrew:

I think that could actually be like the subtitle for The Hermit's Lamp podcast. Just a couple of friends hanging out and talking about stuff. I think that's every episode.

Enrique:

Yes, which is beautiful.

Andrew:

No, I don't know. I went to see a friend of mine the other day, she was visiting New York and I had to meet with her. The only chance I had to meet with her was the Beast Art Gallery, an opening that she was somehow related to, and I arrived there. She grabbed me by the arm and she walked me around the room introducing me to every single person as a magician.

Andrew:

And of course I flinched and then I flinched a little bit more and then I thought, "Well, she's philosopher, be smart. She probably knows what she's doing." Maybe she has reason to call me a magician, but I don't know.

Enrique:

Maybe we should ... we'll contact her and ask her what that reason was. We can share that somewhere afterwards or maybe it's best not to know, right?

Andrew:

Yeah. I think names should be given even ... We are given a name when we are born and then maybe we are given other names by other reality people, institution organizations, and it's the same thing. It's better for the name to be something that is given to you or maybe you get to live up to it.

Enrique:

I think that that resonates for me. I always felt like in this era of social media and online presence, that I should come up with some pithy, witty, catchy thing to refer to myself as, other than what do you do? Where are retail cards? It is so many people have these great slogans and catchphrases and so on. But I've never come up with one, I've given up. After 17 years, I think it's plenty of time to give up on that process. But I remember being in China a couple of years ago where I was doing some teaching and doing readings with my friend Carrie. And I was talking to this woman who ... she was talking to me about her guru and she was like, "How long have you been reading cards for?"

Enrique:

And I was like, "I've been reading cards for about 30 years and professionally for whatever it was at that time," and so on. And she's like, "Oh, so you're like a Grand Master then." And I was like ... and immediately, my response was, I'm like, "I don't know, maybe you should ask Carrie if that's true or not." Because I just didn't want it. Like you said, I flinched. But I've thought of it that moment a lot since then. And I think that acknowledgement from the community or from people of it or the bestowing of that name from people is actually where maybe the real power is. There are lots of people who posts, they sign off with Supreme Grand Master of Taro or whatever, so on and so on. Maybe it's true, but I think when it comes from the outside, it approximates truth more closely.

Andrew:

I completely agree and I would move by my friend Jasper because I felt okay, maybe I have done something to be called magician, and I'm okay with that as long as it's not me who is the one saying that's what I am. But I don't worry about ... I don't know names or labels. That's the problem with some words that really turn reality opaque in that way in which then nothing else can be seen through that name. People just give things a name to put a stop to having to think about them.

Enrique:

I'm an Aquarius. I'm a Reiki Master. I'm a ... whatever.

Andrew:

How are you?

Enrique:

I'm doing pretty good. I want to share with you a bird story.

Andrew:

Okay.

Enrique:

So seeing as seen as birds is something we definitely share a common in. And maybe I've told this on the podcast before, but I can't remember right now. But last October, I ended a long relationship and day two after I ended it, I found a bird nest on the ground with three robin eggs in it. They were all broken. And so I looked at it and I was like, "Yup, that's the end of something." And I saved it. I brought it in and I made sure it was dry. Around here somewhere, I kept it and I felt this very clear acknowledgement from that other side about this situation.

Enrique:

And then maybe two months later, I was walking through this lane way that I walked through to get to my studio most of the time. And I saw a pigeon with what looked like a branch stuck over its head. And I was like, "Huh, how am I going to convince this pigeon to let me free it from this thing that it's got. And when I got a bit closer, I realized that it was in fact not trapped, but it was ... sorry, I'm going to pause this, and episode afterwards.

Enrique:

Restarting now. I saw that it was in fact not trapped, but it was holding the branch in its mass and it was a pretty big branch. So it looked like part of it wrapped around its head and so on. And as I got closer, it flew up and it circled and instead of flying away, or instead of flying to one of the many patches on the building with the pigeons in that area, it circled above me a couple of times. And as it did, so it dropped the branch and it fell right into my hands. I didn't have to reach out for anything. Literally, it fell into my hands because I thought it was going to hit me in the face. And so I saved that and I was like, "Oh, now here's the beginning of that new nest. Here's the beginning of that new thing." So there is my bird story for you.

Andrew:

That's ... Thank you for telling me. I had never heard that before and it's just perfect. The weird condition of flying. You said they are at the same time. Part of the landscape and exception to the landscape. There all the time, but then there is a moment that particular image which would have been irrelevant otherwise gets active for you right there. And then there is something beautiful about the way that they give consistency to themselves. There's a second [inaudible 00:09:15] so to speak. The pigeon with a branch on its beak, it's even more relevant because you found the [inaudible 00:09:24].

Enrique:

And this is symmetry to it, right?

Andrew:

Yes. And I think that the most important thing I learned from ... sorry. He said the space in between the cars, he's made out of time. On the table, we don't see that because it happens really fast and in fact all oracles are [inaudible 00:09:51] for all to accelerate time. But that space, that time, the more we look at card, the wider you become. So we can inhabit that space in between the images. And then we realized, "Oh, but that's space is light and the images are happening all the time." There is card that is eats with the three broken egg and then there is a card that eats the pigeon with the branch with its beak. And just in the space, in between, the key I think is to know how to wait. And I'm more and more convinced that wakened with ISA, of course, a very active dance of faint, of painting, it's the greatest oracle. That's the oracular state is the state of waiting.

Enrique:

I think that that capacity to be present and open, but not fixated is really important to magic, to divination, to listening to birds, to all of the things, right?

Andrew:

Yeah. I spent the weekend talking to some crows in Massachusetts and I think that one very important thing for me is that ... if they're having a conversation with a crow across the main street of this little town, and somebody wanted to know what the crow was saying. And then some other day, I told these crows and I start calling them day and night. They came and they drew a circle over my head. They were talking to me, but basically drawing the beautiful circle on top of me.

Andrew:

And what I find or what I encounter all the time is that people then want for me to provide some ornithological conclusion. I talk to the birds because somehow now I'm going to learn something about crows. And I have no ornithological basis. Both events like the nest you found or the bird with the branch on its beak, both are emblem for the language of the birth, which is precisely the stability to merit with time by paying a patient is the rhythm of the world. Of course, I'm just putting these images in the world and somehow, they add up because yes, you find somehow they're concrete reality. The facts go so on. Maybe in two months we will find ... I don't know what, with some sort of branch, we let it image that we'll [inaudible 00:12:58] in that moment.

Enrique:

Well, I think that people are often, and I at times have often been in a hurry to arrive at meaning or definition or so on, and I think that that's one of the ... if one of the powers of reading tarot cards is the space, one of the dangers is the definition. Yet to me, the definition of things is a thing that comes in time. And I think that especially at some point in my ceremonial magic career, I just started to treat meetings, messages, things that came, I'm like, "Well, we'll see what that means in time." Maybe in a few years I'll know what that means. Maybe in a few years, it'll feel true still. We'll see. And that sort of openness to it, it allows for change, which might actually be the most important part of the process as opposed to definition, which is comforting, or has the appearance of comfort but doesn't really necessarily always or maybe even often benefit us in a bigger picture sense.

Andrew:

Yeah. In fact, my suspicion as at the moment is that if we have a question and we need the answer right away, that means that's the wrong question. I think that there's a credential in our goals between motivation and acceptance. We want our spiritual materials, so to speak, the things we consume within the frame of the spiritual, to provide motivation. So we feel that we can tackle life or go up and do things, and accomplish something then which people call inspiration.

Andrew:

And I think that it's very important to focus on acceptance. Not only from the mentally, the acceptance of the dignity of that thing that is before, all good or bad, but also the acceptance of a bigger picture or a wider pattern that is taking place and one way of naming that will be changed as you're doing, is time and understanding that everything is simply happening. Of course for me personally, and I'm not suggesting people should do that, I will also say everything is happening and I don't matter, which gives me a lot of freedom. It's not about me. I understand that for people, a lot of them need to be the center of the circle. But in any case, yes, you become a witness of reality and somehow you realize that then you are reality too. And then we also become part of the landscape, an exception to the landscape now and then.

Enrique:

Well, certainly we can become an oracle to other people, right?

Andrew:

Yes.

Enrique:

As part of the landscape and an exception too. But I'm very curious about this idea as it relates to the more ... I completely relate to it from a spiritual perspective, from a practice perspective, even from my perspective as being a person who does readings for other people. To me, all of those things, I completely relate to it. I'm curious how you relate that back to the more mundane but also miraculous things like your appearance. How does that idea trickle back into parenthood for you? Or into your relationship or into those sort of day to day domestic parts of your life?

Andrew:

I always tell people that the fact that they can speak like a bird doesn't mean that they'll have to do laundry. No. And of course in New York, that basically means that you have to grab a big bag of 30 clothes and then go out. In most places in New York, you don't have this laundry machine in your apartment, so you have to actually want to go to those winters knowing who these places were. In the movies, there's always fantastic tech happening that's nice, but I go in the morning so it's really boring. So, a daily for steward of some ... let's call it [inaudible 00:18:27] it could be your head in the clouds thinking of a bird and words and signs and oracle. At some point, I think that that's the dignity. Saying like doing laundry.

Andrew:

And I remember I used to hate that particular thing. Going out to do laundry is just extraordinarily boring. And then I realized well this is somehow they cancel weight. I mean I need this thing. I need the key, I need the fact that they are hungry or bored because otherwise, I will just disappear. But you need that, you need that reality to keep doing pension. That versatility where all [inaudible 00:19:16] aspiring us. It's only rates if you have an [inaudible 00:19:20] and a view low. I appreciate those things now. I go to do my laundry in a suit because I feel that there is an extra-ordinary dignity in doing that too. And the same with everything, I think it's very hard to accept the dignity of the things we don't like. I suspect that at the end, we are all guided by our aesthetic preferences.

Andrew:

We have an idea of what's beautiful and then we pursue that and then everything else just gets along. But I do feel that the mundane half that wait, and that's what it is. It's a way that keeps you grounded. What I don't do is to focus any oracular pursue on the mundane. I think that there are questions that have no form and they manifest as intuition. They are not been named, you don't know what they are, so trying to be useful to somehow point you in some direction or ... but daily life takes care of itself. It works clockwork. So I don't agonize over children, family, school, I don't know, housing, work. I think those things will happen anyways. The ground is there. The problem is how high can you fly? So the ground is always there.

Enrique:

I think it's one of the things, it's always a good interesting question for me. And I am a person who points Oracle at mundane things but not regularly. Like sometimes and when necessary, but I tend to ... my daily practice, it drifted to this general question, how do I show up fully today? As my question to the cards and at some points in the last six months or so, the question just disappeared and it just becomes this open time, in a way that I imagine you with your pen in your notebook and letters and images and cards and ... where's it going? What is it? Who knows? It is what it is. And at the end, maybe there's something concrete that you could point out or show about it, but often it's just much more ephemeral than all of that, you know?

Andrew:

Yes. Very often, it's just about maintaining the day. And again to me, that has to do with the idea becoming one with time. It's not really about finding a solution or an answer because it's not even about asking a question. It's just about being present and of course I like this idea of a symbolic world, that it's [inaudible 00:22:49] not very clear and it's not real riding over your thoughts on the real world or daily life and it becomes more than or more federal depending on when and where we are. And I like to be a witness so that world, but many times it's the rare act of witnessing the life of form, what provides some benefits or a sense of being okay.

Andrew:

That can give you ... and I will maybe [inaudible 00:23:27] to put a very concrete example. I am completely convinced that what'd really help when we look at card, it's not they images just themselves, it's not the words we used to acquire the images, it's not the answers we get, it's the experience of looking of them. It's the consistency in the pattern of the images. It's a due painful experience of images that makes [inaudible 00:24:05] feel better. And somehow, feeling better it's not just ... I don't know, a sensation, it's that sense of truth, like when you feed a bird and you understand that you know something and you don't have to even to be able to [inaudible 00:24:24], but you know it, you'll know it. And it's the same ... Yes.

Enrique:

It reminds me ... I recently just reacquired a bicycle after having my bicycle stolen near the start of the year. The joys of living in a large city. I'm speaking of things that can be tremendously grounding but not in a desirable way. But this conversation and the idea of the influence of reading cards, it reminds me of ... I live in Toronto, which is a city of tall buildings and less open spaces and so on. And one of the ways in which I really have noticed that at other times is if I'm cycling across town, like maybe 20, 30 minutes to a friend's place and when I leave the house, if the moon catches my eye, for example, you go and it's like, "Oh look at the beautiful full moon tonight."

Enrique:

And then you cycle along and then you cross University Avenue and the buildings have this open pathway and suddenly, there's the moon again. And then a little bit later as you get out pass Bathurst, where the buildings start to get short, and you're like, "Oh there's the moon again." And having a reading is like that initial connection where you see the moon, you go, "Whoa." It makes you stop, right.

Andrew:

Yes.

Enrique:

Time stops for that moment. Look at it and you're like, "Look at it, beautiful, oh look at the color of the sky." For me, it always trickles out into a bunch of things usually. Once I notice a thing like that, at the very least admitted or to have me just gazing upwards and feeling the expansiveness of that experience and then having a meeting and then flows through into those other points through time where that process returns to us, whether through the images of the words or the idea of memory, and it echoes that trip across town of that, reconnecting with what I would call it with the moon and a sublime experience.

Enrique:

But certainly, the metaphysical or transformative experience of having a reading.

Andrew:

Well, because again, I think that the reading or the experience of the cards is just part of a continuum of science. There are some are being insisted upon us. So yes, maybe the reading is that based where we frame our attention and say, "Oh, this is meaningful." But basically, the moon that you are looking at in the cars is the ones that will reappear then behind a building. And the same thing will happens with the idea of the tower people breaking apart and then you will see two people walking in different directions. So you will see a chain that somehow snaps and you'll realize, "Oh, it's the same idea, the same idea is being insisted upon me." I don't think that there is any example that will talk your example with the nest and then the pigeon of the branch.

Andrew:

It's the same idea. You have a mindset and a series of concerns or a way of being in the world. And then reality is just giving you these things in a way to say, well this is how things are, this is where you are, this is who you are. And I think the cards are a great training tool for that. These days, I'm thinking that the Oracle of the future will be a person who has a hole puncher in one hand and the stack of blank cards on the other. So when the person comes with a question or big and scientists about something, the person just punch a hole in the card and give it to them. And that's the Oracle.

Andrew:

To me, there are two terms of Oracles. To me, two things are very important. One is that initial definition of the Oracle is an opaque statement, which by extension then names the person who gives or delivers those statements, and the other one is Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher when he wrote, the Oracle neither reveals nor conceals but gives signs. Which to me is the most useful model to understand what I do.

Andrew:

There is this idea of punching a hole in a blank card and giving it to the other person so they can see through. And of course the idea of through which in French means hold to and is the beginning of [inaudible 00:29:33] which is to find, and then the card which there is a French word name which you can use for. In Spanish, it's very easy, it's [Laminna 00:29:43]. In English, you don't have an exact word like that. But in any cases are worth four cards. You can have the card, which is this lamp and lamp sounds like lamp, which is the soul. The idea of punching a hole in the soul, so you can see through. It is all implicit in the act of handing somebody something that basically allows them to focus their attention in a very narrow point.

Enrique:

I love it. As you're speaking about it, I was picturing you in a fancy tent somewhere, in the fence. The people lined up, it's like be like, stack of cards and your whole puncher and still be like, don't tell me anything, there you go.

Andrew:

Exactly. Because at the end of course if we think about an Oracle, that's an opaque statement or the statement is the whole, and then the opaque is the actual card. Making a statement in the opaque is a way of playing with that idea of the opaque statement. But currently, I'm very happy applying the same thoughts to just making bird sounds. I think we talked about that last time.

Enrique:

Are you reading cards any more of these days?

Andrew:

No.

Enrique:

No?

Andrew:

Not at all. I have a daily engagement with the cards because I teach people how to look at them. And I have fine tune my practice, so we only look at the trumps of [inaudible 00:31:31] which is the card I'm interested in and it really becomes a way to understand a poetic structure that if or when it takes a hole in you, then you can find in the world to the point that you no longer need the cards. But the basis is that we look at cards and we talk about them

Andrew:

And then I have learned because of that work with people, we usually don't work with questions. We don't use questions in our practice, we just look at the cards and we describe what we see. And I realized that in time, that work has a benefit for those who engage with it, which is not only learning how to read the cards, it's that they feel better, which again confirms my idea that exposing ourselves to this rhythm of the images is in itself a beneficial thing. [crosstalk 00:32:36] please.

Enrique:

When I created the land of the sacred self Oracle, which is black and white surrealists Oracle deck that I made-

Andrew:

I remember it.

Enrique:

... I created it with that intention. So it's like I created it not with the goal that people would look at them and be like, ah, this is what it means, oh, here's my affirmation for the day, or here's the concrete or the opaque thing that I can arrive at. But instead, as a hole through a card into another world for people where they could have experiences and engage with them and whenever I work with those with people, the experience is the same. The initial response is, I have no idea what's going on in this, and I'm like, "Great, that's perfect. Now let's look at it, now let's talk about it, now let's open up that space so we can go through it."

Enrique:

And at some point in that journey, they tend to feel better and have a sense of direction or what have you. And sometimes that is very communicable and sometimes it's not. And I think that the idea that we can have need an answer that we can express concretely to other people or we failed is not always true. I think there are times when it's true or where that's what's required. But I think it's a bigger picture practice opening up and engaging in that mystery is really what allows us to let the Oracle reveal itself to us, which is always something outside of being able to clearly articulate the scope of what it means.

Andrew:

Yes. A sign should either deliver or some knowledge, which I will optimally call poetic knowledge. That means that it's maybe not even again possible to express it in words, it's just this understanding that you get about the way certain aspects of reality coincide for work or the Oracle or the sign I'm sorry will be a call to action.

Andrew:

And I don't mean that in practical terms, I mean in an emotional way. Something torches you and you feel that you're ready to something or you're ready not to do it or you're somehow ready to take a stance, and it's a purely emotional response to a sign you have been given. Most of that exist outside of a rational analysis. And I feel even sometimes, people say, well, I saw you even a dream and you told me ... for example, you told me how to read the cards but I don't remember anything you said. Or, you told me something and it was very important but I don't remember the words.

Andrew:

And I feel very happy because I think that whatever that was, it's not meant to be put into language. It's just there. It's pure poetic knowledge. At the end, I always feel the same thing. We're trying to figure out how to leave and that pretty much means we are trying to protect our psyche from the daily grind, life throwing all these nonsense adults and we are just trying to remain somehow cool. And I think signs, oracles, they can do that.

Enrique:

I think the idea of definition of self is one that when it's rooted in language, like when I was trying to come up with that fantastic phrase to communicate the fullness of what I offered to people through divination, that doesn't go anywhere. Maybe it does for some people, but I've never understood it. It doesn't go anywhere for me. But this sense of the fullness of ourselves and the sense of the fullness of sharing that with someone else or experiencing it with the birds or the moon or whatever ways those, those things can be enduring in ways and solve problems in ways that definitions around language rarely seem to or don't seem to. And it reminds me how many years ago I started this podcast. I started the podcast because I had been thinking about my last year of working with clients and thinking about what I called my successes and not successes with those people.

Enrique:

And the question that I had was, why do some people change and why do other people stay the same? And so the first half dozen episodes of this are me asking various seasons card readers that question, and I think that hearing what you just said actually to me feels like it is actually probably the clearest answer that people need some emotional or internal shift to happen that isn't rooted in language or explanation and isn't necessarily accessible through language or rationality or explanation and until, or if ever that thing happens where Enrique and I appear in your dream and you can't remember anything but suddenly you wake up desiring to make a shift in your life.

Enrique:

Until that unpredictable peace emerges, we can seek that experience, we can foster it, but we can't guarantee that it happens neither as diviners nor as people. Right?

Andrew:

Absolutely. And I like to think ... going back to this idea of the magician, a friend wrote to me and asked me, "Are you a magician? I need the magic." And I told her, "But I do slow of hand." I believe or I'm interested in an idea of magic, which is not the imposition of a will, but the absence of a will. So you make yourself present, your presence has an effect in reality, even if you don't want to and then you wait. And there is a lot of magic that happened that way, but of course maybe this is the beginning of magic trick and we wouldn't know until tomorrow or the next year. And I'm okay with it. Of course again, going back to your initial comment, there is no way to create a slogan to market that in a powerful way, which I think is big to the honesty of the premise.

Andrew:

I think we are obviously rooted in language and actually we become subtle true language. Language is this thing that happens in our body and as the air goes out and we reshape it with our mouth and tongue and teeth, it goes off. And as soon as he's out there, you'd acquire some metaphysical consistency. So there is something remarkable happening there. But it doesn't mean that it's everything. And as you were saying, it's not until we have an emotional response that we are ready to change or to move or to basically experience all the things.

Andrew:

And perhaps, a paradox that I find in the current world is that when we talk about emotions, we confuse that with sentimentality. We have countless books and posters and memes and pictures that have these sugary tone because somehow they're going to appeal to your emotions and to appeal to our emotions when we don't need the pillow in the muffling the shot of the gun.

Andrew:

We just need the full blast. And there is that thing in the ... I don't know how to call it, the spiritual, the new age world that is all about muffling the sound. Making it comfortable, making it safe, which is the perfect recipe for nothing to change.

Enrique:

Well, we've been touching on the idea of sublime and the sublime, especially in landscape painting and that sort of historical stuff where people were working on that notion, that it was rooted in this idea that something was so grand and inconceivably large compared to our personal smallness, that it evoked a sense of overwhelmingness and openness up to a sense of our place in the universe. And there's a degree of at the least anxiety and that maybe if something much stronger too.

Enrique:

It doesn't need to be comfortable and it maybe [crosstalk 00:43:10] just can't even be comfortable.Right?

Andrew:

Yeah. Again, if you're comfortable in your chair, you won't stand up. Somehow, something has to happen. That chair has to get held or I don't know, a nail has to pull through and then you spring out of it and do something. But also, talking about the sublime, I guess that my main interest, which is this notion of the language of the birds, which has again, nothing to do with ornithology or science, but it has to do with precisely with some longing for the return to some ideal state, which is that we could use that word, just the state of the sublime.

Andrew:

This idea of the language of the birds is the original language or the secret language. So the idea of a return to the beginning and the idea that somehow that beginning is some paradise which is ... again, a place of longing. We look at a bird and it's almost consistently. The bird at least it's the longing for a promise that the bird is not making, but that we really feel it's there for us and we can achieve that return to that ideal state. State of freedom, state of weightless, state of beauty. And I think we are all somehow exiles from that place. And yes, we are all looking for a way back.

Enrique:

As always, I post on Facebook and ask if people have questions. And one of the questions that somebody asked was, how do you really listen to the birds? How does that happen? And I'm wondering if have a suggestion for people, especially if this is a newer concept for people. What could people might do to begin this journey, if they're inspired by this conversation?

Andrew:

Well, I am happy to report that I just finished teaching a class about the language of the birds that happened with me entirely talking like a bird. Every Monday, I will send a lesson, which was a recording of me talking like a bird, and then people had to listen and to transcribe that. And they were ... That too. Several different routes. And something very fortunate that happened is that mimicking birds implies understanding that we hear with our memory. The ear has some memory. That's how when you roll the wood against steel, you can hear a bird chirping.

Andrew:

[Gusto mashallah 00:46:35] the French writer has this beautiful idea, that the birds learn too by listening to a stream of water. And again, if you ... yeah, you can see it. If you hear the stream of water, the bubbling could be chirping. I'm talking about something that is so extraordinarily concrete and it's foreign. I hear to the birds in terms of the material. I hear to the birds and I'm all the time wondering, "Does that sounds like rubber, like wood, like metal?" How can I speak that language?

Andrew:

But also, one of the effects that this class had in some people was precisely that they were walking around and they will hear the brakes of a bus and hear a bird, recognize the same way again memory. I think what I'm trying to say maybe is that we need to listen to the concrete, to the actual form of the sound. And then to me, this has been even more important. We need to listen to the void inside the voice of the bird to the negative space, to the silence. And this is key when you're actually trying to mimic a bird because yes, you have the chirp and somehow you can make that, but then the rhythm only happens if you listen to how many times the bird stops. And that space could very well be the same space that you are walking on when you're between the nest and the pigeons.

Andrew:

It's always about situating yourself in that space. You think that sometimes ... Charles Bernstein, this American poet has a fantastic essay on homophonic translation and actually, he talks about bird song or he talks about this idea that poets have always wanted to talk like birds. So the idea of taking bird sounds and translating them into human words, something that for example another American poet, Robert Greene did in the past. He has all these sentences for the birds, which are human sentences, but they can be retraced back into the sounds of the birds around his home in Vermont. You can also do that. You can also try to find in the voice of the bird, that which is familiar, which is a way of saying you can try to find in the voice of the bird Dan, which is you. And then you're surprised by the things you find.

Andrew:

But then I had other people who work in this class with me. Did something brilliant and they use the bird songs as dream words. This is based on a 14th century, [inaudible 00:50:13] idea of name is widespread in the Sufi world or mostly where the idea that certain words, if you repeat them as you're falling asleep, they improve the chances that you will have beautiful dreams. A couple of people working with me did this, of playing the recordings of my bird voices as they were falling asleep and then they registered their dreams and the results were absolutely spectacular.

Andrew:

Going back to that sense of something that exists or is transmitted in a purely poetic way, there were all these beautiful immigrants and ... Perhaps with these, I'm trying to say there is a way of listening that is conscious. You could listen to see this sounds like this, this sounds like [crosstalk 00:51:11], I'm pretty sure that people will be able to or even [inaudible 00:51:14] French composer to write down the notation for the song of a bird. But there's another way of listening than maybe more unconscious. Listening when you're not listening.

Enrique:

It strikes me that there's ... you hear the song, you become aware of the song and at some point in the transition to noticing the space in the song or in art or whatever, there's almost like an inversion that starts to happen, where we get pulled inside of something else. That whole in the corridor all of a sudden. The card being the song that we're looking at, we're seeing the pattern and the things and then at some point, we noticed that there's an opening. And if we're in the receptive mindset to that, not sitting with expectation and anticipation, we can fall through that like Alice through the radicle and so on and end up in another world.

Andrew:

Yes, experience is ...

Enrique:

Are different are poetic but also inspire a sense of connection to ourselves and so on.

Andrew:

It's like walking by the sea. You walk by the sea and the sea now and then it brings something to the shore and you'll pick it up and you say, "Oh, this is fantastic. Or this is for the Detroit back." But you can't command the sea to drop on your lap what you want. You have to figure out how to use with the sea put in there.

Enrique:

Sure. [crosstalk 00:52:58] to drop a branch in his hands. Right? [crosstalk 00:53:03].

Andrew:

Yes if you're there, you're paying attention, then you [inaudible 00:53:09]. It's a miracle, but also that's something else that happened this weekend, I was about to have lunch with my son and I heard this crow and I looked up and I realized what I saw was a bald eagle. Okay which was ... ex gigantic and then I get here in this crow, and it was so strange, so I move around three and I saw that this crow that now looked like a fly next to the eagle was trying to chase the eagle out of the tree, which is what they do is their job basically.

Andrew:

And then of course there was a moment when my wife ... wives always do the same things that ... something is happening to people are having an argument, an eagle on a crow and then your wife will say, "Go, do something. Talk to the guy." So I went and I talked to the crow and I managed to make him stop for a while, but the ... and then we went into have lunch, but this is the thing. This was the dining hall in this college my son goes to. And as soon as I entered and my son was inside and as soon as I told him there is a full eagle outside, every single kid in that dining hall dropped everything and ran out.

Andrew:

I never expected that reaction. There was no social media involved, there was just ... the absolute, the excitement was again ... by saying there is a bowl eagle outside, it was like I pressed an emotional bottom that was completely irrational. They didn't even hesitate or figure out, they just dropped it, the trades with the foot and ran out. And I felt again that they understand that it's a miracle. That thing out there, which is basically an object that fell off the symbolic world, and for a moment, it's there on the three. It's a miracle. And that's the choice, and I think that signs are always based on choice. We choose to activate or deactivate a sign. We choose to acknowledge this is a sign. You could have passed by that nest with the tree X and ignore that completely or kick it even. You decided, you choose to pay attention to it and just the way that, that prepare you to be aware of the pigeon with the branch.

Enrique:

And in the same way as choosing to go and walk by the ocean, if we persist in that practice, then the ocean will give us science because we're there.

Andrew:

Yes. Everything is ... absolutely and the present is there is the presence is meaning and that the word you use, it's a practice and of course again in time, you will feel that the sea is giving you things all the time. And it's not necessarily true, maybe we're a few weeks in between or months, but you are in your practice. So the hour, of that practice makes reality speak to you in really a constant way.

Enrique:

I'm reminded of ... Jason Miller wrote a piece about ... I'll try and include a link in the show notes. I think the title was something like your practice doesn't care if you feel like it. And the sort of gist of it was around devotional work that ... it doesn't matter if you're in the mood or not. If you've made a commitment, you should show up and do the thing anyway. Whether a thing comes from it or not, whether you feel better because of it or not, that in many ways, the power of devotion and offerings in the context of deity work is in your consistency, in your persistence over time.

Enrique:

And I think that in the same way, I had a lovely bike ride back from meeting my girlfriend for coffee today and I didn't have any miraculous occurrences. It was a nice bike ride, but the moon wasn't out, it was whatever. But that attention is always there so that when those things do wash up on the shore, I can pick them up. And I think that that endeavoring to be open to that at a basic level consistently is what also produces it, right?

Andrew:

Yes. And We have to be open and again, we have to accept the dignity of whatever that is. It may not be what we want or it may not be something. Actually I think the whole point is for it to be surprising, for it to be something we're not expecting. Otherwise, if it's only like a confirmation of bias, then what's the point? But I think a lot about gas career? This thing, the ...

Enrique:

[inaudible 00:58:42], Africa.

Andrew:

I love this idea of grounding egg shells to a powder that you can use to draw things with and somehow with those drawings, you call on something. Right. And I think that I ... I like to think that ... a friend of mine said that I draw a magic circle around this café I go everyday, that that's my magic circle. And I liked the idea that routine is discuss career. Routine is round in these actual to a powder. You do it over and over and over and over and basically yes, it comes to a point in which your routine drew a magic circle around you and then these things are happening there because basically, you are there. As you say, they happen because you show up. And of course, I'm sure that there are wonderful things that's happening while nobody is watching.

Enrique:

For sure.

Andrew:

And when we don't show up.

Enrique:

But when you went inside the bald eagle and the crow said, "Ooh, I'm glad they left. We can put this aside for a minute."

Andrew:

And that's also beautiful to think that ... to think of all the signs that are taking place in our absence. It's also something that fills me with joy.

Enrique:

No, I love it.

Andrew:

Older things are not for me.

Enrique:

Well, maybe that's a great place to wrap it up for this conversation. Go practice, go grind it down, go make it sacred, magical, or poetic or whatever you prefer, and listen and you'll see what shows up.

Andrew:

Yes, absolutely. I don't know why, I prefer poetic because perhaps it makes them more concrete. But at the end, it's all the same thing.

Enrique:

Definitely. Thanks for recording another one of these, my friend.

Andrew:

No, thank you. It's always so good to see you. Come to New York.

Enrique:

It's on my agenda for sure.

EP106 Facing Tough Times with Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed

EP106 Facing Tough Times with Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed

February 14, 2020
It seems like there is no shortage of challenge these days. In this episode Andrew, Theresa and Shaheen talk about how to keep going when the going gets tough. Sharing both personal stories and tools as well as things they have learned from their work as card readers.
 
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Shaheen lives here online and here on Facebook.
 
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Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world. 
 ~Andrew
 
Transcript
 

Andrew McGregor:

Welcome to another episode of The Hermits Lamp Podcast. I am here today with Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady. I've known Theresa for years. She's been on the podcast before. You should certainly go back and find those episodes. I will link to them in show notes. Theresa is a fantastic astrologer, a tremendous business person, and a wonderful card reader.

Andrew McGregor:

I've known Shaheen a little less time. We had the pleasure to meet at Readers Studio, big conference in New York, a couple of years ago. They really are a delightful, kind, mystic, and insightful human beings. This episode came about because the two of them put out a book called Tarot For Troubled Times. And those of you who listen know that I don't really do book or deck reviews or these kinds of things.

Andrew McGregor:

But also, life's been hard for a lot of people over the last while; financially, economically, socially, there's a lot of difficult stuff going on in the world. It really occurred to me that chatting with these to find people would be a wonderful way to maybe talk about how do we deal with that stuff. Because life is not always easy. So, for people who don't know who you are, Shaheen, maybe you want to just give us a quick introduction.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. I'm Shaheen Miro, and I am an intuitive reader. I'm the coauthor of Tarot for Troubled Times, and I'm also the creator of the Lunar Nomad Oracle. I just do lots of magical stuff all over the internet and the world. So, that's me.

Andrew McGregor:

Awesome. Theresa?

Theresa Reed:

My name is Theresa Reed, and like Andrew said, I'm known as The Tarot Lady. I've been a full-time Tarot reader for about 30 years, which seems like a lifetime. I am the author of The Tarot Coloring Book and Astrology For Real Life, and the coauthor of Tarot for Troubled Times with the beautiful Shaheen Miro.

Andrew McGregor:

Excellent. So, I guess this question for me is, really, what do you do when life is difficult? I go on social media, and some days it's depressing, some days it's absolutely uplifting and wonderful. You read the news, and we've got climate change, we've got all sorts of political unrest. At the time of the recording of this, we have the Corona Virus that's kicking around making everybody afraid. There's a lot of stuff that can really drag us down and is genuinely concerning, or is worthy of some level of concern.

Andrew McGregor:

But also, we still got to get up. I still got to get up and get my kids to school. I still got to show up and work on my accounting for my business. I still got to hang out with the person I'm dating and be present. So, where do you start if stuff's dragging you down and trying to move beyond that?

Shaheen Miro:

I think you start right where you are. That's the biggest thing. I was talking with some clients yesterday, and I think there is this idea that life is supposed to be easy if you're doing things correctly. I just feel like that is such a toxic mindset, and I feel like it keeps us from moving into this present moment. I know that that sounds really, I don't know, cliché, to be present and be here now, but I think it's so true with everything that's happening in the world. Because otherwise, you just become overwhelmed by literally everything because there's something happening on all fronts.

Theresa Reed:

I agree with the being present thing because it's so often when life gets hard, what do we want to do? We want to numb out. We don't want to be there. We want to maybe zone out in front of the TV, or turn to drugs or alcohol, or retail therapy. That's so common. We become obsessed with the past or obsessed with the future. And the present moment is really ultimately, as real as it sounds, the only thing that matters when life is tough. You have got to be where are you are, and then you also have to make yourself care the priority.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. Something that I have been reminding myself of lately... And I started thinking about this because of this book I read. It's called something like Get Shit Done by a woman named Sarah Knight. She talks about your to-do list and your must-do list. One of the things that she talks about in there is how we all have things that have to get done on a daily basis.

Shaheen Miro:

And so, I think about that with this idea of being present. It's like if you're present, then you might have one or two things that you have to face, accomplish, digest right now. But if you start getting stuck in the past or thinking about the future too much, then you become really attached to so many things that it's like your energy just gets zapped. I think that's such a... it's just such a common thing. We are taught to be in all those different places all at one time in our society. I think that's why we're all going crazy. I shouldn't say that word, but...

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah, I think that being really clear about what actually needs doing is super important. Because depending on what we're talking about being difficult, sometimes only time's going to make it better. In as much as it gets better, some things need other things to change or we don't have control of.

Andrew McGregor:

I remember when... probably 10 years ago now, two of my brothers passed away within six weeks of each other. It was rough. But one of the things that really moved forward for me was... going and getting therapy and getting attention on it, absolutely. But that's the longterm process. The short term stuff was I had a six-month old kid, and I had a two-and-a-half year old, and I had a dog at the time. It was like, all right, dogs got to be walked, kid needs to do the thing. Got it.

Andrew McGregor:

As much as it sucked and I wanted to do nothing, I didn't really have that opportunity. In looking at my journey through it... And you can't compare yourself and other people because there are lots of factors. But looking at my journey through it and the journey of people who had a lot of free time on their hands or it didn't have a lot of structure, those people seemed to suffer longer, suffer more deeply, have more difficulty moving past it.

Andrew McGregor:

I think that the idea of sitting in stuff is really not helpful. We can feel like, "Are we processing? Are we doing work on it? Whatever." But one of the things I often say to people is, I'm like, "If there's not an event on your calendar that you're working on a thing, then you're probably not really working on it that much." That might just be like, "I'm going to go and journal with the cards. That might be therapy, it might be whatever." But if you're just around and ruminating, it's not necessarily moving anywhere with things. Again, depending on what we're talking about.

Theresa Reed:

Well, the one thing I would add to that is when the world is really taking a shit, when there's something bad going on, like an election you don't like, or like the virus spreading or anything really hard, the one thing I always remind people... And I remind my kids this all the time too, because my kids are very political, of course, as young millennials there... that life goes on. The most horrible things are always happening in the world. It's not like it's just now. There's always some horrible things happening in the world, but people still... at the end of the day, they rebuild. They go down and get coffee, they get their kids to school.

Theresa Reed:

Ultimately, we're all still doing the day-to-day things. Even when horrible things are going on, life does go on. And so, we have to put things in perspective because it's so often we can really feel like down and out, especially when bad things are happening in the world. And the world always goes on.

Theresa Reed:

One of the things I always say to my daughter is, because she's a worrier and she'll say stuff like, "Well, what if we have a nuclear war?" And I'm like, "Well, if we do, the world will still go on. Nature will still go on." Nature is amazing. So, we have to really be, not just in the present moment but not thinking that everything is ending right now. If the stock market crashes or if something happens, life will always go on. Life has always gone on with horrible Wars and terrible things happening in the world. So, we do have to remember that.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that really gets to the heart of this idea that troubled times or difficult situations is... I don't want to... It's weird to say, but they're not necessarily bad. It's just part of the process. I think that we have, again, this idea that things should be easy, and flowing, and moving. I think that that's part of our society. We've really been inundated by this idea that we can curate our lives in a way that everything is just happy and wonderful. And if it's not, then something is wrong.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that actually gets into how we, as magical people, practice. Because I think a lot of times when you're a person who does spell work, or if you're a person who does Tarot, or works with crystals, you think, "Well, I need to be doing all of these different things to be combating what's happening in the world, or to be making my life better.

Shaheen Miro:

And sometimes it really is as simple as just sitting, meditating. My mantra for this year is surrender. That's my word. Just surrendering, surrendering to what's happening, surrendering to what I'm feeling, and even surrendering to what I'm not capable of doing. Some of that has looked like me simplifying my practice. So, rather than doing elaborate spells or ceremonies, it's just lighting a white candle and just being with that. Or instead of having all my millions of crystals everywhere, it's like I just have these simple prayer beads that I'm carrying with me.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that's just as powerful and effective as anything else that could be complex or elaborate. I think sometimes we need that when the world is feeling crazy, or when it's feeling just... like it's weighing on you.

Theresa Reed:

Simplified.

Andrew McGregor:

I have a question for you. A couple of times you've brought up this idea of not everything can be easy or maybe even good, whatever that means, positive, as we desire. But that that doesn't necessarily mean there's something wrong. I'm wondering, how do you know? How do you differentiate between there being something wrong versus the stress intention of just living in the world at times, that we just have to abide.

Shaheen Miro:

I think it comes down to how you use that information. I think that... Again, going back to what Theresa is talking about, how a lot of times we want to numb out when we're experiencing something difficult. I think in Tarot for Troubled Times, we talk about this, how our difficult experiences are trying to give us insight about who we are, or what's happening inside of us or around us.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that rather than looking at that as good or bad, you can say, "Okay, well this is difficult, or this doesn't feel good." But how are you using that information? How is that moving you forward? Just like pain in your body. Not that illness or pain is a good thing, but it's letting you know that something needs to be acknowledged and addressed. And so, in that way, it is a positive.

Shaheen Miro:

And so, I really think that's what it comes down to. How are you using that information? Think about it in regards to working with someone in a Tarot session or in a reading, every piece of information isn't going to be positive and uplifting. But if you present it in a way and if you hold space for that person in a way that they can use that to move forward, then it does become something positive.

Theresa Reed:

Well, and the other thing too that we have to remember is oftentimes what we really want to do is hold on to all the good stuff. We'll hold on to that. We get very, very hung up on that. I tend to be very neutral. There's that old fable where the king is given the ring that says, 'This too shall pass,' and that's how he finds joy. If we are present with whatever is and not getting attached to the great things or the bad things in our life, and being more neutral in the face of both, I think that often does really lead to a lot more contentment no matter what's going on in your life or in the world.

Shaheen Miro:

I agree with that.

Theresa Reed:

Don't get me wrong, I like to hang on to good thing, so this is a practice of mine. But I'm always trying to like not go like, "Oh, my God, I just wish things were like blah, blah, blah." I still have moments where I get really angry. You guys saw me earlier. I have my moments where I get mad, I get perturbed. And then I catch myself, I recenter myself, and I'm like, "Okay, how can I just be present? How can I be neutral right now? What can I do in this situation? Is it a situation where I can turn things around? Do I need to ask for help?"

Theresa Reed:

Sometimes there's [inaudible 00:15:19] where people are... they're in a situation that's very difficult that you can't just wish it away either, or people who are in really deeply oppressed situations. Finding a way to ask for help is sometimes the biggest thing that you can do.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that is such a powerful thing, asking for help. And for me, that's part of this whole mantra of surrendering. I feel like, again, we live in this society that perpetuates independence. Asking for help isn't seen as a sexy thing. And yet, it's still important, especially in the global climate that we're in because we need to be cultivating a sense of society and connectedness, and holding space for each other. I think asking for help is part of that.

Shaheen Miro:

Asking for help can be something big or small. It doesn't have to be a really complex thing. But oftentimes, I think that's why people come to a Tarot reading. They want insight, they want clarity. In some ways, they want help and permission, even, to think, feel, and do whatever it is that they're feeling called to do. And to me, I think that's such a powerful step for people.

Andrew McGregor:

And I think that one of the... Apparently, this is the episode where I talk about all the hard things that have gone on in my life.

Shaheen Miro:

Let them out.

Andrew McGregor:

People who listen to the podcast and lots of people already know, last year, in March, my store burned down. It's one of those things where it absolutely became a time where, A, I asked for help. And I got to experience the positive response of all the people who felt that I had helped them in the past and I had a connection with. And so, I think that one of the things that's helpful around living in the world is building a sense of connection, and working to be in community, and working to give and share and be there for other people, again, within healthy boundaries.

Andrew McGregor:

There are lots of people who also have a really problematic sides to that where they just give and give and give to people who aren't there for them. But yeah, asking for help is certainly important. I think that understanding that we're all in it together... It doesn't feel that way, especially when we get into politics sometimes. But at a certain point, noticing that at least within our communities, we're all in it together, and being really aware of that as a way of moving things forward for yourself.

Andrew McGregor:

Because a lot of people struggle to accept help, and being aware of... Because I had that moment, I'm like, "Well whatever, look at all these people who are giving me money, whatever." These people are spending time with at the time where like, "Well, dude, how many times if you thrown some money into a GoFundMe or shown up for somebody or whatever? Of course, you get it back. That's how it goes." But I think it's important to think of if we're not in need right now to recognize that we might be, and to think about how we want to be in the world, and how we would like people to be with us in reciprocation.

Shaheen Miro:

I feel like sometimes people want to help us, and because we haven't asked for help, they don't know if they can. And so, I think there's that two-way street of giving and receiving, and saying whatever it is you need. When you were talking about how we're all in this together, sometimes it doesn't feel that way.

Shaheen Miro:

You're talking about your store burning down. There's probably a moment where you felt like, "Well, this is just me. It's my store, it burned down. No one else understands what that feels like." But then when you ask for that help, you get to see how interconnected you are with other people, and how you have influenced them and helped them through your store, through your... just through who you are. I think we all have those kind of connections with people.

Shaheen Miro:

I was just talking to a friend the other day about going to the doctor, and how they didn't want to talk to their doctor about certain things because they felt ashamed or vulnerable. And I'm like, your doctor is there to help you. Regardless of what certain people think about medicine or whatever, your doctor is there to help you. And if you're going to the doctor for something, they can only help you as much as you're willing to allow them to. And so, in that way, you're in it together.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah. Well, I think that's actually a perfect example of how do you know when something's wrong? So, your doctor and you are in it together, which is fantastic, unless they're not. That's one of those things. If your experience of your doctor is that they're a bit fat-phobic or they're not sex positive, and so you don't feel comfortable talking about a thing or whatever, well, there's a perfect example of, huh, that's a thing that's in them, you can't fix that. It's not your job to fix that.

Andrew McGregor:

Again, it's complicated sometimes to find a new doctor, but that's where maybe making that kind of change or finding a different resource can be really helpful too. Because I think that that discomfort, I think it's... if it's in us, then absolutely working through that is fantastic, and helps us become clear and more open and so on.

Andrew McGregor:

I know in Toronto, we have a hassle-free clinic for STI testing. And there's doctors, some people, and whatever. They're not great about those things. So, for any number of reasons, people might choose to go to a different resource for that. I think that that's really good, taking care of ourselves as well when we can notice those things. We don't want to talk to this friend about this because they're not great about it, or our parents, or a coworker, whoever. Noticing that problem that's not ours to fix and saying, "Huh, I'm going to go somewhere where I can actually get the support I need."

Shaheen Miro:

I think that's also an important piece to this is that you have to know who you're asking for help, or where you're getting your nourishment and your support from. Well, first of all, the other thing I wanted to say... And I talk about this all the time with clients and online... is that I think our secret power, everyone's secret power is the power of choice. We all have the ability to make a choice about something.

Shaheen Miro:

Now, I think that that varies depending on who you are and where you're at in the world. But we all have the power to make a choice. And just like you were saying, if you're in a situation like your doctor isn't someone that you're comfortable with, you can look for something else. But I also feel like, oftentimes, we lean into support that's not really supportive.

Shaheen Miro:

I know all three of us work with clients privately, and a lot of times when I'm working with someone, they're coming to me and talking about things that they feel like they can't talk to anyone else about it, or no one else will really hear them objectively and allow them to process what they're going through. And we all need that safe space and that support. So, find a good Tarot reader.

Andrew McGregor:

And a great Tarot reader, yes. Well, I think some people feel bad. I've heard people say to me that they feel bad they don't have any friends, and they have to pay someone to listen to their problems. I think that... My experience is I've gone to therapy at different points. I was talking about after my brother's death, I did a whole bunch of counseling, and so on, for a long period of time. I think that depending on what's going on in our lives, depending on what the nature of our challenges are, maybe our friends aren't even the best people or even helpful necessarily. Not out of malice or whatever, but out of lack of objectivity, out of lack of skill, out of lack of having slack for some topics, for any number of reasons.

Andrew McGregor:

And that doesn't mean that we can't be friends with them or talk about certain levels of problems with them, but there are often those things that are bigger, deeper, more private, or that other people just don't have any experience with. And finding those people who can actually connect with that makes a ton of sense, and ends up being way more effective or efficient and moving things forward.

Andrew McGregor:

Because when we're caught up with wobbling back and forth with people that we know personally around stuff, maybe we hedge our words, maybe we're not as direct, maybe we are concerned what comes from that or what they think of us. Whereas, "I certainly hope that people come see me," or like, "I don't care what he thinks about me, I'm just going to come and get what I need from it." And in that sense, I think that's really important.

Shaheen Miro:

I always tell my clients like, "This is the safe zone, and we can talk about anything and everything." I love it when I have a client who tells me... not really a dirty little secret, but something that they wouldn't say anywhere else. I have clients who, all the time, will say, "I've never said that out loud before." As a reader, you hear it all, and so there's nothing that's really shocking, or at least for me, there's not. I want people to have that experience.

Shaheen Miro:

Now, something that I've been thinking about lately, and I think both of you would have insight around this, is when you are in a position where you're helping people, you're guiding people... And that could be professionally or it could be personally, like as a parent or something. What happens when you feel like you need help? How do you open up around that? And I think that's something a lot of people maybe feel difficulty around, or they struggle with. What are your guys' thoughts about that?

Andrew McGregor:

One of the things that I'll throw out there as just an initial thought then I want to hear what Theresa has to say, I came across this little graphic about the idea of pouring support in towards the center of the series of concentric circles, and reaching for support outward. And so, the idea is like, if it's in the middle, we have the person who needs our help, who is asking us for help. That could be our kids, that could be a coworker, it could be whatever, friend. The idea that if something they're asking us for causes us to need or want assistance around something, we don't lean on that person who's in the middle, the person who came to us with their need. It's not their job to fix our feelings to their requests. We need to find a way to reach further to people who are not that person, and so on down the line.

Andrew McGregor:

I think that that's often where there's a complication that happens where people reach back to the person who asked and try and get them to help them be okay so that they can give them the help that they're asking for. That's a really problematic model. One of the things I think is super important is when we do need help, making sure that we're choosing directions that don't make things more difficult for the person that we're... like with kids, already committed to helping in some way or other. What do you think Theresa?

Theresa Reed:

Oh, I agree 100%. I also think if you have sources of support around you, you're going to... You should always build up your support system. You should build up your own support system so that if you are in a situation where you are trying to help somebody else out, and you are feeling overwhelmed or some type of way about it, that you have other places that you can go, or other places that you can send that person.

Theresa Reed:

Because sometimes it's... With my daughter, for example, she has a therapist, so does my son because sometimes talking to mom isn't really helpful because they're going to get the mom perspective. So, they know when to do that. I know how I process information for myself. I tend to be very, very private when I am dealing with any situation. I know that when I'm feeling also overwhelmed or something's going on, I often have to tell the people that I love to give me space. I have to request that space. So, you have to really figure out what kind of support you need, what kind of support you can give. I guess you just have to be willing to be upfront about it.

Shaheen Miro:

Theresa, something that you do that I really love is you're very open about things that are happening in your world. You're not just open with people who are in your inner circle, but you talk about things that are happening in your world, in your business online. What do you feel prompts that? How do you feel like that helps you? That's something I love about you. How do you feel like that helps you, and how do you feel that helps other people?

Theresa Reed:

Well, first of all, always... I'm a Gemini. Geminis love to talk things out. Even though my moon in Scorpio wants the real private stuff to be worked out, but I'm pretty much an open book on a lot of things. I like to talk about it because it helps me to process things, or I write about it. And the other thing that I find, when I talk about it or write about it, it helps other people. Sometimes that helps them to know, "I'm not alone." And therefore, then they reach back, and I'm like, "Oh, I'm not alone either." So, we kind of... In a really weird way, it's like it's a way to show other people, "Look, you're not the only one dealing with this bullshit right now. I am too." So, we end up, ultimately, helping each other out.

Theresa Reed:

I think it's important to talk about things too. Sometimes my husband is like, "That's TMI. Why are you talking about that?" And I'm like, "But it's something to talk about. Why am I supposed to put on an Instagram filter and pretend everything's great? If something's going on, let me share it." But also, when something great is going on, let's share that too. I just think it really helps people to see, again, they're not alone, and that I'm not some glossy, fancy, everything is perfect in my life person because it's not, and I don't think anybody's life is like that.

Shaheen Miro:

Right.

Andrew McGregor:

No, for sure. I also think it... One of my things I've experienced is we also get to decide what our narrative is around stuff. And this is one of the challenges around sharing stuff online. When the fire happened, there were definitely people who were like, "Oh, this happened for a reason, and it's all going to be better and whatever." I was basically like, "Fuck that, fuck off. I don't have time for that."

Andrew McGregor:

And whatever might be true in that idea, I've never found it helpful. Because at a certain point, things that have been good that have come out of the change that happened came because I worked with the complete disruption and leaned into it, and then made a lot of decisions and did a lot of work around it. But there's a way in which people will put their agendas or put their ideas forward in a way that really makes it about what seems true to them or what suits them in situations.

Andrew McGregor:

And the thing that suits me in situations is going, "All right, shit just got real. What do I do?" It's not defined plan or other things, maybe whatever, time will tell. But for me it's like, "Okay, what can I do practically? What could I do spiritually? What can I do to move forward from this place?"

Andrew McGregor:

The thing about social media is it is a lot of people who will come on to stuff and nudge it in their directions and so on. I think it's really important to understand that our stories are ours, our experiences are ours. And we get to decide what that is, and shut things down. If we're talking about social media, just tell people, no thanks, delete the post, delete the comments, whatever. But that we're not obliged to live in somebody else's stories, ever. And most especially when we're going through hard times, it makes no sense to allow other people to control the direction where we're building our stories that get us through these things.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. I think that is such a difficult thing, not only on social media, but even more so in real life, especially with family. I feel like a lot of times those are the things that clients struggle with when I'm working with people where their perspective, or their experience, or the choices that they are making or would like to make are not in alignment with the people around them. And so, then that makes them feel... Going back to what we were talking about in the very beginning, like they're maybe moving in the wrong direction. It's like, well, is it the wrong direction or is it just a different direction than what other people are expecting of you?

Shaheen Miro:

I love what you talked about about constructing your own narrative because I think that's what life is. We're all telling our own stories. It's not as simple as we get to make it whatever we want it to be, but we do get to allow certain things to fly in our personal worlds. You can always... One of my favorite things is you can always kick people out of your life, whether it seems easy or not.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah. Let's talk about that more. How about kicking people out of our lives?

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. For me, I think boundaries are so, so, so essential. I think kicking people out of your life doesn't always have to be a dramatic thing. Sometimes it's simple as you just fade away or disengage. I've had a lot of people recently talk about... And I don't know why this keeps coming up, but it's just in random conversation. But I keep hearing people say, "You have to pick your battles." That's a saying people say all the time.

Shaheen Miro:

But I've been hearing it a lot more, and I think that's interesting because I agree with that. There are certain things that you can fight and they can make a difference. And then, there are certain things that you just have to disengage with. I think people are a perfect example of that.

Shaheen Miro:

If you have a difficult family member and you feel like you're never going to get through to them, or they're never going to see your perspective, or see you, don't try to convince them. Maybe it's time to move on. Yeah, I don't know. I think that just having the permission to be able to say, "Oh, I don't have to have people in my life. I don't want them to be in my life," is really important for people. And it's very difficult at the same time.

Theresa Reed:

I will say one thing. One of the biggest forms of self-care are boundaries. We need boundaries. Boundaries teach people how we want to be treated. At the same token, we have to also honor other people's boundaries. And I'll tell you one thing, when you have adult children, you learn a lot about their boundaries too and about how to honor it. I always say, "If you want to get along with your adult children, one of the most important things is to learn to shut your mouth." So, it's very interesting. The roles really change.

Theresa Reed:

But boundaries are... again, they're a form of self-care. They're so, so, so important in every aspect of your life. And I think so often... I can say especially as a woman, women are taught we're supposed to be nice, we're supposed to smile. You've got to be kind, and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And especially women from my generation, that's what we were taught. And when you speak up and say, "No, I'm not doing this, uh-uh (negative)," you're a bitch. And it feels very scary to do that.

Theresa Reed:

But learning to say no and learning to say, "I'm not doing that, I don't like this," it's really empowering for you. It is going to help you deal with things in your life a lot better when you have those boundaries. Like Shaheen said, sometimes you've got to kick people out of your life, absolutely. Some people do not belong in your life. If they are constantly violating your boundaries, if they are pushing past it, if they want exceptions to everything, that means they do not respect your no. And they've got to go. They've got to go.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah. People ask for exceptions.

Theresa Reed:

I hate that.

Andrew McGregor:

As a person who runs a store, there are people who will ask for discounts, or ask for this or that or whatever, those kinds of things. People come in and be like, "Oh, but I'm such a good client. I'm such whatever, whatever." And then, the next is, "Oh, don't you have this anymore?" I'm like, "Well, no, I haven't had that for a year, so that means I haven't seen you for a year. So, you're here asking me for a discount, but I haven't seen you in forever." Those kinds of exceptions, I think, are really not ideal.

Andrew McGregor:

I think that we get to decide. It's up to us to offer the exception. That's how I think about things. It's like, well, if I'm available for something different, cool. But otherwise, especially professionally, it's like those boundaries are there for a reason.

Andrew McGregor:

When it comes to people in my life, one of the things that... a conversation I have with clients a lot is... because they don't necessarily want to go to a person and be like, "I can't be friends anymore. We're done." And that's a hard thing to have. Sometimes you need to have that conversation. Sometimes there's no way around it. But I also think about the idea of nudging people out of our orbits a bit.

Andrew McGregor:

So, we can take space in a lot of different ways. We can knock it back to them right away. We cannot always answer the phone when they call. We can be like, "Oh, I'm busy. I'll call you tomorrow." We can start nudging people and be like, "Well, they want to see me every week, but let's see how every other week goes. Let's see how once a month is. I'm happy seeing my family at Christmas and other holidays." All the way up to nothing. But that process allows us to find what feels good to us, and find what they're still available for because they might also be like, "I don't see you enough. I'm not going to reciprocate either." But either way, it finds the answer for us, it finds what feels okay. Hopefully, it feels good.

Andrew McGregor:

But maybe bypasses some of that confrontational that people think about boundaries. Where people think you need to be like, "Look, I don't like you anymore. We're done." I've had a few friends over the years who did something like that. I was like, "Really? Wow. So dramatic. So funny." [crosstalk 00:41:11].

Theresa Reed:

But can I just tell you one thing about the dramatic thing?

Andrew McGregor:

Yes, tell us everything about the dramatic thing.

Theresa Reed:

I have found that if I don't get dramatic, I don't get respect. So, sometimes I have to be a stone cold bitch. You guys know me, I'm a pussy cat. I'm really easy going, I'm happy-go-lucky. I love to have a good, I love a good meal. I like gossip and stuff like that. I'm very, very easy going. I've got a great sense of humor. And so, I think then that people just assume, "Oh, blah, blah blah. She's going to make an exception for me." And if I say no, then they'll think I'm bluffing.

Theresa Reed:

But when I'm a hardcore bitch, you better believe they get out of my way then. I hate that because you know what, I don't like having to be like that. But sometimes that seems that's the only way that I get results. It sucks.

Andrew McGregor:

I think that personality and temperament are part of it. I think that gender is absolutely a part of it. It's a conversation that I hear a lot more from people who are on the female side of the equation. Definitely those things are real.

Theresa Reed:

Can be.

Shaheen Miro:

Another thing that, at least for me, has been true is, you don't always have to explain yourself.

Theresa Reed:

Exactly. That's a hard one for me.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. And that's a really beautiful thing once you let that come into your being, into your worldview, is that you don't have to explain yourself as long as your actions or the things that you're moving toward feel really just aligned with you. And that sometimes can be a tricky thing to figure out as well, but I feel like not having to explain yourself saves people a lot of trouble.

Shaheen Miro:

I loved what you were talking about, pushing people slowly out of your orbit. It's like you don't have to go to your shitty uncle and be like, "I don't want to see you anymore." You can just slowly push them away. You don't have to explain it. You don't have to justify it. I think that's very liberating for people, for any kind of choice that you're making.

Theresa Reed:

Absolutely. It's interesting because I took a class with Randi Buckley called Healthy Boundaries for Kind People. And one of the things that she also talked about too was not explaining yourself. And I'm an explainer because I'm a talker. And I'm like, "Look, this is why I'm not doing that." And I'm like, "Why am I doing that?" It's really hard to break that habit of explaining. When you explain, what ends up happening then with boundaries, then people look for an out.

Shaheen Miro:

I was to say, yeah, they look for a weak spot in that boundary.

Theresa Reed:

And they find it, and they'll say, "Well, but I'm not a jerk. Why not make an exception for me?" So, it's really interesting. Not explaining, that's really great that you brought that up. That also, again, is also a form of self-care.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah.

Andrew McGregor:

Reminds me of that salesperson maxim: if we're still talking, you haven't actually said no yet. I think there are people who live their life that way. If there's still a conversation, then it's not actually a solid boundary. And sometimes, you just got to close that door and be like, "Don't stick your foot in the door, salesman. I'm going to slam the door. We're done. Get out." And that's it.

Shaheen Miro:

I think that's why... to me, that's why Tarot is such a powerful thing because sometimes we don't even realize that we're still having that conversation, that we're still engaging in certain dynamics. We feel the effects of it, but we don't realize why we feel that way because maybe it's subconscious, or maybe it's just so common in your life that you just don't even know that that's happening anymore. I think Tarot is beautiful because you can zoom out, and you can see these things.

Shaheen Miro:

And one of the things I love when I'm laying out cards, when I'm working with someone in-person, which isn't all that often, but when I do, if a person sees a card and they're like, "Oh, that's so and so in my life." And it's like they might not have any knowledge about it, about that card or what the symbolism is, or anything, but just seeing that gives them the sense of, "Oh, I have externalized, and I can understand the bigger picture of what's happening. And now I can do something with it."

Shaheen Miro:

To me, I think, that, again, goes back to being able to make a choice. When you know what all is happening from a larger perspective and you're not right in the thick of it, then you have a bit more power to make a choice, or to pivot, or to go in a certain direction with deeper intention.

Andrew McGregor:

Well, what about spiritually? Are there spiritual practices that you do around this kind of stuff? What do you do to sustain yourself during challenging times?

Theresa Reed:

Meditation and yoga are my two go-to things because I know when I'm on the mat and I'm moving my body, or I'm sitting quietly and tuning within, that always makes me feel better. It may not solve the problem, and oftentimes it doesn't solve the problem, but I'm feeling physically better. I'm going within, I'm processing information. So, that is always my favorite, favorite things to turn to. But there's all kinds of other things. You can do magical practices and rituals, that can also enhance and strengthen your boundaries, or energy, or whatever you want to say. That can also help you to move through any kind of challenges.

Shaheen Miro:

Yeah. For me, well, yoga is actually a big part of my practice as well. And the thing that I love about yoga is that you have to be present, you have to be... You don't have to be, but you know as soon as you slip out of what you're doing, your pose or whatever it is that you're... whatever asana you're in, that's not going to flow or to work. So, I love movement in general for grounding, and centering, and getting present.

Shaheen Miro:

Ritual is a big part of what I do. And again, it can be as simple as just lighting a candle. One of the things I talk with clients about quite a bit, it's just the simple practice of using ritual and ceremony as a way to engage all the parts of yourself. So, if you light a candle and you say, "This is the shitty situation I'm in, and as this candle is melting, my situation is melting away." That might not change everything, but it makes you feel like you have a bit of control, or you can externalize what it is that you're feeling. And I think seeing that and engaging with that, that moves energy.

Shaheen Miro:

Or if you light a candle and you say, "As this candle is burning, whatever it is that I need to bring in my life is attracted to it. It's like a moth to a flame." Again, that engages another part of yourself and allows that energy to move toward you. I think that gives... for me, that gives me a way of finding... I don't want to say control, but feeling like I have a choice in the matter.

Shaheen Miro:

I also really lean into my spirit allies. I have multiple spirits that I work with. But one of the things that I like to do is I just say, "To my guardians, my ancestors and angels, be with me. I thank you for being with me." And I give offerings, or I light candles. Something about that practice makes me feel supported, it makes me feel like I'm not alone. Something out there has a broader perspective than I do, and can maybe see something that I can't see.

Shaheen Miro:

I was listening to an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert and Oprah, and Liz Gil was talking about how when her partner died, she felt like she suddenly had a very powerful ambassador on the other side. And when she said that, that really resonated with me. Because I feel like we all have somebody who... whether we've known them in life or we just feel a very special connection to, there's something bigger than us that's out there. And if we engage with that, we feel less alone, and we also can use that energy to move forward.

Shaheen Miro:

I moved to Colorado recently, and I've always felt a connection to the Virgin Mary. I wasn't raised Christian at all, but I've just always felt a connection to the Virgin Mary. There's a place called Mother Cabrini Shrine, and it's near where I live. Mother Cabrini was the first American Saint. But I go there all the time to just light candles and to meditate because I feel like I'm connecting with something bigger than myself. Not just the energy of the Virgin Mary or Mother Mary, but also the energy of other people who have gone there out of faith. And even though it's very different than mine, there's an energy that accumulates there. And so, I'm constantly trying to work with that, if that makes sense.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah, totally does. I'm just going to put an unpopular opinion right now. I hate yoga. I hate yoga so much. Yoga was just makes me [crosstalk 00:51:46].

Shaheen Miro:

That's okay.

Theresa Reed:

You haven't done yoga with me.

Shaheen Miro:

Why do you hate it?

Andrew McGregor:

I've done yoga all over the world with so many different teachers, and it just makes me grumpy whenever I do it. So, I've given up doing yoga. I did yoga practice daily for over a year and so on. And this notion that I would push through and like asana-based yoga practice, well, it's just never happened. So, I've given up on it.

Shaheen Miro:

And now you know.

Andrew McGregor:

And now I know. But the thing that I... I love meditation. I'm very good at just sitting and meditating for relatively long periods of time. I love elements of yoga. I love the breath work and other things. But just yoga class and those things, I always just leave grumpier than when I arrived. So, I've given up on it.

Theresa Reed:

You should take a class with me.

Andrew McGregor:

Well, I will make the trip, and then you could buy me a coffee afterwards if I'm grumpy.

Theresa Reed:

It will change your mind because-

Andrew McGregor:

Perfect.

Theresa Reed:

... our yoga classes are very different here.

Shaheen Miro:

Oh, sorry.

Andrew McGregor:

That's okay. But for me, it's not just about being more active because there are lots of ways in which I do self-care that's very still and very quiet as well. But also, I super love rock climbing, and rock climbing is one of my favorite self-care, especially during challenging times because when I'm on the wall and working on a problem, I can't think about anything else. There's nothing else. There's just the immediacy of it. And it's the same with distance cycling and stuff.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah, my brain might churn for the first 20 minutes or hour, but into a three-hour ride, at a certain point, it's just you, and the road, and the movement of your body, and the flowing of other things, and that's it. And so, I think that there are lots of active ways in which we could do that that are not numbing out and avoiding things, but are bringing us to being present through different mechanisms.

Shaheen Miro:

I think another important thing for people to know is that self-care and spirituality doesn't have to look a certain way. One of my favorite spiritual practices is singing, whether that's getting wild on my guitar or going to karaoke. It's not really a numbing out thing. It's like I get to not be in the mire of everything that's happening, and I get to connect with myself.

Shaheen Miro:

There's something really beautiful about that. But I think a lot of times, especially when people are starting their spiritual journey or their magical journey, they get caught up in what does that look like? And it's like if you feel like turn it on heavy metal and head banging for an hour is grounding and centering to you, then that's totally fine. That doesn't have to be the case for anybody else. So, I think it comes down to, are you connecting with yourself, or are you numbing out? I guess that's a big question.

Theresa Reed:

It's a huge question.

Shaheen Miro:

The other thing that I wonder sometimes... Because I think with our book Tarot for Troubled Times, we've had multiple people ask us... or talk in the sense that they need to get rid of their shadow because we talk about shadow work. One of the things that I feel is that we aren't trying to... Where was I going with that? We aren't trying to, I guess, fix things necessarily. It's really just about being where you are, being with what is happening. I think that's where our spiritual practice can really lie. Being with where you are. I don't know. When we're talking about numbing out, I wonder is there a time where numbing out is okay? Is that always a bad thing?

Theresa Reed:

Numbing out once in a while is okay. Absolutely. Sometimes at the end of the day, if I've had a really challenging day, let's say with clients, pouring myself a nice big glass of wine and putting on the new Pope, which is the new thing that I'm into right now, and just forgetting about it. Having a little escape is good. Provided it's not done too excess. There has to be a limit. Numbing out in front of the TV every single night drinking three glasses of wine is not good. But on occasion, just sitting back... And that's one of my favorite ways to unwind is a nice glass of wine and something on TV.

Shaheen Miro:

I think if you check in with yourself and ask yourself, "How do I feel?" That can gauge if that's useful or not for you. Sometimes when I'm really, really, really going through it... I always suggest this to people... I take a nap. I get in my bed and I take a nap because I'm like, "You know what, I can't do anything by thinking about this or talking about it. So, I'm going to get in my bed, I'm going to take a nap, and something will happen. The world will at least keep on moving. Maybe my thoughts will untangle. Maybe the spirits will give me a message. I don't know. But I'm just going to take a nap."

Shaheen Miro:

But when I wake up from that, I don't feel like I've lost time. I feel like something has happened in the positive versus if you go on a binge and you're out drinking all night long, the next day you probably don't feel like anything's resolved. And so, I think checking in with yourself and asking, how does this make me feel, is really an important part of it as well.

Andrew McGregor:

How do we feel when we're starting it? How do we feel when we're in it? How do we feel afterwards? Because it might feel great, speaking from personal experience, to grab that bucket of ice cream and to eat that bucket of ice cream, and then it might feel crappy afterwards. And so, I think that there's that just monitoring of the whole situation. Eating two liters of ice cream is not a great coping mechanism for me, and so I no longer engage that. But that doesn't mean that I won't buy myself other things or engage in other ways like that, right?

Theresa Reed:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Shaheen Miro:

I think that's a beautiful... just continue... Really, it all comes down to connecting with yourself. I think, in a lot of ways, we just don't live in a world that really advocates for people to know how they feel and to connect with themselves, and to take care of themselves. We're really taught to be out here in the world doing things, competing with things, keeping up with things. I think it can be really toxic.

Shaheen Miro:

Actually, I had a conversation recently about how I think that... I love the idea of self-care, but I think that this concept of wholeness is the new idea of perfection. I think that self-care, and spirituality, and self-work, and healing work isn't about becoming whole or fixed or better. It's about really just connecting with and having a relationship with yourself so that you know where you are in every moment, situation, or experience. And then, that way, you can make choices or you can have boundaries. That's how you empower yourself. It's not always easy, but that's why it's a practice.

Andrew McGregor:

Yeah. I think you've just summed it up perfectly.

Theresa Reed:

Absolutely.

Andrew McGregor:

So, maybe that's a great place to leave it. I'm going to say, when you listen to this, rewind and listen to what Shaheen said a couple of times because I think that's just really a delightful and perfect way to encapsulate it. Obviously, you folks have a lovely book. I think people should check it, called Tarot for Troubled Times. Shaheen, where do people find you if they want to come be in your orbits online?

Shaheen Miro:

You can find me at my website, which is shaheenmiroinsights.com. Or you can visit me on Instagram, which my handle is Shaheenthedream, and that's one of my favorite places to hang out and do all sorts of magical things over there. And on Facebook and Twitter. So, Shaheen Miro, there's only one of me out there.

Andrew McGregor:

Perfect. Theresa, at The Tarot Lady everywhere?

Theresa Reed:

Yup, thetarotlady.com, and The Tarot Lady is my handle on all my social media things.

Andrew McGregor:

Beautiful. Well, thank you both for making time today. I super appreciate it. It's been-

Shaheen Miro:

Thank you.

Andrew McGregor:

... as delightful as I was hoping.

Theresa Reed:

Thank you for having us.

Andrew McGregor:

Of course.

EP105 Raid on Monkey Island with Stacking Skulls

EP105 Raid on Monkey Island with Stacking Skulls

January 31, 2020

The gang get back together in their secret underground bunker to talk about what is new in their journeys. Andrew, Aidan, and Fabeku talk about the future of witchcraft, magic, grimoires, and how to best powder a scorpion. In a rarer moment they talk about their businesses and how they find their way forward through changing desires and capacities around working. 

They also recorded a bonus for the Patreon only about how to connect with plants and build a magical relationship with them.  You can get it here by becoming a supporter. 

Aidan can be found here

Fabeku hangs here

As always Andrew is here

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

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

You can book time with Andrew through his site here

Transcription

Andrew: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am hanging out today with Stacking Skulls, which would be my buddies, Fabeku and Aidan. We have taken submarine to our secret underground bunker. We have concocted all sorts of beverages to prop us up for this from weird poisons from some lizards and reptiles and obscure sea fish. And we have found the long lost grimmer of the monkey safe nests, which we have properly venerated before we're going to start here.

Aidan: I [inaudible 00:00:42].

Andrew: Welcome to the podcast. This is a fairly regular thing that we've been doing for a while with different guests as well as one last founding member, John. And today we're getting together for the first time in quite a while, just the three of us to catch up and talk about stuff that's going on. So I'm going to skip the introductions.

Andrew: If people don't know who we are, well, go back and listen to one of the other episodes. But what's going on? What's new? What's happening? What's changed? We recorded last, I would say it was just after the fire, so I think that was early, middle of summer, somewhere around there. It was the last time we talked, which is about six months ago. So this is recording.

Aidan: Well, other than rating Monkey Island for the [inaudible 00:01:38], it's all been smoking scorpions, but it's just been … it's good. It's been crazy times. End of the year is always crazy.

Fabeku: Awesome.

Aidan: I'm married to an accountant who's also somewhat clairvoyant. So there's this combination of stuff that begins before the end of the year that is … we are kind of shifting a full year ahead or two years out. So we run on a two-year plan at this point. And so it's just working that stuff out and deciding what the focuses are going to be for that time period as best as we can, knowing that things change.

Aidan: But what are the targets? What are the time frames? Can we plan that enough that we can plan in some downtime? And then for me, it's kind of backing away from the jewelry work for a while to focus on teaching and writing. So that's the big one for me.

Andrew: How's the preparation for teaching going? I mean, I've seen some on social media, but what's that like for you?

Aidan: It's been pretty crazy because I decided that I really wanted audio. Video was too cumbersome to try and share, I thought, and I wanted people to be able to listen to it in different places where they didn't necessarily have rock-solid internet. And so it was a weird process.

Aidan: So I started recording before I was ready, which was good, so that broke me in a little bit, but it's a different way of transmitting. And so it's been very interesting figuring that out. But I like what's coming along and the allies like what's coming along. And they got, as usual with projects, way, way, way more involved than I somehow expect, so there's a lot of that shaping influence in there that is how do I work in.

Aidan: “Okay. Since you're only going to give me a quarter of the curriculum, how do I make it? Either give it all to me or stay out,” is what I would like to say in some ways. But it is good, but it is okay, so if that's taken over these two sections of the class, what else are we going to run in a limited timeframe. But it's fun. It's been very fun.

Andrew: It's awesome. Yeah. I really did teaching a lot. I think … I mean, I know Fabeku does too, right?

Aidan: Yeah, for sure.

Andrew: Yeah. How about you? What's going on with you, Fabeku?

Fabeku: Let's see. Yes. End of year, I pretended that I was taking December off and then had the busiest December I've had in any year. So not so much of a break, but it was mostly busy with good stuff, which was good.

Fabeku: Yeah. I mean, kind of similar to Aidan, looking at the next couple of years and figuring out what it looks like and what I want to do more of and what I want to do less of and definitely continuing to shift more and more to the teaching, the writing, the arts, a lot of art. That's my question at this point.

Fabeku: How do I do more arts is the big $64,000 question. And this might be the year that I actually do a website for the arts, maybe. I've resisted that for years for all kinds of reasons, but yeah. So that might be a thing. But-

Andrew: Given you haven't updated your website since 1842, I'm not sure-

Fabeku: Right. Exactly.

Andrew: … I'm not sure I believe you at that point.

Fabeku: Yeah, that's the running joke. I've got the out-of-date website on the planet. Yeah, that's the truth. Yeah. So just tons of art stuff, which has been good. I carved out some more time in the schedule this year to finish the book projects that I stalled at the end of the year between busy-ness and health stuff and I needed to get a new laptop and some other shifts.

Fabeku: But yeah, so I'm excited about that and just looking forward to, like said, more teaching, more art.

Aidan: How are you doing Andrew? What do you got going on? I know that you've got the shop open in your space, so how's that going?

Andrew: So much is going on right now. So much is going on. I actually took 10 days off over the holidays, which is the first holiday that I've had in forever where I didn't go anywhere or really do anything. I checked a few emails, but that was about it. And I took a bath every day, took a nap every day, really just tried to sink into that.

Andrew: I read a bunch and stuff like that. And I went from feeling exhausted from having reopened the store and rubbed my life through the fall to just feeling tired. So I feel like that's a major way, right?

Fabeku: For sure.

Andrew: The store is going good. It's reopened in a different neighborhood and I'm still wrangling with that. A lot of the same clients of course, but lots of different people. One of the things that's been sort of challenging me about it lately is trying to account for theft as part of the process. Right?

Andrew: And it's just like it's almost every retailer tells me and knows it's just a part of the deal. But in the old location, the combination of the size of the store and its location really minimized that stuff, whereas now, it's definitely a thing that I'm paying a lot of attention to. And I feel a bit like it's kind of a metaphor.

Andrew: I mean, it's obviously a literal problem, but I'm viewing it a bit metaphorically for how I'm doing that longer-term planning that both of you guys are talking about. Right? I don't want to be tired. I don't want to get back to being exhausted. I don't want to feel like I'm endlessly running around from thing to thing and I can't get ahead of the Arkin and so on.

Andrew: And so really, looking at what's making sense in terms of my energy and my attention, I absolutely love having the studio. I have this private studio space, which is beautiful. It's like 300-square feet. It's got a lovely set facing window and high ceilings and it's a five-minute walk from my house.

Andrew: So basically, I have no excuse to not come and paints and draw and come see clients here and so on. It's just really welcoming and lovely. And just looking at where are those things that are stealing my energy, that are stealing my attention? Where are those things where I'm not enthused to show a [inaudible 00:08:46] them and where are those things or what's getting in the way of the things that I'm saying I'm going to be doing, like painting every day or whatever.

Andrew: What's actually interfering with that and what can I do to adjust that? Where do I make that space emotionally more than any other way? Because practically, the time is there, but emotionally, it's not always there to continue to work on my next book, to wrap up this bacon wizard breakfast Oracle that I'm working on, all those things, right? They all have a drag on them from the tensions in the system.

Andrew: And I was talking before we got on the line here about how I rolled back my coffee consumption from ridiculous levels of caffeine and sugar to a manageable level. And I don't want to go back into that space where it's overdrive and you're always pushing, pushing, pushing. It's not the kind of space I want to be living in, so I'm just being really mindful of what I'm doing with my time and where I'm putting my energy and what are the actual returns.

Andrew: I mean, certainly financial but also emotionally and I don't know their levels because sometimes there's those things that seem like a great idea, but the returns are not what you thought you would get from them in the end. Right? And they ended up being, well, to be honest, a fucking hassle. It's like, “Man, why did I do this? How do I learn not to do stuff like this again?”

Fabeku: I've thought so much about this in the last couple of years. I mean, in part, because the physical stuff has changed my bandwidth in a lot of ways. But I mean, I would say up until about a year, a year and a half ago with the business stuff, I was at a point where I was constantly booked nine to 12 months out. The calendar was not just full, it was kind of overcapacity in a lot of ways.

Fabeku: And it's interesting because I think to a lot of people, that looked like success. I mean, every spot filled, booked forever and ever and ever, lots of money. And it was fine until it wasn't. And then when I started to deal with some of this body stuff and would have to shift stuff around in the schedule, I'm like, “This is fucking impossible.” I've got a 12-month calendar.

Fabeku: How the fuck do I move these people around without causing some ridiculous cascade that goes for three months and then all of a sudden, this thing that I really worked hard to accomplish and make happen, it's like, “No, I hate this. I can't do this. I don't want to do this anymore.”

Fabeku: And really taking a lot of steps in the last couple of years to just … I think for me, it was about redefining, like you said, what's important, what the returns are, what makes sense, what success looks like. And just deciding that, “Yeah, I don't want a calendar that's booked 12 months out. I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to be scheduled every single slot of the day as sometimes I'd like to sleep in or I'd like to spend the morning painting or whatever it is.”

Fabeku: And that's been a big thing and I think in some ways, like I said, I've had to do it because of some of the physical stuff, but … And in some ways, it's been one of the best things because it really required me to take a way more conscious look at, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? And does this actually make sense? Is this the shit you want to do?”

Fabeku: And all of a sudden, I looked down and it's like, “Oh no, I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this and I want to do way less of this and way more of these three or four things.” And I think that's been so much of what the last, especially a year and a half, for me has been. It's just been remixing all of it and redistributing the weight to what I'm doing and why I'm doing this. It's been a big deal.

Andrew: Yeah. Yeah. I made a change when I opened the studio, coming back from the fire that I only open a month ahead of time, like a week before the end of the month usually because I realized that otherwise, you end up with these commitments further afield than you can wrangle, right? Or that aren't easy to wrangle.

Andrew: And I think that one of the values to me, and I think for you too, is this ostensible freedom with being an independent person. But it's very easy to lose any actual access to that freedom of schedule, right?

Aidan: Yes. Yes.

Andrew: To be like, “Oh, can I do whatever?” It's like, “Oh, well. No, I can't. I have a day full of clients and I can't easily move that.” And instead, just setting up those things so that there's a limit and … Yeah, it's great being booked ahead for sure, but I don't want to be booked six weeks ahead.

Andrew: I want to be two weeks ahead and then be deciding what my next month looks like depending on opportunities and other things that are going on and all that kind of stuff.

Fabeku: Yeah. For me, it drove the point home when a friend of mine who lives in Florida, she wanted to come in for a visit and she said, “Well, when are you free?” And I looked at the calendar and I'm like, “10 months from now.” What the fuck is this? It doesn't make any sense. And you're right. It's that kind of thing.

Fabeku: And all of a sudden, I felt like … and it's not that, I'm not saying it's the same thing, but I felt like the person that's working for somebody else that had already used their vacation time and then wasn't going to be free until next year. It's like, “This doesn't make sense. This isn't the life that I want to live at this point.”

Fabeku: And for years, it was fine. I loved it and enjoyed it and it was … I thrived in that environment. But I think that's for me, why I continue to look at this coherence as a process thing as opposed to some destination. It just stopped being coherent and I'm glad that all of us have the freedom to reshuffle the deck as we need to.

Aidan: Yeah. I think, I mean, it sounds like we're all very much in the same place because that's what I got hit with the jewelry, is I went from the people who buy it at whatever rate they buy it and then I build according to what they bought and then custom work in there. And I dropped that and went to like, “I'll just offer collections and see how that goes.”

Aidan: And what I found was those were fine ways to actually generate enough money for us to get by. The time that it takes for me to do what I like in that or what I want to do in that process is so immense that even when I wasn't booked forward, even when I was building the collections, it's still like, “No. I need all day, way too many days out of a month to dedicate to this,” which is on one level, fine, because I love the work.

Aidan: But because there's so much … and this is probably true for all three of us … there's so much emotional and magical energy tied into what we're doing that the exhaustion level was just not reasonable.

Fabeku: Yeah.

Aidan: And again, realizing at some point, you go, “Okay, what am I actually interested in?” And for me, it's … both me and my allies are fully invested in this transmission to those people that maybe we can help. And it seemed like for a long time, that the talismanic work was the best way to do that.

Aidan: And again, I love the whole process of it, but in the last, I guess like six months, that really shifted to like, “No, I really want to be producing books so that that is a wide range thing that can I go.

Aidan: And then I want to teach classes where I can really engage with people because there's no time to do that with the jewelry work that I was doing in a way that I would like to kind of go, “Okay, this is what's … this is how some of the stuff that I want to share works. And then let's engage about it so that we can get somebody rolling,” in a way that I felt like I couldn't before. Yeah.

Fabeku: And I think that exhaustion piece, that's always the sign. And I think … But I mean, how long does it take us or anybody to catch that? Most of the time, the solution is more coffee, more sugar, more shit food, more donuts, whatever it is for however long we can until … For me anyway, I reached the point that it's like, “Yeah, more caffeine isn't going to fix this.”

Fabeku: The problem is not a caffeine deficiency. Whatever expenditure is happening, it's no longer coherent. And so it's taking more than it's giving. And yeah, I mean, I think that for me is always the sign, whether it's in a relationship or a business thing or whatever that, “Yeah, something has changed and so you need to change your response to it.”

Andrew: For sure. Yeah. Well, I think that when you start showing up differently to places, it's like that's the problem, right? And that's the problem with me in the fall where I was just really run down from relationship stuff. A couple of long-term relationships ended for me in the fall.

Andrew: And from reopening the store, which was no small amount of work and trying to wrangle that, but also in a completely new way that I would show up and things would just be making me crusty and I'd be like, “Oh man, what's up with that?” And I think that's another sign, right? When small things are … if they were singular, a small thing just irritates you so much.

Andrew: You're just like, “Ah.” It's like, “Oh, that's also a good sign,” where it's like, “Man, I just got to step back from this somehow. I got to change this dynamic,” because showing up with that energy is not good magically for anything, right?

Aidan: Yeah. For sure.

Andrew: That is one of those situations where you can't start to influence what's going on with your vibes. Right?

Aidan: Yeah.

Andrew: And that's not ideal at all. Right? That's just not helpful, so.

Fabeku: Well. And I think too when that exhaustion kicks in at such a deep level, how do you funnel the energy that you need into the magic? How do you fuel it? There's no fucking fuel there at some point. It's like you can sit in the car with no gas and jam the pedal down, but good luck. And there's just … and I think that's the thing.

Fabeku: Yeah. And for me, that was another reason that I wanted to shift things because it's like if I can't fuel the art and the magic, which really to me, are the most important out of any of the things on the list, then what am I doing? If I don't have fuel for that shit, then something has gone really seriously sideways for me.

Andrew: Yeah.

Aidan: Yeah. And it's interesting too because we would like to believe that there's infinite capacity and there just isn't. And so at the point that I was working on the book, which is … it's mostly done. It needs a bunch of revision, but … and I realized I couldn't get the space to even do the revision, doing the jewelry the way that I was. And there's another three books waiting behind that one that are in process to some degree, though they're at their beginning stages.

Aidan: Then it became really clear, like what's more important here? It's like, “Yes, I can make another thousand pieces of jewelry,” which I know is helpful to people and it's helpful again, financially to me. And I love the process, but this other thing is more important. So what's an appropriate feeder to that work?

Aidan: And it's like, “Well, then I'd rather more directly involved with the people that are using the material to figure out what's translating and what's not translating so that I can get a clearer transmission.” So the jewelry and the books was no longer working, but the classes and the books seem like they will. So it's okay. I have to let go of that piece for the most part.

Aidan: And it's not saying it won't come back someday, but there's enough on the table that it doesn't work with that, that I had to make that shift.

Andrew: Yeah. There's time when we've been talking about teaching some here, but we'll jump in with one of the questions that somebody posted on somewhere, Facebook, maybe. When you're teaching, what do you learn from that process? What have you learned about yourself from that process?

Andrew: How does teaching or does teaching change the way you think about things or talk about things? What's that role for you around that stuff?

Aidan: I mean, for me, I haven't done direct teaching since the 90s except whatever goes on, on a small scale, but kind of focused work. So it's interesting. So the prep work for that really gets me clarifying how I think and how I feel about stuff because my problem is a lack of … I could do so much that it's like, “Okay, but what's a useful collection?

Aidan: What's a useful tool of collection?” I don't want to just go and hit up the hardware store and throw every tool available into the box.

Andrew: Step one, buy a hardware store.

Aidan: So yeah, it's definitely … which is kind of unfortunately not a bad metaphor for how some folks approach all this stuff, right? Buy every tool in the hardware store and learn how to use it. It's like, “No, what we need is we need to get you the little lunchbox size, little kit that has a few things that you can do some stuff with.” But that also has to have depth.

Aidan: And so I'm kind of the anti-complexity guy, so it's how do you get a coherent little package to use that term that somebody could either use as part of a larger thing or on its own. And so it really does. For me, it's been super clarifying is what I would say.

Fabeku: Yeah. And I agree with that. So for me, I saw that a lot when I did last year. I think I did … it was like three weeks on hyper centrals, four weeks maybe. And it was interesting because I mean, that's the thing I've done forever and I could talk about it for six months and I didn't want to because I don't think it was necessary. It's like you said.

Fabeku: It's like, “Here's the lunchbox size kit on hyper sigils that also talks about things that a lot of people don't talk about and gives you plenty of room to take those as far as you want for decades into the future without also simultaneously overwhelming you into thinking of, ‘Fuck, this is such a big thing. I'm never going to be able to use this or it's going to take me forever to get this.”

Fabeku: And I mean, so I think that's one of my main considerations. It's like what's the minimum information you need to use this immediately and effectively? And that's what I'll teach. And some things, maybe we circle back some things, maybe we stretch out, like the divination thing I did last year and six months and that was a lot.

Fabeku: We've dug into a ton, but I think that … and the other thing I'm always thinking about is like how do I teach things in a way that anybody with any magical ecology can make use of this? Right? I don't care if you're a Buddhist, if you're a Christian, if you're an atheist, if you're a Satanist, whatever, it doesn't matter. I want you to be able to take this and plug it into your magical ecology and use it.

Fabeku: It's not … because if you have to adopt mine in order to use it, then for me, I think I failed as a teacher. Right? I mean, outside of teaching traditional practices or whatever. But you that's a big thing. So for me, it's always a question of, what's actually essential to the practice and what's my own shit that I built around either preferences or magical aesthetics or whatever, that doesn't really matter to anybody other than me?

Fabeku: And have I stripped enough of that away so that anybody can take this thing and run with it? That's always a big consideration for me.

Aidan: Yeah, totally. That makes sense. There's a practice that I'm teaching in the class that I have coming up that I actually went out to the Salvation Army and bought all new pieces to put together because I could see people getting fixated on the aesthetic that I personally use, which is really not relevant to the practice.

Aidan: So it's like, “Okay, let's go see what I can pick up for five or 10 bucks that can assemble this structure so that it's not as linked to what's going on in my alter.” Because that's just my artistic sense and my aesthetic and what me and my spirits have come together on as a language that works. Right? And that's totally not necessary, but it's what people tend to get hooked on.

Andrew: Well, that's the Instagram era, right? You know what I mean? So it circles back to the originating the thing about the name of this group. Right?

Aidan: Absolutely.

Andrew: How do ensure you stack the skull?

Aidan: Stack the skulls.

Andrew: The higher they are, the [inaudible 00:26:36] you are. tack. Right? There's nothing wrong with that at all, but the aesthetics over there are not super relevant.

Aidan: Yeah. Not on a wider level. It's that thing that I talked about in six ways, right? That there's … I think that people, and I used to definitely have this, get super focused on this specific stuff, but the specific stuff is always super context and aesthetics fits in there. And what really is more relevant is what's the general thing that is not necessarily universally applicable but more universally applicable.

Aidan: And in the age where we've got pictures of everything, it definitely can get really hung up. You got to have this thing that looks just like that.

Andrew: Well, and just, because it looks good doesn't mean that it's alive. Right?

Aidan: For sure.

Andrew: Because there's the other piece.

Fabeku: Yes.

Andrew: Yes. I mean, I think that there are lots of things that I run across and not that I have to feel anything from everything, but I'm like, “Oh, it doesn't … I don't feel any feedback from this at all.” And maybe the other thing that's there just doesn't want anything to do with me.

Andrew: It's possible, but maybe it's just … there's a failure to make that connection. Right? Just something [crosstalk 00:28:00] because the work itself that would support that connection is not strong, but the emphasis on all those other things is.

Fabeku: Yeah. I think that's the thing. To me, the metric is, does this thing … can you feel it in your bones? Can you feel it in your animal body? If so, then who gives a fuck what it looks like? It doesn't matter if it would make a great Instagram photo. That to me, that's the wrong metric for shit like that. I mean, listen, I love the Instagram photos but in terms of magic, who cares? It's irrelevant.

Aidan: Totally. Exactly. And it's also funny because people get hung up I think. And again, I know that I did this when I started out, but you get hung up on things that are, again, specific. So my current shop is filled with halved pieces of fruit with two lights burning on it. I could make up this whole story about why this is the way to do this. And it's like, “This is just what's going on this week. I don't really know why.

Aidan: It's the thing that felt totally right.” I cut something in half and went, “Oh, man. That really needs candles on I,” and I could feel it and it works. And it's also the same thing. Yeah, I mean, there's so much weird shit in here right now because I think of who's hanging out for the class if it is really aesthetically wrong from that or even my normal thing.

Aidan: I've got all of this beautiful stuff and the monster energies and the red bulls and shit. It's like, “What the fuck?” Old candy canes that I stole from the gym after Christmas. But there's people who like those. I'm not going to buy them if I can have them.

Fabeku: I think people even do the same thing. When I was teaching the sigils course, it's one of the main reasons that I didn't take any pictures of the sigils that I drew because then suddenly people think, “Oh, well. That's what a sigil should look like you.” No, this is what they currently look like. Over the last 30 years, they looked a million different ways.

Aidan: [crosstalk 00:30:03] shit.

Fabeku: I mean, the first time, they looked exactly like the Pete Carroll sigils in his book. I think that's the thing and I get it and I think that people … I think it's so easy to fall into that subconscious even. It's not so much, “Let me copy Fabeku's sigil,” it's, “Let me copy Aidan's alter.” It's, “Oh, well.

Fabeku: This is somebody who knows what they're doing, and so this is what it should look like so let me try to make it look like that.” And then, great. So then your brain says, “Okay, good job. You drew a sigil that looks like a sigil,” and then it doesn't do shit because like you said, Andrew, it's not alive. It's a thing that looks like a thing, but it's not the thing.

Andrew: Or you end up in a cycle. One of the things that I've learned from teaching or been really clear about going into teaching, and I've learned how to make that happen is, I started in a school of thought that says, “Only the only the hammer from the top of Mt. Everest hardware store was acceptable.” Right? And by the way, only on the third full moon of the year and-

Aidan: On Monkey Island.

Andrew: Right, exactly. Not the usual Everest, the secret Everest. It's inside the hollow woods-

Aidan: The secret Everest inside Monkey Island.

Andrew: … which is inside the hollow woods. So you got to get in the hollow woods, you got to find the doppelganger, Himalaya Mountains and then you got to find the hardware store and you'd better bring their currency because they don't accept dollars. Whereas every town's got a hardware store. Right?

Andrew: And what you find there is great. It's totally acceptable and if you want or need something else, there's a point at which that becomes aesthetic in personal taste, which is great. And if it helps you get in the mood, that's fantastic. And if it helps you feel aligned or if a spirit you have … there are times where somebody taps on my shoulder and says, “Hey, I want that.”

Andrew: I bought … Marcus McCoy makes these copper harvesting knives. Right? And as soon as I saw one of those, one of my guides was just like, “That is exactly the knife that I want you to take when we go do stuff.” I'm like, “Perfect.” And then I'm like, “But not with that thing on it,” because there's like a triple spiral or whatever on it. So I was like, “All right, rushed markers right away.” I'm like, “Hey, can I get one of these?”

Andrew: “Of course.” But that's specific, right? And that's specific to that relationship. That is not universal. Right? And you may find that you do want or need something like that, but you may never need it or it may not fit your aesthetic. And that's awesome too. It's completely acceptable. Right?

Aidan: Totally.

Fabeku: For me, I love … and maybe this is part of the art stuff or not, maybe it's just a personality thing, but I love shit like that and I love the collection like that. And I love the fancy silver pens for the sigils. And so there's … I don't make any apology for that, but one of the best things I did maybe 10 years ago was essentially put all of that stuff away and say, “Okay.

Fabeku: I'm doing sigils on white paper with a blue ballpoint pen,” which I hate and never use. Or, “I'm doing candle magic with a bag of dollar candles from the dollar store,” or whatever. And part of that was to see, does this actually matter? I mean, it matters to me, but does this actually matter in any wider sense? And it doesn't. It really doesn't. That's the thing. What do you mean for sigil magic?

Fabeku: You need something to write within a piece of paper. That's all you need. That's it. If you want to get the fancy black paper and the pen, cool. Do it. But I think it's a trap when we get stuck into thinking, “I have to have this. I have to have this.” Because that to me, it just doesn't seem true.

Andrew: Yeah. I feel like that's where one of those pieces around, “You definitely don't have to have it.” And I also look to pursue my joy around it.

Fabeku: Yeah, absolutely.

Aidan: Absolutely on that.

Fabeku: Yes.

Andrew: I found these new pens at the art supply store. They're called preppy pens and they come in different sizes, but they're refillable with a cartridge and they're … I think I paid like $7 for it and I've bought a lot of other much more expensive fountain pens and whatever. And these ones, the feel of them, the flow of them, they come in different colors.

Andrew: The outsides are color-coded and they're just such a delight. And so every time I stop by the art store now, I buy another one because there's somewhere in my life where one of those doesn't live regularly. And I was just like, “Why am I drawing with this crappy pen when I can be drawing with this other nice one that I like?” And there's a pleasure in that.

Andrew: But again, that's so personal, right? That's not … it adds something to the magic if I'm doing magic, but it's also an active source of joy for me, which I think is also a super valid reason for things, especially if we don't say that that actually matters in the end on any real big scale.

Fabeku: Well, it's like for me. So as an example, I just made this batch of lunar talismans a couple of months ago and I mean, I went all out. I had fossil dugong ribs. I had literally a lunar media writer, all kinds of shit in there. I spent forever finding the stuff. And it's not that I had to. I mean, again, like you said, it adds something. I mean, there's clearly something added to these pieces because of what's in them.

Fabeku: But part of it is I look at it as a piece of art. It's like I'm putting the best stuff I can and there's enormous joy for me in grinding up a lunar media writer, fossil cave bear toe or whatever. But the reality is, could I have gotten a stone from the ocean and made a lunar talisman?

Fabeku: Sure. Of course. But I think it is that weird thing. I don't think it's good to say it doesn't matter because it does matter, but it's not essential. And to me, there's the-

Aidan: Right.

Fabeku: And I think the problem is in that people look at it and say, “Well, I can't make a lunar talisman unless I have a lunar media writer.” And that's bullshit. That's complete bullshit. I love it. I love putting those pieces together in a way that's artful and beautiful and whatever, but you don't have to do that.

Aidan: Right. Yeah. I think that's a big thing. Part of it comes out of I think … There's a whole kind of literature that says that this has to be done this way. Right? And we see this and not just magic, but it's extremely prevalent in magic. And that's very weird to me as somebody who came from these chaos, magic background. Even though I feel like I've, in many ways, moved away from that into something else, that's my own thing.

Aidan: That's not consciously unrelated to it, but I was born there. Was that process of, “Well, what does this do? What does this piece of work do? What are the elements that actually matter here?” And then realizing that, “Yeah, there's stuff that really triggers something in me that is optimization and stuff.” Like, “Yeah. There's particular … if I got the hit that I needed to ride the bike up into South Mountain to collect dirt from there for something, I'm going to go do that,” because that's legit.

Aidan: But it may not need to be dirt from there to do that work. That doesn't mean you got to come out here and go up to South Mountain, which is how a lot of stuff's written. And I think that it really has messed up a lot of folks because they do believe that if I can't have a beeswax candle to do this piece of work, then I can't do this piece of work.

Fabeku: I think that for me, I think that's probably the best saying that I got out of the chaos magic stuff. You know what I mean? When you're doing magic with silly putty and bones from chicken wings, you can't really get too precious about, “Yeah, this is essential for magic.” It's like, “Listen, really?” I mean, it's just … For me, that really was the best thing.

Fabeku: Because I think before that, I think I was fairly precious about it or I thought it had to be this or had to be that. And there was some things I just didn't have the money together. I didn't have the resources for whatever it was. And I thought, “Well, I just can't do that.” And then suddenly, chaos magic was like, “Well, actually, there's other ways you can do shit.” And for me, that was a huge thing. A huge thing.

Aidan: Absolutely. And I remember, I've had a lot from the talismanic stuff. I would get people … and it's lovely that somebody recognizes that the work that you do is potent. I would get folks from places in the world that what I charged for a piece of jewelry is like a year's worth, going like, “I really want to do this. How do I …” and I would be like, “Don't.”

Aidan: You're targeting a specific tree that is not necessary. It's just not necessary. And again, it's like, “Sure, if you've got the ability. I do this thing too. There's things that I have in here that I paid crazy money for because they really speak to me and I was in a position to do it.”

Andrew: Yeah.

Aidan: And sometimes, it was a stretch and sometimes that stretch was part of it, right? It's not like that's not a thing either. But again, it doesn't … One of the things that we know, again, like teaching the protection stuff for the class is it's all kitchen herbs. There's no … it's partially for that. It's like, “I don't know where you are.

Aidan: I've got people from different parts of the world. I'm not going to … I might suggest that you get some Aubrey Camino if you can because it works, but it's really cool.”

Andrew: Yeah, yeah. I think it's always fascinating, right, that kind of stuff. And I think that also becomes this matter of like, “What do you have? What can you connect with?” Right? And it's different depending on which practices, right? Like in the Aricia stuff, the specific plants are super specific, right?

Andrew: There's no negotiating that beyond a certain point. There's a little wiggle room, but there's not a ton of wiggle room. Right. It's just like-

Aidan: Totally.

Andrew: … “Okay, we're going to do this. Therefore, we need these things. And if you don't have them, I'm not exactly sure what we do,” right? But outside of specific traditions, there's always those things. And it also becomes this question of, what do you have a dynamic of living connection with? Right? I just got back in after struggling to find a source for them for a while, Rose of Jericho, which is one of my all-time favorites, right?

Andrew: And I had a Rose of Jericho at the store that I'd had almost the entire time that the store had been open, I think. And then it was very dynamic and a living connection and it had all sorts of things that I had given it over time and worked with it in a lot of ways and it just wasn't available and because getting stuff in Canada is complicated sometimes. And so when I finally found them, I'm like, “Great.”

Andrew: So now, not only is that are they available in the store, which is lovely, but even more so for me, I can now reconnect with that plant and start to have that process again through the direct connection.” But it's like that also comes out of years of interaction and perhaps some natural affinity in some way or another. Right? But does everybody else need to not do financial magic if they don't find a Rose of Jericho? Of course not. Right?

Aidan: Right.

Andrew: Like you said there, there's a billion other bits and pieces. Are they really cool? Well, they are really cool. But also-

Aidan: Totally.

Fabeku: Well, it's like … I've worked with Alice Wood for … I don't know, 15, 16 years. It's one of the plants I work with a ton and I've worked with it in all kinds of ways to the point that I've got this like grimoire of aloes wood magic. And my question is, “Well, if I give that grimoire to you, is it going to work?” Probably not. At least probably not in the same way because either you don't have a relationship with the plant or you don't have the same kind of relationship with the plant.

Fabeku: And to me, not better or worse, but it's just different. And to me, I assume that what the plant … and I think this is my baseline assumption for a lot of this shit is that what the plant has given me is about the dynamic that I have with that plant. Not that I'm channeling some universal grimoire of aloeswood magic that anybody. That doesn't make sense to me.

Fabeku: I don't think that's a real thing. And I again, I think … and that's why I haven't talked to … Some people have asked about it because I mentioned it in passing and I haven't talked a lot about it because I have no idea if it's going to work the same for anybody. And I use what is expensive and not always easy to get and whatever.

Fabeku: And I think it gives people the wrong impression that in order to do this, I need this plant or I need this. And I don't think that's true. My thing is find the relationship that you have that lets you do a similar thing that probably doesn't have shit to do with aloes would. Maybe it's Abra Camino, maybe it's Rose of Jericho, whatever it is.

Fabeku: And I wish more people would talk about their practices that way instead of, “Here's the universal gospel of aloes world.” It's like fuck off with that. That's not real.

Andrew: It's like how people talk about their issues, right? They come into the store sometimes and they're like, “I need Oshun candle because I need to attract some love of my life.” And I'm like, “Maybe.” But when we're … for initiated practitioners, and I think that for people who practice in a traditional way, the reality is although Orishas have a certain affinity to certain kinds of things, the reality is that if you're in good with shon go, you can fix your money, fix your home, you can fix your whatever.

Andrew: Right? The reality is this, at a certain point, it's like having a good friend whose skill is not helping you hang drywall, but they're going to come and help you heck drywall because they love you. And they're like, “Sure, dude. I'll do that. That's fine. We can do that.”

Andrew: These energies can work with us in a broad sense of a way, especially and probably only if we've taken that time to build a deep and lasting connection with them and probably that rest on some affinity that is hard to trace and makes it not necessarily universal. Right? For me, one of the local plants is Murdoch, right. And it's like, what do I need? Anything?

Andrew: I'm just like, “All right. Hey, Berta, you got a thing for this?” Like, “Yeah, just trim this little bit off the edge of the leaf and do blah, blah, blah with it and it's going to fix this [inaudible 00:45:40] great.” I'm like, “Oh, you know what? I could dig up the whole root,” whatever. And it's like, “But on the outside of the room, not the inside of the room.”

Andrew: It becomes a myriad of applications, which again, aren't necessarily universal or maybe they are, it's hard to say, but they don't seem universal. But they come out of that direct relational experience of it.

Fabeku: I wish that was a point that was talked about more in the occult circles, right? Because every day, you see posts, “What's the best term for love? What's the best term for magic? What's the best spirit for money?”It's like, “Fuck.” I mean, I get it, but to me, that's the wrong question. Anytime people ask that, my question back is, “Who do you have a relationship with?”

Fabeku: That's the answer to that. Not some random spirit or plant or stone or whatever that knows fuck all about you and what you're doing. Go to the spirits of the people you have relationships with. And I think … I don't know how this happened, but this falling into this trap of treating spirits, any kind of spirit as this one-hit wonder, right? This is a lover, this is a … it's just like, “Really? It doesn't make sense to me.”

Fabeku: And I just wonder how different people's magic would look both in terms of the practice and the results if this relationship piece were more front and center. If it wasn't this weird, utilitarian, one-note, “This spirit does this,” like, “[inaudible 00:47:10] is for love.” It's like, “Come on. That doesn't seem real.” But it seems like such a pervasive perspective on things.

Fabeku: And listen, I mean, I fell into the same shit for once. I'm not being critical of anything that I haven't been guilty of myself, but it just seems to be such a big point. It just isn't discussed enough.

Aidan: Yeah. I've been thinking about this in a particular context. I made a joke to Charlene Coop saying that there's a way that people treat the name spirits like Tinder. We're just going to look up and find somebody local that's interested in getting down. Right? But usually, they're not doing that to just get down.

Aidan: They're doing that because they want something deeper. Right? On the spirit side. I don't know what goes on the Tinder side, but I understand that's a misapplication of Tinder. And I think it's interesting-

Andrew: Every app. I think Tinder is a misapplication.

Aidan: Again, I'm out of those games largely. And one of the things that came up is then I had this … one of my trans things that happened a few days after that. I was thinking about that comment and I got this great vision and I was like, okay, so imagine that there's like … in North America, let's just say. In North America where the three of us are, but there's 100,000 potential partners for us, right, that would suit us, each of us.

Aidan: But what ends up happening is that we've got the names and the photo of like 150 of them and so everybody wants to figure out which of those 150 would be a good partner. And to me, the thing is so much more than this wide-open of going, “No, I want to connect to the currents around me and the allies around me and then I want to work with them.

Aidan: I want to develop those relationships through the things that I've learned work for me to do that.” And then why would I go outside of that to try and get something done? Maybe if I had to, if that was what I was guided to, but I'm certainly not going to go hunt for that. I'm much more likely to come in here and go, “Hey, Rutan candles.”

Fabeku: Oh, that was the one that-

Aidan: I'll buy you more energy drinks for this.

Andrew: Those are a lot of magical place course I taught. Right? Which is … and I'm going to be reteaching in the spring. It's that energy of like, “All right, either where do those entities that you're connected to show up in your environment or what your environment shows up for you. And how do you start to build that?” Right? And it's just such a different approach. Right?

Andrew: One of the things that I had to remind people taking that class, “Look, identify the plant. Great. Please make sure it's not secretly poisoned. Don't pick Poison Ivy by mistake and fall in love with it and take a bath in it, and then write angry emails. But also don't research it,” right? It's not about researching it. At some point … and just enough to make sure that you're safe and that you're not like, “Oh, yeah.

Andrew: These berries look delicious.” And then all of a sudden … but allow that to expand. Working to allow that expansion to happen, that's the actual work of becoming a better magician, right?

Aidan: Yes.

Andrew: It's not necessarily just about knowledge and knowledge is lovely. And corroboration feels great when you're like, “Oh, I really felt that this plant was good for this.” And then you Google it and 10 people say it's good for that. You're like, “Oh, it's great. I'm making a genuine connection.” It feels great. Right?

Andrew: And we may need some of that some of the time, but also just being open and being connected in that mysterious way. I think that's also really crucial to this process.

Fabeku: I totally agree. It's like when people ask me, “How do I get to know this plant? Or how do I get to know the stone?” That's the first thing I say, “Don't Google it. Don't look up what you know witchipedia says this.” It's unnecessary. Right? To me, if you want to get to know a stone, if you want to research something, research it's geology, research its mineralogy, but then sit with it.

Fabeku: Hang out with it just like you would a human being. Right? If I want to get to know Andrew, I'm not going to Google Andrew and read a bunch of ShowMe. I'm just going to … we're going to hang out. I'm going to ask you what you like. I'm going to pay attention to the music you listen to. I'm going to see what you eat. I'm going to ask you questions. I'm going to see how I feel when I'm around you. That's how you get to know shit.

Aidan: Yes.

Andrew: And I that is the key to Tinder's app. [crosstalk 00:52:08]? People are like, “How do you have success on this thing?” I'm like, “That,” right? If you meet somebody and you're actually interested in them other than just for something super transitory, actually do those things too. Right? Because people are like, “Oh, I don't know what to do.” I'm like, “Find it with that person. Be curious.” Right? I don't care if [inaudible 00:52:28].

Fabeku: No. I mean, at the end of the day, I agree. I think one of the best muscles to build as a magician is relationship building skills. That's it. You don't have to buy a million books. You don't have to take a million courses. You don't have to Google a bunch of shit. Just build a relationship with stones or plants or spirits the same way you would have people. It's the same shit. It's the same shit.

Aidan: And it's crazy because it's so common. All of this stuff is really common everywhere. And I saw this recently and I didn't respond to it, though I probably should have. Somebody asked like, “So how do you get in? Where can I learn about connecting to desert spirits?”

Aidan: It's like, “The only way that I really know is you get into that environment, whether this is … if you live near one, you can do that, but you can do this as kind of trancey stuff or daydreamy stuff of somehow connect to that space and to see what develops. See who you find. See who rises up and see what happens.” It's funny though, because I think … everybody knows I'm a total gym rat, but I see this all the time in the conversations about that.

Aidan: Somebody will see somebody dead-lifting a world record and go, “Their form is wrong.” And you go, “That guy is the strongest in that move in the world ever. How is his form wrong? It worked.” That was the goal. It's the goal. It has nothing to do with the thing you're talking about. His goal was to pick up 1,008 pounds and stand up with it. So by definition, he did it right. And I think that's good learning magic too all the time.

Fabeku: I think to me, the same idea … at least for me, the same idea applies in figuring out what to work with magically as it does hanging out with people. When I'm around people, I pay attention to how my animal body feels. Is there a pull? Is there … am I drawn to that person in whatever way? As a friend, it doesn't matter whatever it is. It's the same when I'm sitting with plants. I feel a ping toward this plant.

Fabeku: I don't know this plant, but there's a pull. So I want to know this plant more, this stone or this place or this river. And that to me is guided so much of my practice, and again, it's the same with people. If I spot somebody and there's a pull, then I'm curious about them. And I want to know more about them, whether it's a friend or a partner, whatever, it doesn't matter.

Fabeku: And me, that's a decidedly different thing than Googling which plants work money magic. Too me, it feels like we're coming at opposite angles. I mean, clearly, both can work, but for me, that pull is everything. And if I don't feel it, I don't give a fuck who told me this plant is great for money magic. If there was not that pull there, I'm not into it. I'll keep looking until I feel it.

Andrew: It brings me to something that I've been thinking about a lot lately and this might be the perfect place to bring it up. We've all been in magic for a long time. Right? So I sound like an old person because I'm an old person. Stuff comes and goes and people are like, “All of it, this, all of it, that.”

Andrew: And I've been watching a big surge of witchcraft in which the energy going on around the store, in culture, in my social medias and stuff like that. And whenever I see a big sort of movement into something, I'm always like, “That's really interesting. What is going on? What's motivating that? How is that serving people?”

Andrew: I'm genuinely curious about that, right? And supportive of it. But I also wonder, because I understand how these things work, what's going to happen next, right?

Aidan: Right.

Andrew: Because this idea that … and maybe I'm wrong, right? Maybe I'm just old and curmudgeonly, in which case, delete this episode, please. Let's never speak of it again. But often, what happens is there's this big sway into a thing and then a bunch of people find a deep and lasting affinity with it.

Andrew: And I'm really curious where those people are going to be in 10 or 15 years and what I'm going to get to learn from their journey through this stuff as they have a depth of practice under their belts in the same way that I learn now from those people who've already been doing these things for a stretch of time and have that.

Andrew: But I'm also curious about where those people who were looking for something and either they found it and moved on or they were looking for something else and it wasn't here and then they moved on. We were talking about some … Aidan said something earlier about, they're actually looking for something deeper. Right?

Andrew: And one of the things that I've been really noticing, which I find fascinating, is that I see a lot of people who've been all in on the witchy fronts over the last year or a couple of years starting to … their posts and maybe their magic … I don't know what they're doing privately, but certainly, their public stuff. It's starting to take on a much more explicitly therapeutic approach.

Andrew: There's a lot more people talking about trauma, dealing with trauma. There's a lot more people leaning … not abandoning the magic side of it, but leaning into stuff where the relationship that they're trying to sort it the most is ultimately that relationship with themselves. Right? And I mean, I think that's always smart. I think that it's a great thing to get into around doing magic in general.

Andrew: Certainly, it was a good chunk of my practice at one point to do therapy as a way of freeing myself in order to heal myself or to … I mean, not just be a better magician, but certainly, be better at magic and better in my relationships and all those things. But I'm curious if you've seen that or if you've seen other things, what do you think around that stuff? I know I just said a million things, but responses, please.

Aidan: I mean, I see that. I think that we are … For whatever reason, I mean, we've got this crazy thanks to social media and the news cycle and everything else. We have this much clearer view if you're able to step back from it. There's really multiple ways of being in this world that are not really congruent. Right? When I was growing up, there was a lot of messaging that in the end, everybody wants the same thing.

Aidan: Right? And that's not what I see now. No. We want very different things and we are not supportive of the other. And I think that this is that. I think it is the evolution of that trauma. And so I think that there's a lot of that out there and there's maybe just more … maybe it's gotten to the point where it's so overt that poor people are willing to do that work because I definitely get fed tons and tons of that work for my allies, both for me and then to share with people.

Aidan: It's an interesting thing as to the … Again, I think that the media cycling is really interesting around magic. I just think it's fascinating because there are those who totally freak out every time. And I always remember there's a line from Quadrophenia by the who, a very old record of the slide where he says, “It's sadly ecstatic that your heroes are news.”

Aidan: And I see that constantly around the witchcraft stuff in the last couple of years. People are like, “Yay, we got it on TV.” And, “Oh, my God. It's so bad.” It's like, yeah, but don't trip. It's just this is what goes on.

Andrew: Well, it was like … what was it? Last week or the week before that bullshit article, I think it was in the independence that some journalists wrote like, “Oh, I tried magic for a week and it doesn't work.” And everybody was so upset about it. And I get it. I mean, it was a bullshit article, but I mean, to me, it was just kind of like, “Who cares?” I mean, I get it. It was a shitty thing to publish, but does this do anything to magic?

Andrew: Does this do anything to people who actually give a fuck about it that are seriously interested in it? I mean, it was … I mean, she was wearing some witch's Halloween costume in the photo. What did you think the piece was going to be? It was bullshit from the beginning. And magic has been around way before this and it's going to exist way after this.

Andrew: And I don't know if it's just a function of, like you said, getting older or just having limited bandwidth, but I didn't really get the upset about it. I mean, which doesn't just say people shouldn't be upset, but for me, it was just like, “Okay, next.” I mean, it was nonsense. Who cares?

Andrew: Like Rumi says, right? The real work is done by somebody outside digging in the dirt, right? There's all these other bits and pieces and trappings and maybe they're important. Maybe they're a part of your journey. Maybe media representation for who you are is important for any number of reasons, but also, it's like that piece, a piece I shared this week from … I think we all shared it … from Jason Miller. Right?

Andrew: Where it's like, “Just do the work. It doesn't matter if you feel like it or don't feel like it. If you're committed to a relationship with the spirit or doing magic or …” I remember this when I used to do a LIBOR rash, right? The four times a day solar adoration that Crowley and his various descendants propose. Right? Speaking of finding the hammer at the top of the Himalayan Mountains.

Andrew: It's like trying to do something four times a day at the four quarters of the day, every day. Definitely, it's overly complicated. I'm not sure that it's actually necessary per day. It can be, but it's … yeah. But so many times, it just never felt like it. Right? And not to say that I did it 100% because I didn't. I really literally, over two years, maybe I did two months, 100% of that at the peak of it because it's really difficult.

Andrew: But the successes that I had, and that's sort of 75% or 80%, which is more like the average of what I was accomplishing came because I was like, “I don't feel like it but I going to do it, so let's do it.” And even at one point, I remember talking to a friend of mine about it and he was like, “Well, some traditions, you yell at your gods to try and call them down.”

Andrew: So maybe just … whatever. I just remember reciting it one day and just every second word was, “Fuck this, fuck that, fuck you. Fucking sick of being here and this whole thing,” and I broke through something and it got better. But, yeah. It's complicated the relationship to these things.

Fabeku: Yeah. And I think that to me is what's interesting about … and going back to … we were talking about with representation and news cycles and all of that. The conversation in the last handful of years about the whole witches of Instagram stuff and I have very mixed feelings about it and at the end of the day, who gives a fuck what my feelings are about it? But all of the conversations about how this has turned magic into some joke. It's like, “No, it hasn't. This hasn't done shit to magic.”

Andrew: Magic is always a good joke.

Aidan: Magic is the joke that gets you killed.

Andrew: That's the actual history of it, right?

Aidan: Yeah. So the fact that it's on TV and they aren't burning those people.

Andrew: Yeah. I mean, I think-

Aidan: That's positive references for sure.

Fabeku: My thing is it's like this has been around forever. And if the witches of Instagram thing, if 5% of the people that fall into that end up being solid practitioners, I think that's fucking rad. And I don't really give a shit about the other 95%. It doesn't feel like my problem to care about. I think magic will filter those people out over time. And I guess … I don't know. I mean, again, I get it.

Fabeku: Because I do think … I mean, like we talked about in the beginning, I think it's problematic. It gives people the sense that magic has to be this photogenic, heavily filtered, photograph of whatever. And that's nonsense. But I don't know. I guess I just feel like magic is bigger than that and I don't really sweat shit like that. And even if I find it personally annoying, which I do, but-

Andrew: I feel like it's … sometimes I think it's helpful to have the same conversation in different context. Right? So when I was 16, I tried to be in Goth for a week, seven days. That was as long as I lasted. And I realized … I tried to do it because I hung out with all these Goths, right? I was like, “Oh, well. This is fun and I could dye a hair black and put it up like Robert Smith and whatever.”

Andrew: It's pretty amusing. Maybe I'll show some pictures sometime. But what I realized was, “No, no, no, no. I should actually have a Mohawk and I'm way more punk rock than I'm Goth.” And it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with that week of trying a day or two, right? I tried it for a week and I learned something very important, “Hey, this isn't for me. I'm just going to keep rolling.”

Andrew: And I think that, like all of us, right? I started … people today might call it grimoire focus, but certainly like traditional ceremonial magic and Crowley and all that stuff. And I moved into other things and moved into other things and that's fantastic, right? Because that's the way it goes. That is if you happen to find a thing that you're in lifelong practice, lovely.

Andrew: If you don't find what you're looking for or hopefully, maybe more to the point, it grows and evolves as you've grown and evolved as a person, well, then just keep evolving. It doesn't matter. There's no shame in any of that.

Fabeku: Yeah.

Aidan: Yeah. I think too, it's interesting because I have to remember how differently wired people are, right? Because this is one of the things that has always blown my mind around the magical world and this is primarily around the wick end of things is where I've seen it. And this is not to bash on that at all. It's just not my thing.

Aidan: I have always been incredibly confused at the, “Let's get whatever our angle is represented accurately according to some specific definition so that it's acceptable to people.” And you go, “This doesn't work anywhere.” Yeah. Right? This hasn't worked for … Yes. You could end up at the big table of religions. It doesn't even work in there.” Look at America now and how acceptable Muslim religion is right now.

Aidan: Right? So why is this a target? I've never got it. Because to me, it's so individual. It's like what is your … and it goes back to that thing. What is your relationship to this process, to these powers, to these entities or to these deities? If you do deity work, that's what's irrelevant. Everything else is out of your control anyway. You might … yeah. Go ahead.

Andrew: Says the man who lives in a small house with a bunch of animals at the edge of America. Right?

Fabeku: That's true.

Andrew: I mean, I think I wonder where you're more community and socially minded and less … I don't know if hermetic, Kermit-like is the right word, but a range of practice if that would change how you felt about it.

Aidan: It's interesting because I spent a lot of time living in cities and probably the most overt I've ever been in was living in San Francisco. But this was also a different time and it is one of the downsides of the social media thing that I definitely see is in the 80s and the earliest 90s really before pictures happened on the internet, freaky concept for some people that are not as old as we are, it was not a thing.

Aidan: I hung out with people who were hermetic magicians who were Elamites, who were various Orisha angle's Santeria practitioners, Wiccans, what we would now consider traditional witchcraft, which basically meant that they really liked Paul Husan rather than Gardiner or whatever. And there was no real need to overly categorize that it was way more … No, you practice something that means something to you.

Aidan: We should have coffee. I would like to see more of that than what we see. But even in that context, it's like, “Man, the ceremonial people have always despised my approaches.” And that just became funny. It's like, “Yeah, well, we're not doing the same thing. That's evident. So you don't have to like it. I only have to like it.”

Andrew: Sure. For sure.

Fabeku: Yeah. I wonder how much of that's a function of the punk scene on all of this, right? Because I've been the same … I don't give a fuck. I do, “What works for you doesn't have to look like what it looks like for me. And if you're a cool person, I'm cool to hang out. I don't give a fuck if you work with angels or Satan or Jesus or Buddha or not. I don't care.”

Fabeku: And I guess I've never felt that push to make sure all of our shit looks the same. It's never been something that matters to me. And it also has really never mattered to me if you understand why my shit looks this way. It seems irrelevant in some ways. Yeah. But I get that for a lot of people, it's not.

Fabeku: That seems like a really important thing and the differences seem threatening or confusing or whatever. And that's just never something that's registered with me. My brain doesn't work that way, I don't think.

Aidan: Yeah. And I think you've got something there too about the punk thing for me at least, because there weren't enough punks to just hang out with punks when I was coming up, though my mom flipped out and made me remove one of them. I remember getting both of my ears pierced at like 14, which was just not done where we were. That clearly was not cool.

Aidan: Because then, how do you determine which queer makes you queer? Right? But so we hung out with everybody that was a little freaky, which was a really weird population. Like at my high school, the first one … Fabeku and I had a briefly talk about that.

Aidan: The first high school that I went to, that freak contingent was the hippie kids, a couple of Goth kids, the drama club with a small contingent of knife fighting behind the school low riders, a few metal heads and a few … this kid, Clint, who did escape from Korea, the wrong side of Korea. So yeah. It was never. It's just like, “Are you cool to me?” Right? That's all I care about.

Aidan: And that same thing, that was my initial approach to magic and there was a point where that switched where people got really heated. Again, there were people that told me I was going to hell for doing LIBOR restaurant or whatever when I was in the OTO, but I never just could take any of that seriously.

Andrew: If only it was so easy to get to hell.

Aidan: We could have skipped the whole Monkey Island thing.

Fabeku: Right? I just could raid the library and come back to take a look at that book. It's got teeth. Let's take it.

Aidan: Exactly.

Fabeku: Yeah. And I think for me … and it was the same way at my school. I mean, there was literally four or five punk kids were sort of Goth punk hybrid or something. But it was just all the weirdos hanging out. And for me, I love that. I mean, it expanded my artistic horizons. It expanded my music. It expanded my sense of people.

Fabeku: And I guess I've always felt that way largely about magic stuff. I mean, even shit that I'm not really interested in. It's been interesting to run into people that are just rolling on entirely different tracks. And so yeah, I don't know. This idea that we all need to be on the same page and then I'm pretending that my track is better than your track, it's the silliest shit.

Fabeku: I just don't get it. Yeah. I can't make sense of that in my head. And it doesn't seem to be true at all in practice. I mean it just seems to be bullshit.

Andrew: Well. Maybe this is a good spot to wrap up today's conversation by saying, “Hey, folks. Go follow where it leads you. Go get inspired about what you're inspired about. And reach share because we're freaking curious about it, even if we're never going to do the same thing because it's just wonderful,” right?

Fabeku: Yeah.

Andrew: For sure.

Aidan: Exactly. All roads lead to Monkey Island.

Andrew: All roads lead to Monkey Island. And if you find-

Aidan: And if you're interested in-

Andrew: … please let us know.

Fabeku: So let us know.

Andrew: [crosstalk 01:15:37] submarine. All right. Aidan, where are you hanging at online these days? Where should people come and connect with you?

Aidan: Aidanwalker.com and then all the various social media stuff; Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I can be found. And if you happen to find this before the 31st at midnight, I'm teaching a class starting the 2nd of February. So registration is open up till the 31st of January midnight.

Andrew: Beautiful. Fabeku?

Fabeku: Fabeku.com and Facebook. That's it.

Andrew: Perfect. And I am @hermitslamp everywhere, or thehermitslamp.com and Instagram being in my point of view, despite all our commentary today at the pinnacle of social media existence. So definitely, come and check me out there. All right, folks. Thanks for taking the time today. I really appreciate it as always.

Fabeku: Thank you.

Aidan: Thank you.

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