EP90 Death and Being Real with Barbara Moore

November 23, 2018
00:0000:00

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

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

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Barbara can be found at her website here

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Andrew

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Transcript

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Uh-huh. 

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BARBARA: Yeah.

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

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

ANDREW: Mmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

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

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

BARBARA: (laughing)

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

BARBARA: Mm-hmm.

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

BARBARA: Right.

ANDREW: Yeah.  

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

ANDREW: Sure. 

BARBARA: So.

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

BARBARA: (laughing)

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah!

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Right.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Right.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: That's wonderful.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

BARBARA: Okay, happy interlude's done. 

ANDREW: Happy interlude's done!

(laughing)

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

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

BARBARA: Aw!

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

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

ANDREW: (laughing) Yeah.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah.

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

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

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

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

BARBARA: Cool, thanks. Thanks for sharing that.

ANDREW: Mm-hmm. 

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

BARBARA: Yeah.

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

BARBARA: Mm-hmm.

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

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

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

ANDREW: Mm-hmm.

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

ANDREW: Right. 

BARBARA: So. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BARBARA: Yeah.

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

BARBARA: (laughing) That's right!

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

BARBARA: Exactly, exactly!

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

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

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

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

ANDREW: Yeah, exactly, exactly. Awesome.

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

ANDREW: Perfect!