Friday May 21, 2021
Friday May 21, 2021
Friday May 21, 2021
How we define ourselves matters. It creates a worldview and can both empower and limit what we do in life and with our magic. In this episode Jason and Andrew talk about some ways choosing the wrong label that might cause problems for people. Are you a magician or a mystic? A sorcerer or magician? Is magic or astrology your religion? All told through stories of their own journey, explorations, mishaps and successes.
Jason and Andrew also talk about personal experiences and visions - often called unsubstantiated personal gnosis. Exploring what to do with that world changing vision you has the feels like it should be changing the world right now!
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you have listened to and consider if it is time to support it. Money goes first to covering accessibility through transcripts and then to other costs associated with the podcast. You can support it through BuyMeACoffeeor directly via Paypalor in Canada through etransfer to email@example.com
If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe in your favourite podcaster iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or search The Hermit's Lamp Podcast in the service you use. Google music is being updated within a week of posting this episode.
Jason's previous interviews can be found here:
EP53 Magick, Meditation and Tibet with Jason Miller
EP78 Practicing Magic for Real Life with Jason Miller
EP85 Stacking Skulls with Jason Miller
You can find Jason here.
And Andrew is @thehermitslamp everywhere and his site is here.
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world.
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
You can read the transcript on my website here.
Thursday May 13, 2021
Thursday May 13, 2021
Thursday May 13, 2021
Andrew and Barbara catch up for their 7th annual talk. The conversation covers a wide range of things from COVID life, to esoteric tarot, expertise and its changing nature and all the changes that are going on in both our lives. This was recorded in December of 2020.
You can catch the previous episodes with Barbara here
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you have listened to and consider if it is time to support it. Money goes first to covering accessibility through transcripts and then to other costs associated with the podcast. You can support it through BuyMeACoffee or directly via Paypal or in Canada through etransfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe in your favourite podcaster iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or search The Hermit's Lamp Podcast in the service you use. Google music is being updated within a week of posting this episode.
You can find Barbara here
And Andrew is @thehermitslamp everywhere and his site is here.
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world.
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
The transcripts are too long to post here so or the transcript please read it on my site here.
Wednesday Dec 16, 2020
Wednesday Dec 16, 2020
Wednesday Dec 16, 2020
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
The transcript exceeds Podbeans limit and can be found on my website here. \
Monday Oct 19, 2020
Monday Oct 19, 2020
Monday Oct 19, 2020
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
Sunday Sep 27, 2020
Sunday Sep 27, 2020
Sunday Sep 27, 2020
If you want more of this in your life you can subscribe by RSS , iTunes, Stitcher, or email.
Jenn is here online.
The Transcription is too long for here so you can find it on the post on my website here.
Saturday Sep 12, 2020
Saturday Sep 12, 2020
Saturday Sep 12, 2020
Andrew, Fabeku, and Aidan (aka Stacking Skulls) get together to talk about living during this ongoing pandemic. They talk about astrology, racism, colonialism, magic, getting by, and so much more.
Think about how much you've enjoyed the podcast and how many episodes you listened to, and consider if it is time to support the Patreon You can do so here.
Aidan is here.
Fabeku is here.
Andrew is here.
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world.
You can book time with Andrew through his site here.
Transcript is below.
Andrew: Hey, folks. Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp Podcast. At the time of this recording, it is, basically, the end of August, and been on a hiatus since the earth of spring from podcasting. Just too busy with dealing with all of the chaos of COVID and all of that chaos and everything else. But, I was thinking that the last episode that I did with Stacking Skulls was called WTF, and I think that the title for this one is probably WTF Still? Because, here we are so many months out from what's going on, and yet still life is chaotic and uncertain, and, really, especially for folks in America, way worse in some ways than it was back then. I don't think that we are still cruising around the idea that it might be, "Yeah, three weeks of lockdown, maybe a little bit longer," and now we're in the phase of, "Is there an end? When's the end? How does an end of this come together?" And, all that wear and tear that's kicked around.
So, anyways, if you don't know Stacking Skulls, well, number one, you're in for a treat. There's a whole bunch of episodes of us clowning around together. But, I'm here with Fabeku and Aidan, and we're just going to check in as my fall relaunch of the podcast happens. So, yeah, who wants to go first, what's going on? How's the last five months been?
Aidan: The last five months have been ridiculous.
Aidan: It's been crazy busy, partially. We were pointed at doing... When I say we in this context, that's me and my wife... doing another class but with COVID and everybody being sent home, we realized that that didn't make any sense to try and put anything out that was a larger money thing. Because, it seemed like it was quite possible we weren't going to have much money and we didn't really feel great about trying to get 300 bucks or something out of people at that moment in time, because, really, we couldn't tell how things were going. So, we changed gears back to my second book, and so I've been rapidly finishing that and then learning InDesign to put it all together and get it printed. So, that's launched as an e-book now and in 10 days, 9 days, something like that, the print books start landing on people's doorsteps.
Aidan: It's overall just been weird. We're in one of the states that are... our governor has always taken this thing really seriously. So, we didn't get hit nearly as hard as most other places with the exception of some places on the reservation got hit really bad. So, we've been in lockdown way before a lot of places that didn't get hit as hard have been. We're now at the place that it's masks if you are outside of your home, period. So, I haven't really been on the bike for a while, because it is not fun to go riding around on that. We're super supportive of it. Because, it's just not being one of the people that is necessarily at as much risk as other people are, though... obviously, everybody can get it and can get messed up by it. You certainly don't want to be involved in spreading the shit.
Andrew: For sure.
Aidan: So, it's been crazy on that sense, but at the same time, we're homebodies anyway, and it's us at home with the animals. So, we've shifted a few things, but they've not been great. Not been huge for us. Then yeah, just doing book promo stuff and then launched the first episode of my podcast. But other than that, it's just been working on the book, working on getting the book out there, working on understanding InDesign.
Andrew: It's not at all a small task to do a thing like that, right?
Aidan: Yeah, it's interesting. I'm glad I know how to do it because it sets me up to do more. So, I'll be doing the e-book of Six Ways next and then I've already got part of the third book going. So, it's nice because it allows me to take the reins for that whole project now, but it is a lot of work. Keeping busy with that. Chickens, lots of chickens.
Andrew: Yum, yum. I mean, wonderful.
Aidan: I don't eat them but I yum yum for their eggs.
Andrew: How about you Fabeku?
Fabeku: Yes, same. It's been crazy, like everybody. I think the last time I left the house was end of February, maybe first couple days of March. Have not been out of the house since then. Like Aidan, I don't go out of the house much anyway. But, this many months has been a strange thing. Yeah, I've been busy with a ton of stuff too. I just finished a book with some writing and art and some shit like that, that's going to be published by Revelore in October. [inaudible], so that's a cool thing. It was weird for a while. The first few months, I had a hell of a time doing art. I could do some stuff for clients or collectors or whatever but my own stuff is just, "What the fuck am I doing?" It was awhile that I didn't do any art which is weird for me.
So, finally, back at that which is good. I feel like that was sanity preserving kind of things. Yeah, excited about the book, excited about the couple of books after that, that I'm finally back in motion after stalling out for a while and just busy with a ton of people stuff and trying to help people manage this fuckery that is 2020 at this point. Yeah, it's been a pretty high bandwidth task moment. Yeah, I don't know. It's a strange time in so many ways. In so many ways.
Andrew: Yeah, I feel like this hit, probably around the time we were doing the last episode, things were slow-ish for me, and I was just trying to figure out what was going on and all that kind of stuff. Then, just things got super busy between the store and client work and suddenly having two kids that I'm solo parenting half the time. Not in school, all that kind of stuff. All of a sudden, it's just, wow, I'm just working as a parent or working as my regular job continuously and all the time. That was just an intense run all the way through until, really, maybe two weeks ago or three weeks ago, when I... here in Toronto, things went pretty good. We had a lot of stuff going on, but we're down to maybe 20 new cases a day, maybe less. We've had some single digits and restaurants are open and a lot of stuff. Gyms are open, with social distancing, of course, but it hasn't brought about a big spike in anything.
So, cautiously optimistic about it. Have been, and then, of course, the next big question is, school starts next month, and it's, what's going to go on with that and so on. Right? So, it's just trying to have a wrangle all that stuff with COVID. Then, I think, the other big thing that... this happened in this time since we last talked, right, was George Floyd's death. Right?
Andrew: The resurgence of what, really, should be a continuous thing of, how do we fix these racial divides and inequities and all this stuff. It's definitely a thing that's taken up a chunk of my attention as well in terms of trying to stay attentive to it, right. To not just drift back into day-to-day life, and whatever. Because, that's been the history of it, right? It erupts into the media and into our consciousness because there's some horrible thing that happens. Then, from a broader perspective, it dissipates, right? It doesn't build momentum.
So, yeah, I would say I'm hopeful that it's going to change at this point. I have no idea, right. But, I think that there, definitely, felt like there's a different quality to what's been going on around that stuff, that I have some hope that it will make bigger changes. Yeah.
Aidan: Yeah, that's been a huge thing too, obviously. And, it's interesting because it's even where you get stuff that's... I have folks in my family that still don't perceive what the issue is, you know? Which is weird to me on a personal level because I have, in my immediate, immediate-immediate family, people of color. So, you don't even want to take their word for what they're experiencing, even though they are technically your family, right? You're so set in your belief structure here that you can't see that or can't see the difference or the shifts between it. There's folks in my family that, again, have children that are children of color, that still don't see it. It's, really? How are you that unaware? How do you maintain that? That's what, I guess, I don't understand. I've never been able to maintain that. I didn't start with it, I think, and that's why. But, it's been good to see the attention. So, the reasons behind why it needs to be there are horrible, but yeah, I don't know.
Then, for us in the US, to me, there's like an almost psychotic nature to the United States right now. Where the whole discourse is so stratified and so divisive and so peculiar in where people can and will go. It's really, you don't see that in yourself or you don't see that in the people that you're supporting? How do you pull that off? I just don't get it.
Fabeku: Its been interesting for me, my mother is in her 80s and grew up in a little teeny tiny, literally, a shack in the hills of Kentucky. After George Floyd was killed, every single time I've talked to her, that's almost all she's talked about, and how she realizes, at this stage of the game, that she's spent 80 something years oblivious to this shit, and not paying attention and not listening to people, and having the privilege to not pay attention to it because it didn't affect her. And, she's trying to have conversations with her sisters and her brothers, almost all of whom are completely oblivious to it and entirely entrenched in, what's the big fucking deal, kind of thing. I
It's interesting to me, the way it's shaken things, loosened her in a way that I've never seen before, right? It's not that we didn't have conversations about it before but, I don't know, I don't think she got it. As opposed to her sisters and brothers, will actively push against it. It was never that so much, it was just, well, yeah, that's really bad.
But now, I mean, we have hours and hours of conversations of just, how the fuck have I not paid attention to this? How the fuck if I lived my entire life not understanding how, and completely, fucked things are for people that aren't white in this country? It's been an interesting thing to see. I think she's hopeful that her sisters and brothers will wake up and get it. I don't think they will. They're about as deeply entrenched in that kind of bullshit as it gets. But, yeah, it's been interesting to listen to my mother, of all people, have long conversations about this. When John Lewis passed, she was talking about, how did I never really pay attention to who this man was? How did I not know his life and his legacy and his history? Yeah, it's been an interesting come to Jesus moment, in some ways for her.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It's funny, when I started this podcast many years ago, the first thing I did was a series of interviews on why some people change and why some people don't, right. I talked to people [inaudible] they're right there, the early episodes still existent. Should be on iTunes, and whatever I talk to. That time I was mostly tarot focused so I've talked to a bunch of tarot readers about it. It's, nobody's got an answer for that, right. I think that it's such a significant question now, right. Can we understand how to make change in society? I think that we're seeing a lot of stuff around that, that the answer is, maybe it doesn't. Maybe it can't be polite, maybe it can't be quiet, maybe it can't be whatever, right? Because, I see the things that make change, and the quiet, polite route is predominantly a route of quiet and polite with money and power behind it, right? You know?
Aidan: Oh, yeah. You get to be very quiet and polite if you have lots of privilege.
Andrew: Right? But also, thinking about the people who follow Stalking Skulls. They're our groupies, right? They are those people who are part of our magical communities, right? I think that it's such a... number one, if we want to work magic, we have to try our best to see the world as it is, right? That means, from my point of view, seeing racism and sexism, and all the different things that are going on, right, and engaging with that, right. I think that it's not that you can't do magic without being aware of lots of things, but I think that the more aware we are, the more it gives us capacity to see and make change both in ourselves, and depending on what's going on in the world too, or see where change might be able to happen.
Aidan: Yeah, I think that it's very interesting on the magic side, because I agree with you totally. The more aware you are of how things are unfolding or how things can unfold or how things... for me, my own tendencies to, where will I not consider change? Because, there are places that I really don't want to do that, like quitting coffee, which I did.
Aidan: Because, my wife finally said, I don't think this is working well for you, even though you've been doing it for 40-something years so you should drop all of the caffeine. I, totally, entrenched for several hours and then went, Okay, I know that this is not good. I said, I need some space to go and think about this, and went, okay, let's examine myself and go, oh, yeah, this is typical junkie behavior. It's the same as any other addiction I've dealt with, so I'm not really down with that. So, something's got to change. But, if I didn't have the ability to go, okay, I'm being given information of everyone outside of me that I don't like. I've been given a suggestion that I don't like.
Yes, this is an entirely personal and minor one, but if I can't actually go, okay, this is also from somebody that I believe is serious and has intelligence. So maybe, I should take some time and figure out why I don't want to hear it, let alone consider it. It's an interesting thing. I think that's critical in magic. I think it's critical in life, but we can get away with it without doing it. It's just not necessarily the best way, I don't think.
Andrew: Yeah, I don't even know what else to say about this. I'm just, "Fuck!" I think that's part of what's tough about the racial issue. It's like, "Man." I think that there are plenty of places to go look up what you could do, right? You know I mean?
Andrew: It's not that I [crosstalk] specific things or I'm not taking actions around it, right. But, I think that this moment where the scope of COVID, the scope of these issues is so big, so daunting, right? Yeah, it's [inaudible] this space where it's [inaudible], so big so much. It's, yeah, staring at that abyss, right, and know that it's staring back at you and then start walking into it, right. But, nonetheless, it's interesting. It's interesting times, for sure.
Fabeku: Yeah. I think, for me, a lot of the magic, personally, has been aimed at either expanding or maintaining that capacity, right? Because, I think that one of the things that's easy to do when we're looking at something daunting, whether it's the racial issues or the virus stuff or personal, whatever it is, you just shut down, numb out, turn off. Obviously, I think, for the people that have the privilege to be able to do that, that's the thing a lot of people do. The reality is, there's a ton of people that never have that option, right? Because, they're so fucked, they just can't say, "Well, this is too big. I'm going to watch Netflix for a few hours and not give a fuck."
I think that I've really been looking at that capacity thing. How do you expand the capacity enough to keep your eye on the abyss? To keep walking forward, to not tune out. To not say, well, somebody else will handle it, because, listen, we've done that shift for too long, and, obviously, it's failed in every possible fucking way. Yeah. Yeah, capacity seems to be a big thing right now.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think it's huge, right. I think that it's a piece that I learned mostly from you, right, actually. I had some very clumsy ideas around it, and your work clarified it. It gave me a real focus. It's, yeah, that's what I've been trying to get at, but I couldn't quite see it, right? I think that working to increase capacity, in whatever way you want to work on it, magically and otherwise, I think is crucial, right? I mean, in my parenting, there are definitely times when it's, all right, somebody, somewhere give me some more capacity right now because I am overwhelmed by this business. I think that working to call that in and expand that and stretch that and so on is super, super important, right?
Aidan: It's interesting. I think, three days ago, we hit a place, my wife and I, where we went, Okay, we're not actually doing things the way that we know work well for us. So, how do we get that space back? Because, we lived in a cabin with no power or anything for a couple years, and we were really looking at that time, and going, there's a way that we were very well in that space. Anyway, as a result of this... this ties into your capacity thing for BQ, we decided that once we're both awake in the morning and ready to go, we turn on our cell phones, and we turn on the wifi, and we do, maybe, an hour of stuff that needs to happen through those tools. Then, we turn them all the way off, we turn off the wifi, we unplug the router, we turn off our cell phones all the way. We might have some stuff stored on our computer that we downloaded that we need to work on or whatever, but that's it for being connected.
Then, usually, we'll do that again in the afternoon and try and be done with that by about six. This is sharing not... primarily, because it's been incredible for us for just these last few days. So, it's not as much as suggestion as something to think about if people are super overwhelmed, because the 24-hour cycle has become just crushing in a way right now. But, we had a weird day. The first day was really weird. Like, okay, well, what do you do if we're not streaming Netflix for the last three hours of the day? Well, then I'm playing guitar for the last three hours of the day. One of these things is good for me, one of these things is at best neutral, right. The same thing during the day, that the amount of time that we're actually spending talking and working on our plans and thinking about how we do stuff together, is huge. It's probably an 80% increase in the last few days. Instead of the magical overt side of building capacity, which, I'm with you, I learned from Fabeku.
But, there's also the really base level of just going, can you step out of all of the noise and then check in to get what you need. It causes you to weed your sources out, figure out what do you need to see, what do you need to know, and if your time is limited to that and you're not going in and out of it all day, at least, for us, it's been an immense change that I don't see going back to that at all. It's, no, two hours of fucking net and cell phone access is more than planning for us. Everybody's going to be in a different situation.
Fabeku: Yeah, this summer, my partner and I have been doing more leisure, and more, just, super-leisure. I've been lucky to be able to take a bit of time off and so on. So, we went to this place and it's a spa place and spent the second day there, literally, just either in the pool, on a lounger beside the pool or eating, having lunch or whatever. Yeah, no phone, no mess, no whatever. I didn't look at my phone, I think I looked at once through the, almost, two days that I was away. What actually needed to be responded to during that time? Not very much, right? I've been working on trying to institute more of this space, right? And, noticing, I like my movies and my TV, but also, I've been reminding myself that if I'm looking at my phone while I'm watching TV, something is wrong, right, for me?
People do whatever makes you happy, right? But its, either the show's not interesting enough, or I'm not looking at something that I need to address or, whatever, in order to be present with the thing that I'm doing. I think that if something's not engrossing me enough that it's holding my attention, well, then what's going on with that, right? I think about, I've been doing a lot of rock climbing again, and when I go by myself and do boulder, I will, sometimes, keep my phone around and read things on my phone while I'm resting in between climbs because I'm just sitting there by myself. But, last night, I went with my friend who I go with every week, and I left my phone in my locker, which is not a thing I would have done, at some point. I would have brought it with me, I would have checked in every now and then and whatever. But, it's, what am I doing, I've got a person to talk to, I've got an activity that I'm engrossed in. Yeah.
Aidan: Yeah, it's an interesting thing. Yeah, I had a place, I guess, it was about a month and a half ago which is interesting because, again, my life isn't that different, pandemic-wise than it is usually. But, I hit a place where I really couldn't get into any of the movies, any of the TV shows, anything. Even stuff that I like, wasn't happening. That moved me in that direction, and I shifted back towards reading more. Then, one of the weirdest things that we've had and I'm sure that there's lots of people that have studied things like EMF and all of that is, we live in a really quiet house because we're on a couple acres in a really quiet town. But, at the point that the phones are actually turned off and the computers are off and the wifi is off, it feels so quiet. In a way that even if the router is still on, it doesn't. Which makes sense, we know that these things are radiating stuff.
But yeah, it's a crazy difference to go, "That's noticeable. That is really different", and then balancing that out from, we're all old enough to have not had these things. So you go, "How interesting is that? This is really the first big chunk of my life, probably, felt like this, and what did I do? I played music, I read books, I talked to the people who around me, I engaged in a very different way." It's not to say I want to throw all that stuff away, but, definitely, it's opened my eyes to finding its place, rather than just letting it find its place in my life, I want to be the one that decides what its place is.
Andrew: Yeah, I think it's a really good way to put it, right?
Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Andrew: So, now we all need to do a group working to break the internet's hold on us. It's an exorcism of sorts.
Aidan: I don't if we're the ones who need it from what I see.
Andrew: Wow. Did you do any magic around quitting coffee or did you just stop?
Aidan: No, my wife is our house apothecarist and herbalist so she treated it as a situation that could be dealt with herbs and using them in a homeopathic way. Not really using homeopathic medicines, but using some tinctures that she'd made. So, she's having me check-in with her every couple hours, "Tell me what's going on? How's your head? How's your... How's this, how's that?" Because, my tonsils were going off a little bit. I definitely detoxed like a crazy person for the first five days. That's always one of those signs. I had that same experience when we quit... when we went paleo, and we dropped all processed foods and all the grains and stuff. This is the total TMI, but you can absolutely tell how foul you are inside by how foul your poop is when you quit eating it. Your body goes, "Oh, you're not going to put more in, okay, well have this because we don't want it anymore."
Andrew: Get rid of all of it.
Aidan: Get rid of all of it, because oh, that's nasty. So, I think that now that my liver and all of that have had some time to back off away from the caffeine, things feel good, but I didn't have to do magic on this one.
Andrew: Mm-hmm (affirmative). [inaudible], Fabeku, is giving up coffee in your future?
Fabeku: You know, actually, yeah, I haven't had any caffeine since early May, I think?
Fabeku: Yeah, for me, I reached a point to, between some body stuff and just the chaos and the anxiety of the moment, I'm, "What fuck am I doing? What the fuck am I doing?" Because, I really think up until then, I was drinking either coffee or yerba mate, then I'd throw in some caffeine pills. I'm, "What the fuck am I doing? This makes no sense."
Andrew: What are you, 16?
Fabeku: Exactly. Acting like [inaudible] 7-Eleven to get [manodos] or whatever the fuck those things were. It was absurd. I think, for me... and this is what Aidan was talking about, about not doing things in a way that works. It was like, listen, if I'm structuring my life in a way that this makes sense, then something's wrong because this doesn't make any sense at all. If you're recreationally enjoying coffee, one thing. Chugging caffeine all day and then throwing a fistful of caffeine pills on top of it, it's, listen, something is sideways. So, yeah, for me, it's been, yeah, late April, early March, or early May, since I've had any caffeine at all.
Aidan: Oh, very good.
Aidan: So, I could blame you, it was you, reaching out through the ethers, right?
Fabeku: I want decaffeinated company.
Andrew: Oh, boy. No, I feel so embarrassed about my coffee cup [inaudible].
Fabeku: [inaudible] on.
Andrew: I actually know that it's not great for me. Well, it's part of a bad cycle for me, right? For me, coffee and being too busy, just go hand in hand, right? When I stop being too busy, then I stop hitting the coffee. It's just it rolls back. I remember when I moved into the last location where the fire was, I had quit coffee, I quit sugar, and I was just eating food, right? Making my own food most of the time, and I felt great. Then, I spent a month building a new shop. So, getting up as early as I could, doing construction, going to my old space, seeing clients, going to the new space, working until I felt like I might be a danger to myself, stopping, and I was just doing that. I did that every day for a month, right?
Somewhere in there, one of the people who was helping was, "I've got to take a coffee break and go to Tim Hortons and get something." I was, "Yes, give me coffee." Right? Then, probably, a few days later it was, "Yeah, get me a donut, too." And, that it was that was it, right, because it was just an unreasonable time. Then, been sort of, on and off wrestling with it ever since, right? I think that this time actually... again, going into COVID, I was maybe drinking more coffee when I get up kind of thing, right? But now, I'm having three again and I'm, ah, it's not ideal, but also, this is hangover of the massive pace that I've been running on, and trying to... my life is slower, but I have that velocitization like I've been on the highway, right, where I feel like I've go faster than I do. So, I'm sure everybody's loving it right now, conversation about our caffeine habits.
All right, it's official, Stacking Skills is anti-coffee. Stop it, it's bad for you. Just kidding, do what you want. There's a show called Beastmaster. You guys know that show? It's a super obstacle course kind of thing, right? If you like watching people with ridiculous physical capacities, to ridiculous challenges and climbing over things and swing from stuff, go check it. But, either way, it doesn't matter so much. But, I was noticing that all the people who were on it were working on themselves to get better, physically, and working on themselves as a person and working whatever. You see a lot of that in a lot of places, right. Certainly, if you're on the socials, you'll see that stuff a lot, right. I was, "Maybe, I'm done working to evolve. Maybe this idea of self-improvement is one that I should just jettison." What happens if I don't try and self-improve, but instead, just live and navigate? Right?
Does that mean that I'm going to stop learning new things? Of course, it doesn't, right? Does it mean that I'm going to stop making changes in my life? No. But, if there's this narrative of improvement, or evolution or whatever around these kind of things, I feel like there's a real pitfall in that. I don't buy into too much, but a little every now and then I do. I'm, "It's okay to be done with that. Just be like, this is just my life. I'm just navigating my life now". Is it going to change? Yeah. Is it going to change radically over the next 10 years? Maybe. But, does it have to do with evolution or, that kind of stuff? The perpetual cycle of self-improvement and so on. I don't know that I want anything to do with that, in the way that I see it anyway.
Aidan: I go off about this somewhere, recently, I think. It's probably in Weaving Fate, I don't know. Which is about the whole thing about optimal now, right? I think this is totally tied in there. It's optimal nutrition, optimal training, optimal study habits, optimal work habits. I think it doesn't serve anything. It's, well, that's great if you're already... if you're already on Beastmaster and you're trying to win, then yes, you need to be worried about optimization. But, if you're climbing rocks or lifting weights, because you enjoy it, or you think it makes you healthier, then optimization is probably not actually all that relevant to you. It's another marketed obsession.
Andrew: But I feel like I see it in magic, too, right?
Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Andrew: A little while back, I posted something being, "Hey, everybody, don't forget, astrology is completely optional, right? You actually don't need to do anything with astrology to do magic." This isn't a criticism of this direction, right. But, the swing into grimoire magic and the resurgence of astrology as a prominent influence in spiritual and occult communities over the last five years, or whatever it's been. It's always been there, but it's really been ramping up, right, to be a thing that you see on the internet all the time. I think that there's this notion towards optimal and less around magic too, right. Well, I better make sure that this is the most astrologically auspicious moment that I have summoned the angels and the four governors, and the four kings and the [inaudible], and on and on and on, towards stuff.
I think that there's a direct or indirect pressure from things moving in that direction that I think doesn't need to be a part of any of it, right. It's all really deeply optional. Yet, isn't presented as optional, right. There's a drive behind it. Because, one of the things that was really interesting in the comments on that post, right, was people... it's the internet, people want to share their opinions and stuff, which is great, and people jumping in and being, "Well, you're being influenced whether you know it or not. Whether, you're whatever." I'm, "But, are we? Are we really?" I don't know about that. I'm not sure that I believe that big, grand narrative behind all these different things, is universal. You know what I mean? Yeah. I've talked-
Aidan: Yeah, I'm with you on that. It's an interesting one. Lonnie and I were talking about this a little bit. My take has been since I got what I thought was... I started getting respectable results from my magic, was to go really hard on those things. The things that are working, I want to get really good with. I think the term I used... it made Lonnie laugh because I said, "If sigils are your jam, be a savage sigil magician, right, and see if you need anything else. Because you may not." I think this is where I totally agree with that is, there's an amassing of classically, historically relevant information that is fabulous, if that's what you're into. But, there's some dude out in the bush somewhere in some country who is whatever, he's got the skull of some rodent, and a little fire made of twigs, and you don't want to fuck with that guy. He's never heard of any of this shit you're talking about?
It is totally my take. I also think that if we look at it historically, that's the history of magic, except for the last equivalent of 10 minutes. So, people want to go, "Well, this is the thing." Yeah, for the last few hundred years, and that's a blip. That's, of course, my take. Take whatever you want.
Fabeku: I was talking to somebody. I made some planetary magic talismans and turned out remarkably potent and effective. They were saying, "Oh, but, when you made them, this planet was doing this thing in the sky. So, the talismans should have been fucked. How did you make them and they worked?" I said, "Because, I don't give a fuck what the planets are doing in the sky. It doesn't matter." So, this idea that it's always an influence whether you know it or not, I'm with you, I don't know that that's true. At least, I don't know that it's a prominent enough influence to matter.
I think a lot about currents, right? I think that for people immersed in a particular current, the effects or the shaping influence of that current is going to be stronger because you're immersed in it. I'm not saying there's no effect, but it seems to be less of a factor than somebody who is super centered in whatever current is, whether it's astrology or anything else, I think it's the same shit. I think there's this idea that you have to be immersed in a billion different currents and have your eye on them and line them all up in some kind of perfect Venn diagram of magic. That doesn't make any sense to me. One, I don't know if it's doable. Two, I don't know that it is actually necessary for most people. I think it's a weird thing.
Going back to the self-improvement stuff, a conversation I had with a client last week, they showed up with all of the shit that they wanted to sort out this magical strategy for. As they were talking, my body started to tighten up. There was just this feeling of grinding and grinding and grinding and it was, "I don't know how to do this, and what to do about this." I said, "Listen, we can circle back to this in a second but"... It was all like, doing more. More money, more this, more that, which is, again, fine, there's nothing wrong with it. I've done a shitload of magic for more stuff, it's fine. But I said, "Have you considered doing magic for more joy, for more flow, for more peace, for more ease, for more creativity?" There was this long silence, and then they started to cry because they never considered that. They came with this To-Do List of, "Okay, help me figure out how to do these 10 things to do more, to optimize, to improve.? I said, "Cool, do that. But, what if you also had more joy in your life, and that was the focus? Especially now as fucked as everything is."
I agree, I think that's this weird trap that we get into with the self-improvement stuff. It's just another version of grinding. It's just another version of never being enough. Never having enough, not pushing hard enough. Again, I think in this global moment of all moments, fuck. Let's look at some shit that's not that, let's look at some shit that is ease and peace and coherence and whatever the fuck it is. Because again, I'm going back to the capacity stuff, at some point, you can't expand capacity infinitely enough to just keep grinding on every possible fucking front. It's just not doable. Yeah, I think it's super easy to fall into that shit with magic and everything else. But yeah, it's a mess.
Andrew: So I want to circle back to something you said, and then come back to this as well because I want to talk about both. But, I think that, I [inaudible] this way. There was this big push to go back to, is there a singular truth, right? We can't deny that influence of Greek thought and other thought on our culture, right? You know what I mean? If we can go back to those philosophers and see the origin of stuff and see the origin of Western magic, going back to some of that stuff, in certain ways, right? That's cool and dandy and all, right. I think that if we look at the astrologies or other systems, I think that they're holistic models of everything, right, which is amazing. I think that having, and participating in, a holistic model of the universe, magically speaking, is a powerful thing to be engaged with. I think that the thing is that in Kumi, right, Orisha tradition, it's a holistic model of the universe that has no relationship to planets at all.
So, if both are describing something, and they're both describing it accurately within their holistic model, it doesn't mean that anything crosses over from those, and whatever that actual experience of the universe or... whatever's going on that we're engaging through one of these models, it's all accounted for in one way or another, right?
Aidan: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Andrew: And, it's not necessarily to say that we could equate, well, Egon said you were having this problem right now, ancestors say you're having this problem right now through divination, astrology says you're having this problem because of whatever, this hard planetary placement in your family situation or whatever, but those things aren't the same. Right? They don't have the same meaning. They don't have the same lived experience. They certainly have very different solutions and approaches, right. I think that this notion, which to some extent goes back to the Greeks and people who are smarter than me about philosophy might trace it further, that there's this true universal core that we can participate in through our intellectual perception.
Then, you compound that with, basically, the Victorian era magicians, Golden Dawn, Crowley. All those people who are like, everything is interwoven. Right? Everything is the same and symbolically resonant with each other at some level. I think it's an extension of colonialism and of that Victorian worldview to continue that process. Somebody sent me a list of [inaudible] and how they line up on the tree of life and they're, "What do you think? I'm, "I think this is colonial crap. I think it's not helpful. I think it's completely meaningless and disrespectful to this other completely coherent and self-reliant worldview."
It's not to say that there aren't philosophical things or similarities that we could talk about the crossover those things, but I think that the minute that we start to say that one is inherently true, or that those bridges are inherently true, I think that we start to get into very dicey waters, and probably we're wrong. Does that make sense?
Aidan: Yeah, totally. This came up recently in the Six Ways group, that somebody was saying that their background is in Western magical Kabbalah.
Aidan: They were, "I'm having trouble mapping this kind of elements, middle world, world above, world below to that map." It's, because they're not talking about same thing. You can find somebody, I'm sure, who can give you something that says that this is, but if we look at it, the model that I'm using is rooted on, what would now be considered, very primitive people's viewpoints of the world. This was not folks who were trying to work out mathematics of language in the written word, this is a totally different thing. They were just looking at, what do we see and what do we interact with, and what is that thing?
It's not a map of something that you fit everything into? It's not a tool to categorize. It's, these are places you can interact with, or beings you can interact with that dwell in those places. In that sense, it's, yes, it's a metaphorical model, but it's not trying to be a universal model. It's, if you want to know what the underworld is, go there and learn that thing. You're not going to be able to map enough information on top of that lack of experience to make up for that experience, right?
It's, again, it's nothing against any of the systems, it's just realizing that they are not all the same. Like you said, with the Orisha tradition and the tree of life, they're not the same thing. They're not intended to do the same things. They're not experiential tellings of the same event, however you want to view it. I think it's a very interesting thing. I wanted to also tap into what Fabeku said because I'm also a total current guy. So, I'm going to do the work when I need to do the work, and when the allies are on board with it. That may be related to what's going on in the heavens, I don't know, but I'm certainly not going to start work based on what I think that is according to what somebody tells me is going on astrologically if the allies aren't going, "This is a good time to do that."
But, if they'll say, hey, it's a go, and everybody else is, it's total shit city, it's, I don't care what you're seeing because my people say, it's a go and maybe we need to do this thing in total shit city. Again, what does that have to do with optimal. Sometimes it's shit city and you've still got to work.
Fabeku: It's the title of your third book, Shit City.
Aidan: Shit City. No, at least the subtitle.
Fabeku: I totally get what you're talking about, Andrew, with the colonialism kind of thing, right? Because, I remember having a conversation with somebody, I was talking about was Oshun, the Orisha, and they were saying, "Oh, yeah, I totally get it because I've worked with Venus for however long. I'm, "What the fuck does that have to do with what I just said? I'm not talking about Venus, I'm talking about Oshun." They said, "It's the same thing." I said, "It's not the same fucking thing. It's not the same thing. They're entirely different." Are there places that, like you said, might crossover or ping a little bit? Sure, But, it's not the same thing. It's weird to me that we apply it with shit like this, but we don't say, well, this river is the same as that river or that ocean is the same as that creek, or a rose is the same as an orchid. It's not the fucking same.
Sure, they both have roots, they grow in soil, they're flowers, so they're similar in that way. But beyond that, it's not the same shit, right. I think, at best, it's sloppy thinking, at worst, it's all sorts of other shit, when we start pretending that this is that, is that, is that, and it's all different names for the same shit. I don't think that's true. I think it's it's lazy thinking, right, because it's convenient to say, Oh, well, no, I know Oshun because I know Venus, so I know Aphrodite. So, but that's not real. I think then when we do that, we miss the nuance, we miss the capacity to build a relationship that's coherent with whatever we're building a relationship with. Because, that would be like me saying, well, Andrew and Aidan are the same. No, you're not.
Andrew: [inaudible] start with A. [crosstalk]-
Fabeku: Exactly, right.
Aidan: We wear glasses and we have tattoos. All the evidence is there.
Fabeku: For sure. We don't do that in this way, but we do it with magic. I think it's a total failure of perception, and logic and relationship and understanding and nuance, and I'm just unconvinced that it works.
Andrew: Well, I think, as animism has resurfaced as a world model in certain pockets of the occult communities, I think that people are starting to understand that all of these plants are people, right. All of these stones and places, that they are their own things. I think that we haven't extended that to spirits, right? To say that, does Oshun have their own concrete specific existence, right? Sure. Beyond that, even, Fabeku's Oshun has its own concrete, specific, singular, individual manifestation that's different than my Oshun. Right? Not just because, maybe, our paths are different, or maybe this or that or who it came from, no, it's own distinct, separate living entity that is not the same as all the rest of them and there are relationships and, within religion, there are those, well, they're all Oshuns. But you know, Eleggua versus [inaudible] versus whatever, they're all different. The priests who have those Orisha's, each of those Oshuns has their own character, right, because they're their own people. Right.
I think it's a place where the magical community... I'm going to be curious to see if there is a point at which people stop doing this and start really holding that devotion to Kali or to whoever without any sense of crossover, and, so on. I think it'll be very interesting to see what comes of it, if anything.
Fabeku: I think even beyond spirits... spirits in the usual sense, if we go to plants as people, you and I can talk about our experiences with rose or with sunflower or with gardenia or with mandrake. I'm willing to bet that your experience with rose is different than mine. Maybe they overlap in places, but there's nuances, there's differences, right? Just like two different people that know you are going to experience you in different ways. It's the same thing, which is where I think the common logic of, okay, well, what does rose do, what does rose quartz do, what is amethyst? I don't know, what the fuck does it do for you? I can talk about what it does for me and that might have nothing at all to do with your relationship with it. that might have nothing to do with whether that stone person or plant person will work magic with you, the type of magic that it works, how well you get on with that particular spirit.
That's the thing. I was just talking about this yesterday when I was teaching, there's a worldview problem, right, because we think that what does rose do, is a real question. It's not really a real question. But, we keep answering it, and so we're perpetuating the idea that it's a real question, but I don't think in practice it is.
Andrew: Yeah, I think it's true, plants, in the same way it's true of Orisha, within the traditional context, within traditional context of their religion, we don't say, "Oh, you've got a problem with work, who's the Orisha of work who's going to fix this thing for you, right?" We say, "You have a problem with work, will anybody come forward to fix this for you?" Maybe, it's an Orisha that we associate with work, like Ogun. Or maybe, Obatala is, "I've got you, brother, don't worry. You're covered. Give me this and we'll be good." The answer's to those are super nuanced by divination, by Odu, by story, by knowledge of Ebo, like, offerings, and so many things that are impossible from the outside. Those kinds of ways of working, only, can exist within the traditional context, I think.
In the same way, burdock is a really close friend of mine. Me and burdock, we're tight. And, the things that burdock and I have had conversations and done, have nothing to do with traditional associations, but it is also a source of power that can be applied in many directions, if the spirit of the plant is amenable, right? It's, yeah, maybe spearmint would be better at getting you some luck right now. It's a more traditional association, right? "But, you know what, I'm going to work a little extra hard, because it's not my area of expertise, but I'm still going to make it happen for you." Problem solved, right.
Fabeku: Well, I think the other super relevant point of what you said is that, not only is that the way to do it, but it's an individual thing. So, all three of us could have problems with work, all three of us could sit in Divine and get entirely different solutions to how to fix the work shit, even if the works shit looks the same. Right? So, one of the things that happens a lot when I'll do some divination in a private space of mine, when I post them, I get the question... It's not a criticism of anybody that asked the question, but I'll answer somebody's question... usually I'll include some magical stuff to do, and, inevitably, people will say, "Oh"... Well, let's say somebody's asking about a relationship thing and then we talk about whatever the solution is, inevitably, somebody will come along and say, "Oh, is this a thing that anybody can do for relationship stuff?" No, it's not. Listen, I don't know, maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. But, this was a specific solution given to a specific person with a specific problem based on these cards that were pulled. It's not, here's the cure-all for everybody with a relationship problem. It's one conversation, one relationship in this moment.
Again, to me, that's the way that this shit really works. But, if we try to turn that into, oh, well, this thing will do the same shit for everybody having a relationship thing. I don't think that's real. I think if it does work, I think we've gotten lucky. But, I don't think that's an indicator that it's some universal solution. I get it-
Andrew: [crosstalk], you can be the same solution for the same person down the road-
Andrew: On the same spot, right?
Fabeku: Right. It is a very specific solution to that person, with this thing, with me, in this conversation, in this moment.
Aidan: Absolutely. Yeah. That's, I think, the thing that I hit on a lot with people, and even with people with Six Ways that have got that, we'll be trying to figure out, "I'm now working on this, but I haven't got here yet, and I feel bad that I haven't got here yet." I'm, "Don't do that. Just find a way in. That's the whole idea here, is find a way into anything that works for you, and see where you can go with it." Because, that's where you get that depth. Then, you go, "Oh, yeah." I've got people saying I need to talk to the goats or I need to talk to some deity and or I need to get right with... to do some stuff to remediate some astrological influences, but maybe you can do all of the things that you need to do with your allies that you don't even know their names, that you just make offerings to and that's your only relationship, and all that you might have to do, is to go in and go, "This is hard, I need help with this or I would like to more capacity for joy in this because I feel really just fucked up by what's going on", right.
For everybody that I know that figures this piece out, they're really good magicians, with the work that they do works for them, and that doesn't have anything to do. Some of them know everything about everything, and some of them know nothing, essentially, from that other person's point of view. So, it is, it's about current, it's about relationship, it's about that reality of context. So, that, yeah, you and I could both be having trouble getting our point of view across to our partners, and it could have, on the surface, in the way we describe it, in the way we describe that it feels, it can all seem exactly the same, and it could be totally not the same.
I think this is going on constantly. It has to, right? But, magic tends to go, here's the formula to fix this. I've not really ever seen that to be true. It was, realizing, oh, if I'm just playing within the structure of, what Jason called zone rights... So this was, for me, LBR star ruby-based stuff, just as the shape of the operation, not using those words forever, but I figured out I could do all of the various operations that I read about in the magical books using these, even without learning all the different pentagrams. I wasn't doing that, I was doing incredibly basic versions of it. It's, no, I can connect to the powers and the quarters and the above and below and then put forward that I want help healing this or help this person out in their relationship, right, because I was building relationship with my allies and with that current.
So, yeah, great. So, Hermanubis is the one who does that. I don't know that guy, why would I go there? I've people saying, "Yeah, we got it." It's, I don't know if they are the ones who do that. They say they are and I have faith in them, so I'll go that route.
Fabeku: Yeah, maybe it's time for faith to make a comeback. How about that? [crosstalk]. What would that look like in the magical world, right?
Aidan: Man. What is faith if you don't have religion?
Fabeku: Good question.
Aidan: What is your faith in?
Fabeku: Uh-huh (affirmative)-
Aidan: Or rather, what is your faith for, which might be the better question.
Andrew: Really, the only answer to that should be, everybody's face should be in Stacking Skulls. In Stacking Skulls we trust. Stack them 23 high, and you're good. Everything [crosstalk]. The world will unlock, [crosstalk] will open.
Aidan: Once the stack gets taller than you, while you're standing up, things get better.
Andrew: Right. Back to my mind, we went on this lovely detour into things and I'm still, all right, but, what the hell? What the hell, universe? What the hell, 2020? What the hell is going to go on? Does anybody find feel like they're doing stuff or needing to do stuff? Maybe this is just a reiteration of the capacity conversation, but to just manage themselves through this time. You know?
Aidan: I definitely have some of that. Again, we talked about that earlier for me, backing off of the internet and connectivity and just going, Oh, yeah, I really like fooling around on the guitar for hours. I like talking to my wife for hours. Then, being really aware. In our house, we have this saying that, that the end of the world is happening all the time. But, sometimes it's very obvious for the people that it's happening in because it's clearly catastrophic, right. But, it's happening. It's ending, it's reforming, it's changing. I think, right now, is a really interesting moment because it's so clear that it's changing in a really huge way for a lot of people.
I don't think, we, in America... using the US term of America, which is totally wrong, but I'm going to do it here, because that's the language that's most appropriate here in America... I don't think all of this stuff has piled in on each other simultaneously in such an obvious and unrelenting way. So, it is. It seems clear to me that we're in a really major crisis point, at least in North America, which is what I can see in the United States primarily. It is an interesting thing, because if I look forward or in backwards, I can see the roots of the moment we're in, I can see logical outcomes, I can see outcomes that I would prefer, I can see the potential backlashes to the outcomes that I would prefer, right.
That's, I think, what's really interesting to me, is, I see, because we're in this election cycle and because things have been so insane politically here... I hope that people aren't assuming that if we have a change in the presidency, that that will fix what's going on. Because, we've had a whole lot of changes in the presidencies and they have not fixed what's going on.
Aidan: So, yes, I would think that that would be a step in the right direction, for sure, but then you got to step on the gas at that point, if you want to see a lasting and real change. That's step one.
Andrew: Yeah, for sure, right. Because, if there's a change in the presidency, that's great. But, that doesn't automatically change the system, and that systemic piece of stuff. The piece that is [inaudible]. Yeah. I've been going back to an old mantra of mine, which I've adapted slightly for this situation. It goes like this, other people's urgency doesn't need to be my urgency. I think that because there's so much going on right now, there are a lot of people who have a lot of urgency around stuff, right.
I remember, when my first godfather always used to say... because he ran a store and was a really well-known psychic in the Detroit area, and he used to say, "Look, if it's an emergency, you call 911. Otherwise, you can make an appointment and come see me whenever you can come and see." I've been working to not act with urgency, because I think that when stuff is as wonky and strange as it is, consideration and pacing and time and respecting capacity, and all those kinds of things, is super helpful, super important, I think. So, it's really, well, that's cool and all, but I'm not going to run around for this, I'm not going to run around for whatever. With my kids too, it's, is there an actual emergency, or is there some discomfort that maybe I'ma let you sit with for a bit so you can learn how to sit with discomfort instead of jumping into things, right?
It's an imperfect science, for sure. Right? It's just a general approach. But, I think that, yeah, that, I can't run around on this. I can't make myself do whatever. I can just do what I can do and I'm going to own my own directive around that, right. Sometimes I might be looking at something like, yeah, that is really urgent, I should jump on that. I should push myself to do that, even though I know there'll be a falling for it someway. But, yeah, that's been my thing.
Fabeku: I think, for me, it's been, because the clients stuff has been super busy, I've had to figure out a way beyond what I did previous to this, too, to not absorb that high-level, constant anxiety, angst, panic, fear, whatever it is, because, after a few weeks of that shit when all this stuff really ramped up, I just felt like I'd been through the blender. It's, okay, well, this is not ending anytime soon, and I'm happy to support people, and this can't be the way it goes. This can't be the way it goes. I think that's probably been the biggest piece, for me, was figuring out how to keep how to keep that capacity, but also how to not end up, at the end of the day or the end of the week, feeling like I've just been taken apart with this stuff.
So, part of that has been magical practice, part of that has been mundane stuff, part of it has just been, okay, realistically, given this intensity, this is how many times a week I can have conversations with people that are really difficult and adjusting accordingly. Like you said, in some ways, not giving in to that, okay, but there's more people. There's 10 spots and 30 people, so let me figure out how to get 30 spots. That's not the answer, because then we end up back with coffee all day, caffeine pills, nonsense shit, right.
So, it really is like, this is what I can do and do it well, do it effectively, and also not be dismantled at the end of this, and it is what it is. That's it. There's no more space, there's no more bandwidth. There's no more room to fuck around with a calendar.
Andrew: Hmm, yeah.
Aidan: I think that that thing too, which is what you brought on, the realizing where you've got to back down, or ramp things down, is really important, because there is so much out there, just saying, no, just go harder. Grind. There's times for that, but all of them all of them are not that time.
Andrew: For sure. By where I go climbing... it's probably not surprising, it's an industrial building and there's some CrossFit type stuff in there, right? One of them has something painted on their garage door to their space. I think it says, "Somebody with less time than you is working out right now." I'm, that's cool. Good, for fuckin' [inaudible].
You know what I mean? A couple years ago, I shifted my climbing goals to be, still be climbing at the end of the year. That's my climbing goal, right. I have some very loose... I'd like to be able to consistently climb 5.8, 5.9. I'd like to be able to cycle 40 kilometers, 50 kilometers anytime. There's some very loose things that are indicators to me that I'm spending enough time being active to be able to continue being active, and that I believe that those things are good for me. Not in and of themselves, because they're indicators of a broader attention to my health, right.
Am I ever going to climb super higher levels than I'm climbing right now, I have no idea. Maybe, probably not. Does it matter? It doesn't matter. Am I always going to be able to cycle as far as I can cycle today? I'm doing a lot of distance cycling. Nah, probably not. There'll be times where I'm, I can't cycle that far right now. It doesn't matter. You know? Just keep showing up. Keep showing up. Keep doing the stuff to rest and recharge to show up.
Aidan: Yep, absolutely. I've definitely had to make adaptations on all of that stuff just because I'm getting smart enough to go, oh, this isn't really doing what I want it to do. So, instead of more, what does less do? I'm working out about half as much as I used to, and it's working better because my body can recover from that better. Interesting, okay.
Andrew: It makes sense, right? It makes sense. Well, maybe, we'll wrap it up here. I assume everybody knows where everybody is, but just in case, Aidan, where do people find you?
Aidan: You can find me at aidanwachter.com and as Aidan Wachter on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, whatever that other one is.
Andrew: What's the name of your podcast, that people search?
Aidan: My podcast is called Aidan Wachter Six Ways. It's up on Google, Stitcher, Apple, and someone else... I can't think who the other one is right now, but it's generally out there in the main places.
Andrew: I hear it gets heavy rotation in the underworld, so you can just go there and listen to it.
Aidan: Exactly, you can find it down there. Yeah, you can get my books at all the major retailers.
Fabeku: Fabeku.com, Facebook, and, yeah, the book will be out in October with Revelore.
Andrew: It's exciting.
Aidan: I'm stoked about that.
Fabeku: Hmm, me too.
Andrew: Yeah, and, obviously, I'm the Hermit's Lamp everywhere. Podcast is the Hermit's Lamp Podcast everywhere. I didn't talk about it, really, in this, but I'll throw it out here at the end. I'm going to be launching a Kickstarter for my next Oracle deck, which has the title of the Bacon Wizard Breakfast Oracle. So, if you like food and you like divination, I can certainly... I was going to launch it, actually, back in March. My original timeline was end of March, Kickstarter, but obviously didn't do that. But, it's going to be end of September, early October, Kickstarter for that, and you can check it out on my website and other places as I'm building up to that. So, all right. Thanks, folks. Have a great rest of your day.
Aidan: Thanks for having us.
Andrew: Oh, my pleasure.
Saturday May 02, 2020
Saturday May 02, 2020
Saturday May 02, 2020
You can find the 3 video pandemic series here.
Tuesday Apr 21, 2020
Tuesday Apr 21, 2020
Tuesday Apr 21, 2020
Ari and Andrew talk about relationships, hierarchy, and understanding our own desire.
Be sure to catch the Patreon bonus on how to be present. If you aren't already supporting the Patreon consider how much you have listened and learned and go sign up here.
You can find Ari here.
Andrew is here.
Thanks as always for supporting the podcast!
(request) If you are reading the transcript please let me know how it is. I'm trying a new service.
Everybody, welcome to another episode of the Hermit's lamp Podcast. I am here today with Ari from salt water and stars. You know, last year, just lift it up about a year ago almost to the day we recorded a podcast on you know, love spirit polyamory was titled for it. And we've been chatting some in between them. I kind of thought that during this quarantine time having an episode about relationships might be an interesting thing, you know, because there are a lot of people in a lot of situations that are suddenly different in one way or another. So, you know, as well as all the sort of other differences that are happening. But you know, I guess in case people don't know who you are, why don't you introduce yourself again?
So I'm Ari, as he said, I'm an astrologer.
Oh boo Ha.
I live in central PA. My family's from Puerto Rico, and New York. Um, yeah, I'm a writer, a poet. pretty much sums it up. Cool.
So, I guess I guess one of the things that we could maybe start by talking about is
what's, what's going on for you or What do you care to share around, like, your life and relationship? You know, we're all we're all in lockdown, you know, or we're all ideally, socially distancing or you know, as I hear, they want us to call out, physically distancing because they don't want to under us undermine social part.
You know, social spaciousness, social spaciousness,
You know, what's, what's going on for you with this?
Yeah, this is Actually, interestingly has me thinking so much more about relationship, or so much more clearly because I'm always thinking about relationship for me, so I practice relationship anarchy, and just really trying to consciously deconstruct hierarchy and capitalism in relationships. And I feel so grateful to be in that practice right now. Because it's allowing me to tap into support system and be available to support system in a way that might have been more challenging if I was trying to operate in hierarchies and kind of be under this premise. Like, okay, so I'm in lockdown with my partners. So like, I really only need to rely on my partner and
that's the beginning the end of it,
but being able to tap into broader network of care and mutual aid and solidarity because I have my understanding and my belief that every single relationship is a living entity and they're all equally important. And so the way that I've been investing into that practice over the last several years, I'm feeling really grateful for right now because I feel like I'm at a point where I can lean into that, like I can lean into friendship and romance and spiritual relationship like all these moving parts, without like, I don't feel like I've had to reorient much. So I know that a lot of people are reorienting towards relationship right now. Because they have the time or they have the awareness that it seems like it's more urgent than usual. But I think it's always urgent to be in right relationship and it's always urgent to be investigating
how we understand and how How we perpetuate and create and collaborate with others.
So, you know, I think that one of the things that's really always interesting about talking about Paulie is that you know, there are these ideas are these words to these labels, models and stuff that float around. And, you know, I think it's, I think it's always kind of helpful to try and talk as explicitly as possible what we mean by that because, you know, it's one of those things where one person's relationship anarchy might be another person's, you know, something else, right or, or the, the level of anarchy or the level of whatever in their, in their definition of it might not be the same, right. So can you can you try and like sum up what that approach means for you?
Yeah, it's funny that you Ask
me that because I'm currently trying to do that for something. And I'm writing now. So I have to do it for this community that want to be a part of.
And so I've been trying to
pinpoint what my definition is right now. And I think that that's like you're saying, like, that's one of the tricky and challenging things about it. But it's also the thing about it that I like is that the definition is always evolving. Which kind of brings us into the whole, like, reality, our relationship, the fact that it's always fluid, it's always changing. And when we're trying to pin it down when we're trying to contain it, or control it, that's when it becomes destructive, or it becomes a struggle rather than a challenge.
And so, for me, relationship energy, right now is
the phrase that I'm using to indicate Absolutely, the way that I'm committed to not.
Not looking at relationships as
places to extract are places to just get my needs met or to even just meet other people's needs. And
also detaching from outcomes. And so I think that's one of the ways that capitalist shows up in relationship. It's like, Okay, so what is this? And what are we getting out of it? And what's the future of it? And, you know, what are the rules? And what are the
I don't know how to put much more language to it, other than not doing that and just sinking into trust and moving at the speed of trust, as Adrian Marie Brown says, and allowing things to emerge and unfold are not things but allowing people and allowing myself and allowing relationships to become whatever, whatever they are, and so on.
I have like,
several relationships in my life that like, are so incredibly intimate, but in our current socio political constructs that would just be, it would be in the container of, of a friendship. You know, or be like, Oh, this this relationship seems like it's a partnership or seems like it's something serious. And like those things can also be true. But just avoiding the whole or invading the whole pressure to compartmentalize things and to
try to control the way that relationships are
is the word
try to control the way relationships are showing up.
And so I think No,
no after you.
You go get I already forgot what I was gonna say. I find
it interesting because so I've also been sort of trying to think through what's, you know, what does? What does my relationship model look like, you know, what is it that I'm what is it that I'm available for? What is it that I'm doing? You know, and and i think that you know, I like you I struggle with it right. Like it's, you know, there are people who like, I'm, uh, you know, and they say like five things. They're like they have this clear definition of it and it's, it's great. And I'm like, no, that's not me. You know, and I think that I think that the idea of sort of working to avoid a hierarchy Key is one that's definitely very important for me. You know, I'm really, I'm not interested in, in hierarchy over other people and you know, like, the only the only sort of prioritization that happens, or that can happen is, you know, it's like, well, we, we had the plant first therefore we have the plan doesn't matter what else. It's like, that's the that's the prioritization, right?
The prioritization becomes energetic like it, it becomes like having nothing to do with, okay, well, this is my partner, so I'm going to choose them over my friend or whatever. Like, I'm so far removed at this point from that way of thinking that I can't even really wrap my mind around anymore. But I know that most people are are in that. You know, and I bump up against it in a lot of ways. In my friendships, when I'm trying to cultivate intimacy that Forget people aren't actually used to cultivating in, quote unquote, friendship, you know, or when I'm, like, really fluid with where I'm investing my time, attention and energy. And I think like, that's actually part of what it means to not be operating in hierarchy and relationship is that what you're doing is energetic management and what you're doing is like, maintaining your priorities energetically like what are you like you said, What are you available for? And what can you show up to with integrity and that changes day to day?
Well, I think that that
I think that maybe, either I have more work to do, regardless, I have more work to do on constructing the impact of, you know, capitalism and so on in my life and, and so on. But I actually would say that I am tremendously constant person. So, changes day to day. Yeah, not so much. You know, and this is where, where it's interesting for me because I've definitely thought a lot about this sort of relationship anarchy is, is that what I'm practicing? And I'm like, I don't know, maybe, right, like maybe it's a it's helpful language around it. But my life is also tremendously structured, you know, between being a halftime solo parent and running my store and and you know, all these things. My life has a really high level of structure. And so, so the sort of the fluidity with which you talk about things, is a thing that doesn't really exist so much in my world. And my my instinct would be to say that that is in large part because of who I am and how I am. But again, it's very, it's very hard to be certain about that in all of these with all of these constructs, right, so,
yeah, I think that
what may be happening here is we're talking about two different dimensions. So, my, like, I completely relate to that I'm a very consistent person as well. I take commitment very seriously, obviously, when I use that word I'm not talking about in conventional terms, but I believe in commitment as devotion, and that's really important to me. And I also have a very structured life, you know, ever in a business and like, I just I like structure, but I like structure in the understanding that it's what allows us to have freedom, you know, because like it eliminates unnecessary chaos, makes room for you to do what you really want to do. Are you to have the attention energy that you desire. So I actually completely relate to what you're saying. And I think when I'm talking about fluidity, and I'm talking about changes in capacity, it's much more
like emotional and spiritual, I guess.
You know, so like, for example, Monday, I had like 00 energy to talk to anyone and I had a prior a prior engagement to have a check in with a close friend. And so anything else that I was any other conversations or relationship chickens or whatever that wasn't invited into I had to decline because of my capacity that day. Whereas yesterday, I spent like, however many hours on the phone with two different people, you know, and so that's kind of what I mean. It's like
basically, the only way
for lack of a better phrase, relationship anarchy is working for me right now. It's understanding that it is, for me, it must be completely and fundamentally based in my relationship to myself. And my relationship to myself has very little actually to do with the external world or the material realm. Like that's just the actualization of whatever alignment and whatever
I'm creating in the other dimensions.
But I still might I still might be high from the bowl. I smoked last night, so, uh huh, disclaimer.
I think I think you're I think you're making tons of sense. Yeah, I think I think perhaps we are talking about different levels right. You know, I mean, I think that
tending tending to oneself, and following one's capacity is is super important, right? You know, and I think during this, you know, social distancing time more than ever, right, like, you know, what's the what's the reality? Okay,
you this time more than ever? Right?
most popular phrase.
So what can I say? They're cliches for a reason. Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, I think that, you know,
during any time of stress, right, you know, I think
there we go, that's a good one.
It makes way more sense to deeply check in with yourself about where you're at what you're available for. And, and then share that share that information with the people who are important to you. And you know, and adjust the sharing of yourself accordingly, right. So.
Right, exactly, exactly. For sure.
And I think like when Capitalism is running our relationship. So we don't do that. We're just like, Okay, I have to show up 110 all the time. 24 seven. Yeah. You know, or conversely, like, people have to show it for me all the time. 24 seven.
And that's that's a capitalistic expectation.
That's an expectation of abstraction.
No, for sure. And so, for me, like the phrase relationship anarchy
is about flipping that on its head and being like,
you know, it's anarchy against capitalism, actually. And not actually not any, necessarily any anarchy against concepts of relationship itself, but against the constructs that are constricting our relationships.
Yeah, no, I think so. Right. And I think that's also you know, I certainly really deeply identify with
you know, the
do not have any limits on friendship. And whatever, right, you know, like, the, some of the people that I've close with, I'm close at a level which would make, you know, maybe if people were jealous in relationships, they would be jealous of those relationships because, right, exactly, other than being platonic. They have all the rest of the markers of romantic relationship. Right, you know, Mm hmm. deep level of attention, you know, sort of,
and that's unusual,
right? barrier barrier free level of sharing for the most part, you know, it's like, man talking about whatever's going on, you know, and so on. Right. So, yeah.
and I like I said, I feel so far removed from that which as I feel is such a great blessing to be able to say that I forget that that's the way people operate and so I bump up against it. And I think it's like, capitalism and whiteness. Go Write in hand. And I think that that's definitely those those barriers of intimacy. play a huge role in how whiteness survives and how whiteness perpetuates in our relationships because it's all this illusion of separation. You know, and it's like no friends over here in this box and you can't do XYZ you can't talk about XYZ you can't, you know, before yourself and then, like romantic relationships and sexual relationships in this box, and
I just like, and I'm extremely passionate about smashing all that fucking shit.
No, for sure, you know,
like, culturally, that's not foreign to me.
Like culturally, so many of my my theories, like my ons, were my mom's best friends, but I didn't even know that for years, you know, but the friends were just family and that was just the way that was. And I know that a lot of us across cultures actually have that that shirtless, but we forget.
know for sure.
Yeah, you know, I definitely had aunts and uncles who were, who are not that who were not actually related, right? Mm hmm. And my kids have those people who are, you know, they, you know, they refer to to one set of them, you know, a couple of my friends as their, their, their extra dads, you know? Right, you know, like, so they don't call them, they don't call them things in general in that way. But then when they when they talk with them, like, Well, you know, they're just, they're just like, my extra dads. That's who they're, you know, and so it's beautiful. And I think that, you know, for me, this this idea of like, parenting from a place where, you know, I want them to have those good, deep connections with people who are wonderful, you know, and whether those are People who are, you know, their friends, like their school friends, whoever they're their age, whether that's, you know, teachers and mentors, or whether these people who are, you know, friends of the family and so on, right like this prospect of them having sort of the opportunity to have deep, deep connections with people who are going to a nurture this, nurture them from a real place of love and caring, like, absolutely, please bring as much of that into their lives as possible. And also people who are, in their, in their own various ways doing this work of sort of deconstructing expectation and, you know, relationship hierarchy or escalators and other things and so on, right to like, really allow them to have the options to see the world in a different way and to be you know, more authentic right to be unfettered by a limited, limited palette of options when they're thinking about who they want to go their life with. And in what ways, right?
Yeah. Community. What a concept, right?
And I think that's a gift that I been trying to give myself in
my pursuit of relationship anarchy,
because I have so much
fracture in my family of origin and like, fracture between myself and the concept of community.
something that I've been thinking about a lot right now, when all this shit is going down and going up.
you know, it reminds me of the concept of chosen family, you know, and I think like, part of my
devotions are Relationship anarchy is about creating that chosen family for myself and creating community for myself and allowing myself to have those options and allowing myself to receive those gifts that I am estranged from.
You know, and so it's it's deeply, deeply
political and is deeply spiritual, and it's deeply therapeutic.
You know, and so
in a lot of ways, it definitely has been about having more sets and having more pleasure. You know, without just a symptom of that deeper reasons and the deeper purpose of why I've even been
reconsidering the entire way that I've
been conditioned to understand relationship and to understand community and to understand love and romance and
even pleasure itself. Like I, I think that I get the,
like such a deep pleasure from communing with my friends and like cultivating these intimacies that are like socio politically
unusual with them, you know, and so
that that gift that your children have is the gift that I'm trying to give myself and trying to give my inner child and then, you know,
simultaneously trying to give everyone I'm in relationship with you yeah,
no, like, I don't just have to be your friend. I can be your lover. I don't just have to be your lover. I can be your friend too. You know, or like, I don't have to just be your friend. I can be family and like, all the like you said all of these options that we can have. And also at the same time, I'm interrupting that escalator. Like, I like that you brought up escalation cuz I think That's another way. That's what I was trying to refer to earlier talking about how capitalism wants us to focus on outcomes and creating outcomes of our relationships, you know, so it's always like, what's next? Okay, what's next? Okay, what should this be because of like, this level of intimate intimacy has to be matched up with a certain level of expectation and an output or whatever. Mm hmm.
Yeah. Well, I think it's, you know,
one of the things that I've been sort of looking at a lot over the last, while this is not dissimilar to what you're talking about, probably is very similar, just in my own language, right, is going back and reconnecting with, you know, myself at different ages, and sort of offering myself those things that I didn't get at the time, right. You know, and it's, you know, and it's very interesting, some of the stuff that returns from that, you know, and like, so like, one of the examples is like piano When I was teenager, I spent a lot of time by myself. I mean, I, you know, I spent time with people too, but like, in my house, where I lived, you know, there wasn't a lot of like, if I if I didn't want to watch the baseball, which I did not want to watch the sports stuff, then basically was just me in my room, listening to music and whatever, right. And same, and, you know, as I've been sort of connecting to that parts, you know, around some other stuff that brought it up, one of the things that I realized was, yeah, that part has some healing or something that I can offer it now to be different. But that part also knows a lot about dealing with isolation, you know, and like, through the through the, you know, social distancing stuff, I'm half time on with my kids and half time by myself, right, which is a which is a strange youyou have sort of everything and then nothing, right. And, and what I realized, you know, what, This older part of me or younger part of me, brought to the foreground was like, I know all about this kind of stuff. And here's what works for you. Right? And so like, and so I've been doing some things like, tracking down records that I used to listen to during that time as well. And so it's like, you know, my 16 year old self listened to Metallica or listened to rock or whatever, I've been like fighting very particular albums and like, playing them and stuff. It just, it's amazing the transformation, you know, I throw it on the turntable, and I play it and then I go, whatever, do the dishes or draw or do stuff. And there's such a colossal comfort that returns from those things, which is, which is very unexpected to me that, you know, sort of that that not only did those two, those pieces have a need for attention, but they also have a lot to offer, you know, and so it's been Absolute visiting of those pieces that sort of access it, which has been very, very interesting. So
Yeah, I think it's so funny that you bring that up because I've been doing similar work with myself and it is in no way in any shape or form unrelated to relationship anarchy you know, and it's kind of like internal relationship anarchy and just like overthrowing the structure or overthrowing the hierarchy that my current my present self, my oldest self has the authority You know, when like, it would be straight up, like our, our little baby selves are running the show, like at least 50% of the time, you know, all the parts of us that never got our needs met or that like, weren't seen and all this shit like this is this is what we're talking about when we're talking about healing. I don't the work, you know. Doing a repair and being learning to be in supportive relationship with those parts.
Yeah, you wanna, you want to access something interesting about relationships. Go back and look at what was going on for you when you hit puberty. Right? What were you involved in? Or not involved in? What was going on around you? It's like, man, there's a lot of stuff that even after many years of working on things, there's more that can be offered and learn from that stuff. Right? So.
Mm hmm. You know,
yeah. And so like disrupting, disrupting those internal hierarchies, is so central to disrupting the external hierarchies in the relationship between ourselves and other people. And like I was saying, like, looking at relationships as a places only where we get our needs met and meet the needs of others. doesn't allow the room for other parts of ourselves. To show up, you know, and just its sensors, those parts of us that have unmet needs, and like that's important, but it doesn't need to be the center. You know, but so often that happens because in relationship we're trying to do and we're trying to provide for ourselves but associate politically culturally is absent. So, relationships like these intimate one on one containers, get
all the pain and all the grief in the absence of community. Mm hmm. You know, and so there is so much medicine to be had in once again, having your relationship to yourself be fundamental to your relationship with everyone else. So that more more can be possible than just the
the strain of trying to check off all the boxes with each other all the time.
No, for sure. Well, and again, you know, as also in parenting, right for me, this, this prospect of, you know, those, those relationships have different dynamics, you know, because I am responsible for those people. But, but that process of taking care of myself deeply in my relationship to them, also creates a big difference, right, you know, so, like, this idea of like, being really, really clear about, you know, you know, what do I need from that? Well, you know, I think the better question is, well, what I like for them, please clean up your your plates, you know, please take us up to the kitchen, please, whatever. But there's a lot of ways in which in those relationships, when I see other people and I see people talk about things, younger people are denied the thing that older people would do, right? You know, it's like If people want to eat oats, you know, like, not everybody, but like, you know, if the kids what do you want to, you know, want to eat it while we're eating it or whatever, but if the adult wants to eat, you know, and like, so like just noticing those places where, you know, not not where not where the parenting needs to happen, right? But where the dynamics are actually, you know, ages dynamics, right dynamics around thinking, well, kids don't know what they want. And my experience is, kids actually really know what they want. I knew what I wanted. You know, when my kids know what the escape group that I helped run those kids know what they want, right? Is it always possible is that what Well, that's that's a whole other question. But the idea that, that they know at least as well, it may be better that we do what they want, right? And like, when I say we do, I mean, then like grownups are able to articulate what they want, right? You know, and I think that it's very, it's very interesting to sort of see those kinds of dynamics, and look at that stuff and bring it into parenting as well. And then also, as you were kind of saying that idea of like, how do I make sure that I am showing up in a really, with as much capacity as possible, and with as much clarity about my needs and my needs and working to get my needs met in other places, so that I'm not trying to get the met in ways that are unhealthy through the kids. You know, it's to me it's an exactly it's exactly the same idea that I had relationships, right. There are lots of lots of ways in which anybody, you know, myself included, might have an impulse to get something met in a relationship that maybe it doesn't really make sense, right. Maybe it's it's better off actually being counseled about or met elsewhere or whatever, as opposed to you Looking for that to be found another way? So if that makes sense, I feel Yeah. drifted a bit there.
No, no, not at all. I mean, if you did it with all the right places, I think that it's like alternative relationship models that allow those options even be possible of understanding like, Oh, I can get this me know, this need met over here
or you know, where is the appropriate place for this to take up space
and with the most consent, you know,
because I think often like what happens with hierarchy is that we're conditioned to think hierarchy is a synonym for substance or a synonym for meaning or a synonym for quality. But it's not you know, and I think, like you're touching on that when you're talking about parenting, it's just like, okay, here's the hierarchy. So Like I'm automatically, you know, in charge or automatically have the authority and automatically know everything you know and like, but that that actually removes us substance that removes opportunity for quality. And that removes opportunity for depth and meaning to actually take place in the relationship. And so that's true for every kind of relationship. And we're relying on hierarchy to give context and to give meaning and to give definition to relationships, then we're missing out on
the whole point of relationship,
which is that it's dynamic and it's alive and it helps us tap into that part of ourselves that inner child part that does know what we want but is clear on our desires.
And I think that I think people think
polyamory non monogamy relationship, anarchy, whatever it is, is about having more quantity. And like sure, that may or may not be true
It really fucking depends.
To me these these alternative relationship models are about quality over quantity. Mm hmm. You know, because even if you're let's say you're in conventional relationship models, and you're like, Okay, well I have, you know, my partner and I have my family and I have my friends, I have all this quantity. And so I should be good. I should feel like I've community, but you can be totally missing the depth and connection that you actually crave and actually desire.
Yeah. Well, it's, you know, I think it's a one of the things I've been spending, you know, some brain cells on is what, what kind of attention do I want? What kind of connection do I do I want or need right now. You know, and, you know, and I think that it starts to it starts to you know, I mean, theoretically there are many people I could connect with, you know, I've been connecting with lots of people for sure. remotely and online and what have you. But it's so great to be clear about what kind of attention I want, what qualities do I need to have, you know, because, you know, talking to my family, or my mom are talking to whomever is very different than talking to other people, right, you know, is very different than, you know, or structured peer counseling session. It's very different than, you know, whatever else, right? So, yeah.
Yeah, it's, it
brings us back in a really powerful and terrifying way to our personal ability to respond to ourselves, and to adapt and adjust and like the amount of discernment required to navigate unconventional relationship models or alternative relationship models with the least Time, takes time takes time together that discernment, it takes experience. And, and even when you have acquired some
the fundamental truth remains that
it's always changing what you need and what you want will always be changing. And that doesn't mean like day to day like the example that I was using earlier, right the seasons the season and periods of period, like, because you're growing and you're changing, hopefully. And so, for me, I think what's cool about being in relationship with other people who are also devoted to relationship anarchy or anti capitalist relationship frameworks, is that we have the room for that understanding, have the room for that knowledge that we're going to change and when you are in relationship with someone else who also understands that God has changed and change is constant You can change together and there's a higher chance of longevity actually. Because you don't need it to stay looking a certain way or stay feeling or being a certain way, or showing up in a certain way, it can evolve and it can mature and it can deepen. Or it can spread out, you know, like, just like nature,
like the examples are endless,
of what can happen when something's allowed to develop organically. Mm hmm.
Yeah, I think that's it. The
the freedom in a relationship anarchy model is that relationship can look like anything like you You collectively decided it looks like right, that you collectively decided it makes sense that it looks like for both of you. And you know, and I think that that is amazing and found and I think That it also, you know, you gotta know what you really want that right? Like, if you're not going to accept the defaults, you know,
yeah, if you thought the hierarchies out the responsibility increases because you have to, you have to shape it and you also have to be collaborative to
know for sure. How do you how do you
how do you discover what you want?
I've been in the habit of discovering what I want by playing around with what I don't want.
I think I'm
more consistently choosing a different route to clarity, which has so far involved, a lot of contemplation and a lot of that surrender that I was talking about. of allowing things to unfold. And as they unfold, like paying attention to my responses and pay attention to what feels good, and what feels supportive, and what feels true, and what doesn't. And so, allowing, like literally the process of being present and experiencing and experimenting to teach me what I want. So sometimes it is an excavation of an original desire that already resides within me and other times I learn it from things that are happening outside of me. So sometimes it's contemplation and, you know, journaling, like just asking myself right and being like, Oh shit, yeah, there it is. And other times it's like, oh, I don't I don't fucking know cuz I wasn't taught once even care what the fuck I wanted. You know, or I just don't know because this is all uncharted territory. And so I'm going to be open to not only allowing everything to unfolding emerge around me with this person or with these people or whatever, but to also look at the way that my desire is showing up in the process.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Thursday Mar 26, 2020
Thursday Mar 26, 2020
Thursday Mar 26, 2020
Friday Mar 13, 2020
Friday Mar 13, 2020
Friday Mar 13, 2020
Eni and Andrew discuss how to approach traditional religions from a place of respect. They explore some misunderstandings and how to get around them. They also talk about the realities of practicing from a distance. Both share from their journey in two different lineages in two countries. This conversation is important in the wider dialogue of appropriation going now around traditional knowledge.
Be sure to check out the bonus episode on proverbs around this topic for Patreon supporters here.
Andrew is as always here.
Thanks for joining the conversation. Please share the podcast to help us grow and change the world.
Welcome to another episode of The Hermit's Lamp podcast. I am here today with Eni Acho, who is an Orisha practitioner and priestess. She runs a wonderful Facebook group, but also ... website's called About Santeria, where there are lots of great conversations about the traditional practices and approaching the traditional practices of Orisha traditions, especially centered in Cuba. I think that given what I've seen more and more online and other places in conversations with people, this conversation about how do we approach a traditional religion as outsiders, is one that I think is really important.
I think that there's a lot of misunderstandings, I know I had a lot of misunderstandings or misconceptions about what things might be like. I think that these dialogues are important and obviously for my own personal tradition, but I also think that some of these conversations apply to any other traditional religion that you might approach as well. Eni, for those who don't know you, give us the lowdown. Who are you? What are you up to?
Hi. My full Ocho name is Eni Acho Iya, which means the yellow dress of my mother. That's because I'm crowned to Oshun. Oshun is always associated with the color yellow. I was crowned in Palmira, Cuba and my lineage is called Palmira lineage. It's called the countryside or [inaudible 00:01:47] in Cuba to distinguish it from maybe what you might find in Havana or Mantanzas. But Palmira is one of the traditional centers of the Lucumi religion in Cuba. It was founded by the descendants of slaves who were taken to that part of Cuba to work in the sugarcane fields. After they were emancipated, they founded their own town, Palmira.
It has three of the most traditional and oldest Lucumi religious societies in Cuba. The Sociedad Santa Barbara, Sociedad San Roque, and mine, the Sociedad el Cristo which is associated with the Sevilla family. A lot of people who practice Ifa know the name of [inaudible 00:02:30] or [inaudible 00:02:32] famous Babalawo's from Palmira. And that's my religious family, the Sevilla family. So I guess that's probably who I am, religiously speaking. And I've been running this website "About Santeria" for around six years, I think. As an educational website that aleyo's, outsiders can go to, to get basic questions answered. And just recently I created this page you referred to on Facebook so people can discuss some of the ideas. I'd like to invite anyone who's interested to take a look at that and welcome to the community if you decide to join us. It's a good community. I think lots of very knowledgeable priests in there and good conversations are taking place, so I'm happy with that.
I think it's great. There's lots of really knowledgeable priests, which is a great part of the equation. They're all, at least all the ones that I know, personally or through online interactions, they're all really solid people as well. Which is a really important part of that conversation too, right? Just because people know something doesn't necessarily mean anything anymore. There's this distinction that can happen between those things. That's one of the things that I also dig about that space and why I'm actually hanging out there as opposed to other spaces, where maybe people know stuff, but their character isn't as inspiring to me.
One of the things that I find really interesting is this idea of the distinction between what's going on now in a general way, and how stuff was a little while ago, or how things still are in certain parts of the world. Right? So you're from ... your practice and your connection, your family is in Palmira. What's it like there to sort of be born there and live there and practice this religion from that place, from a sort of real traditional community structure?
I feel really fortunate to have had glimpses into everyday life there. I've been going there for over 20 years. And because of my work, I've been able to go and spend considerable amounts of time, like three months at a time, six months at a time, because my university here in Washington state has an exchange program with the university of Cienfuegos. And as an academic, that gave me a license, as ... the United States, it's not always that easy to go to Cuba, but because of my academic license, I've been able to go to Cuba pretty often, spend a lot of time there and really get to know the people very well. I've literally seen a whole generation of people grow up and I know what it's like from their point of view to be born there and be surrounded by this community.
And I think it's important for your listeners to understand that this need that we have as outsiders, as people living in a different culture, we're always thinking, "how can I get in to that community"? Or "how can I get into the religion How do I find my way there"? It's always this destination or goal that people are looking for. And the big difference to me is that for people in Palmira, you're already there. You don't have to look for anything. It's all around you. It's in the air you breathe. And that's not to say that every single person that lives in the town is initiated in a religion, they're not, but certainly their neighbors are, or their cousin or their aunt or their grandma, people down the street. It's everywhere around you. And so if you have a concern, if you want to go get a reading done, you don't have to wonder where can I find a Babalow, where can I find a Santero? They're right there. And everybody knows them.
There's a lot of accountability because literally these same people have lived there and their ancestors have lived there for 150 years and everybody knows who everybody is. Small town in Cuba, you don't have secrets. And I think that that makes it a really different experience because I've seen babies in their mother's arms at drumming ceremonies, because our ceremonies, our drumming for example, tend to be open to the public, people who live in Palmira, everybody comes and the whole family comes. So you have babies that can't even walk yet in their mothers' arms who are keeping time to the rhythm of the drum. And they are totally comfortable in that environment and they grow up with that. I've seen four year olds playing with their little stuffed animals, their bunny rabbits and teddy bears, and they're acting out an ocha ceremony that they've seen their parents do. So when you grow up with it all around you, that takes away a lot of the mystery. So it's not secretive. It's not hard to find. It's there.
Our tradition in Palmira tends to be, for the most part, that we don't initiate very young children. Most people, if their family is religious, everybody in their family tends to get initiated, but they always leave it up to the individual to decide once they reach a certain level of maturity. And so typically you'll find people not getting initiated until maybe they're in their early twenties. That's changing. People now are doing more younger children, but we believe that it's not everybody's destiny to be initiated. That has to be something that's determined on an individual basis. But there are lots and lots of families where half the brothers and sisters are initiated, half aren't, and the cousin show up and they help out with the cooking and the cleaning before and after the ceremony. So everybody is involved in it and everybody feels connected to it, whether they're initiated or not. It's very comfortable. It's very organic and natural to just have it there. And that's such a different experience from what most of us outside Cuba.
I was in Matanzas last year playing for egun, for my godmother, passed away. Some of the things that struck me were, first of all, everybody knows everybody as you say. Right? You know, we're driving around the city with my godfather and he's like, "Hey, pull over" he leans out the window and has conversation with somebody and they'd keep going. Secondly, I don't know about architecturally in Palmira, but in Matanzas there are no windows on the windows, the doors are open. It's hot and you want those breezes. And so we're there doing the formal meal that's part of the ceremony and neighborhood kids who people know, or maybe they're children of people who are there, drift in, say hi, act like kids and run at the back and go and get some sweets or some food-[crosstalk 00:10:08] and they leave.
We were doing the drum in the front room and there's no ... the window's open and people are just walking by looking. People are walking by and they'll just start having a conversation with somebody who's there that they know. And it's very different than my experience of other things which it's done in somebody's house probably in their basements where do you see it? You don't see it anywhere. Right? As opposed to there. And also, as you say, driving around, you drive around and Oh, is that another drum going on over there? Oh yeah, it is. We should go by, Oh, is that another drum going on over there? There you go. You know?
It's exactly like that in Palmira and it's hard to hide a drumming ceremony when the houses are so close together and all the doors are wide open. And everybody kind of spills out into the street and that interaction you were describing what the kids coming and going and people coming in and out all day. That happens literally every single day. When I'm in Palmira, I feel like I'm sitting in my godmother's house but it's like a train station with people coming and going and just, "Hey, what's going on?" and "anything going on?" And they have, you maybe know this expression in Spanish, radeo bemba, which means word of mouth, how the word spreads really quickly from person to person. So if somebody is going to have a drumming or somebody who's got an ocha birthday party or whatever's going on, everybody in the town knows everybody and they're very likely to just go by and drop in And see what's going on.
I think that this sort of leads to this idea of what does it look like to, as I said, is what are we looking to arrive in? I mean, really one of the things that we're looking for, whether we understand it or not when we start out is, we're looking to be welcomed into somebody's family.
We are looking to build a relationship and a connection hopefully to the community, to those people. I was at an event, I'd been hanging out with the Orisha community in Michigan where I was initiated 19 years now, 20 years, a long time. And we were having a conversation and somebody mentioned something and I'm like, "I was there when ... I helped make that person, I helped make that person, I helped make this person. I was there when this person was made, but I wasn't made yet". And there's this like longevity of connection, right? Whereas a lot of people sometimes come to these things with this idea that you're going to just arrive and be welcomed in, just arrive and suddenly everything's great or just arrive and you suddenly can get access or get recognized or whatever. But it's not really that way. I mean ideally it's not that way, right?
No, you're absolutely right. And I think that a lot of this has to do with our understanding and we use the words in our religion. We talk about aleyo's, outsiders, strangers literally. And people in our culture tend to find that a little bit offensive. They think that means that they're not welcome. But in Cuba, that's not what it means. We simply differentiate for ceremonial purposes the people who are initiated, the Oloricha's. They have a certain role, a certain function, they do certain things. And if you're not initiated, you do other things and the rules are not identical. There is a hierarchy there. Not based on your worth as an individual or how smart you are or anything else. It's just are you initiated or not initiated? If you are, go in that room, if you're not going the other room. Right?
I think Americans and, I don't know, maybe Canadians as well, people from outside that culture had a really hard time with that because we here in the U.S. where I live, we have such a consumer mentality and we identify something that we want and then we think "I'm going to get it. It's my decision, it's my choice. I'm in control of the process, here's my money, how much does it cost? Here's the money, okay, now I have it and it's mine." And they expect some kind of immediate acceptance or, "now we're the same. Okay. Because I paid my money and I'm just like you." And that is not how it works.
No, exactly. And that sense of entitlements that can be there is definitely a problem. And I think in two ways. One, as I know you do too, I get contacted by people sometimes who are like, "I need you to crown me" and I'm like, "my friend, I am not ... I don't even know." Why would I choose to incur a lifelong and perhaps more than this lifelong connection with you as being responsible for your spiritual wellbeing and to some extent your practical wellbeing forever, when I've never even met you. You know? So that's the challenge. And then the other side of that, of course, in a world where we're approaching people that we don't know who are not aleyos, but complete strangers irregardless, there's not that community knowledge of you should go see ... whatever, right? It should be because "I think they could be a good person for you, I think they could guide you, this person's a renowned diviner you should go see them." You don't have that connection.
And so all of these people, no matter what we think we know about them from seeing them on social media, they're all strangers too. And that's where so much of those problematic situations where people will be like, "Sure, yeah, absolutely. You've got the money, just give it to me, we'll be good." And then it's not good because those people on the other side are just looking to take that money and take advantage as well. It's a big problem.
It's a big problem. And I think that a lot of it has to do with the fact that people just get too impatient and they want it now. And a lot of times they don't even know why they want it and they don't even actually know what it is. And so the process always, in my opinion, has to be organic. It has to happen in kind of a natural way, right time, right people, right place. And you can't force it. I think that that's the key thing. You're not in control really. It's going to happen when the Orishas and your egun want it to happen. And the more you push and resist and try to get it all to go your way, I think you're just creating a lot of trouble for yourself.
One of the expressions that ... I didn't have the pleasure to meet your magua but a very famous oricha who's connected to my godparents ... one of the expressions that I hear, they used to say a lot was, "no, no, what you need to understand is, orisha is the boss here". We as people, we have our say and we get to make our choice. And it doesn't mean we have to accept everything or ... it is a relationship. But at a certain points your orisha needs to be the ones that we trust to dictate and to find the right time and space and, and all of those things. It's like the proverb, "every head is looking for its home". Not every little person, not every house, not everybody's situation is in right alignment for anybody. Right? Maybe someone comes to Palmira and they're like, "Oh, this actually doesn't fit for me". And not pushing there, not trying to push ahead one way or another makes the most sense in that situation.
My own experience I think is a good example of that because I went to Palmira for the first time just because I was invited to somebody's house for dinner and I had absolutely no intention of making ocha there. It wasn't even on the horizon for me. I knew about the religion, I liked it, I was interested in it, but kind of from an academic standpoint. And I went to dinner at a colleagues house, a professor from the university and she introduced me to another professor from the university, her neighbor who lived the next block over and he turned out to be the head of the Sevilla family, a familia who was running a casto at that time.
And I just became friends with that family and visited them for years, just dropping in and having coffee and chatting with them. And I wasn't showing up on the doorstep all the time saying, "teach me about the religion I want in help me, you have to be my godfather. It happened in a very gradual way where I started getting readings. I think most of us began that way where we get readings that guide us.
Then over a long period of time, year. Little by little it came out that I needed to get this or I needed to get that. I got my warriors, I got cofa de orula and then it wasn't until I got cofa de orula [inaudible 00:20:06] in eka, was that I eventually needed to make ocha, and that was really stressed. Eventually, one day before you die. And my godfather said, "Think about it. Don't do it now. You need to kind of wrap your head around this and think about what it means and take your time and do it when you're ready". And I don't know, about four, three or four years later, it just happened like serendipity. That's what we're talking about here. These things just kind of all come together magically almost. I got a sabbatical from my university, I got a scholarship, it was a grant, that paid me to go to Cuba to do this research project I was working on and that turned out to be the gear I was able to make ocha because I was able to be in Cuba.
And that's the experience I wanted with those people that I have known for many, many years and it just happened in a very natural way. And if someone had said to me 15 years earlier, "Oh yes, you're going to go to Palmira and make ocha". I would have said, "what's Palmira I don't even know what you're talking about."
I think that it's, even for me, I went looking for the religion. I had been explore ... doing Western ceremonial traditions and initiatory groups for a long, long time. And I had sort of hit this place where I felt like I really needed to connect with something deep and traditional. I was trying to figure out what that was, where this was in a pre-internet era. It wasn't like you could just jump on Facebook and find a bunch of things. And eventually I found my way to the community in Michigan and even at that, although I received my elekes and my warriors, I still was involved in that community for eight, nine years before I was crowned. I was one of those things like, "yeah, someday you should do that".
You should start putting aside your money and when you have the money you should think about doing it. One of the things that I noticed with people I have conversations about it now sometimes is they get to the end of the reading and they're like, "okay, but what do I need to receive? When do I need to make ocha?" One of the questions that I often returned to them with is, "well, is your life horrible? Is your life a hot mess? Are you sick? Are you like having horrible problems? You're reading doesn't say you're magically afflicted? Is there something going on? Your life is a disaster and you need to be saved from it". They're like, "Nope". I'm like, "man just keep living your life and as you need things, stuff will surface if you need things".
And I think that's another thing that, we don't understand. I didn't understand fully myself, even though I was aware of it going into it, is this notion that within the tradition, these things are medicines of a sort. They're there to either provide very specific kinds of guidance or specific energies or to counter specific energies so that we can live our life to the fullness of our destiny. As opposed to being things that we can collect or accumulate or that give us status or those kinds of things. You know?
That's exactly right. That's how I feel about it too. And, and I think it's hard for people to understand that maybe they don't want to hear it when they're so enthusiastic and so determined that this is going to be their path. That's what they want to do. And one of the things that I hear a lot, and I think you do too, is people get frustrated and say, "okay, you're telling me to be patient, but what am I supposed to do? Just sit here and wait?". They want tips, how can I do something to make me feel like I'm moving forward? And so I actually do have some suggestions if you're determined that you want to learn and do more with this religion, I have some kind of practical tips that might get you started.
I'd love to hear them.
I break down things into little lists, but I think many people begin with kind of an academic approach to it. So they read books and you mentioned 20 years ago we didn't have as many resources as we have now. Now we have the internet, we have lots more books than we used to have. We have all these religious forums on Facebook and many people are offering online classes of this kind or that kind. And all of those approaches are limited. I think that's the first thing I want to stress is that there's nothing wrong with reading books. There's nothing wrong with reading stuff on the internet, but there are lots of buts attached to that, lots of limitations because yes, there are some good books out there. Fortunately, thank goodness people like Willie Ramos is writing really good books on David Brown and other people who have the credentials and the research methodology down. And what they present is accurate and very good and very helpful. And that's always great to read.
But I remember when I first started looking for books on religion, there are some really wacko books out there because now anybody can publish a book. It's all self publishing. You might go on Amazon and look for books and you might find 20 different titles and you just don't know which ones are good and which ones are not good. You can read the reviews but those are always written by somebody's friend and they don't necessarily tell the truth. You have to be careful when you're reading books too. First of all, evaluate the source. Who is this person writing the book? And if they say magic moon goddess has been practicing 300 world religions for the past year and a half and she's the author of this book on Santeria, I would not necessarily consider her a reliable source because if she's not even initiated what does she know about the religion?
But if it says, "Willie Ramos is a professor of history who wrote his thesis on Havana in the 19th century" and whatever, and he has written these books that are published by university presses and published in scholarly journals. For me, that's an indication that those are serious things that I can read. And even after I read them though, I remember when I first started reading some of those books like David Brown's "Santeria Enthroned". It's a great book.
But I didn't understand it. I was reading it and half of what he was talking about I had no idea what any of that meant and it took me years to realize that I was going to have to piece together all of this information I was accumulating and put it into some meaningful pattern because to my knowledge, there's not one book, a Bible that you just go to and it tells you everything you need to know. Every book will tell you a little bit or something, but nobody's going to tell you the whole story and you have to decide how does this information fit in with other things. You have to analyze it. And the same is true, especially on the internet because there is some good stuff on the internet but there's also a lot of terrible misinformation and the religious forums are the same.
One of the things that's really important to understand is, not only is there not one book that can tell you everything, It wouldn't even be possible, Right? Like the scope of this tradition is so massive. And when you start talking with someone who's an elder [inaudible 00:28:41] they're a knowledgeable Babalawo, whatever right? Someone who has lived in the tradition for such a long time, the amount of things that come up that are just different situations. I was at a ceremony recently and the person running it was like, "Oh yeah, you know what, your name's Oba tilemi right? Because I know the sound for that one." And so they sang the song that relates to my ocha name, which maybe I had heard it before, nobody had highlighted it, but I never pick that up before because there are so many songs for Shango. There's so many songs for everybody. There's so many stories, there's so many pieces and ceremonies and ideas and advices that it just expands in an unbelievably sophisticated way.
They say the more you know the more you realize you don't know. It truly is a lifelong, lifelong process. But reading books is not a bad place to start given all these limitations that I've talked about. Because I think the positive thing about it is that way at least people who are interested and burning and to know something, feel like they have a little bit of control. Like, Oh, I found a book, I'm so excited and that's great, but it's limited. And eventually, like you mentioned earlier, this is about belonging to a community. And so sooner or later you have to get out of the world of books and meet people in a religion. It must be a personal experience and you must become part of a community because you cannot do this on your own.
And you know that's full of challenges as well because then you have to say, how do I meet these people and are they legitimate? Are they going to cheat me? Is this community a good fit for me? You have to consider things like your physical proximity, because if you're like my ocha community is in Cuba and when I made ocha there, I had to decide, am I going to be able to go back to Cuba on a regular basis? Do I have the money to be able to travel? Does my job allow me to go there whenever I want?
You have to really think about these things because if you don't live near your ocha community, you've got to travel. You know that. You also have to think about the language and the culture, and this just completely confuses me. I hear about people who go to Cuba, they don't speak Spanish, they know nothing about Cuban culture. They make ocha, they're there for a week and they go home and then they say, "I don't have a good relationship with my godparent". I'm like,"well, who is your godparent"? "I don't know. Some guy that lives in Havana."
If you don't speak the language, if you don't know the culture, how can you fit in that community? How can you learn anything? And like you mentioned, you also have to consider a character there of the people. Are they upright people? Are they honest people? Do they have good reputations in the community? I've been talking just about the Lukumi practice, which is my practice. But for a lot of people who are at the very early stages, they have to decide what branch of this religion do they want. A lot of people want traditional Yoruba and they want to know about those practices in Nigeria. I don't know about that. I can't teach you that. I'm Lukumi.
Well I think that's also a whole other branch, right? But the problem remains the same. You and I would likely have equal ... we'd be next to ground zero by just dropping into Nigeria or wherever. I'm just going to go hang out with some traditional people. It's a roll of the dice. Right. You just never, hopefully it's good, but you never know given that every other day I'm befriended on Instagram by a Nigerian Prince wants to help remove the curses on me if I'll just send them a bunch of money by wire transfer. That stuff is out there, it's everywhere.
And not only that, but our actual ceremonies are different and we have the same basic route. But, I only know how to do ocha ceremonies in Cuba and if I went to Nigeria, I'm sure they do it differently. I can't just walk in there as a functioning priest and expect to be accepted in this community because I don't know anything about them and they don't know anything about me. Before you waste time reading a million books on Lucumi, and then you decide I don't really like Lucumi, I want to be a traditional Yoruba. Make that decision first I think. And focus on what resonates with you.
I think one of the other things that I would say if you're reading books and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well, is the more a book on Orisha tradition talks about what you could do or should do on your own, the more likely I am to think that it's not helpful at all. There are some folks that there where they're like, do this super power Orisha bath and it's like, well, probably not right? These things come from, ideally come from, divination or they come from the ashy of an elder who speaks of where they come from. You know, an Orisha possession.And they don't come from, "huh, I really wish that this was different, maybe I should do this thing", right?
I honestly don't think a reputable priest would write a book like that. I'm sorry, that probably sounds really harsh. But the books that I value ...
Please, feel free to be harsh, that's fine.
The books that I value are written either from a historical perspective, maybe I'm just a history buff. But that really, really helped me to understand how this religion came to Cuba and how it transformed and who are founding mothers and fathers were and how the religion spread. And having a historical foundation, to me, has just been so valuable. That really helped me.
And I also like books, like the most recent series that Willie is doing where there's a whole book that's just about, Oshun and another book that's all about Obatala and he talks about, these are the songs and these are the prayers, and these are the herbs, and these are the characteristics of Oshun and these are the different roads. That's great. Because it gives you more profound insight into who that Orisha is. But it ... I never ever have found a book helpful that starts telling you, "okay, you're not initiated but you can still throw the shells and learn how to read them and do these spiritual baths and make up all this stuff. And you don't need a priest and you don't need to be initiated". If I see that, I throw that book in the garbage.
Yeah, that's totally fair. I think one of the things I think is also significant and understanding tradition is one of the things about understanding initiation, especially, well even becoming, just taking on somebody, becoming someone's godparents, you're becoming part of, in a way that lineage, right? That lineage is tied to those people and to those places. My lineage goes back to Mantanzas and when I was there with my godfather, he took me to meet certain people and certain Orishas who are close to the sort of origin of that. And there's this living legacy of those connections from me to my godparents, to their godparents and so on, all the way back to the beginning of this tradition as it stands now in Cuba and then beyond into sort of the, the reaches of history. And that's really significant. That's a really important part of this tradition because without that lineage, in some ways nothing happens, right? Like what happens without that.
That's exactly how I feel. I feel so grateful to be able to go to a place like Palmira and [inaudible 00:37:22] when you go to Mantanzas, same thing, it's like you have a very clear sense of this is where it comes from. I'm connected to this and it gives you such a grounding that it ... I don't even know how to explain it, but it's just really powerful. And I want to connect to something that you said earlier because when you were talking about somebody just contacting you out of the blue and saying, I want you to be my godfather, or please initiate me immediately. Here's the money. I think it's important that people understand that priests have to be selective about who they choose to initiate because it's a big responsibility. Like you said, it's a lifelong commitment.
And if I don't know you and you turn out to be a crazy person, I'm bringing you into my religious family. I'm bringing you into my house and you're going to disrupt everything and make everybody miserable and cause trouble. I don't want that. There really is this kind of trial period and a lot of people who want an immediate access are so put off by that. They'll say, "I went to somebody's house and I asked them to be my godfather and he said, no". Well that's because he doesn't know you and it's premature and it's like you said, why do you need to be talking about making ocha right now? There's nothing to indicate you need that. So this idea that priests should be available 24/7 and a lot of people think "Oh, our religious communities or our centers or wherever we do our ceremonies. They imagine it like some kind of community center or maybe a Christian Church where there's this physical building and there's a little office attached and the priest gets paid a salary and sits there 9:00 to 5:00 and receives people.
And to my knowledge, I have never seen anything like that in our religion. We do our ceremonies in our homes most of the time. And I'm not going to invite a stranger into my home. It's my home. That can really be off putting to people who are new to the religion, but they need to understand that you have to gain someone's trust. They just think they're protecting themselves. Like, "how do I know my Godfather's not a crook and he's cheating me"? Well, that is a concern. You need to know that. But at the same time, the godparent is looking at the potential godchild saying, "is this person a good fit? Do I want to do something with this person"? And people don't like to be judged. They think, here's the money, take it, give it to me.
No, for sure. I think it's kind of like asking somebody to marry you on the first date. It doesn't make sense. And if the person agrees, well, 99% of the time you should be really suspect about that because that person's got some issues. Go deal with those issues, right?
Exactly. Or it could be like "we have never met, we just know each other from Facebook. Do you want to get married"?
It's such an interesting modern phenomenon. Right?
Yeah. And another thing that's connected to this that I think is really difficult for newcomers or people who are looking for the way in, is they don't understand that some knowledge in our religion is only meant for priests. It's not open library, here's all the information in the whole world that anyone can access. Traditionally it's been passed by oral communication from generation to generation. You learn it from your elders, you learn it from hands on experience, some information you simply cannot know before you've been through the ceremony yourself. So when somebody comes with a million questions and the potential godparent is saying, "I can't tell you about her. That's not for you to know", Or "that's something only priests do". People get offended by that and think, "Oh, it's secretive they won't share their knowledge".
I think it's one of those things, and also depending on what we're talking about, I think it's fair for people to ... for the keepers of the tradition to honor the tradition by managing where that information goes. And if they think you're going to be online telling all your friends about this and that and making orisha baths and selling them on the internet when you're not even initiated or whatever, then probably they're going to hold that back as well. There needs to be the evidence of respect over time.
Yeah, for sure. Going back to my little tip sheet though, after the recommendation of get to know people in the religion, sometimes people don't even know how to do that because they say, "where I live there isn't anywhere, It's not visible or I can't find it". So sometimes you have to start with just a wild goose chase in a sense that you might look for some public events that are advertised maybe on Facebook or in your community. Somehow you might look for like a tribute to Oshun at the river that's going to happen on such and such a date and everybody's invited. You make a point to go to that and you can meet some people. Or maybe if you get invited by somebody you know to an ocho birthday party or a drumming, definitely take advantage of those kinds of invitations that come your way.
If you don't know anybody in the religion who could invite you to something, you could even just start with universities in your city or cultural centers, because a lot of times they'll have performances of some kind that's related to Afro-Cuban culture and there might be dance ... Orisha dancing or there might be drumming as performance. There might be lectures, films, scholars who work on that topic. And that's a place that you can meet people. If you just go to the performance or the dance, you might meet somebody who would then invite you to something. So I think that's a pretty safe way to do it if you can find something like that to attend and just keep going. You're going to see the same people showing up and you'll start talking to them, they'll start talking to you. That's a good way to meet people.
Botanicas, a lot of people will say, "Oh, I went to the botanica and I met somebody". I think that can be good. There are some good botanicals, but there are also some shady ones.
So many shady ones.
Yeah, so many shady ones you have to be really, really careful. You can't just walk into a botanica and assume that the person behind cash register is an orisha, maybe they're not. You can't just go in there and buy a bunch of stuff and ... be very, very careful about the botanicas. It's possible you could meet somebody legitimate there, but it's very likely you're going to meet as a person who wants to scam you.
The thing is, because I run a store, right? It's not a botanica the sort of sense that it focuses on orisha stuff in that sense. But it's not that dissimilar either. I sell candles and herbs as well as a bunch of other stuff. But I think that that's where also ... do some reading and know what it's really about, and what things are and so on, that you can ask the person some questions and see what happens.
There was a time where I sold more orisha specific stuff and people would come in and they'd start asking me questions, who were initiates and then they quickly realize, "Oh yeah, okay, this guy's an initiate, he knows what's going on". You could have a certain conversation about stuff and that doesn't need to mean that you need to be an initiate to know about that. But you could be like, "Oh well, where were your initiatives? Who are you an initiatives? What's your lineage? What's your orisha?" or whatever things that can come up and you can gauge things from that person that way and sort of feel them out a little bit.
Absolutely. And by all means, don't walk into a botanica with a wad of money in your hand and say, "I want to get initiated". That's not going to work out well. Or they'll say, "my uncle can initiate you, step in the back room". Go ahead. Sadly that has happened so you have to be careful.
I think social media is similar in a sense that you can be on these religious forums and you can meet some great people on social media. I met you on social media. There are definitely some good connections to be made on social media, but you have to be so careful and don't just put out there, "Hey, I'm looking for a godparent who wants to initiate me". There are also charlatans on social media. You don't know who's who's going to grab you. So for me, the most reliable starting point, Sooner or later you've got to get to a point or you can go get a reading, a consulta. And by that I mean by an orisha or by a babalawo who will use the traditional divination tools of orisha to tell you what's going on with you. I have nothing against taro cards and psychic readings and all these other things. But that's not how you find out what's going on with oricha.
Exactly. I've created and made an orisha tarot deck that is not for marketing orisha things. It is for exploring and understanding the philosophies and the ideas. Exploring how some of these worldviews overlap in the worldviews of tarot. But if you go and somebody says, Oh yeah, "[inaudible 00:47:51], your Orisha with my taro deck". You should get up and leave maybe even ask for your money back, because it's not what it's for. It doesn't work that way.
I think that finding a good diviner is so crucial. That's to me, a turning point because if you can find a good, reliable, honest diviner, that person is going to be able to guide you. Even if that person doesn't turn out to be your godparent, that person is going to be able to hook you up with the right people if they're a member in good standing and in their Orisha community. I think that having these kind of warning signs to look out for, that's very important. You need to go understanding that if you sit down with a diviner, you've never been there before, the first thing he says is, "Oh my God, something really horrible, your children are all going to die unless you make ocho right now". If somebody starts pressuring you like that and trying to manipulate you and make you be really afraid and you have to be initiated right now, that's a warning sign to me.
One of the things I think that people ... in life there's not always solutions. But one of the things that I understand now at this point in my journey is I've been through some very hard stuff. Last year my business burned to the ground. It's not easy, life isn't always easy. But when I got a reading about that with my elder, it was so comforting. Even though there's a ton of hard stuff still in front of me, and there are ways of which we can approach difficulties and there are ways in which we can make a bowl, do little ceremonies and offerings or whatever, to make our situation better for almost every situation. And it's one of the things that I think is fascinating and different is that there's not ... sometimes there's a miraculous transformation.
Sometimes there's something you do and it just turns everything around. But there's always something to do, even in difficult times. Approaching it with fear or putting fear into the other person's heart, it's one of the worst things that I think people could do. Divination should come with solutions as well. Advice to mitigate it. And even if it comes we have this sort of orientation where it comes Okinawa, where it comes ... what you brought from heaven. Meaning you can't change it. But we can use it. You can find ways to mitigate your suffering. You can find ways to fortify your strength. There are solutions. If people are working to make you afraid, it makes me so mad when that happens. So, don't fall for it.
And the solution doesn't have to cost $2,000 all the time. There are lots of solutions that are much less expensive. We always just start out with fresh water, omi tutu and coconuts and fruit and things like that. And a lot of times a simple abo an [inaudible 00:51:13], prepare some rice pudding or [inaudible 00:51:15] or whatever it doesn't have to be $2,000.
I think that if people get to the point where they can find a good divine and rely on that information and understand the process of divination and what it's for, that is definitely going to put them on the path they need to be on. Because as we said at the very beginning, not everybody needs to be initiated. If your life is fine and you don't need to get X, Y, or Z, you don't need it, you're fine the way you are. And you don't need to go into the religion thinking, "I'm going to acquire ... I want to have 30 ori shots and I want to have the fanciest soperas and beautiful decorations. That's great, but that doesn't make you a more devoted orisha worshiper than the poor, simple Cuban who's just got his Orishas in a little clay pot.
I remember talking to this person and they gave all their money to buying things for their Orishas. And they're like, "well, the orisha is going to give it back to me twice as much". But then they were always broke because they were always spending all the money they got on ... You know and at a certain point you have to be mindful of the realities of these dynamics and even if the Orishas did reciprocate one of their offerings with double the amount of investment or they were so happy they blessed them, that's great. But then when you take that blessing and you turn it ... and you don't put it to use in the way it's intended. That's not helpful either.
It's not all about material wealth either, because we have to remember that this religion came from, for the most part, very poor people. People in Cuba, the old people, a lot of times they didn't have anything. If they could go out and buy one apple to give to Chango on their Orisha birthday, that represented a big sacrifice. That's all they could do. They weren't going to go get a loan to buy something better, but they spent their money buying that apple for Chango and they gave it with love and they spent the whole day sitting there with Chango and praying and singing and receiving friends and godchildren. Those people are incredibly blessed even though materially they're poor, they have a really rich spiritual life. And for the most part they have long life, good health and they would say that their life is going well. Even though from our perspective it's like, "Oh my gosh, you don't have anything, you're so poor". They have what they need.
I think that it's funny because people have often a very strong reaction to the financial part of the religion, that we have to pay money for these things to happen. And I get it, it's not always easy, it can be a lot of money, especially in North America. I mean really anywhere, any Cubans, a lot of money for people who are in Cuba. Also, it's not just people ... I almost want to say their, despite the way in which money plays such a significant role in the tradition, so many of them are less capitalists than a lot of people are They're less caught up in that consumerism. And so they are way more content with doing things and being a part of things and showing up.
There are lots of different ways to make sacrifice. You can sacrifice your time, you can give your attention, your love. There are many, many ways to show devotion. It doesn't have to all be about money.
Exactly. Do you have anything else on your list there?
I have a little summary.
Okay let's hear it.
We've talked for a long time here, it's been really interesting. But first of all, I guess I want to stress that there's only so much that you can do alone. This is not a religion that you can practice all by yourself. There's no such thing, in my opinion, as self initiation. I really don't like it when people just appropriate and steal little parts of our religion and say, "well I don't like that other part. I'm not going to do that, but I like this little part, I'm going to do this". No, you're either in it or you're not in it. And if you're in it, it means you follow the tradition and the rules of your house. You have to show respect that way in my opinion.
I want to add to that point, I live in Toronto. There are a few other people in the area, but pretty much everybody here travels to do anything of any consequence. There are no Ochas happening in Toronto, there are no whatever. What it means to, even for me, who has dedicated a lot of time to study and to try to learn the tradition and so on. There's so much that you can only learn by watching somebody do it. And whether that's how you peel the stem out of a leaf or whether that's how you put things together in a certain way. There's all this knowledge that it's just deeply practical that nobody would ever even think to explain to you because you would just see it by being in the room. But when you're not in the room and you're reading about these things, you can learn a bunch of stuff, but still doesn't mean that you know how to do anything, which is a really, I think, important distinction to understand.
Oh, absolutely. That was one of my points as well, that if you're geographically isolated from a large Orisha community, you are definitely going to have to either travel a lot or move. I feel so bad for people who say "I live somewhere in the middle of Nebraska and I want to be initiated". Well unless they moved, I don't think that's going to happen unless they can travel a lot. You have to be practical. Some people live in these isolated communities where there is no Orisha community and if they can't travel and can't go anywhere and can never participate in anything, there's definitely a limit to how far they can go or what they can do. Y
You do have to be proactive like we talked about, you have to get out there and look for opportunities and connections, but at the same time you have to be really careful that you don't fall into the wrong hands and you have to be patient as things happen in their own way. Sooner or later at some point you're going to need a mentor. And usually that turns out to be a godparent who can lead you along. You can only go so far on your own.
My final point, and the one that is the most important that I say over and over again, is you just have to have faith that if it's meant to happen, it will happen in the way it's meant to happen and you can't control the process.
Absolutely. I think that is a great summary and maybe that's a great place to wrap it up. For people who want to follow along more with what you're doing, how do they connect? Remind us of your websites and how do they connect with your new Facebook project as well?
My website is www dot about Santeria, all one word and no capital letters aboutsanteria.com. www dot about Santeria dot com. If people go to that website, there's a little button, click here to contact me, and you can write to me and I'll write back. Or you can go on Facebook and we have the About Santeria page where people can find connections on Facebook to what's on a website. And there's also the About Santeria community forum and that's open to aleyos, non initiates as well as priests and the Lucumi. I'm keeping a focus on Lucumi because I'm not qualified to talk about traditional Yoruba and I want the focus to be on Lucumi.
Perfect. All right, well thank you so much, Eni for making time to be here. We've been talking about it for a while and I'm really glad that we finally got our time zones coordinated and made everything happen.
Thank you for the invitation. I really enjoyed the conversation.
Oh, it's my pleasure.