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So, welcome to The Hermit’s Lamp podcast. I am here today with Paige Zaferiou, and she is a tarot reader, and all around magical being, and I thought it was time for us to have some conversations so that people could get to know her and see what she’s about. So, for people who don’t know you, Paige, who are you? What are you up to? What’s going on over there?
PAIGE: Hi, Andrew! Yeah, thank you so much for having me! First of all, it’s such a pleasure to be here on your esteemed podcast. My whole dealio, I guess, is I’m a so-called eclectic shamanic artist, which is a bunch of words that means I use a variety of different media, very eclectic media, to do a variety of things. I am a tarot reader, and an astrologer, and a ritualist, and spirit-initiated shaman, as well as a fine artist. I do watercolors, book binding artist books, tarot/oracle decks, and other visual media, and all of it really is united by my very Aries enthusiasm. That’s really my jam. I just love being here. I’m so happy to be an incarnated being right now. What a time to be alive!
ANDREW: Definitely. What a time to be alive, huh? [laughs]
PAIGE: Mmmhmm, mmmhmmm. [laughs]
ANDREW: So, when I hear you talk about what all the things that you’re up to…
ANDREW: I feel like hey, you and I have this in common, right, an artist and ritualist and many of those things, maybe not the astrologer part, I don’t feel—that’s more of an amateur thing for me than a more serious thing, but, how do you sort of hold that together, you know?
PAIGE: Oh, that’s a good question! Well, I guess I’ll start by saying that, for the context in my life: I am someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD, from a very young age, maybe an unusually young age. When I was about seven years old, I was recruited for a medical study at Mass General Hospital on girls with ADHD, and I was part of that medical study for 13 years, and so the context for my life has always been, one who is able to hold many things in the sort of container of my mind, practice, and daily life with, if not ease, a sort of natural—
PAIGE: —just sort of that just is how it is. There’s always been a lot going on in my life, and the juggling act has been something that I guess you could apply the old saying of it’s about the journey, not the destination?
PAIGE: There is a certain enjoyment I get from juggling all the things that I do and all the different pieces, and part of that joy is in pattern recognition, is in looking for the patterns between things that might seem to be very different, but they have a sort of underlying, unifying pattern of some kind, and finding out what that is has been part of the joy for me—even if it’s not readily apparent and even if I still don’t quite have all the answers for what that might be, it’s something I enjoy very much, that mystical constant searching, for WHY do I do the things I do, what is it about this that draws me, why am I called in this direction, and surrendering myself to the joy of the journey, and the joy of seeking those answers. Which is definitely a big part of being a shaman as well, and the shamanic technology is about the journey is the experience, the journey is the answer, the question is the answer, being able to hold all those things at one time.
ANDREW: Yeah, I dig it. I feel like for me, the sort of diversity of what I do is more, I mean I think of it as, there are just times where applying myself in different ways makes more sense, you know?
ANDREW: You know, it’s like, what does this person need? Well, they need some art made, and the art will help them get into that space, you know, and for me, it’s kind of this sort of constant search, not so much like in terms of a journey, although I mean it’s obviously a journey, but more so in the sense of a constant search for better ways to articulate and express myself.
ANDREW: You know, and I feel like, it’s about finding those spaces where I’m present and able to be present and share from that place, whether that’s cards or art or, you know, any of the other kinds of things that I get into, so.
PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely!
ANDREW: So, how… you said “spirit-led shamanism.” How did that come about? Like, where was the start of that for you?
PAIGE: Oh, my gosh! I would say the real start of that was when I was about 25, maybe, I was in my, you know, early, mid-twenties, I was really starting to deepen my relationship to the tarot, and it all started when I got this tarot deck, the Wildwood Tarot, that you are probably familiar with. And it’s very Druidic, a kind of shamanic deck, and it started drawing me in towards the path of shamanism, and I really felt called to explore that more, and begin to educate myself and basically called up my parents and said, you know, “Mom, Dad, I think I want to be a shaman,” and they said, “Oh, that’s really funny! You were baptized by a shaman woman when you were a baby!”
PAIGE: And, oh!
ANDREW: Imagine that!
PAIGE: So, I began to explore more deeply and then after a couple of years, in early 2015, I experienced shaman sickness, very suddenly, very frighteningly, the unexplained illness that mimics physical death…
PAIGE: …under the tutelage of an initiatory helping spirit who had been in my life for about a year, year and a half, really, really strongly, and it all suddenly came together, and the shaman sickness has been coming kind of in waves, deepening. Every year or so, I’ll have another bout. I just actually, very recently, experienced another level of shaman sickness, and so, when I say spirit-led initiation, that’s what I mean, I have helping spirits who are not physical, human people, but on the spiritual level who are guiding me through these initiatory experiences, teaching me some more shamanic technology, helping me encounter the different cases, the different problems that will come across my path for me to really engage with on the shamanic level, and… So there wasn’t, other than the woman who baptized me when I was a baby, there really wasn’t an incarnated human person guiding me on this path other than the teachers and authors who… Works that I’ve read, whose writings I’ve engaged with, whose teachings I’ve engaged with. It’s never been a one to one physical mentorship on this path so far, with the exception of the other shamans I’ve encountered, who are fairly few and far between, the shamans who’ve encountered shaman sickness thrust upon them unexpectedly…
PAIGE: …and gone through that journey as well.
ANDREW: How did, how did you, how did you know that it was shaman sickness? Like what differentiated that?
PAIGE: One of the, I don’t know if this is a copout answer, but I just sort of knew, on one level, but it was the first level, I just sort of knew, this is something not entirely physical, there’s something really deep happening here, and part of how I knew were, there were the clues that later, when I encountered other shamans who’d experienced the same thing, we were able to compare notes and say, “okay, okay, now I see what’s really happening here!” Some of those signs included increased encounters with spirits of the dead…
PAIGE: …very intense encounters with spirits of the dead, symptoms of spiritual attack, the presence of the initiatory helping spirit, and some of the plant helping spirits associated with that spirit. The complete unexplained nature of the illness, there was no—each time it’s happened there’s been really no traceable source, it just sort of happened.
PAIGE: And then the, all the messages, signs, and omens that I was receiving during the periods around that time that made it clear, like, you’re going through an initiatory experience here, and it wasn’t all nicely neatly revealed at one time, like “Here’s what’s happening, here’s why, here’s who we are, it’s part of your team, like enjoy this nice, clarified experience!” [laughs]
ANDREW: [laughs] “Here’s your access card to the bat cave,” you know?
PAIGE: [laughing] Right!
ANDREW: And “you’re now on the team,” right?
PAIGE: “Here’s your welcome package! Read through your pamphlets!” Wouldn’t that be nice? But, yeah, so it kind of unfolded over the last couple of years, I really was able to retroactively contextualize it and affirm that which at the time I just sort of knew to be what was happening.
ANDREW: I think it’s always interesting how different ways of knowing fit into these kinds of journeys, you know, there’s—
ANDREW: —there’s the thing that we feel at the time, and then there’s the sort of deeper moments of clarity that come later—
ANDREW: —that, then as you say, sort of trickle backwards, you know?
ANDREW: And, you know, like when I got initiated in the Orisha tradition, one of the things that they talked about was the fact that these spirits had been with me since childhood, you know, guiding me and looking out for me, and, you know, it’s like, I mean I grew up in small town Ontario—
ANDREW: It’s not something that I expected, you know? And yet I knew that the influence of spirit was there for a long time, so.
PAIGE: Yeah, exactly.
ANDREW: Yeah, it’s always a challenge, you know, because I run a store, and because it’s open, you know, I deal with anybody off the street a lot, people often arrive with such, like, concrete ideas of what’s going on?
ANDREW: And I’m almost like, whoa, slow down! Slow, let’s find out, let’s look, let’s see what it is now, maybe so, right? And then let’s explore and verify and deepen that understanding, and, you know, and then sort of, and then, and then we’ll get to that moment that you’re talking about where it starts to congeal until you can see what the actual story is.
PAIGE: Definitely, there’s almost like a detective kind of element to it where you, you’re gathering your evidence, you’re observing, but you’re trying not to judge and just be like, okay, I’m just going to be with what this is, what is this?
PAIGE: And what is my, what are my extra senses telling me about this that I might not be able to verify yet, with actual evidence, but I’m just going to be with that and see how it plays out over time.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Yeah, exactly.
ANDREW: So, how does the art fit into it for you?
PAIGE: Ohhhhh, the art. That’s something as well as the spirit that’s just always been there, but it’s been a little bit more clearly defined through the years, because it’s a little bit more—it’s easier to kind of contextualize art, and I come from a family of artists. I don’t necessarily come from a family of shamans, so I always had the artistic context for my life that enabled me to really dig into that and to have that as this support and this means of exploring my experience. Art was always something you could turn to, to dig into that, and it took me until college to find really my medium and my happy place.
PAIGE: I was extremely fortunate. I studied at the University of Massachusetts, in my home state, and it just so happened that one of the professors there was a renowned watercolor artist named Richard Yarde, who has since passed, rest in peace. He was an absolute master of the craft, and really taught me a lot about the medium and created a space for me to really say wow, this is what this is for me, and it was just like that with the tarot. Tarot was not my first divination tool, the I Ching was my first divination tool.
PAIGE: My mother taught me to throw the I Ching as a teenager, but when I encountered the tarot, as a fine artist, I was like, oh, man, this is it! This is the stuff, right here!
ANDREW: Yeah, yeah!
PAIGE: Words and pictures and symbols? Sign me up!
ANDREW: I’m down!
PAIGE: Mmm! So down!
PAIGE: [laughs] And then realizing that I’d been painting like a watercolorist all those years, but I didn’t have the skills with the medium, ‘cause it’s a very difficult medium.
PAIGE: Notoriously so, but, with the confidence of a great master behind me, to explore that, get to know that, and then take it from there, kind of, so, watercolor has always been my primary medium, since then, and—when you were talking earlier about all the different things that you do, and the different ways we can kind of understand that for ourselves, the first thing I thought of was fine art, was how, even though you might have your medium that you work in, and your type of work you do, I tend to be a portrait artist, I tend to be a fairly figurative illustrative artist, but I get a lot of influence from other disparate art branches, I guess, and artists who’ve gone before, and engaging with other artists as ancestors of spirit has been one of the things that’s really bridged the gap for me between the visual arts and the spiritual arts, the sacred arts. Recently, here in Salem, there’s an exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum on Georgia O’Keefe…
PAIGE: …for example, and it’s a very unique exhibit. It looks at her as a sort of icon of modern style, is the phrase they’re using, so it’s not just her art but also photographs of her, also her clothes that she made, her shoes that she wore, her jewelry that she wore, and piecing together this narrative of the unified, not only the art she was making but the way she lived her life all cohesing together in this—
PAIGE: —in this beautiful tapestry of existence that really spoke to me as both a visual artist and a spiritual artist, if that makes sense.
ANDREW: It does! I mean, I think that, you know, this sort of notion of, I mean, my friend Fabeku would call it lineage, right?
PAIGE: Yes, yes!
ANDREW: And like, I, I think of, I don’t think of a lot of artists as part of my lineage, but I like really strongly identify with both sort of Dali and Andy Warhol as sort of—
PAIGE: Oh, yeah…
ANDREW: —profound influences, you know, and I find that I turn to that at different times to sort of reconnect with what does it mean to be an artist? you know, and sometimes, in some cases, what does it mean to be sort of like a wild artist, or you know, this sort of out there on the edges of, like, where art and life and context and style and all of these things coalesce, right?
ANDREW: And they all have symbolic power that could be accessed in one way or another, you know?
ANDREW: You know, and I think that there are those artists that really bring that forward in a way, that makes a lot of sense for me, and it reminds me to sort of allow that to continue to unfold in my own life, you know?
PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely!
ANDREW: Yeah. I always find it interesting how art, and artists find their way, you know? I started out, I went to, I used to paint figuratively, and then I went to art school and did a lot of postmodern sculpture—
ANDREW: —and then I was basically like, screw all that business, I HATE it.
ANDREW: And then I didn’t make art for a long time.
ANDREW: And then I got back into painting, with like wash and stuff, and going back to, you know, very figurative stuff, and then, starting maybe about five years ago, I realized as I was like looking for like, less and less hairs on my brush so I could make finer and finer details, I was like, I want to change this direction up, I want to shake it up, and so I started moving into a much more open and exploratory kind of way, and you know, so, I made some art for a show that’s opening in Elora, in Ontario next week, on the tarot card The Lovers—
ANDREW: You know it’s by Shelley Carter, so, who did the Elora Tarot deck, and is a wonderful tarot person, and artist, and previous guest of the show, and when I showed the work to her and a few other people, they reminded them of like Basquiat matte, so, it’s just like a long journey from, you know, sort of figurativeness to this very sort of loose and colorful and intense and accidental work that you know is really fun. And I’ve gone, I’ve also gone digital…
ANDREW: …so I make all my work on my iPad, because I found that having kids made this sort of convenient excuse, I can never get to making art, I’m like, I have an iPad, I can get a stylus, I can do something, you know?
ANDREW: So. But, yeah. So that’s definitely an area where the art is the journey for me in some ways. That’s where my journey happens, because it’s definitely, it’s rarely a thing that I sit down and think about what it’s gonna be, I just sit down and start working, and then I allow stuff to emerge, so.
PAIGE: Oh, that’s lovely. Mmmhmm. I’m fascinated by the different ways that artists make art.
ANDREW: Yeah, for sure.
PAIGE: Endless permutations.
PAIGE: Mmmhmm. I’ve recently, just very recently, relocated to Salem, and one of the first things I did upon moving in was to establish a weekly art night with some local friends, none of whom are very serious visual artists, but, so, therefore watching them work has really shaken things up for me…
PAIGE: …has been something wonderful and seeing how they go about their art-making with no formal training, with no expectations for themselves, with like a self-styled fine artist, they’re just having fun and making marks on paper and that’s been a nice shake-up for me.
ANDREW: Yeah. Yeah, I think it’s always, it’s really interesting to sort of have those opportunities to see different ways of working and different people’s approaches and stuff.
ANDREW: You know, I made a tarot deck last year, which is coming out later this year, so a lot of that in the end became very like, shut up, sit down, and make art. [laughs] To get ‘em done! Twenty-two cards to go, 18 cards to go, you don’t feel like it, too bad, make the art! You know?
PAIGE: [laughing] Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: And it’s the thing that I used to think would really kind of quash my inspiration or creativity, but you know, for me, showing up means everything else that wants to come out will show up too, you know, and so…
ANDREW: …and I think that, that, that, it’s something that I didn’t really understand previously, you know? Just sort of pushed through that process really brought that out in a way that has permanently I think changed my relationship to making stuff, so.
PAIGE: Mmm, that’s beautiful! Yeah…What I’ve been finding lately is in order to get myself pysched up for the big project I’m working on whenever I go to the studio, ‘cause this is a big year for me in working on my own tarot decks as well, to take that pressure off myself a little bit I’ll start the day by working on some kind of fun, quote unquote “throwaway” project.
PAIGE: Some text art, or some pop culture-based art, or something just for me, or a gift for a friend, and just kind of like working those muscles out, you know.
PAIGE: And it’s been wonderful fun and seeing the little things that came out as a result of my warm-up exercises, it’s some of my favorite stuff I’ve ever made!
PAIGE: Funny that happens, sometimes.
ANDREW: Exactly, exactly. I think that, you know, we need to take things seriously, but we need to like, not be serious about them while we’re taking them seriously! [laughs]
PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly!!!
ANDREW: For sure. So, where were you before you moved to Salem?
PAIGE: Let’s see, I moved around a bit. Right before Salem, I was in Brooklyn…
PAIGE: …for a year, and before that I was out, I spent nine months as a hermit in the woods of far western Massachusetts, just hermiting, completely out, living all, completely alone, making art, figuring some stuff out, and before that I was in San Francisco for about five years, and had the most wonderful time. That’s where my first shaman sickness happened, that’s where I started my business, that’s where a lot of really important moving forward stuff happened for me, and as well, that’s where art started to happen for me again. I stopped making art for a little bit after I graduated from school, I was living in England, and having one of those periods… I’ve noticed in my life, my art will go through these phases where I’ll be just sort of absorbing, I’ll be in a place, like for me England was so full of experience, I didn’t have time to make art, I was too busy soaking it in, and then I left England, moved to California, and started making art about everything that I had just seen and done.
ANDREW: Right. Yeah.
PAIGE: And, it didn’t hurt that in the city I was living with my elderly artist aunt, who is one of the most prolific artists I’ve ever met, and she’s, you know, a full-time artist…
PAIGE: …the amount of work she made was just phenomenal, and the amount of exploration she was willing to do was phenomenal. So, getting in there with her and really cranking out work, and seeing what it looked like to really let yourself fail, at art, every day, was really inspirational, and really helped get my productivity levels up to the point where I was able to start my business and have things happening every day, and oh, it was such a journey, such a good time.
ANDREW: [laughing] Yeah, it can’t always be good, right, sometimes it’s just like, ah, that was horrible, you know?
PAIGE: [laughing] Mmmhmm.
ANDREW: And sometimes, and sometimes like, I remember when I was creating my first deck, which was just a set of majors, and I was trying to do the High Priestess, and I was like… It was the one, like I think I did like 20 iterations of it before I finally realized what actually needed to go on, and I was like, oh, okay, that’s the answer, I’m gonna now, now I can do it. And then once I started, something emerged, and it really was like a letting go, you know?
ANDREW: For me, I was doing… The premise of my first deck is what happens just before what we’re accustomed to seeing, and how does that influence and help us understand the card, right?
PAIGE: Oh, I love that.
ANDREW: Why did the Fool leave his house, right? Why did the Emperor, what did—what does the Emperor do before they get on the throne, right? And what was the High Priestess doing before, you know, she sat there, you know, in contemplation, right? And, and I was, I kept trying to draw her face, and in the end, what I realized was that the thing that the High Priestess does, even though it’s already such an inward card, that she’s even more inward before that, you know, and so I ended up drawing the back of her facing her altar, and praying, and sitting, and contemplating spirit directly, right? It was just like, it was one of those things, and I was like, what does her face look like, what’s her expression, why is she doing what she’s doing, right? And then in the end it was like, I don’t know, I have no idea what her face looks like.
ANDREW: You know? And it was that kind of giving that up that allowed it to unfold, to become what I thought was really great in the end, so.
PAIGE: Mmmhmm. That right there, that’s it, that’s the, that’s one of, for me, the intersection between the fine art and the shamanism, really came to life, was, the shamanism allowed me to listen even more closely to the art that wanted to come out and not to impose my will as Creator, but to just let it come through me, and just to listen, and to treat it as a living spirit thing that wants to get physical form. It started to flow so much better, with my own tarot decks that I’m working on. Now it’s not me Trying To Come Up with the Best Idea, I’m just letting it tell me what it is.
ANDREW: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Let me get my smarts on and I’ll make something really great, right?
PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly!
ANDREW: I look back at, there’s an abandoned project that might get resurrected in a new form, but I started this sort of gnostic kabbalistic esoteric deck and it’s not bad, like there’s nothing wrong with it, but it wasn’t entirely alive either…
ANDREW: Because it was very, very structured and intellectual, you know, and—
ANDREW: And there are other decks, I mean, I think the Toth deck, and like the Hermetic Tarot and stuff, they walk that line where they’re still alive, and they have those layers of symbolism, but when I was working on this deck it never got there, right? It was very mathematical, in its way, you know, and that kind of didn’t work out very well in the longer run of that arc, so, yeah, we’ll see.
I’m curious how moving around has impacted your shamanic stuff, you know? Are you a shaman of place, or do the spirits just follow you wherever you go and adapt?
PAIGE: I’d say a little bit of both. The spirits of the land are very much an important part of my practice and my experience, and it’s like… This is probably an imperfect metaphor, but it’s a little bit like being non-monogamous in romantic relationships, which is my natural bent anyway, and so I have these deep important relationships with very different spirits of land, with the U.K., with San Francisco, with New England where I’m from and I’m living again, and, to have come back to New England, after having been to all these other places and really developed this intense deep relationship with those spirits of land has been wonderful.
The northern shore of Massachusetts is a very unusual place. I don’t know exactly why, but it is, and everyone seems to agree, everyone who’s been here, lived here, is like yup, this is weird, this place is weird, there’s a lot of weirdos here, we’re uniquely weird, but there’s something about having left and come back with more shamanic knowledge that is ELECTRIC, and I’m still figuring that out, but I love all the spirits of land, and I maintain my identity as a traveler very strongly, so that I’m keeping the dialogue open between myself and those lands, and a big part of my regular practice involves obviously grounding here in the land and grounding everything that I’m doing, all the offerings that I make, all the engagements I have, are tapped into the land here and anchored in the land here, or the land wherever I am, and that’s always the first thing I do, move to a new place, ground and anchor in that land, get to know what it feels like under the surface—
PAIGE: —and I carry them with me in this way that’s, I don’t want to quite compare it to the Borg from Star Trek, but it’s this sort of absorption— [laughing]
PAIGE: —into myself and into my practice that just feels right, and, it’s like having friends all over the world, you know, I maintain those relationships even though it’s long distance sometimes, I visit them when I can, I still communicate with them since I’m still here on Planet Earth and all those places are here on Planet Earth, I can still kind of long distance communicate, like “hey, what’s up, California? how you doing? I’m good. How are you? Fine!” [laughs]
PAIGE: And seeding those relationships by physically mailing things there sometimes, you know, things to my people who are there, and it feels in a weird way like being a kind of secret agent, or something.
PAIGE: I’m not sure quite why, but I have that feeling of like, yeah, you know, I’ve got my, my agents in all the different places, and we’re checking in, like, “How’s the land doing? Oh, is it good? Oh, oh, yeah, yeah, I’ll do some work for you long d-, okay, cool, cool, cool, yeah, we’ll work on it, it’s all happening, it’s good, yeah!” and, I get a lot of loving flac from my mother about this.
ANDREW: [laughing] Okay!
PAIGE: She likes to tease me about being what she calls a “serial obsessive.” You know, you get hyper-fixated on an interest and you just sort of absorb everything you can from it, you absorb it into your very being, and then you kind of like internalize the vitality of that place, that thing, whatever it is, and then you move on, you know like, all right, I absorbed San Francisco, next, next stop New York! What [garbled]…
ANDREW: Ba ba ba ba! All of Brooklyn!
ANDREW: So that you’re like, it’s like a spiritual Godzilla, just show up, eat the area, be like, ah, I got it, I’m ready, next! [laughing]
PAIGE: [laughing] Yeah.
ANDREW: That’s fun. Yeah, I often, like, check in with the land, wherever I end up, you know?
ANDREW: I mean, not always, it depends on where I am and what I’m doing. Like I was away this last weekend, but we were just doing so much structured stuff that I was like, I don’t have the time to sleep enough, let alone like, connect to what’s going on, but when I’m in other places, you know, definitely, you know, and like, when I was in China last year, ‘cause one of the first things I did the first night I arrived was like, I’m like, I feel so disorientated, I just need to, like, spend some time connecting with the earth here so I can be here and then do what I need to do for the time that I’m around and working and stuff, so, you know, yeah.
PAIGE: Oh yeah.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. I think it’s interesting how spirits can kind of come and go, you know? Or like step forward and step back, you know?
PAIGE: Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely! And I’ve noticed the same thing happens with tarot decks. I work with a lot of different decks; I have a huge stack of them right over here on the floor and they will step forward or step back as needed. Sometimes Tarot of the Cat People just wants to be all up in my face, and that’s the only deck I’ll read with for weeks or months, and then they’ll be like, all right, I’ve said what I needed to say right now, move on, and it will step back and it will sort of stop, you know, working for me kind of, like, okay, all right, next, and another deck will step forward and be like, now I want to work with you right now. Or there’ll be two of them vying for attention at the same time. And it’s the same with the rest of my spirits. They’ll step forward, step back.
ANDREW: Do you feel the spirits of the cards, have a spirit?
PAIGE: Oh absolutely, yeah. I feel that each card has a spirit and that each deck has its own spirit, definitely, mmmhmm. And they’re like people, as well, you know, sometimes you meet people and you instantly click and it’s amazing, and sometimes you meet people and you’re like, I just do not get you. I can’t read you, I don’t know what you’re about, you are a mystery to me. And there are decks like that for me. I’ll look at them and be like, mmm, do not know what you’re sayin’. Can’t understand a word of what you’re trying to say.
ANDREW: Yeah, I feel, I run into people who have that way of, or that experience, and it’s never really been my experience, so I’m always very curious about it, because for me, I have one spirit that helps me with reading the cards…
ANDREW: And, they’ve been around for the whole time I’ve been working with cards, but over time they’ve basically been like, no no no, this kind of deck, no no no, that deck. You know? And, so there’s been this sort of, well, literally my guide came forward one time and said, “if you would like to give good readings, then read with the Tarot de Marseilles. If you don’t care, do whatever you like. But that’s where you’re going to be better.”
ANDREW: And I was like, all right, and then it was this process of nailing down which deck was the most like the one that she read with when she was alive, and that was also a process of, okay, so it was the Marseilles, and then it was the Jean Noblet, and then it was this photo reproduction of the deck from the Bibliotechnique National in France that Joseph Peterson put out, and now she’s like, that’s, that is, it’s not THE deck she had, but it is the closest that she thinks is left that I’ll ever be able to get at.
PAIGE: That is fascinating!
ANDREW: And so, it’s funny for me because, I mean I run a store, and I, you know, I teach lots of things, I deal with lots of different decks, kind of for other people and on other people’s behalf, but for me, I’m kind of done.
ANDREW: You know when Joseph’s deck came out, you know, I just took three of them and put them in the drawer, on top of the one that I was already reading with, because I was like, that’s it, I need to make sure I have enough forever, you know?
PAIGE: Mmmhmm, yeah!
PAIGE: That’s so cool!
ANDREW: So, with your approach though, do you feel like the decks themselves have an entity or a consciousness that you’re interacting with? Or are they like the Borg, they’re different units that are plugging into your central, you know, central shamanic hub as it were, and they’re just kind of variable extensions of parts of your consciousness?
PAIGE: That’s a great question! I feel it may be a little bit of both. Ultimately my experience of the decks is as these sort of entities, these spirit entities, but those entities themselves feel like a bit of an amalgamation, you know, that are made up of the unique spirit of that deck, the sort of personality of the deck, which itself is made up of each of the cards, and each card has its own entity and own personality and its own spiritual, yeah, sense of beingness, which may be slightly different or very different depending on the different decks, but each card has its [inaudible]. I can compare it to astrology in a way, you know you’re looking at, everyone has the planet Mars in their chart, but each planet in a different sign has a different flavor, it feels different, it acts differently, it will come across a different way, it will interact with the rest of those planets and signs and houses in what ultimately equates to a unique personality, a unique expression of being.
PAIGE: And, and yeah, that is very much how I encounter the decks, is like people, which is what we are, we’re amalgamations of our parents, our lineage, everything we’ve ever done and seen, as well as our own unique flair and flavor.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure.
ANDREW: Yeah. Neat. Yeah, I’m always curious because, for me and my practice, there’s a sort of distinction that I draw between what are sort of object concrete entities in their own right, and what are these sort of other things that are constructs, or topography, or convenient symbol and language that these entities or even parts of my consciousness or unconsciousness might sort of pop on to sort of deliver messages or frame the conversation, so I love sort of thinking about these things because I’m always very curious about what’s, what it is that’s going on when people are working in other styles or other approaches, you know? So. Yeah.
PAIGE: I suppose my style is very animistic, which has always been my world view and always been my experience of the world, even as a child, things are alive, and they talk to me, and they engage with me, and as a child it upset me very much when people didn’t treat objects with the same respect that they treated people, certain objects, anyway. I don’t know if it was across the board, all objects, all the time, but for the most part, things that I could tell were, had a force of some kind attached to them. It would deeply upset me when people did not treat them that way, but of course, as a child I did not have the vocabulary to share that with other children, explain to them why it upset me that you disrespected me and this object by cavalierly tossing it about. “How dare you, child?”
ANDREW: “How dare you, that rock, it had a lot of things to say!”
PAIGE: [laughing] “No, I’ll give you another rock!” “Yeah, but that was my friend, that rock was my friend! You threw my friend away!” [outraged sound] I remember one time as a child, we were, our class was on a field trip to the high school.
PAIGE: And it was shortly after the movie The Indian in the Cupboard had come out, and the VHS tapes came with a little plastic Indian from the movie, the replica, and I just was captivated. This little plastic man was like a friend to me, and I carried him in my pocket everywhere I went, and one of the bullies in my class, we were in the bathroom, all taking our bathroom break, and she grabbed it out of my hands and threw it in the air just as someone flushed a toilet and came out of the stall and down it went, and was flushed away. And all of us just stood there with our mouths open like, I can’t believe that just happened. What are the odds that that’s where it would land? And I had no, I was completely flabbergasted, I had no words to explain the depth of the hurt that had just been done to me. They were like, I’ll buy you a new one, whatever; I’m like, no, you don’t understand, that guy, that was my guy!
ANDREW: That was the one.
PAIGE: That was the one! I don’t care if it’s an identical plastic mold; it’s not the same.
ANDREW: Yeah. And there are those things, right?
ANDREW: It’s funny, it’s interesting to me too, because there are those things that I work with and use spiritually, you know, like I often carry like a crystal or other things that I’m kind of working with at a given time, and those things definitely, some of them, they all have an aliveness to them that I work with for sure. Some of them I get so attached to, and some of them, when they end up going away, I’m just like, ah, whatever. Like, you know, eh, your time is done, you wanted to be elsewhere or what have you, right, and I’m like, ah, it’s fine. And then other things, like when they kind of, you know, get shuffled somewhere, or you know, like take them out and realize it’s time to have a break, and then they resurface, and it’s like, wow, how did I ever even stop working with this energy, you know? I used to work with St. Expedite a lot…
PAIGE: Oh, yeah!
ANDREW: And I recently found, I mean I always kind of knew where it was, but, recently sort of came across a painting that I had done of him.
ANDREW: And immediately it started talking to me. And I was like—and it wasn’t mad, it wasn’t like, dude, you’ve been hiding me away, it’s like all right, I’m ready, you’re ready, let’s go, let’s do some more stuff together. I’m like, all right, let’s do it.
PAIGE: I love that. Mmmhmm!
PAIGE: That is a blessing of getting older, was learning like, okay, I might misplace this, but it will come back when the time is right.
PAIGE: As a child, you know, not knowing that this sort of totemic energy attached to that toy, very, was, could possibly return to me in another form, that it was not intrinsically tied to this little plastic molded toy. As a child, you don’t have the context for that. But as an adult spiritual practitioner realizing okay, you know, que sera sera.
ANDREW: Yeah, there’s not only one way in which that energy can come through to you, right?
PAIGE: Mmmhmm, exactly.
ANDREW: There’s not only one place or one kind or one…yeah, for sure.
PAIGE: And it might be in the best interest for it to step back for awhile, for both of you, you know, and then come back again and have you realize, oh wow! Yeah! Your value is so important to me—and having that time away really makes you feel that.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. For sure. Yeah. Do you do a lot of plant ally stuff too? Do you have plant allies that you’re working with?
PAIGE: Oh, yes, oh yes.
PAIGE: I’ve always, it’s always been, it’s not my greatest strength, and it’s been a source of great frustration to me, my whole life, because my mother is a gardener and she has quite the green thumb. She can make anything grow. And I do not seem to have inherited that gift. So the living plants in my life that I work with tend to be wild. Wild plants are my main spirit allies. And as well, I work with tea. Tea is my guy. The plant, the [garbled] sense is plant as well as tea [garbled] and other herbs brewed as tea both with the tea plant and on their own and that’s been something that has always been tied to my magical and spiritual practice. The year that I really got involved in witchcraft, as a young person, was the same year that I got introduced to tea.
PAIGE: Almost within a few months of each other.
PAIGE: And it’s, they were very present, as well, in my shaman sickness. I had ingested some spirit allies, some plant spirit allies that really were carrying the physical aspect of the illness for me, and shifting that perspective. And it’s something that I’ve been deepening in the past couple of years, but is endlessly fascinating to me, and part of what’s helped deepen that is creating friendships with some really talented plant shamans and plant workers. In unpacking, I just uncovered my flying ointments from Sarah Anne Lawless, which are some of my favorite tools to work with. It fascinates me the way that plants affect different people different ways, depending on your body chemistry. I know people who cannot drink tea after maybe 2 or 3 pm because the caffeine will keep them up.
PAIGE: I can drink a pot of black tea at midnight and be fine.
PAIGE: No problem.
ANDREW: And that’s also not uncommon among people who have that ADHD kind of thing, right?
PAIGE: Yeah exactly, it almost works the opposite, sometimes, or it’s just like meh, no problem.
PAIGE: Caffeine? Don’t know her. Never met her.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. [laughs]
ANDREW: That’s awesome. It’s really interesting how we all have places or kinds of things that open more easily to us, you know?
ANDREW: Like the, whether it’s a particular plant, or whether it’s, you know, plants versus minerals versus you know, in your case, pigments and water, versus you know, whatever, right? I think that we have these sort of natural inclinations, and, you know, I mean, just like in our astrology charts, sort of sorting them out and finding out where those fortes and good places to start and so on can be so helpful, you know?
PAIGE: Oh yeah, absolutely, and one of the things I do often with clients when I’m working with clients who are seeking to understand their own spiritual gifts better, is looking at your childhood. What were you drawn to as a child? For me, it was animals. Animals was my jam. And so now, as an adult, I find not coincidentally that a lot of the shamanic work I do is animal spirit totems, helping spirits who are specifically animals. Do a lot of animal retrieval, and it’s one of the easiest things for me to do, it takes, it can take maybe 30 seconds, to go on a shamanic journey and retrieve an animal helping spirit. It is such an easy flow for me, whereas plants and the language of plants is something much more private and personal that I really have to consciously work on and deepen. Except for that small handful of plant allies that are just like, you, me, let’s do this.
ANDREW: Let’s go! Ride or die!
PAIGE: [laughing] Exactly!
ANDREW: Yeah. That’s awesome. Yeah, I am one of those people, I have a very green thumb, so I can grow all sorts of stuff and you know. Actually, the pomegranate plant that we have at the store just grew its first pomegranate, which was super exciting, so you know, it’s, yeah. Definitely good, you know? And I love to, I spent a lot of time in my childhood, I lived sort of on the edge of town where it was sort of mostly forest between our place and the next place…
ANDREW: And so, I spent a lot of time in the woods, just kicking around, playing games with my friends, or just hanging out, you know? And it’s something I love to do now and near the store there’s nice ravines that run through Toronto…
ANDREW: And I would just go in there, and hang out, and stuff happens, it’s wonderful, and they just start talking, and you know, yeah.
PAIGE: Oh, yeah. The forest! Oh, what a magical place! That’s been one of my favorite things about coming back to New England, the woods of New England are really important for me.
PAIGE: Really special. Today happens to be 19 years to the day since the first group ritual I ever did.
PAIGE: Blue moon, January 1999, I invited a couple of girls from school over to my house, and one of them, her mother was, must have been Wiccan, or something, and she kind of taught us how to do your basic circle casting, calm the quarters, kind of thing. We had a little ritual. We went around the circle, went around the table, took turns saying nice things about each other and then after some round blue frosted scones, my mother drove us to the woods, and we climbed this abandoned stone tower that’s in the middle of the woods by the golf course in my home town. And I have some photographs, I’m so glad I have actual photographs of us on that tower, under the moon with the moon in the background, these little girls, having a great time, and those woods really held it and anchored it, for that to be the ending of our first ritual ever. And we loved it so much we were like, you know what, let’s just, let’s do this again next month? On the full moon? How about that? For a bunch of 11-year-olds, that was a pretty good commitment. We managed it for maybe six solid months, meeting every full moon and those woods really were the catalyst. They were the…
PAIGE: …the container for that. It was so—mmm. There’s something about being here and then the trees of this land that’s just like yep. These are like my grandparents.
PAIGE: They took care of me! Thanks, guys!
ANDREW: [laughs] I love it. I definitely love it! So if you’re listening, go find your trees, go hang out with them!
[garbled, both talking at once]
Yeah, spend some time with it, right?
ANDREW: Yeah. The last few years whenever I go to New York and go to Reader’s Studio, which is a conference there, at the place where they were having it, there were these cherry trees out front, and they’d usually be blossoming then, so that would be just like all the flowers on the ground…
PAIGE: Love it.
ANDREW: And, you know. After, like a few days with like 200 other people doing readings around you and stuff, I’d just be like, overwhelmed! And I would just go out there and, you know, stand there and, last year, I was standing under the tree and the wind came and swirled around me and lifted all those petals up and…
ANDREW: There was like this sort of bath of those flowers and the tree and I had my hands on it just grounding myself and stuff. I’m like, I’m ready for more, let’s go! You know? It can be so wonderful.
PAIGE: Oh! That’s beautiful. Oh yeah.
ANDREW: Mmmhmm. Well. It has been delightful chatting with you. For people who want to follow your orbit and see your art and other wonderful things that you’re up to, where should they go? Where are you hanging out online?
PAIGE: Well, you can find me on social media, @tarotandtea. You can also find me on Instagram @paigezaferiou, just my name, and at paigezaferiou.com. And that’s Paige with an I, and Zaferiou is Z A F E R I O U, and you can remember to spell that because it has all the vowels in alphabetical order, A E I O U.
ANDREW: And we’ll put a link in the show notes in case “it spells just like it sounds” doesn’t quite work out.
ANDREW: Awesome. Well thank you so much Paige, it’s been wonderful.
PAIGE: Thank you so much for having me, Andrew, it’s been such a pleasure.
ANDREW: Thank you, as always, for listening. I hope you’ve really enjoyed it. A big thanks to the lovely human beings who have put some wonderful reviews on Itunes for the podcast. Please do consider supporting the Patreon. You know I sound like a PBS ad, but seriously, even a dollar helps. It all adds up towards being able to make all sorts of exciting things happen, both for yourself and for others. So head on over to Patreon.com/thehermitslamp, or use the link in the show notes. Talk to you soon. Bye bye.